Tested: The 10 Best Trail Running Shoes of 2022

We ran more than 1,000 miles to find the best trail running shoes

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Trail Running Shoes
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Trail running continues to grow in popularity. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s annual Outdoor Participation Report, some 64 million Americans aged six or older participated in running, jogging, and trail running in 2021—more than any other outdoor activity. That popularity is understandable. Where other activities like cycling, camping, and backpacking require multiple pieces of equipment, trail running only requires a good pair of trail running shoes.

We spent the past few months running hundreds of miles in many different shoes from top brands to find the best trail running shoes. Below are our top picks for the best trail running shoes, whether you’re new to the sport or have logged thousands of trail miles.

Best Overall: Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Running Shoe

5
Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Running Shoe

Saucony

What We Like
  • The best all-around shoe that will fit the most feet

  • Good for speed work and longer runs, up to 20 miles or so

  • Good price point

What We Don't Like
  • We’ve got better options on the list for longer days/runs (20 miles or more)

Our first impression of Saucony’s newest version of the Peregrines? They rip. We’ve now run hundreds of miles in the classic Saucony trail shoes and have loved every single one of them. Saucony boosted the comfort of the shoe with its proprietary PWRRUN+ cushioning. A new rock plate underfoot also helps smooth out the ride. The Peregrines also feature 5-millimeter lugs and a 4-millimeter drop.

Our testers had so much fun in these kicks. Compared to others on this list, they hit the correct balance between comfort, support, responsiveness, and speed. We felt comfortable taking these shoes across different terrain and trail surfaces. They performed well on runs up to 20 miles, speed workouts, and tempo runs where paces dipped to around 5-minutes per mile. 

If you plan to run ultras, there might be some better options below. But, if you’re going to be running races and long runs of up to 20 miles to a marathon, we believe these are the best all-around shoes to fit most people. We also like that Saucony makes a regular and wide version of these shoes.

Weight (per shoe): 9.7 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 4 millimeters | Lug size: 5 millimeters | Planet and social impact: Contains recycled upper materials

Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Running Shoes
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Value: Merrell Moab Flight

4.9
Merrell Moab Flight Shoe

Backcountry

What We Like
  • Good out of the box comfort

  • Solid grip and versatility

  • Vegan-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

One trend we don’t like in running shoes? How expensive they’re getting. Now, Merrell’s Moab Flights aren’t inexpensive, but compared to others on the market—and this list—they’re a good value for what you get.

Our testers enjoyed the size of the lugs on the Moabs (3 millimeters) as they were enough to add some much-needed traction but were not so much that these shoes felt funny on the roads, making them good multi-terrain or winter running shoes when a bit of traction can be needed on slick pavement. We also love that these are loaded with recycled materials and are considered vegan-friendly.

They are one of the heaviest on our list, and our tester noted the shoe's heel being a tad loose. But, for a budget option, the Moab Flights are good shoes.

Weight (per shoe): 17 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 10 millimeters | Lug size: 3 millimeters | Planet and social impact: Vegan-friendly, lots of recycled materials

Best for Racing: Hoka One One Tecton X

5
Hoka One One Tecton X Trail Running Shoe
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.
What We Like
  • Lightweight and dual carbon plates make these shoes super quick and responsive

  • Specifically designed for racing

  • Can handle multiple terrains and surfaces well

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing—truly

When we put these shoes on, we couldn’t stop smiling. There’s not much more in the world I adore more than moving quickly on trails. So after watching a presentation on these shoes from Hoka, I couldn’t wait to get a pair. Expectations were lofty when I laced them for the first time. And, some 250-plus miles later in these—and comparing them to many other shoes on both trail and road—I can say they lived up to my somewhat unfair expectations.

The addition of carbon plates in road racing and then trail shoes has been a tremendous technological advance in running shoes. Hoka doing Hoka things, upped the ante by putting two unconnected carbon plates running parallel to the length of the shoe and flanking them with some proprietary foam. The result is the first Hoka trail running shoe with a carbon plate. Comfy and lightweight upper combines with Vibram’s Megagrip Litebase sole to make this the lightest shoe on our list.

But that lightness does not sacrifice performance or grip. We were already in love with these shoes, but a three-day span that included a 21-mile trail run with 2,000-plus feet of elevation averaging 6:30-per-mile pace followed by an 800-meter repeat workout averaging sub-5-minute pace on a red cinder track sealed the deal for us. 

One final thought: This shoe is for more than just races or people planning on racing. If you’re looking for a fun, fast, and light trail shoe, we’re convinced there’s no better one available.

Note: These shoes will hit the market on June 1, 2022.

