Trail Shoes: How are they different from regular running shoes and do you need them? Perhaps, but not for reasons you might think.
When I first arrived at adidas in December of 2002, as a sales rep, I was so excited to purchase my first pair of 3 stripes with my employee discount. I headed out to the employee store near the HQ in Portland, OR, and purchased what I thought were the freshest kicks of all time! Unbeknownst to me, they were “trail shoes.” I am not sure when I realized what type of shoes these actually were or perhaps I knew and didn’t care that I am not, nor will I ever be a trail runner.
Trail shoes have a moment every few years as a fashion trend. When I purchased these beauties 15 years ago, I bought them for the COLOR not because I was going to run in the woods even though I lived near some pretty enviable trails that a true outdoor enthusiast would love. Of course, when I learned they were trail shoes I was able to justify my purchase because as a footwear rep, trail shoes were one of the styles that I sold to retailers.
Today, trail shoes are again having a moment but not because they look good and are a “fashion” trend (although I think that is probably coming and is the reason why I purchased my first pair in 15 years ago, click hereto see which ones. Even though, I have been walking more “outdoors,” did I really need actual trail shoes? No.
Do you need a pair of trail shoes?
Probably not. If you are walking outside, you can wear regular walking/running shoes depending on the type of surface you are walking on but here are three advantages/differences if you are planning on taking a more adventurous (read: uneven surfaces, mud, and dirt) walk/run versus manmade surfaces.
- Grip: depending on the terrain you are navigating, trail shoes are designed to give you some additional traction. Every ‘trail shoe’ will have some sort of “technology” that the brand has a fancy name for like Contagrip® or Continental™. (You will likely have no idea what it means and that is okay, it is a “marketing” thing.) Basically, traction comes from the type of tread in the outsole and the type of rubber. To me, this is the most obvious difference because it is actually noticeable. You’ll hear the term“lug” a lot — these are a thick rubber sole that has deep indentations in a pattern designed to provide good footing and is used in sport and work shoes.
2. Weatherproof — a LOT of trail runners purchase trail shoes specifically to run in the mud or rain so most trail shoes are made to keep your feet dry using materials that are weather resistant or waterproof (FYI GoreTex is EXPENSIVE!) Unless you live in the Pacific NW probably not necessary and most runners will tell you they are not a fan of waterproof because their feet get sweaty. You’ll know they are waterproof because they are made with Gore-Tex (GTX).
Increased protection- certain trail shoes incorporate a “rock plate,” specific to trail-running shoes, rock plates are hard plastic inserts situated between the midsole and outsole of the shoe to prevent sharp objects from injuring the foot.
There are some additional differences between running and trail shoes but it gets much more technical and I am by no means an expert except for picking out the best-looking ones. ;)
Some other interesting facts you might find useful, “Trail running is better for your knees because of the differences in terrain. Unlike road running, the constantly varied terrain of the trail means no repetitive loading of the same ligaments, tendons, and muscles, which can be bad for your knees in the long run” according to Trail Run Planet. Who knew?
A lot of people ask when they should purchase new running shoes — as a general rule of thumb, every 8–12 months or 300–500 miles. Note that if you are walking/running on sidewalks, roads (manmade surfaces) trail shoes will wear out much faster.
As for me, 15 years later, I chose Hoka One One mostly because I am obsessed with the brand after seeing the huge success they’ve had and their focus on women in an industry that has been dominated by men. Their color combinations are some of the best in women’s I have seen. Additionally, 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.” I haven’t hit the trails a lot but that doesn’t mean I don’t wear them all the time. I love wearing them with my athleisure outfits because I am that girl who buys a shoe based on fashion.
As always thank you for reading and…
Peace, love & Proseeco with a side of runner’s high (which I have NEVER gotten),