Thinking about switching from hiking boots to trail running shoes? It’s possible, as long as you get a great pair that can handle both rocky paths and shallow streams.
Trail running shoes are lightweight and breathable, which is why a lot of people choose them instead of hiking boots for summer hikes. But they still need to be sturdy, with lots of cushioning, grip, and excellent traction, if they’re actually going to be good for hikes.
At A Glance: Best Trail Runners For Hiking
And that’s exactly the kind of shoes we’re going to talk about in this detailed review: best trail running shoes for hiking!
Most Popular Choice
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Best Choice Overall
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Best Waterproof Option
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Best Vegan Trail Runners
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Best Affordable Option
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Adidas Terrex is easily one of the best trail running shoes ever made. And they’re a great option for hiking as well because they are so lightweight yet rugged. The uppers on these are made entirely from synthetic, with lots of mesh.
This means the shoes are very breathable, and that your feet won’t get too sweaty after several hours on the trail.
The Terrex Tracerocker shoes have a lightweight EVA foam insole that provides you with plenty of cushioning. You are supported in your every step, just as you would expect from good trail runners.
But, what makes these such a great option for hikes as well as the fact that you don’t feel the terrain below your feet at all. Stepping on rocky paths will never be uncomfortable in these Adidas trail runners.
And they are incredibly flexible – another reason why some people prefer trail runners to hiking shoes. They are able to move along with your feet in a way that hiking boots simply can’t, giving you better control of your steps.
These shoes feature a rugged rubber outsole with deep multidirectional lugs. This is perfect for softer trails, as it ensures excellent traction on them. And thanks to those firm lugs, you will have plenty of grips when taking on the uphill trails.
The only downside of the Terrex Tracerocker is the lack of waterproofing. But you can rarely have such excellent breathability in a waterproof shoe; you should be fine in some light rain, but don’t step into streams while you’re wearing these trail runners. Unless you want to get your socks soaking wet.
The Speedcross 4 trail runners by Salomon are iconic. They are breathable, lightweight, flexible, and yet rugged enough that you can use them for some more demanding hiking trails and not break a sweat. These shoes are perfect for both running and hiking on soft technical trails, thanks to the rugged rubber outsole.
The uppers on these are entirely synthetic, making them perfect for wet and muddy terrain. They are very easy to clean, and you don’t have to worry about damaging the synthetic. On top of that, the uppers are also highly breathable, for comfortable and non-sweaty summer hikes.
These shoes feature a soft EVA midsole, that provides you with lots of stability and lightweight cushioning. It’s also great at absorbing impact, which in turn means that your feet won’t get tired as quickly and that you will be able to stay on the trails longer.
Another thing that makes the Salmon Speedcross 4 an excellent alternative to hiking shoes is the extremely rugged outsole.
With plenty of deep, multidirectional lugs, these shoes offer an aggressive grip on all terrain types. It is made from non-slip rubber, so it doesn’t matter if the path in front of you is dry or wet – you will have excellent traction to keep moving.
However, not everything about the shoe is perfect. For one thing, they are still pretty pricey, especially for a model that’s been around since 2016. But that’s what you get when you make such a great shoe – the fact that these still have a price point in the triple-digit, after some four years, is a testament to their quality.
There is a Speedcross 5, but it’s nowhere nearly as popular as this particular model.
La Sportiva is a trusted brand among hikers and alpinists, and it’s no surprise that they make some really good trail running shoes as well. What was surprising was the affordable price point – their hiking boots tend to be really expensive, so I was honestly shocked that you could get their trail runners for less than $100!
The Wildcat trail runners have uppers made from synthetic, and that are fully covered with mesh. This means excellent ventilation, and non-sweaty feet even after several hours on the trail!
On top of that, these sneakers feature a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, so they are perfectly suitable for wet weather. Moisture is able to evaporate from the shoe, but no drop of water will be able to penetrate the exterior membrane, making them the perfect all-weather trail runners.
And they will provide you with plenty of cushioning, thanks to the excellent, shock-absorbing midsole. It is equipped with a nylon molded transfer shank and LaSpEVA – the brand’s take on EVA foam.
The outsole of these trail running shoes is also excellent, and it’s really good for hiking. t is actually a FriXion AT sole, with plenty of deep lugs that aggressively bite into the trail. This means that you will be virtually unstoppable on moderate and technical trials!
