7 Best Trail Walking Shoes in 2024

Laci
Laci on
7 Best Trail Walking Shoes in 2024
We earn affiliate commissions at no extra cost to you when you buy through us. Why trust us

Be ready and let the next adventure on the trails begin with these high-performance trail walking shoes. If you like taking a stroll in the woods like many of us here at RunRepeat, we have exactly the perfect list for you of walking trainers for the trails. 

From a wide array of known and trusted brands, these are walking shoes that are perfect for rugged trails and urban pavements, providing superb traction and water-repellent technology.

For all your trail walking footwear needs, we’ve rounded up the best trail-ready shoes we have tested. Check out our top recommendations in various categories.

How we test walking shoes

From walking shoes intended for flat feet and plantar fasciitis to waterproof models, we’ve vetted and tested all the shoes for this selection. To identify the best pieces, we took the shoes to the local trails and some rugged paths to check their real-life performance.

The selection process involves:

  • Buying all pairs of walking shoes for the trails using our own funds. This keeps us 100% brutally honest when publishing our in-depth reviews and top rankings of all the trainers in the database.
  • Evaluating each model’s actual fit, cushioning, water-resistance technology, supportive features, stability, motion control features, surface traction, and durability. We cover at least 10,000 steps for each shoe. We then come up with our final assessments.
  • Scrutinising all footwear through mechanical tests in our lab to assess their overall value and performance. We also divide the shoes into multiple pieces.

Best trail walking shoes overall

Hoka Transport
83
Good!

What makes it the best?

Hoka Transport is unmatched as the number one trail walking shoe. Our minds were blown, to say the least, by how it performed superbly when we subjected it to the unpredictableness of off-road walks. Protection, sturdiness, water tightness, surefootedness, and above all, comfort - Transport didn’t fall short of anything. In fact, it over-delivered that we felt so trail-equipped, we didn’t need anything more!

Even though we tackled ruggedness and harshness out on the trail, Transport didn’t bail on us. Instead, it remained in a pristine condition. When we headed back to our lab, our Dremel test validated our judgement. We pressed our drill with a grit sanding band attachment to the shoe’s toebox, and it held great against the abrasion, scoring 4/5 in durability. Additionally, we measured the outsole’s hardness as 81.9 HC, which is 5% firmer than average. This indicated and also translated into robustness. 

Apart from toughness, we also never worried about soggy feet when crossing streams. We put Transport’s upper under our microscope and we observed an extremely interlaced fabric, making it perfect for trail-walking in rain and snow. And the fact that Transport has an outstanding grip, which kept us from stumbling even on wet rocks, well, is just the icing on the cake. 

However, we couldn’t vouch for Transport when it comes to lightness. Our scale recorded a 10.9 oz (309g) weight, which is 13.5% heavier than average. If you seek something lighter, this isn’t it.

Pros

  • Unbelievably comfy
  • Spacious toe box
  • Adequately cushioned
  • Superior traction
  • Reliable outsole durability
  • Easy to slip in and out
  • True-to-size fit
  • Easy to clean
  • Sustainable

Cons

  • Not great for warm weather
  • Squeaky during break-in
Full review of Hoka Transport

Best trail walking shoe for flat feet

What makes it the best?

After our numerous trail quests and rigorous lab tests, Salomon XA Pro 3D V9 dominated the trail walking category as best for flat feet. There is no denying that protection and reinforcement are the top priorities of this shoe, consistent from top to bottom.

The main elements that ensure our feet’s protection and steadiness on rugged trails are the firm cushion and 3D Chassis technology. They offer a very solid base that keeps us balanced as we carry backpacks. Our durometer confirms a firm 31.0 HA, which keeps our feet from deviating from a neutral position.

The shoe’s foundation consists of Contagrip rubber, which our lab reveals is 83.1 HC. The outsole is lined with 2.8 mm lugs that proved their traction as we tested them on loose ground, rocks, and snow.

