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All about trail running shoes

We all own a pair of reliable running shoes that often become our best bet when packing shoes for an adventure into the wild. Once you finish reading this article, you might just consider investing in a decent pair of trail running shoe to give your feet the comfort they deserve while travelling in the wilderness.

While your regular running shoes may be able to tackle some easy, hard-packed trails, trail running shoes should be used when the going gets wilder. Trail running shoes are designed to handle the rigours of off-road running in conditions with sharp rocks, jagged roots, and gritty dirt, which makes them a necessity—they are especially useful on steep inclines, tricky terrain, or trails that are wet, muddy, or snow-covered.

Trail running shoes protect your feet in ways that regular running shoes do not, and they allow you to run effortlessly over a variety of terrain. Furthermore, they are resistant to the abuse that you will subject them to during hard trail runs.

Why are off-trail shoes better than regular running shoes?

The allure of trail running is strong, whether you’re an urban runner looking to shake up your routine or a hiker who wants to get a different perspective on the routes they’ve been exploring. To properly enjoy what the great outdoors has to offer, one must first be equipped with footwear suited for walking in more rugged terrain. There are a number of key distinctions between trail running shoes and road running shoes, which are as follows:

  1. Grip on rugged terrain

Because lugged soles give you more grip, you can walk more confidently on loose dirt, mud, gravel, roots, and rock slabs.

  1. Foot protection

A number of internal and external elements work together to protect the user’s feet from the effects of falling pebbles and roots. The upper materials are made of durable materials that can endure abrasion and rips.

  1. Stiff construction

Trail runners are built to prevent excessive foot rotation. In addition, because running on trails involves a shorter, more variable stride as you adjust to land where footing is optimal, pronation control isn’t a big consideration.

Things to consider when buying trail running shoes

This article tells you what you should think about before buying trail running shoes:

Types of Trail running shoes

Light trail shoes

Light trail running shoes give you the structure and protection you need to run comfortably on well-groomed trails. Light trail shoes are essentially made for uniform surfaces. Think of roads, gravel paths, and hills that go up and down. The weight and shape of these shoes are very similar to regular running shoes.

Here are a few characteristics of light trail shoes:

  1. Moderate protection against rocks and roots

  2. Because they are made of light materials, these shoes make it easier to keep up a fast pace.

  3. builds that are moderately stiff and enable secure foot placement.

  4. Soles feature shallow lugs for traction on hard surfaces.

  5. Choose from a variety of midsole cushioning options based on your preferences.

Rugged trail shoes

Rugged trail running shoes offer superior underfoot protection and support, making them suitable for use on the strangest of surfaces. These shoes are primarily intended for use while running on hiking trails, which may be anything from a well-constructed path to a makeshift path in the forest. This classification thus encompasses the widest variety of landscapes.

Here are a few characteristics of rugged trail shoes:

  1. Protect your feet against sharp rocks and roots with toe guards up front and stealthy plates underneath your shoes.

  2. Overlays and reinforcements make for sturdy protection against brambles and thorns.

  3. Midsole cushioning that bounces back from severe impacts, such as those experienced on rock slab landings or when descending steep terrain,

  4. Stiff midsoles and supportive uppers help keep your footing steady over uneven terrain and sharp turns. Some models have internal shanks, which make the structure of the shoe even stronger.

  5. Various lug patterns that deliver traction and stopping force from any angle

  6. Soles have thick, multidirectional lugs for traction on soft soil and mud; a large gap between the lugs allows mud and soft soil to fall off readily.

  7. Some shoes are made with soft, gripping rubber that keeps you from slipping on wet rock or wood, while other shoes are made with harder, less gripping rubber that is more durable.

Off-trail shoes

Off-trail running shoes feature aggressive outsoles and an improved structural design to provide the best protection across rough, extremely diverse terrain. Off-trail running shoes are for you if you intend to go where men dare not tread. Off-trail footwear has all the same features as rugged trail footwear, but it also has a few extra features to make it as useful as possible.

