Published on: 02/05/2023
In a hurry? Go directly to the top 11.
Running in winter is not easy: you have to face cold temperatures, slippery surfaces, newly uneven terrain, and lots of obstacles. However, heading out into the cold can also feel fun and invigorating. That’s why trail runners don’t shy away from winter running – instead, they just need to find the right shoes to run in!
In this article, we’ve selected 11 of the best winter running shoes for going off road. Based on the best rated trail shoes of 2023, we’ve looked at grip, warmth, comfort levels, breathability, and the overall stability and effectiveness in winter conditions. From waterproof shoes to shoes with unbeatable lugs for muddy days, and including the best shoes to take out onto snow and ice, here is the ideal selection, followed by some tips on running in winter and answers to your key questions.
Our Selection of the Best Winter Trail Shoes for 2023
|Saucony Peregrine 13
|262 g/9.2 oz (men’s), 242 g/8.5 oz (women’s)
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|Brooks Cascadia 16
|308 g/10.8 oz (men’s), 274 g/9.6 oz (women’s)
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|La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
|382 g/13.5 oz (men’s)
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|Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2
|295 g/10.4 oz (men’s), 244 g/8.6 oz (women’s)
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|Hoka Speedgoat 5
|279 g/9.8 oz (men’s), 251 g/8.8 oz (women’s)
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|Altra Mont Blanc BOA
|274 g/9.7 oz (men’s), 264 g/9.3 oz (women’s)
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|Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX v2
|345 g /12.1 oz
|La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX
|332 g/11.7 oz (men’s), 324 g/11.4 oz (women’s)
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|Merrell Agility Peak
|287 g/10.1 oz (men’s), 267 g/9.4 oz (women’s)
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|Salomon Speedcross 6
|288 g/10.1 oz (men’s), 266 g/9.4 oz (women’s)
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|Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX
|278 g/9.8 oz (men’s), 248 g/8.7 oz (women’s)
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1. Saucony Peregrine 13: Best for Beginners
The recently launched Saucony Peregrine 13 delivers almost unbeatable all-around trail running performance. Relatively light and with a 4 mm drop, it might not seem the most logical beginner’s shoe but it’s the nimble ride and weight to cushioning ratio that recommends it for all levels. It delivers just enough support and has excellent traction thanks to 5 mm lugs and a very durable exterior (the PWRTRAC outsole is brilliant). The Peregrine 13’s cushioning is great for shock absorption and the breathable mesh ensures that feet don’t get too hot and sweaty, but that water drains out quickly, too.
For added protection from the snow, choose the GTX version. Or, if you love the Saucony style but want to up the winterproofing, go for the Saucony Peregrine ICE 3 – a winter beast (1).
2. Brooks Cascadia 16: Best Road-to-Trail Running Shoe
Winter running shoes are difficult to get right. You could be looking for grippy lugs and performance in the mud, or for stability on ice and slippery rocks. That all requires more specialist running shoes. However, for running on snow covered roads and jumping onto a moderately difficult trail, you can do no wrong with the Brooks Cascadia 16.
The Cascadia is Brooks’ best-known shoe, appreciated for its all-around performance. Since its 2021 re-design, it’s lighter and more flexible, but it keeps good cushioning thanks to the DNA Loft v2 technology. The upper is great at keeping feet dry and protected from rocks and debris, while still staying breathable. And there’s a generous toe box, too, so your winter socks won’t make them feel too tight. The Cascadia is great for winter running on roads and trails alike.
Tip: For road running only, choose the Brooks Ghost 14 GTX to be protected from heavy rain or snow, but still get good grip and a comfortable ride off the trails.
3. La Sportiva Blizzard GTX: Best for Icy Conditions
In the depths of winter, you may hit icy patches or have to navigate seriously slippery trails. The La Sportiva Blizzard GTX may be a bit niche, but it’s been designed specifically for glaciers and snow. It has a special Gore Tex membrane for extended comfort, known for its waterproofing as well as breathability. To keep the shoe relatively comfortable for longer distances, it also features a Gore Flex construction, increasing flexibility despite the high boot design.
Speaking of the height, the above ankle Sock-Shield Gaiter keeps snow, water, or the cold away from your feet. As for the outsole, you’ll find aggressive traction thanks to extremely grippy FriXion Blue technology and the AT Grip Fixed Spikes built into it. No need to double up with metal spikes, you’ll be well served by the all-in-one ice running shoes from La Sportiva.
4. Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2: Best for Wide Feet
Topo Athletic makes excellent shoes for wider footed trail runners, and the MTN Racer 2 ticks lots of boxes when it comes to winter running, too. Thanks to the Vibram Megagrip outsole, this is a winter running shoe for soft, muddy trails. It also serves well on snow and ice (but would benefit from adding spikes if it’s very icy).
The MTN Racer is surprisingly light for the cushioned feel, thanks to a good deployment of Zip Foam midsole of varying densities. The foot-shaped toe box is spacious and protective, while the overall fit accommodates wider feet, but is secure enough for all sizes. Thanks to its roominess, it allows you to run in thicker socks to keep your toes warm in winter. However, many reviews suggest going down a half size for better fit.
