Best Trail Running Shoes 2023
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
The best trail shoes let you go off-road and tackle any terrain.
There are several key differences between road running shoes and trail running shoes. Unlike road running shoes, trail running shoes use sticky rubber compounds in the outsole and aggressive lugs to grip the trail and stabilize each step. Most trail shoes offer additional protection from roots and rocks both under foot and in the upper.
Finally, most trail shoes have drainage holes or mesh to allow water to escape after stream crossings (check out our guide to the best waterproof shoes if you are looking for an option to keep water out completely).
In the past, most shoe companies offered one or two trail options, but with trail running becoming more popular than ever, the technology has come a long way. Now, brands make trail shoes for different categories similar to road running.
We’ve picked a few different categories to focus on when recommending trail running shoes: best everyday trail shoes, best long distance trail shoes, best trail racing shoes, best all terrain shoes and best hiking trail shoes.
So whether you are a beginner trail runner or you’re looking for the best trail shoe for ultramarathons, we picked the best trail shoes for you:
Best Shoes for Everyday Trail Runs:
- Altra Lone Peak 7
- Brooks Cascadia 16
- Saucony Peregrine 13
- Topo Athletics Ultraventure 3
- HOKA Torrent 2
- On Cloudventure 3.0
- New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7
Best Trail Shoes for Long Distances:
- Brooks Caldera 6
- On Cloudultra
- HOKA Speedgoat 5
- Altra Timp 4
- Saucony Xodus Ultra
- New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v2
Best Shoes for Trail Races:
Best All Terrain Running Shoes:
Best Trail Running Shoes for Hiking:
With more than 250 locations and four decades of experience, Fleet Feet helps thousands of trail runners, hikers, and adventurers find the perfect trail running shoes. We hear from the shoe companies, try the shoes ourselves and listen to customer feedback to make sure that we are recommending the best trail shoes for every scenario.
[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2023. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
Best for Everyday Trail Runs
Getting out in nature for a trail run can have huge benefits for both your physical and mental health. Even adding a trail run or two into your road training can help improve your fitness by using different muscles and switching up your routine.
We’ve picked out the best trail running shoes for those everyday runs where you hit up the trail for some miles after work or on the weekend. Most of these shoes would also work well for hiking.
Looking for a bit more cushion? Check out the best long distance trail running shoes.
Altra Lone Peak 7
The Altra Lone Peak 7 offers one of the most unique fits and rides of any trail running shoe on this list.
Trail running in the Lone Peak gives you a connected ground feel without skimping on cushion or protection. Altra’s 0 mm drop encourages a natural and stable stride, while their balanced AltraEGO™ cushioning gives you a soft and responsive ride.
When you’re on the trail, control and confidence in your trail shoes mean everything. The Lone Peak’s sticky MaxTrac™ outsole gives you unbeatable grip whether you’re ascending a steep climb or pumping the brakes downhill. No matter what type of trail you’re conquering, the updated StoneGuard™ brings an extra layer of protection from roots and rocks.
Perfect for staying comfortable during long days on the dusty trail, Altra’s FootShape toe box is roomy, making it one of the best trail shoes for wide feet. The shape lets your toes splay without rubbing the sides of the shoe (it also comes in wide).
The Altra Lone Peak 7 is a do-it-all trail shoe for hikers and trail runners and is a no-brainer if you have trouble finding shoes that fit your feet comfortably.
Read more: Altra Lone Peak 7 Review.
Brooks Cascadia 16
A favorite among beginner and experienced trail runners, the updated Brooks Cascadia 16 is full of pop and foot protection with Brook’s plush DNA Loft v2 foam and Ballistic Rock Shield.
Unique grooves on the midsole and outsole conform to rocky terrain and give you excellent stability and confidence on uneven trails. Our testers loved the traction in our Brooks Cascadia 16 review.
The Cascadia 16 keeps your feet cool and protected on hot days thanks to a reinforced toe cap as well as knit mesh for durability and ventilation. There is also a waterproof GTX version to keep your feet warm and dry when running through the snow or rain.
