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Home>> Selecting Trail Running Shoes for Adventure Racing, and Trail Running
Trail Running Shoe Recommendations: The following information is provided to assist adventure racers and trail runners in selecting the appropriate shoe for optimal performance in both trail running training and racing. Trail running shoes have a lower profile and wider base for greater stability. General trail running shoe characteristics to think about:
  • Low profile
  • High traction soles this includes specialized "sticky" rubber for rock running and scrambling. For example: the top section of "Old Rag."
  • Stable, wider base
  • Toe box protection (this trend is declining, opting for lighter shoes similar to traditional road running shoes, but should be considered if you expect exceptionally rugged terrain, e.g. Hard Rock 100, adventure racing, etc...
  • Increased mid-sole cushioning for running over rocky terrain
  • Many have Gore Tex construction for extreme weather conditions (this can lead to over heating during the summer).  This is a great feature for sustained snow running (especially wet snow).
  • Quick drying--this may be at odds with the feature above
  • Summer trail or adventure racing--look for mesh with highly breathable and the ability to drain water for course that feature river crossings and/or swamps
  • Shoe weight--If you are primarily competing in shorter races consider a light weight shoe similar to the La Sportiva Slingshot. Many of the 2008 trail shoe models are lighter than their predecessor.
  • If you are racing in ultras consider more cushioning, support and stability for the long haul.  This also depends on how how light on your feet you be at mile 75--some runners will still want the lighter shoe with more feel for the trail.

Go here for women specific trail running shoes>>

Running shoe manufacturers recognize the market potential of trail running shoes and there are now countless styles from both traditional running shoe product companies and climbing shoe manufacturers as well as traditional hiking boot product companies which leads to confusion for the first time running trail shoe buyer.  Trail running shoes run the gamut from light hikers to racing flats with very sticky outer sole and little lateral support.

After considering the trail running shoe characteristics listed above, match the trail running shoe to the most likely set of conditions.  If your primary trail running use consists of "rails-to-trails" terrain with reasonably smooth and even surface then you might consider a lighter weight trail running model or even a traditional road racing shoe.  Having just completed the Deadwood Trail Marathon, most runners did not have traditional trail running shoes, but opted for road running footwear.  Given the current vast number of shoes on the market, I recommend at least two different shoes: A light model for the summer and a more weather resistant model for the winter months.  Consider Gore Tex shoes if you are using the trail running shoes for snowshoe racing also.  Even in the coldest conditions the warmth of your feet melt some of the accumulated snow and over several hours will lead to wet feet.  Also, seriously consider using low cut gaiter in snow with or without the snowshoes.

Winter trail running tip :  Use short hex shaped head machine screws to provide traction on ice and packed snow. Screw the hex screws into the sole of the running shoe (the hex head provides the traction not the point) being careful not to damage air bladders.  More on this technique from Matt Carpenter's Sky Runner's site.  I used 1/4 inch screws last year and had absolutely excellent traction on ice and packed snow.  This technique does not provide a great deal of traction in deep powder because there is nothing for the head of the screw to bite into.

Bottom Line: Select a trail running shoe to fit the type of terrain (water crossings?), race distance, and weather conditions.  I have used a couple different Salomon shoes for adventure racing including the XA series.  I have used the La Sportiva Slingshot for shorter trail races and interval training sessions and the Axis Eagle V and Trail Sensor for the Leadville 100 Trail Races.

 

END Stumptown 10oz Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Light, supportive, low-bulk, and environmentally friendly. The End Stumptown 10oz Trail Running Shoe wraps innovative textiles and recycled materials around your foot so you get natural, comfortable ... more info.


END Stumptown 12oz Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The End Mens Stumptown 12oz Trail Running Shoe doesnt mind that you have a short attention span. This light shoe loves trail runs, impromptu forest explorations, and urban trekking, and if they all ... more info.


END Stumptown 8.5oz Trail Run Shoe - Men's

Really want to leave no trace? Pull on a shoe with the same goal in mindthe END Mens Stumptown 8.5oz Trail Run Shoe. This eco-friendly shoe treads softly and carries a small carbon footprint.


Helly Hansen Manifesto Beater Shoe - Men's

The Manifesto Beater takes Helly Hansens popular running shoe and beefs it up for heavy trail abuse.


Helly Hansen Trail Lizard Shoe - Men's

The Helly Hansen Mens Trail Lizard Shoe features C-Zone cushioning and a dual-density EVA layer to keep your feet feeling great on the longest run of the year.


Inov 8 Terroc 330 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

A -length shank increases the Inov 8 TerRoc 330 Mens Trail Running Shoes support and comfort when you take it out on compact dirt, gravel, and even asphalt trails.


KEEN Obsidian WP Trail Running Shoe - Men's

What lean, mean running machine keeps your feet dry with its seamless waterproof breathable construction? The Keen Mens Obsidian WP Trail-Running Shoe.


KEEN Powerline Shoe - Men's

On a bluebird summer day, slip into your KEEN Mens Powerline Shoes, and hit the trail. These mesh trail runners let your feet breathe.


