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Hiking & Trail Running

Trail Running Shoes | 5 of the Best Models on the Market

Get started right with your first pair of trail running kicks.

A good pair of trail running shoes will be the single most important investment that you can make if you are planning to head off-road. Those new to the sport might find the whole process of buying the right shoe quite overwhelming as the internet is awash with trail running shoe reviews. A shoe is a very personal thing – different shoes suit different feet. The Inov-8 X Talon for example, is quite a narrow trail running shoe so will not suit a wide foot, in this case a shoe like the Salomon Wings might be a better fit for you.

To give you a steer in the right direction we have rounded up five of the best trail running shoes on the market, most of which offer men’s and women’s specific versions of the same running shoe.

1) Salomon Speedcross

Prices from: £60
More info: salomon.com

This shoe is a favourite amongst runners all over the globe and with good reason – it is a versatile shoe that will instil confidence on a wide range of trail runs, from the muddiest, most technical running terrain to dry forest road. Equipped with a medium lug, this shoe is light, breathable and super-durable. The shoe comes with the Salomon speed laces as standard which is another bonus as you can rest assured that your lace is never going to come undone at a critical moment mid-race. The Salomon Speedcross is available in both a women’s and men’s specific model.

2) Inov-8 X Talon

The Inov-8 X-Talon – one of the best performing trail running shoes in muddy conditions. Photo: Inov-8

Prices from: £76
More info: inov-8.com

If you are a fan of running in the UK during the winter months then there is a good chance this shoe will be top of the list for you. This shoe is one of the best performers on the market for muddy, wet conditions.

Claiming more World Championship wins than any other trail running shoe, Inov-8 has put a lot of effort into creating a minimal shoe that is super-lightweight (it weighs just 212g), and durable. They do have reasonably deep lugs so are definitely more suited to muddy conditions, however I have put these to the test on drier, loose terrain and they have performed well, although the Salomon Speedcross probably have the edge. 

3) Hoka Mafate Speed

‘Utterly Ridiculous’ – Trail running shoes at their wackiest – the Hoka Mafate Speedrun. Photo: Hoka

Prices from: £84
More info: hokaoneone.eu

The first time I saw this shoe on the trail, I laughed out loud – it looked, in my opinion, utterly ridiculous. But as the mother would say: “Don’t knock it until you try it.”

Featuring an oversized sole, Hoka has designed its shoes with what they call a ‘meta-rocker midsole geometry’ which ultimately supports a runner’s natural form, encouraging a positive rolling motion from heel strike to toe-off producing a more efficient running technique.

The high level of cushioning has also been designed to absorb some of the stress caused by running long distances on tough terrain, thus reducing injury levels.  The Hoka Mafate Speed is now a regular on the trail, ultra-running scene and thru-hiking scene with some pretty dedicated fans. If you can get over the overall look of the shoe, it does offer supreme comfort thanks to the seamless construction of the shoe itself, at 320g is a pretty light and the lugs provide ample grip on a wide variety of terrain.

4) Columbia Conspiracy IV Trail Shoe

A real jack-of-all-trades trail running shoe – the Columbia Conspiracy IV. Photo: Columbia

Prices from: £60
More info: columbiasportswear.co.uk

I am not usually an advocate of waterproof trail running shoes but the Columbia Conspiracy is an exception to my rule. Unlike a traditional Gore-Tex shoe where the waterproof layer is under the top layer of the shoe which can cause the shoe to become heavy when wet (even though your feet are dry), Columbia uses a technology called Outdry whereby the waterproof membrane is the outermost layer of the shoe – meaning no weight gain when wet!

Waterproofing aside, the Columbia Conspiracy is a real Jack-of-all-trades. They will take you from muddy mountain runs in winter, to dry dusty runs in summer and are perfect for those who want a really versatile shoe with a medium amount of cushioning that will not break the bank.

5) La Sportiva Helios 2.0

The Helios 2.0 provides good grip on a range of terrain. Source: La Sportiva

Prices from: £80
More info: sportiva.com

The La Sportiva Helios 2.0 has received rave reviews across the board and for good reason. This lightweight shoe (237g) offers a supreme fit thanks to its speed lacing system which will save you a couple of toenails on a longer race.

Despite the fact that they are a low-profile shoe, they offer a good level of cushioning around the entire foot and even feel a little springy under foot. Elsewhere they offer pretty impressive breathability, good grip on a range of terrain and can even be used for some light road use too. Like the Columbia Conspiracy, I reckon this is a great choice for those looking for a really versatile trail running shoe.

You May Also Like:

Best Gear for Trail Running | The Ultimate Winter Kit Bag

Trail Running, Cross Country & Fell Running | What’s the Difference?

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