One important element absent in the MTN Racer 2, however, is a water resistant upper. This can keep them from becoming your favorite winter running shoes, especially if you step in puddles. This second version doesn’t have enough drainage slots to get rid of that moisture quickly, either. So, be prepared wear these shoes with gaiters in wet conditions.
5. Hoka Speedgoat 5: Best Ultrarunning Shoes
Ask anyone in ultra running and you’ll get an almost unanimous view: the Speedgoat range by Hoka is the ultimate ultra shoe. The latest, Speedgoat 5, is not meant to enter the winter shoes category, per se, but it’s good enough to take you through all types of weather if you’re running over 50 km.
With excellent cushioning and very good traction thanks to the Vibram rubber sole, the Speedgoat holds its own in winter conditions. You’ll want to add gaiters in deeper snow, but otherwise, you’ll get a good, secure fit, a plush ride and good protection from rocky terrain thanks to the toe cover and reinforced, extended heel design. For added water resistance, you can also opt for the GTX version. There’s also a specific wide fit version of the same shoe if you need it. Bonus points for being a vegan shoe, too. Read a more detailed review here.
6. Altra Mont Blanc BOA: Best Zero Drop
Yes, the Altra Lone Peak is usually the zero drop shoe of choice for any review and round-up, however, there is so much more that Altra has to offer for speed, nimbleness and comfort in winter. The Mont Blanc BOA is a unique trail shoe, offering great personalized fit through the BOA lacing system that we normally see on bike shoes. And there are two of these: one around the forefoot and one under the ankle to firmly hold you in, heel to toe.
This doesn’t just make this a winter trail shoe with great foot lockdown. It’s also quick to put on, it prevents debris or snow from getting in, and it gives you the flexibility to adjust the tightness for wearing thicker socks to keep your feet warm. Additionally, you’ll have good traction from the Vibram outsole and nice, soft cushioning for longer distances.
7. Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX v2: Best Grip
Inov-8 has built a reputation for trail running shoes that can withstand hard underfoot conditions. From the fell running experience accumulated in wet British weather, comes a hiking shoe turned into winter runner in the shape of the Roclite G 345 v2. These aren’t running shoes by design, but they’re great for putting in winter miles if you live in a hilly, muddy area. They provide great heel lock, protection from the elements, and a nice, soft cushioning from the Powerflow Max foam midsole.
The upper is also dirt and water repellant, while underneath you’ll find a sturdy Gore Tex membrane to keep feet dry. It’s slightly heavier, but the Roclite G 345 v2 makes up for it in the protection and stability it offers by comparison to most shoes. And you just can’t beat its grip on mud.
8. La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX: For the Toughest Conditions
Where the Blizzard is designed for icy surfaces, you can think of the Cyclon Cross GTX as your winter mountain running do-it-all shoe. It’s waterproof, snow repellant, super grippy, and features personalized BOA fit lacing. The one winter protection element you don’t have is metal spikes, but the outsole is designed to adapt to La Sportiva spikes as well.
The water repellant gaiter ensures an extra layer of protection from winter rains, ensuring your feet stay warm regardless of what the elements throw at you. There’s good energy return thanks to the EVA midsole, too.
9. Merrell Agility Peak: Most Versatile
On the trail running shoe market, Merrell is having a moment. With new and exciting shoes that have been designed for all conditions and challenging trails, the brand is becoming a name to be reckoned with. Of all its shoes, the Agility Peak 4 is our pick for versatility, without specific winter features, but suitable for the cold season nonetheless.
Thanks to the FlatPro foam midsole that gives you energy return and adequate cushioning, these shoes are fun and reliable. They feature Merrell’s FLEXconnect technology to boost the shoe’s flexibility, while the outsole is covered in unbeatable Vibram MegaGrip. From slick surfaces to rocky trails, on snow or mud, these have got you covered. There’s even better grip thanks to 5 mm multidirectional lugs, too.
The GTX version is also available for extra water protection, which is a bonus.
10. Salomon Speedcross 6: Best for Muddy Races
There’s a reason this shoe is one of the most popular trail running shoes around: its high quality, versatility in wintery conditions, and reliability have stood the test of time. The Speedcross 6 is one of Salomon’s best sellers. It features a tight, secure grip on the ankle and midfoot, giving much needed stability in slippery conditions, thanks to the Quicklace lacing system. It’s also great for beginners, with a 10 mm drop that makes it feel a bit like a hiking boot.
However, the Speedcross is no boot: it moves fast, it has some bounce, and it grips on climbs on muddy hills. The signature Salomon Contagrip outsole is even specifically designed for mud, being coated in Mud Contagrip rubber.
11. Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX: Best Waterproof Shoes
Most winter running shoes need to have decent waterproofing features to pass the test. After all, it’s water and snow that are the main obstacles for any winter runner. Many of the shoes on this list either have a waterproof or water resistant upper, or have a Gore Tex version you can switch to in winter. However, some GTX shoes end up being less breathable and therefore, less comfortable. Not the case with the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 – one of the best options for waterproof shoes around.
