The top trail-running shoes for people who love being outside

Walk the line between strength and weight.

person running on a trail
The most important piece of running gear.Brian Metzler via Unsplash

In case you are wondering, all running shoes aren’t created equal. And trail running shoes aren’t necessarily the same as shoes for running on pavement. You need to think about durability, sole traction, breathability and other factors. Fortunately, we can break some of that down for you.

HOKA ONE Men’s Challenger ATR 4 Trail Running Shoes
Glide on clouds.Amazon

The HOKA brand is known for thick soles, and this one is no different. But the shoe is also carefully built for trails. It has a multi-lugged outsole, with lugs arranged closer together toward the heal for an easier run. The upper part of the shoe is breathable to give your feet air in the mountains, and the larger toe guard area has even more durability.

La Sportiva Men’s Bushido II Running Shoe
Go fast. Stay safe.Amazon

This shoe was built for the mountains. It has a rubber sole, and the slip-on construction feels more like a sock than a shoe. Outside lugs wrap around the midsole to provide even more grip. And the special FriXion XT V-Groove2 has a dual-compound rubber that offers great grip on wet or dry ground. Expect rugged simplicity.

Salomon Men’s SENSE RIDE 3, Trail Running Shoe
Go anywhere.Amazon

Do you like to run on trails, but often find yourself on the road for a quick jog before work? These are a great choice for you. They feature a rubber sole with a comfortable ride that you would expect out of a road shoe. But they also have an aggressive outsole that will protect your feet from sharp rocks and sticks on the trail. The upper is breathable and soft for whatever you ask of it.

Arc’teryx Norvan SL Men’s
Go light. Really light.Amazon

One of these shoes weights less than half pound. It’s hard to go much lighter and still have a shoe that holds up to trails. This one does. Its collar helps seal out rocks, sticks, pine needles and other debris. Its synthetic toecap has added protection. The sturdy fabric and webbing loops ensure a secure fit. If you want to go far without much weight, this is your shoe.