Trail Running Shoes: How To Choose

Trail running shoes are designed to provide your feet with the protection they need when you take your jogging regimen into the wild. While they’ve evolved in recent years to offer fine-tuned trail-running experience, they’re closely related to the same sneakers you put on when you go for a jog around the block.

Shopping for Trail Running Shoes

If you’re shopping for your first pair of trail running shoes, don’t get too fancy. Unless you’re running in particularly rugged conditions start with a shoe that’s similar to your conventional footwear. Many shoe companies have developed trail shoes that offer the protection you need for hard-pack terrain that complement your standard shoe.

If you’re looking at extreme running over rocky terrain, or find that you need more protection than your entry-level trail running shoe provides, finding the ideal pair often means matching your terrain needs to personal choices. Shoe features offer a wide variety of support and knowing how each feature impacts your run is essential for finding the pair that fits your workout.


Known as “lugs” in off-road running circles, lugs offer traction on the trail, preventing falls and injuries. If you run on hard-packed or rocky surfaces, short lugs will offer the best traction, while longer, deeper treads provide better grip on a softer surface.


Runners hotly debate whether minimal cushioning (also known as stack height) or maximum protection offers a better experience. As there is yet to be definitive research to settle the debate, it’s a personal decision. Again, match your paved-surface pair as much as possible, mimicking the drop (angle between your heel and toe) and cushioning you prefer. Again, the more rugged your path, the more cushioning you’ll likely want.


Sure, you plan to run the Leadville 100 someday, but how far are you running in your latest pair? It’s normal for your feet to swell after a couple of hours into a run. Many ultrarunners go half to a full size larger to accommodate changes in foot size as they run.


You’re a runner, so you probably understand the value of a light shoe. That said, trail running shoes are almost always heavier than their street-jogging counterparts. You’ll need more protection and padding when you tackle rough surfaces, and those come with additional weight.


Unless you’re running in extra soggy conditions, waterproofing will likely only interfere with the evaporation of sweat.

Once you pick your trail running shoes, you’ll want to take them for a test spin. As many runners know, if you fall in love with a pair, you may want to stock up. Shoes evolve and, sadly, those that fit you wonderfully this year, may not next year.

Trail running shoes protect your feet, but don’t make you immune to injury. When foot, knee or other injuries strike, visit us for an expert consultation. Fill out our online appointment request form to schedule your appointment today.


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