Shoes & Gear

What Type of Trail Shoe Do I Need?

What Type of Trail Shoe Do I Need?

Just a glance at a local running store shoe wall or quick browse through a seemingly endless online footwear catalog and every trail runner will realize that there is a wealth of trail shoe options to choose from. The minimal craze has given shoe companies the opportunity to stretch the trail shoe category spectrum to include offerings that cater to the needs of forefoot runners, while at the same time, maintain their growth with traditional trail shoes. What is the result? The widest array ever of trail shoes to choose from! And with it, a chance for every trail runner to find that perfect shoe for their individual needs. But just what are your needs? It is an excellent question. And like all excellent questions, one that can only be answered with some proper consideration.

A common starting point is comparing the features and benefits of a shoe which include, but are not limited to, the outsole, midsole, cushioning technology, stack height, heel drop, lacing style, toe cap, rock plate, and type of mesh the shoe is constructed with. While this is a great way to understand the material distinctions between shoes, it does not get you any closer to figuring out what type of shoe suites you best. In order to do that, I would suggest you start by determining what type of terrain you will be running on.

Unlike road running, trail terrain varies significantly by geographic region. Running over the rocky desert mountains of Arizona or the groomed coastal trails of California are going to be completely different experiences, with completely different trails. Accordingly, a runner will most likely prefer a different trail shoe for the varying types of terrain. Why? A runner on rough rocky trails will undoubtedly prefer a shoe that is going to provide robust protection in the form of a reinforced toe cap and rock plate, and perhaps some added stability for uneven surfaces. Conversely, smoother coastal trails do not warrant shoes with extra protective features. For this run, the runner would most likely prefer opting for a lighter shoe instead of added protection, and a shoe that has a more responsive ride that is ideal for cruising along groomed trails. Think about it in an even more extreme example. Would you want the same shoe to run in Antarctica and the Sahara with?

For my next handful of posts, I am going to review Salomon trail shoes that are each suited for different types of terrain. I will dive into what makes each shoe unique and ideal for the designated terrain, and cover the features and benefits of each particular model.


Photo courtesy of Salomon/Kevin Arnold



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This post was written by:

- who has written 3 posts on Trail Running Club.

Ben Lazzarini is the Salomon and Suunto Field Marketing Associate for the Pacific and Southwest regions. He is an aspiring ultrarunner who enjoys running on his regions spectacular and diverse trails. Ben completed he first 100 mile race last year, and is looking forward to running his second this summer.

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