The Best Trail Running Shoes: The Ultimate 2020 Ranking

Filter results Showing all 10 results
Order by
Price
Category
Brand
Pronation
Drop (mm)
Heel stack height (mm)
Features

Showing all 10 results

Add to compare
Hoka Torrent 2 trail running shoe review
The Hoka One One Torrent 2 is an excellent trail running shoe that is both lightweight and effective for going fast and far on the toughest terrains. One of the ...
More details +
$119.95
Buy now
Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
What happens when you take an already very good shoe that won the accolades of the trail community in 2018 and make it a little better? You get an exceptional model that's close to perfection. Nothing less! Indeed, the Hoka Torrent 2 confirms its reputation as an ultra-versatile, comfortable and lightweight shoe. While the first model had been very well received, some criticized its upper as being too harsh and not safe enough to tackle very technical surfaces, especially downhill. This second version addresses this feedback with an improved upper that translates into a more classic mesh. Paradoxically, it is more flexible while offering a more precise foot lockdown. According to the testers, the result feels very secure without being too tight (the shoe is also suitable for trailers with wider feet). Then, regarding the cushioning, we find the PROFLY double density foam which gives comfortable but fairly firm padding. The absence of a protective plate combined with the moderate cushioning provides excellent ground feeling. This will appeal to athletes who like a good natural ride on the trails. Overall, the Torrent 2 offers a good compromise between shock absorption, protection and ground feel. Thus, trailers who tested the shoe found it very comfortable, even after several hours of running, despite the relative thinness of the sole. Finally, the traction is always impeccable whatever the terrain or the type of elevation. The multidirectional studs are indeed more numerous and slightly more aggressive, which makes it easy to tackle the most technical trails, whether soft mud or slippery rocks. In short, the Hoka Torrent 2 is an excellent trail shoe (maybe even the best of the year!) that proves to be effective and comfortable in all circumstances. A reference shoe not to be missed!
Comfort
10
Traction
9.5
Protection
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Very grippy
  • Improved upper that provides a soft and secure fit
  • Lightweight trail shoe
  • A model that will appeal to runners interested in Hoka but who prefer a moderately thick sole
  • Effective cushioning despite the moderate stack height
CONS:
  • Long and inconvenient laces
  • Upper a little warm for the summer
Add to compare
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 review trail running shoe
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is an excellent comfortable trail running shoe destined for the most technical terrains.
More details +
$144.95
Buy now
Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is a trail shoe inspired by the legendary ultramarathon athlete Karl 'Speedgoat' Meltzer. With an excellent third model, we were looking forward to this fourth iteration. On the one hand, it is sometimes disappointing to find a new model with few improvements, but on the other hand, it is reassuring to see an excellent shoe keep its substance and not change radically. As the saying goes, you don't change a winning team! Thus, the Speedgoat 4 is very similar to the SG3 with some notable improvements. Cushioning is still as comfortable and responsive despite the introduction of a new injection-molded EVA foam. The Speedgoat is a maximalist shoe with 32 mm of thickness under the heel and thus effectively absorbs shocks on the most challenging terrains. However, it is not soft and offers an excellent return of energy for a bounce-filled racing feeling. It's one of the main assets that make it an exceptional trail shoe. Also, the SG4 is a low drop shoe with a 4 mm offset between heel and toes. The upper is the part that features the most changes. Indeed, reputed to be too narrow in the past for many athletes, it is now wider at the toe level and no longer compresses them uncomfortably. So the shoe should now be suitable for as many people as possible. Make no mistake though: the upper remains relatively firm with limited flexibility, but this configuration has the advantage of providing an effective foot lockdown. It makes you feel safer on very rough technical terrain where stability and secure fit are essential. Also, the mesh is robust and breathable. Finally, the grip is always at its best with a Vibram outsole with 5mm lugs that provide excellent traction in all conditions. In short, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is an excellent trail shoe ideal for long distances on the most technically challenging trails.
