Do you love running trails but the trails aren’t loving your feet back? It sounds like you need the best trail running shoes for backpacking.
It’s six o’clock in the morning, and you’re ready to conquer the world. Other runners nicknamed this trail “the grinder” but you’ve just finished your warm-up stretches, and today it’s your turn to show this new trail who’s boss. After checking your backpack, you begin your run feeling absolutely fantastic. The fresh, cold air is flowing through your lungs, your legs feel like pistons, and you can smell the wet grass and damp earth under your feet.
Fast forward 10 miles and your feet are screaming at you to stop conquering the world and soak them in some Epsom salt ASAP. You’re feeling every rock and root jabbing the bottom of your feet. You’ve slipped and fallen four times already, as evidenced by your bloody elbow and knee. Yup, the grinder has won this round.
But don’t throw in the towel just yet. Because once you have best trail running shoes for backpacking in your arsenal, you’ll turn “the grinder” into the “the grinded” in no time.
Best Trail Running Shoes for Backpacking Comparison Table
Finding the Best Trail Running Shoes for Backpacking
When searching for the best trail running shoes for backpacking, it’s important to consider a few factors. First, you need traction. Shoemakers emphasize traction as one of their product’s main features and for a good reason. Running a trail demands shoes with thick and durable soles that can keep you from slipping and injuring yourself on slippery surfaces. Next, you need extra toe and foot protection to guard the bottom and sides of your feet from nasty debris like rocks and roots. Trail running is hard on feet, especially around the toes and under the arch.
One factor that’s a matter of personal taste is choosing between waterproof or breathable footwear. Most runners split on this factor. Some prefer shoes that will keep their feet dry when running in areas with lots of water, while others prefer shoes that will dry quickly and not make their feet sweat. However, keep in mind that sweat can lead to blisters. This happens due to socks sticking to the bottom of your feet when wet, causing friction, which in turn forms blisters.
Finally, you want to make sure your shoes are a proper fit and give you adequate circulation. The wrong shoe size can cause numerous injuries to your feet, including black toenails, numbness, swollen feet, and other nasty ailments that can make life miserable. So be sure to test out any shoe for a good week or two before committing. Listen to your body. If the shoes don’t feel right, send them back.
How We Found the Best Trail Running Shoes for Backpacking
Our process for finding the best trail running shoes for backpacking consisted of consulting numerous online forums and social media pages to hear about the footwear that trail runners are most excited about. We then narrowed our search based on positive customer reviews. Customer feedback was the criteria given the most weight in our evaluations. We’ve found that customers can tell you the ins and outs of a product better than anyone else. That’s because customers are invested in being 100 percent honest in their evaluations. They don’t owe the manufacturer or retailer anything. After reading over hundreds of reviews, we picked the best shoes based on the most positive and compelling customer testimonies.
The cost of some of the best trail running shoes for backpacking differ between models and brands. You can expect to pay between $$ and $$ on average for a pair of shoes. However, you’ll probably find that most high-quality running shoes will cost somewhere around $$ to $$. Also, keep in mind, that trail running shoes wear down much faster than regular running shoes, so expect to buy a new pair every year or so if you’re an active trail runner.
8 Best Trail Running Shoes for Backpacking
We found eight promising candidates in our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking. These shoes all offer advanced cushioning and precise sole distribution mechanics designed with trail runners in mind. We also included a mix of waterproof and breathable footwear. Some shoes also have gaiter connections that give you added optional gaiter protection. However, the warranty terms differed with many shoe manufacturers.
Altra Lone Peak 4
Our first entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the Altra Lone Peak 4. This shoe features a Footshape™ Toe Box that gives your toes the room to relax and spread out naturally for added comfort and stability during uphill climbs and downhill descents. The Zero Drop™ Platform design provides equal distance from the ground between your heel and forefoot, encouraging proper, low-impact form during your trail runs. Also, the Gaitertrap™ feature is a hook-and-loop tab that allows for strapless gaiter attachment, which prevents debris from getting into your shoe.
Trailclaw™ consists of canted lugs that are positioned strategically underneath the metatarsals, providing traction at toe-off. Additionally, the upper shoe is made out of a quick-dry air mesh while below your foot an energy-return compound called A-bound cushioning adds a spring to each step. That reduces ground impact. Finally, this shoe features MaxTrac™ which creates a perfect combination of traction, grip, and durability that will allow you to conquer hostile terrain like a boss.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.6 out of 5 stars. One customer praised the footwear’s Altra room toe box. Another said it had an outstanding grip and did not slip like the previous version. However, other customers complained that the shoe’s cushion was much thinner than the previous version and hurt their feet during runs.
This product can cost from $$ to $$. Plus, it includes a 300 to 500-mile limited warranty covering defective footwear.
- Allows your toes to relax and spread out naturally for more comfort and stability in uphill climbs and downhill descents.
