Five Trail Runners We Love

Because trail running in the West offers a smorgasbord of endless options, you have to carefully choose the right kicks for your quiver. The following shoes will boost your springtime off-road running adventures—and match the terrain and conditions.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 (above)

Need to Know
This supportive, well-cushioned trail runner sports a fresh aesthetic vibe.

The Lowdown
Anyone who says it doesn’t matter what your trail running shoes look like hasn’t worn the latest edition of the Fresh Foam Hierro. This shoe is lit, and we’re not just talking about the eye-catching paint-splatter graphics package. With a cushy and stable Fresh Foam X midsole, and a grippy, Vibram Megagrip outsole, the reconfigured Hierro can tackle moderate to intense terrain with aplomb. The updated version has a soft, gusseted tongue, an improved durable, mesh TPU-coated upper, and a more secure heel that helps ensure a locked-down fit. And, yes, we love that slick paint job, too. $135; newbalance.com

Altra King MT 2
Altra King MT 2

Altra King MT 2

Need to Know
This lightweight, low-to-the-ground shoe is built for running over soft terrain, competing in obstacle races, and gobbling mountain miles.

The Lowdown
Do you often run on wet, muddy trails? The toothy, ground-gripping King MT 2 will keep you from slipping in the slop. In addition to aggressive lugs made from super-sticky Vibram MegaGrip outsole rubber, it also features smartly placed drainage holes, a responsive dual-density midsole, and a tear-resistant, quick-drying upper. As with every Altra model, the King MT 2 was designed with a level (or “zero-drop” platform) and a foot-shaped toe box so the foot can move naturally just as if you were barefoot. Or, in this case, barefoot with a grippy tread pattern on the bottom of your feet. $140; altrarunning.com

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

Need to Know
This maximally cushioned trail runner is built for long-haul races and adventures on smooth and technical terrain.

The Lowdown
Although Hoka radically changed the way trail runners were made when it debuted its first maximally cushioned shoes a decade ago, it seems quite logical nowadays to want copious amounts of foam between your feet and the trail surface. The Speedgoat 4 features aggressive, Vibram Megagrip sticky rubber outsole lugs and Hoka’s rockered geometry, which creates a smooth, rolling sensation. This year’s edition has been fine-tuned with a more breathable upper, a springier midsole foam compound, and a more spacious fit in the forefoot. And, yes, there’s loads of luscious cushioning in the midsole. $145; hokaoneone.com

La Sportiva Jackal
La Sportiva Jackal

La Sportiva Jackal

Need to Know
Here’s a protective, durable trail running shoe in a surprisingly lightweight package ideal for running on a wide variety of terrain.

The Lowdown
Typically, trail running shoes loaded up with protective features to guard against rocks, roots, and other obstacles are heavy and sometimes even clunky. Not the Jackal, which is a lightweight, agile, and sure-footed shoe that is adept at tackling both smooth and rocky terrain. The sticky rubber outsole is secure and reliable in dry, wet, and sandy conditions. The upper has reinforced sidewalls and a durable toe bumper but it’s also well-ventilated with a gusseted tongue to provide a cinched-down fit. That’s all encased under a light and airy upper that keeps feet cool in warmer weather. $140; sportiva.com

Saucony Peregrine 10
Saucony Peregrine 10

Saucony Peregrine 10

Need to Know
This versatile, all-around trail shoe dishes out all the comfort and smoothness of a road runner.

The Lowdown
If you’re new to trail running or an infrequent participant, this might be your shoe of choice. The Peregrine has a low-to-the-ground feel and just the right mix of cushioning, traction, and protection. It’s ideal for smooth, rolling dirt paths, moderately technical routes with some rocks, roots, gravel, and other obstacles, and sloppy trails with a lot of mud and moisture. It lacks sufficient protection and girth for long, gnarly, rugged routes, but it’s agile enough to handle shorter segments of rocky trails. If you want to have just one trail running shoe in your bag, make it the versatile and reliable Peregrine. $120; saucony.com

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