Even the upper has its shield through the rubberized toe cap, which effectively avoids painful stubs. In terms of airflow, there is no shortage in this shoe. The smoke we pumped inside immediately evacuated the shoe through its upper, scoring 4/5 in breathability. 

This pair is built like a tank and weighs like one too. At 12.2 oz (346g), it’s 17.7% heavier than average.

Pros

  • Tank-like foot protection
  • Incredibly stable and supportive ride
  • Excellent traction on mixed or rocky trails
  • Great hiking/backpacking companion
  • Relatively flexible despite 3D chassis
  • Effectively dampens landings
  • Generously padded and comfortable
  • No chance of lace bite
  • Durable and high-quality construction
  • Eye-catching design

Cons

  • A little heavy
  • Stiff upper needs breaking in
  • Cushioning on the firm side
  • Not nimble enough for technical trails
Full review of Salomon XA Pro 3D v9

Best lightweight trail walking shoes

What makes it the best?

We reached unprecedented heights of greatness on trails with the Hoka Challenger 7 because of its light yet steadfast construction. While this shoe only weighs 8.82 oz (250g) or 15.5% lighter than most walking shoes, it can deal with most of the things wilderness throws against it on our treks. 

One of those things is the sharp twigs and rocks on our routes, which seemed to not have an influence on the comfort we felt inside the shoe. This is due to the abundant cushioning Challenger 7 has. We discovered that the heel is 32.9 mm thick, exceeding the average by 3.5%. Meanwhile, the forefoot is 24.1 mm, which is basically equal to the 24.2 mm average. In total, this afforded us blunted impacts and superb protection.

Another thing we are safe from is accidental skids in trails. We confirmed this with the use of our durometer, which recorded an outsole hardness of 80.1 HC. Compared to the average, this is 5.9% softer, just right enough to bite hard on terrains. 

However, we wished for better airflow when we were out in the woods. Based on our breathability test, Challenger 7 doesn’t expel much of the smoke we drove its interior, so we gave it a 2/5 rating. If your feet tend to sweat fast, we suggest picking up other shoes with solid ventilation.

Pros

  • Lighter than before
  • Effective lockdown
  • Stable and smooth ride
  • Superior comfort
  • Plenty protective underfoot
  • Excellent feel on roads
  • Grippy on most surfaces
  • Doubles as a walking shoe

Cons

  • Ride lacks excitement
  • Not durable outsole
  • Greater-than-expected drop
  • Narrow toebox
Full review of Hoka Challenger 7

Trail walking shoes with the best grip

What makes it the best?

Hiking trails felt like a stroll with the Peregrine 14. During our trials, we were able to focus on enjoying nature and taking in the fresh air because this pair kept our strides in check. It was so supportive and reliable that we had no worries of slipping and losing balance—making it our top grippy trail walking shoe.

With 4.7-mm sticky rubber lugs, this shoe grips firmly on any terrain—mud, gravel, even snow! Deeper by 1.2 mm than average and strategically spaced, the lugs serve dual purposes: braking on steep slopes and preventing mud buildup.

With its balanced cushioning offering stability, we enjoyed all-day walks (and even runs) without feeling wobbly, thanks to the delightfully firm foam. Validated by our durometer at 26.0 HA, it's in line with the average trail shoe. Plus, its minimal 2.2 mm drop heightens sensitivity to the ground.

Peregrine 14 enhances stability and protection with its rock plate, which features cutouts in the outsole for flexibility. Our flex test indicates it's near the average, requiring 28.5N to bend to 90 degrees. However, while it feels flexible for running it’s 39.7% stiffer than the average walking shoe. Those who prefer a more natural feel should check shoes designed for walking.