Weight (per shoe): 9.5 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): Not listed | Lug size: Not listed | Planet and social impact: Not listed

Hoka One One Tecton X Trail Running Shoe
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Multi-Terrain: Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280

4.7
Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280

Inov-8

What We Like
  • Surprisingly comfortable, thanks mainly to a plush and mesh upper

  • It did what Inov-8 claimed it’d do—perform well on many surfaces

  • Faster and more responsive than expected

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller toe box than the previous model, but we still felt it was enough

The truth is, most of us don’t train solely on trails. There might be a road approach to our local trail system. Or, some days, we might need some time on the local paved path or roads. For those jumping back and forth between paved and gravel roads and trails with different surfaces, we highly recommend Inov-8’s Parkclaw G 280.

Most of our testing involved running from the front door or parking lot to our local trail system. For many shoes on this list, we could feel the difference. Not so with the Parkclaws, which transitioned seamlessly from road to dirt to gravel to loose rocks and back to the road.

The Parkclaws have some neat but slightly gimmicky features like the graphene-enhanced rubber outsole and foam midsole. Graphene is the strongest material ever discovered. Inov-8 claims the graphene-enhanced midsole combined with a sizeable 8-millimeter drop leads to 25 percent better energy return. We couldn’t measure that precise energy return during our runs, but we felt those features, along with the 98 cleats on each outsole, led to an efficient and rewarding stride.

About the 8-millimeter drop. It’s the most of any drop included on this list, but it sure didn’t feel like it. We thought it rode more like a typical 3 to 5-millimeter drop.

Weight (per shoe): 9.8 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 8 millimeters | Lug size: Not listed | Planet and social impact: Not listed

Inov-8 Parkclaw G280
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Zero-Drop: Altra Lone Peak 6

4.8
Altra Lone Peak 6

Zappos

What We Like
  • A super comfortable shoe that we like for hiking and travel just as much for trail running

  • Classic Altra wide toe box and zero-drop design

  • Great traction

What We Don't Like
  • Not everyone likes the zero drop

Altra keeps nailing the zero-drop running shoe game. And its newest version of the Lone Peak trail runners is another example of Altra doing Altra things and an upgrade on an already stellar shoe model. The Lone Peak employs Altra’s proprietary FootShape comfort, which is crafted to respond differently to the biological differences between men’s and women’s feet. And it uses some proprietary foam and outsole tech to amp comfort and traction.

This shoe has quickly become a bit of a do-everything shoe for me. First, I’m a massive fan of zero-drop shoes and wide-toe boxes. They just fit my feet better. So not only are these shoes an absolute joy to run in, but they’re one of the only shoes on this list I’d also take hiking (the only other one being the Speedgoat 5s). Most recently, I’ve used them as my primary travel shoe. They’re perfect for wearing to the airport and then straight to the trails.

Weight (per shoe): 10.6 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 0 millimeters | Lug size: Not listed | Planet and social impact: Not listed

Altra Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoes
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Wide Toe Box: Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2

4.9
Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2

Zappos

What We Like
  • A lot of cushioning makes this a very comfy shoe

  • The Vibram outsoles are super grippy and fun

  • Great for many distances

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing

If you’re a runner of any sort and haven’t tried a pair of Topo Athletic shoes, allow this to be your official sign that it’s time. We tested three Topo Athletic shoes for this list and loved them all. The MTN Racer 2 is arguably one of Topo’s most popular and well-rounded trail runner, so we gave it the nod here. But our opinion is you can’t go wrong with any Topo Athletic trail runner.

Boston-based Topo was launched less than a decade ago by a former runner looking to make better running shoes. Mission accomplished. Topo’s trail running shoes feature wide toe boxes for natural toe splay, Vibram outsoles, and a proprietary midsole compound they claim is springier and offers more rebound for longer than EVA.

Throughout our testing, we noticed ourselves gravitating to the MTN Racer 2s because of how natural and comfy they felt on the trails. The distance, trail surface, or terrain didn't matter—these shoes were responsive and, frankly, a delight. Even if you don’t have a wide toe box, we recommend giving a wide toe box shoe a try. And these were our favorites throughout testing.

Weight (per shoe): 10 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 5 millimeters | Lug size: Not listed | Planet and social impact: Not listed

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Gore-Tex: La Sportiva Jackal GTX Trail-Running Shoes

4.7
La Sportiva Jackal GTX Trail-Running Shoes

La Sportiva

What We Like
  • Wider foot and toe box compared to other La Sportiva models

  • Excellent moisture protection as long as the water depth doesn’t go over ankle-high

  • Great grip and on-trail performance

What We Don't Like
  • Not great breathability, typical to a waterproof shoe

  • Size up a half size (at least)

Before diving into the waterproofness of this shoe, let’s begin by calling things as they are. The Jackal is a damn-good mountain running shoe. And if you’re looking for a solid trail runner without waterproofing, the non-Gore-Tex version of this shoe is solid. 

