People from all over the world know how to run. The act of speedily taking each step to catch up to, or evade, something has always been a natural thing for humans. The anatomy of the legs, the bones, the tendons and the joints of the lower extremities are meant for versatile movement. So, most people are inclined to run.
As an interesting note, paved surfaces didn’t become widespread until the tail-end of the 19th century. Before the rise of the cities and the popularity of wheel-based transportation systems, people only had uneven ground on which to traverse. And shoes were primitive prototypes, then: a semi-flexible shell made of cured leather, rubber, canvas, and hard cloth.
The inception of accouterments for all types of surfaces didn’t appear until the mid-20th century. New types of shoes were being churned out by various companies, including a certain Adolf Dassler’s performance line in 1920, but they weren’t intentionally optimized for the trails. Most of the options from the precursor brands and designers focused on style and urban functionality.
Mainstream trail running and off-road racing sessions only geared themselves up during the start of the 1900s. It’s a relatively new sport for many athletes. Some people took to the trails with only their bare feet while others pushed on with their urban footwear. But the decades wore on and innovation started to rear its head. As industry giants such as Nike and Merrell were slowly born, innovators in the realm of mountain sports (like Salomon) took it upon themselves to create trail-optimized shoes or hiking boots, as many know them today.
The years were favorable for the industry of running shoes because of the arrival of trail-optimized footwear. Trail running shoes found their beginnings in traditional hiking shoes. They were specialty products during the latter half of the 20th century, with only a few manufacturers creating pairs for enthusiasts and tiered athletes. Nowadays, off-road racing and sprinting options are commonplace, and the world is all the better for it.
The advent of wide toe box trail shoes
Each runner has a unique foot shape. There are those who have narrow profiles and those with outlines that can fit most shoes in the market. But some consumers also have foot-dimensions that take a lot of space from the medial and lateral walls of the foot-chamber. These individuals (obstacle course runners, mud adventurers, groomed-trail sprinters, etc.) are the ones who need trail running shoes for wide feet.
Thankfully, many shoemakers make it a practice to create multiple variants of their products. Their usual measurements aside, creators almost always create shoes with width variants that range from narrow to extra wide.
The reason why people sometimes desire optional widths for their shoes is that they would sometimes need some extra space for their toes to splay and for their feet to not feel cramped when they swell during the run. Runners who want a snugger in-shoe experience would like a pair of shoes that have a narrow profile. The difference may be night and day but the availability of width variants may mean the world to the level of comfort while wearing the shoe.
Notable aspects of the best wide trail running shoes
Runners who have wide foot dimensions need shoes that can cater to their needs. The in-shoe experience should be spot-on, especially since a veritably snug interior could be detrimental to the performance of one who has a broad foot outline. The foot naturally swells during the run as it’s subjected to the rigors of each footfall and push-off. The shoe of choice would serve best if it has a set of features that are meant to maintain a freeing yet all-encompassing experience, even when tackling uneven terrains.
Here are some of the most important parts of a wide trail running shoe:
Semi-curved shape – Many running shoes began as models that have straightforward bullet-like outlines, with sides that don’t interact with the curved shape of the human foot. Some shoes in today’s market still feature such designs, but they’re mostly for fast-paced runs and contests. Wide trail running shoes for women and men now have semi-curved lasts that follow the curvature of the foot, permitting an in-shoe wrap that feels like it’s custom-made for that exact body part. Also, the curved shoe-shape may facilitate a smooth transition through the gait cycle.
Roomy toe-box – Consumers who desire a wide variant of their chosen running shoe tend to do so because they feel that the medium width-profile is tight against the foot. The wideness of a person’s foot is usually associated with the forefoot, so that’s where most of the adjustments are going to be made. It is also worth noting that the act of transitioning towards the toe-off phase of the step requires the toes to spread naturally to attain balance and to accumulate pushing power. Wide toe box trail shoes are exactly meant to encourage such biomechanical advantages.