- Places your heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground to encourage proper, low-impact form throughout your trail run.
- Energy-return compound sits directly under the foot to reduce ground impact and add a spring to each step.
- Hook-and-loop tab allows strapless gaiter attachment that prevents debris from building up beneath the shoe.
- Canted lugs positioned strategically beneath the metatarsals to provide traction at toe off
Saucony Peregrine 8
Our next entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the Saucony Peregrine 8. This shoe features EVERUN™ topsole construction that provides continuous cushioning and enhanced energy return throughout your run. The PWRTRAC outsole delivers optimal grip and traction across a wide variety of hostile terrain. It also has a four-millimeter heel-to-toe offset which offers a more natural ride and maximizes your body’s energy output. Finally, the PWRFOAM midsole gives you a smooth ride with a little extra rebound.
Amazon customers rated this footwear 4.3 out of 5 stars. One customer said that they liked the shorter laces, thicker sole, and superior breathability of the Peregrine 8. Another customer stated that the shoes gripped the terrain with fantastic traction. However, a few customers expressed issues with the product. Several customers claimed the soles started coming apart after a few hundred miles.
This product can cost from $ to $$. The company does not list an official warranty policy. However, they do offer to refund or exchange defective items without conditions.
Brooks Cascadia 13
Our third entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the Brooks Cascadia 13. This shoe features a 3D Rubber Print Mud Guard to protect your feet against trail debris. Plus, it has an integrated gaiter connection hookup and an internal saddle system that ensures a close-to-foot fit. The Ariaprene tongue offers extra comfort and breathability. Additionally, there is a slightly increased softness underfoot for a more cushioned ride. Lastly, the BioMoGO DNA midsole’s adaptive cushioning changes based on your step, and a Pivot Post system creates stabilizing suspension for a smoother ride.
Rei customers rated this product 4.5 out of 5 stars. Customers loved the footwear’s comfort, traction, and breathability. One customer said the shoes felt sturdy like a pair of hiking boots. However, other customers complained that the shoes felt too tight.
This product can cost from $$ to $$. Plus, it includes a 90-day trial run money-back guarantee.
- Kick up your heels and churn up the mud as you take to the wild outdoors in the wet-trail performance of the Brooks Cascadia 13 trail-running shoe!
- Predecessor: Cascadia 12.
- Support Type: Neutral.
- Cushioning: Lightweight, flexible response.
- Surface: Trail. Differential: 10 mm. Please click here for more information about Cascadia 13 technology. Tightly knit, birdseye mesh upper with a 3D Rubber Print mud-guard overlay. Structurally-supportive mid-foot saddle. Lace-up closure with guard that keeps lace ends secure and tucked away. Heel pull loop. Padded tongue and collar. Soft Element fabric lining offers a great in-shoe feel. Removable profile sockliner. Trail-specific Pivot Post System technology supplies stabilizing suspensio
Salomon Speedcross 4
Our next entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is theSalomon Speedcross 4. This shoe features Aggressive Grip that hugs trails better than ever. Precise foothold combines Sensifit with Quicklace, performance last shape, and endoFit for a superior ride. Plus, it offers the lightweight waterproof protection of GORE-TEX against some of the trail’s most treacherous elements. Finally, the EVA midsole provides outstanding cushioning to ward away sore feet.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.4 out of 5 stars. One trail runner said he absolutely swears by these shoes. He praises their great grip with their exceptionally light cleat-like features. Also, he says the shoes strike a balance between cushioning and feeling the trail beneath your feet. However, some customers claimed the shoes started to fall apart after a few runs. One customer advises that they do not fare well on hard surfaces like asphalt.
These shoes can cost from $ to $$. Plus, they come with a 2-year warranty.
- Agressive Grip : Obvious and penetrating traction on soft ground
- Precise Foothold : Close-to-foot and comfortable feel
- Contragrip rubber sole; MIDSOLE HEIGHT : 30mm/20mm (10mm drop);WEIGHT: 310g
- Aggressive Grip : Obvious and penetrating traction on soft ground , minimalistic and strong lace for one-pull tightening. Easy-on, easy-off
- EVA midsole provides lighweight cushioning and stability
Altra King MT 1.5
Our fifth entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the Altra King MT 1.5. This rugged-looking shoe features a FootShape™ Toe box with Fully Cushioned Zero DropTM Platform offering outstanding comfort. Plus, the midsole has Altra EGO™ cushioning. Additionally, it has GAITERTRAP™ hookups that allow for the use of a gaiter attachment, which prevents debris from getting into your shoes. The FootLock™ strap was repositioned medially and lower down the arch to improve comfort. Additionally, the neoprene inside the heel offers more softness and stability than ever. Finally, the ultra-grippy Vibram® MEGAGRIP™ outsole and six-millimeter TRAILCLAW™ lugs make this one beast of a trail running shoe.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.3 out of 5 stars. One runner, who described the King MT 1.5 as one tough shoe, said that the wide toe box, grippy tread, and cushioned sole made lightweight backpacking incredible. However, one reviewer complained that the shoe was too flat.
