However, we did find some universal factors that could be compared and rated. In our opinion, the most important criteria for evaluating a trail running shoe is how well it protects your foot. The most comfortable pairs use a seamless construction that make them easy to wear sockless although we don't commonly do so, except for comparison testing.
Nike Dri-Fit Fly Short 2. Mobility is one of the most important factors that come into play when running. If you constantly have to move around your shorts while running, they will definitely make your run less than stellar.
Breathability is another key factor because excessive heat on your legs can cause heat fatigue. Pockets are not always found on running shorts since runners rarely carry items along with them.
However, if you do want to run with your keys or cell phone, some running shorts offer high quality pockets that keep your items in place without affecting your running movements. Lightweight running shorts are great because they allow you to run without much additional weight. Try to find the lightest running shorts you can without compromising on quality. Then choose a shoe with minimal cushioning rather than none at all. The former are called minimal shoes and are available for all sorts of training, not just running and the latter are oxymoronically referred to as barefoot shoes.
The shoe should literally fit like a glove, with no baggy or tight bits. For a barefoot shoe consider whether you need a thick sole to protect from potential hazards such as broken glass. A low drop is what encourages the midfoot strike that barefoot running is built on. However, all the major brands have a range of minimal shoes, mostly focusing on trail running.
Runners routinely spend three figures on trainers then pair them with budget socks, which is absolute madness. You know the size of your foot, right? All running socks use fabrics that wick sweat away to keep your foot as dry as possible, helping to prevent blisters. Some models also have more dedicated anti-blister properties like double-layered fabric, which are designed so the layers rub against one another rather than the foot itself. If you opt for long socks, reflective details are always handy.
If you like to make a fashion statement with your running gear, Stance has quickly become the go-to brand for many people thanks to its impressive range of designs and collaborations with pop-culture figures and franchises. Some runners swear that wearing compression gear improves their performance, while other use the socks to speed up their recovery after an especially tough session. Does Compression Gear Work? Along with compression, many socks offer additional benefits like anti-blister fabrics and reflective features to make you more visible when running at night.
The Best Running Compression Socks. Headphones with over-the-ear hooks offer maximum stability, while in-ear buds often have wingtips you can attach to affix them more securely inside your lugs.
As well as fit, look out for the water resistance rating — some will only be suitable for the amount of sweat produced by light running and showers, while others can handle your sweatiest sessions and full-on thunderstorms. Sound quality is important, of course, as is battery life if opting for a wireless set. The Best Running Headphones. Pretty much all running gear now comes with reflective details, but check that this extends beyond a small logo.
Ideally you want large reflective patterns or seams that are impossible to miss. Since night running is usually chillier than heading out in the daytime, make sure your reflective gear is also going to keep you warm without being so toasty as to make you sweat excessively.
The Best Reflective Running Gear. This is the important bit when it comes to nipple abuse prevention. Fits vary from superhero tight to school PE-kit baggy. The looser and heavier the material, the more likely chafing is to happen. Go for whatever you feel most comfortable in, but remember you may need a tighter fit, or Vaseline, for longer runs.
If running gives you an aching back consider going for a tight T-shirt with compression built in. Otherwise, the main thing to consider is how the material will keep you cool and dry.
Moisture-wicking and breathability are pretty much standard and should be first on your tick list. An old cotton T-shirt might be fine for a few laps round the park, but the latest technical training tops make any distance over a 5k far more comfortable. Also, never underestimate how much looking like a runner makes you feel like one and pick whatever you feel and look best in.
The Best Running T-Shirts. You might think nothing of chucking on any old pair, but shorts made for running are a must. Ergonomic design reduces chafing to a minimum, tech-laden materials regulate temperature particularly important down there and smart pockets keep essentials out the way.
Short shorts are the choice of the elites because they provide the best airflow and ease of movement. The downside of soft rubber is that it wears out or in some cases rips off much easier, often shortening the life of the shoe if you wear them too much on pavement of hard surfaces. In contrast, firmer rubber tends to be more durable and last a lot longer, but doesn't bite into rock nearly as well.
