If you’re looking for the best trail running shoes for men, then this is the right place for you. We will tackle different trail running shoes, their features and how can they help you maximize and improve your runs.
Having the right pair of trail running shoes can make a huge difference! Especially when you are on a trail, it’s easy to trip over for some roots, small woods, sharp rocks, which would result into bruising your toes and shins.
Picking a pair of the best trail running shoes that are lightweight, a good protection and support, and waterproof can give you a new experience on running on trail. Today, we review the best trail running shoes for men, and also list down the good and the bad.
Different Types of Trail Running Shoes
The list below shows the basics of trail runners, see where you belong from these types.
Barefoot or Minimalist
If you love running on barefoot also called as minimalist, these shoes leave the shape and function on your foot. This is like a piece of rubber on your sole to help you with protection and traction. Some folks says this is bad for the foot, while other says it’s good. If you’re curious to know, check out this video from Vancouver Podiatrist.
These shoes are typically have a heel-to drop from 0mm to 6mm and they are designed to be light, fast and support natural gait, while others offer a better protection and support that most runners need for trail running.
Standard or what they call traditional trail running shoes are what you’ll have when you think of a running shoe, will added features of course like midsole rockplace, aggressive traction and water resistant upper layer add on. These shoes are typically have a heel-to drop from 6mm to 14mm.
If we have a minimalist, we also have maximalist these have a large amount of cushioning like the Hoka One One that introduces this trend. Other shoe manufactures follow the trend and we now have these popularity against ultra-runners.
Now that we know which and what types we belong, it is important to know that all trail running shoes are design for one purpose: to run on trails or uneven terrain. If you’re deciding the heel-toe drop in running shoes, this will depend on your preference in terms of comfort, plus your body mechanics.
Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe
Salomon Speedcross 3 doesn’t only looks good, it also has a great ankle support and awesome protection from rugged terrains. If you have the money to spare, make sure to grab this shoe.
Pros: Perfect for everyday casual trail running, to athletes that competes. Has a beautifully designed treads for stability. They are out-of-the-box shoes, so you won’t need to “break” them, so to speak.
Cons: Expensive, which cost $30-40 more than other shoes. Can easily scratch wood floors, smooth surfaces, and granite. Not good for road pavement runs.
Adidas Outdoor AX 2 Hiking Shoe
Adidas Outdoor AX 2 is a great trail running shoes, has a lot of traction and grip which can give you a solid build. The Traxion feature which gives you a sturdy grip even in rainy and muddy terrain, you can almost go on any terrain without worrying about your shoes or feet.
Pros: Durable, superior grip. Works on any terrain and has a comfy feel. Cheap compared to quality.
Cons: Has a larger size than the rest of the Adidas line. Some runners complain about the tongue not being aligned with the shoe.
Saucony Peregrine 4
Saucony Peregrine4 received a lot of recommendation from trail runners, this is because of it’s comfort and stability. This shoe is not the lightest trail running shoes you’ll ever had, but they are good for long trail running and for competitions as well. Peregrine 4 is a good choice if you wanted to tackle different terrain, such as muddy trails.
Pros: Great fit (as you would expect from Saucony), strong built and can last long. Great for any trail terrain. Some runners use this for competitions.
Cons: While some users didn’t like the looks, it did serve its purpose.
Adidas Performance Thrasher 1.1 M Trail Running Shoe
Adidas Performance Thrasher is the best selling trail running shoe on Amazon, simply because it is lightweight, durable and offers a breathable upper. Didn’t I mention it’s affordable?
Pros: Lightweight, breathable and very durable material. Can be used on any trail terrain areas.
Cons: Order a larger size than your usual, colors are not the same on their website (or Amazon). Lacing system is not good for some runners.
Merrell Trail Glove 2
The Merrell Trail Glove 2 is the best selling under minimalist running shoes, which has a few upgrades from Trail Glove 1. This shoe is pretty comfortable and very light (only 6.2 oz), has a nice aesthetic and softer cushioning interior.
Pros: Very lightweight, nice and soft cushion. Has a thin flexible forefoot plate provides protection impact without compromising flexibility.
