List of best road to trail running shoes 2020 for men and women. These are recommended by professional trail runners. From comfort to performance to a little of both, find your ideal fit for the trails this spring through fall.
What qualities make trail running shoes perfect? Well it needs to be comfortable, waterproof, breathable, and should all weather wear.
Trail running’s popularity has exploded over the last few years, and shoe brands have taken notice, pouring more research and development into the perfect fit for every runner and trail-running terrain.
With that, we hope you find your ideal fit amongst these varied models, built for comfort, support, performance or a blend of all three.
Best Road to Trail Running Shoes
- Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 (for Men, Women)
- New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 (for Men, Women)
- Topo Ultraventure (for Men, Women)
- The North Face Flight Trinity (for Men, Women)
- Inov-8 X-Talon G 235 (for Men, Women)
- Brooks Cascadia 14 (for Men, Women)
- Saucony Peregrine 10 ST (for Men, Women)
- New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa (for Men, Women)
- Saucony Xodus 10 (for Men, Women)
- New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1 (for Men, Women)
- Saucony Peregrine 10 (for Men, Women)
- Arc’teryx Norvan LD2 (for Men, Women)
- Topo MT-3 (for Men, Women)
- Salomon Sense Ride 3 (for Men, Women)
- Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6 (for Men, Women)
- Tecnica Origin LT MS (for Men, Women)
- Merrell MTL Long Sky (for Men, Women)
- Arc’teryx Norvan SL (for Men, Women)
- Asics Fujilyte XT (for Men, Women)
- Inov-8 Trailtalon 235 (for Men, Women)
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 (for Men, Women)
The fourth edition of Hoka’s Speedgoat series features a new breathable, durable mesh upper and 3D-printed overlays for a touch more stability through the middle of the shoe.
The wider toe box is likely the most significant new feature of the 4, which we found led to a tighter fit at the top shoe than previous models.
The Speedgoat 4 also comes with a Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole. Containing 5 mm stepped lugs for grip on slippery rocks. And, no surprise, plenty of cushioning through the midsole that you’d expect in a Hoka model.
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New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 (for Men, Women)
This fifth edition of New Balance’s Hierro line continues as one of the most comfortable, protective and supportive shoes in the market. Which makes the model ideal for longer trail runs in varied conditions.
The thermal plastic-based upper is durable and forms comfortably to the contours of the foot.
The Hierro v5’s midsole is also comfortable as ever, and New Balance has increased the 5’s total surface area in the outsole, allowing your toes to splay more widely.
Further, the shoe’s lugs provided great traction on our test runs on both dry and slick surfaces.
Topo Ultraventure (for Men, Women)
Ultraventure is Topo’s most-cushioned trail running shoe, and an ideal choice for longer trail runs and ultras.
Featuring a thick, protective, EVA midsole that provided noted stability on our uneven, rocky test run surface. What stands out most is the Ultraventure’s prominent and durable Vibram XS Trek outsole. Which is certainly up to the task of providing ample protection and durability on even the most technical of trails.
We also found the upper breathed well and features drainage ports to quickly wick moisture out of the durable and breathable upper.
The shoe also comes with the option of a gaiter attachment, to further guard against moisture/debris and prevent blisters, cuts and rubbing.
The North Face Flight Trinity (for Men, Women)
Aimed at comfort and stability over longer distances, the Flight Trinity comes with TNF’s durable ripstop upper that’s breathable and secures the foot nicely.
The Flight Trinity’s gusseted tongue also prevents pebbles, moisture and other debris from entering the upper, keeping your feet comfy and dry.
In terms of fit, the snug internal bootie molds to the foot, for further added support and comfort.
Finally, we were pleased to discover the Flight Trinity’s FastFoam midsole provides a fair amount of pop for a stability-focused trail shoe, when you’re looking to pick up your pace on the trails.
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Inov-8 X-Talon G 235 (for Men, Women)
Released in the fall of 2019, the X-Talon sits near the top of the class when it comes to high-end features.
Whereas Inov-8’s Trailtalon 235 strives for speed. The X-Talon targets runners looking for a highly comfortable, stable and supportive ride.
The G 235 provides a notably grippy, secure feel underfoot, and is lightweight for quicker turnovers and manoeuvring down hazard-strewn trail routes.
The shoe’s outsole contains graphene, a carbon-based material, and features prominent rubber lugs to provide ample traction with an added dose of energy return for propulsion.
Further, we found the midsole and rock plate well cushioned and further aided against sharp objects underfoot.
Brooks Cascadia 14 (for Men, Women)
In this latest version of the Cascadia, Brooks has managed to pack in more durability and traction, while reducing the shoe’s weight – not an easy proposition in this, the popular and well-regarded model’s 14th iteration.
