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Top 9 Trail Shoes

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Updated May 29, 2014

Trail shoes have rugged soles for traction and protection from rocks. They should also provide more stability than road shoes. Today's trail running shoes are flexible enough for walking fast on natural surfaces, so you aren't fighting your shoes with each step.

1. Vasque Mantra GTX Waterproof Trail Shoe

Vasque Mantra GTX Hiking Shoes
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

This waterproof trail shoe works well for hiking or for walking. It is lighter in weight than many boots, yet sturdy enough for rocky and rooted trails. It is waterproof and built to keep out trail debris. I found these very comfortable for a rainy day walk around the suburbs through puddles and street rivulets, but they are also great for the trail.  I hiked two tough trails that had miles of pointy rocks, slippery surfaces and small stream crossings.  By the end of the day, I had no twisted ankles and no foot discomfort from the rough trail.

2. Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo

Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo Hiking Shoe
Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

This waterproof hiking shoe is serious enough to tackle wet Northwest trails.  The Vibram sole is time tested for durability. It has excellent quality construction and a true seamless lining.

3. ASICS Gel Trabuco Trail Shoe

Asics Gel Trabuco Trail Shoe
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

Running Network named this shoe tops in the trail shoe category for its excellent traction whether going uphill or downhill and excellent stability, resisting twisting. It has a water-resistant upper. It also does well on pavement - wear it wherever you walk.

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4. adidas Response Trail Shoe

adidas Response Trail Shoes
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

One of the original trail shoes. It gets better continuously with good flexibility, stability and traction. It has a water-resistant upper.

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5. adidas adiZero XT

adidas adiZero XT Trail Shoe
Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber

This is a lightweight shoe that can go from road to trail. It is designed to give good traction on wet or rocky surfaces with a sticky rubber outersole, and users rave about the grip. But it is also narrow in the toe box, so those who need more toe room should try before they buy.

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6. Mizuno Wave Ascend

Mizuno Wave Ascend
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

This shoe has been well-rated since 2007 by Runner's World magazine. The tongue is gusseted to keep out trail debris and waterproof for splashing through puddles or those rainy days. It has good stability elements and should work well for heavier people.

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7. Brooks Cascadia

Brooks Cascadia
© Brooks Sports

Designed with input from an ultramarathoner, this shoe definitely stands out for its vibrant color - I was shocked when I saw a friend in a pair. But it is a stable shoe built for going fast on the trail.

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8. KURU Chicane

KURU Chicane
KURU ©

This versatile town-to-trail shoe won our Readers' Choice Award for Best Trail Shoe in 2012 and 2011. They are also great for travel and touring.

9. New Balance 1010 Minimus

New Balance 1010 Minimus Trail
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

New Balance had a previous model of minimalist trail shoes that provided very little support and protection. The 1010 model has a little more, including a rockstop plate in the sole and a gusseted tongue to keep out trail debris. But these are still very minimalist shoes for people who don't need support, stability or motion control. They are very lightweight and flexible. I found them too unsupportive for me to wear. They come in widths and can be worn with or without socks.

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Reader Reviews of Shoes and Boots

See reader reviews of their walking shoes and boots, and enter your own reviews.
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