Imagine you're running and you turn off the paved pavement onto the hiking trail in the countryside. Have you ever asked yourself if you need special trail shoes? Or do you think that a conventional running shoe is enough? We'll tell you: as soon as you regularly leave the paved surface, trail shoes are an extremely practical purchase. Find out why and what advantages trail shoes offer you. We'll show you what to look for when buying new trail shoes.
In which case do you need trail shoes?
The Trail shoe is not a fashionable gimmick or trend. It has features that ordinary road running shoes do not offer. They increase your safety, your comfort and ultimately the fun of running off the beaten track. To get back to the initial question: Do you enjoy running on gravel, dirt and forest trails? Do you like to take a few trails for a run? Then, at the latest, you should get yourself some trail running shoes.
The area of use for trail shoes is huge. From gravel paths to alpine single trails, there are countless ways to discover nature. That makes it all the more important to find the right shoe so that nothing spoils your enjoyment of nature. Trail shoes are specially designed for uneven ground, which often changes. To be prepared for anything, trail run shoes are more robust than standard They have special soles with better cushioning. Depending on the terrain and your preferences, you can choose from different profiles that influence the grip of the shoe.
Trail running shoes therefore offer several advantages and features compared to conventional running shoes:
- Trail shoes offer more grip in sand, mud, on grass, rocks and for remote alpine passes.
- Robust upper material protects you from impacts and bushes with nasty thorns. High-quality trail running shoes with a cushioning sole provide stability and comfort.
- Sophisticated rubber compounds for the tread provide grip and good self-cleaning.
- The soles of trail shoes are slightly wider than those of normal running shoes. And they are flatter so you stand lower, which is good for your centre of gravity.
- Trail shoes are usually heavier than the lightweight competition models.
The material: What should you look for when buying a trail shoe?Basically, the shoe has to fit you and your requirements. As already mentioned, trail running covers a wide range of terrain and ground conditions. It makes a difference whether you make occasional detours onto gravel paths or whether you regularly undertake tours in high alpine terrain.
In principle, you can say that a trail shoe is designed to be more robust than ordinary road running shoes. They offer greater comfort and special protection for the ankles or toes, for example. Many trail shoes are waterproof. They ensure maximum running fun in adverse conditions. Trail running shoes are therefore about comfort, protection and grip. The focus is not on maximum efficiency and high running speed, as is the case with normal running shoes. We explain which materials are used in the following.
The sole: protection from below
The sole of a trail running shoe is usually thicker than on normal running shoes. This is important to protect you from sharp stones, for example. A midsole made of EVA foam ensures that bumps are better cushioned and absorbed.
The tread: what matters in a trail shoe
The right tread is crucial for a safe running feeling. Trail running places high demands on the material. Often you are not only running on uneven, but also on slippery or muddy surfaces. It is crucial that your trail running shoe offers optimal grip even under such conditions.
Trail running shoes are usually heavily profiled for this purpose. Various studs, grooves or cleats ensure that the shoe adapts perfectly to the ground. This provides ideal grip and a safe running feeling. The studs and ribs are usually arranged so that the shoe cleans itself. In difficult conditions, for example in winter, the function of such a sole is particularly important.
More than aesthetics: The upper material of the trail running shoe
The sole and a well thought-out tread are the foundation of your trail running shoe. The upper material plays an equally important role. It is responsible for much more than the look of the shoe. Of course, the appearance is also important. After all, you have to like the shoe. There are countless colour and material mixes to choose from.
In addition, the upper material of the trail shoe has other important tasks. Its robust finish ensures that the shoe sits firmly overall and offers good support. For example, it protects you from twisting your ankle. This can easily happen off-road.
The upper material of some trail shoes is equipped with additional protection, for example rubber inserts or protective plates. Such inserts offer extra impact protection, for example from flying stones or branches. The closure mechanism of the trail shoe is usually also integrated into the upper material. The classic lace has established itself here. Practical quick lacing systems are also popular, allowing you to make adjustments very easily.
The right trail shoe for you
As you can see, there are a lot of different elements that make up a trail shoe. You should therefore be sure about where and how you want to use your trail running shoes:
- Do you only run on gravel paths and solid hiking trails?
- Do you only run in summer when the weather is good?
- Do you run all year round, even when the weather is bad?
- Are you always looking for the most challenging ground?
- Do the shoes go well on slippery rock or on muddy ground?
