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The 11 Best Winter Trail Running Shoes (2024 Buying Guide)

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

Fitness woman running during winter workout

Comparison Table

ShoeHeel heightDropWeightLugsBest forBest offer
Saucony Peregrine 13
Peregrine 13 Saucony
28 mm4 mm262 g/9.2 oz (men’s), 242 g/8.5 oz (women’s)5 mm BeginnersCheck prices →
Brooks Cascadia 16
Cascadia 16 Brooks
33 mm8 mm308 g/10.8 oz (men’s), 274 g/9.6 oz (women’s)5 mmRoad-to-trailCheck prices →
La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
Blizzard GTX La Sportiva
18 mm6 mm382 g/13.5 oz (men’s)7 mmIcy conditionsCheck prices →
Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2
MTN Racer 2 Topo Athletic
30 mm6 mm295 g/10.4 oz (men’s), 244 g/8.6 oz (women’s)5 mmWide feetCheck prices →
Hoka Speedgoat 5
Speedgoat 5 Hoka
33 mm4 mm279 g/9.8 oz (men’s), 251 g/8.8 oz (women’s)5 mmUltra runningCheck prices →
Altra Mont Blanc BOA
Mont Blanc BOA Altra
30 mm0 mm274 g/9.7 oz (men’s), 264 g/9.3 oz (women’s)3 mmZero dropCheck prices →
Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX v2
Roclite G 345 GTX v2 Inov-8
16 mm8 mm345 g /12.1 oz6 mmGrip
La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX
Cyklon Cross GTX La Sportiva
n/a4 mm332 g/11.7 oz (men’s), 324 g/11.4 oz (women’s)7 mmToughest conditionsCheck prices →
Merrell Agility Peak
Agility Peak Merrell
30 mm6 mm 287 g/10.1 oz (men’s), 267 g/9.4 oz (women’s)5 mmVersatilityCheck prices →
Salomon Speedcross 6
Speedcross 6 Salomon
32 mm10 mm288 g/10.1 oz (men’s), 266 g/9.4 oz (women’s)5 mmMuddy racesCheck prices →
Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX
Pegasus Trail 4 GTX Nike
36 mm/10 mm278 g/9.8 oz (men’s), 248 g/8.7 oz (women’s)3-4 mmWaterproofCheck prices →

1. Saucony Peregrine 13: Best for Beginners

Saucony Peregrine 13

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).

Pros

  • Can handle most terrain types
  • Great for shorter distances and for a range of workouts
  • Excellent weight to cushioning ratio
  • Dynamic and versatile

Cons

  • Not enough cushioning for long distances
  • More exposed outsole compared to Peregrine 12

2. Brooks Cascadia 16: Best Road-to-Trail Running Shoe

Brooks Cascadia 16

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.

Pros

  • Comfortable shoe for various terrains
  • Great cushioning
  • Good traction for summer and winter running alike
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Grip doesn’t suit very technical trails

Read the complete review

3. La Sportiva Blizzard GTX: Best for Icy Conditions

La Sportiva Blizzard GTX

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.

Pros

  • Extremely waterproof
  • Grippy sole designed for ice and snow
  • Gaiter system protects the ankles and shields from freezing temperatures
  • Reflective elements for low light conditions
  • Injected EVA mousse allows for good level of shock absorption

Cons

  • Some stiffness reported – could cause heel blisters

4. Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2: Best for Wide Feet

Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2

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.

Pros

  • Secure fit
  • Bouncy yet stable
  • Amazing grip on all types of surfaces
  • Can also be used on snowy roads

Cons

  • Tongue is a little too thin
  • No water repellant upper

5. Hoka Speedgoat 5: Best Ultrarunning Shoes

Hoka Speedgoat 5

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.

Pros

  • Great cushioning for long runs
  • Reliable traction in most conditions
  • Good foot lockdown
  • Durable and good value for money

Cons

  • Tongue a bit too short (other shoes from Hoka suffer from this issue, too!)

Read the complete review

6. Altra Mont Blanc BOA: Best Zero Drop

Altra Mont Blanc BOA

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.

Pros

  • Cushioned, soft ride
  • Excellent foot lockdown
  • Ingenious lacing system
  • Great grip

Cons

  • Lugs are only 3 mm deep so not great for deep snow or serious mud
  • Zero drop takes some getting used to

7. Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX v2: Best Grip

Inov-8 Roclite G 345 GTX v2

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.

Pros

  • Sturdy, stable and overall a good support shoe for tricky weather
  • Excellent grip
  • Graphene coated outsole for better durability
  • Warm and protective

Cons

  • Awkward lacing
  • Weight is high compared to other winter running shoes

8. La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX: For the Toughest Conditions

La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX

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.

Pros

  • Unbeatable snow and rain protection with built-in gaiters
  • Nimble and comfortable at the same time
  • Good grip on wet surfaces, snowy trails, and mud
  • Precise fit thanks to BOA lacing system

Cons

  • Narrow toe box
  • Not very responsive ride

9. Merrell Agility Peak: Most Versatile

Merrell Agility Peak

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.

Pros

  • Comfortable and versatile
  • Good grip on most surfaces (maybe except deep mud)
  • Midpack features – great for everyday trail running
  • Good price to quality ratio

Cons

  • Not very grippy in deep mud
  • Not as “agile” as the name would suggest

10. Salomon Speedcross 6: Best for Muddy Races

Salomon Speedcross 6

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.

Pros

  • Precise, reassuring foot lockdown
  • Easy to lace up and go
  • Great in the mud
  • Durable

Cons

  • Slips on wet rock

11. Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX: Best Waterproof Shoes

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

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!

Pros

  • Great waterproof upper and GTX membrane
  • Very stylish
  • Ankle support and gaiter for extra protection
  • Comfortable drop

Cons

  • Outsole not as grippy as others on this list

Read the complete review

Running in Winter: All You Need to Know

athlete runner running on winter trail

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.

Fit male jogger with a headlamp rests during training

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.

two people running on a muddy trail

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

Runner man running in dirty puddle at winter time

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:

Lug depth

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.

View of walking on snow with snow shoes and shoe spikes in winter

Waterproof membranes

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.

Young woman fitness model running in winter

Gaiter attachment

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.

Outsole rubber

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.

Lacing

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.

Versatility

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)

male athlete runner running in falling snow in forest
Are trail running shoes good for winter?

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.

What shoes are best for running in winter?

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.

Are Hokas good for winter?

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).

References

Saucony Peregrine ICE 3
https://www.saucony.com/en/peregrine-ice-3/53006M.html

Alecsa Stewart

Alecsa Stewart

Alecsa is an ultra-trailer, mountain guide, and freelance writer living in the Pyrenees-Orientales (France). She is passionate about the mountains and life in the wilderness and also practices cycling, climbing, and skiing from time to time. Her passion is to share her adventures with others and inspire them to spend more time outdoors. This year, she has her sights set on the Tarawera, Snowdonia, and Lavaredo UTMB ultra-trail races.

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