The activity which is termed ‘running’ is nothing new to mankind. Running has been an old buddy, thanks to our fight-or-flight instinct. However, unlike the pre-historic times, people in recent times do not just run while hunting. Running proves to be an effective exercise to stay fit. Running can be of two types – road running or trail running. Trail running is different from road running in the sense that when you trail run, you run on terrains other than the road. Trail run could mean running on any trail except the road, be it a mountainous track or the ocean bed (which is physically quite impossible but you get the point!).
What Are Trail Running Shoes? Why Are They Different from Running Shoes?
Also known as Fell or Mountain running; trail running is primarily considered to be an extreme sport which includes running and hiking over rugged, wet or muddy/dirt trails. And as hikers would know, you need the right kind of shoes for such events. Climbing, hiking or running over a rocky or rough terrain needs specially designed shoes which have the right kind of grooves and traction to improve friction between the surface and the shoe itself, hence, improving the grip. These shoes are very different from your regular sports or road running shoes. They have an advanced sole design, one that has knob-like projections on the sole.
Trail run can be held on softer terrains too like meadows or grassy areas and hence, do not need the kind of extra cushioning that Road running shoes require. Running over grassy areas do not impart the same kind of shock to the feet as does tarmac (for which road running shoes extra shock absorbent cushioning). Unlike road running shoes, trail running shoes tend to be low to the ground which provides the runner with more stability while running on uneven terrains. Such additional features of a trail running shoe make it more suitable for hiking or running on uneven surfaces than for road running purposes.
What features to consider while buying the Best Trail Running shoe?
Before you even start thinking about your off-road running jig, take some time off to choose the right kind of shoes for the purpose. Choosing the right shoes for yourself includes a lot of things to consider. To begin with, start with the essential features of the shoe itself. As a trail shoe, it is essential that the sole has a healthy grip. The first thing you will do while choosing the shoes is looking for tread patterns on the sole. The more aggressive the lugs are, the more the shoes stand a chance of providing you better stability.
The stability factor prevents your feet from slipping or losing hold. The next thing that comes to mind while having to choose a shoe is to check whether or not the shoe in itself provides comfort and protection to your feet. While running your feet is prone to feel the impact and jerk from stiff terrains, uneven ground or even roots etc., many trail shoes provide protective features to counter the injury that might be inflicted on the feet while trail running, and such shoes top the list of desirability. So look for shoes with stiffer soles, hidden plates and protective toe counters that promise to keep your toe and feet tucked up in comfort. Also as a protective measure, choose a shoe with a snug fit. Wearing a pair of oversized, loose running shoes can be hazardous. Your foot is prone to pronation when you use loosely fitting shoes. Once you have ensured the presence of the above mention features, you may want to choose a pair that has a pitched sense of taste and style to it. Why keep fashion limited to your trail running gear when you can have a stylish pair of shoes as well? There are a lot many pairs in the market that not just give you the required grip with effective protective features but are quite tasteful too. This very article discusses a few such Trail running shoe models, so hold tight and keep reading.
What Kind of Trail Running Shoes Is Best Suited for You?
The answer to this question is relative and solely depends on you and your preferences. However, a little knowledge on the various kinds of shoes and the various kinds of grips and features will help you know better. In the previous section, I had discussed some important feature that should look for before you buy a pair of trail running shoes. Now, since every person has different ways and needs, you may want your pair of shoes to cater to your own specific needs. While the basic idea remains the same (that your shoe has to have a great grip and protect your feet), you have the liberty to look for certain add-ons.
Depending on the needs of different people, shoe companies come up with uncountable variants. For up-tempo runs and races, there are lightweight shoes that don’t bog down your feet. However, such shoes generally provide less support and protection to the feet (in order to make the shoe lighter). If you wish to own a shoe more suited for mountainous or rugged surface trail running, you should look for a shoe with more support, structure, comfort, and grip. On the contrary, a trail running shoe suited for Muddy and wet trails would be expected to furnish soles with spaced out grooves and lugs, so it is easy for you to wash the mud off. Speaking of comfort, you might wonder what kind of shoe liner to opt for?
Again the answer for this lies with you. If you prefer running on wet trails, it is advisable that you opt for waterproof liner unless you want to have a little puddle in your shoe. While running, it is also advisable that you use shoes with breathable and sweat-absorbent liners. Then there are shoes for different foot types, depending on whether you have a flat foot, a normal arched foot or a high arched foot, companies make their shoes available in such varieties as well. Most importantly, just remember whatever you choose, make sure you feel comfortable wearing them.