KEEN Shellrock Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Keen built the Mens Shellrock Shoe from lightweight, breathable softshell material for fast-paced hikes and trail runs.


La Sportiva Crosslite Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Not all races take place on bluebird days, so La Sportiva gave the Mens Crosslite Racing Shoe an aggressive outsole to provide traction for whatever conditions you encounter.


La Sportiva Fireblade Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Whether you run on trails, roads, or a bit of both, the La Sportiva Fireblade Mens Trail Running Shoes provide the traction, support, and lightweight performance you need.


La Sportiva Imogene Trail Running Shoe - Men's

La Sportiva gave the Mens Imogene Trail Running Shoe a highly cushioned sole for days on the roughest trails around.


La Sportiva Wildcat Trail Running Shoe - Men's

La Sportiva outfitted the Mens Wildcat Trail Running Shoe with its ultra-sticky FriXion sole to ensure traction in any conditions.


Lafuma Sky Race OT Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Lace up your waterproof breathable Lafuma Mens Sky Race OT Trail Running Shoes, and take off down the mountain trail. These trail runners feature Lafumas Twin Lace system for a dialed fit.


Lafuma Sky Race Trail Running Shoe - Men's

When the aspens are turning, slip into your Lafuma Mens Sky Race Trail Running Shoes, and run through corridors of shimmering gold.


Merrell Cruise Control Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Trail running can wreck havoc on flat-footed runners. Merrell made the Mens Cruise Control Trail Running Shoes with a straight, filled-in last and TrailSpring support for improved torsional stability.


Merrell Overdrive II Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Merrell Mens Overdrive II Trail Running Shoe provides distance runners and adventure racers with the long-lasting performance they need for big days in the hills.


Merrell Robotic Multisport Shoe - Men's

You can tell, just by looking at the Merrell Mens Robotic Multisport Shoes, that theyre ridiculously breathable.


Montrail Hardrock '09 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Montrail created the Mens Hardrock 09 Trail Running Shoe to give you a lightweight, nimble feel on the roughest trails around.


Montrail Hurricane Ridge XCR Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Train for ultramarathons in any season while wearing the Montrail Mens Hurricane Ridge XCR trail running shoes. A waterproof breathable GoreTex XCR barrier blocks moisture without inducing swamp-foot.


Montrail Mountain Masochist GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

For those who take great pleasure in a day filled with punishing ups and downs over rough terrain, the Montrail Mens Mountain Masochist GTX Trail Running Shoe is here to ease the pain.


Montrail Mountain Masochist Trail Running Shoe - Men's

How does the Montrail Mountain Masochist Trail Running Shoe help during your 100-mile trail race? The lightweight EVA midsole absorbs shock and provides mid-foot support while you navigate rocky ... more info.


Montrail Streak Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Montrail made the Mens Streak Trail Running Shoes with multi-directional outsoles and Gryptonite sticky rubber, so you have less of a chance of decking and scraping some delicate areas as you streak ... more info.


Montrail Wildwood TR Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Designed with the urban trail runner in mind, the Montrail Mens Wildwood TR Trail Running Shoe gives you the versatility to burn down the trails with full protection and stability and to pound the ... more info.


New Balance 1110 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Whether youre a casual day hiker, or a trail running addict, the New Balance Mens 1110 Trail Running Shoe is a lightweight, durable, waterproof piece of outdoor-specific footwear.


New Balance 1520 GT Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The New Balance 1520 GT looks like a cross between a trail runner and a hiking shoe. Thats because it is.


New Balance 621 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Begin your run in town, take a break on a mountaintop, and return home while wearing the New Balance Mens 621 Trail Running Shoes. New Balance built these shoes to go from pavement to trail.


New Balance 840 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The New Balance Mens 840 Trail Running Shoe provides stability and support in a wide variety of trail conditions and surfaces, so dont hesitate to check out a new turnoff along the way.


New Balance 875 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

You need the New Balance Mens 875 Trail Running Shoes to keep you grounded while you climb rocky slopes, splash across rivers, and dodge deadfall.


New Balance 909 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Lace up your New Balance Mens 909 Trail Running Shoes, and dash off toward the foothills. These shoes cushion and protect your hard-working feet.


Patagonia Footwear Release GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

With the wet, muddy trail conditions of the shoulder season comes the need for a comfortable, protective running shoe like the Patagonia Mens Release GTX Trail Running Shoe.


Patagonia Footwear Release Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Tackle your biggest trail run of the year in the Patagonia Mens Release Trail Running Shoe. The DWR-treated synthetic mesh upper wicks moisture and protects against light rain and splashy stream ... more info.


Pearl Izumi Peak XC Trail Running Shoes - Men's

Racing and training across miles of trails can be hard on your feet. Employ the Pearl Izumi Mens Peak XC Trail Running Shoes to cover your feet with bruise-protection plates and heel crash pads.


Pearl Izumi Syncro Float III Running Shoe - Men's

You want a fast running shoe with mild pronation control. Pearl Izumi made the Mens Synchro Float III with you in mind.


Pearl Izumi SyncroSeek III Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Pull on the Pearl Izumi Mens SynchroSeek III Trail Running Shoe for a versatile shoe that performs as well on the pavement as it does on the trails.