Here are a few unique features that off-trail shoes offer:

  1. Off-trail shoes are made from more resilient materials. For example, most rugged trail shoes feature EVA foam midsoles, while midsoles in off-trail shoes may use polyurethane foam, which is much more resilient.

  2. The structure will be thicker to give the shoe more “torsional rigidity,” which means it will be less likely to break when a strong force is applied to twist it. This is especially important if you won’t be walking on much flat ground.

  3. This group has more waterproof shoes because running in remote areas is more likely to bring you into contact with wet ground and other potentially dangerous situations.


For many years, the trail running shoe industry’s standard for cushioning level, often known as “stack height,” stayed basically unaltered. Then, shoes with zero padding completely transformed the game. A countertrend started a few years later, when shoes with heavily cushioned midsoles entered the market.

There are many options available to you now on the “feel” vs. “float” cushioning spectrum, including:

  1. As you might expect, these are the no-padding shoes:The allure is that they enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the route and your own biomechanics.

  2. Minimal: These running shoes are a good choice for runners who want a better trail feel but are not at ease doing away with all midsole padding.

  3. Moderate: These could be called standard trail runners with enough padding to make running on rocky and rooty paths comfortable.

  4. Maximum: These are the ones that have a lot of midsole padding. Maximum cushioning shoes, according to devotees, are gentler on joints and lessen the strain on long runs. Some shoe critics claim that their ultra-soft cushioning causes “mushy” (less effective) toe-offs while you run.

Heel-to-toe drop

A measurement that is closely connected to cushioning height is the heel-to-toe drop. The difference between the height at the heel and the height at the forefoot, which ranges from 0mm to more than 12mm, is as follows:

  1. Barefoot shoes have a 0mm drop.

  2. Minimalist shoes typically have a drop of 0 to 4 mm.

  3. Moderate and maximalist shoes offer a wide range of heel-to-toe drops.

Take into account the following advice while choosing your ideal heel drop:

  1. Match the drop of your current running shoes. You won’t interfere with the biomechanics of your body. Remember to double-check the heel drop even if you’re buying the same shoe style.Every now and again, a shoe company will tweak a shoe’s design, changing the heel-to-toe drop.

  2. A low heel drop encourages a midfoot or forefoot strike. As a result, the landing platform is more secure, and balance and muscular engagement are also improved. This positive biomechanical transformation is a major draw of going barefoot and wearing minimalist footwear.However, not everyone can benefit from or switch to a low-drop shoe.

  3. If you are considering switching to barefoot or minimalist shoes, take it slow. Expect a few months of adjustment and perhaps discomfort while you go through the physical change.

  4. Note that you can also find shoes with moderate and maximum cushioning that have a low heel drop. Not everyone should change from a well-cushioned high-heel-drop shoe to a well-cushioned low-heel-drop shoe. It involves some discomfort and necessitates some adjustment time.


Fit is more crucial than any other factor. Unless it fits your foot, a shoe that gets high reviews isn’t necessarily a great shoe for you. And more than just length and width are necessary for a proper fit. Due to the biomechanical complexity of feet, a proper fit will take into account a variety of characteristics, including foot volume, arch length, and shape.

  1. Consider shoe lasts: Each company bases its shoe design on a complex foot form known as a “last.” Finding brands with lasts identical to your foot is your objective. After that, you can shop online with a higher likelihood of finding shoes that fit.

  2. Don’t assume your shoe size: It’s always a good idea to be measured because your feet vary as you age. Then, you must take into account the fact that your feet swell as you run; you will require shoes that have an acceptable toe box in terms of length and width.

Get a fit assessment: A footwear specialist can assess the size and shape of your feet and advise you about how different brands fit. Any REI store can do this for you, but you should plan ahead for the best experience. You don’t have to make an appointment, but we recommend you pick a less busy time or ask when some of the most experienced footwear staff will be in store. Go later in the day because your feet swell and you can be sure to get shoes that are big enough to fit you properly.

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