Comfortable inner sleeve – The shape of the trail shoe isn’t the only factor that affects the comfort of the person. An in-shoe wrap that is smooth and free of irritants is also a contributing aspect that makes the running session as pleasant as can be. Many companies use neoprene to evoke a smooth hug while others use a hydrophobic fabric to prevent the retention of sweat. But the trait that is most important is the fabric’s ability to complement the movement capacity of the foot, as well as its tendency to puff up as each step is taken.
Versatile width options – The standard width profile of a trail running shoe may have all the aspects mentioned above because they really don’t totally affect the upper unit’s capacity to hug the foot properly. The curve of the shoe, the toe box, and the sleeve are areas that are supposed to work together to provide the best running experience. So, the demographic that truly changes everything for the variety of foot shapes and sizes is width. Runners always welcome the chance to tweak their choice of shoe by going over the width profiles as they touch the sizing schemes, as well. Those who want a not-too-snug coverage may want a wide option while others may sit well with an extra wide one.
The best trail running shoe series for wide feet
Saucony Excursion TR
The Excursion TR series is Saucony firing on all cylinders. It is comprised of high-quality products that don’t have a hefty price tag. All models have uppers reinforced with stitched overlays, retaining the classic look of hiking boots and running companions of the early 2000s. When it comes to the outsole units, all products have aggressive gripping lugs that control movement and adherence on the various surfaces. The Saucony Excursion TR 12, the 11th version, as well as the 10th, are the well-known and most recent models in the line.
Asics GT 2000 Trail
The GT 2000 series is primarily a road-optimized set of stability running shoes. But Asics has also created counterparts that are meant for off-the-road conditions. Seldom do shoe manufacturers create trail shoes that have pronation correction mechanisms. It’s rare because runners mostly need the freedom to move their feet as they traverse the unpredictable terrains. Yet foot-to-platform stability is also helpful as it prevents any injuries while also optimizing the sense of balance. The anti-pronation feature that’s prominent in this roster is the Dynamic DuoMax®, a firm foam piece that acts as a foundation for the deviated arch. The GT 2000 5 Trail and the GT 2000 6 Trail are the highlights of this group.
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor
Ultimate adherence to the ground, that’s the purpose of the Ultra Raptor. It’s made using some of the most durable components in the industry, and it’s hand-crafted as well because La Sportiva doesn’t outsource its creations to other manufacturers. Rocky ground is the specialty of the Ultra Raptor’s FriXion XF outsole configuration; it even has claw-like lugs that channels its name, ‘Raptor’. A waterproof version called the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor GTX is also available and it features the much-lauded Gore-Tex® membrane which completely staves off water from entering the foot-chamber.
The Cascadia line of trail running shoes has been on the market for years and years, and it’s become one of the most trusted by consumers. The distinctive feature of this series is the Pivot Post System, four steadying posts—two on the lateral side and two on the medial section—that work together to maintain in-shoe balance. These posts also bolster the structural integrity of the midsole, ensuring a long-lasting platform on which the foot can stand. Over the years, the Cascadia has also changed its silhouette. It initially had a semi-aggressive look because of its bevy of stitched and fused overlays. But now, the designs are less bulky and the overlays are less obnoxious to the eyes. One can say that the Cascadias of today have become more coherent when it comes to their build and quality. The Cascadia 12, Cascadia 13 and the Cascadia 13 GTX are the popular models.
Frequently Asked Questions
What brands of trail running shoes are best for wide feet?
Saucony, Asics, and New Balance are brands that manufacture reliable trail running shoes. Aside from wide trail shoes, they also offer expensive and cheap running shoes.
Is it better to purchase a wide shoe that is one-size bigger?
Some runners recommend purchasers to buy half-size larger to give the toes some wiggle room. In buying a new shoe, you should always get the right fit.
15 best wide trail running shoes
Salomon Speedcross 5
Hoka One One Challenger 5 ATR
Saucony Peregrine ISO
The North Face Ultra 109 GTX
Brooks Cascadia 14
Inov-8 Roclite 290
Salomon Speedcross 4
Saucony Excursion TR 12
New Balance Summit Unknown
Adidas Response Trail
Salomon XA Pro 3D
New Balance Nitrel v3
New Balance Summit KOM
New Balance Fresh Foam Crag Trail
Brooks Cascadia 13
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.
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