Let the trail running specialists at The Trail Co. help you find the right shoes for the trails you love. Use our handy shoe finder to narrow down your shoe choice by selecting the grip you need trails you run, or the type of cushioning you like, or the drop you prefer. We'll do the rest...
What’s the difference?
Trail shoes are much more grippy than road shoes to give traction on looser surfaces due to the outsole being covered with lugs. Lugs come in different shapes, sizes, and depths to provide varying traction for different types of surfaces.
For fire trails, sandy or dusty forest trails, grass, hard-packed trail, hilly and general training on anything other than bitumen and concrete. Generally smoother underfoot than more aggressive grip.
For when you really need to hang on to a loose surface, or are traversing rocky, slippery, or rugged terrain. The lugs on aggressive grip shoes tend to be deeper, are sometimes stickier, and are more suited to running technical trails, or for when you just want the confidence your foot placement won't slip when you're running hard.
Mud / Loose Surface Grip
The name says it all; made for mud and sloppy, wet, or extremely loose surfaces. Often these outsoles are made from softer, sticker rubber to contend with a slippery terrain. Great when it's loose underfoot, but can wear out faster on harder-packed trails. Great for those runs through puddles and for getting dirty!
What’s the difference?
Trail shoes have to deal with a variety of surfaces and they're certainly not all flat, and a trail run can go from a handful of local km's to racing 100 miles+, and there are shoes for each end of the spectrum.
Ideal for comfort or longer runs, cushioned shoes offer a trail runner shock-absorption underfoot to help reduce fatigue to the muscles and bones over longer times. Cushioned shoes tend to have a higher stack height (think thickness), which some runners prefer, while others don't like. While cushioned shoes offer fantastic underfoot protection and comfort, they can sometimes lack the responsiveness of a lesser-cushioned shoe.
The Goldilocks of trail shoes; designed to deal with the majority of surfaces and rough objects that most trails will throw at you, without compromising too much on comfort or foot-feel and the ability to get feedback from the surface you're running on. Great for training and racing, and for most runners.
Usually lightweight or race day trail shoes designed for more experienced runners with stronger feet and leg muscles to naturally absorb the impact from the trail. Minimal cushioned shoes offer a snappy, race-like performance with plenty of foot feel to react to the surface you're running on. Great for training efforts, shorter runs and races with a more natural, or naked underfoot feel.
Drop is the difference between the height of the sole at the heel and the toe.
Trail shoes often range in "drop" from 0mm–10mm. Drop basically tells you how flat or sloped the footbed of a shoe is. A shoe with a bigger drop can help reduce fatigue, while a shoe with 0mm or 'zero' drop may feel more natural but can cause some runners fatigue and muscle soreness
To calculate a shoe's "drop", you need to know the "stack height" (the thickness of the total sole material combined) at the heel and at the toe. Subtract the toe from the heel and this gives you the "drop" of the footbed of the shoe
A bigger stack height does not necessarily guarantee a shoe will have a larger drop. Some very cushioned shoes have little or no drop while some more minimal shoes can have a higher drop to allow runners to dial in their preference of cushioning and range of movement.
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