There are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself first. Your answers are probably not always clear. Fortunately, there are good all-round shoes that cover a wide range of uses. Salomon Sense Ride 4 trail running shoes or the Asics Trabuco Max are such all-rounders. Nike trail shoes like the Nike Pegasus Trail are also a good choice. For challenging terrain with muddy sections and soft surfaces, the Salomon Speedcross 5 will do a great job. Adidas trail shoes like the Agravic are also well suited for ambitious use. Special winter shoes also ensure a pleasant running experience in the colder months of the year. The Flight Vectiv from The North Face or the Salomon Supercross Winter are such winter models.
Trail running shoes for children
Trail running is a great sport, especially for children. The kids are moving in nature. They are far away from all the stress and dangers that lurk in the city. In addition, the movement on uneven terrain trains the coordination of the youngsters. So that the little ones don't lose the fun of running, it is important that you equip them with the right trail shoe.
Luckily, there is a wide selection of kids' trail running shoes. From bright colours to subtle tones, everything is available. You are guaranteed to find a model that suits your kids' tastes. As with adult shoes, function is the most important factor for kids' models. Here, the little shoes are in no way inferior to the big ones. From the tread to the sole to the upper material, trail shoes for kids are a mini version of adult shoes.
When it comes to trail running shoes for kids, you should pay particular attention to the quality. As simple as it sounds, it is not trivial to transfer the features of a large shoe to the mini version. So make sure that the finish is good and that high-quality materials are used. If you twist the shoe, you can easily find out whether it is stiff enough. It's just as easy to test whether the sole can be bent in the desired area.
What about trail running shoes for women?
In addition to the "men's trail running shoes" category, there is a large selection of trail shoes for women. The reason for this is the different anatomy of men and women. Women's feet are generally smaller, usually slimmer and have better stretch. Since women are also usually lighter than their male counterparts, the cushioning of a women's shoe needs to be softer. In short, there are many good trail running shoes especially for women. You can find them here.
Cold outside, warm inside: trail shoes for winter
The cold season is without a doubt a special challenge for both runners and equipment. Trail shoes play a central role here. They ensure that your feet stay warm and dry. This is crucial for your well-being on winter runs. The ground and the external influences are very unique in winter. It is usually damp, muddy and slippery. Dirt, rain and snow also affect your shoes. As you can see, a winter trail shoe has to be prepared for a lot! So what makes a good trail running shoe for winter?
- In winter, it is crucial that trail shoes remain permeable to water. That's why Gore Tex - or similar waterproof fabric - is used on winter trail running shoes. Waterproof trail running shoes give rain and snow no chance and your feet stay dry.
- Breathable materials are used to prevent sweaty feet. They ensure that sweat can escape from the inside, but nothing can penetrate the shoe from the outside. This keeps your feet warm and the wearing comfort high.
- On difficult ground in particular, the self-cleaning of the sole is important.
- Shoelace pockets ensure that the laces stay clean, which simplifies handling.
- Gaiters ensure a tight seal between the shoe and your legs. This way, dirt and water have no chance of penetrating inside.
Filthy and stinky? The right care for your trail running shoe
The well-known stinky foot is, of course, an issue when running. Modern trail shoes use breathable and antibacterial materials. Nevertheless, there comes a time when your shoe needs care. Not only because you wear them out from the inside: the external effects of dust, mud and water also leave their mark on your shoe. To ensure that you enjoy your trail running shoe for a long time, we recommend the following cleaning methods:
- First of all, one thing you should not do: Put the shoe in the washing machine. This is very bad for the material. The ingredients of detergents can attack the glue of your shoe. Remember: running shoes need a gentle hand wash.
- The most important tip: Clean your shoes immediately after use and don't let dirt dry in first. Then the mud is still wet and can easily be wiped off with a cloth. Once the dirt has dried, it takes much more effort. It is best to use warm water, a sponge or a soft brush for cleaning.
- After cleaning, you should make sure that the shoe dries quickly. The warm and humid climate is an ideal breeding ground for undesirable guests such as fungi or bacteria. So that your shoes don't smell worse than before, dry them quickly but gently. To do this, stuff absorbent paper inside the shoe and store it in a dry, warm room. The boiler room, for example, is ideal for this.
- Under no circumstances should you place your freshly cleaned trail running shoe on a hot radiator. An oven is also unsuitable. Too much heat can damage your shoe.
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