Comfort
9.5
Traction
9.5
Protection
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9.5
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Excellent grip
  • Maximum cushioning and responsive at the same time
  • New upper with a broader toe area
  • Robust, durable design
  • Versatile: even though the SG4 excels above all on rugged terrain, it will also be suitable for small dirt roads with no particular technical skills.
CONS:
  • Slightly heavier than the previous model
Add to compare
Altra Olympus 4 review trail running shoes
The Altra Olympus 4 is a very good trail running shoe that's ideal for long runs with its maximum cushioning and wid platform.
More details +
$169.95
Buy now
Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 5:15 am
The Altra Olympus 4 is a trail shoe with a high-stack sole (33 mm), zero drop (so no offset between heel and toes), and a wide platform. This new version is more refined, however, which gives the shoe a more streamlined and less massive design. However, it retains the qualities that have made it so successful. Its high-stack cushioning ensures comfortable shock absorption throughout the run. Also, the running sensations are responsive with an enjoyable bounce. Of course, with its relatively heavy weight (318 g for men, 289 g for women), this is not a model made for speed and daring descents. The Olympus is a trail running cruiser that's all about comfort. It shows in the upper with a mesh that now has an open texture for better ventilation. The result is a pleasant and rather ample lockdown (be careful if you have narrow feet). The toe box is spacious as on all Altra models. Finally, the grip is very good with a Vibram MegaGrip rubber sole that features moderate lugs. The configuration is sturdy and can take a beating according to trailers who tested the shoe. Thus, the Olympus 4 is a comfortable option for medium difficulty trails (its ample foot lockdown and not-so-aggressive lugs don't make it the best choice for the most technical surfaces). A very good shoe for trailers looking for maximum comfort for their long trail runs.
Comfort
9.5
Traction
9
Protection
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
9
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Maximalist and springy cushioning
  • Comfortable upper with ample lockdown and spacious toe box
  • Sturdy model
  • Effective traction on intermediate level trails
CONS:
  • Still on the heavy side
  • High price
  • May be insufficient on very technical trails
Add to compare
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 trail running shoe review
The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 is a very good trail running with effective grip to run long distances comfortably.
More details +
The Salomon shoe specially designed for ultra trail running is back. The S/Lab Ultra 3 is a versatile shoe favored by French star François d'Haene, a three-time UTMB winner. So what is this new version worth? First of all, the configuration remains almost identical in terms of weight and stack height. The grip is still excellent with the Contagrip rubber and its moderately aggressive lugs. The Ultra 3 is comfortable on most terrains, although testers note that deeper lugs would be welcome on steep and muddy routes. Also, as with previous versions, the configuration is robust and wear-resistant. In terms of cushioning, the stack height is moderate, with 26 mm under the heel and 18 mm under the forefoot. Trailers characterize the cushioning as "fairly firm" while offering good flexibility and shock absorption, which makes the ride enjoyable even over long distances. They also describe the feel of the run as springy, with smooth transitions throughout the run, even at low speeds. Then, the upper is softer with a streamlined, seamless design that gets rid of the "wings" of the previous model. The foot lockdown is great, resulting in a stable and safe run. Also, the upper is slightly more spacious (especially in the toe area), and its flexibility ensures good freedom of movement for the foot. The only negative point of the upper would be its lack of ventilation. Besides, despite all its great qualities, the shoe is on the expensive side with a base price of $180. In summary, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 is a very good trail shoe that is comfortable in all conditions and offers great comfort over long distances.
Comfort
9.5
Grip
9.5
Protection
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
8.5
Design
9
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Excellent grip
  • Protective and responsive cushioning
  • Upper more comfortable than on the previous versions
  • Sturdy shoe
CONS:
  • High price
  • The upper could be a little airier
Add to compare
Merrell MTL Skyfire review trail running shoe
The Merrell MTL Skyfire is a lightweight trail running shoe to go fast downhill on the toughest terrains.