The padded heel collar keeps your foot secure and prevents debris from sneaking into your shoe during your run, making the Cascadia 16 a well-rounded trail running shoe. Plus, if you tend to have a wider foot or like to wear thicker socks on your runs and hikes, Brooks offers wide widths for both men and women.
Saucony Peregrine 13
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced trail runner, the Saucony Peregrine 13 will help you fly down the trails. Saucony made this model of the Peregrine lighter, more comfortable and more protective than previous versions to give you the best experience on the trail.
Saucony's PWRTRAC multidirectional rubber lugs let you grip almost any surface so you can confidently take on technical terrain. Designers also revamped the upper to improve the fit and breathability.
Plus, Saucony added even more PWRRUN cushioning to provide a soft and responsive ride while a bendable rock plate protects your feet against jagged stones or tough roots on the trail.
Topo Athletics Ultraventure 3
Go exploring with the Topo Athletics Ultraventure 3.
This shoe features Topo’s signature fit—an anatomical roomy toe box that allows your toes to splay naturally while securing your midfoot and heel. The Ultraventure 3 has an internal microfiber belt to make sure that your foot is secure as you run over uneven terrain.
The Vibram® XS Trek EVO outsole is designed with generously spaced lugs to give you traction on slick trails. The Zipfoam midsole offers a cushioned ride and light guidance as you run through the woods.
A lightweight mesh upper with minimal overlays allows your feet to breathe and drains water fast if you run through puddles or cross streams. Whether you’re cruising singletrack or balancing on ridgelines, the Topo Ultraventure 3 is up for the challenge.
HOKA Torrent 2
The HOKA Torrent 2 is a lightweight running shoe that’s ideal for fast off-road days.
Designers gave the Torrent a slab of HOKA’s PROFLY™ midsole material that gives you forgiving landings and propulsive take-offs. HOKA’s signature Meta-Rocker is great for trekking uphill and rolling through those downhills. The outsole gives you traction and durability to handle uneven terrain.
This is one of the lightest options on the everyday trail running list. If you are looking for more cushion, check out the HOKA Speedgoat 5, which is also great for everyday trail runs.
On Cloudventure 3.0
When the terrain gets technical or steep, we look for a trail shoe that gives us confidence with every step. The On Cloudventure’s unique ground-feel—your ability to react and push off the trail—is what consistently makes the Cloudventure one of our favorite trail running shoes.
A sticky rubber outsole grips rock scrambles just as well as soft ground and gives you excellent traction for steep climbs and fast descents.
Soft, lightweight Helion foam is layered over top of On’s Cloudtec for a responsive ride that’s cushioned enough for long runs or multiple-day hiking trips. A split-design Speedboard sandwiched between the midsole gives the shoe some pop and flexibility, and it acts as a rock plate for extra foot protection.
For a more comfortable fit, On redesigned the forefoot shape and used a lightweight and airy upper that is durable enough to resist snags from roots and sticks.
Ready to take on the Swiss Alps or your local trail, the Cloudventure is your go-to trail shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7
Experience running on air though the trails with the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7.
This trail shoe puts New Balance’s signature Fresh Foam into a rugged trail shoe so you can take on the elements in comfort. Its higher stack height gives you cushion when you are on the trails and makes you want to run for longer.
The tacky Vibram® Megagrip rubber outsole and deep lugs let you take on slick rocks, mud and steep descents with confidence. Plus, an airy upper allows your feet to breathe as you have fun on the trails. This trail shoe is rugged and is great for those who are hard on their shoes.
Best for Long Distance Trail Runs
Whether you are embarking on your first ultramarathon, hoping to go to Western States or just love spending a day running in the woods, these are some of the best shoes for long distance trail runs. They have more cushion and a bit more grip than other shoes on this list to give you comfort when you are running all day.
Brooks Caldera 6
The Brooks Caldera 6 is designed with cushion and comfort for the trails.
Brooks added its DNA LOFT v3 foam to the Caldera, which is soft and lightweight to rack up those off-road miles while giving you plenty of pop to keep the legs feeling fresh. Testers loved this new foam in our Brooks Caldera 6 review.
