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What Are Trail Running Shoes: The Top Characteristics

What Are Trail Running Shoes: The Top Characteristics

In order to be a successful runner, there is one factor that is extremely important to your success on the trails or on the road, and that is shoe choice. This is especially true if you are attempting to trail run for the very first time. However, very few beginners know what are trail running shoes. Are they any different from regular running shoes? If yes, why so?

In this article, we intend to give you detailed information about trail running shoes and why they are so important. After all, the reason why trail running shoes are highly recommended for trail running is that wearing just a regular shoe that is made poorly, has a bad fit, or is not right for the terrain you run on is a recipe for disaster. Let’s find out exactly why.

Trail Running: What Is It?

Trail running can be called a kind of running that is done on trails. To be more specific, these include uphill terrains, rugged paths, and hills. In itself, trail running means to head off a beaten track or onto the hills. Very often, trails aren’t made or even marked.

Since these trails aren’t marked or made, you will often find these paths to be very steep and rugged. In addition, you will find several obstacles, such as blocks that you will need to climb on, broken paths, random inclines and declines, and even different weather conditions.

Off late, trail running has gained quite a lot of popularity and has even become a competition. For this reason, there needs to be more awareness when it comes to the right kind of shoe to be used for this kind of run.

Why Can’t You Use Regular Shoes?

Your regular road running shoes will barely suffice for a groomed trail or fire roads. However, if you end up on a path that has more rugged terrain or if you land upon a trek, you will need a very specific shoe for running and walking.

Trail running shoes are extremely light on the feet, allowing the wearer to move very quickly. In addition, having the right kind of shoe will ensure that you do not sustain any possible injury due to the roads as these shoes are designed to tackle all hard impacts.

What Are Trail Running Shoes?

Trail running shoes are shoes that are specially designed to have an aggressively knobby sole, which is far more rigid than regular running shoes. The midsole will often contain a flexible and lightweight nylon plastic layer, which protects the feet from any kind of puncture wounds from sharp rocks or other sharp objects.

Aside from that, trail running shoes are far lower to the ground too, which will provide the runner with the best stability even in uneven terrains. In recent times, trail running shoes with very thick soles have gained popularity, especially for ultra-marathons, which is an activity that requires running for more than 100 miles.

Some Top Characteristics of Trail Running Shoes

The built of a trail running shoe is far more extensive than a regular running shoe, which is why we divided the characteristics of the shoe into four top and different parts. These include:

  • Soles

A trail running shoe’s sole is typically designed to offer the runner with higher grip levels. This is done to offer far better stability that will normally get wasted on flat lands like pavement. Hence, all trail running shoes are very well protected.

Trail running shoes have a very thick sole so as to protect the feet from rocks and other types of obstacles that are common on a trail run. In addition to this, these shoes also incorporate several other features that are typically found in mountain boots, such as rubber bands to protect the runner from any injury.

These soles also have a semi-deep tread, which makes running on off-road terrain and muddy surfaces easier as well.

  • Cushioning

To judge whether you have a good pair of trail running shoes, it is essential that you check the midsole. A good midsole will offer you adequate protection from impact and shock that is associated with walking along a hard trail.

When looking for a pair of trail running shoes, ensure that it has a padded collar as well as a tongue. This will offer you with added support and also avoid rubbing. These shoes are also much firmer, which is meant for a better grip. These are especially important when you intend on running for a longer period of time.

While these may appear to be small details in the shoe, they end up making a massive difference when you run. So, it would do you good to keep an eye out for these details.

  • Weights

Trail running shoes are meant to be very light in weight and also very easy to hold while offering you with more than adequate protection from obstacles at the same time. So, check out the weight of the shoes when you buy one.

While having a light trail running shoe is great, what’s even more important is to have a comfortable style along with a chunky cushioning, great grip, and low profile. Having these may add a few extra grams to the shoe, but it will be completely worth it.

  • Weather Protection

It goes without saying that trail running will definitely consist of muddy paths and water puddles. For this reason, most trail running shoes have laminates such as a GORE-Tex membrane or a durable water repellent in order to keep water or mud from entering the shoe.

The materials used on the shoe may vary as each shoe is made to offer the runner with different features. However, almost every shoe is designed with synthetics as opposed to natural fabrics as they offer very high levels of breathability.

If you are mostly going to run in very cold conditions, then look out for trail running shoes with metal-based grips, such as tungsten, which is the most common.


We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of what are trail running shoes. If you are a beginner, this is especially important as you wouldn’t want to injure yourself wearing an incorrect shoe.

Regular running shoes cannot be a replacement for trail running shoe. These shoes are specifically designed to withstand and protect you from the elements and other obstacles, which regular running shoes cannot do so effectively.

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