The 14’s outsole stands out in terms of protecting the bottom of your foot from sharp rocks and pointed roots; you can thank the shoe’s integrated rock shield within the outsole for that, which also provides a high degree of traction.
The shoe also comes with a 3D rubber print mudguard between the upper and midsole to protect against debris. For further protection and a little more added comfort, the higher-priced GTX model brings more comfort to the Cascadia 13 in keeping your feet dry.
Saucony Peregrine 10 ST (for Men, Women)
When Saucony designates a shoe for sloppy terrain, they mean business. This ST version of the brand’s Peregrine 10 model is great for trail runners who regularly run in such conditions.
The integration of Saucony’s light, snappy PWRRUN cushioning system in the midsole also stands out as a significant enhancement, coming in at 25 per cent lighter than the shoe’s previous versions.
It’s also more responsive, due to the Peregrine ST’s bead based TPU foam. On the outsole, the lugs are now further apart than on previous models, to maintain optimal grip on slick trail routes. The upper also features a lock-down lacing fit that felt secure on uneven terrain.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa (for Men, Women)
The first thing you notice about the Hierro Boa is that it comes with straps instead of laces, and a dial system you twist to achieve optimal comfort in more stability.
This shoe’s upper is also breathable and reasonably flexible for added comfort and, as in the shoe’s dial system, assists in a more locked-in feel for optimal support.
In terms of esthetics, New Balance’s Hierro Boa is a standout in Black with Light Aluminium & Neo Violet, and features a textured, web-patterned design in the midsole. All in all, a comfortable, stable and esthetically pleasing offering from New Balance.
Saucony Xodus 10 (for Men, Women)
While testing the Xodus 10, we noticed immediately both how comfortable Saucony’s trail shoe felt, as well as the high-level of traction it provides.
The Xodus 10’s thick PWRRUN+ midsole cushioning, combined with the the model’s rock plate, proved up to the task in blunting the impact of roots, rocks and other hazards during our test trail run.
The 10’s prominent directional lugs in Saucony’s traction-filled outsole also felt great under our feet on flat trail surfaces and when ascending and descending steep vertical.
Further, the Xodus 10’s reinforced upper, made specifically for increased levels of wear and tear, kept debris out and forms nicely over the top of the foot.
New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1 (for Men, Women)
New Balance turns back the clock with the Minimus Trail 10v1, which will appeal to runners who prefer a natural feel underfoot.
The shoe is designed to encourage a natural strike through the forefoot and midfoot.
In doing so, your foot is theoretically better able to absorb impact, which in turn may leave runners less prone to injury while developing foot strength.
We found the feathery Minimus Trail more comfortable than we expected for a throw-back ‘barefoot’ shoe, especially the model’s soft, synthetic mesh upper.
Further, the Minimus’ Vibram outsole’s prominent grooves provide solid traction. Some users have reported the shoe is a little tight at the heel collar.
Saucony Peregrine 10 (for Men, Women)
The Peregrine 10 is one versatile shoes, up to the task on a variety of trail terrains. The Peregrine 10 comes with plenty of grip, protection and plush, ample cushioning in the midsole that always stands out in Saucony’s trail and road shoe offerings.
Plus, the rock plate below the shoe’s midsole will protect your feet from sharp objects underfoot.
The 10’s outsole features chevron-shaped rubber lugs that we found provided solid traction on most any level of trail difficulty, while running in varying weather conditions (dry, wet and thawing ice). Kudos to Saucony for this one-shoe-fits-all solution.
Arc’teryx Norvan LD2 (for Men, Women)
This second version of the Norvan LD is built with comfort and durability in mind over long distances (hence the ‘LD’), and also comes with a more-than healthy amount of spring.
The LD2 is lighter than the original version (by 15 per cent), due, in part, to the Vibram Light base material in the shoe’s outsole, which also provided solid grip during an all-day test trail run near Squamish, B.C.
The LD2 also comes with a comfortable EVA and elastomer-blended midsole, which is where most of the shoe’s spring resides, specially at the forefoot.
Further, the LD2’s upper is now more durable and the newly-designed insole should shed water from the shoe’s interior more effectively.
Overall, the Arc’teryx Norvan LD2 continues to evolve as a reliable and comfortable shoe, suitable for long distances over varied trail conditions.
Topo MT-3 (for Men, Women)
The MT-3’s got a little bit of everything going for it, making it a forgiving ride that caters to trail runners looking for a shoe option they can take on the road as well in a pinch.
The MT-3 features a light, durable mesh upper and drainage system that releases trapped water to allow the shoes to dry more quickly.
The absence of a rock plate makes the shoe lighter as well. The midsole and outsole will feel familiar if you’ve worn Topo’s Terraventure trail shoe, and Topo’s added an anti-microbial Ortholite foot bed in the MT-3. All in all an impressive, well rounded hybrid.