More details +
$99.95
Buy now
Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 1:16 am
Crafted specifically for taking on tough mountain trails, the Merrell MTL Skyfire is the perfect shoe for higher elevations and shorter running stints on uphill terrains. Its lightweight design (9 oz./242 g) coupled with its great traction and breathable fabric makes the MTL Skyfire an extremely prudent choice for off-trail runners. Its stack dimensions are 23.5mm/17.5mm, with a drop of 6mm and lugs of 5 mm, to provide the best possible running conditions on rocky slopes. Runners who have tried the MTL Skyfire remarked that the sneaker was bouncy, comfortable, and provided a smooth running experience, though there is some discrepancy regarding adequate cushioning, which tends to be a stronger preference for female runners than male runners, according to recent studies. Runners have also stated that the MTL Skyfire is highly breathable, but that this design comes with the pitfall of absorbing a significant amount of moisture straight through to the foot on wet trails, or in rainy weather. MTL Skyfire users have also commented on the narrowness of the sneaker design, which is likely intentional to provide a snug fit for added security on rocky trails. This may make the shoe a great option for runners with narrow to medium feet but may prove too tight for runners with wider feet. For best results, runners who tried the MTL Skyfire recommend tying the laces as tightly as possible for added heel and ankle protection, though this may be unsustainable and prove to be too uncomfortable for longer runs. Note that while the Merrell MTL Skyfire is ideal for shorter running sessions, cross- country runners will likely do better with the sneaker's companion, the Long Sky. Runners were also a big fan of the Merrell MTL Skyfire's reasonable price of only $100, which is relatively budget-friendly compared with other sneaker brands of the same high caliber. Overall, the Merrell MTL Skyfire is a very good running shoe for off-trail, short-distance runners looking for a snug fit, lightweight design, above-average traction, and a great overall value! Longer-distance runners, or those who prefer a bit of extra cushioning, will do well to consider the brand's Long Sky option as an alternative.
Comfort
9
Traction
9.5
Protection
9
Durability
9
Value for money
9.5
Design
9
PROS:
  • Precise and safe foot lockdown
  • Comfortable and springy cushioning
  • Impeccable grip
  • Lightweight
CONS:
  • Narrow shoe, especially in the forefoot area
  • Laces not very practical and not so easy to adjust to find the right level of tightening
Add to compare
Nike Pegasus Trail 2 review trail running shoe
The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 is a very good versatile trail shoe with comfortable and responsive cushioning.
More details +
$158.54
Buy now
Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 1:16 am
Nike expands its trail collection (which already includes the Wildhorse and Terra Kiger) with this second Pegasus Trail model. Rather than a direct successor of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail released in 2019, the Pegasus Trail 2 appears as a combo of various recent Nike models like the Vaporfly and the Turbo 2. For example, the React foam now equips the entire sole (there are no more Zoom Air units). The stack is relatively high with 31 mm under the heel and 21 mm under the forefoot. The midsole is soft but the rubber of the outsole compensates with its firmness which prevents the cushioning from being overly soft. Trailers have been impressed by the comfort and bounce of the cushioning. They also found it to be very versatile, i.e. suitable for all paces and terrains. Besides, even without the rock plate, they did not feel any pain after several hours of running. The only negative point would be the lack of stability on uneven surfaces due to the softness of the cushioning. Combined with the flexible upper, this somewhat limits the effectiveness of the shoe on very technical terrains that require a secure balance and precise foot lockdown. The upper is made of a solid mesh with a small rubber toe cap at the front. It's well ventilated to allow the foot to breathe during the effort. The toe box is relatively wide but some runners found it a little low. However, they note that this problem disappears over time as the mesh loosens. There is also a 'faux' (integrated) gaiter to better protect the foot as on the Wildhorse. Finally, the grip is also very good thanks to the rubber outsole and its wide lugs of medium depth (about 3 mm). The traction can come up a bit short on very soft mud and compact snow but allows you to also run on the road, which is ideal if you like to alternate. Overall, the Nike Pegasus Trail 2 is a very good, comfortable, and versatile trail shoe with responsive cushioning to have fun on most terrains.
Comfort
9.5
Traction
9
Protection
9
Durability
9
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Effective and bouncy cushioning
  • Reliable traction on most terrains
  • Versatile shoe
  • Sleek and modern design
CONS:
  • Toe box a little low
  • Mesh a bit lose around the midfoot (if you have thin feet you may have to size down)
  • Lack of stability on uneven surfaces
Add to compare
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6 review trail running shoes
The Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 is a lightweight trail running shoe with moderate and responsive cushioning.
More details +
$90.98
Buy now
Best deal at: jackrabbit.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 2:16 am
The Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 is a lightweight trail shoe that offers a good balance between ground feeling and protection. Let's say it right away: this new version brings few fundamental changes after the thorough redesign of the previous model. If you liked the Kiger 5, you will not be disappointed by the K6. It features a dynamic and versatile cushioning that's ideal for tempo-style speed sessions on trails. The shoe offers good shock absorption without isolating the foot from the ground. With a stack height of 24 mm under the heel, cushioning is therefore moderate. However, it should be noted that some runners have found the heel particularly rigid which can be disconcerting given the flexibility of the forefoot. Then, traction is always very good on trails of medium technical difficulty. The moderately deep lugs give a good grip, especially in the mud. The non-slip rubber triangle in the middle of the outsole divides runners: some find it effective while others would prefer lugs as on the rest of the sole. Finally, the main change is in the upper. The support is now more precise without being strict. In addition, the toe box is also more spacious for more comfort. In summary, the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 is a very good trail shoe that still offers a great ride for daily training. PROS
Comfort
9.5
Traction
9
Protection
9
Durability
9
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Good comfort
  • Efficient traction
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Good foot protection despite the light profile of the shoe
  • Stylish design
CONS:
  • No lugs in the centre of the outsole (there is a non-slip strip instead)
  • Heel a little too rigid according to some runners which differs from the flexibility of the rest of the platform
Add to compare
Brooks Cascadia 15 trail running shoe review
The Brooks Cascadia 15 is a versatile and comfortable trail running shoe that excels on all types of terrain.
More details +
$129.95
Buy now
Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 5:15 am
The Brooks Cascadia 15 is a versatile trail shoe prized by ultra-trail star Scott Jurek. This new model capitalises on the previous version that brought a breath of fresh air to the Cascadia collection. We find a platform as comfortable and versatile as ever equipped with the TrailTack sole and its multidirectional studs. The grip is impeccable on all types of terrains. The main change resides in the upper: there is a new mesh more tightly woven than before, reminiscent of the Caldera 4. This provides better protection even if the ventilation is slightly affected. The upper provides excellent foot lockdown while still being loose enough to be comfortable, especially for the toes. Regarding the cushioning, we find a moderately thick sole with a 24 mm full stack-height under the heel and an 8 mm drop. The midsole offers a good ground feeling, slightly firm, while effectively absorbing shocks. However, testers note that it lacks a bit of bounce and responsiveness to be really fun for speed workouts. In other words, comfort is there, but a little more bounce would be much appreciated. Nevertheless, the shoe has the advantage of being stable. It incorporates a system of pivot points (Pivot Posts) that provides good support, especially downhill. In summary, the Brooks Cascadia 15 is a very good trail shoe that combines comfort, protection, grip and durability but that misses a snappier bounce.
Comfort
9
Traction
9.5
Protection
9.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9.5
Design
8.5
PROS:
  • Great comfort
  • Impeccable foot lockdown while offering sufficient space to the toes
  • Efficient cushioning while providing a good ground feeling
  • Excellent traction
  • Good foot protection
  • Robust trail shoe
CONS:
  • Cushioning that lacks responsiveness
  • Still heavy (305 g for men, 283 g for women)
Add to compare
Saucony Switchback 2 review trail running shoe
The Saucony Switchback 2 is a good light trail running shoe with low stack cushioning to go fast on moderate terrains.
More details +
The Saucony Switchback 2 has many new and exciting features while retaining the beloved elements of the original version. With its low stack height, low drop, flexible material, and dynamic PWWRUN midsole technology, the Switchback 2 is an interesting choice for trailers looking for a nice ground feel while running. The PWRRUN midsole that blends EVA and TPU contributes to a soft and yet bouncy ride, which runners noted was a significant upgrade to the shoe. This technology replaces the EVERUN midsole found in the original Switchback and makes the Switchback 2 a bit denser for added stability. The PWRRUN midsole, combined with a woven rock plate, protects the foot and keeps it secure. Despite the rock plate addition, the Switchback 2 still molds nicely to the terrain and makes each stride snappy. The shoe's sock-like upper provides added flexibility and comfort; however, some runners remarked that they could feel sharp rocks and pebbles. One unique feature of the Switchback 2 is its BOA side lacing system. While at first glance, this type of lacing may seem to inhibit foot security, runners remarked that it works. The shoe stays snug all over the foot, without individual pressure points, and can be adjusted with a quick twist of the BOA. In terms of grip, the medium-size lugs (3.5 mm) provide excellent traction on moderate terrains. Trailers were surprised by how effective they were in comparison to their shallow profile. Though the Switchback 2 received a lot of positive feedback from users, there were a few notable pitfalls of the shoe. For one, the fit is secure, but not locked-in enough to perform on more technical trails. The upper also lacks breathability and absorbs the sharp edges of rocks and other terrain debris. Runners also noted that the Switchback 2 isn't soft enough for long runs and may prove uncomfortable after a while if you're not used to low stack shoes. To summarize, the Saucony Switchback 2 is a good low stack/low drop trail running shoe best suited for moderate terrain and short to mid distances.
Comfort
9
Grip
9
Protection
8
Durability
9
Value for money
9
Design
9.5
PROS:
  • Good comfort
  • Soft, stable and snappy cushioning
  • Light trail shoe
  • BOA lacing system is easy to adjust
  • Effective grip on moderate terrains
CONS:
  • Foot lockdown not secure enough for technical surfaces
  • Upper is not protective enough while lacking breathability
Add to compare
Topo Athletic MTN Racer review trail running shoes
The Topo Athletic MTN Racer is good high-stack trail running shoe with a comfortable fit and effective grip.
More details +
$139.95
Buy now
Best deal at: Amazon.com
Last price update was: October 31, 2020 9:16 am
A durable and sturdy mountain shoe for all-day use on the trails, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer is TA Ultraventure's sibling, but half an ounce lighter and more versatile. A true mountain shoe, the MTN Racer boasts excellent grip and sturdiness on the most technical of terrains. There seems to be no limit for how much ground it can cover! The MTN Racer's midsole features tri-density EVA, which means the shoe is both soft and firm in the appropriate areas. The foam is dense and stable for cradling the foot on technical terrains. However, it lacks the type of propulsion you would get from the average road shoe. For some runners, this was a deal-breaker: they felt that the missing "pop" of the shoe makes for a dull ride. Trailers described the MTN Racer's upper as "roomy" if lacking breathability with its nylon mesh fabric. The Vibram Megagrip outsole of the shoe aggressively handles all rocks, sharp turns, and debris that one might encounter on a technical trail. While the MTN Racer is undoubtedly great for regular (and long-distance) trail running, there are some pitfalls of the design. Testers listed the lack of upper breathability as a unanimous downside of the shoe and also remarked that the toe box curls up slightly. This means that the shoe is more likely to catch on roots and other protruding terrains, especially when runners get tired. Also, runners felt that the shoe didn't always protect effectively the foot from sharp obstacles despite its high stack cushioning. Lastly, the overall "pop" of the shoe was simply too lacking, even though the MTN Racer is a trail shoe designed to grip and protect rather than propel. Overall, the Topo Athletic MTN Racer is a good and reasonably priced trail shoe that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. However, its dull ride and the lack of breathability of its upper prevent it from being outstanding.
Comfort
8
Grip
9.5
Protection
8.5
Durability
9.5
Value for money
9
Design
8.5
PROS:
  • Ample and secure foothold
  • Outstanding grip
  • Not that heavy despite its bulky look
  • Sturdy model
CONS:
  • Upper is not breathable enough
  • Dull cushioning, not really fun
  • The sole does not offer sufficient protection against rocks despite its thickness
Runner's Lab
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare