Trail runners are perfect for the hiker who prioritizes comfort and weight-savings when picking trail footwear. Among long-distance hikers and thru-hikers, trail running shoes are a popular choice. Many experienced hikers that use trail running shoes prefer non-waterproof trail runners for long thru-hikes and backcountry trips that cover many miles.
Trail Running Shoes For Hiking
Trail running shoes are very lightweight and very breathable, so it’s easier to manage moisture on a hike and avoid nasty blisters. The most popular models are non-waterproof due to better breathability. Even if you get them wet, they dry quickly. We need to mention that trail runners tend to be less durable than most hiking shoes and boots. Generally, trail runners will last for around 500 trail miles before being changed for a new pair. If you are looking for something more durable, take a look at our guide to the best hiking boots instead.
Pros Of Trail Runners When Hiking
- The most significant reason many hikers change from boots to trail runners is the weight. On average, you can save 40% weight compared to using a mid-cut synthetic fabric hiking shoe, even more than ankle boots, and more still compared to leather boots.
- Out of the box, trail running shoes are more flexible and need little to no break-in time.
- Out of all the options out there, non-waterproof trail runners are the most versatile in three-season conditions.
- Even if your shoes get wet in a stream, they will quickly dry out in warm weather conditions.
- More flexible, the lower-to-the-ground sole means you have a better connection to the terrain, and your body can react better to sudden changes.
- Cooler for hot-weather hikes
- Perfect for a fast pace, over many long miles
Cons Pros Of Trail Runners When Hiking
- Hiking shoes will last longer; even synthetic/leather combo mid-cut boots will last 800-miles compared to 500-miles for trail runners.
- If the hiking conditions are cold and snowy, trail runners won’t keep your feet dry and warm enough.
- Less foot, toe, and ankle protection.
Many hikers love that they are lightweight; others love how comfortable trail running shoes feel right out of the box. The more fashion mindful hiker might favor the wider array of designs and colors in trail running shoes. It is all a personal preference, though and boots still have much to offer.
Salomon SENSE RIDE 3
The Salomon Sense Ride 3 is the perfect home to trail shoe for hikers that moves at speed. I have had three pairs of these shoes and use them for both trail running and hiking. Each pair lasted more than 600 miles, with the only deterioration showing on the sole because I also used them for road running.
When you first try on the Sense Ride 3, t feels like a standard road running shoe, perfect for the asphalt sections of your hike. The Sense Ride adapts nicely on dirt paths and trails with a very competent outsole and stable midsole. Even in muddy conditions, it can hold its own. If you want the comfort of a traditional running shoe with off-road ability, the Sense Ride 3 ticks all the right boxes
Best For: Hikers and walkers that want running shoe comfort with trail shoe performance.
SENSE RIDE 3: Specifications & Features
The intensity of usage: Training and racing
Terrain: All types of terrain
Anatomical fit: Standard fit
Biomechanical fit: Heel strike, Midfoot strike
Lacing system: Quicklace®
Drop (in mm): 8
Weight (g): 280
SENSE RIDE 3: Pros & Cons
Pros: Smooth ride, very durable, incredible grip, and traction from the outsole
Cons: Underfoot protection probably for enough for rocky terrain
Where To Buy
ALTRA Men's Lone Peak 4.5
The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 shoe has the same outsole as the Lone Peak 4 and slightly tweaked midsole foam for more durability. The shoe’s upper has undergone several changes, with less overlays and a new lacing system, which transposes to a less weak tongue and a more secure fit.
A robust trail shoe like the Lone Peak is normally not known for its flexibility, especially since has a rock plate in the midsole. However, the Lone Peak 4.5 Stoneguard is shielding enough to protect the pads of your foot, yet pliable and lightweight enough, so you aren’t burdened with stiffness on a hike.
The fit and comfort is the best thing about the shoe, and it wraps around the foot perfectly. The lacing system ensures you get a great fit, hugging the foot in comfort.
Hikers who like that ground feel on the trail will welcome the shoe’s light cushioning; but, hikers who like a softer ride might find the Lone Peak 4.5 too firm for them. Overall, a fantastic shoe with a massive following in the hiking community.
Best For: Hikers that like to move across the trail at a fast pace.
Pros & Cons
PROS: Wide toe box gives your feet space, good grip on smooth and rugged terraain.
CONS: Limited ankle support
Where To Buy
Salomon Men's Xa Pro 3D V8
The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 is the updated version of the iconic XA PRO 3D. The new trail shoe is lighter and softer than its predecessor while retaining all the essentials benefits of the original (stability, cushioning, and grip).
The shoe boasts Contagrip premium wet compound on the sole and an improved 3D chassis; this shoe effortlessly accompanies you wherever the trail takes you. The grip on this European show will not let you down.
Salomon produces rugged outdoor gear, and their trail runners are no different. Like most Salomon shoes, this XA Pro 3D V8 shoe was built to last with a durable, grippy contra grip rubber sole and tough upper. They have a reasonable amount of cushioning and stability for a long day on the trail.
Salomon also have a GORE-TEX version available if you prefer your footwear to be waterproof. The Quicklace system means the shoes will fit securely on your feet, hugging them nicely.
If your feet are on the narrow side, you’re going to like these Salomon shoes’ slim fit. They hug your feet and with enough toe box room to not pinch your toes. This snug fit lets you sense changes in the terrain, making the shoe extremely responsive to chaning conditions. With Salomon, I always go half a size bigger than I normally would. If you’ve used Salomon before, then you should know your size.
Pros & Cons
PROS: Amazing grip and durability from a shoe that can take a beating on the trail and survive.
CONS: Sizing can be a issue
Where To Buy
Saucony Peregrine 10
I have friends who have been hiking and running in Saucony Peregrines for many years, and they’ve remained loyal to the range. One of the best things about the Peregrines 19 shoes is their outstanding traction. Irrespective of what sort of ground we use them on, they work like a dream.
The FORMFIT system on the Peregrines is essentially a sock-like upper that molds to your foot and gives a comfortable and customizable fit as you lace them up. The Peregrine 10s are a well-rounded lightweight hiking shoe that is sure to keep your feet happy after many miles of hiking in a day.
Saucony is not one of the most well-known brands for trail running, but it does have a loyal following. The versati
Pros & Cons
PROS: Lightweight, offer you out-of-the-box comfort, fantastic traction on all terrains, breathable, secure lacing system, cushioned soles and very supportive.
CONS: The narrow fit might not suit all and not the most durable shoe.