7 Best Trail Running Shoe Brands and Why You Should Try Them 2024

7 Best Trail Running Shoe Brands and Why You Should Try Them

Over the past few decades, trail running has garnered traction among outdoor enthusiasts across the planet. Today, trail running is more than just a sport; it’s a thrilling adventure that takes enthusiasts through diverse terrains, challenging landscapes, and unpredictable conditions.

To conquer the trails and push your limits, having the right gear is essential, with trail running shoes playing a pivotal role. Several brands have emerged as trailblazers in the world of trail running footwear, offering innovative designs that balance durability, traction, and comfort.

From not more than two in a given market in the early 1990s to more than 30 brands in 2023 serving this burgeoning market, the journey of these brands is nothing short of remarkable.

In 2021, the market size was estimated to be valued at $3283 million. However, projections indicate a substantial readjustment, with an anticipated size of $5588.1 million by 2030. The forecast, as outlined in a report from Markets Reports World, suggests a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% during the forecast period spanning from 2022 to 2030.

A prominent shift in the market is the increasing inclination towards sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Another trend is the rising incorporation of technology to elevate the quality and efficiency of Trail Running Shoes.

With such cutthroat competition across the market, it can be daunting for many to rank the brands in the market. We have researched to compile the 7 best trail running shoe brands and why you should try them.

Be sure to make it to #1 for our take on why Salomon is the best trail running shoe brand.

wanderfullylosttravel amazon store front banner.

This post includes affiliate links. It’s super important for us to be transparent with our Wanderers! If you click on one, we may receive a small, but wanderful commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for WANDERING with us!

7. Saucony

Saucony’s roots of success in the trail running shoe market trace back over a decade when the company took its highly popular road-racing shoe, the Kinvara, and transformed it into a trail-worthy counterpart dubbed the Peregrine.

The Peregrine, over the years, has undergone a transformative journey of its own, transitioning from a heavily lugged trail racing shoe to a more moderately lugged everyday trail running companion. Saucony introduced a more aggressively lugged soft-terrain version, debuting with the Peregrine 10.

There are currently three other iterations of the Peregrine. These include a wide version and Gore-Tex renditions of both the standard Peregrine and the Peregrine ICE+, the latter boasting a PWRTRAC ICE outsole designed for optimal traction on icy surfaces, coupled with a water-resistant upper.

Saucony also offers a range of other impressive trail shoes, such as the Xodus, a robust, all-encompassing shoe favored by those seeking heightened protection and comfort.

Another standout, the Endorphin Edge combines a carbon plate with a plush ride, appealing to runners looking for a unique blend of responsiveness and comfort. With such a diverse portfolio, Saucony deserves its spot on our list of best trail running shoe brands.

6. Topo Athletic

Topo Athletic, a brand quietly making waves since its establishment in 2013, has become synonymous with its distinctive features. Renowned for their low-drop and wider-fitting footwear, Topo has cultivated a dedicated following due to the emphasis on comfort. In recent years, the brand has extended its reach into the performance trainer arena, unveiling a collection of innovative shoes that propels it into the future.

With a commitment to optimal fit, promoting natural running for improved movement, and a newfound exploration of competitive midsole foams, the current landscape is an exciting juncture to acquaint oneself with Topo.

Topo Athletic boasts a plethora of positive reviews online for many of its products. This indicates a successful fusion of straightforward designs featuring generous toe boxes and a low heel-to-toe drop, all while catering to the diverse preferences of trail runners in their comfort zones.

For those prioritizing utmost comfort, the Ultraventure is your best pick. Boasting ample cushioning, a subtly guided upper rim in the midsole, and a 5mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe caters to runners seeking a plush and supportive experience.

On the other hand, the Terraventure line strikes a balance with a more moderate level of cushioning and a robust upper, offering a 3mm drop for those who prefer a slightly closer-to-the-ground feel.

