Training through the winter months is critical to having a successful spring running season. Whether you are getting ready for a spring marathon, or are just trying to shed a few pounds of turkey and egg nog, it is important to keep up your running habit even when there is snow on the ground.
This is equally as true for trail runners as it is for road runners. While road runners can count on sidewalks being shoveled and running paths being plowed, trail runners have to face some deeper truths about winter. Snow and ice can linger on trails, especially in deep woods and on mountain trails. Plus, it’s just plain cold. With these factors, shoe choice can make or break your winter runs.
The best winter trail running shoes feature increased traction and grip to excel on fresh snow, frozen ground, and ice. That sets them apart from standard trail shoes. The models that have made our list feature durability and waterproof design for high performance in extreme weather conditions. Climate-smart design features such as Gore-Tex, and specially-woven waterproof uppers and midsoles.
Ranging from classic styles including several models by Salomon to New Balance, we’ve done the work and compiled a list of the best winter trail running shoes for 2019 so you don’t have to.
Each shoe on our list maintains maximum comfort and fit while excelling in rugged winter weather conditions.
Read on to discover the best winter trail running shoes available now!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX
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La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
Altra Lone Peak 4 Low RSM
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1. Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX
First on our list is the top-rated Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX. We love Salomon’s 5th Edition to the Speedcross line for its extreme water resistance, comfort, and traction. Even better, the latest model features a forgiving toebox that still manages to lock your feet in the shoe.
The Speedcross 5 GTX has a rugged, big-lugged sole for maximum traction in snow and mud. The Speedcross 5 features a newly designed tread pattern that should resist mud and dirt clumping on the sole much better than prior versions. The brand’s signature Contagrip technology, the Salomon Speedcross 5 is perfectly suited to ice or fresh snow.
The GTX in this shoe means it’s made with Gore-Tex to keep your feet dry while staying breathable. The upper is extremely waterproof with no stitches for comfort, weight reduction, and no seams that allow water in.
Aside from its next-level traction, this shoe offers improved fit over previous versions and lots of color options.
We love the Quicklace technology, which allows for adjustment with just a click of the laces. The lace-specific pocket ensures that you won’t be caught with your shoe untied during a run or marathon.
- Waterproof Gore-Tex design
- High traction
- A wide variety of color options available
- Suitable for extreme weather conditions
- Great for trails
- Wear may feel stiff on long runs
2. Salomon Spikecross 5 GTX
When you need even more traction than the Speedcross 5, we love the Spikecross for its versatility and performance on the iciest of terrains.
Suited equally to crusty snow or ice, the unisex Spikecross offers a consistently comfortable and waterproof experience.
At first sight, you’ll notice plush padding throughout the upper and midsole. Just like the Speedcross, the Spikecross offers extreme durability in rugged conditions in tandem with a highly cushioned design to ensure maximum comfort.
But the Spikecross differs in one key way. It has amazing grip thanks to 15 carbide spikes that dig into ice, snow, mud, and dirt. Even in mixed conditions, the spikes provide tons of traction.
Otherwise, the Spikecross is very similar to the Speedcross 5 GTX. Both have a GORE-TEX upper for excellent waterproofing and breathability.
And on rocky and uneven terrain, the Speedspike is well-balanced due to its big lugs, just like the Speedcross 5. Salomon’s classic Contagrip pattern offers increased traction with strategically placed lugs and spikes.
The EVA-constructed midsole ensures firm and responsive cushioning along with a snug fit.
- Superior grip
- Runs true to size
- Extremely durable design
- Responsive and firm cushioning
- Quick lace system
- Somewhat on the heavy side
- Unisex sizing can run wide for women
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3. La Sportiva Blizzard GTX
If you’re likely to find yourself in deep snow or encounter ice on your winter trail runs, we recommend the La Sportiva Blizzard GTX.
It features a boot-like design, which includes a toe cap and a built-in gaiter to provide maximum coverage and protection from the snow and hazards.
The gaiter is water-repellent and stretchy, conforming to the foot for the best comfort and shielding. Pull tabs on the heel and tongue make it easier to slip your foot into the tight opening.
Inside, it features a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort Membrane with slip-resistant nylon mesh for a comfortable in-shoe feeling. These allow air and ventilation in but still manage to wick sweat away.
A quicklace system offers convenience and a great lockdown, and is housed in the lace garage for protection and durability. The firm heel counter assists with the lockdown and allows for a firm footing on uneven ground.
The midsole features injection-molded EVA, which is firm enough for a good response but soft enough to absorb shock and increase comfort by providing dense protection against rocks and other hazards. It doesn’t stiffen up in the cold.
The Whiteout outsole uses a compound called FriXion AT 2.0. It features well-placed, 7 mm deep lugs, which provide exceptional traction on a number of surfaces.
The shoe is unisex, so some may have a hard time finding the right size. It also runs slightly narrow.
- Integrated stretch gaiter
- Protective toe cap
- Injection-molded EVA midsole
- Metal spikes on the bottom of the shoe
- Unisex sizing can run wide for women and narrow for men
4. Saucony Peregrine ICE+
Next in our lineup is the Saucony Peregrine ICE+. Like previous incarnations of the Peregrine, the Peregrine ICE+ does not disappoint in its ability to tackle the most extreme winter weather conditions.
Ready to face the most unyielding terrain, the ICE excels in snow and handles ice as a welcome challenge. It comes equipped with patented Vibram ARTIC GRIP that provides traction in snow and ice without the need for carbide spikes. This makes them a better choice if you’ll be mixing pavement into your runs.
Keeping in line with the Peregrine’s previous generations, the latest model is consistent in its impressive traction and long-distance running performance.
The Peregrine ICE+ features a newly constructed upper layer, giving this model a new range of flexibility not seen in previous versions. Overall, we like the Peregrine for its sleeker and more minimalist design.
- Extreme grip and traction
- Very comfortable
- Cushioned and flexible
- Increased flexibility over previous versions
- No color options
- May run narrow for some wearers
5. Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX
Brooks makes the list of our best winter trail running shoes with the Cascadia 16 GTX.
Like previous versions, the latest model is built tough, and perfectly suited for muddy and wet conditions. This version includes trail-specific features that make it a great contender for runners facing varied terrains.
We’re impressed by the 3D-printed rubber mudguard on the Cascadia 16’s outsole. A new GORE-TEX membrane makes this shoe lighter than older versions.
Previous models of the shoe were praised for trail-tackling ability, but received lower scores in overall comfort and cushioning. Brook’s latest model offers superior comfort over the earlier releases, and rivals the cushioning of top-rated brands for comfort.
A favorite feature of the Cascadia 16 is the line’s consistent, well-crafted midsole.
Fans of Brooks have come to expect a firm and steady ride on any terrain, and the midsole here works in tandem with the Cascadia 16’s chunky heel to offer the same responsive experience on the rockiest of trails.
- Improved GORE-TEX membrane
- More flexible
- Increased ankle and arch support
- Made for wide feet and high arches
- Features 3D-printed rubber mudguard
- Some customers report eyelet material ripping and not holding laces correctly
6. Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Low
Keeping in line with the versatile, all-terrain designs the brand is known for is the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Low.
Altra’s latest version features several upgrades while maintaining the rugged, weather-resistant features Altra fans love.
We immediately noticed the Lone Peak’s new and improved midsole that provides more durability and increased bounce through its Alter Ego foam.
Sleeker in design than its earlier counterparts, the eVent bootie provides these shoes with weather-prevention qualities. What’s nice is that it’s more breathable than older models. But it’s also not as waterproof as older models.
Like all Atra trail running shoes, the Lone Peak features Altra’s unique foot box design and zero-drop platform. The wide toe box allows for toes to spread naturally, reducing the risk of injury and irritation.
Overall, the Lone Peak offers the features Altra fans have come to expect with increased durability and a newly improved waterproof construction
- Newly constructed, water-resistant bootie
- Multi-directional lugs
- Trail claw metatarsal traction
- Better flex overall
- Not as waterproof as older models
7. La Sportiva Wildcat 2.0 GTX
Praised for its high traction and waterproof design, the Wildcat 2.0 GTX is the latest addition to La Sportiva’s technical trail running shoe collection.
With your feet shielded by enhanced Gore-Tex protection against extreme weather conditions, you’ll be undaunted by the most frigid and unyielding winter elements.
A favorite feature of the latest version is the Wildcat 2.0 GTX’s neutral and stable ride. You’ll find it’s cushioned with tons of traction for winter conditions.
While offering protection and insulation from the elements by way of the newly designed impermeable construction, the GTX offers a more comfortable and breathable fit overall.
We love the nimble and agile construction of the Wildcat 2.0 GTX’s relatively lightweight design.
Ultimately, the Wildcat 2.0 GTX offers a stable design ideal for long-distance performance while maintaining the rugged trail-tackling design the brand is known for.
- Extremely waterproof
- Highly resistant to harsh winter elements
- Aggressive lugs add stability for a more responsive experience
- Excellent traction
- Some runners found the outsole wasn’t durable
8. Icebug Rover BUGrip GTX
A favorite for winter runners, the Rover by Icebug makes it on to our list of best winter trail running shoes as a top shoe for distance running.
The Rover offers unmatched traction with its built-in spikes and awesome grippy outsole. Plus the Gore-tex upper will help keep your feet dry regardless of the weather.
