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How to choose your trail shoes?

Trail running is a growing discipline and requires specific shoes to meet the demands of this sport. Indeed, trail running is practised on rougher terrain than road running (forest paths, mountain trails, hiking trails, etc.).

A trail shoe must therefore meet 3 essential criteria: grip, protection and cushioning.

The grip of a trail running shoe

Unlike the road where the terrain will be almost identical from one run to the next, in trail running this is one of the specificities of the discipline: the terrain changes from one run to the next or even within the same run. You need to take this into account when choosing a shoe. Depending on your training terrain and the location of your races you will have different needs. Indeed, the need for grip, which is provided by the shoe's outsole, will be less on forest paths than if you are running in the mountains, where there is a difference in altitude and potentially rocky sections.

Note that the quality of the grip is not measured by the size of the studs: large studs do not guarantee a good grip (the evacuation of the earth between the studs is important). Depending on the brand, you may find Vibram or Continental soles on somes trail shoes (such as the Hoka SpeedGoat) or brand-specific technologies, the best known being Contagrip at Salomon.

Protection of your foot

The trail shoe offers better protection than a classic running shoe. Reinforcements on the upper, particularly on the front and sides of the foot, with a stone guard (which will protect your toes from shocks) and stronger materials (mesh, laces, etc.) contribute to the shoe's solidity. The variety of terrains and the hardness of the efforts (especially on multi-day ultra-trails) require resistant products.

The cushioning of your trail shoe

This notion is the most personal since it will depend on each runner and his stride (more or less forward). Some runners will appreciate having a good feeling of the ground and will prefer a light cushioning, while others will prefer oversized cushioning (found in brands such as Hoka One One or Altra). You can also have two different pairs of shoes that will allow you to meet your needs at any given time, depending on the terrain and distance.

Tip: Some brands offer waterproof models made of Gore-Tex, for example. These shoes are very practical to protect you from rain, snow or morning dew. Be careful, however, because unlike breathable mesh shoes that quickly evacuate water, Gore-Tex shoes will retain it.



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