Trail running is an intense yet liberating sport where you become closer to nature. Whether it’s bog hopping, steeplechases, mud runs or even intense speed hiking, you get a little dirty but let yourself go.
However, typical running shoes tend to fall short of expectations by not providing the necessary performance. Whether it’s due to lack of traction or protection, they’re rarely adapted to this intensive sport.
Therefore, this guide will provide you with the Best Trail Running Shoes For Men to buy online:
- Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX [Deepest Lugs]
- Altra Footwear Olympus 3 [Most Robust]
- Nike Wildhorse 4 [Most Value]
- Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 [Deepest Cushion]
- Saucony Peregrine 8 ICE+ [For Snow]
- La Sportiva Bushido [Arch Support]
If you’re looking for a particular pair for your needs, use the links above to jump ahead. Furthermore, we’ll be providing a breakdown of the benefits of trail shoes and why it’s worth buying a pair even when just running off-road.
Quick Buyer’s Guide
In a hurry and just want to start browsing on the retail sites? Use the Quick Buy below to be directed straight to the products themselves. Otherwise, scroll down and learn more about each shoe from our perspective.
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What Are The Best Trail Running Shoes For Men?
From the renowned French brand, our favourite trail shoes are heavy duty yet surprisingly lightweight. Although recently superseded by the Speedcross 5, the 4 GTX is still an excellent piece of engineering.
Thanks to the impressive We Traction Contragrip 6mm lugs, the Speedcross offers superior traction on any terrain. Furthermore, the Gore-Tex membrane is effective at keeping your feet dry without sacrificing a breathable upper. Meanwhile, the OtherLite insoles provide great arch support and cushion.
We’re particularly fond of the Fiery Red colour, which we continue to use today. Otherwise, you can choose between the Hawaiian Blue or more minimalist black option.
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Catering to men with wide feet thanks to the multiple widths available, the Altra Olympus is also a rugged and heavy duty trail running shoe. As such, this may be a first choice if you tend to run long distances on wilder and rougher terrain.
Featuring a FootShape toe box, the toes can splay naturally. Similarly, the Natural Ride System consists of a dual-layer EVA midsole for improved energy return. Meanwhile, the StoneGuard shaft and Zero Drop platform offer extra protection compared to other models.
Despite a limited colour choice, we’re quite fond of what’s on offer. While our favourite is the red colour scheme, there is are also options with accents of teal or yellow.
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For Nike-heads, the Wildhorse is an excellent choice. Combining two of the brand’s most famous cushioning technologies, it’s a well made and surprisingly affordable option for trail runs.
The Wildhorse both a compression-moulded Phylon midsole as well as the famed Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot. Consequently, the wearer benefits from a responsive yet stable cushion. Furthermore, a rock plate offers the soles protection while the rounded heel promotes stability.
Available in either a stealthy black or an olive green with accents, there’s a limited but fair choice. We prefer the olive colour scheme as it offers a little bit of colour.
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Japanese brand Hoka is often credited with having mastered deep cushioning during the minimalist running shoe craze. As runners began to realise that minimalist shoes were actually counterproductive, the brand soon grew in popularity. Their trail shoes offer the same benefits with their maximal cushion for long runs.
A homage to Karl Meltzer of the Speedgoat 50k endurance run, the similarly named Hoka model offers an lightweight no-sew SpeedFrame construction with breathable mesh uppers. While this provides water resistance, the injection moulded CMEVA/EVA midsole ensures excellent energy return and comfort.
There are a host of colours to choose from and it was frankly hard to find a favourite. We have a soft spot for the black pair with the pop of orange across the laces and sole. However, the yellow with red and blue are quite impressive too!
Renowned for their well-balanced and high-tech running shoes, the Saucony Peregrine 8 ICE+ is designed specifically for trail running in winter conditions. We were impressed by its design and characteristics. If you’re someone who loves a winter run, it’s our first pick.
Thanks to the VIBRAM ARCTIC GRIP outsole, expect durable traction in icy conditions. The TPU exo-skeletion improves motion control and structural support as the EVERUN topsole concentrates on cushion. Meanwhile, the PWRFOAM midsole ensures energy-return and shock absorption.