The Best Trail Running Shoes in Market
Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3
One of my friends owns a pair and as I hear from him, they are probably the best in the market. Since he was such a big fan, I decided to dig deeper and found out more about this model. I have to say, the grip is fantastic, simply fantastic! The broad arrow-shaped lugs placed meticulously on the Contragrip sole provide an excellent grip on almost all terrains, be it a slimy, slippery one or a tough one to scale. In addition to the amazing traction grip, the shoe is beyond comfortable. The shoe hardly makes you feel any impact thanks to the perfect cushioning that protects your foot well enough. Water resistant and stylish- these shoes are available in various hues and this is what makes it one of the most popular trail running shoes in the market.
However, I found out that one of the features of this shoe poses to be both advantageous and disadvantageous on different fronts. The anti-dust mesh liner on the top of the shoe makes it easier for the user to clean the shoe but it also makes the shoe less breathable and hence, a sweaty foot may lead to the shoe catching a peculiar odor. Overall, the shoe has features that go beyond expectations like its Ortholite insoles, EVA midsole and the Sensifit technology makes these shoes a trail runner’s best friend.
New Balance Men’s MT410V4 Trail-Running Shoe
The Company has a history of putting in that extra effort so as to make each of their shoes user- friendly. And so, when it comes to the making of a trail running shoe, New Balance tries to present their meticulously crafted shoes to cater to the needs of trail runners in every sense of the word. Speaking of the model MT410V4, it can be said that this shoe speaks for itself. The traction grip is fit for all kinds of terrains and the comfort factor is great with the midsole featuring a high-performance grade footbed and foam support.
These fashionable pairs come with a rear end pull up strap that let you assist the shoe’s way up your heel. Such superior grip, design and comfort levels may well demand a much higher rate than what these shoes actually cost. So if you are low on your budget but really need a wonderful pair of Trail running shoes, these shoes which cost just as light as they actually are (10.2 ounces only) are just for you, my friend!
Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Runner
Back to the kingdom of the mighty shoe company, I am here with another model which deserves an equally well reception like its other sibling. If there was ever a style pageant contest held for trail running shoes, I can wager Speedcross 4 would be the winner, such is the level of its awe-inspiring look and design. The toothy traction lugs juxtaposed with the brightly colored bodice made it a huge success in the market. Speedcross 4 is actually a modestly updated version of the Speedcross 3 version and has been equally well received by trail runners.
As for the performance, it goes without saying that Speedcross 4 has an exceptional traction grip, you just need to put these on and go wherever on earth you want to go – uphill, side hill or downhill! The aggressive and wide arrow shaped lugs make it a shoe with an outrageous amount of grip. Weighing light enough when you consider its above average features, (not as light as minimalistic shoes), this shoe is quite comfortable for the user, the extra two-three ounces that it has more than that of a minimalistic variant, have been put to an advantageous use – the midsole foam support. But quite like the Speedcross 3 variant, this model too lacks the appropriate breathability and ventilation of the shoe. Other than that, the lace up vamp provides the desired snug fit and adds up as a protective feature.
Altra Men’s Superior 2 Running Shoe
After many hours of digging deep, I found out about these shoes and I feel these are a kind of shoes that are worth mentioning due to the fact these may prove to be just the right kind of footwear for a person for whom comfort is the key to a successful and fulfilling run. As reported by many athletes and runners, I found out that this model from the house of Altra has a great comfort factor owing to its features like its light weight is about 8.7 ounces (quite close to the ideal weight of a minimalistic variant), stone guard insoles which are removable and thus, can be cleaned from time to time.
Enhanced traction grip specialised for demanding trails, the InnerFlex midsole technology that prevents the feet from realizing the impact at its worst are also features worth highlighting. All such comfy features make this model a much sought after pair of trail running shoes.
ASICS Men’s Gel-Sonoma 2 Running Shoe
A shoe designed to provide utmost comfort while you are running, the Gel Sonoma’s uniqueness lies in its inclusion of a feature that helps to alleviate shock during an impact and thus, helps to prevent pronation or foot rolling. This feature is nothing bit the inclusion of a gel cushion at the rear end of the shoe. The traction grip sports reverse lugs to support both uphill and downhill motion, while the inclusion of the spEVA midsole helps to improve its bounce back characteristics and reduces the chances of midsole collapse.
The pair weighs not more than 12 ounces which is pretty generic for the specialised varieties. However, the sole made of rubber is not extremely durable and starts to fray after some rough use. Overall, trail running enthusiasts were pretty happy with the Gel-Sonoma and its shock absorbent technology which prove to be quite a relief for the foot when you are running.
Here Lies the Conclusion
Having searched for hours at end, I came up with these pocket and performance friendly trail running shoes. The unique features of each of these shoes set them apart from the rest. However, these are not the only choices out there. So all you need to do is keep in mind what you are looking for and make sure whatever you buy is comfortable enough for your feet and toes. Happy running and hiking to you!