Pros

  • Natural running feel
  • Superb value at just $140
  • Flexible and comfortable
  • Heel security
  • Plusher tongue
  • Cushioned insole
  • Rock plate
  • Highly versatile

Cons

  • Limited energy return
  • Somewhat firm
Full review of Saucony Peregrine 14

Trail walking shoes with the best breathability

On Cloudvista
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

Our feet are still able to experience peak freshness in On Cloudvista despite hiking on unpredictable routes, making it the top dog in the breathability department of trail walking shoes. On top of the astounding foot ventilation, this shoe steered us away from fatigue and shock even for multi-hour treks.

We demonstrated Cloudvista’s superb air permeability by streaming smoke inside it and observing how much departed the upper. Based on the billowing smoke that came out, we rated its breathability a 5/5, which turned our trail walks into a more than pleasant experience.

The fact that Cloudvista didn’t weigh us down is a huge relief to us, especially when traversing uneven terrains. Even though we found in our lab that it came in at 10.05 oz (285g) and is only 3.7% lighter than the average, on our actual walks, it felt feathery. Still, the shoe boasts ample cushioning that cushioned the impact every time we land on our feet. With our calliper, we established that its heel and forefoot stack heights are 32.3 mm and 22 mm, respectively. The heel is only 1.6% higher than the average while the forefoot is 9.1% lower. Overall, this granted shock absorption and just the right elevation from the ground that kept us balanced.

Unfortunately, the quality of its breathable upper, as well as its heel padding, left us with nothing to write home about. We pressed our Dremel in these areas and it effortlessly tore them, deserving the lowest rating of 1/5 for durability. If you are looking for a hardwearing trail walking shoe, this isn’t it.

Pros

  • Works great as a hybrid shoe
  • Grippy and durable outsole
  • Fun at high speeds
  • Highly breathable
  • Rockered for smooth heel-to-toe transitions.
  • Secure lockdown
  • No heel rub
  • No Lace bite
  • Environmentally friendly upper
  • Suitable for walking or hiking
  • Stylish for a trail shoe

Cons

  • Not for technical trails
  • Not a distance shoe
  • Doesn’t accommodate wide feet
  • Midsole catches debris
Full review of On Cloudvista

Best budget trail walking shoes

What makes it the best?

Among all the trail walking shoes we have examined, ASICS Gel Venture proved to be the most invaluable despite its low cost, making it our standout budget-friendly pick. At less than a hundred bucks, or £70 to be specific, it isn’t only 21% cheaper than the average price of walking shoes but is a fantastic option for an adventure-ready company!

One of its indispensable qualities is its remarkable permeability that maintained the sweat- and odour-free states of our feet wherever we walked. Justifying this is our breathability test in which the upper completely emancipated the smoke we released inside the shoe, earning a 5/5 score in ventilation. 

Venture 8 also afforded us seamless foot progressions that made our treks much more bearable. Investigating this in the lab, we found that the shoe has a pliable construction that conformed to our feet’s movements. In fact, when we bent the shoe using our digital force gauge, it opposed the bending with a low force of 14.9N, making it 51.6% more flexible than most.

However, the level of toughness of the upper and sock liner reflected its price: low. We applied our Dremel to the toebox and heel padding, and they didn’t do well in the face of wear. Therefore, both scored 2/5 in durability. So if you want cheap yet long-lasting trail walking shoes, we suggest to keep looking.

Pros

  • Outstanding value
  • Breathable
  • Ideal for heel strikers
  • Provides a stable run
  • Tough outsole
  • Versatile, suited for hiking and walking
  • Features GEL technology

Cons

  • Concerns with upper durability
  • Limited energy return
Full review of ASICS Gel Venture 8

Best waterproof trail walking shoes

What makes it the best?

Our lab analysis shows Pegasus Trail 4 GTX is the best waterproof trail walking shoe, but our feet walk the talk. Our outdoor adventures felt safe with the Gore-Tex membrane and grippy outsole, comfortable with the cushioned midsole, and lively with the energetic foam.

