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Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

Trail running is very different to road running. It takes you out of yourself and lets you explore the most beautiful places in the world – even if you will have to tackle a few more uphills to appreciate the views. If you want to enjoy all that the trails have to offer, however, you’ll need appropriate footwear – because trying to run on uneven, loose or muddy ground in your normal road shoes is a surefire recipe for a pratfall.

Here’s our round-up of the best trail-running shoes for every kind of surface you’re likely to run on, plus a guide to what you should look for in a pair.

How to buy the best trail-running shoes for you

In choosing a pair of trail-running shoes, it’s important to consider what sort of terrain you want to tackle. While roads all tend to have very similar characteristics, trails can be wildly different, and it’s important to choose shoes that are tailored to the surface you’ll be running on the most. The key to this is the sole, which will have lugs of different length to suit different types of surface.

If you’ll mostly be running on muddy trails then a good grip is vital; this means you’re looking for deep lugs of around 8-9mm. These are also good for fell running when you need the grip to hurtle safely down slick or loose slopes. Really long lugs can be skiddy and uncomfortable on hard surfaces, though, so if you like to mix up your runs then look for an all-rounder with lugs around 6mm deep.

If you plan to spend a good proportion of your time running on roads, or only intend to tackle very hard and rocky paths, then a lug depth of 3-4mm will be best – these are often described as road-to-trail shoes.

What other features should I look out for?

One common feature in trail-running shoes is a rock plate – a piece of plastic on the forefoot that protects the underside of your feet from jagged stones. This is a must for rocky trails, but less essential if you stick to muddy forests. No-tie laces, which you can tighten by simply pulling a toggle, can also be useful on trail-running shoes.

They’re easy to do up even when your shoes are caked in mud, and won’t get pulled loose by rogue branches. If you’re looking for waterproofing, however, you’re in for a disappointment: most trail-running shoes aren’t waterproof, as this would make them heavy and uncomfortably sweaty to run in. Water-resistant uppers offer some protection, but if you’re heading off-road regularly you probably need to accept wet feet as all part of the fun.

How much cushioning do I want?

You normally don’t need as much cushioning for trail running as you do on the road: soft, uneven trails are less jarring for the body than tarmac, so it’s common for trail-running shoes to be relatively minimalist in this regard.

However, highly cushioned trail shoes do exist and could be a good pick if you’re contemplating an ultra-marathon, where you’ll want all the support you can get.

How much do I need to spend?

While road-running shoes come at a wide range of prices, the vast majority of trail-running shoes land somewhere in the GBP70 to GBP130 bracket. There are some bargain options below GBP50, however, and you can often find old models of popular lines for around that price too. These are normally just as good as the latest model, so it’s definitely worth checking them out if you’re bargain-hunting.

READ NEXT: Run further and faster with the best running shoes

The best trail-running shoes to buy in 2018 from GBP37

1. Adidas Galaxy: Best trail-running shoes under GBP50

Price: GBP37 | Buy now from Sports Direct

These budget trail-running shoes are impressively lightweight, with chunky lugs on the sole that offer decent grip in most conditions (though they won’t be the most comfortable on harder trails). There’s a good amount of cushioning too, thanks to Adidas’s Cloudfoam – though it’s not as responsive and springy as the Boost foam you’ll find in their more expensive shoes.

The upper on the Galaxy is breathable, but it takes a while to dry, so give it plenty of time on the radiator if you’ve splashed your way through a storm. As a durable all-rounder, the Galaxy comfortably outperforms its price-tag.
Key specs – Best terrain: All-rounder; Weight: 258g; Heel height: 25mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 7mm

2.

Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX: Best trail-running shoes for muddy tracks

Price: GBP93 | Buy now from Amazon

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

Now in its fourth generation, the well-cushioned Salomon Speedcross line is a favourite of runners who mostly tackle muddy ground or the steep, wet climbs and descents that are a feature of fell running. Their deep chevron-shaped lugs push through the mud to find grip and keep you on your feet on even the most treacherous of trails. They also feature no-tie laces, which are easy to loosen and tighten even when you’ve run through a mudbath, and Gore-Tex in the upper gives you a little extra protection against the elements.

