Of course springtime opens up more opportunities for running in the open air, but for some runners, the season brings even more excitement in the form of snow-free trails amidst lush green trees and rugged mountain paths that are no longer covered in ice and instead graced by the sun’s warm rays.
Trail runners know that with the switch of seasons also comes a switch of shoes. Tougher terrains call for sturdier sneakers that can offer protection from the changing topography of an off-road route.
This year’s most popular and best-rated trail shoes are all about two things: lightweight durability and adaptive feedback. Minimal shoes may not be the talk of the town anymore, but just like with many of our picks for this year’s top all-around sneakers, it seems that the manufactures of these trail shoes are adamant about creating a product that will make your feet feel like feathers but still provide adequate protection and shock absorption.
Each of these trail-specific shoes achieves that goal to a varying extent. Some offer more support than others, while some were built for the runner in search of the most natural ride. Some come straight from our list of 2014’s Top 20 Running Shoes and some are new elects that we’ve pointed out in order to create a full picture of this year’s latest and greatest off-road trainers.
From beginner trail trainers to the most diehard off-road enthusiasts, this list offers shoe choices for every type of all-terrain runner. But remember, just like with our all-around guide, to make sure you find the best fit, always take your kicks for a test run and never make a purchase just because they look pretty.