The Peg is a reliable companion that highlights safety. Besides its water-resistant membrane, it has several TPU layers for extra protection. The upper proves its strength as it remains intact after applying the brute force of our Dremel. The 3.5 mm lugs underfoot latch on any surface we step on — dry roads, loose gravel, grass, or snow.

The React foam is a winner with its plush and bouncy sensation. It has a generous 37.7 mm stack (5.5 mm taller than average) and ensures our heel protection with every stride. Our durometer also confirms it’s 29.0% softer than average. We feel the energy return, making us feel less tired as we explore the trails all day.

Our bend test shows this Peg is 29.0% more flexible than average, making it even more compatible for walking since the midsole flows with our natural movements.

What we found lacking is a fully gusseted tongue for the complete waterproofing package. Because of this, we had to avoid streams above the ankle so water wouldn't get inside our shoes.

Pros

  • Versatile road-to-trail performance
  • Grippier than the standard version
  • Surprisingly light for a GTX shoe
  • Accommodates wide feet with ease
  • Delivers a really stable ride for neutral runners
  • Upper showcases remarkable durability
  • Fantastic option for heel strikers

Cons

  • Non-gusseted tongue allows water and debris to enter the shoe
  • Not suitable for technical terrain
  • Excessive drop for midfoot or forefoot strikers
Full review of Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX

There’s a lot of hype around trail running these days. We think that’s awesome because trail running is a fun and fast-paced way to enjoy the outdoors. But it’s not for everyone. What about the folks who prefer trails but don’t want to run?

salomon-xa-pro-3d-v8-review.JPG

That’s where trail walking shoes come into play. Trail walking shoes meet at the intersection of the classic comfy tennies shoe you are used to and the rugged hiking shoe. They perfectly blend components of both shoes to create a shoe ideal for long walks off-pavement, and they could probably handle some running, too, if you were feeling frisky.

Let’s take a look at some of the best trail walking shoes and what makes them so special. 

Trail shoes are different from tennis shoes

At first glance, trail walking shoes look a lot like regular old tennis shoes. However, if you get into the weeds, you’ll realise that some important characteristics of trail shoes differentiate them from tennis shoes. 

The outsole is more rugged and grippier

First off, shoes designed to be used on trails and off-pavement are equipped with a more rugged outsole. In particular, trail walking shoes have outsoles with bigger and deeper lugs. This helps them provide traction on various surface types like gravel, dirt, and even snow or ice.

hoka-challenger-7-lugs.JPG
Based on our calliper measurements, the average lug depth on trail shoes is 3.5 mm.

Trail shoe manufacturers also use specially designed rubber compounds that excel on trails. For example, the Saucony Peregrine features Saucony’s PWRTRAC rubber in the outsole to ensure maximum traction on rugged terrain.

saucony-peregrine-13-outsole-running.JPG

Some may be waterproof

Adventures out on the trail don’t stop because it’s raining. Well, maybe they do if it's torrentially down-pouring. But if you are caught in the rain with a pair of waterproof trail walking shoes, then you can continue with confidence, knowing that your feet will stay dry.

If you live in a location with a precipitous climate and are frequently going out with some sort of precipitation falling from the sky, whether it be a light drizzle, snow, or a legit rainstorm, then you probably ought to consider waterproof trail shoes.

Nike-Pegasus-Trail-3-GTX-in-shoe-feel

For example, some shoes feature the popular GORE-TEX membrane in their interiors which helps to seal out water.

Special features protect your feet

It’s no surprise that the terrain on hiking trails is significantly more rugged than paved walking trails and sidewalks in the city. Therefore, many trail hiking shoes have special features that help protect your feet from rocks and roots while out on the trail.

salomon-xa-pro-3d-v8-toe-bumper.JPG

The Salomon XA Pro 3D is one of the most protective trail walking shoes we found. It features a robust toe guard that protects your feet from the inevitable toe-bashing you’ll receive on tough trails. Plus, Salomon’s 3D  chassis is super beefy, protecting your feet while steeping on sharp stones or tree roots.