The Wildcat shoes don’t disappoint in terms of stability and support either. They have TPU heel stabilizers that provide you with plenty of support on those long days on the trails and ensure that your feet won’t get tired quickly.
Overall, if you want premium and waterproof trail runners for hiking, there’s no reason to look at any other shoes.
It’s hard to find really good shoes that are also vegan – there aren’t too many options out there, especially ones that aren’t too expensive.
But I did manage to find these – the Salewa Wildfire trail runners are entirely vegan and moderately priced. They aren’t exactly affordable, but they’re around the $150 mark, which is more than fair for shoes of such high quality.
What’s great about these is that they’re not just good for trail running; they’re also an excellent option for climbing. They have lots of deep lugs on the POMOCA Speed MTN outsole that bite into soft terrain, but also provide you with all the traction you need when taking on the rocky mountains. The outsole will grip onto the rocks, while the flexible uppers hug your feet.
In addition to that, the outsole is made from Butylic compound rubber, which performs equally well on both dry and wet terrain. If you enjoy climbing even when it’s raining outside, these are the perfect trail runners for you!
Their uppers feature Salewa’s proprietary Exa Shell technology, which is basically just a plastic grid on top of breathable mesh. This protects the shoe from the elements while allowing it to stay flexible at the same time.
The interior of the Wildfire trail running shoes is lined with Gore-Tex, meaning that they are waterproof, in addition to being very breathable. On top of that, these shoes are equipped with an OrthoLite footbed. It is very comfortable and provides you with excellent cushioning while wicking away moisture at the same time.
If you’re just getting into hiking and trail running and you don’t spend a lot of money on a pair of shoes, the Dabbqis sneakers are a good option. They’re very affordable, so great for people who aren’t really sure whether or not they will continue enjoying these outdoor adventures for a long time.
The best thing about these shoes is how lightweight and breathable they are – these are actually amazing summer shoes. In fact, these have such good ventilation that you can see your foot through the mesh. So, definitely not a great “year-round” option.
And they’re not way too durable either, but you can’t expect to get an indestructible hiking shoe for some $30.
These trail runners are best for people who need a pair of outdoor shoes for their next vacation, or those that go on light hikes maybe once or twice a month – if you don’t intend to use these very often, they should last you a while.
The Dabbqis trail runners actually perform really well, especially on soft to moderate terrain. They feature deep triangle-shaped lugs that bite into the terrain, so you do have plenty of grip and traction on the trails. Plus, the non-slip rubber outsole performs really well on wet surfaces.
However, the insole of these shoes is not very ergonomic, so I would not recommend them to people who have high arches or flat feet. They don’t offer a lot of arch support, and you should definitely look for more comfortable and preferably anatomical footwear for hikes.
If you want a pair of trail runners that could actually replace a proper hiking boot, these New Balance ones are a really good option. They are high-tops, so they will provide you with more ankle support than other trail runners I’ve shown you so far. And they’re pretty affordable – the exact price depends on the color and size, but if you’re lucky enough you can grab these for less than $50.
The V3 by New Balance is a rugged trail running shoe with leather and synthetic uppers. It is treated for water resistance, but it is not 100% waterproof – avoid any bodies of water on the trails, and your socks should stay dry.
The mesh inserts will also keep the interior of the shoe dry, as it allows them to breathe, and lets any moisture inside the shoe evaporate. So, even though these look a bit bulky and warm, they’re actually not a bad option for hot summer days.
On top of that, these shoes feature an all-terrain outsole with lots of multi-directional lugs. That’s great for hiking – you never know where the trail will take you, and these shoes will be able to handle it all.
The shoes are equipped with New Balance’s proprietary Ultra Soft Comfort Insert, which promises lots of arch supper and superb stability. And you can get these shoes in a wide version, so there’s no reason to go a size up or down – there are plenty of comfortable options for everyone.
The Lone Peak 4 shoes by Altra are a really good option for serious hikers. These babies don’t mess around one bit, with their extremely rugged outsole, excellent cushioning, and extra-wide toe box.
With uppers made mostly from breathable mesh, the Lone Peak shoes offer excellent breathability, making them a great option for hikes on hot days. However, these lack a waterproof membrane, so they’re not a great option if you want a shoe that’s suitable for all seasons. They will endure some light rain, but heavy downpours and snow will leave your socks soaking wet.
