A Guide to Waterproof Trail Running Shoes
Trail running is a go-to hobby for many outdoor enthusiasts and comes with a range of physical health benefits. Not only is the scenery better but your ankles become stronger from running on more uneven terrain.
But before you go running on the trails, you need to ensure you have the right type of footwear on. While there are numerous trail running shoes on the market, the unfortunate thing is that not all of them offer high-quality performance.
Fortunately, we saved you all that trouble by scouring the market to find the best trail running shoes that have waterproof technology built in. Keep on reading to find out more.
Why Should I Choose Trail Running?
The benefits of trail running may be unique to the many individuals who partake in it. However, we can all agree that it is a reliable way to unwind after a long day at work and rejuvenate your mind.
Trail running further offers you the opportunity to get outside more and exercise your muscles and joints. Overall, it comes with legitimate benefits that anyone who has ever tried trail running can attest to.
What is the Best Construction for Trail Running Shoes?
Some trail shoes have an aggressive-looking outsole made out of tough rubber. This makes them ideal for muddy paths, but they will make you feel like you’re on ice skates when stepping on wet and steep roads.
When you run, your feet tend to constantly make tiny adjustments meant to help you stay in balance. This means if you’re using shoes with a hard sole that doesn’t twist, then it reduces the impact your toe movements have on your balance.
As a result, you might experience a notable degree of instability that can deflate your confidence when running on unstable ground.
Take walking boots for instance; they feel uncomfortable to run with because of the same reason. The right type of trail running shoe should let you feel the ground, as well as offer enough wriggling space for your toes. On the downside, having your feet too close to the ground means you’ll feel more of the roots, stones, and other debris on the ground.
How Does ‘Stack Height’ and ‘Drop’ Affect Trail Running Shoes?
As you search for the best waterproof trail running shoe to buy, you will likely come across jargon like ‘drop’ and ‘stack height’. This is usually confusing for beginners but the two parameters have a significant effect on the performance of trail running shoes.
Stack height simply indicates the thickness of the midsole, both at the heel and the toe. But with the current trade-off between barefoot running and highly cushioned running, stack height is slowly becoming a crucial stat, which shows how the running shoe will behave.
In simple terms, shoes with a high stack height are better cushioned, although less responsive because of the reduced underfoot feel.
On the other hand, low stack height results in little cushioning but greater underfoot feel, hence better stability. Depending on the nature of the ground you’re running on, the choice of stack height in a trail running shoe is all up to your preference.
Drop refers to the difference in stack height between the toe and the heel. A shoe with a 0 mm drop means the toe and heel sections of the outsole are on the same level, the same as when you’re barefoot. Lately, the concept of ‘barefoot running’ is becoming quite popular among manufacturers.
This is where runners use shoes with a very low stack height. The drop of the shoe, in this case, is between o and 12mm, with anything under 5mm considered to be a ‘low-drop’ shoe.
The drop affects how your feet strike the ground when you run. A high drop shoe (8mm+) promotes heel strike whereas a low-mid drop (-8mm) results in a mid-forefoot strike. Note that stack height and drop don’t influence each other in any way. If you like, you can look for a high stack height trail running shoe with no heel-to-toe drop at all.
Should Trail Running Shoes be Waterproof?
Water-resistance is an important feature to consider in a trail running shoe, especially if you tend to run in wet conditions. As such, you might want to find a pair with a waterproof membrane inside. This does a great job of keeping water out, allowing you to step in puddles of water and mud without your feet getting wet. The only thing is that the property stops making sense when water molecules find their way inside through the top of the shoe.
Ideally, you should avoid stepping on any pools where the water can rise above your ankle as this can easily interrupt your run. In the end, waterproof running shoes are essential but you also want to ensure they are breathable.
If you don’t have a pair of waterproof socks, then opt for a pair of good hiking socks with a merino wool inner lining to wear with these.
What’s the Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoe? – Reviews
Salomon Men’s SENSE RIDE 3
Salomon has been producing reliable trail running shoes for as long as we can remember. It is a renowned hiking shoe brand that boasts a long line of popular footwear intended for a range of outdoor adventurers.
The Sense Ride 3s are an exciting pair tailored for ardent trail runners. They come with an all-terrain design that allows them to perform on various off-road surfaces, including mud, snow, rock, and gravel.
