Whether you run in search of hidden trails and spots or to achieve the good old 'runner's high', you'll need a good pair of running shoes. The market for these shoes, sadly, is even more twisty and bendy than your average trail. So, allow us to guide you through this path and lead you to the best men's trail running shoes in 2021.
So, what makes trail running shoes different from your average running footwear? Well, it's definitely the shoe's outsole that features more prominent lugs and treads for better traction on trails. To know more about these types of running shoes and the best ones available, we've presented below our top picks and a comprehensive buyer's guide.
Featured image courtesy of iStock
Top Men's Trail Running Shoe of 2021 Reviewed In Detail
The toe cap has been reinforced for added resistance to wear and tear
Reversed lugs for versatility
Let’s start things off with a bang! Composed of the most premium synthetic leather and boasting a mesh upper body, the ASICS Trail Running Shoe features a design that screams outclass performance.
This performance is further enhanced by the fact that these running shoes feature reverse-facing lugs. These patterns on the sole make the shoes great for most types of terrain. When you look at the amazingly reasonable price point of these shoes, you might question their durability. However, rest assured, this beast will be a part of your running gear for hundreds of miles.
The people behind the Salomon Speedcross Shoes are nothing less than magicians. The famous “Quick Lace” feature found in many modern-day running shoes is a technology that found its roots in the Speedcross shoe. The Speedcross 5 also has this technology and the kevlar-lined front makes it super easy to lace up these shoes.
With a phenomenal fitting and comfort aside, this shoe also features what the brand calls its “Contagrip Outsole” in the form of sharper lugs that result in an enhanced grip. The spacing on the outsole also provides better braking and more lift-off strength.
Lined with mesh and a perforated upper for enhanced sweat and moisture wicking
Cush+ technology for added comfort
The New Balance 481 V3 features a midsole powered by NB’s Cush+ technology. The premium cushioning helps absorb your foot’s impact on hard terrain and keeps you going for long without feeling any noticeable discomfort.
Lightweight and durable, the trail running shoes feature treads that have superior adhesion to ensure long-lasting performance. Customers particularly love how easy to clean these treads are. It must be said, however, that the toe area of the shoe may be too wide for some people, so make sure you get the right size for your feet.
Any buying guide for shoes is incomplete without the mention of Adidas, right? Featuring the famous three stripes on the side, Adidas Response Trail Sneakers boast an upper that prevents dust from building up and an outsole featuring the Traxion design for cleats that results in better grip on the field and enhanced resistance to wear and tear.
In between the upper and the sole is a layer of dreamy soft cushioning that is made possible by Adidas’ proprietary Cloudfoam technology, providing remarkable comfort to your feet. Super lightweight and durable, the shoes also fit amazingly well, making them a compelling choice for your needs.
The Saucony Excursion TR12 is available in a plethora of different shades and designs. So, there is definitely something here for every runner. We particularly love the grey and black option that has a pop of orange to it. Sleek and sassy at the same time!
The leather lower body meets a mesh upper body that is super breathable. The outsole is cushioned using Saucony’s Grid technology to prevent aching feet. Customers particularly love how lightweight these shoes are. Let’s also not forget their versatility and ability to handle many different kinds of terrain.
Buyer's Guide: Find Your Perfect Trail Running Shoes
Trust us when we say that there is a trail running shoe for every type of terrain, trail, and even foot. So, to make sure that you find the shoe of your dreams, let's take you through this comprehensive buyer's guide so you can make an informed buying decision.
What Are The Different Types Of Trail Running Shoes?
Shoes for trail running come in three types:
Light Trail Running Shoes
Rugged Trail Running Shoes
Off Trail Running Shoes
Now, let's see which type is meant to be worn when running on a particular kind of trail.
Light Trail Running Shoes
If you usually run on trails that are level (gravel paths, sidewalks, e.t.c), light trail running shoes should be your go-to option. These boast lugs that are relatively shallow with a bit of stiffness for better traction. Moreover, these bad boys will give you moderate protection from pebbles and roots.
Rugged Trail Running Shoes
Rugged trail shoes are sturdier than their light trail cousins as they are designed for runners who go on hiking trails. Thicker lugs and midsoles not only provide the runner with added grip but also cushions the impact from hard roots and rocks.
Off Trail Running Shoes
Off-trail running shoes are like rugged trail shoes on steroids. Enhancements like better midsoles and more flexibility make these shoes your go-to gear if your running trails take you to places with extreme geography. Talking about geography and elements, these types of running shoes are also usually waterproof.
Things To Consider When Buying Trail Running Shoes
Now that you know all about the different types of trail running shoes, here are two things you should consider when in the market for one.
The heel drop of a shoe is basically how far, in millimeters, your heel is from the shoe's outsole. So, the height of the insole, midsole, and the outsole itself will determine the shoe's heel drop.
The rule of thumb is that the shorter the heel drop is, the faster you'll run due to better control. However, if you are a beginner or intermediate when it comes to trail running, we recommend sticking to shoes with a higher heel drop as the extra cushioning will reduce the overall strain on your legs.
Most trail running shoes offer some degree of water resistance with the help of protective inner linings. However, you'll need a fully waterproof shoe if you're planning to tread over trails with water reaching the top of your shoe. This degree of water resistance will cost you a bit more so assess whether you really need this feature before looking for shoes that offer it.
Trail Running Shoes Price Range
Trust us when we say that your feet will thank you for investing in a good pair of trail running shoes. However, like most things, a good pair doesn't need to cost you a hefty price tag. Our top-picked shoe, the ASICS Trail Running Shoe, is one of the cheapest there is and yet so very versatile and functional.
A good pair of trail running shoes will cost you anywhere from $50 to upwards of $200. The brand name and premium features like water resistance and proprietary tread patterns are what inflate the price tag. You must assess the features that you require and buy accordingly.
Trail Running Shoes Buying Tips
Here are two killer tips to help you make a more informed decision when you jump into the market for a new trail running shoe.
All running shoes are lace-ups. However, the best ones feature lacing systems that make the shoe super convenient and also helps hold the foot more securely. Groundbreaking lacing systems like the ‘Quick Lace’ feature on the Salomon Speedcross 5's really make tightening the shoe a breeze.
We all know that trail running shoes boast grip and tread patterns that are not only deep but also wider spaced. This sets them apart from their road-running cousins. The general rule of thumb is that larger lugs facing multiple directions will provide the most grip and traction, resulting in a superior trail running experience.
People Also Asked
What is special about trail running shoes?
Trail running shoes have tread patterns that are generally tougher and widely spaced for better traction. They are also more resistant to wear and tear.
Is it OK to use trail running shoes on the road?
Yes, of course! They are completely safe to wear when running on the road or pavements.
When should I replace my trail running shoe?
Experts recommend that you change your running shoe after about 500 miles. However, this number will be more or less depending on the type of terrain that you run on and also your weight.
Olivia has seen every up and down that a runner can, and knows how important the right training and the right equipment can be. She loves to share the outdoors with her golden retriever, Rocky, traveling through trails both on and off the beaten path. Olivia will often be providing her reviews from where ever she is at the time: the track, the road, or the woods.