Pearl Izumi SyncroSeek III WRX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

When rainy or winter conditions cant hold you back from your daily run, lace up the Pearl Izumi Mens SynchroSeek III WRX Trail Running Shoe, and enjoy breathable water resistance. This shoe also ... more info.


Salomon S-Lab2 XT Wings Trail Running Shoe - Men's

When you pull on the Salomon Mens S-Lab2 XT Wings Trail Running Shoe for your next trail or road race, youll be moving so fast itll look like your feet are on fire.


Salomon SpeedCross 2 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Built for speed, the Salomon Mens SpeedCross 2 Trail Running Shoe is ready for adventure racing mayhem.


Salomon XA Comp 3 GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Salomon Mens XA Comp 3 GTX is the weatherproof version of Salomons classic trail running shoe. Whether youre a competitive adventure runner or just out for a jog, the Comp 3 GTXs Gore-Tex XCR ... more info.


Salomon XA Comp 4 GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Salomon Mens XA Comp 4 GTX Trail Running Shoe provides a versatile, weatherproof platform for extended trail runs and light day hikes.


Salomon XA Comp 4 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Run, walk, indoor, outdoor, wet, dryas long as youre on the go, the Salomon Mens XA Comp 4 Trail Running Shoe doesnt discriminate.


Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Pull the Kevlar Quikfit lacing on the Salomon Mens XA Pro 3D Ultra Trail Running Shoe for grueling adventure races and rocky trail runs. The Gore-Tex XCR seam-sealed inner booties keep your feet ... more info.


Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra M+ Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Salomon Mens XA Pro 3D Ultra M+ Shoe sports all the technical features of the regular 3D Ultra, but what sets it apart is more volume and a wider last.


Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Salomon made the lightweight, shock-absorbing Mens XA Pro 3D Ultra Trail Run Shoe for everything from your morning run in the foothills to your trail running excursion along the Appalachian Trail.


Salomon XT Hawk Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Mens XT Hawk Trail Running Shoe features Salomons Agile Chassis System Lite, which cushions and supports your foot as you run through the woods behind your house.


Salomon XT Wings GTX Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Salomon Mens XT Wings GTX Trail Running Shoe wont quite let you peacefully float over muddy trails and treacherous debris, but the waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane will keep moisture from ... more info.


Salomon XT Wings S-Lab Shoe - Men's

Cinch up the Salomon Mens XT Wings S-Lab Shoe and fly through your favorite trail. Strategically placed textiles buffer the blows of abrasion as you wind through rooty terrain and muddy climbs.


Salomon XT Wings Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Salomon Mens XT Wings Shoe boasts the rugged strength and durability for any trail run, but the comfort alone will have you looking for every chance to wear them.


The North Face Arnuva 50 Boa Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The Mens Arnuva 50 Boa Running Shoes represent the crme de la crme of The North Faces endurance running line. These ultralight shoes feature the revolutionary Boa Lacing System.


The North Face Arnuva 50 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face E50 Trail Running Shoes utilize the same revolutionary comfort and stabilizing technologies that will support Dean Karnazes on his journey to complete 50 marathons in 50 states over 50 ... more info.


The North Face Betasso Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Featuring lightweight, breathable mesh and an outsole sturdier than a Spanish monk, The North Face Mens Betasso Trail Running Shoe grinds through the daily demands of suburban trail running and the ... more info.


The North Face Cooper's Hill Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face made the Mens Coopers Hill Trail Running Shoe for fast-paced travel through places where trails are a luxury and fallen trees, bushwacks, and boulder fields are commonplace.


The North Face Fire Road Trail Running Shoe - Men's

Wear The North Face Mens Fire Road Trail Running Shoes for runs on dirt or gravel roads and well-maintained trails. These lightweight, low-profile running shoes excel on mildly technical topography.


The North Face Rucky Chucky GTX XCR Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face actually calls the Rucky Chucky GTX XCR a Mountain Running Shoe. We dont have a category for that.


The North Face Rucky Chucky Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face Mens Rucky Chucky Trail Running Shoe provides support and comfort to off-road ultra runners.


The North Face Ultra 104 GTX XCR Trail Running Shoe - Men's

All this multi-sport shoe stuff can be confusing. Well level with youThe North Face Mens Ultra 104 GTX XCR Trail Running Shoes are totally legit running shoes.


The North Face Ultra 104 Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face Mens Ultra 104 Trail Running Shoe supports your foot on steep, rugged terrain and supplies the aggressive tread needed for loose sections.


The North Face Ultra 105 GTX XCR Trail Running Shoe - Men's

When double-digit miles over wet, rugged trails is a standard outing, pull on The North Face Mens Ultra 105 GTX XCR Trail Running Shoe.


The North Face Voza Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face designed the Mens Voza Trail Running Shoe to provide ultralight support and ventilation on your longest, most grueling trail runs.


The North Face Wolf Ridge Trail Running Shoe - Men's

The North Face built its Mens Wolf Ridge Trail Running Shoe to handle the roughest conditions you plan (or dont plan) to find on any trail out there.








  
Other gear for trail running, fast packing, adventure racing and backcountry travel:

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