The Best Trail Running Shoes of 2022

These rugged runners love to rally

Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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Saucony Peregrine 12 ($130)

Saucony Peregrine 12
(Photo: Courtesy Saucony)

Best All-Terrain Shoe

Designers managed to slim down the Saucony Peregrine 12 by over an ounce compared to its predecessor. The result feels more flexible and sensitive than the heavily cushioned Peregrine 11, allowing for fast, precise footwork through technical terrain. Much of the credit goes to the redesigned rock plate, which is now lighter and more flexible, allowing your foot to bend and move naturally with the trail. The five-millimeter outsole lugs offer excellent traction on a wider variety of surfaces, from wet grass to loose kitty litter. Testers with wide and narrow feet alike agreed that the fit was on-point thanks to a pliable recycled-polyester upper with laces that cinch smoothly around the midfoot. 8.3 oz (women’s) / 9.7 oz (men’s); 4 mm drop

Women’s Men’s

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8 ($140)

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 8
(Photo: Courtesy Nike)

Best Fast Shoe

With the least cushioning of all the shoes in this lot—just 16.5 millimeters in the heel for men and 15 millimeters for women—the Kiger 8 feels minimalist on trail. But it never felt lacking. The wide outsole platform yields a stable ride. And the midsole, while slight, has plenty of substance. It’s made from Nike’s lively React foam, a mix of shock-absorbent EVA and responsive thermoplastic polymers, with an air unit under the forefoot that adds noticeable pop to each toe-off and a rock plate under the heel for protection that maintains forefoot flexion. The snug, breathable mesh upper is fully lined to block out excessive dirt and pebbles. 8.5 oz (women’s) / 10.5 oz (men’s); 3.6 mm drop (women’s) / 4.5 mm drop (men’s)

Women’s Men’s

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 ($140)

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2
(Photo: Courtesy Merrell)

Best All-Adventure Shoe

If you run a bit of everything—rocky scrambles, stream crossings, steep hills, wooded forests, dry and dusty desert singletrack—the MTL Long Sky is here for it. Its firm, low-to-the-ground midsole (23.5 millimeters of foam in the heel and 19.5 millimeters up front) yields a nimble feel on all manner of technical terrain. That’s bolstered by the outsole, which boasts five-millimeter, multi-directional lugs made of high-performing Vibram MegaGrip, which grab all trail surfaces with aplomb. And should you get caught in a summer rain shower or need to splash through a mountain stream, the mesh and TPU upper breathes well and dries impressively fast. 8 oz (women’s) / 10 oz (men’s); 4 mm drop

Women’s Men’s

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adidas TERREX Agravic Flow 2.0 ($230)

adidas TERREX Agravic Flow 2.0

Crafted with the perfect balance of breathability and support, the all-new Agravic Flow from adidas TERREX is made for runners who want to log more miles on dirt. The extra stability, rock protection, and all-condition grip make it easy to transition from the pavement to the trail.

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Altra Lone Peak 6 ($140)

Altra Lone Peak 6
(Photo: Courtesy Altra)

Best Zero-Drop Shoe

This consistently reliable zero-drop trail and ultrarunning shoe has never disappointed us. Our Altra enthusiasts found comfort in knowing that version 6 delivers the same underfoot feeling they’ve come to love from previous iterations of the Lone Peak franchise. Underfoot, it still employs Altra’s fast and peppy, yet comfortable and soft, EVA midsole. “It’s protective and responsive when I need it to be,” said one tester, “but still comfortable when I’m power-hiking or walking up hills.” The biggest difference is in weight savings: small, cosmetic updates to the upper, such as a simplified heel construction, additional midfoot lacing holes, and more drainage ports shed nearly half an ounce for a lighter and trimmer feel. 10.6 oz (men’s) / 8.5 oz (women’s); zero drop

Men’s Women’s

Dynafit Ultra 50 ($130)

Dynafit Ultra 50
(Photo: Courtesy Dynafit)

Best for Rugged Terrain

This shoe strikes a great balance between burly and spry. The four-millimeter lugs yield great underfoot protection and traction, while TPU overlays and nylon forefoot reinforcements keep you locked in securely, even on rugged, technical terrain. Meanwhile, the EVA midsole lacks a rock plate, yielding a flexible forefoot and thus excellent uphill mobility. It’s also springy yet soft enough to absorb the impacts of long runs on rugged terrain. Somehow the whole package remains relatively lightweight. The shoe is snug in the heel but wide in the forefoot, allowing for toe splay and blood flow. “I felt stable and secure on Boulder’s steep and rocky climbs,” said a tester. “I also felt confident on the descents.” 10.2 oz (men’s) / 8.8 oz (women’s); 4 mm drop

Men’s Women’s

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR ($149)

Scarpa Golden Gate ATR
(Photo: Courtesy Scarpa)

Best Crossover Shoe

The Golden Gate ATR stays true to Scarpa’s hallmark ruggedness, but tones it down into a road-to-trail crossover. This shoe looks tall, but boasts a modest 28 millimeters of heel stack. Testers agreed that the dual-density EVA midsole—softer, low density underfoot and firmer, medium density on the sides—felt downright stiff. Yet those who like firm shoes are rewarded with a lively, responsive ride on both trail and road. Mild four-millimeter lugs boost that versatility. “It has a snappy, high-energy cadence,” said one tester. The tight-fitting, integrated neoprene-like upper felt a little abrasive out of the box for some but eased over time into a comfy, protective glove to shed pesky trail debris. 10.2 oz (men’s) / 8.6 oz (women’s); 4 mm drop

Men’s Women’s

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