Should I Be Wearing a Trail Running Shoe?

It is a challenge to find the perfect running shoe for many. Do I need a neutral, support, or motion control shoe? Should I get a Brooks, New Balance, or Asics? There are many variables to consider while selecting the perfect shoe, now add the choice between a trail shoe and a traditional road shoe and things really get complicated.

Trail Shoe vs. Road Shoe

Here at SLO Motion Shoes customers constantly ask us if they should be using a trail shoe in their runs. The answer is not always as clear and straight forward as you might think. First we must consider the features that constitute a true trail running shoe. For the most part, trail running shoes set themselves apart from normal road shoes by their use of a heavy duty outsole that offers greater traction for the muddy and rocky terrain. The outsoles used on trail runners have larger lugs which are made of tacky rubber to offer more slip resistance when used in wet & rocky terrain.


Some trail runners may also be lined with water repellent material to help keep your feet dry in the wet outdoor conditions. This feature will cost you a few more dollars but will be beneficial if you tend to get calluses. It should also be noted that trail shoes are typically made in darker colors like black or dark grey, making them perfect for runners who prefer to stay away from the bright flashy colors typical of today’s running shoes.


Don't Need a Trail Shoe If...

Now that we have learned about what sets a trail running shoe apart from a typical road shoe we can really talk about their use. Most running trails have hard packed surfaces that are very similar to road conditions. That means that there isn’t a huge amount of loose gravel or anything else that would make your running surface much more slippery than a normal road would. In this condition you are well off using your normal road shoe as the extra traction is not really needed.

You don’t necessarily need a trail shoe if you normally run in packed surfaces like the one shown above

Need a Trail Shoe If...

If you typically run in a rocky surface, an area with loose gravel, or a combination of road and theses types of surfaces you should consider a trail shoe. A trail shoe will give you all the traction you need for these slippery surfaces and will be a good investment that will keep you comfortable and injury free by helping you avoid slips and rolled ankles. It important to run in a trail shoe if you do any part of your running in slippery surfaces as you want to cater to these conditions which may give you more problems and since there are no real drawbacks to running in a trail shoe on roads.

You should wear a trail shoe if you normally run in surfaces similar to the one above

Trail shoes are a great investment for runners. They offer greater traction and protection from the elements than typical road shoes without really having any drawbacks besides the slightly higher price point. Most importantly, they will help you stay injury-free by preventing slips and rolled ankles and by allowing you to run in softer natural surfaces which will reduce stress on your muscles and joints. If you have been looking into getting into a trail shoe go for it! There really aren’t any drawbacks to incorporating them into your runs!