Best Track and Cross Country Spikes

Buyers Guide | Fleet Feet

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Whether you’re lighting up the track or tearing up the course, the right spikes can make a world of difference in your race day performance. Many of the best spikes for track or cross country include cutting edge technology like rigid plates, lightweight cushioning and advanced lacing systems so you can focus on your speed.

Looking for more traction? Choose a shoe with more spikes. Covering longer distances? Look for something with fewer spikes and more cushion to support your foot as you race. Find yourself jumping and throwing? Spikes designed for field events will support your foot and ankle through all your twist and turns while giving you the grip you need to perform your best on meet day.

Learn more about what makes the best spikes for your event, on or off the track, and pick the best ones for your style and speed:

[Updated June 15, 2021. This page is part of our Best Running Shoes Guide 2021]

What You Need To Know About Spikes

Austin Track Spike Screw

Understanding how spikes help your performance will help you pick the best pair for your race. 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 provides the extra grip needed to generate top speeds.

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 usually a safe go-to for 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.

Cross Country Race Shoes

Gear up for the first race of the season in the best cross country race shoes. What sets apart your race shoes from the running shoes you train in is the lightweight construction. Many cross country race shoes include low profile foam cushioning in the midsole and heel to support you while you run without weighing you down.

Whether you choose a spikeless shoe with finer lugging or a spiked shoe, cross country race shoes will provide added grip to keep you on your feet in slippery conditions and help you generate speed across the course.

Here are our picks for the best cross country race shoes:

  • Nike Zoom Rival XC
  • Saucony Kilkenny XCV8
  • NB XC5K v5
  • NB XC Seven v3
  • Nike Zoom Victory XC5

Long Distance Track Spikes

Many of the best cross country shoes transition smoothly into long distance race shoes come track season. But, if you’re looking for something with a sleeker profile or more responsive transitions, we’ve got you covered (plus it can’t hurt to shake up your style season to season).

The best long distance track spikes keep a low spike count (4-6) and have a lightweight, low profile that includes more cushioning and support in the heel and midsole. These spikes are best suited for events ranging from the 1500m to the 5K.

Unlike sprinting spikes, long distance spikes often do not include a hard, plastic plate on the outsole and offer more flexibility for your foot’s natural motion as you run. Materials like carbon-fiber or PEBAX plates are often used to generate responsiveness in long distance spikes instead.

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

  • Nike Zoom Victory 3
  • NB LD5K v7
  • Saucony Endorphin 3
  • NB LD5000 v6
  • Nike Rival D 10
  • HOKA ONE ONE Rocket LD

Mid-Distance Track Spikes

Middle distance spikes are a middle ground between long distance and sprint spikes. While oftentimes long distance spikes will feel just as good running the 3200m as the 800m, mid-distance spikes can offer a more specialized fit for runners who find themselves homing in on events like the 400m or 800m.

The best mid-distance spikes feature a low-profile midsole and lightly cushioned heel, and they typically have a few more spikes in their spike plate than the average model built for long distance events. Mid-distance spikes keep the flexibility needed to run well at a longer distance, but they have more rigidity to give a snappy transition and generate speed. These versatile spikes are great for athletes competing across multiple events on the track.

Here are our top picks for the best mid-distance spikes:

  • NB MD500 v6
  • Saucony Vendetta v3
  • NB MD800 v7
  • HOKA ONE ONE Rocket MD
  • Saucony Ballista MD
  • Nike Zoom D

Sprinting Track Spikes

Light and fast. That’s the design motto of many of the best sprinting spikes. These shoes are lightweight and much stiffer than long distance or middle distance spikes to keep your foot dorsiflexed, placing your weight on the ball of your foot. The spike plate is constructed of rigid plastic to promote fast, snappy transitions, and it can include anywhere from six to eight spikes to give you more traction off the blocks.

The best sprinting spikes do not have any padding on the heel and focus much of their technology on the forefoot. While some mid-distance runners may elect for the faster feel of a sprinter’s spike, these shoes are designed for events under 400m, where every second and every stride counts.

Here are our top picks for the best sprinting spikes:

  • Saucony Spitfire 5
  • NB Vazee Verge
  • Nike Superfly Elite
  • NB SD100 v3
  • Saucony Showdown 5
  • Nike Zoom Ja Fly 3

Field Spikes

Whether you pole vault, jump or throw, the best spikes for field events can boost your performance by adding grip and traction where you need it most. Field spikes are lightweight and have enough rigidity to push you faster and higher. Often these shoes have a higher spike count and can take a longer, needle spike to help stabilize you as you jump and run.

Spikes for throwing events like shot put or discus allow for free rotation and give you enough grip so you can generate momentum to throw your farthest. High jump or long jump spikes are built to give you grip and help you get a fast start.

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

  • Saucony Unleash SD 2 (throwing)
  • Nike Zoom SD 4 (throwing)
  • Saucony Uplift HJ 2
  • Nike High Jump Elite
  • Saucony Lavar Jav 2
  • Nike Zoom Long Jump 4