Make your trail runs even more enjoyable by finding your perfect off-road runners
We ask a lot of our trail running shoes – they have to be ready for all kinds of terrains, weathers and temperatures, while also giving us tip top support and stopping us from slipping up. We asked our expert testers to tell us all about their favourite off-road runners – read on for their picks.
If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for in a trail shoe, check out our running shoe guide that has all the info you need to know. And if budget is on your mind, we’ve shared our favourite shoes under £100 here.
HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6| £114.99
These have performed brilliantly. especially for their price range. Not quite in the same league as HOKA’s Speedgoats, but even in severe wintry conditions, on boggy winter trails with technical descents, these are spot-on. Different runners have varied experiences with HOKAs due to their distinctive design; I didn’t feel these were too hard during the foot strike. The upper feels flexible with a rugged toe box, the inside of the heel cuff is plush down to the bottom of your foot, protecting your Achilles, and you get a slightly different lug configuration than on most shoes: they are more grouped together on the Challenger ATR 6. Also I noticed straightaway how ease these shoes make running on pavements, so for versatility they’re a winner.
ALTRA Olympus 4 | £149.99
The Altra Olympus has a new look compared to its predecessors, but if you’re already an Altra fan, you’ll find everything you love about them here: that unique toebox and zero drop that Altra is famous for. The shoe has great support and cushioning, with its enhanced toe area that helps your foot to spread out. The grid-like grooves on the sole give your feet flexibility and feel stable, even on the roughest trails. They provided brilliant grip on all terrains, on wet and dry surfaces. Lightweight and breathable, there is a clever perforation in the construction that will offer you comfort all year round. They’re bulkier to look at than some of their competitors, but packed with technology and features, while the overall feel is light and responsive. I tested them in Moroccan blue, which has a magenta and purple sole, and they look as great as they feel.
SALOMON Wildcross W | £120
What a treat – a very different pair of shoes to test, with all the benefits of Salomon tech in the lower part of the trainer, with a comfy, road shoe feel to the upper. Internally these feel quite plush, although at the same time you can feel how rugged the shoe is under your foot; I already know the Contragrip rubber outsole with the chunky, multi-directional lugs is going to be amazing in the winter mud! The toe area is well protected with reinforced rubber, perfect for the flinty South Downs Way, and the sides of the lacing system offer extra support too (the DreamTex wings!). The price point felt more than reasonable for what these shoes provide. The laces threading through the tongue is new to me, too (one pull and you’re done). The shoes were very impressive for autumn and I can’t wait to get out on those winter trails! A final thought; if you like a wide toe box, you’ll love these.
DYNAFIT Ultra 100 | £130
This is a shoe that has been specifically designed for long mountain runs and comes with excellent cushioning and greater comfort thanks to the newly-developed midsole. I would say that the Dynafit Ultra 100 is a robust shoe; it provides cushioning, is supportive and yet extremely agile. This is a shoe which can be used on varied terrain and will provide grip even in wet conditions. The upper material of the shoe is stretchy and the laces can really be loosened under the mesh covering but may take some getting used to. The laces can also be stowed away under the mesh to keep them secure. Breathable, lightweight and a shock-absorbing sole which pretty much adapts to the shape of your foot. Your ankle and heels will be well-supported on any terrain. I would however recommend going up half a size for a more comfortable ride. This is a very good all-rounder; such a sleek looking off-road shoe.
BROOKS Catamount | £125
The first time I wore these, something happened to me that has never happened before in all my years of running: someone stopped me to say how gorgeous my shoes were and asked where she could buy them! So that’s the style covered then: these shoes turn heads. I know they’re white and that they’re trail shoes and that I’ll cry as soon as they’re covered in mud, but they’re divine. Out on the trails, they perform as beautifully as they look: they are bouncy, supportive and roomy, and they’re incredibly light too despite the plentiful and effective grip on the outsole. Thumbs up from me, and I enjoyed being ‘noticed’ too!
NEW BALANCE Fresh Foam Hierro V5 | £125
This shoe stood out due to its all-round performance. Esther tested this shoe on the hilly trails surrounding Bath: “These shoes are so impressively comfy, especially on longer runs where you rely on internal support for your feet. The cushioning was brilliant, whether it was light trails or more tricky, technical paths, and I enjoyed wearing these on hikes as well as runs. They felt supportive, with lovely non-slip soles and good-sized lugs.” Another high score was given for the Hierro from Tina: “The toe protector felt solid, no matter how rocky it was underfoot, and you feel you have ‘megagrip’ with the Vibram outsole which feels rugged without the lugs being too clumpy.”
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4 | £125
The 4 is so comfortable, with the signature plush Hoka cushioning, and you can go straight into running far in these. The midsole is tall but stable, and the overall feel is slightly firm, so your feet have solid protection, especially on tricky terrain. The outer lugs have a multidirectional patterning to give you that extra traction through the mud. The upper fits just right, but your feet are still going to get wet in deeper puddles. These are bread and butter shoes for any kind of terrain. They make running on tricky trails so easy.