An internal midfoot saddle and raised midsole foam keep your feet secure and supported. Sticky traction rubber on the outsole works together with multidirectional lugs for outstanding uphill and downhill traction on even the most difficult terrain.
The On Cloudultra gives you a plush ride through even the longest trail runs thanks to its double CloudTec cushioning system. A layer of On’s Helion foam absorbs impact from the uneven trails, while the Speedboard gives you propulsive take-offs.
Take on those tough trails with the Missiongrip outsole that uses three distinct traction patterns to provide multi-direction grip on rough terrain. Plus, the sock-like construction of the upper keeps debris out and gives your foot support as you take on uneven surfaces.
The On Cloudultra is made to go the distance.
HOKA Speedgoat 5
Whether you’re battling technical terrain or fast singletrack, one thing’s for sure: The HOKA Speedgoat 5 trail shoe is one of the greatest of all time.
The fifth edition of this award-winning shoe, the Speedgoat 5 sports a new double jacquard mesh upper for a more secure lockdown fit and added durability. Our testers loved the new fit and feel in our HOKA Speedgoat 5 review. A newly engineered, lightweight midsole foam cushions your feet while the late-stage Meta-Rocker rolls you through the trails.
Take on both wet and dry conditions with confidence. The Speedgoat 5 lets you grip the trail better than ever thanks to a Vibram Megagrip outsole with Traction Lug system. Redesigned multidirectional lugs and zonal rubber placements are the cherries on top, offering extra traction and stability.
Altra Timp 4
Altra beefed up the Timp 4 to tackle long distances. The latest edition features Altra’s EGO™ MAX midsole material for a soft and cushioned feel with a bit of bounce. Altra’s signature wide FootShaped™ toe box allows for your toes to splay naturally, giving you better balance on uneven terrain.
The Timp 4 has Altra’s MaxTrac™ outsole for extra grip, and the multidirectional lugs allow you to climb uphill and race down. Plus, there are even drainage ports in the forefoot, so you can stomp through creeks and streams without worry.
Saucony Xodus Ultra
Saucony built this ultralight, ultra-cushioned and ultra-responsive Xodus Ultra for long trails. They took their super soft and bouncy PWRRUN PB foam and surrounded it with a PWR frame to keep it stable enough to handle the trails.
An improvised rock plate protects you from rocks and roots while the Xodus Ultra’s three-piece PWRTRAC outsole gives you grip and traction to handle uneven and slick surfaces. This is a great option for those who love the Saucony Endorphin Series, but want to run long distances on the trails.
New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v2
The New Balance More Trail v2 is built like a tank to keep you on the trails all day long. These shoes contain New Balance’s Fresh Foam X, which is a plush, bouncy cushion, so you feel like you are running and hiking on pillows all day long. Plus, the flexible upper makes sure your feet can more naturally spread out inside the shoe.
The More Trail v2 gives your feet a rocker sensation as you roll through the trails. A Vibram outsole provides for extra grip so you can go through muddy puddles or across slick rocks with ease. The New Balance More Trail v2 provides long-term comfort in off-road scenarios.
Best for Trail Races
Similar to road racing shoes, many companies develop trail racing shoes to give you an edge on race day. For those individuals who are looking to take seconds (or minutes) off their times, these shoes can help out. Super lightweight with features such as carbon plates, these shoes will help you get to the finish line faster.
HOKA Tecton X
HOKA’s premier trail racing shoe features two parallel carbon plates that provide a propulsive ride, even on uneven surfaces. The plates work with HOKA’s ProFly-X™ foam to give you a lively ride that our testers love in the HOKA Tecton X review.
A Vibram® Megagrip outsole with Litebase construction gives you the grip and traction to handle the gnarliest trails. A breathable jacquard engineered mesh upper provides a secure lockdown while being breathable and comfortable for hours on the trails.
The HOKA Tecton X will let you attack the trails for all race distances, from a 5K to a multi-day ultramarathon.
Altra Mont Blanc
The Altra Mont Blanc is made to sustain speed over long distances. Altra's EGO™ MAX midsole foam is plush, light and flexible to give you soft cushioning throughout your run. The upper is ultra-lightweight and super breathable with Altra’s signature FootShaped™ toe box that allows your toes to splay naturally and promotes better balance on uneven terrain.
