As with any trail/mountain race, long or short, the shoes are the most important choice you make. Put it simply – wrong trail shoes and you’re screwed.
In real life…“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world” but when it comes to trail running…
“Give a girl the right trail shoes and she will run the World. Literally.”
So how do you find the perfect trail running shoes? It’s really funny how quickly you can find out whether the shoes are THE ONES or not. It takes me about 2-3miles…
However, there are lots of factors that come into play – wide or narrow feet, terrain (dry or soft), heel drop and more.
My Trail Running Shoes Checklist
For me, it can be pretty clear after just one run. The first test is to see whether my arches are happy with the shoes; if I’m in pain after 2-3miles, it’s an easy no.
If the shoes passed my first test, then they are access against the following criteria;
// Comfy and cushioned in the right places, not stiff!
// Wide fit but still good grasp of my feet without being loose – basically good footwrapping skills
// Great grip depending on the terrain I need them for
// Toes protection – this is super important for more technical terrains and descents
// Support and heel drop – I’m not a fan of minimalist shoes, in fact my arches and calves don’t like them. This might due to playing basketball for over 10 years in the cushioned shoes where the heel drop would be 9mm+
I’ve been able to try and test a fair amount of trail shoes and the three pairs I really like and trust at the moment are Adidas Terrex Boost, Nike Wildhorse 3 and Scott Kinabalu.
I’ve heard great stories about Salomon Speedcross and the North Face shoes are on my wish list too – the new collection seems great and very cushioned. I’d also like to do a few runs in the trail shoes from La Sportiva. They’ve got a pair which is slightly higher and protects your ankle – similar to basketball shoes. I only managed to tried them on; they felt good and soft but that doesn’t mean anything until you clock some trail miles. Right?!
Scott T2 Kinabalu 2.0 Womens Trail Shoe (2014 model)
My first real trail running shoes love. Literally. A few weeks before my first ever ultra mountain race (144K) I didn’t know what trail shoes I was going to use. I was pretty hopeless until Simon recommended the Scott Kinabalu which he ran the CCC in. So I went on the internet and ordered myself a pair that day. They passed my first check and tick all the boxes on my checklist after a first long run. I was in love.
Why I love them
// Uber comfy with no blisters
// Great grip on dry and technical terrain
- Weight – 260g
- Heel to Toe Drop – 11mm
- Tech – eRide Composite push-through plate AeroFoam Wet traction rubber Water drainage system Lace bungy
- Material – Upper: Mesh/Synthetic Overlays Lower: EVA/rubber
Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 3
To me, trail running and Nike don’t go together or didn’t until last year. They’re big in the road and track running sector but when you run in the Alps they are nowhere to be seen (just yet and I might be blind). However, after last year UTMB I changed my mind. In 2015, Nike came to Chamonix with their first trail running team. David Laney, Zach Miller, Sally McRae, Tim Tollefson all took part in CCC or UTMB and they ran in Nike Wildhorse.
I managed to get my hands on these last year and I fell in love. They got me through my Mongolia madness – run on a frozen river in -40C, and climbed with me the Swiss, Italian and French alps when I was running around Monte Rosa for four days with Lizzy Hawker. Not counting all of the training miles in the ‘mountains’ of London.
Why I love them
// The shoe fits me incredibly well – wide fit but still hugging the foot in the right places
// Great toe protection
// Great grip
- Weight: 252 grams approx. (women’s size 5.5)
- Heel drop: 8mm
- Exaggerated outsole lugs provide optimal grip and shed mud
- High-abrasion TPU bars in the toe box and heel help protect the foot from debris
- Mesh inner sleeve wraps the foot for a plush, comfortable fit
- Wider forefoot than its predecessor enhances foot splay for comfort
Here’s a full review from IRunFar
Adidas Terrex Agravic
I’m a fan of adidas terrex collection which is made purely for outdoor environment – trail running, hiking, climbing, adventuring etc. They’ve only started about two years ago but the whole kit range is really high quality. I was able to test some of the kit in extreme temperatures in Mongolia. The
Agravic trail shoes are made specifically for women plus they feature the Boost system which I like in their road running shoes. When compared to the Nike and Scott these are slightly heavier but they’re very stable in technical terrain. I’ve tried the previous version (GTX) which was quite stiff and not really made for my running. However, the Agravics are much lighter and softer with really really good and strong grip made of Continental Rubber bike tire.
A very durable pair of shoes perfect for hiking and running and although, they haven’t yet raced with me, I’m thinking of taking them with me to run in Nepal this November.
Why I love them
// Extraordinary grip perfect for rough mountain terrain
// Wide and soft toe box
// Stable shoes
- Weight : 275g
- Women specific fit
- BOOST : offer endless energy in the mountains and high adaptability on rocky surfaces
- Abrasion resistant : weldings for optimal protection
- Continental Rubber : outsole for extraordinary grip
TOP TIP against blisters – Coconut Oil
I’m a big fan of coconut oil, I use for my face and body. In fact, it’s the only face cream I use and it works magic (or at least I’d like to think so). My hair love is too and my running feet even more. When I did the full circle around Monte Rosa a few weeks ago I took it with me. Every night, after 12 hours of running in the snow, water on trails and rocks, the skin on my feet was pretty damaged. I wanted to stay blister free and so decided to use my coconut oil.
It did really work and my feet were like new every morning. I’d also oil them in the morning before I put my merino socks on. 👌🏻
What are your favourite trail running shoes and how to you decide?