How to Choose the Best Trail Running Shoes For You


Whether you’re running along towpaths, through fields, or up and down mountain trails, having durable trail running shoes with good grip is vital. Proper footwear will give you the confidence you need in your feet to stopping second-guessing your every step, helping you run faster and more efficiently.

To help you tackle the toughest off-road terrain we’ve put together this guide on how to choose the best trail shoes for you.

What are trail running shoes?

Designed to help ease the key struggles of trail runners, trail running shoes are built differently from road running shoes.

They offer deeper lugs and more aggressive tread patterns to give you a better grip on all terrain, boosting your performance and stability. They also offer higher levels of protection through stiffer, tougher soles and hidden toe plates to protect toes and feet from bruising from rocks, roots, and debris.

Whereas road running shoes don’t usually offer enough grip or support to tackle tougher terrain, increasing your risk of injury. In terms of heel height and heel-to-toe drop trail shoes tend to have a lower profile, more like minimalist shoes, to help you respond quicker to the changing terrain, giving you more stability.

How to Choose your Trail Shoes


Like road running, you need to first identify your gait and what you need from a shoe. If you overpronate and need extra support you’ll still need that out on the trails.

For a more comprehensive running trainer fitting service All Runners Need stores offer free video gait analysis.

Using video technology to analyse how your feet respond to every step, our expert fitters can assess how much you pronate - that’s the extent to which your foot naturally rolls inward when you run – and where your foot strikes the ground, to help you choose the right level of support for you. 


Type of Trail

Once you know your gait you can start looking at how trail shoes differ for terrain and purpose.


If you’re racing or doing speed work then having a lightweight shoe becomes important. Look for shoes with less structure, support, and protection but still with good grip. 


For occasional off-road, recreational trail running, or very muddy paths go for a sturdy trail shoe, with deep lugs and still soles for extra grip.


If you’re taking part in a steeplechase or going for steep and difficult terrain you’ll need support and protection. These types of trail shoes offer more stability and structure to ensure your ankles don’t roll while still giving you good traction.

Mostly, it’s important you shoe is comfortable and fits your feet well to give you the best chance to stop your feet moving around on uneven slopes.

Features To Look Out For...


Many trail shoes are waterproof, designed with uppers made from fabrics such as GORE-TEX, to keep your feet dry.


Look for a padded collar and tongue to add support and avoid rubbing, particularly if you run for long periods of time, these small details can make the difference.

Getting Started on Running Trails

Hitting the trails for the first time can be a little daunting so here are a few tips to help you get going


Take your time - If you’re new to trail running, go slowly at first to get used to placing your feet on uneven surfaces and slippery terrain. Don’t rush or you’re more likely to trip or injury yourself.


Notice your technique - You may even find yourself running as if you’re on egg shells, with higher knees and a faster stride turnover to stop yourself tripping on unexpected roots and stones. This is completely normal, but don’t rush, just relax into it.


Strength training - Make sure you add some simple strength training exercises to strengthen your legs and feet, ensuring good stability.


Pace yourself - Don’t go too far too fast. And don’t go too fast either. Aim to gradually build both distance and speed, even if you can already run much further on road.


Proper kit - As well as correct footwear you need correct running clothing. Ensure you have a good waterproof jacket and technical running socks to keep you running dry and comfortable.

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