Shoes to get you through the mud

Our pick of the best trail shoes for this winter

scarpa

by Trail Running |

Inov-8 X-Talon G 10

Inov-8 X-Talon G 10

buy

First things first: these are race shoes. And when youu2019re racing, you can sacrifice some things for speed. Like cushioning and protection, especially when the ground is soft. These are low on bounce (and drop, at 3mm), but exceptionally high on grip and traction. The 8mm graphene lugs moulded on to the flexible outsole (no rock plates here) carve through slime and grip to wet rock as if itu2019s dry. Weu2019re not immediately confident that the mesh uppers would stand up to extreme abuse, but for soft fells and even cross-country, theyu2019ll be a safe bet. Shoes this light and focussed deserve to be kept for race day, for when every gram counts. Weight: 197g (UK 8M)
Verdict: Flexible friends in the right conditions. 8/10

Hoka One One Zinal

Hoka One One Zinal

buy

Remember when Hokas were famous for their borderline-orthopaedic appearance? The new Zinal might come as a surprise. It is a (for Hoka) low-profile trail shoe that offers a good balance of light weight, grip and comfort. What it doesnu2019t offer too much of is cushioning. Think of it as an ideal shoe for a tarmac/trail parkrun u2013 thereu2019s certainly some snap in the toe-off, and a 5mm drop is just on the right side of pacy. Where these wonu2019t be welcome is anywhere near deep mud. The 4mm lugs arenu2019t the most aggressive, nor grippy. The Zinal does score points for employing an upper made from recycled yarn, though.
Weight: 232g (UK 8M)
Verdict: Responsive shoes for shorter runs. 7/10

Brooks Cascadia 16

Brooks Cascadia 16

buy

Heritage is always a risky word to use when talking about favourite models. Runners of a certain vintage will fondly recall the Cascadia 1 and frown upon any alterations. But come on, what's not to like about this cushioned, 16th version of an old favourite? It feels wonderfully soft and the type of shoe that moves from road to trail effortlessly. The new midsole and outsole construction lets the shoe mould easily to the ground, improving the stable ride, and is certainly up to the job for most everyday surfaces. There's also an updated Ballistic Rock Shield for protection on the gnarly stuff. And an 8mm drop. Weight: 270g (UK 6.5W) Verdict: Amazingly cushioned but well up for an adventure. 8/10

Nike Wildhorse 7

Nike Wildhorse 7

buy

If youu2019re new to trail running and want a name you recognise, buy these. They work off an 8mm drop, which makes easy miles a breeze. Beyond that, the amount of cushioning (and bounce) from the Nike React foam in the sole is among some of the best weu2019ve tested. A segmented rock plate protects at the midsole, though the forefoot wonu2019t withstand sharp rocks (you can see the foam through holes in the outsole). For hot weather these are the best here u2013 the mesh upper is very well ventilated. These were comfy from day one, grippy, offer adequate support, have taken the knocksu2026 and keep coming back for more.
Weight: 322g (UK 8.5M) Verdict: Near-perfect neutral shoe for easier terrain. 9/10

Scarpa Ribelle Run

Scarpa Ribelle Run

buy

We had trouble testing these shoes as we had to wait for a day in the mountains to really take them to their limits. However, it was worth the wait to make the most of them on the ultra-technical terrain they were built for. Although designed for short to medium-length runs, off a 4mm drop, we managed a couple of hours without discomfort. The 4mm lugs offered excellent grip on both wet and dry surfaces. With a superbly snug, wraparound fit, theyu2019re a joy to wear and the easy-tie laces help to seal in the foot to complement the waterproofing offered by the excellent upper. Great for a few short miles in the hills. Weight: 285g (UK 8M) Verdict: Great grip for the toughest terrain. 8/10

Saucony Endorphin Trail

Saucony Endorphin Trail

buy

Although not the lightest, these eye-catching shoes know how to get a wriggle on. Their Speedroll technology helps propel you through the gait cycle, PWRRUN foam isolates you from harsher surfaces, while 4.5mm lugs tear through mud. Those lugs are arranged in a way that assists downhill grip but promotes uphill progress. The fit is sock-like, secure and comfy, and the outsole provides good traction on a variety of surfaces, from wet grass to tree root-strewn riverbanks. A 4mm drop adds to the feeling of immediacy and makes these a pair weu2019d lace up for quicker training runs. And if youu2019re not afraid of garish designs! Weight: 324g (UK 8M) Verdict: Stable all-rounders for a variety of autumn trails. 8/10

Salomon Ultra Glide

Salomon Ultra Glide

buy

Looking for an all-day-comfortable pair of shoes for all terrains? Youu2019ve some to the right place. Not only does their weight compare favourably, but also their versatility shines through. Working off a 6mm drop, theyu2019re on the neutral side when it comes to the ride. The upper is comfortable and cradles the foot nicely, but the real benefit is in the outsole. Salomonu2019s Contragrip tech has a grippy rubber compound that keys into wet rocks with confidence. The cushioning is also worth shouting about u2013 good enough for an ultra, but equally adept at short distances u2013 while the transition from footstrike to toe-off is smooth. Weight: 319g (UK 11M) Weight: Comfortable and responsive over any distance. 9/10

361u00b0 Taroko 2

361u00b0 Taroko 2

buy

The Taroko 2 is a shoe that will guide you from road to trail in confidence. It shares its 9mm drop with some of the brand's road shoes, and the outsole does have more flexibility than most trail footwear. Cushioning is good, aided by a Quikfoam midsole, while there is some modicum of stability afforded by the guided transition from heel to toe. The outsole grip isnu2019t exceptional, though, and the lugs are far from deep u2013 but for a starter shoe for those new to the dirt, these wonu2019t cost the Earth, will feel familiar to runners transitioning from the road, and have certainly given us the impression that theyu2019re built to last. Weight: 310g (UK 8M) Verdict: Well suited to fire roads, less so to mountain tops. 7/10

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us