Salomon Sense Ride 3 (for Men, Women)
The Sense Ride is Salomon’s most successful trail shoe launch to date, and at the right price for all its features.
Salomon employs some of its road shoe product features in the Ride 3, including their Optivibe plush cushioning system through the midsole.
When it comes to core trail running must-haves, the Sense Ride 3 provided ample traction on uphill and downhill on fairly steep vertical during our test run.
Aided by the 3’s ground filter and Contragrip outsole, and kept debris and moisture from creeping into the shoe.
All around, a light, reasonably protective shoe, suitable for a variety of trail-running terrains.
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6 (for Men, Women)
Nike had wet, challenging trails in mind when they designed the Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6 that, in reality, performs just fine on a variety of trail types both technical and even.
Featuring a secure fit, the Kiger 6 is also lighter and, no surprise from Nike, comes in an attractive, aerodynamic profile.
When it comes to traction, the Kiger 6 contains multi-directional rubber lugs in the outsole and a traction pod through the middle for added grip on steep ascents and descents in a variety of weather conditions.
The Zoom Air unit at the back of the shoe provides the 6 with added cushioning and a dose of energy return, while mesh at the forefoot also enhances the shoe’s breathability.
Tecnica Origin LT MS (for Men, Women)
Tecnica started in the 1960s, founded by a pair of brothers whose father made work boots. Now, Tecnica produces some of the best outdoor footwear for athletes, including their new trail running shoe, the Origin.
The Origin comes in men’s and women’s models, which are meant for runners of different weights: the Origin LT MS and the Origin XT MS.
In just minutes on the Tecnica website, you can figure out which model is best for you. Your height and weight are taken into consideration, as well as your stride (heel, midfoot or forefoot) and your monthly mileage.
With this information, Tecnica can determine the Origin LT makeup that your feet require. After that, all that’s left is to hit the trails knowing that you’re in the perfect shoe for you.
At 10.8 ounces for a men’s size nine, these aren’t minimalist shoes, but solid choices offering traction, padding and protection.
The triple-action shank plate protects the forefoot and the outside edge of the heel.
The open-lugged Vibram Mega-grip sole also makes them effective in mud and snow. An innovative lacing system keeps them secure, so your footing stays precise.
Merrell MTL Long Sky (for Men, Women)
Designed with input from New Zealand’s pro trail and skyrunner Anna Frost, Merrell’s MTL Long Sky is all business, with a stripped down construction that’s focused on speed over long distances.
The shoe’s upper comes wrapped in flexible TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) for added durability across the top of the foot.
The MTL Long Sky also contains a dense medial post in the midsole for added support and protection against sharp roots, rocks and other obstructions underfoot.
Further, Merrell’s added a Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole for reliable traction. Light. Yet durable with ample traction underfoot. The Merrell Long Sky is a great choice for speedy trail runs and longer races in rugged terrain.
Arc’teryx Norvan SL (for Men, Women)
Arc’teryx focuses on the same guiding principle the company employs when designing and manufacturing backpacks, apparel and mountain climbing harnesses: high quality.
Created in-house at Arc’teryx’s North Vancouver office, the Norvan SL is constructed with exceptionally light and durable materials, and is perfect for high tempo training trail runs.
When running in these conditions, traction is key, and the SL’s Vibram Mega grip outsole provides solid traction on technical terrain.
The SL’s very light, and packable, so ideal for storing in climbing packs and clipping to harnesses.
Thus building a bridge to the company’s core climbing business. “The idea for the Norvan SL came from our athletes and their need for the lightest possible footwear while running and moving between climbs,” Arc’teryx design director Greg Grenzke says. We agree.
Asics Fujilyte XT (for Men, Women)
Asics designed the feathery Fujilyte XT trail with performance in mind. It also comes with built-in stability and protective features.
The shoe features Asics’ light, Flyte foam-based midsole. Which we found comfortable and should aid in quicker turnovers.
Further, Fujilyte XT’s sock liner, combined with the Fujilyte XT’s breathable mesh upper, provided a notably comfortable run.
At the outsole, the lugs at the rear of the shoe provide the bulk of it’s decent level of traction.
The dense plastic material at the tip of the toe box’s exterior should prove effective in softening the blow from unexpected tree roots and other obstacles along the trail.
Inov-8 Trailtalon 235 (for Men, Women)
The brand-new Trailtalon is built for burning up and down trails. Coming in at 235 grams.
The lightweight Trailtalon 235 is a great option for race day that still comes with a decent amount of supportive features to protect your feet.
These include an external cage at the heel and welded bumper at the front, to lessen the blow of tree roots along your route.
The Trailtalon midsole also provides adequate cushion underfoot. But given it’s a racing shoe by nature. Less overall comfort and support than you may be used to.