Best Trail Shoes for Men Reviewed & Rated
It’s easy to fall in love with trail running, and once you do, that bond runs very deep. It’s an entirely new level of running that provides a great thrill. With trail running, you get intense hills, winding and sometimes narrow trail and a variety of terrain. With that comes rocks, branches, roots and soft spots that can threaten your ankles and knock you off your feet if you’re not careful. All of the new variables in trail running require a shoe that will get you through your run. After you check out our top 10 list, make sure you go through our Criteria section to understand how we came up with our top contenders. Happy hunting!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
ISOFIT Dynamic upper
EVERUN Responsive Cushioning
For Trail and Grass
- Saucony Peregrine ISO
- Arc'teryx Norvan VT
- Adidas Terrex Agravic
- La Sportiva Bushido
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Mizuno Wave Catalyst 2
- The North Face Ultra 109
- Merrell Trail Glove 4
- Salomon XA Pro 3D
- New Balance MT 10V1 Minimus
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Saucony Peregrine ISO
ISOFIT Dynamic upper
EVERUN Responsive Cushioning
For Trail and Grass
Not Water Resistant
The Peregrine from Saucony is at the top of practically every off-road running footwear list, and with good reason. It is a legend, a complex system featuring several different technologies - one of which is the ISOFIT construction that adapts to the foot, from which the ISO part of the name comes from - and it is truly a sight to behold.Read more
The Peregrine ISO comes after the Peregrine 8, and is a design with no less than four technologies incorporated in it. There is a 4mm drop for a natural stride; the EVERUN technology which is a responsive cushioning that provides you with a smooth landing and more explosive toe-off; the ISOFIT system which means that the upper of the design conforms to the shape of your foot for a tailored fit; and the PWRTRAC outsole, which is a durable rubber that is both slip- and abrasion-resistant.
The downside to the Peregrine ISO is that it is not water resistant or waterproof, so you’d have to stick to dry trails. That being said, it is one of the highest-ranking off-road designs in existence thanks to the numerous innovations it comes with, and you definitely have to experience it to believe its amazing features.
2. Arc'teryx Norvan VT
Adaptive Fit Technology
360 Support System
Exceptional Grip and Traction
For Challenging Terrain
Arc’teryx is a company with an unusual name and a not so unusual purpose - to make the outdoor life and adventuring easy for everyone. It was founded in Canada, on the steep and untamed slopes of the Coast Mountains, where all of their gear is tested even today. The Norvan VT is, therefore, not a design to mess around with. It is built for extreme conditions, for high elevations, and for the most challenging terrain.Read more
The Norvan VT carries the Adaptive Fit Technology with it, which means that the upper of this option wraps around the foot and helps keep away any debris that might fall in. It has a support system which has the ability to adapt to the terrain you are taking on, providing you with the freedom of movement and moisture wicking. The Norvan VT also comes with a Vibram sole that has an Idrogrip forefoot area for excellent traction on wet rock and trails, and what is called a Megagrip formula for extreme durability.
The Arc’teryx Norvan VT is a high-performance design, meant for harsh surroundings. It will keep you supported and stable, and it will make sure that you don’t slip or skid no matter what type of surface you’re taking on. The Norvan VT will keep you safe wherever you decide to go!
3. Adidas Terrex Agravic
Waterproof GORE-TEX Lining
Boost Cushioning Technology
Molded TPU and Mesh Upper
Continental Rubber Outsole
Great for Wet Conditions
If you’re someone who likes to take on challenging terrain, who enjoys the true meaning of the word ‘off-road’, then the powerful Adidas Terrex Agravic is the choice for you. This design is built for rocky, rooted terrain in which you just want to enjoy the splendor of nature without having to worry about your footing. It is built to withstand wet conditions, and you will love every second spent in these.Read more
The Terrex Agravic is, of course, outfitted with Adidas’ signature Boost technology - a type of responsive cushioning that provides you with unbelievable energy rebound. Its upper is constructed from molded TPU and mesh for both stability and breathability. The GORE-TEX lining is what makes it waterproof and improves ventilation at the same time. The outsole of the Terrex Agravic is made from Continental Rubber, which means that it has exceptional grip even on wet surfaces.