Cons: Doesn’t give enough protection when it comes to rough terrains. Midfoot arch support might be to narrow for some runners.
Inov-8 Mudclaw 300
The Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 a trail running shoe that is made for trail runner addict who wanted to have a solid running shoe when conquering the trail. It is sturdy, durable and comfortable to wear for neutral runners.
It delivers an superb grip on every muddy or soft terrain, a 8mm aggressive studs with multi-directional pattern, these studs allows the runner to survive the soft terrain when running.
The Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 has enhanced durability and protection, a combination of hard and medium sticky rubber in the outsole for durability. The upper has a toe bumper design to protect the runners feet, keeping you free from rock and other roots in the trail.
- Upper is flexible, durable and has a roomy toe box
- Mesh lining and water repellant coating will keep you dry
- Gusseted Tongue keeps dirt from entering your shoe
- Dual-C outsole is a sticky rubber material for more duarability and grip on different terrain surfaces
- Order one size larger, has issues with sizing
- Missing some arch support, according to some runners
- Outsole didn’t have enough grip on wet surfaces
New Balance Leadville V3
The New Balance Leadville V3 offers protection, flexibility and traction if you want more performance on trails, great for runners who wanted a bit of support to their feet during heavy trail running.
They retained the most basic features and revise the very popular ultra-marathon trail running shoe in Leadville V3. The breathability and toe protection is the most visible upgrade, the upper is now more breathable and now has more toe to heel rand as a toe bump. The mesh is also stretchable to wrap your foot, especially if you are a heavy runner.
They also rasied the stack height a bit while maintaning the 8mm drop, the new stack height will give more underfoot protection without taking away ground feedback for long trail runs.
Another addition is the seamless sockliner that provides comfort, a very soft and plush fabric that makes your long routine bearable.
- Upper is constructed to make sure it is debris-free
- Has a Gusseted Tongue and toe guard
- Has Vibram outsole, strong and efficient layer
- Outsole were not durable, according to some runners
- Heel and forefoot area are not properly cushioned
- Expensive shoe
Salomon Speedcross Vario
The Salomon Speedcross Vario is a neutral trail running shoes that provides cushioning, protection and superb comfort. Great grip on different terrain and you can surely use in any outdoor activity.
It also comes with improved outsole unit, a friction lugs that are more aggressive and delivers a superb grip for different surfaces. The upper construction has a maximum breathability that works flawlessly in any trail condition, adding to that is the anti-debris mesh cover, tongue that wil keep the small debris from entering your shoe.
- Has anti-debris breathable mesh
- The tongue works really well
- Lightweight and durable, according to some runners
- The firm cushion is not ideal for long distance running
- Quite expensive
- Doesn’t have quick-lacing system
Saucony Xodus 6
The Saucony Xodus 6 is a robust trail running shoe that gives you the performance to run off road trails, strong enough to help you on different terrain surfaces.
This is the 6th generation of Xodus, it features a higher volume design than the Xodus 5. It has a forefoot area that is wider, giving your toe some space. Mid-foot has been raised, which allows differnt foot sizes to fit inside without any issues. The rear includes a low-cut making it easier for natural movemetns of the joints and tendons.
The sole is now thicker, POWERGRID foam technology was also included in this running shoe, helping you in getting more comfortable and well-balanced underfoot.
The overlay has a mesh material, making a singular unit without additional layers of stiching, and wrapping your foot in a snug fit.
Another feature that we like is the plate added in the sole of the unit, this protects your foot from harsh elements, making it a shield for debris and sharp objects in the trail.
- Brethable fabric from Open Mesh
- foot down
- Has protective components to shield your foot from sharp objects
- Durable and responsive cushioning
- Stiching irritated the skin of some runners
- A little expensive for a running shoe
- Quite on the heavy side
Merrell Pace Glove 3
The Merrel Pace Glove 3 now ofers a lightweight and more comfortable ride, this minimalist shoe is best for trail running.
The new features are more robust construction, upper unit has overlays that are slightly thicker and helps you maintain the structuer of the upper. The mesh material has now more open construction, which isn’t appreciated from previous version.
