Trail running is a grueling, rigorous experience for men of all athletic backgrounds. Before you kick off your trail run, you need to be equipped with a sturdy pair of shoes that can support your strides amidst cruel terrains. The best trail running shoes offer enhanced comfort, responsiveness, and traction to take on any surface with finesse.
You will find hordes of shoe manufacturers that cater to trail running needs and to avoid getting lost in their flashy marketing tricks, it’s best to understand your footwear requirements. Any well-crafted pair of trail running shoes comes with a clear description of its technical specifications, involving arch support, toe-drop, and cushioning levels. Think about your planned trail runs, specifically their terrain nature and length, to narrow down your shoe choices. For example, if you often trek through rocky, inclining trails, your shoes must feature a cushioned soling and durable outsole to let your feet safely engage with the surface. On the other hand, if you live near muddy, loose trails, you will enjoy waterproof running shoes with versatile outsole lugs.
We have sorted through all the top trail running shoes available in the market, testing each to its limits, to highlight the worthiest investments for runners. While recognized manufacturers like Nike and ASICS had some impressive models, the true masterpieces came from specialized hiking brands, including Salomon and Merrell. Read our detailed reviews below to learn what makes these trail running shoes so remarkable!
Best Trail Running Shoes for Men (Comparison)
|SALOMON Men's Xa Pro 3D - ( Editor's Choice)||3D Chassis||Check Price|
|Merrell Men's Trail Glove 5 Sneaker||Barefoot design||Check Price|
|ALTRA Men's ALM1953G Superior 4||Lightweight||Check Price|
Salomon has built an enviable reputation among top footwear brands by producing some of the most advanced outdoor shoes. The Salomon XA Pro 3D embodies the brand’s most powerful technologies to course through any trail and terrain.
Stitched from synthetic textiles, the XA Pro 3D’s upper is a mighty covering for your feet. It displays superior durability and resilience to match the best trail running shoe, but without compromising comfort. Salomon drilled the upper with 3D mesh patterns for high breathability, letting in a regular supply of air to keep your feet cool during long, exhausting runs. The toe area is guarded by a thick toecap glued to the forefoot. Not only does it shield your feet from unpredictable rocks and roots, but it also extends the upper’s durability by absorbing the typical wear and tear caused during running phases.
From the inside, the Salomon trail running shoes wrap you in comfort. The interior is based on a SensiFit design which hugs your feet snugly without restricting movement or setting it loose. There is a molded Ortholite sockliner placed right beneath your feet to amplify the fitness. Ortholite is an incredible shock-absorber and, during an intense run, can prevent ugly thrusts from pressurizing your heel and ankle. Being molded, it quickly rises (or compresses) to match the curves of your foot, making for a supportive, cushioning system that outshines other running shoes for men.
The shoe soling is integrated with a 3D Chassis unit for optimized support. It constructs a reassuring platform beneath your foot, arranging your bones in the ideal posture for running. Our testers claimed they enjoyed a greater degree of motion control while wearing these trail running shoes. The Chassis frame actively prevented the feet from unhealthy twists and tiresome flexing. Moreover, the shoe is equipped with a Contragrip outsole featuring an aggressive tread pattern. Its lugs clutch even the trickiest of surfaces, like muddy trails or sandy slopes with confidence. The rubber outsole exhibits anti-slip properties, making it suitable for inclined trails as well. Contragrip is an exceedingly durable material used in hiking footwear as well. It can withstand merciless outdoor surfaces without showing any noticeable wear.
|Cushioned Ortholite sockliner||Not waterproof|
|Fits snugly due to SensiFit technology||Narrow midfoot requires an adjustment period|
|3D Chassis for added support|
|Tough Contragrip outsole with excellent traction|
|Protective toe guard|
The Salomon XA Pro 3D trail running shoes merge the durability of hiking shoes with the supportive design of the best running shoes, making for a flawless trail experience. The shoes back you on any type of surface, from rocks and sand to muddy inclines, with an unflinching Contragrip outsole and 3D Chassis support, which is why they rank first among top trail running shoes in the market.
Merrell’s Glove 5 shoes take a refreshing approach to the trail running experience. Their zero-drop design grants you a barefoot feel on the trail with a protective body for support.
The upper is composed of synthetic mesh fabric for round-the-clock ventilation and superior durability. These minimalist shoes have cut away eccentric sole blades and bulky components for an aesthetic, sock-like body. The shoe appears to be a stiff sock at first glance, but it is layered with an intelligent purpose. Trail running shoes often overload your feet with plush pads and lifted soles, detaching you from the ground. This prevents you from accurately assessing the angle, contours, and toughness of the surface. Such senses are essential for optimizing our kinetic energy and running safely, which is why the Merrell trail running shoes simulate the “barefoot” feeling with their design.