With the Adidas Terrex Agravic, you don’t have to spend a moment concerning yourself with whether or not your footwear will endure the hard trail you’ve chosen for yourself. It is reliable, it is sturdy, and it is every bit as cushioned as you’d expect a running sneaker to be. Whether you intend on taking on wet or dry terrain, the Terrex Agravic won’t fail you!
4. La Sportiva Bushido
TPU Frame for Stability
Rounded Lug Outsole
Allows Freedom of Movement
Constant Contact with the Ground
Colorful Design Choices
Size Runs Small
With one of the flashiest designs out there, the La Sportiva Bushido doesn’t shy away from color or performance. This is a design built for mountain running, an off-road champion, and it is all thanks to its stable construction, a lug outsole, and an unexpectedly lightweight construction. The Bushido is sticky and aggressive, and if you’re serious about your off-road running, then you should definitely take a look into this option.Read more
The Bushido has an upper made from a combination of leather and TPU. There is a strong frame around the middle of the foot which provides a snug fit and stability without sacrificing the light weight. Moreover, the outsole of the Bushido has lugs in it. These have a rounded shape and wrap around the midsole, which allows for constant contact with the ground. Thanks to this feature, the Bushido makes sure that you are safe to run even on terrain which has roots, stones, and branches littered all over it.
The La Sportiva Bushido is a design for a demanding runner. It provides amazing stability and grip, and it is not bad to look at, either. Whether or not you’re an advanced trail runner, you can be sure that the Bushido will have no difficulties keeping up with your every step.
5. Salomon Speedcross 4
Tread for mud and snow
Grip for descent control
Can run narrow
May require additional support
The Salomon Speedcross 4 is a great middle ground for those who want minimal weight but still need some support. Enjoy a Quicklace design, incredible grip, and ideal features to keep you comfortable during your entire run.Read more
With added obstacles on trail runs, such as rocks or roots, you need extra protection. The Salomon Speedcross 4 has a protective rubber toe cap, so your toes have an armor. This footwear is also water-resistant and has an anti-debris mesh to help your feet stay dry and clean. Since you already have to think about avoiding various obstacles, you want to make sure your shoelaces are not another thing to worry about. The Quicklace is a Kevlar string that is placed through friction-free eyelets, and as you pull, the lace closes evenly. A stopper will make sure your laces do not come undone, so you can run stress-free.
A great feature of this design is the Sensifit technology. It’s a developed technology that provides a secure fit. It cradles the foot from the midsole to the lace system, giving a precise and snug fit. Another amazing feature is the OrthoLite sockliner. A combination of Ortholite foam and an EVA heel cup, the sockliner will keep you cool, dry, and cushioned in all environments.
For this middle ground choice, you will find the Speedcross 4 to be an outstanding value. The waterproof and debris shedding exterior will allow your footwear to carry you through all of your runs with ease and for many miles to come.
6. Mizuno Wave Catalyst 2
Good Arch Support
Needs Breaking In
Runners have many needs when it comes to their footwear, and sometimes it can be hard to find a model that combines a few of those into one. The Mizuno Wave Catalyst blends cushioning with responsiveness, and this combination makes for a great choice!Read more
A soft mesh of the upper of the Wave Catalyst 2 will allow your foot to move freely as you spring forward on the ground. The design also has a padded tongue and collar, as well as a midfoot landing to add extra cushion. You will feel comfortable on all terrains. The sole of this design and the upper wrap provide support without weighing you down. A great feature is a plastic layer that is embedded in the midsole, delivering a rigid and lightweight structure. You will feel the structure of the design working together to help you bound forward.
This model would be ideal for those who already know they love road runs, but want to venture into more unexplored terrain. It’s an approachable price, and if you find you don’t fall in love with off-road running, you can use it for on-road runs, giving it excellent value.
7. The North Face Ultra 109
Subtle Pronation Correction
UltrATAC™ Rubber Outsole
Mesh & PU Coated Leather
May Feel Heavy
The North Face Ultra 109 offers maximum underfoot protection along with subtle pronation correction. This waterproof Gore-Tex® design has a rigid Snake Plate™ under the ball of the foot for superior protection, along with an UltrATAC™ rubber outsole for strong traction on both dry and wet terrain.Read more
Made from breathable mesh and PU-coated leather, this is a lightweight and airy design that’s complete with a compression-molded EVA midsole and an ESS midfoot shank. Gore-TEX® is a waterproof, extended comfort range membrane that offers superior stability and delivers subtle pronation correction. The Ultra 109 has a built-in protection TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) toe cap to keep your toes protected from hazards of the trail so you can run at ease without worrying about injuring yourself. TPU is a mixture of plastic and soft silicone, making for a dense and smooth material.
