Are Trail Running Shoes Worth It? | Hikers University

Trail running shoes are an essential piece of gear for a trail runner, but are trail running shoes worth it?

Trail running is a form of running that takes place on unpaved trails, such as dirt paths or forest trails. Unlike road running, trail running is often more challenging, as it can be more difficult to maintain a consistent pace and footing on uneven terrain. However, many runners find trail running more enjoyable than running on pavement, as it allows them to explore natural settings and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Trail running shoes are worth it because they offer a variety of benefits, such as cushioning, waterproofing, and support. Moreover, they also offer the depth and the tread you need in running shoes. Also, they have rock plates that protect your feet from sharp rocks under your feet.

In addition, trail running can have a number of benefits for your health, including reducing your risk of injury and increasing your cardio fitness. So whether you're looking for a new challenge or just a change in scenery, you should definitely try a spot of trail running.

As experienced trail runners, we have put together a number of reasons trail running shoes are worth the investment.

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Lugs are the bumps on the bottom of your trail running shoes that provide traction and grip. They vary in size and shape, and their arrangement on the sole of the shoe is what distinguishes one type of trail running shoe from another.

The best thing about lugs is that they can help you maintain traction and grip on a variety of different surfaces. For example, lugs with a deep, aggressive tread pattern are ideal for muddy surfaces, while lugs with a shallower tread pattern are better suited for sandy surfaces.

And on flat, dry surfaces, you'll want lugs with a very minimal tread pattern to avoid any unnecessary weight or bulk. Ultimately, the right lug pattern will depend on the types of trails you typically run on.

But no matter what, lugs can help you maintain traction and grip - two things that are essential for safe and enjoyable trail running.

Rock Plates

Trail running shoes are designed to provide protection and traction on rugged terrain. One of the features that makes them so effective is the rock plate. Rock plates are usually made of a stiff material like plastic or Kevlar and are located in the shoe's forefoot or midsole.

They help to protect your feet from sharp rocks and other objects that can cause bruises or injuries. In addition, rock plates add rigidity to the shoe's sole, providing better traction on slippery surfaces.

If you're planning on doing any trail running, choose a shoe with a rock plate for maximum protection and performance.


Waterproofing in trail running shoes is a great thing for a number of reasons. First, it helps to keep your feet dry and comfortable, even when running through puddles or wet grass. Second, waterproofing helps to protect your shoes from the elements, keeping them looking new for longer.

Third, waterproofing can help to prevent blisters and other problems caused by wet or sweaty feet. Fourth, waterproofing can help to keep your feet warmer in cold weather.

And fifth, waterproofing can help to keep your feet cooler in hot weather. So if you're looking for a versatile and durable pair of trail running shoes, choose a pair with waterproofing.


The cushioning in trail running shoes is designed to provide comfort and protection from the impact of running on rough terrain. The cushioning is usually made from a material called EVA foam, which is lightweight and absorbs shocks well.

Some trail running shoes also have a layer of gel in the cushioning to further improve shock absorption. The cushioning in trail running shoes is usually thicker than in regular running shoes, and it is often located in specific areas, such as the heel and forefoot, to provide extra protection.

The cushioning in trail running shoes can help to prevent injuries, and it can also make running on rough terrain more comfortable.


support is essential in any pair of running shoes, but it is especially important in trail running shoes. This is because the support helps to protect the foot from the impact of running on rough, uneven terrain.

It also helps stabilize the foot, preventing it from slipping or rolling when running over obstacles. In addition, support helps to keep your foot comfortable by preventing it from moving around too much inside the shoe.

As a result, support is a critical feature to look for when choosing a pair of trail running shoes.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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