First, the Rover is perfectly suited for a wider foot. With a wider toe box than previous Icebug designs (including the Spirit5 and Aurora), the Rover may be immediately more comfortable for many runners.
While the fit can accommodate a wider foot, it is not too wide to maintain a snug fit and agile design overall.
Where the Rover shines most is in its flexible yet stable design. This is thanks to its improved midsole construction. You’ll find that the unique midsole construction reinforces the snug and responsive fit. BOA laces allow for a custom-fit that can be quickly fine-tuned
The Rover also features an upgrade in the outsole design, now featuring more prominent lugs, 16 of them with permanent carbide tips for increased traction on ice.
- Improved midsole
- Wider fit
- Top rated traction
- BOA laces
- Added carbide spikes to the outsole
9. Inov-8 Roclite G 315 GTX
These shoes are light and look like regular trail running shoes, but they perform extremely well in adverse winter conditions.
Unseen Gore-Tex prevents water and wind from getting in, so you can run safely through rain and snow without worrying about your feet.
The front part of the upper consists of X-Protec fabric, which is based on Kevlar technology and provides ample protection against hazards. It’s also resistant to heat (in case you want to use these in summer), and extremely strong while remaining lightweight.
Flat laces connected to a midfoot cradle allow for an excellent lockdown, keeping the foot firmly in place. An external heel cage complements the cradle, preventing lateral movement of the foot within the shoe. It also comes with built-in gaiter hooks if you want to attach one for extra protection.
The PowerFlow midsole offers up to 10 percent better shock absorption and 15 percent better energy return, when compared to other midsoles in its class.
There’s also a built-in plate—the Meta-Shank—which serves the dual purpose of being a rock plate and preventing torsion in the shoe.
A Tri-C Compound outsole features aggressive 6 mm lugs and sticky rubber for the best traction in any winter weather. They’re widely spaced so debris doesn’t get stuck in them, and are also multidirectional for better grip and easier movement.
Some may feel that the forefoot is slightly narrow, so this shoe may not be the best choice for those who need a spacious toe box.
- Hardwearing upper
- Protective Meta-Shank plate
- Dynamic midsole cushioning
- Rubber outsole with multidirectional lugs
- Some may feel that the forefoot is a little narrow
10. New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 GTX
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 GTX rounds out our list of the best winter trail running shoes with its comfortable fit and versatile design.
This Gore-Tex New Balance shoe offers durable construction rendering it capable to tackle almost any terrain. The waterproof and durable upper keeps your feet dry and warm. A Vibram outersole provides excellent traction on snow, ice, dirt, and rocks.
True to the brand, the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro GTX is available in width options to perfectly suit your feet, while still offering a snug and agile fit.
Overall, the Fresh Foam Hierro GTX is a versatile winter trail running shoe that stands up to extreme weather conditions and offers several width options for maximum comfort and fit.
- Extremely comfortable
- Available in width options
- Also performs well as a hiking shoe
- Runs on the heavy side
Winter Trail Shoe Buying Guide
If you want to keep running on the trail even when the weather turns cold, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper gear to avoid injuries. Normal trail shoes will have enough traction to keep you safe in sloppy conditions in the summer, but you’ll need an extra-special shoe for the winter.
Unlike summer shoes, breathability is not as great of a concern as a waterproof membrane. You want to keep your feet warm and dry, especially in the cold conditions where you may be running through ice and snow.
Big lugs on the outersole
Lugs are used on trail shoes to help grip the trail and avoid slipping. Obviously, this is particularly necessary in the winter. Thus, just a tread pattern that is used for gripping and traction that you might find on a summer trail shoe is not going to be enough. You’ll want big lugs on the bottom of the outersole of your winter trail shoes.
Shoes should be compatible with a trail gaiter
Trail gaiters are important for any kind of trail condition from keeping out mud to dodging sticks and stones. However, they are particularly significant in the winter to keep out ice and snow and keep your feet warm in cold conditions. Thus, it’s important that you select a winter trail shoe that will be compatible with a trail gaiter.
Consider shoes with built-in spikes if running in icy areas
When you’re running in icy areas, it’s important to have extra traction. You can either purchase shoes with built-in spikes like carbide-spiked trail shoes or add hobnails or microspikes to your own shoes. Hal Koerner favors microspikes because they can be easily added and removed depending on the conditions.
Should I wear micro or nanospikes in the snow?
Yes, you probably should. Micro or nanospikes are like snow tires for your shoes and will give you an advantage—and may even be a necessity—on your snow-covered runs. They are more beneficial with ice, but there is a good chance that you’ll probably encounter ice on your winter runs.
Can I make my own winter trail running shoes?
Yes, you can! You can buy a kit with screw-in spikes or you can use short screws from a hardware store. This could be especially usual if you have an older pair of shoes and don’t want to spend a lot of money on new trail shoes built specifically for winter.