The Ultra 109 is a bit pricier than some other options on the list but it is well worth the cost. Its durable construction and comfortable wearability make the Ultra 109 an excellent choice for anyone who loves off-road running.
8. Merrell Trail Glove 4
Uncomfortable Arch Support
Off-road running provides a surge of adrenaline because you never know what surface you might face. If you seek footwear that is a tight fit, has excellent traction and low profile, you have found your match. The Merrell Trail Glove 4 is a smart choice for a variety of terrain.Read more
Enjoy a lug pattern that provides stability on both wet and dry surfaces. The traction on the Glove 4 will help with both sandy trails and rocky terrains. This design has also been tested in both extremely high and low temperatures, and it performed excellently in both situations. If you do not like a constricting ankle height, then you will love the Glove 4. The ankle cuts low to give you a full range of motion. The design has a glove-like fit, meaning it will be tight around your entire foot. The advantage of this fit is that you will be less likely to catch or trip on any obstacles on the trail.
You can expect the Merrell Glove 4 to last you for many miles and to become your go-to choice for all climates and conditions, making it well worth the price.
9. Salomon XA Pro 3D
Protective Rubber Toe Cap
Quick Dry Mesh
Great Traction and Grip
Not for Wide Feet
The Salomon XA Pro 3D is here to deliver explosiveness and performance, as well as a lightweight, sock-like comfort. It is everything you need in an off-road design, and it will keep you supported and protected in almost all conditions, barring the wet ones.Read more
The Salomon XA Pro 3D has a low profile stabilizing unit between the outsole and the midsole to help with motion control and security of your arch and ankle. Enjoy a molded sockliner that provides comfort and helps absorb the shock of each step. For a supportive design, the XA Pro 3D is on the lighter weight side. It is comfortable, socklike, and provides great support without weighing you down too much. This is really important when it comes to off-road running. You want a design that is going to feel light to help you lift your feet quick, and avoid any roots or rocks.
If you are just looking to try out off-road running, and find that you don’t enjoy it, the Salomon XA Pro 3D may not be a great value, especially since it is not waterproof, so they aren’t recommended for hiking unless you are in a dry climate.
10. New Balance MT 10V1 Minimus
Breathable Mesh Upper
This option is ideal for those who like a minimal look, but aren’t quite ready to take the full dive. Off-road running is very much about being closer to nature and challenging yourself, but some runners might want a touch of a step up from barefoot, or bare-minimum footwear. If you are that runner, then the New Balance MT 101V1 Minimus is the choice for you.Read more
This design has upper materials to assist with your forefoot and a midfoot wrap that will hold your foot steady throughout the entire run. If you find that this isn’t enough support, you can order one size up and wear cushioning socks. It also allows you to insert your own orthotic if needed. One piece of advice is to make sure you really wear them in if you are not used to such minimal footwear. Once you have worn them in, you will never want to take them off. An antimicrobial and odor-resistant treatment keeps the 10v1 Minimus fresh. It is a great size for packing in gym bags, suitcases, or drawstring bags. It’s the worst when you open up your bag and all of your clothes smell like the inside of your shoe. This design also does well with being washed inside a washing machine.
This design is great for off-road running, whether you're only starting out or you're already a seasoned runner. You will love the light weight and the support, and the minimalist feel of the Minimus will be a refreshing experience for your feet. Try it out no!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There are a variety of different levels of cushioning available in trail shoes, everything from the next-to-nothing barefoot to the pillowy heights of maximum cushion. The level of midsole padding that works best for you is a matter of personal preference but the following descriptions can help you choose the option that’s going to feel right.
Maximum: This type of trail shoe provides tonnes of cushion at the midsole. Many feel that maximum cushioning puts less impact pressure on your joints which means you will be less tired after a long run.
Minimal: Minimal cushioning allows for a better feel of the trail but still offers some midsole padding.
