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.
- Salomon Speedcross 4
- Ortholite insole
- Mud & Snow Contagrip
- Adidas Vigor 6 TR
- Traxion outsole
- Moisture-wicking lining
- ASICS Gel-Scram 3
- Rearfoot Gel Cushion
- High quality construction
This list of the best trail shoes for men will help you find the best shoe when it comes to your needs on the trails. Maybe you want to take the minimalist route, feel the mud beneath your toes. You could have weaker ankles and knees that demand more support. Whatever your needs are, you will find a shoe on this list that works well for you and is built for the trail. We have scoured the internet to find the best 10 that are available on today’s market. Follow this guide to find your perfect running partner.
10 Best Trail Shoes for Men
1. Salomon Speedcross 4
With added obstacles on trail runs, such as rocks or roots, you need extra protection. The Salomon Speedcross 4’s have a protective rubber toe cap, so your toes have an armor. This shoe 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 shoe is the Sensifit technology. It’s a developed technology that wraps the foot with a secure fit by cradling the foot. The cradling is from the midsole to the lace system, giving a precise and snug fit. The technology has molded this system into the shoe which reduces weight. Another sensitive item is the OrthoLite sockliner. A combination of particular Ortholite foam and an EVA heel cup, the sockliner will keep you cool, dry, and cushioned in all environments.
Cost and Value
For this middle ground trail running shoe, you will find it to be an outstanding value. The waterproof and debris shedding outside will allow your shoe to carry you through all of your trail runs with ease and for many miles to come.
- Tread for mud and snow
- Color options
- Lace pocket
- Grip for descent control
- Can run narrow
- May require additional support
2. Adidas Vigor 6 TR
EVA is a man-made foam that is flexible and lightweight making it a great choice of material for trail shoes. EVA adds an extra level of comfortable cushioning to ensure that every step on various types of terrain is covered.
Adidas TRAXION® outsole provides a wide, narrow profile of lugs that offer maximum grip and is perfect for running on any type of trail terrain.
Cost & Value
The Vigor 6 TR is a mid-priced trail shoe that offers excellent cushioning and stability thanks to its stability mesh upper and EVA midsole. Designed with Adidas TRAXION® outsole for superior grip, these shoes are great for running on any trail.
- TRAXION® Outsole
- EVA Midsole
- Stable Mesh Upper
- Moisture-Wick Lining
- Maximizes Stability
- Narrow Fitting
3. The North Face Ultra 109
Gore-TEX® is a waterproof, extended comfort range membrane that offers superior stability and delivers subtle pronation correction.
Protective TPU Toe Cap
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 toe related injury. TPU is a mixture hybrid material of plastic and soft silicone making for a dense and smooth rubber.
Cost & Value
The Ultra 109 is a bit pricier than some options on the list but is well worth the price. Its durable construction and comfortable wearability make the 109 an excellent choice for anyone who loves trail running.
- Subtle Pronation Correction
- Snake Plate™
- UltrATAC™ Rubber Outsole
- Mesh & PU Coated Leather
- May Feel Heavy
4. Mizuno Wave Catalyst 2
A soft mesh will allow your foot to move freely as you spring forward on the trail. The shoe also has a padded tongue and collar, as well as a midfoot landing to add extra cushion. You will feel comfortable on all terrains and will also be a good option if you choose to run a day on pavement, or at the gym.
The sole of this shoe, and the upper wrap provides support without weighing you down. A great feature is a plastic layer that is embedded in the shoe’s midsole, providing a rigid and lightweight structure. You will feel the structure of the shoe working together to help you bound forward.
Cost and Value
This shoe would be ideal for runners who already know they love road runs, but want to venture into trail running. It’s an approachable price and if you find you don’t fall in love with trail running, you can use it for road runs, giving this shoe excellent value.
- Color options
- All-day comfort
- Good arch support
- Durable construction
- Needs breaking in
5. ASICS Gel-Scram 3
Most trail runs have a number of hills included. You need extra protection and traction when you run both up and down hills. The ASICS Gel-Scram 3 has reversed lugs on the outsole to help provide more traction uphill, downhill, and on many terrains.
It’s really awesome how many shoes come with custom sock liners. There are some that build in the support for the type of runner you are. What if you don’t fit that mold? You may find those sockliners are really uncomfortable or cause more injury. This shoe comes with a removable sockliner, so you can personalize this shoe if you need a custom or medical orthotic.
Cost and Value
This brand can get expensive, but this trail shoe is priced in a very approachable range. Expect the quality to stand up to many miles, giving you a great value.
- Rearfoot GEL cushion
- Low maintenance care
- Neural sizing, but true in size
- Quality construction
- Made for trail running
- Not completely waterproof
6. New Balance MT690v2
The New Balance MT690v2’s have a toe protector that reinforces the front of the shoe and helps protect your toes from rocks and hard surfaces. The improved tread from the previous model will also give you better traction on rocks and slippery surfaces. The outsole is designed for both on and off-road running, so you will find this shoe becomes your favorite overall running shoe very quickly.