The outsole is designed with Vibram® LiteBase which includes micro and macro lugs for traction on any terrain without adding extra weight. Altra has only placed material where you need extra protection on the trails and removed anything that is not necessary to give you a super lightweight trail shoe that is perfect for racing long distances.
On Cloudventure Peak 2.0
On Cloudventure Peak 2.0 is a great trail racing shoe for short to medium distances. The Missiongrip™ technology is an aggressive grip pattern that can handle technical terrain with ease. The Swiss-engineered upper has On’s durable Ultralight Ripstop fabric that combines protection with breathability and just the right amount of stretch.
This lightweight, aggressive trail shoe is made to glide through the trails with ease. The new Speedboard™ features a split forefoot design that enhances performance by increasing torsion for responsive agility over uneven ground. Made for speed, the On Cloudventure Peak 2.0 will help you cross the finish line faster than ever.
The North Face Flight Vectiv
The North Face brings speed to the trails with the innovative Flight Vectiv.
Featuring a 3D carbon-fiber plate integrated into a dual-density midsole foam, the Flight Vectiv strikes a balance between propulsive responsiveness and supportive cushion. Fleet Feet reviewers love the energy return and snappy ride the carbon-fiber plate delivers over technical terrain in our The North Face Flight Vective review.
The dual-density foam is softer at the forefoot and more rigid toward the heel to offer support and create a rocker that supports your natural gait while generating forward momentum. A new Matryx upper designed from Kevlar provides the necessary support to keep your foot centered on the carbon-fiber plate. The upper also features a reinforced toe cap for the added durability you need on the trails.
Best All Terrain Running Shoes
Don’t be limited to running on just one surface. Sometimes you want to run roads, sometimes trails and sometimes both. With an all-terrain shoe, you can go anywhere.
There are a few differences in road-to-trail shoes. Typically, these hybrid running shoes have less aggressive lugs, lack a rock plate and fit similar to a road shoe when compared to traditional trail running shoes, but they are still plenty capable of going off-road.
With an all terrain shoe you’ll be comfortable no matter where your run takes you.
HOKA Challenger 7
Ready for wherever life takes you, the HOKA Challenger 7 is the all terrain shoe you’ve been looking for.
The super-versatile Challenger 7 absorbs impact while delivering smooth transitions. HOKA added even more foam in the midsole to cushion each step and protect your foot. A redesigned lug pattern still gives you the same great traction for the trails, but now feels even smoother on the road.
HOKA designed the breathable upper with Unifi Repreve recycled yarn and threaded it with recycled polyester laces, making the Challenger 7 a sustainable option for any trail runner.
Read more in our HOKA Challenger 7 review.
Nike Pegasus Trail 4
From roads to well-groomed trails, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is a lightweight, all-terrain shoe.
The latest Peg Trail features Nike’s React cushioning technology that is lightweight and durable to provide a springy ride. The upper is lightweight and breathable with extra support where you need it and a midfoot band to help secure your foot on uneven surfaces.
The outsole has been updated with a new traction pattern to provide grip when you need it while still guaranteeing a comfortable ride on pavement. From trails to road and back, this is a great lightweight all terrain shoe.
Craft ADV Nordic Speed 2
Combining the protection, durability and traction of a trail shoe with the comfort of a road shoe, the Craft ADV Nordic Speed 2 allows you to run anywhere. A triangular tread pattern on the outsole provides the grip needed for the trails and the flexibility and comfort for the roads.
The midsole is Craft’s Ar foam—an EVA-based foam with chemical compounds that have a soft feel while offering energy return for a smooth ride. The nylon mesh upper is both breathable and durable, perfect for draining water after creek crossings or for letting your feet breathe when you’re heating up on the road. When roots and stones pop up on the trail, a TPU toe guard protects your foot.
Go wherever the wind takes you with the Altra Outroad. This hybrid shoe has an EGO™ midsole that gives you a cushioned, yet bouncy ride. The Outroad has a 0mm heel-to-toe drop and Altra’s signature wide toe box that lets your toes splay naturally.