The outsole of these shoes features some really aggressive lugs, which makes them perform incredibly well on all terrain types.
In fact, the Lone Peak 4 trail runners are equipped with the new and improved MaxTrac rubber outsole, for great amounts of grip and traction. Whether your hikes often include some steep rock climbing or going down muddy hills, these shoes are up to the task.
And that outsole also features something called Trail Claw – a set of lugs that are positioned right below the metatarsals, so you have even more traction at the toe-off. This also ensures better stability on uneven terrain, and overall a more comfortable hiking experience.
Another thing that’s awesome about these shoes is the foot shape toe box. It is extra roomy, which allows your toes to spread out naturally. This improves stability on uphill and downhill hikes and is just more comfortable for your feet.
The Under Armour Charged Bandit is the perfect balance between a lightweight trail runner and rugged hiking shoes. It combines the best of both worlds – the extra rugged outsole and waterproofing of a good hiking shoe, as well the flexibility and lightweight of your favorite trail runners.
These feature synthetic uppers with a Gore-Tex membrane that makes them 100% waterproof, yet breathable enough that you’ll stay comfortable in them on really hot days. Actually, your feet will always stay comfortable in these, thanks to the soft EVA insole. It will provide you with enough support so that you can power through those extra long hikes without getting tired too soon.
The outsole on the Charged Bandit trail runners is made from non-slip rubber, with lots of lugs that are of different shapes and sizes. However, it’s not a very aggressive outsole, so I wouldn’t really recommend these for insanely difficult terrain.
They’re great for easy hikes and actual trail running, but they’re not rugged enough for demanding uphill hikes.
Because of the Gore-Tex membrane, these trail runners are something you can wear during any season, even if there’s snow on the ground. They won’t get wet inside, and they’re roomy enough that you can wear them with thick winter socks.
But they do run a little bit small, so it’s probably best to go half a size up for the best fit. Especially if you have wide feet since these trail runners are only available in regular sizes.
Saucony is known for having some of the most comfortable hiking and running shoes on the market. If that’s what you are prioritizing, then the Excursion TR12 is by far the best option for you.
And that is because of their proprietary GRID cushioning technology. It is their first sole-based stability system, which is so remarkably comfortable that you’ll still be running while all your other friends are taking a break to rest their feet.
The level of comfort and support these trail runners provide actually makes them a really good option for people who need that extra arch support. So, if you struggle with flat feet or high arches, picking up the Saucony trail runners is a good idea.
These feature a very rugged outsole with lots of multidirectional lugs of different shapes and sizes, ensuring excellent performance on different terrain types. This is also why the Saucony sneakers are an excellent versatile option – they will become your go-to shoes for all outdoor activities pretty fast.
The Excursion TR12 features some pretty heavy-duty uppers as well. They are made from synthetic materials and are very breathable, but they’re not so airy that you can feel the breeze in your sneakers.
This means that they’re a good option to wear most of the year – except when there’s heavy rain or snow outside since these aren’t exactly waterproof.
If you want a pair of heavy-duty trail runners, the Fila sneakers are the ones to go with. You can tell that they’re very rugged just by looking at them.
The lugs on the outsole of these shoes are so deep that you can see them by looking at the shoes from the sides, which tells that they will perform really well on uneven and rocky terrain.
The deep, multidirectional lugs promise lots of grip and traction in your adventure, meaning you will be able to conquer any trail in these Fila sneakers. And the best thing about them is that they are pretty cheap – you can get them for under $70, which is pretty good for a well-known brand of sportswear!
The downside of the heavy-duty built is the not-so-great breathability. You shouldn’t get too sweaty, but there’s only so much ventilation you can expect from uppers that are mostly made from leather, with some synthetic inserts.
However, that also makes them look pretty stylish, so I’m not complaining. This is pretty much the only pair of trail runners that you could wear when you go out into the town, and people wouldn’t question your choice of footwear at all.
These are mid-tops, so they’re not a good option for people with high arches – it’s highly unlikely you will be able to fit your foot into the shoe, and don’t buy them before trying them on. But they will be pretty comfortable for people with flat feet, thanks to a soft EVA midsole that provides you with lots of cushioning.
If you are a trail runner that mostly runs in the warmer months, or do you need running shoes that are going to be great year-round?