Adding a different dimension to the lineup, the MTN Racer reintroduces a 5mm drop while providing a firmer and more responsive underfoot experience. This variant incorporates a touch of stability, appealing to runners looking for a more dynamic and controlled ride.

In essence, Topo Athletic has not only solidified its presence in the trail running shoe market but has also expanded its horizons by delving into performance trainers. The brand’s success lies in its ability to blend simplicity with functionality, delivering shoes that cater to a range of preferences while consistently maintaining a focus on comfort and natural movement.

5. Nike

Nike is a prominent figure in the realm of running and sports gear manufacturing, with a reputation primarily rooted in its road running shoes. However, Nike doesn’t compromise when it comes to its trail footwear. These shoes boast robust construction, excellent traction, stability, and responsiveness, ensuring a seamless journey through challenging trails.

Their current line, “Nike Trail,” made its debut in 2014 with the introduction of the Zoom Wildhorse. Since then, this trail-centric lineup has expanded to encompass various models tailored for different distances and terrains. The Kiger and Wildhorse models, now in their eighth iteration as of 2023, stand out as favorites among loyalists.

The Kiger, designed for swifter running, maintains a lower drop, while the Wildhorse serves as the more versatile trail runner within the duo, featuring a higher drop and a plush cushioning feel. The Pegasus Trail, with the most generous heel-to-toe drop among Nike’s trail models, offers runners a seamless transition from road to trail.

While Nike’s trail shoe collection may seem more limited compared to brands like Hoka or Salomon at first glance, each shoe in Nike’s lineup boasts a unique set of features tailored to specific types of runners.

4. La Sportiva

La Sportiva has ascended the ranks in the realm of trail running, though many may recognize the brand for its prominence in climbing shoes and mountaineering boots. The company’s origins trace back to 1928 in Italy when Narciso Delladio crafted handmade leather work boots tailored for lumberjacks and farmers in the Dolomites. During World War II, Delladio extended his craftsmanship to produce boots for the Army.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that his son introduced the brand name ‘La Sportiva.’ Shifting from its roots in mountaineering boots, the company transformed in the 1980s, redirecting its focus toward specialized climbing equipment.

Today, La Sportiva is renowned for its contributions to ski gear, climbing equipment, mountaineering essentials, and trail running gear. The brand continues to prioritize the production of technically advanced and high-performing equipment.

With a rich climbing heritage, La Sportiva’s trail shoes boast a precise fit and utilize excellent rubber compounds for their outsoles. For those venturing into La Sportiva’s trail running shoes, the Bushido is an excellent starting point, offering moderate weight, cushioning, and a comfortable heel-to-toe drop.

If you’re eyeing ultra-distance trail runs, the Jackal is a compelling option, featuring one of the more generous fits in La Sportiva’s trail running lineup along with ample cushioning. Another highly regarded model for ultra-distance endeavors is the Akasha, often praised for its lace-up slipper feel.

3. Brooks

Originally known for crafting delicate bathing shoes and ballet slippers in 1914, Brooks has evolved into a powerhouse in the running shoe industry. The turning point for the brand occurred during the running craze of the seventies, leading to its launch of the enduringly popular Villanova.

The next model, the Vantage, also saw such widespread acclaim that even then-President Jimmy Carter personally requested a pair. This model marked a significant breakthrough as the first running shoe to incorporate EVA, replacing the less responsive rubber found in traditional midsoles, propelling Brooks into the echelons of renowned running shoe manufacturers of its time.

Today, Brooks maintains its prominence in the realm of performance running shoe innovation. The iconic Cascadia, its flagship trail running shoe, gained swift popularity among trail enthusiasts.

Born out of a collaboration with ultrarunner Scott Jurek during his streak of seven consecutive Western States 100 victories, the Cascadia’s design has consistently featured a pivot system in the midsole, a proficient moderate outsole pattern, and a straightforward upper that has undergone minimal adjustments across generations.

