Best Spikes for Track & Cross Country

Buyers Guide 2024 | Fleet Feet

By Tom Rivett, Evan Matsumoto, Mandy Wahl Updated on

If you want to top the podium and hit your personal best on the track, cross-country course or in your field event, then finding the right pair of track or XC shoes will help you crush your next meet.

The best track and cross country spikes do two things really well:

  1. Feel lightweight and quick on your feet for the distance or event you are competing in
  2. Are secure and grippy enough to handle top speeds, twists and turns.

Many of today's best spikes and racing flats include cutting-edge technology like rigid plates, lightweight cushioning and advanced lacing systems, so you can focus on performing.

Whether you’re sprinting, jumping, throwing, or running middle to long-distance races, we’ve got you covered to help you find the best shoes and spikes for any event. When the gun’s about to go off, lace up one of these speedy spikes to light up the track or course.

Check out our list below comparing the best XC spikes and track spikes for every event:

Best Long Distance Spikes

Best Mid-Distance Spikes

Best Sprinting Spikes

Best Field & Throwing Spikes

Best Cross Country Spikes

[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2024. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]

What You Need To Know About Spikes

Understanding how spikes can improve your performance will help you pick the best pair for your race. The quantity of spikes in the shoe’s spike plate, length of spike and overall fit are the most important factors to consider before your next meet.

How many spikes do you need?

A good rule of thumb: the longer the distance, the fewer spikes in the spike plate. Cross country and long distance track spikes typically have four or five spikes, while sprinting and mid-distance spikes can range from six to eight spikes, which gives you the extra traction needed to push top speeds.

What spike length do you need?

Track and cross country shoes have spikes that can be screwed in and out of the bottom plate. Depending on the surface you race on, you’ll want to choose the appropriate spike length so you don’t find yourself carrying extra turf with you on the cross country course, or sliding around an indoor track.

Quarter (¼) inch spikes are generally safe for most track and cross country races. If you are racing on an indoor track, there can be regulations on the length of spike you are allowed to wear in order to keep the track intact as it’s used; on average, one-eighth (⅛) inch spikes are the standard for indoor track.

As you gain experience and fine tune the feel you prefer in your spikes, you can toy around with a variety of spike shapes from pyramid to needle spikes on the track, but always be sure to check the meet rules before changing out your spikes.

How should spikes fit?

Fit is important when it comes to spikes. They often will not fit or feel the same as your trainers. For instance, you may want slightly less space between your longest toe and the front of your spike compared to the thumb’s width you would generally shoot for in a running shoe. This will give you a more secure fit and better control during toe-off. If you’re not sure which track or cross country spikes to buy, visit your local Fleet Feet and meet with an expert Outfitter to help you find the perfect fit.

​Pro tip:

Track and cross country spikes are often unisex-sized shoes. Men's sizes are more commonly shown — women should order 1.5 sizes below their standard running shoe size. For example: for a women's size 9.5 shoe, order a size 8 unless specified otherwise.

Best Long Distance Track Spikes

For events ranging distances from 1500m to 5K, the best long distance track spikes have a low spike count (4-6) with just enough cushioning in the midsole and heel to keep your legs fresh enough for your final kick.

To let your foot move naturally as you run, long distance track spikes are often more flexible and do not use a firm, plastic plate on the outsole compared to sprinting spikes. Instead, designers will use carbon-fiber or PEBAX plates in the midsole of premium long-distance track spikes for extra speediness.

Here are our picks for the best long distance track spikes.

​​Tip for beginners:

Many of the best spikes for running cross country races transition well into long distance race spikes come track season. Do not use track spikes for XC, however.

Best Long Distance Track Spike
Women's Saucony Endorphin 3 Thumbnail

Saucony Endorphin 3

$120
  • Weight: 3.7 oz (M), 3.2 oz (W)
  • Spike Plate: 4 removable spikes
  • Distance: 800-10,000 meters
  • Surface: Track
Best Long Distance Track Spike
Men's New Balance LD5K v8 Thumbnail

New Balance LD5K v8

$120
  • Weight: 4.8 oz (M), 4.5 oz (W)
  • Spike Plate: 4 removable spikes
  • Distance: 800-10,000 meters
  • Surface: Track
Best Long Distance Track Spike
Men's Nike Rival D 10 Thumbnail

Nike Zoom Rival Distance

$65
  • Spike Plate: 4 removable spikes
  • Distance: 400-10,000 meters
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Long Distance Track Spike
    HOKA U Cielo X 2 LD Thumbnail

    HOKA Cielo X 2 LD

    $160
    • Weight: 3.7 oz
    • Spike Plate: 4 removable spikes
    • Distance: 800-10,000 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Long Distance Track Spike
    Brooks Wire 8 Thumbnail

    Brooks Wire 8

    $150
    • Weight: 4.7 oz
    • Spike Plate: 5 removable spikes
    • Distance: 800-10,000 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Long Distance Track Spike
    Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom X Dragonfly

    $160
    • Weight: 4.4 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 1,500-10,000 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Long Distance Spikes
    New Balance FuelCell SuperComp LD-X Thumbnail

    New Balance FuelCell SuperComp LD-X

    $160
  • Spike Plate: Full length carbon-plate with 4 built-in pins (non-removable)
  • Distance: 3,000-10,000 meters, steeplechase
  • Surface: Track
  • Men's Adidas Adizero Avanti TYO Thumbnail

    adidas Adizero Avanti TYO

    $150
  • Weight: 6.0 oz.
  • Spike Plate:6 spikes)
  • Distance: 400-10,000 meters
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Mid-Distance Track Spikes

    Looking to compete in multiple events on the track or hone your skills in events like the 400m or 800m? A middle distance spike could be your race shoe.

    The best mid-distance spikes have the perfect combination of lightweight cushion and rigidity for snappy transitions and fast speeds. They’re super versatile for athletes who need an all-around track spike and typically have a few more spikes underneath compared to long-distance models.

    If you’re looking to shave some seconds off your PR for track season this year, check out our top picks for the best mid-distance spikes.

    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Women's Saucony Terminal VT Thumbnail

    Saucony Terminal VT

    $150
    • Weight: 3.7 oz
    • Spike Plate: 5 removable spikes
    • Distance: 400-5,000 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Men's New Balance MD500v8 Thumbnail

    New Balance MD500 v8

    $70
    • Weight: 5.6 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 400-1,500 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Men's Saucony Velocity MP Thumbnail

    Saucony Velocity MP

    $80
    • Weight: 5.3 oz (M), 4.3 oz (W)
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 400-10,000 meters (good for multi-distance and multi-event athletes
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Men's New Balance MD800v8 Thumbnail

    New Balance MD800 v8

    $120
    • Weight: 4.8 oz (M), 4.1 oz (W)
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 800-3,200 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Men's Saucony Velocity MP Thumbnail

    Saucony Velocity MP

    $80
    • Weight: 4.3 oz (W), 5.3 oz (M)
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 800-3,200 meters, multi-event
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    ASICS Hyper MD 8 Thumbnail

    ASICS Hyper MD 8

    $80
  • Spike Plate: 5 removable spikes
  • Distance: 800-3,200 meters
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    Brooks ELMN8 v7 Thumbnail

    Brooks ELMN8 v7

    $150
    • Weight: 4.9 oz (M), 4.1 oz (W)
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 400-1600 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Mid-Distance Track Spike
    HOKA U Cielo X 2 MD Thumbnail

    HOKA Cielo X 2 MD

    $160
    • Weight: 4.5 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 800-3,200 meters
    • Surface: Track

    Best Sprinting Track Spikes

    When you have to go all out, the best sprinting spikes will give you the push you need to finish strong.

    Ultra-light, aggressive and super fast, track spikes for sprinting are designed with a rigid spike plate to keep your weight on the ball of your foot and promote snappy transitions. Ready to explode off the blocks, they can use anywhere from six to eight spikes so you can dig into your starting position.

