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Shoes to Hit the Trail

Trail shoes take you off-road


Updated March 29, 2014

Trail Hiking Shoes

Trail Hiking Shoes

Josie Elias/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Trails shoes are for natural trails. It isn't wise to tackle a natural trail in your usual sneakers. For rocky, rooted, dusty and muddy trails a trail shoe gives added traction and support. What makes a shoe a trail shoe?

Rugged Traction Sole

The sole of a trail shoe will be rugged-looking, and hopefully have good engineering behind those looks to give better traction. The sole will also be thick enough and cushioned so you don't feel the gravel, rocks, and roots. Guards will come up the side of the foot and over the toes to prevent stubbing.

Stability and Support

Like hiking boots, trail shoes generally provide more stability and support than regular running and walking shoes. However, some are designed more for looks than function and give less support and stability than regular motion control or stability running shoes. Shop with care, especially if you overpronate.

Dirt and Water Resistance

Trail shoes are meant to hit the dirt. The colors often hide the dirt, and the construction usually is of materials that clean easily. A gusseted tongue keeps dirt from entering the shoe. Trail shoes come in a variety of degrees of water resistance. Some simply aren't. Others are resistant, and some are waterproof.

Top Picks for Trail Shoes

Trail shoes rated best for walkers and runners. Don't waste money on shoes that are more trail style than performance - these ones are the real deal.
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