Even with the substantial revamp seen in the Cascadia 16, which involved parting ways with the Pivot system, the shoe’s distinct identity as the Cascadia remains intact. Another beloved option in the market, the Catamount, trims a few ounces off the weight and enhances breathability compared to the Cascadia, all while maintaining the same level of cushioning and comfort.

2. Hoka

When it comes to well-known running brands, Hoka stands out as a prime example in today’s market. Established in 2009, the “Take Flight” brand has become a favorite among running enthusiasts, particularly for setting the benchmark for what a max-cushioned sneaker should embody.

Originating in the Alps, the initial concept of the Hoka form was conceived as a removable “overshoe” designed for descending thousands of vertical meters in one continuous run without causing excessive strain on the body. This idea eventually evolved into the highly cushioned, rockered shoe design that has defined Hoka’s reputation over the past decade.

While the entire product lineup boasts ample plushness, Hoka also offers a range of classy profiles tailored to enhance training effectiveness, regardless of pace. Each sneaker profile presents various colorways and vibrant designs, adding a touch of personality and zest to your workouts. It’s no wonder that numerous athletes seek to curate their collection of bold, performance-ready Hoka running shoes.

The Hoka Speedgoat epitomizes the brand’s current trail shoe offerings, featuring a thick, highly cushioned midsole with a pronounced rockered design, coupled with substantial lugging and a secure upper that firmly holds your foot in place. For those inclined towards an extreme experience of max cushioning, the Stinson is the ideal choice.

When it comes to plush, the term barely captures the essence of the Stinson, and Hoka’s description of the shoe as a “hovercraft” might just hit the mark. While equipped with 4mm lugs, a breathable upper, and a gusseted tongue, the standout feature of this shoe is undoubtedly its lavish midsole cushioning.

If you prefer a slightly less cushioned ride, Hoka’s Torrent steps in with a more moderate cushioning level while still embodying the distinctive Hoka style and trail-worthy design. In a market where preferences vary, Hoka caters to every runner’s needs, ensuring that whether you seek maximum cushioning or a more balanced experience, there’s a Hoka shoe tailored for you.

1. Salomon

The French Alps birthed a sports manufacturing titan in 1947, and Salomon has since become synonymous with trail sneakers, though it doesn’t shy away from producing top-notch road racing shoes. Salomon’s extensive offerings are what makes the manufacturer an undisputed #1 on our list.

The Speedcross is the flagship of Salomon’s trail running arsenal, with a legacy spanning a decade and a half. Its distinctive features include luggy outsoles, well-structured uppers, and the user-friendly Speedlace lacing system. The fact that the Speedcross is only on its sixth iteration after so many years speaks volumes about its enduring excellence.

For those seeking comfort in a road-to-trail package, the Sense Ride series is a standout choice. Meanwhile, the S/Lab Ultra line has undergone streamlining over the years, resulting in a stellar option for a casual five-mile trail run or a more demanding multi-day adventure in the mountains.

The launch of cutting-edge options persists, with the ultralight, highly rockered S/Lab Pulsar and S/Lab Pulsar Soft Ground, injecting excitement into the racing spectrum. On the comfort front, the Ultra Glide emerges as a standout, potentially claiming the title of Salomon’s most comfortable trail shoe to date, thanks to its plush cushioning.

Choosing the right trail running shoe is a crucial decision for any avid trail runner. The brands mentioned here have proven themselves in the world of trail running, consistently delivering high-quality footwear that meets the demands of diverse terrains.

Whether you’re a seasoned trail veteran or a newcomer looking to explore the great outdoors, investing in a pair of trail running shoes from these top brands is a step in the right direction toward a more enjoyable and successful trail running experience.

Explore the wonders of Yosemite National Park with our ultimate guide to family-friendly trails. Discover breathtaking vistas and create lasting memories on the family-friendly hiking trails of Rocky Mountain National Park. Your next adventure awaits!

Happy Travels!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner