4 Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoes in 2023

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
4 Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoes in 2023
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It’s known to many - the trails aren’t the friendliest. Apart from jagged rocks and roots, there are also some stream crossings and other wet conditions you have to endure. 

And when faced with these, your trusty go-tos are waterproof trail running shoes. They keep your feet dry and protected. So much so, they can even be your pair of winter running shoes.

We took it upon ourselves to test the shoes so that we could help you make an informed decision in picking up your pair. We have made the shoes go through multiple steps in our testing method, to end up with only the best.


Best waterproof trail running shoes overall

What makes it the best?

Fantastic waterproofing, outrageous traction, excellent cushioning, and abundant bounciness—these are just some of the qualities that make the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GTX the best among all waterproof trail running shoes we've tested. 

Pavement, mud, grass, uphill, downhill, dry, wet, or even snow. Name a terrain and the Trail 3 GTX's outsole will eat them all alive. Given that the lug depth is 3.3 mm compared to the average for trail shoes is 3.5 mm, the traction is a welcome surprise.

The Pegasus Trail 3 GTX puts comfort as a priority—especially in the midsole. The midsole comes in a generous stack height of 32.5 mm (0.8 mm higher than the average of trail running shoes) while also measuring 58.3% softer than average. To say that our feet enjoyed maximum protection during our trail excursions is an understatement.

Even with the softness, the React midsole foam makes the shoe bouncy and energetic, making our trail runs a little less tiring thanks to the energy return. 

Though the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GTX offers excellent waterproofing, it runs warm. A worthy tradeoff, but runners looking for a breathable shoe may find more appealing options.


  • Fantastic waterproofing
  • Grips on everything dry and wet
  • Great for road-to-trail transitions
  • Also for hiking
  • Responsive
  • Stable on rocky terrain
  • Supports moderately flat feet
  • Straight-out-the-box comfort
  • Lighter than other GTX shoes
  • Locked-in heel
  • Worth every penny


  • Lacks durability
  • Not for summer runs
Full review of Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GTX

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Any color
Yellow (DC8793300)
Blue (DC8793401)
Black Black Dk Smoke Grey Iron Grey (DC8793001)
Orange (DC8793800)

Best road-to-trail waterproof running shoes

What makes it the best?

You can’t really call a shoe ‘door-to-trail’ if it barely makes it out the door during inclement weather. But, thanks to the last 3 letters in its name, the Challenger 7 GTX more than lives up to that distinction. This lightweight runner from Hoka is an excellent all-weather, all-terrain option—cushioned enough for long miles on hard roads, grippy enough for moderate trails, and protective enough to keep feet warm in the rain or snow.


  • Superb weatherproofing
  • Lockdown that’s secure enough for technical terrain
  • Soft but still stable cushioning
  • Responsive
  • Good ground feel
  • Comfortable ride on roads
  • Great for long easy runs and hikes on moderate trails
  • Can also pick up the pace


  • Upper requires some breaking in
  • Quite narrow and does not come in wides
  • Inadequate grip on slippery terrain
Full review of Hoka Challenger 7 GTX

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Black (BBLC)
Blue (OSDCU)
Orange (GYAV)

Waterproof trail running shoes with the best foot protection

What makes it the best?

Many runners know the Cascadia. It was one of the most popular trail running shoes back in the day, and with the 16th version, it has received a solid update. It’s nearly an all-new shoe and one that excels at protecting and keeping the feet stable on a variety of terrains, whether you are out for an ultramarathon or a short hike. This GTX version is also effective against bad weather, and overall a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.


  • Superb protection
  • All-day comfort
  • Smooth, pleasant ride
  • Waterproof, yet breathable
  • Roomy toe-box
  • Secure fit
  • Grippy even on wet rocks
  • Extremely stable
  • Sturdy and durable
  • No breaking-in needed
  • Doubles as a hiker


  • Could be lighter
  • Too firm underfoot for some
  • Not particularly responsive
Full review of Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX

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Black/Ebony/Cinnabar (060)

Best waterproof trail running shoes with BOA lacing

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX is a highly durable trail running shoe that performs in a variety of weather conditions. It is crafted with a responsive midsole, aggressive outsole, and waterproof upper, which aim to enhance speed and comfort. This running shoe works best for neutral runners or those who do not overpronate.


  • Suitable on wet surfaces
  • Great winter shoes
  • Excellent cushioning system
  • Reliable arch support
  • Agreeable to wear
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof


  • A bit tight
  • Hard to get on and off
  • Uncomfortable tongue construction
Full review of Hoka Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX

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Anthracite/Dark Gull Grey (ADGG)
Ombre Blue/Blue Sheen (OBBS)

Comparison of the 4 best waterproof trail running shoes

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Choosing the best waterproof trail running shoes

A large part of trail running’s appeal is the sense of unpredictability: the varied terrain, the challenging conditions—it all adds to the adventure.