    The best spikes for sprinting use little to no padding on the heel and focus much of their technology on the forefoot and spike plate. While some experienced mid-distance runners may elect for the faster feel of a sprinter’s spike, these race shoes are designed for events under 400m, where every second and every stride counts.

    Built for top-end speed, here are our top picks for the best sprinting spikes.

    Best Sprinting Track Spike
    Women's Saucony Spitfire 5 Thumbnail

    Saucony Spitfire 5

    $65
    • Weight: 5.0 oz
    • Spike Plate: 7 removable spikes
    • Distance: 60-400 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Sprinting Track Spike
    Nike Zoom Rival Multi-Event Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom Rival Multi-Event

    $75
  • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
  • Distance: Sprints, mid-distance, hurdles, pole vaulting, jumps
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Sprinting Track Spike
    Men's Adidas Adizero Finesse Thumbnail

    Adidas Adizero Finesse

    $130
    • Weight: 8.6 oz (size 9)
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 60-400 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Sprinting Track Spike
    New Balance USD100 v4 Thumbnail

    New Balance SD100 v4

    $70
    • Weight: 6.5 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 60-400 meters
    • Surface: Track
    Best Sprinting Track Spike
    Nike Zoom Rival Sprint Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom Rival Sprint

    $75
  • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
  • Distance: 60-400 meters
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Sprinting Track Spike
    ASICS Hypersprint 8 Thumbnail

    ASICS Hypersprint 8

    $80
  • Spike Plate: 5 removable spikes
  • Distance: 60-400 meters
  • Surface: Track
  • Best Field & Throwing Spikes

    For field events like the high jump, long jump, pole vault and shot put, the best spikes help support your foot and ankle while you grip, twist and turn to generate the most power.

    To accomplish this, field spikes are built to be lightweight with enough rigidity to push you faster and higher. They often have a higher spike count and can take needle spikes, which are longer than traditional spikes to help stabilize you as you jump and run.

    Throwing shoes for events like shot put or discus are typically spikeless to allow for a free rotation while giving you enough grip to generate momentum to throw your farthest.

    Whether you pole vault, jump or throw, these spikes give you the grip and traction you need to perform your best on meet day.

    Here are our picks for the best jumping and throwing spikes.

    Best Field Spikes
    Nike Zoom Rotational 6 Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom Rotational 6

    $110
  • Spike Plate: No
  • Events: Shot Put, Discus, Javlin
  • Best Field Spikes
    Nike Zoom SD 4 Throwing Shoe Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom SD 4 Throwing Shoe

    $85
    • Spike Plate: No
    • Events: Shot put, discus and hammer throwing
    • Surface: Field
    Best Jumping Spikes
    Nike Air Zoom Elite LJ Elite 2 Thumbnail

    Nike Air Zoom Elite LJ Elite 2

    $160
  • Spike Plate: 7 removable spikes
  • Events: Long jump
  • Best Jumping Spikes
    Men's Saucony Uplift HJ 2 Thumbnail

    Saucony Uplift HJ 2

    $100
    • Weight: 10.0 oz
    • Spike Plate: 11 removable spikes
    • Events: High jump
    Best Jumping Spikes
    Nike Zoom Rival Jump Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom Rival Jump

    $75
    • Surface: Track
    • Spike Plate: Full-length plate with 6 spikes
    • Events: Pole vault and jumping events
    Best Jumping Spike
    Men's Saucony Soarin J 2 Thumbnail

    Saucony Soarin J2

    $100
    • Weight: 8.9 oz
    • Spike Plate: 8 removable spikes
    • Events:Pole Vault and jumping events

    Best Cross Country Spikes

    Looking to prepare for cross country season? When you’re battling for position during your next meet, you want a cross country spike with grip, security and speed.

    Cross country shoes are different from the running shoes that you train in outside of competition. Cross Country racing shoes are lightweight and built with low-profile foam cushioning for better control and responsiveness. They also have a glove-like fit around your midfoot and heel for extra support without weighing you down.

