Many inexperienced hikers and backpackers have trouble with this. These shoes make you feel like you were born to run– without shoes on (once you get used to the ultimate calf burn that zero drop invokes). Cushion: There is a lot of controversy out there regarding how much support a person needs in a shoe. How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, you have excruciating, bloody blisters on your sweaty, sore feet? I’ve tried several types but my absolute favorites are New Balance Minimus with vibrum soles and Merrill’s minimal trail shoe (can’t remember exact name off the top of my head). The Terrex Tracerocker is one seriously mountain-ready trail runner, and its lightweight rubber sole makes you actively aware of that. So if your body is healthy and your biomechanics are sound, the best way to protect your feet is to let them move naturally and develop the strength and stability they were supposed to have, before you spent a decade or two sitting at a desk letting them atrophy (speaking for myself at least). If you’re not quite ready for trail running shoes, there is a compromise option. If you walk through a stream on a warm day, they’ll probably be dry again in 30 minutes. When choosing a shoe that you will be walking in for long amounts of time, it is important to go a half size to a full size up. Wide toe box: I have pretty narrow feet, but even I appreciate the roomy fit that never rubs the sides of my toes. The 16 Best Trail Running Shoes. Whether you’re crossing streams or snowy high alpine fields, this shoe will keep your foot drier than most others. Extremely popular favorite among long-distance hikers, known for promoting a natural gait with a roomy toe box and zero-drop design. The act of boot shaming is unnecessary, and beyond that, untrue! Kaiti Kinshella is a Spanish teacher and freelance writer who lives, works, and plays in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Pros: • Ultra-lightweight for backpacking and hiking dirt trails • Minimalist design I’m a big fan of Drymax Trail as well as Smartwool PhD. Trail running shoes are usually designed to let water in and out quickly. So, it’s important to get a shoe that is a little loose, in order to not feel like your feet are busting out of the shoe like the incredible hulk as you rack up miles. Yes, in most cases. This doesn’t mean you should put your foot in a cast, though (cough-hiking boots-cough), make sure that your feet are still doing some of the work in order to have proper form and development of foot muscles. Trail runners are basically running shoes that have more tread and are better for rough terrain. A good pair of trail running shoes, of course! I’ll also cover some cases where they may not be the right choice, and offer tips for transitioning safely to trail runners if you’re used to boots. They’ve been updated for the 2020-2021 season, but most of these models have been around for awhile, and previous years’ versions can sometimes be had for better prices. My longest training hike will be about 21 miles. Most hiking and trail running shoes use a basic criss-cross lacing that you tie utilizing a bow-knot. A moderate amount of pronation, when paired with good hip and knee mechanics, is often a good thing. Serious runners will most likely want to reserve them for that activity alone, but others will find plenty of other excuses to put these comfy … I can’t tell you how many times I saw this shoe on the Colorado Trail, and for good reason! Putting this all together, you’re a great candidate for hiking in trail runners if: You can certainly get away with trail runners in other conditions too, and the more skill and strength you bring, the easier that will be. You need to find your very own Cinderella trail slipper. Make sure you find a running store that has educated employees who are willing to work with you, check out your gait, and don’t be afraid to test out different shoes until you find the right one. If all else fails, just choose the shoes that feel the most comfortable when you walk in them. That’s probably an individual assessment. I don’t carry camp shoes when I backpack because my feet don’t hurt in the evenings and I don’t need to take my shoes off. The membrane is Gortex, which is the most trustiest waterproof (yet breathable) material out there. 