Moderate: Moderately padded trail shoes are the standard edition trail shoe. They offer just enough cushion to allow for a comfortable trail run without any feel of the terrain below.
Barefoot: Barefoot trail shoes offer zero padding at the midsole and allow for a natural feel when running.
Shoe Last: Shoes are constructed around the structure of an inanimate foot form called a ‘last.’ There are different models of lasts and buying a shoe that’s constructed from a last similar to your own foot structure will help you select a shoe that best suits your foot shape.
The difference in height from the heel to toe of a shoe is called the drop, which can range anywhere from 0mm up to 12mm. Barefoot style trail shoes would have a 0mm drop, whereas maximum cushioned shoes would have a 10 to 12mm drop. The standard drop height is generally around the 10mm mark.
The lower the heel drop is the more it will encourage the wearer to strike at the forefoot, in contrast, a higher drop encourages a heel strike. Many believe that striking at the heel is unnatural and increases the risk of running-related injury, though there is no concrete evidence to back this theory up.
Nevertheless, the drop of a shoe supports the wearer's stability when in motion and improper drop can result in foot injury or slipping; dangerous things when trail running! By assessing the drop on each of our products, we arrived at a score for each. A higher score on this criterion means that the product has a natural drop that supports the wearer and protects the foot.
Last but certainly not least, overall traction and grip are super important off-road. The key is to not only get a shoe with the right type of tread for the terrain you'll be running, but also one that lasts as long as expected.
Think about sharp rocks, wet conditions, mud, hills, dry and loose surfaces. All of these affects the sole and tread differently, especially when it comes to maintaining stability and a confident grip on the trail.
The threading that leads to traction is located on the outsole, or more simply, the sole of the shoe. The sole makes direct contact with the ground and therefore supports the entire foot and body when in motion. Needless to say, a poorly-constructed outsole will lead to discomfort, slipping and foot or other bodily injury.
A higher score on this criterion means you get a shoe with great traction that will support you and your foot while in motion.
Finding the perfect fit for your new pair of trail shoes is essential. Without a proper fit, you are more likely to injury yourself or experience discomfort. With so many brands and styles of shoes on the market today, how can you ensure your next trail shoe will fit you just right?
We've spent hours of research to determine which of our top 10 trail shoes are truest-to-size, so that you can be confident in your purchase. We considered important factors, like type of shoe, the materials it is made of, the intended purpose of the shoe and brand reputation, to accurately assess whether or not the shoe was true-to-size. If it wasn't, it didn't make our list.
When evaluating the shoes on our list, we also considered thousands of reviews by wearers and buyers. From people with wide feet to those with high-arches, we aggregated everyone's opinion and included it in our overall score.
If a product on our list scores high in this criterion, it means it experiences a strong trueness-to-size.
Style is a subjective term; however, in our "style" criterion, we collected the opinions on thousands of buyers from across the globe to bring you what most people judge as the hottest trail shoes in town. Along with unparalleled functionality, style can make a good pair of shoes look great.
Although everyone's tastes are different, there are common things among all stylish shoes, be it clean lines, rich colors, a seamless construction or even cool patterns. By delving deep into each of the top 10 products on our list, we flushed out the key factors that give each of the recommendations on our list their appeal.
Knowing that comfort, functionality and quality construction are all important factors, style as well can help you love your shoes just a bit more. Remember, however, that you are a unique buyer and you should go for the pair of trail shoes that suits you. Any of the products on our list is a great choice. Happy trailing.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Even if you've never run a trail, try to know as much about the area and terrain as possible. Hills, rocky trails, thick mud, and broken trails can change your run, and not in your favor, unless you have the right shoes with the right grip.
Whether you spend the extra coin on a Gore-Tex or other type of waterproofing material, find out if it is even necessary. If you live in a rainy or damp area, well go for it.
Other Factors to Consider
Not just any running shoe is made for the trail, it must be durable and lightweight while adequately protecting and cushioning your foot from the hazards of the terrain. Trail shoes for men fall into three categories depending on the type of terrain you intend to use them on.