But, if you live in a rainy climate or are looking for a solid shoe across all seasons, the Gore-Tex version of the Jackal is the way to go. We appreciated the wider forefoot of these shoes and the proprietary rubber compound outsole used for boosted traction. Some reinforced eye-stays integrated into the upper’s mesh help that portion of the shoe adjusts for foot swelling common in more extended missions.

We took these shoes on multiple downpour runs and across snow and found them to perform better than other Gore-Tex shoes on this list. While other shoes matched the waterproofness, we enjoyed the comfort, fit, and traction these shoes provide more than others.

Weight (per shoe): 11.1 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 7 millimeters | Lug size: 3 millimeters | Planet and social impact: Not listed

La Sportiva Jackal GTX
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best for Winter Trails: Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro Trail Running Shoes

4.5
Adidas Terrex Agravic Tech Pro Trail Running Shoes

Adidas

What We Like
  • Great traction

  • Built-in gaiter is great for breaking trail after snow storms or dry runs when loose rocks are likely to get in your shoes

  • While not waterproof, we found these adept at blocking snow, ice, and puddles from melted snow

What We Don't Like
  • It’s a lot of shoe—we prefer a smaller profile

Don’t let the superlative fool you. These shoes would be ideal when rocks sliding into your shoes is a concern during the summer months—the built-in gaiter blocks and shields from flying gravel and mountain fragments. We primarily tested these shoes in the winter and found them adept at breaking trails and keeping out splashes from melting ice and snow. We were also impressed by the Agravic’s traction chops on ice, packed snow, and breaking trail through 5-inches of fresh.

The Agravic’s employ a lot of the new tech we’re starting to see in trail running shoes, like a Boa fit system and rubber outsoles made by a tire company (Continental, in this case). We’re all about the advances in tech, which dramatically improve the overall experience. The Boa system, in particular, is ideal for winter as it’s so much easier to tighten and loosen the shoe’s laces while wearing mittens or gloves.

Adidas Terrex 420 Trail Running Shoes
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best for Long Days in the Mountains: La Sportiva Akasha 2

4.7
La Sportiva Akasha 2

La Sportiva

What We Like
  • Great traction and grip

  • Re-introduced with improvements to breathability, durability, and protection

What We Don't Like
  • Toe boxes were a bit tight compared to others on this list

Back by popular demand is the La Sportiva Akasha 2. And we’re down for it. As a runner, there’s not much more frustrating than falling in love with a shoe model just to have a brand “upgrade” it in ways you don’t like or—even worse—have the brand discontinue it entirely. The latter is what happened to the Akasha, but La Sportiva heeded the call of its cult followers and reintroduced the shoe in 2022 with some noticeable improvements.

Those improvements include increased breathability in the upper, some beefed-up forefoot protection, and all-around increases in durability to an already burly shoe. The upshot: These are the go-to's for any long day in the mountains where you might find yourself on technical trails, scree fields, and some light scrambling. Our testers’ thoughts? The rowdier the trail, the better these kicks performed. 

Because they’re La Sportiva’s, they’re going to run small. We recommend sizing up at least a half size and probably a full size. Compared to others on this list, we found the toe box a bit cramped.

Weight (per shoe): 10.9 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 6 millimeters | Lug size: 4.5 millimeters | Planet and social impact: Not listed

La Sportiva Akasha 2 Trail Running Shoe
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best for Ultras: Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 Trail Running Shoes

4.8
Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 Trail Running Shoes

REI

What We Like
  • One of the best all-around shoes for all sorts of trail running

  • Super dynamic and diverse

  • Would work well as backpacking and hiking shoes as well

What We Don't Like
  • Still looking

You could probably consider the Speedgoat to be Hoka’s flagship trail running shoe. It’s just such a workhorse and does everything so well. The newest version of this classic starts with some super-grippy Vibram Megagrip outsoles. A lighter midsole helps the upgraded version maintain the same 4-millimeter drop, stack height, and rocker shape and weighs about a half-ounce less than the previous version. And a double-layer jacquard mesh upper has amped stability and comfort.

These shoes work just as well on shorter trail runs, extended full-day missions, ultras, hiking, and backpacking. If you’re looking for an all-around solid shoe, not just for ultras, the Speedgoats are for you.

Weight (per shoe): 10.3 ounces (men's) | Heel to toe offset (drop): 4 millimeters | Lug size: 5 millimeters | Planet and social impact: Made with some recycled materials

Final Verdict

For an all-around solid trail running shoe, we highly recommend Saucony’s Peregrine 12. It’s lightweight, responsive, fast, and handles plenty of terrains. If you’re new to trail running, it’s also a good beginner shoe. If you plan to spend time training for and running ultra-marathons, the Hoka Speedgoat 5s is a good pick. They are also great for hiking and even backpacking. And if you’re looking for a zero-drop all-around shoe that works for travel and hiking, we highly recommend Altra’s Lone Peak 6s.

Saucony Peregrine 12 Trail Running Shoe
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Other Trail Running Shoes We Tested

Topo Athletic Terraventure 3 (view at REI): We loved all the Topo Athletic shoes we tested. And that goes for the Terraventure 3. We constantly found ourselves grabbing for this pair of shoes and the other Topos when leaving for runs. The reason? These shoes check all the boxes—breathable yet supportive and comfortable uppers, a rock plate for protection, and Vibram Megagrip outsoles for superb grip. All that, and Topo has nailed the comfortable fit with wide toe boxes and forefoot areas, making these great for shorter distances and ultra-marathons alike.

Topo Athletic Runventure 4 (view at REI): We seriously thought about copying and pasting the paragraph above here to see if anyone noticed. The Runventure 4s have everything we love about the Terraventures and MTN Racer 2s, with a few noticeable differences we dig. These are zero-drop shoes, for one. For two, they have a softer and plush upper, making them incredibly comfortable. And, a bit lighter, these are good options for races or speedier workouts.

La Sportiva Wildcat (view at REI): There wasn’t anything we didn’t like about La Sportiva’s Wildcats. We just liked others a bit more. These shoes are a bit beefier and heavier than we typically prefer and have a sizable 12-millimeter drop. We did find them to be quite breathable. We also view these shoes as good for longer missions and hiking and backpacking hybrids.

Salomon Speedcross 5 (view at REI): Again, like others in this section, there really wasn’t anything we didn’t like about this shoe (sans a bit of break-in time needed). They’ve got some deep and spaced-out lugs that provide good traction. We dig the Ortholite insoles for their comfort and don’t think you’d need an after-market insert. The pull-and-lock lace system is also friendly.

Nike Wildhorse 7 (view at REI): Perhaps it was our mind-block in not thinking of Nike as a legit trail running shoe brand. But we were amazed at just how much we liked the Wildhorse 7 shoes. The shoe's overall comfort was solid, but we particularly liked the gaiter collars around the ankles. The traction was adequate, and we found ourselves moving quickly in these kicks.

Dynafit Ultra 100 GTX (view at Amazon): Overall, we liked these shoes but found the fit to be a bit tough. They were just a tad too thin for our liking. If you’ve got narrow feet, they’d probably work. But, if your feet or broader and flat, others on the list will be better. The traction was acceptable, and the Gore-Tex did an excellent job at keeping moisture out (as long as it didn’t ride up over the ankle area).

Altra Timp 4 (view at REI): We’ve been enjoying the newest iteration of the Timps, which Altra says has an improved fit for better performance over more trails, surfaces, and conditions. We haven’t found anything we dislike about the shoe, but if you’re looking for the classic Altra fit (wide toe box, zero-drop), it’s tough to beat the Lone Peak 6’s above.

Altra Mont Blanc (view at REI): These are decent shoes, but we kept having the annoying issue of our heels slipping around. We thought it was just us or our foot shape, but after reviewing some online customer reviews, we confirmed that others have also had the heel slippage issue. If you’ve got wider or larger heels, it could work. Otherwise, we’d say go with one of the other Altra models.

Hoka One One Mafate Speed 3 (view at REI): Built for long days on rugged, technical terrain, our testers compared this one to the Speedgoats. “Durable and just light enough to let something rip on a long run or long fartlek,” one tester noted. “I ran down some extremely technical terrain and felt in complete control. Our tester didn’t see much energy return and thought these were built for ultra-marathons.

Tested trail running shoes
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Product Selection

To select products for this article, we tapped into our knowledge and expertise of trail running shoes and brands, looked at what other media outlets featured, and researched customer reviews on sites like REI and Amazon. We were intentional about including shoes that will work for various types of trail running and budgets. Once we had a list of about 30 potential shoes, we whittled the list down to just under two dozen for testing.

How We Tested

Shoes were tested extensively over the past five months. Each shoe was taken on a shorter easy run, an up-tempo run, and a long run of at least 10 miles. We’ve run hundreds of miles on some shoes included in this article. The shoes were tested on Southern California, Colorado, the Midwest, and Pacific Northwest trails. Most of the testing was conducted in Ventura County, California, on technical singletrack, fire roads, and dirt and gravel roads. Some of the shoes were taken on runs of more than 20 miles, and some we took to local trail races.

What to Look For in a Trail Running Shoes

Fit

While there are some consistencies across brands, we suggest reading customer comments on fit or going to a local running specialty store to try on shoes. Some brands’ sizes will run differently than others. (For example, La Sportiva runs small compared to other brands.) Generally, you want about a thumb’s length between the end of your big toe and the front of the shoe. But also consider the shape of your foot. Is it wide and flat? Narrow and high-arched? Some brands do better than others for types of feet. (Topo Athletic and Altra do better with wide feet.) Also, consider foot swelling, which occurs during long outings like ultra-marathons.

"For me, picking trail shoes goes by your intention with them, and your foot shape is as well," says Keith Kilgore, a personal coach, and avid trail runner. "If I’m going in the mountains, I’m making sure my shoes can handle changes in the terrain and have enough support to make sure I finish what I start. With foot shape, I want to make sure the fit compliments my running style and how long I will be in them. Always go for more comfort than speed. Speed is good to start, but comfort helps you finish."

Lugs

Traction is paramount for trail running. At a minimum, it can be frustrating to feel like your sliding backward with each step of a climb. But not having adequate traction can also be dangerous on steep and technical terrain. Most brands list the size of the lugs on their shoes. Just because a shoe has deep lugs doesn’t mean it’ll be the best at gripping. The material and technology of the soles also help. But, generally, if you’re running many runs in mud, snow, or on very loose terrain, lug size will matter more. Most trail running shoes have lugs that fall in the 3- to 5-millimeter range, suitable for most trail running.

Waterproofing and Gore-Tex

Most times, having shoes with waterproofing or Gore-Tex (a brand of waterproofing tech) is overkill. Unless you live in a very rainy and/or snowy climate, you probably don’t need waterproof trail running shoes. Like other outdoor gear, waterproof trail running shoes do not breathe as easily as non-waterproof shoes, which, for most runners, isn’t ideal.

Technology

Trail running shoes are increasing, including newfangled tech. Things like trail rockers, carbon plates, Boa lacing systems, and outsoles made by tire companies will continue to grow in trail running shoes. If you want the newest tech in shoes, you do you. But for the casual trail runner, it’s probably not necessary to spend the extra money on the latest tech.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Do I need trail running shoes?

    That depends. If you’re only running on trails a handful of times a month, you can probably get by with your standard road shoes. But, if you’re running on trails at least a couple of times a week, it’s worth the investment. I make the comparison to bicycles. You won’t need a mountain bike if you mainly ride on the roads and occasionally go on dirt or gravel roads.

    But, if you want to ride steep, technical terrain or get off-road more than once or twice a week, it’s probably worth investing in a mountain bike. The same goes for trail running shoes. You’ll enjoy your off-road and multi-surface running a lot more (and it’ll be safer) if you invest in trail running shoes.

    “Can you run some fire roads in road shoes? You can definitely get away with it,” Kilgore says. “But your sole will pay the price, and you’ll pay more over time—health before wealth, kids.”

  • What are the best shoes for running on trails?

    The shoes that fit and make you feel confident! As a runner of multiple decades, the second most popular question I get asked is what sort of shoe people should buy. (The first is how fast can I run a mile.) My answer is always: Wear the shoes that fit you best. While we believe some shoes are just better than others for more people, running shoes depend on many factors. We recommend trying a few different brands and types until you find the ones that fit the best are the most comfortable for your feet and keep you confident while running.

  • Is it OK to use trail running shoes on the road?

    Yes, it’s OK! But it’s not always going to be comfortable. Some trail running shoes do better than others on multiple surfaces. Others do not. Even if you primarily run on trails, we recommend having at least one pair of road shoes and a pair of hybrid multi-surface shoes. If you’re running high mileage, it’s best to rotate shoes for injury prevention.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy’s outdoor gear editor. He’s been running competitively for more than two decades and was a college scholarship cross country and track athlete. He currently logs more than 80 miles a week, mainly on trails. He’s fortunate to live less than a mile away from an extensive trail system in Southern California, where trail running is a year-round sport. Nathan currently has about 20 shoes in his rotation but generally gravitates towards Topo Athletic and Hoka shoes because of his wide and flat feet.

Keith Kilgore helped with testing. Based in Southern California, Kilgore trains year-round on trails. He’s completed races up to 50 kilometers and regularly podiums in local races. He's also a personal coach and regularly trains people on the trails.

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