Currently only available in black and blue with an urban style camouflage, there’s a very limited choice to stay the least. However, this may simply be an issue due to limitations in stock.
Awarded the Editor’s Choice in the June 2014 edition of TrailRunner Magazine, the Bushido should not be overlooked. In fact, we’re not as familiar with this brand as we’d like!
Made using a Lite Racing Ergo, the uppers are constructed from Airmesh, thermal adhesive micrfiber as well as a high frequency wielded ripstop. A TPU toe cap provides extra durability and proection. Furthermore, the 1.5mm dual-density MEMlex midsole and TPU stabiliser offer both support and energy return while an EVA Rock Guard provides the necessary protection.
Available in grey with apple green, carbon and fluorescent yellow or ocean blue and cyan, there’s a limited but exciting choice here. We prefer the ocean as it offers slightly more colour. However, the grey and apple green would be the more modest option.
What Is Trail Running?
Often regarded by enthusiasts as a spiritual experience to be more in touch with nature, trail running is a practice that continues to gain traction. Rather than sticking to the road, trail runners will often seek out undeveloped paths from uneven dirt tracks to streams.
In many ways, trail running is quite similar to hiking but approached at a greater speed. Nevertheless, the terrain is often just as mountainous with many ascents and descents along the way.
Due to this variety of terrain, trail running differentiates itself from cross country running. However, there are some notable similarities.
The sport is popular throughout the year and some trail runners will brave desert environments as well as snowy forests. Furthermore, trails can quickly vary in terrain. From rocky technical routes to smooth forest clearings, there’s never a dull moment.
However, trail runs aren’t limited to long excursions in the forest. Traditional steeplechases often use varying terrain while mud runs or “bog hopping” are exactly how they sound. Meanwhile, extreme 50k endurance runs or even “fastpacking” tend to feature a whole plethora of terrain and require specialised footwear.
Why Would You Need Trail Shoes?
If your preferred running terrain is the road or a treadmill, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever really need trail shoes. However, if you’re partial to the great outdoors and running on varying terrain, then it’s an entirely different story.
While regular running shoes provide the necessary traction and support for consistently flat surfaces, they are somewhat ill-equipped to tackle more rugged terrain. Meanwhile, trail running shoes are designed specifically for overcoming natural obstacles.
For instance, trail shoes are equipped for tackling a variety of terrains such as marshland or rocky surfaces. When facing wet surfaces, their strong traction will avoid slippage.
Furthermore, some are designed for snow, frost or even sand. From technical trails to smooth paths, they’re equipped to deal with unforgiving routes with loose footing.
However, even if you stick to the beaten path, they will offer superior performance thanks to their inherent build quality.
What Makes Trail Shoes Unique?
Firstly, trail shoes are commonly packed with features that are otherwise absent on typical road shoes:
- Lug Traction: Given the hazardous terrain, most trail shoes feature 4 to 6 mm lugs on the outersole to provide superior traction.
- Rock Plates: Essentially shanks found in the midsole, rock plate protect the bottom of the foot from sharp stones and protruding rocks.
- Waterproofing: Trail shoes often feature mesh and Gore-Tex membranes to keep the feet dry when running through wet environments.
- Toe Bumpers: Rubber bumpers cover the front of the shoe in order to protect the toes against obstacles.
- Improved Cushion: Although not exclusive to trail shoes, they often feature extra cushion to help reduce fatigue on difficult terrain.
- Increased Stability: A greater accent is placed on heel counters to improve stability and avoid twisted ankles.
The lack of such features on typical running shoes is by no means a criticism since they wouldn’t be quite as practical on the road.
In fact, trail shoes are quite cumbersome when running on the road. Nevertheless, hybrid models do exist, which allow wearers to add a variety of different terrains to their routes.
Now that you’ve read about the best men’s running shoes for flat feet, you may be interested in some of our other related shoe guides:
- Best Men’s Running Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
- Best Hiking Boots For Men
- Top Running Shoes For Flat Feet
- Best Running Shoes Under $100
"Preparing for a fastpacking trip. Found exactly what I needed thanks to this thoughtful guide,thanks!"Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★