10 Top Trail Running Shoes Reviewed
Written By: Ben Mounsey
Picking the perfect pair of running shoes may seem overwhelming, with so much excellent choice on the market. To help you pick through the options available, fell, mountain and trail runner Ben Mounsey has reviewed 10 trail running shoes from a range of different brands.
1. ASICS GEL-FUJITRABUCO 7 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
This is the first time I’ve ever worn a pair of ASICS trail running shoes and, in all honesty, I’m very impressed.
This shoe is made for ultra and long-distance trail runners, specifically designed to soak up the big miles. At 330g, the ASICS Gel-Fujitrabuco 7 is a slightly heavier model than most rival shoes on the market. But it’s built for comfort and cushioning and that’s exactly what it gives you. The upper cradles your feet, offering maximum protection and support. The mesh around the outside of the shoe stretches all the way to the toe bumper, with a breathable mesh at the front for ventilation.
In terms of sizing, they’re a snug fit. I’m usually a size UK 10 and they feel great, although for the long/ultra runs, I’d probably opt for a UK 10.5.
This shoe comes in a Gore-Tex version, which has a waterproof upper and the same breathable mesh as the original design to allow for ventilation, whilst still keeping out moisture. A gusseted tongue also helps to repel water.
They are an ideal purchase for someone new to trail running and/or fans of other ASICS shoes.
- I particularly like the lacing system, which is similar in design to a Salomon shoe and includes a pocket at the top of the tongue to store the laces after they’ve been tied.
- The FlyteFoam sole, with multi-directional lugs. It gives plenty of cushioning on hard, rocky surfaces and ample grip on uneven terrain.
2. SALOMON SPEEDCROSS 5 GORE-TEX TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
The best thing about the Salomon Speedcross is that you know exactly what you’re going to get if you’ve previously owned a pair. The Speedcross is a tried and tested design, with only small additional improvements being made every time that a new model is introduced to the market. It’s safe to say that Salomon know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to trail running.
As with previous models, the new Speedcross 5 look and feel fantastic. The level of comfort that this shoe provides is second to none. It’s a bulkier shoe compared to the Salomon Sense range, but it’s designed to take more impact and provide extra cushioning and comfort, especially during longer runs.
The upper materials are welded together and merge seamlessly into the sole, offering tons of protection against loose rocks and debris. This unique design helps to preserve the life of the shoe and prolong damage and wear. The outsole has plenty of bounce, loads of cushioning and deeper lugs than its predecessors to provide even more grip than before.
There is the option to buy this model with or without Gore-Tex protection. It’s also available in a range of colours, mostly VERY bright, so you’ll be easy to spot from a mile away!
In terms of sizing, I’m usually a UK 10 in most brands, but a UK 10.5 in Salomon. Bear this in mind if you’re considering buying online without first being able to try them on.
I can confidently say that this shoe will suit every type of trail runner, in all shapes and sizes, from beginner to elite.
- The Quick Lacing system that Salomon shoes are so famous for, along with a lace pocket to stow them safely away once they’ve been adjusted.
- The Salomon Speedcross 5 offers supreme comfort and quality and is a shoe that’s built to last.
3. INOV-8 TRAILROC G280 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
Having been heavily involved with the testing of Graphene in inov-8 shoes, I welcomed the introduction of the new TRAILROC G280 with open arms. I’m a fan of any shoe that promises to go the extra distance.
Firstly, I loved the new colours and design – it’s beautiful looking shoe. With an 8mm drop, it will either turn you on, or off, straight away, depending on personal preference. What will excite any trail runner, however, is that fact that this model is designed for all types and distances of trail running. With the introduction of graphene in the rubber sole, it’s also a shoe that will last up to 50% longer than standard trail shoes. It’s a proven result that I’ve seen after rigorously testing the Mudclaw G260 (I ran over 1100+ miles in mine), and one I’m currently experiencing with this particular model (now over 300 miles in).
They’re also true to fit, a size 10 UK fits me perfectly. Weighing in at just 280g, the TRAILROC G260 is an outstanding all-round shoe, offering excellent grip, breathability and protection, making it the perfect choice for both training and racing.
- The breathability of the mesh at the front and top of the shoe, combined with ample protection around the entire edge of the foot and into the outsole.
