Sole Man: 13 Tips For Buying Trail Shoes

Editor-in-chief Brian Metzler helps you find the best shoe for your needs.

In the past 15 years — since the advent of specialized trail running shoes — I’ve heard many runners ask whether or not they really need trail running shoes or how they can find the best shoe for their needs. Truth be told, it’s not as easy as finding an ideal road running shoe. Do I need a waterproof shoe? What’s a rock plate? Why can’t I use my road shoes on the trails? What are one-pull laces? Factors such as trail conditions, type of running, steepness of terrain and even climate play as much of a role in selecting the correct shoe as the typical variables of fit, comfort, cushioning and ride.

Here are 13 points to consider when looking for your next trail running shoe. There is no right answer, but if you feel uncomfortable in a pair of shoes — either for a few strides or over a few hours — chances are you’re probably not in the right shoe. If they feel clunky, heavy, too low to the ground, etc., you’re probably in the wrong shoe for the terrain you’re on and your style of running. Bottom line? Go to a specialty running store and try on several pairs to understand how these variables differ from shoe to shoe.

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