But that unpredictability is not so fun if you’re unprepared to deal with it. If your shoes are not up to the task of navigating muddy trails, snowy ascents, and torrential downpours far from the parking lot, your trail running adventures can quickly go south.


The benefits of waterproof trail running shoes

Let’s begin by stating what should be obvious: no trail running shoe is completely waterproof. Fording knee-deep creeks and traveling on rain-soaked muddy trails all day will ultimately result in wet feet.

But the best waterproof trail running shoes will keep your feet drier in more challenging conditions than your standard trail shoe. With waterproof but breathable materials, seamless upper designs, and extra insulation, waterproof trail running shoes provide two primary benefits: superior weather protection and superior warmth.

waterproof GTX shoe vs. breathable shoe

As we can see from the video above, even in a GTX shoe, the water can still seep through the sides of the tongue. Especially when it's not fully gusseted.

Superior weather protection 

Most road and trail running shoes favor lightweight, mesh uppers. These lightweight uppers make for extremely breathable but not very weather-resistant shoes. Even moderate rain will saturate your shoes relatively quickly. Waterproof trail running shoes most often feature a GORE-TEX upper. GORE-TEX is not water-permeable but still vents moisture, so your feet stay dry in snow or rain without suffocating.

Superior warmth

Waterproof trail running shoes are warmer than your usual running shoes. This is a result of either water-resistant coatings on shoe uppers or uppers made from waterproof materials like GORE-TEX. Sometimes waterproof trail running shoes feature both.

By blocking moisture out, waterproof trail running shoes inevitably trap heat inside the shoe. Although GORE-TEX is breathable, it does not provide the same airflow you get from light mesh uppers. But in cold or wet conditions, limited breathability and extra warmth become desirable qualities.


The qualities of the best waterproof trail running shoes

The best waterproof trail running shoes almost all use GORE-TEX (GTX) to achieve a reliable and durable waterproof design. Like Vibram outsoles, GTX is the industry-leading waterproof fabric for a reason. It is simply the best option for high-performing waterproof trail running shoes. It provides robust protection from rain, snow, or mud, with just enough breathability to ensure your feet don’t clam up with your own sweat.

Beyond GTX uppers, look at the design of the upper itself. Seamless construction will minimize holes from developing in the upper. A gaiter-style ankle collar can also help keep water and snow from sneaking into your shoes, a problem that waterproof fabrics will do nothing to prevent.


Should you get waterproof trail running shoes?

Waterproof trail running shoes provide benefits, but they have considerable drawbacks as well. So, are they really worth it? They certainly can be, but only in a few specific contexts.

Running in snow

You would likely benefit from waterproof trail runners if you continue to hit the trails year-round, even when blanketed in snow. They prevent snow from seeping into the shoes via permeable upper fabrics. A gaiter-style ankle collar or pairing shoes with running gaiters can effectively keep your feet completely dry on snowy winter trails.

Running in cold and rainy conditions

Waterproof trail running shoes are also beneficial in cold and rainy weather. The waterproofing results in more insulation, and GTX uppers or waterproof coating will stop rain from saturating the shoes.

When to choose waterproof trail running shoes

Outside of cold, snowy, and rainy conditions, waterproof trail running shoes are usually unnecessary, or even undesirable. It is best to avoid them if you primarily run in warm or hot weather, even if the trails are muddy and puddle-filled. In these conditions, your feet will get soaked no matter what shoes they’re in.

Waterproof trail running shoes are less breathable and do not drain well. Once moisture gets in, it takes a long time to leave. In hot weather, even if the trails are wet, normal trail runners are a better choice because they drain and dry faster.


However, if you train for many months of the year in the cold and snow, a pair of waterproof trail running shoes is a valuable addition to your shoe rotation. They fit similarly to other running shoes, but you might consider sizing up half a size if you’ll be running in thicker socks for cold or wet winter conditions.

How we test trail running shoes

It’s easy to get lost, given the number of waterproof trail running shoes from athlete-trusted brands like Nike, Hoka, Saucony, Brooks, etc. But fret not, we have tested and selected the best of the best through our own RunRepeat shoe testing lab. 

Before we come up with our list, we make sure to buy each pair with our own money. We then examine each shoe from top to bottom using the following steps: 

  • We run in each waterproof running shoe model for at least 30 to 50 miles
  • We cut them open to see what’s inside
  • We measure each aspect of the shoe via parameters like weight, cushion, flexibility, etc. 


Jens Jakob Andersen
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.