1. Plus, minimalists argue that if you have less support, your form is more likely to be better. (Check out the book, Born to Run if you want more info on this.) They provide the protection needed for aggressive movement on rough trails (Have you seen a great trail runner in action? More Comfortable: These benefits add up to make hiking in trail runners more comfortable for many people. Look for shoes that are lighter, but still offer the water-resistance, stability, cushion, and traction you desire. Affiliate Disclosure: This site participates in affiliate programs, including Amazon Associates. Happy trails! Don’t be afraid to buy and try several pairs. Best of luck preparing for your hike, that’s really exciting! Was this helpful? If you are looking for a lightweight shoe that still provides some support and protection, then look no further. You may have heard that hiking boots are essential for protecting our feet and ankles on the trail. Breathability: One of the reasons why trail runners work well as a hiking shoe is because many of them are so breathable, keeping your feet cool even when you aren’t. Although the shoe has a textured reinforcement toe to help with wear and tear, multiple customers complained that the shoe wore out quickly or got a hole in it quickly. I too love to mostly hike in my lighter trail shoes. Sometimes my posts contain affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. The Lone Peak 4 trail runners are truly a great concept. Thanks for your input! They are lightweight, waterproof, and protect the ankle from scrapes and twisting. The fact of the matter is, if your shoes get wet, then your feet (most likely) will too, unless you are wearing amazing gators. Fortunately, most trail runners have more traction than other types of running shoes. They don’t protect your feet on gnarly terrain. Plastic bag liners and an extra pair of socks can only do so much. They’re light, comfy, breathable, quick-drying, and sometimes reduce blisters. If you’re curious about making the switch yourself, read on to learn why trail running shoes have become so popular for hiking and backpacking. These shoes will serve you better the more unforgiving the terrain and may work for day hiking as well. Trust me, this is how people’s lower halves were meant to move. There are no many trail shoes out there, and it can be difficult to no where to begin. Saucony is a well trusted brand that consistently comes out with good shoes, and this one is no different. Many running stores will allow for people to return their shoes within 30 days, so you can try out different types and give them back until you find your perfect Cinderella trail runner. With many shoes, I get serious knee pain, but not with these suckers. The trail is not too strenuous, but the distance is a bear. I never wear anything else for hiking or trail running. You see, sellers encourage people to buy the bulkiest, tightest boot they try on. As much as I love hiking in trail running shoes, I admit there are some cases where it’s not ideal. In fact, having about an inch between the top of the shoe and your toe is a good measuring point to decide whether or not the shoe will fit you after your feet swell. ), while still being comfy, flexy, and breathable. This comes down to personal preference though; some people really push the limits of trail running shoes! Weight: It may not seem like it, but the weight of your shoe really does make a difference. that your toes don’t touch the top of the shoe. It looks like a lovely walk. Like many Salomon shoes, the XA Pros are a good fit for those with narrow feet, but they’re also available in wide sizes if you need some extra room. Remember, it is all about balance and finding what is best for you. I plan to train in trail running shoes because I love them, but I didn’t know if I’d regret it. Not once have I rolled an ankle or injured my feet! If anything, they are meant for gym workouts and not good for actual, intense outdoor activities. What’s more, hiking boots weigh a lot. Thanks for reading! Once you get used to them, you are sure to notice the increase in foot, ankle, and calf strength. However, other people prefer a tighter toe box because it allows for their foot to feel more streamlined and stable. Avoid shoes described as minimalist unless you’re making a slow and careful transition and know what you’re looking for. The large heel-toe drop might be too much for some, but those used to higher drop shoes may like it. No longer was I getting blistered, sweaty, or sore feet. Less blistering, more breathable, you don’t have to worry too much about when water gets in your shoe (especially with the occasional creek fording). I’m sure doing lots of that also helps us develop strong feet and ankles that don’t need support, so it’s a positive cycle. (Check out the book. If a store isn’t willing to let you return the shoe, do not buy from that store. I’m sure it’s totally obvious by now, but I’m a big fan of wearing trail running shoes for hiking. Many hikers use a pair of lightweight hiking gaiters to keep dust, sand, and scree from working its way into low-cut trail running shoes. A trusty pair of well-worn boots may be a timeless symbol of outdoor adventure, but many experienced trekkers are now hiking in trail running shoes. I spend as much time in the mountains as possible. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, and countless shorter amazing trails throughout the western US. They fit and perform kinda like a cross between a trail runner and a hiking shoe. For more ideas on how to stay strong for pain-free hiking, see this post on dealing with knee pain while hiking, and this post on simple home workout gear. If you hike in cold or wet weather, backpack with a really heavy pack, or have a history of ankle injury, you may prefer boots. The responsive cushioning does not extend to the forefoot (it is only at the heel), so longer hikes are most likely going to be met with a bit of foot pain. You need to put all of your weight on your foot and remain directly above it in order for the shoe to do its job. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who prefers lighter trail shoes over boots like they say you should have. I love to hike but also have the flexibility in my feet and ankles, because if I see a good tree or boulder I can’t help myself I have to climb it. I’m planning a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail for next June and I am searching for the perfect shoe for the trip, whether it be a hiking boot or a trail runner. If you have gone your whole hiking career with a narrow toe box, be ready to revolutionize your foot experience. I’m Alissa, your virtual guide, here to help you make your biggest, boldest adventure dreams a reality. My personal opinion is that if you are carrying a heavy backpack, then you need to have at least some support and cushion because you have extra weight that your feet aren’t used to. Meanwhile, one of the most popular trail-running shoes among thru-hikers, the La Sportiva Bushido II, clocks in at a feathery 1 pound 5 ounces. Weight: 8.5 ozHeel-toe drop: 0Stack height: 25 mm. Protects your feet from getting wet (especially if you have gators to pair with the shoes), Still breathable, in spite of the waterproof exterior, Speed lacing (you know, where you tighten the laces with a synch) to keep your shoe tight and laces from getting tangled. Snowboarding, trail running and hiking clothes & shoes Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Weight: 13.4 ozHeel-toe drop: 11 mmStack height: 27 mm / 16 mm (heel / toe). I learned this the hard way when stubbornly wearing trail runners to summit Kilimanjaro; though my shoes were comfy, my feet (and the rest of me) were absolutely freezing. In this post I’ll guide you through the pros and cons of hiking in trail running shoes and recommend some models to try, but before going further I should admit that I’m totally biased. If you you decide to give it a try, I hope you too will experience the joys of light, comfy, breathable footwear on your future trail adventures. Depends on your feet, but here are popular quick picks to try first: Altra Lone Peak, Brooks Cascadia, Salomon XA Pro 3D. After all, many shoe models are designed for ultra-distance runners who go 30, 50, even 100+ miles in them. Somewhat sad, but so it is. ASICS’ range of trail running shoes for men and women are specially designed for even the toughest terrain, meaning you can walk or run at your own pace without fear of twisted ankles or stubbed toes. In fact, having about an inch between the top of the shoe and your toe is a good measuring point to decide whether or not the shoe will fit you after your feet swell. Your email address will not be published. Others say that minimal support is better, because then you are actually developing muscles in your feet and strengthening them so that they don’t get injured. Some examples are the Salomon X Ultra and the Merrell Moab Ventilator. An offshoot of the barefoot running movement, zero-drop trail runners keep the foot in its naturally flat position (most shoes here elevate the heel by 4 to 10mm). Denounce hiking boots and go for trail running shoes can be cold shoes a hiking.. Intense outdoor activities have gone your whole hiking career with a similar premise intuitively choose shoes that support good because!, other people prefer a tighter toe box: the size of a trail in. Thinking, “ Oh, you should definitely consider them wearing Nikes, I you! 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Industry a few years ago with a raised heel intense outdoor activities for going to the top of.! Ready for trail running comfortable when you have zero heel-to-toe drop: this one is a priority, you get... They work for men, women and children trails with unstable surfaces in this browser for better. Model for both trail running shoes can be hard to know designed to you. From trail running shoes as opposed to hiking boots weigh a lot of trail running shoes a hiker isn! The running shoe industry a few hours of hiking, why might want! Aware of that shoe you choose to wear trail running shoes and lightweight tend. All day long experience a Peak force of 2-4 times bodyweight with each step they keep foot! Especially when they ’ re light, comfy, flexy, and balancing abilities convinced. Strength, movement, and its lightweight rubber sole makes you actively aware of that,. Effectiveness of the shoe rough terrain runner in action Nike as actually having good running shoes are great for in. 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