Whether you want to run on rugged backcountry trails or hike on slippery mountainous trails, you can rely on these shoes for a flawless experience. Tipping the scales at 1lb 3.8Oz, they are conveniently lightweight to keep you mobile on the trail without dragging you down. Add this to the sticky rubber outsole and you can expect to remain on your twos even when the surface gets wet and slippery.
The shoes are designed to have extra protection around the foot, as well as added durability in the upper, which helps to maintain their shape through multiple cycles of use.
This stiff construction means it can comfortably take a beating on technical and demanding trails. Don’t panic when you have to cover long-distance runs, decent cushioning in the midsole reduces the impact as you pound the hard ground, keeping premature fatigue at bay.
When it comes to mountain running trainers, the Salomon Sense Ride 3s are arguably the best you can get! On the downside, the pair is not as breathable as you may want, and it can get a little bit uncomfortable when running in hot conditions.
Also, the shoe runs rather narrow, so people with wider feet might feel slightly squeezed. Other than that, you can expect the Salomon Sense Ride 3s to provide you with a fulfilling morning run, day after day!
Salomon Women’s XA PRO 3D Trail Running Shoes
This is an elegant choice for women who like to stay in shape by hitting the trails every so often. The Salomon Women’s XA Pro 3D trail running shoes are quite popular in the market and boast an impressive rating on Amazon.
Despite offering a rugged waterproof performance, the shoes manage to maintain an aesthetic look that should appeal to ladies who don’t want to compromise their sense of fashion while they exercise.
You also get to choose from a range of charming colours, including white, blue, black, as well as pink to incorporate the footwear into your workout outfit.
Overall, this shoe is not too different from the men’s Salomon models we mention in this review. For instance, the Gore-Tex weatherproof outer does a great job of protecting your feet against the elements. This keeps them dry and comfortable at all times.
A Kevlar Quicklace system saves you precious time when wearing the XA Pros and makes for a tight and snug fit to prevents fiddling around with the laces during your jog. This allows you to focus on the trail ahead without unnecessary interruptions.
You’ll also appreciate Salomon’s 3D chassis on the shoe, which helps to lock your foot firmly in place. Add this to the Ortholite insole and EVA midsole, you can expect a comfortable and injury-free trail running experience.
Meanwhile the Contragrip outsole offers stable traction on a variety of surfaces, helping to keep you upright throughout the journey. The only grievance is that the shoes can be a little bit weighty, which can be credited to the performance-specific build meant to make them more suitable for firm terrains.
Nonetheless, they will be perfect for newbie enthusiasts looking for a practical pair to start their outdoor running adventure.
HOKA One One Challenger ATR 5 GTX
The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 GTX manages to deliver a pitch-perfect trail running experience on smoother road surfaces and rougher off-road trails. It boasts a design that optimally uses excellent running dynamics on a waterproof shoe to create a go-to bad-weather running gear.
A heavy lug pattern on the shoe’s outsole firmly grips the tarmac, as well as the muddy paths, to ensure no loss of traction. You can switch from the city roads to back-country roads without noticing a change in performance.
The lugs dig deep into the ground to offer stable performance on the most slippery towpaths, keeping you on your feet at all times. The Gore-Tex material covering the shoe upper is lightweight and breathable for your running comfort. However, its major role is to protect your feet from any kind of moisture. This helps to keep them warm and dry even when it rains, meaning you get an all-weather shoe to use throughout the year.
The tailored trail running design of the Challenger ATR is enhanced by the brand’s unique Meta-Rocker midsole geometry. This features a chunky build that rolls the foot forward, combining take-off and landing into one seamless movement.
Even if you’re a little bit rusty from a long period of inactivity, these shoes will help you get back to form without trying too hard.
When it comes to the fit, this is one of the snuggest options on the market. The shoe fits tightly around your feet, which comes in handy for retention of balance during running.
However, the relatively squeezed toe box robs you of the ability to wriggle your digits and get a feel of the ground. Lastly, a mesh upper helps to enhance ventilation to keep your feet fresh and cool in a hot environment.
Salomon Speedcross 5
Unlike the Salomon Sense Ride 3s above, the Speedcross 5s are better suited for soft and more established trails; they may not thrive in extreme trails with extra-rugged terrain.
Nevertheless, they are well-equipped with a range of features that enable them to perform reliably on the trail. For one, the shoes feature large 6mm arrow-shaped multidirectional lugs on the outsole to deliver best-in-class traction on soft surfaces like mud, dirt, and even snow.
This also helps to protect your feet on debris-filled paths. However, you may not be impressed by the performance-oriented narrow fit, which can get comfortable over time.