This product can cost from $ to $$. Plus, it includes a 300 to 500-mile limited warranty covering defective shoes.
- If your running adventures take you to rocky and muddy environs, the King MT 1.5 from Altra is prepared to tackle it all!
- Predecessor: King MT.
- Support Type: Neutral.
- Cushioning: Lightweight, flexible response.
- Surface: Trail. Differential: 0 mm. Altra Zero Drop recommends that those new to natural running and zero-drop footwear transition slowly by wearing these on shorter runs and gradually building up to regular mileage. Ideal for trail running, off-road racing, hiking, and backpacking. Designed to help improve natural running form, walking form, and toe splay. Quick-drying Ripstop nylon uppers with increased drainage near toes and midfoot. Lace-up closure. Foot-shaped toe box allows natural
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Our next entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor. This shoe may have the coolest name on the list. It features a highly compressed EVA rock guard that protects your feet from rock bruises. The Sticky FriXion® XF rubber outsole delivers an impressive grip on rocks and overall better traction for the trail. Lastly, its Deluxe heel pocket cushioning and reinforcement provides better comfort for your ride.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.4 out of 5 stars. One customer said he purposely tested the shoes on a trail run with a lot of wet granite and they gripped the terrain like glue. Another customer stated they dried very quickly and gave his feet lots of air during tough runs. However, several customers complained about the company’s shoe sizing. Many reviewers say the shoe runs small.
This product can cost from $$ to $$. La Sportiva’s warranty period is unspecified. However, the company does claim it will refund or exchange shoes after a “warranty evaluation” to determine if the damage is from a defect or normal wear and tear.
- Footbed: Ortholite Mountain Running
- Lining: Mesh with Easy-in PU leather insert for ease of fit and heel stability
- Midsole: Injected shock absorbing EVA
- Sole: FriXion XF (grippy) with Impact Brake System and integrated rubber protection toe cap
- Upper: Breathable air-mesh with microfibre reinforcement, abrasion resistant coating and a Performance Platform. The uppers are assembled on a compression molded EVA platform
Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX®
Our next entry into our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is theSalomon XA Pro 3D GTX®. This shoe features a 3D advanced chassis that transforms your feet into trail dominating juggernauts. Plus, the shoe’s full premium wet traction grip ensures that you’ll stay on your feet even in the most tricky situations on the trail. Lastly, the long-lasting waterproofing protection of Gore-Tex reinforces the toe cap and provides smartly placed protection.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.5 out of 5 stars. One customer praised the shoe’s incredible grip and Gore-Tex waterproof feature. Another customer called the shoe a great value and a quality product that will last for years. Other customers complained that the shoes made their feet hurt. One customer claimed that his big toe went numb after a few months of use.
This product can cost from $$ to $$ and includes a 2-year limited warranty.
- Stability : 3d chassis stabilizes the foot without sacrificing forefoot mobility
- Precise fit: sensifit with quick lace delivers a fast, comfortable fit for every foot.
- Aggressive grip: contagrip with aggressive lug design ensures grip on all surfaces and terrain types.
- Outsole: non marking running contagrip
- Chassis: 3d advanced chassis
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4
The last entry in our search for the best trail running shoes for backpacking is the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4. This shoe features a breathable flymesh upper that provides a more lightweight feel. The Flywire cables work with the laces to improve both balance and comfort while running. The Phylon midsole with Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot gives you more spring to each step. Additionally, it has a top cap for added protection from debris like rocks and tree roots. Finally, the waffle design with exaggerated lugs on the bottom gives the shoe incredible grip and traction on wet surfaces.
Amazon customers rated this shoe 4.7 out of 5 stars. One customer said the shoe had a lightweight feel and very thick tread that made it perfect for the trail. Moreover, customer after customer raved about the shoe’s comfort and durability. One customer noted the backs tended to come up a little far. He claimed that the shoes gave his son blisters on his heels.
This product can cost from $ to $$. Plus, it includes a 2-year limited warranty.
Here Are the Best of the Best Trail Running Shoes for Backpacking
Our top two best trail running shoes for backpacking are the Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX® and the Altra King MT 1.5. The Salomon model was the best waterproof shoe on our list, while the Altra model proved to be the best breathable shoe. Both shoes feature highly sophisticated traction and cushioning. They also are both very affordable and have great warranties.
Most importantly, a sizable majority of customers raved about the durability, comfort, and value the shoes have to offer. We hope you’ve found this information about the best trail running shoes for backpacking useful in your search. Good luck and keep it moving.