If it’s former, look for really breathable footwear. Something with lots of mesh, and preferably even sneakers that are so airy and lightweight that you can see your feet through all the mesh. These perform best in the really hot summer months, and they’re a good option for easy hikes. But I wouldn’t recommend them for any seriously demanding terrain.
If you are an avid hiker who wants trail runners they can wear whenever they want, you should look for waterproof sneakers. I’ve included several pairs that have a Gore-Tex membrane that keeps them 100% waterproof, and those are suitable for everything – from summer showers to snowy days.
However, as with everything else that includes Gore-Tex, those trail running shoes are going to be pricier than the other options. So, expect to spend a bit more, if you want that premium versatility and build.
The first and most important thing you should look for is footwear that will fit you perfectly and that is really comfortable. And this goes beyond just picking up the right size; you need to look at how much ankle and arch support they provide, what kind of insole they have, if the toe box is wide enough, and are they the right option for your feet.
Especially if you’re someone who struggles with flat feet or high arches – finding shoes that are comfortable enough even for really long hikes tends to be a real challenge. But I did include several pairs that are great options for people who need that extra arch support.
You can see what type of insole and midsole a pair of trail runners has in the product info sections. Definitely check those out before actually picking up a pair of hiking shoes.
What kind of hiking trails do you usually take on? Do they include lots of rocky paths, steep slopes, or do you like to keep to the really simple trails?
There’s a reason why hiking boots exist – they offer superb levels of grip and traction, which allow you to stay stable and have a firm grip even on really uneven and rocky terrain types.
You can’t wear just any type of shoes and expect to have a good time – if the lugs aren’t deep enough and the outsole is slippery, you’ll probably fall around a lot. And that’s the best-case scenario.
The two most important things are the outsole material and the depth of lugs. The former tells you what to expect on wet terrain – non-slip rubber is what the best trail runners will have. And the latter tells you what to expect of the shoe; the deeper the lugs, the better they will perform on more difficult trails.
Look for trail runners that are suitable for hiking trails you usually do. If those include a lot of rocky areas and some climbing, you need something extremely rugged that’s up to the task. But if you normally go on easy hikes, you’ll most likely be fine in any of the trail runners featured here.
Remember to check out the pros and cons boxes before you buy a pair of shoes. That’s where I’ve indicated whether or not shoes run true to size, and also if you can get them in a wide version.
It’s not necessarily a downside if the shoes you like don’t run true to size – a lot of great shoes run small, thanks to the mold they are made with.
So, it’s best to be aware of this beforehand, in order to make sure you are ordering a pair of shoes that will fit you perfectly once they arrive.
Additionally, if you have wide feet definitely go for a pair of shoes that have wide sizing options. Going a size up with a regular pair of shoes is also an option, but not the best one.
Sure they will be wider, but that extra space in the toe box could mess with your overall balance and stability.
Still haven’t decided which of these trail runners are best for your usual hiking adventures? Then just pick up one of our favorite pairs, and you will really be getting top-of-the-line sneakers!
Go for the Salomon Speedcross 4 if you know what you like and you don’t want any surprises. They’re the go-to option for most trail runners and hikers, simply because they are incredibly reliable.
With aggressively grippy outsoles, no trail will pose a challenge for you. And that soft EVA midsole will help you stay comfortable even after several hours on the trail.
Let’s put it this way – while your friends are struggling to get to the top and resting every five minutes, you’ll practically be jogging up the hill.
If you want a waterproof shoe for hiking, the Wildcat GTX by La Sportiva is what you should get. It’s one of several waterproof options you have here, but it’s our favorite because we really love the brand. La Sportiva is creme de la creme of hiking gear, and a deal this good is really hard to pass up.
The Gore-Tex membrane will protect you from the elements, while the rugged and aggressive outsole gives you an edge on all moderate and technical terrain types. And the proprietary LaSpEVA midsole guarantees lots of cushioning and support in your every step.
Maybe you just want a cheap solution for your upcoming vacation – in that case, pick up the Dabbqis trail runners. They’re super affordable, and they perform surprisingly well for the money. Just don’t expect too much from them, and you won’t be disappointed.
These work really well for some light hikes, and they are highly breathable; so much so that you can see your foot through the uppers. And they have a pretty rugged outsole that provides you with plenty of grip and traction on uneven terrain.
Head over to Amazon to see the prices, as well as the color and size options of any trail running shoes featured in this review. And check out our related posts, if you still haven’t found the perfect hiking shoes for your next adventure!