    Whether you choose a spikeless XC shoe with finer lugging or a spiked shoe, cross country race shoes will give you better grip in slippery conditions and help you generate speed across the course.

    Conquer steep climbs, rolling hills and tight trails with these best cross country spikes.

    Best Cross Country Spike
    Nike Zoom Rival XC 6 Thumbnail

    Nike Zoom Rival XC 6

    $70
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    Brooks Draft XC Spike Thumbnail

    Brooks Draft XC

    $70
    • Weight: 6.5 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    New Balance XC Seven v4 Thumbnail

    New Balance XC Seven v4

    $70
    • Weight: 6.7 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    Women's Saucony Kilkenny XC9 Thumbnail

    Saucony Kilkenny XC9

    $65
    • Weight: 5.2 oz
    • Spike Plate: 4 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    New Balance XC5K v6 Thumbnail

    New Balance XC5K v6

    $110
    • Weight: 4.9 oz
    • Spike Plate: 5 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    Men's Saucony Havok XC 3 Thumbnail

    Saucony Havok XC 3

    $85
    • Weight: 5.6 oz
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country
    Best Cross Country Spike
    Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC Thumbnail

    Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC

    $160
    • Spike Plate: 6 removable spikes
    • Distance: 2-10K
    • Surface: Cross country

    How We Tested the Best Spikes for Track and Cross Country

    With over 250 stores in communities across the country, Fleet Feet is the largest running store in the U.S. with over four decades of experience outfitting runners with the best running shoes, apparel and gear. We focus on running and walking gear, so we can be the experts and bring you the best running and walking advice possible.

    Through our personalized Fleet Feet fit id® Outfitting process with 3D foot scanning technology, we use data from over 5 million foot scans (and counting) to give us unique insights into how today’s top running shoes and spikes fit and perform on a wide variety of feet. Additionally, thanks to 100,000+ runners participating in our local running clubs and training programs each year, we can see firsthand how the newest running shoes and gear perform for all different types of runners, each with different goals in mind.

    Collectively, our experienced team of Fleet Feet editors has tried, tested and fallen in love with hundreds of different running shoes from dozens of the world’s top running brands. With this knowledge, we meticulously pour over the smallest details like fit, comfort, materials, durability and weight, to decide which running shoes and gear are the best. From running shoe and gear reviews to cross country workout tips and inspiration, we are your go-to source for running knowledge and motivation.

    With this knowledge and expertise, we’ve tested the best track and cross country shoes based on:

    • Purpose. Comparing apples to apples
    • Performance. How well does it do its job?
    • Real-world testing. We put them to the test on real runs
    • Price. Is it affordable? Does its performance justify its cost?
    • Sales. Best-selling models are best-sellers for a reason
    • fit id® data. Our 5 million+ foot scans show how shoes fit for different feet
    • Availability. It won’t be good for you if it’s not in stock
    • Designer interviews. We ask the people who made it

    Standing Behind Our Picks

    Fleet Feet knows running.

    We picked the best track and cross country spikes based on over four decades of experience outfitting runners of all abilities, ages and sizes. If you buy gear from us and you don’t like the way it looks, fits or performs, bring it back within 60 days for a full refund.

    Plus, we offer free shipping & returns on all orders over $99 on fleetfeet.com, and we’ll match a lower price from a qualifying retailer. That’s our Happy Fit Guarantee.

    fit id® & Dynamic Pressure Mapping

    Buying online isn’t for everyone. To try on your gear before you buy it, visit a local Fleet Feet store for an in-person fitting experience.

    We fit you for running shoes through our own fit id® outfitting process. The one-on-one process uses a 3D scanner to take precise measurements of your feet. This in combination with our *Dynamic Pressure Mapping system helps our highly trained Outfitters assess your foot’s path of motion and stride as you walk so they can find the perfect shoes for you. Then, using data points for each foot and decades of experience in the industry, we help you find the right gear for your unique feet and specific needs.

    Want to try it for yourself? Find a Fleet Feet location near you.

    *Pressure plates are available at select Fleet Feet stores