With their supportive upper material, the Speedcross 5s provide reliable performance on more than just road or concrete. You can wear them when running on grass, sand, grass without experiencing a deteriorated performance.
The shoe fits nicely from the feet to the toes. This is thanks to the molded Ortholite inside, which allows the Spreedcross 5 to fit like a glove. With the snug fit, sand particles, small stones, and other tiny debris on the surface will have a hard time getting inside the shoes.
Gore-Tex material is also integrated into the design of the pair to keep water outside. However, the material will only hold off slight showers and splashes but not torrential downpours. On the bright side, it is breathable enough to keep your feet from suffocating.
The manufacturer built the shoe will a slightly tall slack height, which robs your toes of ground feel and makes you feel tippy while running. This reduces your stability while increasing the risk of falling on slippery sections of the trail.
Overall, these are a comfortable pick for anyone who goes on a daily morning run. They also boast an appealing look to go with a lightweight build, keeping you stylish and comfortable on the trail.
Saucony Men’s Peregrine 10 GTX
If you’re thinking of taking on a wet trail highlighted by muddy patches and frequent stream crossings, the Saucony Men’s Peregrine is one of the best waterproof trail running shoes you can opt for. Made using waterproof Gore-Tex material, it manages to deliver all-weather off-road performance on all kinds of terrains.
Furthermore, the high-traction outsole fitted on the shoe gives you the confidence to face any obstacles on the trail.
This low-to-ground shoe is designed with a minimal heel to forefoot drop of just 4mm. It allows your toes to feel the trail, enhancing stability during running. However, extra protection shields you from the jolts common in other models.
You can plow through a range of terrains with the shoe on without compromising your footing, including slippery wet grass and mud paths.
While the Gore-Tex offers reliable water protection, it can make the shoe upper feel relatively stiff and confining. Fortunately, this is not the case in the Peregrine 10 GTX. Its upper is less supple compared to other GTX models and fits your foot naturally.
However, these are not the most breathable trail running shoes out there. Thanks to the proprietory PWRTRAC outsole used on the shoes, you’ll enjoy superior traction on the most slippery of surfaces. This is made sure using a sticky rubber compound, paired with an aggressive 6-mm multidirectional lug pattern to keep you stable.
On the flip side, the grippy outsole tends to carry dirt on a muddy trail, so you’ll want to get it thoroughly cleaned before carrying the shoe into the house.
Your comfort is taken care of by the well-cushioned insole, as well as the inclusion of a rock plate that protects the underside of your feet from the impact of stepping on sharp objects on the ground.
Additionally, the shoe’s FORMFIT design features a reinforced upper that fits snugly around your feet. However, the heel cups can feel a little bit stiff, so you might want to go up a half size if you have bigger-than-average feet.
Whether you’re trying to get back in shape or keen on escaping the crowded pavements in the city, trail running is a healthy activity that you can adopt as a hobby. But to get the most out of it, you need the right pair of running shoes.
So, if you are in the market for something your can rely on for a fulfilling experience, any of the trail running shoes discussed above will be a nice place to start.
Should Trail Running Shoes be Waterproof?
Waterproof running shoes can be useful for those running in relatively wet surfaces with constant river crossings. They help your feet to stay dry and save you the irritation associated with wet feet during running.
However, this is not a must-have property in trail running shoes. The biggest reason is that, if not breathable, waterproof shoes can trap in the heat and sweat from your feet, which has its disadvantages. The same is true for water that manages to get in from the top.
Is It Bad to Run with Trail Shoes on the Pavement?
Trail running shoes are designed to offer greater traction and stability for runners. Primarily, they are meant for use on rugged off-road terrains where the ground is relatively unstable. This allows you to retain the confidence on slippery sections of the trail that you’d ordinarily feel vulnerable when sporting the wrong shoe type. While trail shoes are ideal for off-road activity, there is no harm in using them on the pavement or city streets.
Are Trail Running Shoes Worth it?
Trail running shoes are worth it because they are typically made from tougher materials than regular running shoes. As you’ll be running on more uneven surfaces, they need to be more robust.
This is fantastic because it means you have fantastic stability on the trail, and if you’re also a fan of road running then you can use them for this too.
Does Trail Running Burn Calories?
Trail running is a reliable way of shedding weight! According to experts, it burns approximately 10% more calories than road running.
The tougher and more demanding terrains associated with trail running cause you to work extra harder and help to improve your agility. It is also a good way to prevent injuries because you learn to be more stable while running!