- In between the midsole and outsole is a rock plate which further protects the soles of your feet against any sharp rocks and stones. Recently I tested this shoe in the Italian Dolomites, the perfect environment for the TRAILROC G280. It makes running on all types of rocky terrain a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
4. SALOMON S/LAB SENSE 7 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
In a similar fashion to the Speedcross, the Salomon S/Lab Sense range is tried and tested, with quality always guaranteed.
Not only are they a fantastic looking shoe, they’re also super-comfortable and super-lightweight (195g!). In comparison to the Speedcross, this shoe is more streamlined and stripped back, ideal for racing, particularly over the shorter distances.
In terms of sizing, I wear a 10.5 UK and this shoe is more suited to athletes with a thinner foot. Opt for the Speedcross if you have wider feet and if you’re looking for more cushioning and protection.
Like all Salomon models, the Sense features the Quick Lace system (drawcord) and a lace pocket underneath the drawcord to store the cord safely away once it’s been adjusted.
If you’re someone who dislikes a minimal fit, then this shoe really isn’t for you. It’s light, responsive and completely designed for hitting the trails at speed. At £159.99 RRP, they’re an expensive purchase. But this top of the range trail shoe has been designed and tested by the very best athletes in the world, created specifically for ultimate race performance. If you want to go light and fast, then this is the perfect choice.
- What I really like about this shoe is the fit, which is unique in design because it has two fitting systems that work together collaboratively. First there is the outer shell, made from a highly breathable mesh, with just enough protection where it’s needed.
- It’s a highly ventilated quick-drying fabric, which I’ve tried and tested in wet conditions. Inside this is an internal layer, attached to the outer shell, which wraps around the foot like a glove, providing a more personalised and secure fit.
5. HOKA ONE ONE TORRENT TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
This is a trail shoe with unrivalled cushioning and bounce. The foam sole gives an enormous amount of energy return and they are noticeable different to wear than all other comparable models. This shoe brings pleasure to running long miles and they quite literally give you an added spring in your step.
There is minimal, but adequate, protection around the base of the upper. The grip is good across all surfaces, but most importantly, the Hoka Torrent are super comfortable and lightweight. They are ideally suited to hard, dry surfaces and the perfect choice for both racing and training.
In terms of sizing, I wear a 10.5UK in Hoka, so I would recommend buying a slightly bigger size.
It’s also worth mentioning that in comparison to other similar trail running shoes on the market, the Hoka Torrent are excellent value for money.
- Super-bouncy and super-responsive!
- Excellent value for money.
6. SCOTT SUPERTRAC 2 TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
This is another fantastic looking shoe from Scott, designed specifically with comfort and protection in mind. The Supertrac is true to fit - a size 10UK fits me perfectly and I would say the width is standard, suitable for most runners.
The thick outsole gives plenty of support and cushioning, particularly when running over sharp rocks. What I most love about this shoe however, is the way the upper cradles and supports your foot, especially as you’re moving. This shoe is suitable for a multitude of surfaces, but grips particularly well on firm, dry ground.
Like the Hoka Torrent, these shoes are excellent value at £109.99 and would be a good purchase for athletes of all sizes and abilities.
- Superb protection and stability.
- A comfortable fit and suitable for all terrain.
7. HIGHER STATE SOIL SHAKER TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
The Higher State Soil Shaker is a bulky looking shoe, but feels surprisingly lightweight to wear. It also delivers comfort, protection and grip for an outstanding price. The upper is comprised of thick, durable sections of material, perfect for protection against loose rock and debris. The sole has deep multi-directional lugs, which perform well especially in wet and muddy conditions.
In terms of sizing, this shoe is true to fit. I would personally choose a size 10UK.
The Soil Shaker is ideal for anyone who is new to trail and fell running and is looking for an affordable shoe to cope with every type of terrain, in all conditions.
- Excellent grip, especially muddy surfaces.
- A high performing, all-round shoe at an excellent price.
8. LA SPORTIVA MUTANT TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
The La Sportiva Mutant is an extremely comfortable shoe, mainly because of the sock-like fit. Combined with a unique and effective lacing system, it makes them feel like slippers on your feet. They’re cleverly designed for all foot widths because of this lacing system and the stretchy material of the upper. The laces can also be stored in a side pocket at the top of the shoe, although it’s not quite as effective as the Salomon design.