The high-top design with built-in gaiter tells you immediately that this is a waterproof shoe to take you through everything from harder snow to a rainstorm. Suitable as a road shoe in winter conditions, too, the tread pattern on the outsole is an interesting mix that gives decent traction and durability. There’s a sturdy toe cap to protect from hitting rocks and a 3D-printed TPU add-on to the upper for extra protection from the elements.
It’s also a pretty stylish shoe for everyday winter wear!
Running in Winter: All You Need to Know
Lacing up your shoes for a winter run requires motivation, especially on those darker, wetter days when the trails aren’t exactly calling. Additionally, while in the city, you may still get away with wearing your favorite road shoes on clean streets, your latest Nike Air Zoom Pegasus or New Balance Fresh Foam won’t cut it on snowy surfaces or muddy trails.
But, fear not! We have tips for the avid trail runner looking to brave the elements safely and comfortably. The first step, of course, is to find shoes that fit the bill – that’s what the list above is for.
Next, here are some other things to consider for your winter runs:
There is reduced visibility.
Whether you’re running in the early morning, when it’s still dark outside, or during the day, chances are that visibility is reduced in the winter months. So, to make yourself clear to others during rain or snow, ensure you wear reflective materials and consider bringing a head lamp to light your way if you’re going out for a long run.
Days are shorter.
This is obvious, but it’s important and linked to the above point. You’re likely to run in the dark for some of your session, so always have a good quality lamp with you. In cities, it’s good to wear a body-mounted lamp with fewer lumens, to enhance your visibility to others. On trails, we advise high lumen, strong headlamps to light the way ahead.
Conditions change during the day.
If you’re starting early, you’ll be running on cold ground, which can be frozen and feels harder. You will then be slushing through mud if it’s a sunny day at noon! Similarly, you might come across icy patches before the sun hits, or hard packed snow that you then fall into later in the day. All this to say that additional accessories like gaiters can prove very valuable, and that you should pick more versatile shoes when you know you are likely to go through various conditions.
Keep your feet warm as much as possible.
You’ll need shoes and socks that keep your toes warm and dry while allowing the skin to breathe so you don’t develop blisters. Shoes are just half of the equation here: experiment with different sock combinations (even narrow feet will find their shoes run tight all of a sudden if you wear thicker socks) to find what’s right for you, and consider putting on anti-chafe cream on your feet before starting.
You’ll still need sunscreen.
On a sunny winter day, don’t forget to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses. The sun can be very strong when you least expect it.
You can find more detailed advice about running in winter here.
How to Find the Perfect Winter Trail Shoes
Our shoe recommendations are based on a collection of reviews and accounts from amateur and professional runners. We sift through hundreds of reviews to bring you the best, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your own research, too. Here are some key characteristics of good winter running shoes to help you decide:
It’s important to have deep lugs when running in mud, especially downhill or uphill. Most shoes reviewed here feature 5 mm lugs at least.
Spikes or option to add them
You can fit these to your outsole for better grip on ice or hard packed snow, but they’re best used in high altitude mountainous conditions. Consider them if you’re heading into really cold temperatures.
Shoe technology has evolved massively and most trail running shoes now features some sort of Gore Tex in their upper. Go for GTX versions of your favorite shoes if they’re sold, but check that they are still breathable so your feet don’t sweat too much.
Ankle and foot support
Shoes with a higher ankle collar or built-in gaiters are great for keeping water, snow and debris out. Additionally, higher shoes like the Nike Pegasus Trail give you more comfort and support around the ankle on slippery surfaces. Designs like Salomon’s ensure that the shoe wraps around your foot, also great for stability.
Room for adding a thicker sock
You may need to go up a half size to accommodate for warmer socks.
For winter running, it’s great if your shoes have built-in gaiter loops so you can add a gaiter and remove it as you see fit.
Check that your shoes are grippy enough on a mix of terrains. Vibram is the leader in this, although Salomon’s Contagrip is also very good on most surfaces.
Not having to retie your laces with frozen hands is a huge bonus in winter. Salomon’s Quicklace system is ideal, but other brands also feature stowaway options for your laces.
Ultimately, you’re not going to want to buy a pair of running shoes for each possible condition and surface. You may want specific pairs if you’re doing glacier expeditions, for example, but for most people, grippy trail running shoes with a decent level of waterproofing should be good for winter, too. Finding a versatile shoe will save you money and lots of headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Thanks to their grippy sole and use of waterproofing materials, most trail running shoes are great in winter. They can also be worn on the road for added traction on snow or ice.
The best shoes for any conditions will always be your most comfortable shoes. Whether you’re looking for warmth, waterproofing, grip, or added room for thicker socks, most trail running shoes can deliver on some – if not all – these points. Use our list as a starting point to try out the shoes for you.
Hoka shoes are known for extra cushioning, which can cause an issue in winter when you may want more ground feel. However, trail models with a more aggressive lug pattern and increased responsiveness can be a good choice. We recommend the Speedgoat 5 and the Torrent 3 (from more to less cushioning).
Saucony Peregrine ICE 3