Firm rubber is preferable for shoes that will mostly be used on firm surfaces, like hardpacked dirt trails. After all of these tests, and the invention of a new type of rubber altogether, there is clearly one shoe that we want to recognize above all others, the Inov-8 TerraUltra G , which won our Top Pick for the Best Traction.
However, we awarded it this based on it having the most durable traction, greatly increasing the longevity of the shoe, as well as its value. We also found that its graphene-enhanced outsole was equally grippy on hard surfaces as well as on slippery or wet rock, a rarity for stiffer, more durable rubbers. This shoe represents a breakthrough in technology, but was not the absolute grippiest shoe that we tested on all surfaces.
That recognition goes to the Inov-8 Roclite , which won our comparative testing across all the different surfaces one might encounter while trail running. Its widely spaced, deep cleats are made of supremely sticky rubber, and handled every traction test with impressive ease, including wet rock! The insanely aggressive outsole of the Salomon Speedcross 4 also has large, well-spaced lugs, but it doesn't manage to grip wet rock quite as well as the Roclite Likewise, the gnarly spiked outsole of the Saucony Peregrine 8 , totally revamped in design from the past two versions of the shoe, may look like some medieval torture device but works exceptionally well at gripping all surfaces.
Any time that you wear something on your foot, you are modifying your body's natural ability to stand and move from a stable platform. Landing on the ground and pushing off for each stride from a stable platform is a fundamental aspect of running, and one that is greatly affected by the type of surface you are running over.
When testing for stability, we looked for how easy it was to maintain our normal running mechanics over variable terrain while wearing that shoe. We found that some shoes would bend and morph to the running surface, forcing us to adjust our landing and push-off.
While running in some others, we felt that the shape of the shoe required us to change our stride to ensure a stable platform. Generally speaking, the lower to the ground our foot is represented by the "stack height" which can be found in our specs table , the more stable it felt, giving us the confidence to push our speed without rolling an ankle.
Another way to ensure a stable platform is to make the shoe wider and flatter, especially in the forefoot, as many of the most stable shoes did, so that our feet can splay out naturally as they go through the incredibly complex motion of landing and then pushing off again.
In general, narrow shoes with high stack heights or large heel-toe drop the difference in height between the heel and toe, measured in millimeters, can also be found in the specs table feel the least stable underfoot and are the most prone to rolling an ankle or landing awkwardly.
While many people appreciate the extra cushioning in the heel that comes with a high heel-toe drop, in our experience, especially when running downhill and across a hill, stability is indeed compromised by this trait. Most of our testing for stability was done while out on trail or adventure runs, but we also compared shoes in a more controlled setting by running in each of them one after the other both across a steep hillside and straight down a similarly steep slope.
Two shoes in particular feel significantly more stable than their competition, giving us increased confidence to push our speed on all types of terrain. The combination of a completely flat footbed without any heel rise and a super wide platform that allows one's feet to splay out fully when landing ensures that stability is never compromised with this shoe.
Despite having a 4mm heel-toe drop, the Nike Terra Kiger 4 feels equally as stable when running on varied terrain. This is due once again to the wide toe box and forefoot area of the shoe and the very low to the ground ride. Comfort is probably the single most important criteria when it comes to selecting a running shoe, or any footwear at all for that matter, and is what we recommend you value above all other factors when selecting a pair of shoes for you.
However, it is also the criteria most difficult to rate - because it is so subjective. Everyone's foot is different, so what feels amazing to one person could be un-wearable by another. Some products are wide in the toe box while narrow in the heel, and some are just really narrow or wide throughout.
Some fit perfectly "to size," while others run slightly long or short. We have done our best to describe how each model fits in the individual reviews. We didn't want to penalize a shoe that felt uncomfortable to our head tester too much when many other people will naturally end up loving it. However, we did find some universal factors that could be compared and rated.
Craftsmanship seemed to play a large part in how comfortable a given model is. The most comfortable pairs use a seamless construction that make them easy to wear sockless although we don't commonly do so, except for comparison testing. Poorly sewn seams or out of place material overlaps inside a shoe tend to rub and wear against the foot over long distances, significantly decreasing their overall comfort.
Likewise, shoes that don't do a good job of naturally holding the foot in place meant that we needed to crank down the laces to provide a secure fit, often leading to discomfort along the top of our feet or front of the ankle joint over long distances. Some shoes don't breathe very well and left our feet excessively hot and sweaty, while others are a bit too short for the size, meaning our toes would hit the front of the shoe, especially while running downhill.
Most of our findings for the Comfort metric were based on our anecdotal evidence from long runs on a variety of terrain. We also conducted the water drainage test described in detail below to get a better grip on which shoes absorb the least amount of water or sweat; our test also measured which contenders are the most efficient at drying out afterward, which we defined as another essential component of comfort.
At the end of our testing period, it was clear that three shoes were more comfortable to us than the rest. We experienced no rubbing, pinching, or blisters when running long distances in these shoes, and honestly, we rarely noticed them at all, perhaps the best compliment that can be made about a shoe after a long run. At the top of this list was our best overall trail running shoe, the Nike Terra Kiger 4 , which we felt we could run in every day for the rest of our lives and be happy.
The similar but more protective Nike Wildhorse 4 relied on many of the same design concepts to deliver unrivaled comfort. Lastly, the New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Trail v2 is very well cushioned, both underfoot as well as surrounding the feet and ankle bones , leading to a supremely comfortable running experience.
Most of the other pairs of shoes tested are also very comfortable, and to some degree, it is impossible to eliminate user bias when grading for this metric. With that in mind, we still strongly recommend you try shoes on before committing to a purchase. If you decide to order online, do so from a company that will allow you to return them if they don't fit as well as you had hoped.
The idea behind this test is to attempt to scientifically prove what products absorbed the least amount of water and then shed it quickest, making them well suited for runs or races where your feet are guaranteed to get wet. Running in the mountains of Colorado on a daily basis, it seems our feet are always wet. We either have to ford streams and creeks or end up tromping through muddy swamps, and no matter how careful we can be, our feet get wet.
If we don't have these problems, it still seems like they get wet from morning dew on the bushes and grass, or from afternoon rainstorms, or simply by sweating because it's so hot. Whether you run in the mountains in summer like we do, or run trails on the East Coast or Pacific Northwest, we suspect that water management is a critical factor in the performance of a trail running shoe for nearly everyone.
To conduct this test, we weighed each pair when dry. We then dunked each model in a bucket of water for 20 seconds to give them a chance to absorb water, then held them upside down to drain for another 20 seconds. Finally, we quickly weighed them again to see how much water weight they had absorbed into their material. We then put them on without socks and jogged around the block for exactly five minutes, took them off, and weighed them a third time to see how much water weight they had shed while running.
For each model, we calculated as a percentage of their dry weight how much water they absorbed while being dunked for 20 seconds and how much water they still retained after a five-minute run compared to when they were dry.
If you gave all the shoes the benefit of the doubt and allowed them five minutes of running to shed any water that was absorbed while dunking, these three still had the least increase in water weight, but were also joined by the Topo Athletic Runventure 2, which managed to shed the water pretty efficiently. Check out the chart below to see how each pair of shoes performed in the water bucket test:.
Weight proved to be a fairly easy criterion to judge. Fresh out of the box we weighed each trail running shoe individually and together as a pair, and completely ignored what the manufacturer claimed the weight was.
For reference, every product that we received was a U. These weight scores should be representative, although not exact in their measurement, no matter what size feet you have. We then paid attention to how heavy the shoe felt while running in them daily. A few were startlingly light, and the math was easily backed up while out wearing them.
In general this year, we found that trail running shoes were more tightly grouped at the lower end of the weight scale, while not being willing to cut out necessary features like protection to attain a low weight. However, at a mere 16 ounces per pair, the Hoka Evo Jawz blew every other shoe out of the water, weighing three ounces less than the next closest competitor.
This shoe is reminiscent of a racing flat but designed with mountain running in mind. The second lightest shoe is the Scarpa Spin, which thrives on short and fast mountain runs. Numerous other shoes weighed in right around 20 ounces, but perhaps the most remarkable of these is the New Balance Gobi Trail v2 because it includes a very nicely padded upper in combination with a lot of underfoot foam, giving more protection than its weight would suggest.
When grading for sensitivity, we tried to notice how well we could feel the trail while wearing any given shoe.
Like we mentioned before, sensitivity often comes at the expense of foot protection, and vice versa. We tried our best not to be judgmental about whether feeling the trail is a good or bad thing, or what amount of sensitivity we preferred but rather graded the most sensitive the highest. While it is easy to decide which ones were the most and least sensitive, it is a preference thing regarding how sensitive you want your trail running shoe to be.
Some people like to be intimately connected to the ground they are moving over, while others would prefer to have much more protection for their foot, which often comes at the expense of sensitivity. We tested the sensitivity of shoes pretty much the same way that we tested for underfoot protection — by choosing an especially rocky and jagged patch of trail and running back and forth over it countless times in each shoe, comparing how they felt.
The shoes that are the thinnest underfoot were most often also the most sensitive, a fact which shouldn't really be that surprising. Three shoes proved that they are designed to emphasize sensitivity and trail feel above underfoot protection. However, we find that adding this protection reduces the volume of the shoe enough that it is no longer comfortable for us to run in, and after asking everyone we have seen with these shoes whether they use it, they all concur that they prefer to run without it in place.
We graded the model based on not having the rock shield, thus enhancing its natural sensitivity. The two lightest shoes — the Scarpa Spin and Hoka Evo Jawz — are also some of the lightest on underfoot protection, a reliable indicator of sensitivity, and should be among the first shoes considered for someone who values trail feel more than protection.
There are so many trail running shoes available on the market today that choosing the best pair can present a real challenge. Even after testing the very best shoes available for literally hundreds of hours, we still have a hard time choosing the one that we like best, and indeed prefer to have a quiver to choose from based upon the run planned for each day.
We hope that the information that we have presented here has helped make your choice easier, and encourage you to delve deeper into the individual metrics and reviews to better understand which shoe will be optimal for your needs.
Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated October The selection of trail running shoes available to the avid off-road runner is constantly being updated year round.
For that reason, we too are updating our trail running shoe review constantly to keep up to date with all of the newest innovations and fresh releases. Ten of the shoes reviewed here are brand new to our review this year, while the other seven are the newest versions of our top performers and award winners from previous years that have only been minimally updated from a season ago. For our fall update, we couldn't help but include a freshly released shoe that we have been hearing rumors about for quite some time — the Inov-8 TerraUltra G — the world's first trail running shoe to enhance its outsole rubber with Graphene, the strongest material ever discovered by man.
We thought it more than lived up to the hype and awarded a Top Pick for Traction. Read on below for more information, or check out these other award winners freshly tested and crowned during our main testing period in early summer. While not a brand new release, we finally had the chance to test the Hoka Speedgoat 2 , and gave it our Top Pick Award for Maximum Cushioning.
As always, we will keep updating this review as new releases become available, so check back! See all prices 2 found. Low to the ground means super stable.
Not only does Nike make the best looking GPS-enabled running watch we’ve seen, but at a shave under $, they’ve also managed to make it (somewhat) affordable compared to many . Whether you're an avid morning jogger or are hitting the gym for the first time in years, we've rounded up the best running gear for every skill level. From sneakers and leggings, to treadmills and jogging strollers, we have something for every season and lifestyle. Feb 08, · Running isn’t always a sensational experience—especially in the winter.. Sure, we all aspire to those mornings when we wake up motivated, don Location: 4 New York Plaza,