The ankles are pretty low-cut, though, so don’t expect your feet to stay dry if you go splashing through puddles. Key specs – Best terrain: Muddy; Weight: 320g; Heel height: 30mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 10mm

3. Inov-8 Trailroc 285: Best trail-running shoes for rocky roads

Price: GBP125 | Buy now from Amazon

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

If you’re planning to spend a lot of time on dry and rocky trails, you need shoes that will cling onto uneven ground while protecting you from hard, jagged surfaces.

Enter the Inov-8 Trailroc 285, whose sticky rubber outsole features small studs that can reach through loose pebbles to find purchase beneath. The Dynamic Fascia Band rock plate meanwhile shields the underside of your foot from sharp stones, and flexes to put a little extra pep in your step as you run – and a resilient toe cap provides protection from any hard objects you might accidentally trip over. Key specs – Best terrain: Rocky; Weight: 285g; Heel height: 16mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm

4.

Saucony Peregrine 8: Best all-terrain trail-running shoes

Price: GBP98 | Buy now from Amazon

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

There’s no such thing as a trail-running shoe that’s equally at home on every kind of terrain – but the Peregrine 8 from Saucony comes close. These shoes are at their best on softer terrain, where the 6mm lugs bite deep enough into the ground to keep you on your feet in wet and muddy conditions, but they’re fairly comfortable on harder tracks too, and the sticky rubber on the PWRTRAC outsole helps them also grip well on rock and gravel. Their flexibility is partly thanks to the EVERUN material in the top sole – this is the same stuff that’s found in Saucony’s cushioned road-running shoes and offers a responsive but comfortable ride that will help you chew up the miles on longer off-road runs.

Key specs – Best terrain: All-rounder; Weight: 283g; Heel height: 24.5mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm

5. New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Trail v2: Best road-to-trail-running shoes

Price: GBP80 | Buy now from New Balance

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

If you intend to run just as much on the road as off it, the Gobi Trail is a great choice: it has ample cushioning for road running, plus a little extra grip on the sole to tackle light trails. What’s great about these shoes is how nimble they feel, despite the extra support you need for road running.

That’s down to New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole, which is impressively lightweight for the amount of cushioning it provides. Head for the hills during a thunderstorm and you might come unstuck due to the lack of grip, but for city runners keen on mixing up pavement and off-road routes, the Gobi hits the spot nicely. Key specs – Best terrain: Road & light trails; Weight: 258g; Heel height: 23mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 6mm

6.

Brooks Cascadia 12: Best stability trail-running shoe

Price: GBP110 | Buy now from Amazon

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

If you need a stability shoe to correct overpronation, the Cascadia 12 is an excellent pick for trail running. Brooks’ Pivot Point System consists of four pillars in the sole (two in the heel, two in the forefoot) which balance the foot on uneven terrains and prevent it rolling inwards. The extra support and cushioning in the sole do make it a heavier option than most trail shoes, but for runners who need the extra stability, that’s a small price to pay – and it’s also ideal for anyone of a heavier build looking for a stable base when heading off-road.

Even better, exceptional manufacturing quality means these shoes will last forever. Key specs – Best terrain: All-rounder; Weight: 343g; Heel height: 27mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 10mm

7. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4: Best cushioned trail-running shoe

Price: GBP110 | Buy now from Runners Need

Best trail-running shoes 2018: Head off-road with these great all-terrain shoes, from £37 to £125

Hoka specialises in lightweight yet well-cushioned running shoes, and the Challenger ATR 4 has become very popular among ultra-runners as a result.

It’s not just for those who rack up massive mileage, however: indeed, it’s one of the best all-rounders you can get, suitable for all terrain types bar the muddiest.

The high heel height won’t be for every runner, as it can make you feel less agile on very narrow and tricky trails, but the fact that the Challenger is so lightweight means it’s by no means a cumbersome shoe.

Key specs – Best terrain: All-rounder; Weight: 254g; Heel height: 29mm; Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm

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