The best trail running shoes are designed to provide runners with much needed protection in order to conquer whatever obstacles nature may throw at them. In general, most trail shoes differ from road shoes by being equipped with beefier soles, lower profiles, and enhanced protection through the heel and toe box. Whether you prefer running hard dirt paths or rugged rocky terrain, consider choosing one of the following suggestions for the best shoes for trail running to help you make the most of your off road experience.
Saucony ProGrid Peregrine
The Saucony ProGrid Peregrine was released in February of 2011 and quickly rose to the top of trail running shoes by winning the 2011 Editor's Choice award from Runner's World Magazine as well as top marks from Shape, Women's Running Magazine, Outside and Canadian Running. This lightweight shoe is built low to the ground with only a 7 mm difference between the heel and forefoot height (most shoes have 10mm). The low ride really allows runners to feel the terrain but also provides excellent protection. The Peregrine also features multidirectional lugs for a sure foot plant on both wet and dry surfaces. In addition, the snug heel lock prevents slipping and irritation even on uneven or rocky trails. The Saucony ProGrid Peregrine is a perfect blend of lightweight and superior protection, making it an excellent trail shoe for a variety of runners and array of terrain.
Merrell Trail Glove (Men) and Merrell Pace Glove (Women)
The minimalist movement in running shoes continues to grow and create better barefoot experiences. Merrell continues to be at the forefront of innovative running technology with their Trail and Pace Gloves. These shoes weigh approximately 6 and 5 ounces, which is nearly half the weight of most trail running shoes, and even 4 ounces less than the award winning Saucony ProGrid Peregrine. Both the Trail Glove and the Pace Glove are created with a Vibram Trail Glove Sole and rubber compound to protect your feet from rocks and roots. The breathable microfiber and mesh upper portion of the shoe fuses to a rubber toe bumper for ultimate durability. In addition, the Merrell Omni-Fit lacing system provides a glove-like fit, and a non-removable microfiber footbed is treated with Aegis antimicrobial solution to resist odor. For runners who are new to the near barefoot experience, it may take some gradual training to allow your feet to get accustomed to this running style.
Asics Gel Trail Attack 7
Asics designed this low-profile platform with a newly designed upper to lock around your instep while you blaze through whatever paths nature provides you. The Gel Trail Attack 7 weighs in at about 11.7 ounces and retains excellent structural integrity through the weight-reducing Trussitic System. The reversed lugs in the outsole provide traction in any type of terrain for both uphill and downhill paths. Another feature of the Gel Trail Attack 7 is the 45 degree SpEVA lasting material that improves bounce-back characteristics and reduces midsole breakdown. Like most Asic Gel models, the Trail Attack 7 also comes equip with the Asics GEL Cushioning System to disperse shock during impact and smoothly transition into mid stance. With the Asics Gel Trail Attack 7, your feet will be ready to blaze through any terrain you may come across.
Montrail Rogue Racer
The Montrail Rogue Racer is another minimalist trail shoe that came out in March of 2011. This light trail shoe sits a mere 20 mm off the ground. The thin midsole is enhanced with a dense foam to shield the foot from pointy trail debris and obstacles. Runners experience agility and flexibility with the Rogue Racer, which makes this shoe ideal for fast paced training and races. Avid trail runners have reported to really enjoy this shoe, though the casual trail runner may feel it lacks some needed cushioning.
Brooks Cascadia 6
The Brooks Cascadia 6 has ranked as one of the best light-to-moderate trail running shoes by Runner's World, Outside Magazine, Running Times and more. This latest model from the Cascadia series was released in February of 2011 and combines luxurious comfort with rugged durability. The outsole of this shoe is slightly segmented under the heel and features a slight bend as it moves towards the forefoot to produce an ultra smooth transition from heel-strike to toe-off. The heel of this shoe is significantly softer than the forefoot, thus making this shoe a little firm for road running. The Brooks Cascadia 6 trail running shoe offers runners stellar traction, excellent protection, and ultimate comfort on even the roughest terrain.