There used to be a time–not that long ago, really–that the difference between good hiking shoes and good running shoes was large enough that a serious outdoors person wouldn’t even think about wearing running shoes out for a heavy-duty hike. That was solely the territory of hiking boots, as different from running shoes as track spikes are from marathon shoes.
But trail running shoe technology has advanced greatly, adding features like 3D-printed cages, impossibly lightweight cushioning, and robust support. The latest running shoes for hiking strike a balance between protecting your feet from rocks and debris, cushioning your run, and remaining lightweight and flexible.
It’s a delicate balance, but brands are delivering on their promises in new and innovative ways. Finding your best running shoes for hiking depends on your running habits and fit preferences, but rest assured, there’s a shoe for every runner and every terrain.
Here are our picks for the best running shoes for hiking:
Top 3 Products Section
Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4
1. Brooks Cascadia 14
The Brooks Cascadia 14 has all of the features runners have come to expect from Brooks, such as an internal saddle system to keep them snugly on your feet, and an Ariaprene tongue that both cushions and breathes. Brooks promises SUV-like stability, with features that protect your feet from rocks and roots on the trail.
The Cascadia’s durability is its most enduring feature. Brooks has taken great care to make sure these shoes stand up to the elements. The 3D Rubber Print Mud Guard protects the shoe from trail debris, while the Pivot Post system creates stability akin to your car’s suspension system.
With a neutral footbed that supports medium to high arches, the Cascadia is best for runners who prefer a cushion-like experience. The shoe weighs 12 oz, which is at the upper end of the weight scale for a running shoe designed for hiking.
- Solid trail protection features, such as its 3D Rubber Print Mud Guard.
- Increased softness underfoot.
- Runners report little to no break in period.
- Some runners report that the Cascadia runs small.
- At 12 oz, this shoe is one of the heavier shoes on this list.
2. Altra Lone Peak 4.0
Altra’s Lone Peak 4.0 is the natural evolution in their line of trail shoes. The Lone Peak 4.0 keeps features that runners liked in the previous model, such as the integrated tongue, but adds a new upper with static webbing for improved cinching.
Like its competitors, the Lone Peak 4.0 boasts breathability and flexibility—features important to all running shoes for hiking. However, a new skeletal structure moves with your foot naturally as you run uphill.
The Zero Drop feature adds to the Lone Peak’s stability as it keeps your heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground, ensuring a low-impact run. The 4-Point Gaitertrap keeps debris from building up on the bottom of your shoe as you run.
Altra’s Lone Peak 4.0 focuses on stability and support rather than ruggedness. With Trailclaw to provide traction at toe-off, Maxtrac to grip the ground, and Stoneguard’s flexible protection against rugged terrain, the Lone Peak 4.0 is one of the most stable trail running shoes on this list.
- Lightweight design–just 10.2 oz.
- The shoe is flexible, with added metatarsal, heel, and forefoot support.
- Limited color options.
- Some runners report issues with durability of construction
3. Salomon Speedcross 4
The latest version of Salomon’s Speedcross is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It features an aggressive grip to keep you running through rugged terrain, and lightweight protection, so you don’t feel every rock on the trail.
The Speedcross 4 is lightweight, at just 10.89 oz. Salomon notes that this shoe comes into its own in wet and dirty terrain, as its most redeeming features are for protection and grip, rather than stability. It’s designed to be a high-use shoe.
With a rounded toe box, many runners will find the Salomon Speedcross 4 more roomy and comfortable, but only in the toe. The shoe is narrower than its predecessor, which may prove challenging for some trail runners to find a perfect fit.
- The lightweight design and rounded toe box provide a comfortable run.
- The anti-debris mesh is easy to clean.
- Many color options.
- Narrower than the past version.
- Anti-debris mesh hampers breathability.
4. Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4
If you are looking for a brightly-colored trail running shoe from a company known for its cushioning, the Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 offers a variety of see-you-coming styles wrapped around a super-plush ride. It features a wider flare than the Stinson ATR 3, designed to improve fit for those with a neutral footbed.
Stinson ATR 4 has tightly-packed, 4mm lugs, designed to add stability on challenging terrain. The podular outsole design provides further stability.
The Stinson ATR 4 has a moderate weight of 11.85 oz, so it’s not as light as many trail running shoes. Its upper is an open mesh with a breathable design.
- The wide toe box allows your toes to spread out comfortably.
- The well-balanced design keeps the foot stable during your run.
- Hoka One One notes that this shoe will start to show deterioration around 300 miles.
- Reviewers note that the shoe is not as cushioned as previous models.
5. Altra Timp Trail 2.0
With moderate cushioning, the Altra Timp Trail 2.0 is the shoe of choice for runners who do not like a super-cushioned running shoe. The Timp Trail features a 29mm stack height and 4mm outsole lugs to increase comfort on long runs.
The Footshape toe box allows the big toe to stay straight, providing extra support for stability on rough terrain. It provides a natural-feeling run, moving with your foot so that every stride feels as close to barefoot running as possible.
As with other Altra running shoes, the Zero Drop platform keeps the heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground. Weighing in at 11.1 oz, the Altra Timp Trail’s moderate weight is reflective of its moderate cushioning.
- The 360-degree reflective upper supports safe running practices.
- Some runners report that moderate cushioning is a nice middle between Altra’s Lone Peak and Olympus.
- Some runners report deterioration starts as low as 120 miles.
- When the inside of the shoe is wet, the insole may move, causing friction and blistering.
6. Saucony Peregrine 8
If speed is your goal, the Saucony Peregrine 8 won Gear Patrol’s 2018 “Best for Speed” award. It has a top sole designed to maximize energy return and provide a lasting, cushioned run. Its lightweight design weighs in at just 10 oz.
With 6.0mm outsole lugs and a PWRFOAM midsole, the Peregrine 8’s design is for a smooth run with added rebound. It is designed for traction, and Saucony markets the shoe for hiking as well as running.
The 4mm heel-to-toe offset helps your feet do more work without relying on Peregrine 8’s cushioning and stability features (though it has plenty of those, too). EVERUN cushioning is responsive for smooth landings and strong takeoffs.
- Very lightweight.
- Rubber sole and aggressive lugs provide traction and abrasion resistance.
- Some runners report a long break-in period of 80 miles or more.
- Not water resistant.
7. Salomon Ride
If you are looking for an extremely lightweight shoe, the Salomon Ride weighs in at 9.7 oz. The Ride’s design is mostly for dry terrain, and it has enough durability and performance for training and racing. As one of Salomon’s most cushioned running shoes, its design is for runners who enjoy a more plush ride.
The EndoFit system gives runners a custom fit that hugs the foot in a stable position. The cushioning compound, called Opal, pairs with EnergyCell+ to form a high-rebound system, minimizing vibrations for a responsive run.
Even though Salomon Ride’s design is for dry terrain, it still features the Contragrip outsole for excellent traction. Runners report that the EndoFit system keeps the shoe from coming off even in muddy conditions.
- QuickLace system means less time spent lacing your shoes for every run.
- Opal cushioning compound is lightweight but highly cushioning.
- Lightest shoe on our list.
- Some runners report deterioration after three months of use.
- The shoe may not accommodate wide feet.
8. Hoka One One Speedgoat 2
The Speedgoat 2 is designed to handle any surface, including extremely rough terrain. Named after legendary ultra-marathoner Karl Meltzer (whose nickname is Speedgoat), the shoe saw many upgrades over the original model, all to the betterment of the rugged qualities of the shoe.
With an overall weight of 9.8 oz, the Speedgoat 2 is lightweight for all of its durability. It features an oversize EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning, and a wide platform for a stable base on rugged terrain. Its 5mm lugs provide great grip on technical trails.
The Speedgoat’s upper features mesh construction for maximum breathability.
- Speedgoat’s traction features receive very high ratings.
- Lightweight design balances against the rugged features.
- Some runners report that the shoe runs narrow.
- Runners who do not wear socks report debris entering the shoe on especially rocky terrain.
9. Nike Zoom Wildhorse 4
At a retail price of $110, the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 4 is an affordable and popular trail running shoe designed to protect your feet from rugged terrain while providing comfortable support. The shoe features a protective plate that keeps your feet stable even on the rockiest surfaces.
Nike uses Flywire cables to wrap the arch and provide both comfort and stability. This creates a strong upper that still manages to have the breathability runners expect in a good shoe. Plush foam cushions the ankle for extra support.
The Zoom Wildhorse 4 uses Nike’s Zoom Air unit for added cushioning without adding a lot of weight.
- Runner reviews report that the shoe is snug without being too tight.
- Most reviews state that Zoom Wildhorse 4 is very comfortable.
- Runners report durability issues when using the shoe for daily or aggressive runs.
- Some runners find that the shoe runs small.
10. Columbia Montrail Rogue FKT II
A 3D-printed cage that eliminates the need for seams and glue tops the list of features for Columbia’s Montrail Rogue FKT II. If you are hip to ultra-trail lingo, you know that FKT stands for “fastest known time,” which gives you a hint as to what ambitions Columbia has built into this shoe. Built with high-end endurance and performance in mind, the shoe weighs in at 11 oz.
Montrail Rogue FKT II features 6.5mm lugs for traction and stability on rough terrain. Columbia’s FluidFoam midsole gives it high cushioning that remains flexible yet supportive. The sole has perforations to further enhance flexibility and transition during your gait cycle.
- The 3D printed cage provides durability and limits toe separation issues.
- The shoe is very flexible.
- Reviews state the Montrail Rogue FKT II runs small.
- The shoe has a high 10mm drop.
Finding the best running shoe for hiking is about defining your goals and finding the shoe that best meets them. If you’re looking for the best of all worlds, the Altra Timp Trail is a good place to start since it’s not over-cushioned, not too light or too heavy, and has good reviews from avid runners.
If you’re looking for a shoe that can tackle the most rugged terrain, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 has some of the most rugged features on the market. Of course, if speed is your goal, the Saucony Peregrine 8 boasts awards for speed thanks to its lightweight, responsive construction.
No matter what your goals, there’s a shoe on this list that can help you reach them.