It is now breathable, flexible and close-to-the-ground running shoe, a very important qualities to help you with your pace. It still maintains the standard and minimalist running to those to need durability and support.
Thought the underfoot cushioning is very thin, it doesn’t hvae multiple layers of foam that other running shoe offer. The zero-drop design helps neutral position of the foot, and capable of delivering minimal underfoot support.
- Lightweight construction which runners love
- Has a mesh and synthetic upper
- TrailProtect pad underfoot provides protection
- Most runners didn’t like this version
- “Glove feeling” was lost, based on several runner reviews
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
The La Sportive Ultra Raptor is a neutral running shoe designed for trail running, featuring a combination of comfortable, stable and responsive that gives you a great ride.
It features the Impact Brake lugged system that designed to lessen the landing impact and improve traction for uphill and downhill runs. It also comes with enhanced outsole where sticky rubber compound is located, delivers an impressive traction and grip on any rocky terrains.
It also comes with heel pocket cushioning, which delivers added durabiltiy and comfort fit for long distance running.
- Features a breathable Air Mesh upper
- EVA Rock Guard that protects your foot from debris
- Runners are happy with the durability of the shoe
- Has Sticky FriXion XF rubber outsole for impressive grip and traction
- Impact Break System is great for surface grip on uphill and downhill
- Some runners experience a slip when running on wet surfaces
- Quite heavy running shoe
- A little expensive
- Some runners noted that it is too bulky
Merrell All Out Peak
The Merrell All Out Peak is a trail neutral runnign shoe that is great for rough trail runs, ideal for runners who are looking for comfortable running shoes for daily training.
It comes with HyperWrap 360 Degree Fit System that locks your midfoot in place for more stability and agility. TrailProtect pad provide a underfoot protection from sharp objects while running on rough terrain.
- Runners liked the HyperWrap 360 Degree Fit System because it keeps your foot lock in place
- Offers impressive comfort and support
- Offers right sizes
- A little expensive than the usual
- Has a narrow fit, which disappoint some runners
- Not durable, according to some runners
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
The Inov-8 X-Talon 200 is a lightweight and flexible running shoe that is best for racing or obstacle course running, it provide an impressive grip and protection on different kinds of terrain.
The new features are enhanced upper built, which is now water resistant coating that keeps the water or mud from entering your shoe, helping you stay dry.
The rubber toe bumper is designed to protect your foot from sharp objects during your runs, the Rope-Tec rubbers gives you a foot irritation and blisters protection.
- Has an impressive grip on different surfaces
- Lightweight and flexible
- Breathable forefoot mesh and DWR coating keeping your foot dry
- Has a roomy toe box
- Has a narrow lacing system for more snug fit
- Not as durable as expected, according to some runners
- Needs more underfoot protection
Skechers GOrun Ultra 2
The Sketchers GOrun Ultra 2 is best for runners who are looking for well-cushioned and responsive running shoe with arch support and great grip that is ideal for long distance running.
This shoe provides a maximum cushioning, featuring a thick mid-sole unit that is able to provide flexiblity and impact protection. This shoe will keep your foot supported during your runs.
Upper unit is made of synthetic materials and mesh to create a strong supportive coverate, and also breathable. The overlay is fused directly onto the upper to maintain its structure. The upper is protective and still comfortable.
- Features an aggressive traction control for any terrain
- Runers liked the cushioning and impressive traction
- Soft fabric sho lining
- Roomy toe box area
- Midsole and outsole are not durable as expected
- Upper is not breathable, according to some runners
Inov-8 X-Talon 212
The Inov-8 X-Talon 212 is racing running shoe that can help you on soft and hard terrain, reliable and mid-racing shoe, it won’t disapoint you when it comes to hiking and obstable runs. It offers durability, speed and protection.
The new Inov-8 Talon 212 features a fast, light and natural running which weights only 212 grams and also flexible.
The upper is durable water repellent coating that keeps water from entering the shoe wihtout sacrificing the breathablity feature.
- Flexible and fast, according to some runners
- Some found this running shoe very versatile
- Has an impressive grip on soft and hard surfaces
- The mid-sole has responsive cushioning
- Too narrow, accoding to some runners
- A little expensive
Characteristics of Trail Running Shoes
One of the most important thing to know when getting a trail running shoe is how it protects your foot, it it didn’t do any protection, why wear it anyway? One of the largest component of protection is found underfoot, it is also called the sole or rockplate. Rockplate is a hard metal or plastic, sometimes composite material place or rod that is designed to protect the bottom of the foot from sharp things like rocks or wood. Usually runs under from your heel to past your arch, as the sole still needs the flexibility to bend the forefoot.
Another component is the upper part of the shoe, this will determine the protection it gives from sticks, rocks or other materials that could land on your top feet. Manufacturers likely to skip the upper part to save weight and offer greater breathability, water drainage, while some still offer a strong upper for protection. Just remember which is the best for your runs, lightweight with little upper protection or a little heavy with sturdy upper?
From the time you wear a shoe, you are already modifying your natural form to stand, move or landing a stride. When you are looking for stability, always check out how to maintain your normal running from, some shoes will bend and morph on different terrain, forcing your feet to adjust during landing or push-off. Other shoes will make us require to change our stride to make sure we always have a stable form.
This is where I tend to very picky when looking for new shoes. Your shoes should be as comfortable as possible, though some prefer differently because what feels comfy to me, is not the same for you. Some shoe products comes from a wide array of narrow in the heel, while some are really narrow. This is an individual preference, since we have different feet.
When testing for sensitivity, try to feel the terrain from the shoe you’re using. I do like to have a shoe with a little sensitive so I can feel the terrain, but this is your choice. Some people I know like to be connected to the ground, some wanted to have a better protection from it. Check out the Hoka One One review.
Little History of Trail Running Shoes
The very first athletic shoes that are known to trainers in the UK were called “plimsolls”, they use thick rubber soles with and a sewed upper canvas. The direct descendant of these shoes today would be the Converse All-Star. Apparently, the colored stripes on the shoes reminded the people of the plimsoll line. They are originally for beach shoes, as plimsolls gain a lot of popularity until in the early 1900’s they become mandatory equipment in school gym and also worn by Olympics athletes.
In 1940’s the creation of running shoes from different shoe companies, Keds were the most popular athletic shoes during that time in the US, Addidas from Germany and New Balance in the US added their expansion. It was until the “running boom” in the 70’s by American Frank Shorter winning a gold at the 1972 Olympic Marathon with New Zealand running coach Arthur Lydiard “inventing” and popularizing jogging and the creation by Nike of the largest cushioned heels in running shoes line.
Even though Gordy Ainsleigh first ran the Western States 100 miles run in 1974, creating the most historic and iconic trail race in America, likewise the Leadville Trail 100, which is now the country’s largest ultra race, first happened in 1983, it also took the second running boom in the 90’s to bring use the new trail running shoes line. The “marathon boom” also the time of growing environmentalism, that inspired to get more touch with real nature, people were hitting the trails since then. Running shoe companies used this to know more about athletic movement to create a new genre of shoes. As lightweight as possible and alternative to hiking boots, the market grew rapidly it inspired different industry to join. It was then that these shoe companies started to create different kinds of running shoes exclusively for trail running.
Trail running grew throughout the next decade, Christoper McDougall’s New York Times bestselling book Born to Run in 2009, it all exploded. The book brought ultra-running and barefoot running int the sports mainstream. Vibram FiveFingers became the must have “barefoot running shoe”, though it offer nothing in a way of cushioning other than a piece of rubber to cover the sole. The idea was to offer a shoe that has more natural running mechanics that had been lost with creation of motion control.
We covered all (almost) of the essentials of a best trail running shoes, hopefully this will help you when choosing best trail running shoes for men and use this to pick the best and suitable for you. Make sure you thoroughly check the trail running shoe, and you can suggest if you have more tips that we didn’t mentioned.
Hopefully, this article can help you choose the best trail running shoes for men, always remember to know your requirements and needs before getting a new trail running shoes. In this way, you’ll get what you really need and can help you maximize your performance during your runs.