Take your cardio to the backcountry trails.
By Trent Jonas
One of the key qualities to look for in a trail running shoe is support. You want a shoe that will cushion your feet from hard surfaces and prevent injury when you’re running on rough terrain, often contending with rocks, roots, or ruts. We took a look at a bunch of contenders out there, and we came up with this list of seven supportive trail running shoes that will help you blaze whatever trail you choose.
The HOKA One One Challenger has been around for a long time and has gone through many iterations—its staying power is a testament to the quality of the shoe and its many loyal wearers. The Challenger is awesome on the trails because of its combination of lateral support and cushioning, protecting your feet from sharp rocks and ankle-turning terrain. This shoe also has serious waterproofing cred, keeping feet dry in winter or wet weather.
Another elder statesman of the trail running space, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 is a shoe for those who want support and comfort on the trail in a light, breathable package. The latest version of the shoe comes with more mesh and perforations, so it’s more breathable than ever—but not ideal for wet weather—but still maintains the support and cushion you want in a trail runner thanks to exposed Flywire cables, waffle pistons, and Cushion ST foam.
The makers of your dad’s favorite shoe are also behind some seriously supportive—and very popular—trail runners in the form of the Fresh Foam Hierro. This entry from New Balance boasts a breathable, but toe-protecting upper, in a foot-conforming bootie construction that’s cushioned with a Fresh Foam platform and a Vibram MegaGrip outsole.
Few shoemakers know trails better than Salomon, which specializes in outdoor adventure footwear and gear. And the venerable Supercross trail runner is a testament to Salomon’s expertise in the area. With a midsole crafted from their proprietary EnergyCell material, along with superior grip and foothold technology designed into the shoe, the Supercross is certain to keep you surefooted on the trail in any condition.
Famously known for their hiking and work boots, Danner has made a solid entry into the trail running space with its Trail 2650. Evolved from hiking rather than running, the Trail 2650 is a little heavier than some of the other entries on this list, but it also boasts some serious support, including an Ortholite footbed, and Plyogo midsole, made from ultralight EVA, and a Vibram Megagrip outsole.
The beefy sole on the Adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley combines with the lightweight mesh upper to make this popular shoe one of the most comfortable on the list. The Terrex Two is soft and supportive, thanks to lightweight EVA cushioning, a boost midsole, and a Continental rubber outsole, allowing your feet to expand and flex as you run.
Renowned for making comfortable shoes, when it comes to trail runners, Merrell also offers incredible support in its footwear. The MTL Long Sky, for example, offers an EVA foam midsole with a medial post, as well as a removable EVA foam insole, for comfort, support, and pronation control. An internal bootie, molded TPU heel counter, and Vibram Megagrip, keep your feet stable and supported in the show while running. All the while, a mesh upper and lining ensure breathability.