Are you new to trail running? Unsure if you should be wearing trail or road runners? Or just unsure of where to start?!

It can be a daunting task to find the perfect shoe for the trails. It all comes down to your individual needs, so we have put together a guide to help.

Firstly, how do trail shoes differ from road runners?

  • Rugged and grippy sole
  • Generally feel firmer underfoot and more rigid
  • Smaller range
  • Mostly neutral but some corrective options
  • Harder wearing upper

Secondly, factors to consider when purchasing:

  • Feel (soft/hard)
  • Fit (width and length) – Ideally thumb width from end of toe to end of shoe
  • Offset (heel to toe drop) – Depending on injury you are safe to go a few mm less than your road runners due to the variability of terrain. Or to play it safe for your first pair and stick to the same offset.
  • Correction (neutral/corrective)
  • Tread (light to rugged) – Some treads are better for hard-packed dirt and rocky terrain, others for mud and soft ground.
  • Distance (5km to Ultra)

Consider the type of trails you generally run on and that will lead you to the best tread. If you run on a combination of road and light trail (eg. gravel) you will be okay with a road runner. A good example would be the track from Torquay Surf Beach to Bells. But if the trails are more technical and generally wet or muddy, I would recommend a trail runner. A Gortex upper is generally not ideal for running due to its limited breathability and it tends to hold moisture.

I’ve summarised the most popular trail runners below and attempted to order from lightest to technical trail.

Light

Name Offset Correction Notes
Brooks Pure Grit 4mm Neutral
  • Light weight, lower offset
Nike Pegasus 10mm Neutral
  • Light and cushioned, feels more like a road runner
  • Good hybrid for road/trail
Asics 2000 10mm Midfoot
  • Flatter lugs, corrective
  • Good hybrid for road/trail
Hoka Challenger 5mm Neutral
  • Lighter Hoka, more mesh
  • 4mm lugs, Soft feel
Mizuno Rider 12mm Neutral
  • Flatter lugs
  • Gortex upper

 

Middle 

Name Offset Correction Notes
Nike Wildhorse 8mm Neutral
  • Middle range terrain
Saloman Sense Ride 8mm Neutral
  • Cushioned, lighter salomon
  • Middle range terrain
  • Quick Lace system (like lock laces)
La Sportiva Kaptiva 6mm Neutral
  • Ideal for mountain running and steep inclines 
  • Slip on construction upper – firmer fit
Brooks Cascadia 10mm Neutral
  • Middle range
  • Good starting point for more technical trail
NB Hierro 8mm Neutral
  • Cushioned (higher stack height)
Hoka Stinson 5mm Neutral
  • Middle range lugs (4mm)
  • Cushioned (higher stack height)
Hoka Speedgoat 4mm Neutral
  • Cushioned (higher stack height)
  • Good trail all rounder
La Sportiva Bushido 6mm Neutral
  • Light weight
  • All rounder for trail – good traction and cushioned 

 

Technical 

Name Offset Correction Notes
Saucony Peregrine 4mm Neutral
  • Longer lugs (6mm) for technical trail
  • Softer upper
Asics Fuji Trabuco 8mm Midfoot/rearfoot
  • Longer lugs, chunky
  • High traction – good for muddy conditions
Salomon XA 11mm Neutral
  • Good protection for rocky conditions
  • Strong upper, firm feel
  • Shorter lugs, quick lace
Mizuno Daichi 12mm Neutral
  • Michelin rubber for rough terrain
  • Firm feel
Salomon Speedcross 10mm Neutral
  • Muddy/soft terrain, rigid sole
  • Strong upper, longer lugs
  • Firm feel, quick lace

If in doubt, remember comfort is king! We always recommend going to a professional fitting footwear store like The Running Company, The Happy Runner or Active Feet as they can help guide you in store and have loads of knowledge.

I hope this information helps you choose the best shoe for your trail running adventures! If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or follow this link to book in for an assessment.

 

Maddie McMahon

Sports Podiatrist

madeleine@torquaysmc.com.au