The MaxTrac™ outsole has multi-directional lugs that make it easy to handle the trails, but stays smooth and comfortable on the roads too. The Outroad’s thin and lightweight upper feels like a road shoe when you put it on and makes it less bulky compared to traditional trail shoes.
Read more in our Altra Outroad review.
Best Hiking Shoes
Many trail running shoes can be used for day hiking, easy to moderate hikes or even short backcountry trips.
Hiking boots are built to be worn for numerous days (or months) in a row and give more ankle stability to carry heavy backpacks while trail running shoes tend to weigh less than hiking boots, so you can stay nimble on the trails.
These days, many of the best trail running shoes also have high-top options that go above the ankle to give you more stability on the trails. Here are some of the best hiking shoes for when adventure calls.
Altra Olympus 5
The Altra Olympus 5 has the cushion and support to make it a great option for hiking.
Altra’s premium EGO™ MAX midsole is lightweight and plush, while still giving you extra spring in your step. The wider toe box and balanced, zero-drop heel-to-toe cushioning give you a more stable platform, which is particularly helpful if you’re shouldering a heavy pack.
Altra redesigned the outsole with Vibram® Megagrip™ for a durable and sticky high-performance rubber that works great on both wet and dry surfaces. Designers touched up the sidewalls to increase stability, which can also help when hiking. Made for all day trail adventures, the Altra Olympus 5 is a great trail shoe. It also comes in both low and mid-height for additional ankle support.
The HOKA Anacapa gives you HOKA’s signature marshmallow-like cushioning while hiking on the trails.
Featuring HOKA’s signature compression-molded EVA midsole foam, this shoe provides shock absorption and cushioning on any terrain. Plus, the Vibram® Megagrip™ outsole gives you a ton of traction on wet or dry surfaces.
This hiking shoe differs from others on our list due to the GORE-TEX upper that will keep your feet dry when it's rainy or muddy; the PFC-free waterproof shoes keep the elements out. This shoe also comes in both a low style and mid cut style depending on your preference.
The On Cloudridge hiking boots are lightweight and flexible so you don’t have anything slowing you down on your adventure.
Every step feels light thanks to On’s CloudTec and Zero-Gravity foam combined with a hiking-specific Speedboard® to support your foot’s natural rolling motion. Plus, the flexible and sticky Missiongrip™ outsole gives you traction to handle the trails.
The ultra-light ripstop fabric on the upper of the Cloudridge allows your foot to breathe, even in the hot and humid sun. A FlexLock® speed-lacing system makes it easy to quickly lace up and hit the trailhead, while the traditional wrap-around lacing lets you dial in your ankle support.
Designed with meticulous Swiss engineering, the On Cloudridge will take you out and back in style.
Frequently Asked Questions about Trail Shoes
Why You Should Trust Us
Fleet Feet is the #1 run specialty store in the country. We serve more than 3 million customers across 250+ locations annually and have completed more than 5 million 3D foot scans (and counting) of different runners and walkers’ feet. Our goal is to help every customer find the correct shoes, apparel and gear for you and your goals.
We don’t just sell shoes, we run and hike with you in those shoes. We have had hundreds of thousands of runners and walkers participate in our training programs, group trail runs and events every year. We have locations, employees and runners all over the country running over rocky mountains, through woods, in muddy conditions and sandy conditions alike. We also review shoes ourselves to provide you the best information possible when making these guides.
We take our sales data, talk with the different shoe companies, designers and our runners and hikers to cultivate this list of the best trail shoes. We also test and review many of the products ourselves to know what works. We update this guide continuously to make sure you have the latest information possible to make the best decision for you when it comes to trail shoes.
How We Picked the Best Trail Running Shoes
With this knowledge and expertise, we’ve tested the best trail running 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
- Customer feedback: We look at customer reviews on the products to see how they perform in the real world
Standing Behind Our Picks
While we are confident that these are the best shoes to go off-road, we also know that everyone’s feet and preferences are different. That is why we have our Happy Fit Guarantee. You have 60 days to try out your shoes on the trails and if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels, you can return it. Plus, we have a price-match guarantee, making sure that you never pay too much for a new pair of trail shoes
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