The body effectively brings your feet as close as possible to the ground, utilizing a minimum toe drop and footprint sole structure. Unlike common hiking shoes, the shoe is adorned with a traditional lacing system to further tighten its grip. You can instantly feel the ground nature beneath your feet while wearing the Merrell Men’s shoes, enabling you to efficiently manage each stride according to your natural running instincts. Switching from one trail to another becomes safe and swift. To prevent your foot from sliding unnecessarily, the shoe is lined with a TPU heel counter. But this is not the only support Merrell offers. There is a molded Nylon shank geared into the sole. It upholds your arches and drives movement strain away from sensitive regions of your feet. If you desire superior arch support and the dexterity of safety shoes, these Merrell sneakers are your ideal match.
The sole of Merrell Glove 5 trail running shoes is composed of durable Vibram rubber. This exceptional rubber is known for its slip-resistance and stability on all kinds of surfaces. Trail shoes must possess a locking grip that does not slither on loose grounds, and the outsole pattern of Merrell shoes dishes exactly that. Moreover, every element of Glove 5 is sourced from vegan-friendly materials, which is not something most trail running shoes can brag about. If you are conscious about the environmental footprint of your shoes, this is the model to seek next time you visit the running store.
|Barefoot design for a natural running experience||Mismatched size margins|
|Durable Vibram outsole||Design is not very fashionable|
|Made from vegan-friendly materials|
|Supportive nylon shank|
|Breathable mesh upper|
Merrell’s Trail Glove 5 shoes set up a barefoot feel that unleashes your instincts on the trail. The shoe’s nylon shank and TPU heel counter offer unparalleled arch support, placing them among the best running shoes for men new to the trail life. If you seek an exciting, natural thrill on each run, this is the pair of trail running shoes to invest in.
Altra shoes boast some of the finest craftsmanship you will find in modern trail running shoes. The Altra Superior 4 pair is carefully constructed to boost your transitions and provides endless comfort on the trail.
The shoe possesses a smooth, thin upper that envelops your foot without forcing any postural shift. Altra has allotted the shoe a wide toe compartment for a roomy, breathable environment. This toe box follows FootShape blueprints that aim to give your toes just enough space to stretch and flex without becoming a slip hazard. Most trail running shoes lock your forefoot in a tight embrace, which is why Altra’s toe boxes are so popular. Through a zero-drop base, the Altra Superior 4 shoes keep your heel and toes equidistant from the ground, making for a more natural stride.
One of the best aspects of Altra Superior 4 trail sunning shoes is their lightweight frame. The Quantic foam is a light unit that whittles down the shoe’s overall bulk. It is incredibly responsive and employs InnerFlex grooves for a touch of flexibility. You can contort and flex your feet easily due to this inherently accommodating nature, which makes your running transitions smoother and more efficient.
In terms of traction, the Altrac Superior 4 shoes fare surprisingly well on diverse surface types. The outsole, assembled from MaxTrac rubber, has been sculpted with rows of canted lugs that never fail to grip the ground. They are concentrated around the forefoot region to ensure maximum traction at toe-off. Moreover, the MaxTrac rubber matches the best hiking shoes in terms of durability. Its anti-abrasion properties serve well on any type of trail. Our testers found it impressively slip-resistant on inclines and wet surfaces as well. Purchase the Altra Superior 4 and no surface can catch you off guard.
|Wide toe box||Thin upper is unsuitable for cold weather|
|Zero-drop chassis||Low cushioning|
|Durable MaxTrac outsole|
|Quantic Foam midsole|
The Altra Superior 4 shoes summon exceptional trail performance while maintaining a light frame. The shoe’s Quantic midsole and MaxTrac rubber not only prepare you for rigorous wilderness tracks but also exert the minimum weight upon your feet. Combined with a roomy toe box, these features enabled Superior 4 to outperform most trail running shoes in speed and comfort.
FINAL VERDICT – EDITOR’S CHOICE
After skimming through our review, you know the plethora of elements that define a pair of trail running shoes. Each of our top picks, from Merrell’s “barefoot” sneaker to Altra’s lightweight shoes, charged fearlessly into the ever-changing trails. The pair that truly stood out, however, was Salomon’s XA Pro 3d.
These remarkable trail running shoes breezed through each of our tests with unsurpassed efficiency. The shoe’s 3D chassis offers all-around support with pinpoint precision, allowing you to execute each stride without exerting uneven pressure on any of the underfoot regions. Merrell’s glove-like design, despite its superior arch support, could not provide such well-rounded support as Salomon XA Pro 3d. Moreover, the Salomon shoes are loaded with cushioning, from the Sensifit interior to Ortholite sockliner, which outmatched Altra Superior 4’s limited padding. Overall, we found the Salomon XA Pro 3D shoes ready for long, adventurous runs through any type of terrain, making them our top pick for today.