You’ll find plenty of protection around the sides of the shoe and also in the form of a solid toe bumper at the front. The material at the front is breathable and the padded tongue is extremely comfortable – no chance of badly-tied laces digging into your foot whilst you’re running.
In terms of sizing, it’s extremely important to size up – I comfortably fit into a 10.5UK and would even consider a 11UK.
Overall, this is a solid, reliable trail running shoe. It will give you plenty of protection, tons of comfort and the grip is impressive on all surfaces. I liked the fact they could cope with demands of constantly switching terrain, even lengthy road sections weren’t an issue. It’s a shoe I would highly recommend for everyday training, particularly good for longer runs.
Just a few things to be aware of before buying…although robust, they’re a bulky looking shoe and can feel a little heavy when wet. The drop is 10mm, the largest of all trail shoes that I have tested.
- A very comfortable shoe, mainly down to the sock like fit and unique lacing system.
- A great all-rounder, perfect for everyday high-mileage use on a multitude of surfaces.
9. SALOMON S/LAB SPEED 2
The S/Lab Speed 2 blends together all the best features of the Salomon Speedcross 5 and S/Lab Sense 7. It’s a trail running shoe that offers the perfect balance of comfort, protection, grip and stylish design.
It’s not often that I find a shoe which is absolutely ideal for both training and racing, but this model ticks all the boxes. It’s a durable, well-made trail shoe, built to cope with everyday mileage, yet lightweight in design for racing at speed. The updated tread design, with deep 6mm multi-directional lugs, provides excellent grip in all conditions and on every type of terrain.
I love the simple design of this shoe and the seamless blend of materials in the upper. This helps to prolong the life of the shoe by preventing premature wear and tear and also make it super-streamlined. The ‘soft touch’ material around the inside of the shoe, combined with the gusseted, padded tongue, ensure a more comfortable and secure fit.
In terms of sizing, it is consistent with all other models in the Salomon range - I wear a 10.5UK.
Aside from the lofty price tag, it’s difficult to pick any fault with this top of the range trail shoe.
- 6mm lug depth, with improved tread design for extra grip.
- Lightweight and comfortable.
- The ultimate all-round trail shoe, perfectly designed for both training and racing.
- The Salomon Quick-Lace system, complete with stow pocket for the lace.
10. HOKA ONE ONE EVO JAWZ TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
The Hoka Evo Jawz is a speed machine. Comparable to the inov-8 X Talon 210*, it’s one of the lightest trail running shoes on the market, making it an ideal choice for racing.
*It’s a slightly wider model than the X-Talon 210, with plenty of space at the front of the shoe.
The colourful blue design is striking, it stands out for all the right reasons. It’s also a shoe with real bite – the 6mm multi-directional lugs give it fantastic grip, especially on wet and muddy surfaces. It’s like nothing else Hoka One One have ever designed before. I would say that unlike many of the other models I’ve reviewed, it would be also be suitable for short-medium distance fell races, as well as trail running.
The upper material is made from an extremely breathable and lightweight mesh. Fantastic for wicking away moisture, meaning that it doesn’t get weighed down when wet. However, this stripped back aggressive shoe, sacrifices upper protection for a super-lightweight design.
I would not recommend this shoe for dry, hard-packed trails and firm surfaces. It’s designed specifically for soft ground. That said, for an extremely lightweight racing shoe, I was quite impressed with the amount of protection and cushioning that it did give me. But obviously don’t expect the same amount of bounce and energy return of the Hoka Torrent – they are two very different models.
In terms of sizing, I wear a 10.5UK in Hoka, so I would recommend buying a slightly bigger size.
This is not a shoe designed to take big training miles, but one to be unleashed for competition, when grip, speed and performance are the most important criteria.
It’s also worth mentioning that in comparison to other similar shoes on the market, the Hoka Evo Jawz are excellent value for money.
- 6mm lug depth, with an aggressive tread for extra grip, particularly on soft and muddy surfaces.
- Extremely lightweight - ideal for racing.
- Breathable upper materials that wick away moisture.
- A super sleek and stylish design.