Light trail shoes are best worn on fairly even and uniform surfaces like gravel paths or grassy hillsides. This type of trail shoe is most similar to traditional running shoes in both weight and build. Light trail shoe features include:
Lightweight design makes it easy to keep up a faster pace
Soles with a shallow lug pattern to provide better grip on packed soil
Moderate protection from hazards of the trail like rocks and sticks
This type of trail shoe is designed for running on hiking trail terrain. Some of the characteristic features of rugged trail shoes are;
Thick multi-directional lugs that offer grip on soft muddy trails
Resilient midsoles to protect feet during hard landings on rocks or other hazards of the terrain
Tough outer construction to protect against the brush
Off-trail shoes are made for those who fear no terrain and include all the features of a rugged trail shoe plus some additional;
Even more resilient materials like PU midsoles versus EVA.
More waterproof materials
Once you’ve hit that trail, take a mental note of the terrain you run on, how many hills you run, and your typical climate. These things will tell you all you need to know about what you need from a trail running shoe. Slip on a pair of shoes from this recommended list and find you can run faster, more comfortably, and with the support you need.
The bottom line of our guide is that any of the ten products featured on our list would be an asset in your trail-running arsenal. From step counters to water bottles, a good pair of trail shoes will augment performance, enhance comfort and stability and keep your feet healthy while preventing bodily injury.
Depending on your preferences or needs, you may wish to go deeper into our Criteria section, instead of just trusting our overall top scores. Some criteria may be more important to you, while others may not matter much at all. By considering each criterion individually, you can use the scores to find the perfect pair for you.
But you won't know until you try. Find a pair on our list you love and click "buy"!
Frequently Asked Questions
q: I want to switch to barefoot style footwear. Do I need time to adjust?
Yes, your body has become accustomed to the drop height you are most used to wearing. If you try to switch from a traditional height to a barefoot style, you will experience muscle fatigue, along with joint and tendon discomfort.
It is best to slowly transition to allow your body time to adjust. Generally, you should attempt to lower your drop by one to two millimeters every five to eight weeks.
q: Do barefoot designs prevent injuries?
Although there is no conclusive evidence behind this theory, many believe that barefoot, or minimalistic running is better for your body overall. There are several reasons that running in minimalist shoes is arguably better for you; one reason is that traditional shoes with tonnes of padding force the wearer to strike with their heel, which is unnatural. A heel strike can increase your chance of ankle sprains, impair balance, and possibly cause other leg and foot injuries, whereas a mid, or forefoot strike is more natural.
Runners who train in barefoot running shoes can increase their oxygen intake by up to 2%, this is desirable because it means that your body takes the oxygen it consumes and directs it to your muscles, which enables you to run faster.
Additionally, running in barefoot style shoes reduces the risk of injury to the Achilles tendon and possible calf strain. The risk for developing these types of injuries increases with the height of a shoes heel drop.
q: How do I know what amount of padding is right for me?
This will depend on the type of foot arch you have. Generally, there are three types of arch;
Normal: Medium arches are considered to be ‘normal’. With this arch, the foot will tend to land on the outer heel and then roll inwards to absorb shock. This type of arch will benefit from the added cushion, shock-absorption, and support.
High: High arches are either flexible or rigid, a flexible high arch will tend to overpronate and a rigid one will under-pronate. The best type of cushion for high arches is an orthotic or therapeutic type of cushion which will help to fill in the arch cavity. This will help to correct alignment and relieve shock-absorption.
Flat: Flat arches are low and extremely flexible with a tendency to roll inwards too much. Both barefoot shoes, as well as shoes with a specific level of cushion, can help correct the alignment of your body and prevent injuries.
q: Are these meant for running or hiking?
There are trail shoes which are designed for hiking or running specifically. Trail running shoes will be much lighter and more flexible, whereas trail shoes designed for hiking are traditionally more of a boot and are much heavier.
It’s a matter of personal preference if you decided to hike in trail running shoes, however, running in trail hiking boots will prove difficult because of the bulky design of the boot. There is no reason why hiking in a trail running shoe would prove to be difficult, after all, they are designed for the terrain of the trail.
q: How do I care for my off-road running footwear?
Our best advice would be to consult with the manufacturer directly. Often, reputable brands will have care guides to each of their products available online for anyone to download. Depending on the material and construction of the shoe, there will be different directions for cleaning and maintaining, so it is always best to consult with the manufacturer before taking action.