The midsole is designed to absorb intense impacts

One of the most important components of tail walking shoes is the midsole. The shoe's midsole is responsible for cradling and supporting your feet as you trudge along the trail. The midsole is also in charge of absorbing vibration and intense impacts so that your feet remain protected.

In most trail walking shoes, this is possible thanks to ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam. In a lot of ways, EVA foam is the ideal material for midsoles– it's lightweight, impact-resistant, relatively durable, and supportive.

The midsole on the Hoka Transport is made with EVA foam, and it’s compression moulded which typically contributes to durability. This means a block of EVA foam is compressed into one of Hoka’s specially designed moulds. Plus, the Transport midsole is made from 30% recycled sugarcane, creating a new standard for sustainable cushioning. 

Trail walking shoes come with trail-ready special features

In the previous section, we discussed in detail some of the larger core characteristics that differentiate trail walking shoes from traditional walking shoes, like tennis shoes.

Below, we want to add to the list of important differences. However, this time, we walk to point out some unique features that some trail walking shoes have that not only make them different from traditional walking shoes but also separate them from the rest of the pack.

Essentially– we want to point out some intelligent footwear features that make your time on the trail even more enjoyable.

Lace garage

In a normal walking scenario, it doesn’t matter how your laces are housed, or unhoused for that matter. However, on traill, in walking, hiking, or running scenarios, it's extra nice to have your shoelaces neatly tucked away.

Lave garages are essentially additional components on the exterior of the shoe’s tongue that accommodate the excess from your laces after you’ve tied your shoes. That way, your laces cannot flop away and get in your way.

hoka-transport-squeaky-sole.JPG

This may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but once you experience the svelteness of tucked-away laces, you’ll realise how you prefer it.

The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8, On Cloudvista, and Hoka Transport each have lace garages where you can make your laces “disappear.”

Reflective materials

Not all walks occur during the daylight. Sometimes, it’s nice to go out after dark to avoid hotter temperatures, enjoy quieter trails, and star gaze. Sometimes, we get ahead of ourselves and end up coming home after dark.

Regardless of the scenario, it’s nice when your shoes have reflective components that shine brightly in the dark. That’s because reflective materials help keep you safer by allowing others to more easily see you.

hoka-transport-reflective-elements.jpg

Quicklace closure system

A lot about footwear has changed over the years, including the closure systems. Even though lace-up closure systems seem to be the tired and true closure system, trail walking shoe manufacturers have managed to up their game.

Quicklace closure systems have become increasingly popular for trail shoes. Quicklace closure systems look a lot like traditional lace-up systems. The main difference is that instead of tying two laces together in a knot, you simply pull on a single attachment point that cinches down all the laces simultaneously.

Quicklace closure systems are particularly helpful for rapid transitions to and from the trail.

salomon-xa-pro-3d-v8-speed-lacing.JPG

Gusseted tongue

Another special touch that differentiates trail walking shoes from all the rest is the gusseted tongue. Gusseted tongues look like traditional tongues. However, their construction and function are different (and much better, in our opinion).

Gusseted tongues are sewn into the shoe's interior. In other words, there is no separation between the tongue and the upper of the shoe. By removing the gap left behind by traditional tongues, shoe manufacturers effectively integrate the tongue directly into the shoe, helping eliminate the possibility of dirt, debris, and precipitation entering the shoe’s interior.

Nike-Pegasus-Trail-3-GTX-gusseted-tongue

Because the weather and trail conditions can be so variable when you are outside exploring, it's really nice to have the little extra layer of protection that gusseted tongues provide.

Author
Laci
Laci
Laci is a contemporary dancer turned shoe aficionado. She is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to athletic shoes, size conversions and details people nitpick about footwear. She keeps the RunRepeat content gears turning 24/7. And she walks 20miles/week.