A molded midsole that is injected into the shoe, will give you great support during your entire run and in all terrains. This shoe also has a performance insert to give you another level of comfort and support.
Cost and Value
Very approachable price point and great for all levels of trail runners from beginners to experts.
- Gusseted Tongue
- All day comfort
- Versatile use
- Color options
- Not for wide feet
7. Merrell Trail Glove 4
Enjoy a lug pattern to provide stability in both wet and dry surfaces. The traction will help with both sandy trails and rocky terrains. This shoe has also been tested in both extremely high and low temperatures, and it performed in both situations.
If you do not like a constricting ankle height, then you will love the Merrell Trail Glove 4. The ankle cuts low to give you a full range of motion. The shoe will be a glove-like fit, meaning it will be tight around your entire foot. The advantage of this fit is you will be less likely to catch or trip on any obstacles on the trail.
Cost and Value
Great value for the quality of construction. You can expect this shoe to last you for many miles and will be your go-to for all climates and conditions, making this shoe worth the price.
- Vegan friendly
- Pre-treated with anti-odor
- Midsole cushioning
- Glove like fit
- Arch support can be uncomfortable
8. Salomon XA Pro 3D
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 trail shoe, it is on the lighter weight side. They are comfortable, socklike, and provide great support without weighing you down too much. This is really important when it comes to trail running. You want a shoe that is going to feel light to help you lift your feet quick, and avoid any roots or rocks.
Cost and Value
This is a very expensive shoe, so it’s recommended for those who love trail running and know what they are looking for in a shoe. If you are just looking to try out trail running, and find you don’t enjoy it these shoes may not be a great value, especially since they are not waterproof so they aren’t recommended for hiking unless you are in a dry climate.
- Protective rubber toe cap
- Quick dry mesh
- Great traction and grip
- Quicklace design
- Color choices
- Not waterproof
- Not ideal for wide feet
9. New Balance MT 10V1 Minimus
This shoe has upper materials to assist with your forefoot, then a midfoot wrap will hold your foot steady throughout your entire run. If you find that this isn’t enough support, you can order one size up and wear cushioning socks. This shoe also allows for you to insert your own orthotic if needed. One piece of advice is to make sure you really wear in these shoes if you are not used to such a minimal shoe. Once you have worn them in, you will never want to take them off.
An antimicrobial and odor-resistant treatment will keep your shoes fresh. The shoes are 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 shoe also does well with being washed inside a washing machine.
Cost and Value
If you are just starting out with trail running, this might not be a great value if you end up going back to full-time road running. This shoe would be great for basic gym exercises, such as weightlifting, spin, or step. If you are a serious trail runner, and you like the lightweight, this shoe is excellent value.
- Vibram sole
- 4mm drop
- Sleek design
- Breathable mesh fabric
- Not waterproof
- Runs small
10. Mizuno Wave Kazan
The synthetic upper materials were designed to reduce the stress on your foot, helping to avoid injury. Your feet will feel so great, you may find yourself running a few miles longer than originally planned. The reinforced toe overlay for protection and heel design to minimize movement will have you feeling supported from toe to heel. Mizuno has also incorporated “SmoothRide Engineering”, a sole design that creates a rocking chair transition from toe to heel.
This shoe has a carbon runner outsole with “X” grooves for great traction. The great thing about this outsole is the flexibility so you don’t feel constricted, but you still feel the grip.
Cost and Value
A touch on the expensive side if you don’t trail run on a regular basis, but you will find a great value with the quality of design. If you are a regular trail running and like having a little more support, this is an excellent value.
- Heel-cradling concave wave
- Inspired by Japanese rock garden
- Breathable fabric lining
- Lightweight upper materials
- Needs break in
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.
Need ideas on where to find a great trail near you? Try finding a local running club or information centre to find maps of great trails in your area. Often running clubs will have upcoming races in your area and will be able to recommend a great trail for you. This also works if you are traveling to a new area.
Criteria Used To Evaluate The Best Trail Shoes For Men
Type Of Shoe
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
- Supportive uppers
- 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
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.
The piece of rubber on the bottom of the shoe is called the outsole, this is the part of the shoe that makes contact with the ground and it is an important part of both the shoes’ safety and performance.
Different styles of outsoles are designed for specific types of terrain. For example, larger lugs grip soft surfaces better, whereas rubber is more sticky and offers better grip on hard surfaces. If you are planning on running through mud or damp soil widely spaced lugs will offer the best tread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I want to switch to barefoot style trail shoes do I need time to adjust?
A: 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 minimum 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 trail shoes prevent injuries?
A: 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?
A: 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 trail shoes for running or hiking?
A: 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.