I mentioned in my last blog, “What Are Trail Shoes and Do You Need Them?” trail shoes are having a moment right now given the trend of everyone going outdoors during COVID. People are finding new paths and trails to explore and they want to get outside and beyond the treadmill.
I compiled a list of the Top 5 trail shoes from industry experts from top outdoor and running sites (Gear Junkie, REI,Runner’s World). Their rank varies depending on who’s review I was researching so I took the liberty of ranking based on their looks because as you may have learned in my last blog that is how I stumbled upon my first pair of trail shoes. Yes, you can purchase trail or running shoes for fashion too. :)
Speaking of fashion, you’ll notice that trail shoes always have bold colors — it’s as if brands think women who run on trails are the only women who love funky colors. It has ALWAYS been this way and I have no idea why but even when I worked for adidas it was just a known fact that trail shoes were going to be more bold and wild, darker hues with bright color pops. And, the top 5 trail shoes do not disappoint — there are some fresh, funky color combinations.
Merrell MTL Long Sky $130
Case and point. Can we talk about how great these colors are? I am not a fan of huge branding especially writing but I do love the look of these. The MTL Long Sky was ranked high on all of the reviews I researched. The outsole has Vibram MegaGrip rubber which means they get superior traction in mud and rain. Described as: lightweight, superior stability, cushioning for the long haul. “The best trail running shoe that we’ve come across in years.”
Saucony Peregrine 10 $120
I have NO idea why you would make a trail shoe in white but it’s great looking! Most trail shoes are dark to hide the dirt. Described as: Versatile, aggressive outsole, protective — all-terrain use at a great price. “Whether you’re a couch to 5K’er or training for ultras, it’ll do the work.” I am pretty sure I fall under the “couch” category.
Brooks Women’s Caldera 4 Trail Running Shoes $140
Again, nice job with the color combination and there is a cool detail in the shoelaces. I almost purchased these because I love the chunky look which is actually for function; it helps to respond and adapt to changing terrain as well as provide cushioning. Brooks is known in the industry as a top running shoe brand. They are also my preferred walking/running shoe. You can see which ones I wear on roads (versus trails) here. What I love about Brooks is their test run policy. “Take it for a 90-day test run. If you don’t love it, return it for free.” If only every retailer and brand had that kind of confidence in their product! Most technical reviews were by men so I looked for actual product reviews by women which were mostly GLOWING reviews. “These are my new go to trail shoes!! They are awesome!” “I’m in love with these shoes. They fit perfect for me. They are super springy which is what I like for HIIT training/running.” (Amazon reviews)
Salomon Sense Ride 3 Trail-Running Shoes $120
If you are not a skier you may not be familiar with Salomon, they have been around since 1947 and are known for their ski bindings and innovative technology. In 1992 they launched their first hiking shoe which eventually paved the way for trail shoes.
For those that want a trail shoe that can also be used for non-trail running, this might be for you. A female reviewer on rei.com commented, “LOVE these shoes. I have been trying Salomon now for the last year and this is my third pair. I wanted a trail shoe that wasn’t too aggressive but still gave really good traction on rock but also felt really good as a running shoe. This shoe met both categories with flying colors.”
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 $130
Hoka One One does an outstanding job with color combinations, this seafoam green with coral pops is something new, fresh, and different. Described by a female reviewer on zappos.com, “These are the best shoes I own and I have 25 pairs of running shoes! I bought these shoes for hiking since I did not want heavy hiking shoes. These are for running trail, I loved them so much because of its weight that I started wearing them to the gym and every day run. Another review, “Best cushioned bliss.”
The last trail shoe I purchased was 15 years ago and after all of my research, I chose Hoka One One mostly because I am obsessed with the brand after seeing the huge success they’ve had. I have been following this brand for a couple of years and it has been notable to watch; they have done something very few brands have — disrupted a very solid market of industry leaders. According to Forbes, Hoka One One was the fastest growing running brand in the world, in 2019 it made Footwear News’ top 10 best-selling running brands globally alongside the usual megabrand suspects.”
Enter COVID where performance running has skyrocketed due to people getting outdoors for running or inside on a treadmill. “Even more compellingly, it’s just defied a Covid-19-induced US industry slump; answering a 65% decline in athletic footwear sales with a whopping Q4 uplift of 52%, and a 58% rise on its 2019 sales figures, without even boasting physical stores of its own.” (Forbes)
Also noteworthy, Wendy Yang, President of Hoka One One is the FIRST FEMALE president of a running brand.
Perhaps that is why they are doing so well. :)
So there you have it! Whether or not you purchase trail shoes is up to you but don’t ever feel bad because you just like the way it looks. Perhaps you’ll like it so much it might even get you on a trail to show them off to those bizarre creatures who like to run in the woods. :)
*Disclaimer* If you are in fact going hiking or trail walking I would encourage you NOT to purchase based on fashion but instead on fit and functionality that is best for you and what type of outdoor activity you plan to do.
Peace love and Prosecco ~ from your Oregon Trail girl! :)