As avid critics of running shoes, we get down to the nitty-gritties of each trail running shoe for men before we hail them as our top pick. We have even invested in our very own shoe testing facility to examine each model more closely and accurately.
There are also steps we strictly follow to keep our choices as bias-free as possible:
We buy each trail running shoe for men we assess with our own money.
To see how they perform and how durable they are, we log at least 30-50 miles in each model.
In our lab, we cut each of them open to see their parts and technologies.
We then measure every aspect of the shoe via multiple parameters, including breathability, cushion, strength, and more.
To see how they stack up against other running shoes, we generate their CoreScore using thousands of expert and user feedback.
The Salomon Sense Ride 4 screams trail-ready, and there’s not one thing about it that we don’t like. If you’re planning to have an enjoyable and confidence-inspiring run on the trails, this bruiser won’t let you down.
It’s heavy-duty and it can take the abuse from the harsh and difficult terrains. With its 31.7% stiffer midsole, and 6.7HC tougher outsole, it will take you miles before you can even put a dent to it.
On steep ascents and long distances, the Sense Ride is a no-brainer. It has so much grip with its 3.5mm lugs, surefooted isn’t even enough to describe our experience.
Unlike other trail shoes, the Salomon Sense Ride packs a lot of bounce. Cruising through the rough outdoors wasn’t just easy. It was also fun.
Despite its clunky weight at 10.5 oz, this trail beast didn’t let us down, literally. Because of its spring, it felt nimble.
Protection and comfort are also taken up a notch with the Salomon Sense Ride 4’s upper. It’s generously padded, you don’t have to worry about stubbed toes and poking from sharp trail elements. Even better, it hugs the feet with plushness, it’s the epitome of premium.
We have thoroughly tested past versions of the Peregrine to make sure that we only choose the cream of the crop. And none of them comes close to the Saucony Peregrine 11.
If we could choose one shoe that will pace us, we’d take the Peregrine any day. Even better, it has a claw-like grip that bites into any terrain. Whether it’s on wet or dry stream crossings, mud, and snow, this shoe remains stable.
Protection is also one of the reasons why we can’t get enough of it. It has an outsole that’s 50% thicker than average (in our lab tests), and a midsole that’s 33.6N stiff (vs. the average 26.2N).
Even when we ran through some sharp rocks, debris, and branches, our feet didn’t feel any discomfort at all.
Sharp turns are no problem, as well. With the shoe’s locked-in fit and secure lockdown, missteps and slips should be the least of your worries.
To secure its place on this list, the Saucony Peregrine 11 is also one hell of a tank. After 50 miles of rough playtests, it’s barely scratched.
Although it only retails for $70, the Asics Gel Venture 8 has so much to offer. From the get-go, it’s extremely comfortable. The soft midsole and Gel cushion work together in dampening impact and keeping our steps well-cushioned.
Even more, the shoe didn’t even need breaking in.
Traction-wise, the Gel Venture 8 is made to tackle all the outdoor terrains. On gravel, loose ground, and mud, the outsole sticks.
Cornering was a no-sweat activity for us too. Apart from its glue-like grip, the upper also has a solid lockdown. Our feet were centered, they never rolled too much on the sides.
To top it all off, you can expect Asics Gel Venture 8 to last you a long time. After miles of heavy wear testing, this shoe impressed us with its hard-wearing build. We are confident it can go more than 450 miles.
Salomon does it again. The Salomon XA Pro 3D is colossal, jagged rocks and roots are nothing against it.
The XA Pro 3D takes durability to new heights. With more than 100 miles of test runs on the harshest trails, it blew our minds. It still doesn’t have any gash on it.
Trail shoes are designed to be protective, but this shoe really takes everything to a whole new level. It has so much cushioning, it felt like it had a rock plate on. Not once did we feel any rocks or roots thrusting our feet’s underside.
Even better, it has the toughest toe bumper we’ve ever come across. Stubbed toes are not even a thing in the XA Pro 3D.
It’s plenty durable, and it’s also a hell lot stable. Even runners with flat feet, overpronation, and plantar fasciitis can enjoy it. What’s more is the upper clutches the heel and ankle so well, your strides are as steady as they could get.
Because the Salomon XA Pro 3D is so protective and durable, it can even pass a dedicated hiking shoe. But if you’re a trail runner looking for a trusty behemoth in your off-trail excursions, this shoe won’t let you down.
There’s not one thing about the Altra Olympus 4.0 that we don’t love. And as an ultra running shoe, it delivers with flying colors.
The Altra Olympus is designed to excel at high-mileage runs. And in 100-mile races, this is our top go-to.
If there’s one thing about it that we can’t move past, it’s the maxed-out cushion that provides unmatched protection and comfort on the trails. It mutes out the harshness underfoot and effectively absorbs all the impact.
Like a true Altra, its toe box is an exemplar of roomy, which is always good news to ultra runners. With the ample space up front, you don’t have to worry about restrained motions when your feet start to swell.
Sealing the deal, the Vibram outsole has a claw-like grip. On rocky, muddy, and loose surfaces, our strides remained anchored and steady. And if it’s durability you’re after, this outsole is THE definition of sturdy.
The Altra Olympus 4.0 has endurance written all over it. And if you want to compete in your next ultra with comfort and protection in mind, then don’t write off this trail runner.
Choosing between the Altra Olympus 4.0 and the Hoka Speedgoat 4 was challenging, to say the least. And the only reason why the Speedgoat reigns second best is that it’s not as cushioned as the Olympus (32mm vs 33mm in the heel).
But don’t fret, this doesn’t make it inferior in performance. When it comes to protection, it’s just as terrific. Although it doesn’t have a rock plate, the amount of barrier we had from the jagged rocks and roots made it seem like it had one.
It's Hoka soft (as in cloud-like), but the Speedgoat 4 is very stable. It sits on a wide platform, keeping our strides planted mile after mile.
Taking stability up a notch is the shoe’s Vibram outsole. With so much grip, it bit so well even on muddy areas. And of course, it’s a solid tank.
Overall, the Hoka Speedgoat 4 is a reliable trail running shoe for ultra distances. Even better, it’s less expensive than most ultra running shoes on the market.
It’s designed for the trails, but its comfort is just as great as road shoes. We didn’t even want to take it off.
The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 is unlike other trail shoes. It’s not stiff. It’s very soft, it’s even 38% softer than other running shoes we’ve tested. Our feet and legs remained fresh even after long hours.
It’s also plenty stable. Despite its plush cushion, it didn’t bottom out. Our steps were surefooted and steady from lace-up to the last stretch, thanks to the shoe’s wide base (3.2mm more in the forefoot and 3.3mm more in the heel than the average).
True to its Pegasus roots, the Pegasus Trail 3 can take a beating. Its midsole is 20% stiffer than normal, it will take at least 500 miles before you retire it in your closet. And if you want ultimate protection on the trails, this shoe won’t disappoint.
With 3mm lugs, the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 shines in road-to-trail runs and moderately technical terrains.
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.