Finishing an ultra is a great feat. And behind every successful run is an excellent ultra running shoe that has ample cushioning, support, and grip packed in a lightweight shoe.
We know it’s a tedious job to go through the tens of ultra running shoe models on the market. So, we’ve decided to test them out ourselves and see which ones are the pick of the bunch from across categories.
When we assessed the ultra shoes on this list, we got down to the tiniest details to make sure they aren’t a letdown. We purchased them ourselves to prevent bias and examined them thoroughly in our independent shoe testing lab.
We also carefully follow these steps throughout our tests:
Run at least 30-50 miles in each shoe.
Cut them into pieces to scrutinize their parts.
Measure each part through 30 different parameters.
And to analyze how they stand against other running shoes, we come up with a Corescore that’s entirely based on thousands of expert and user reviews.
Plush comfort in a Salomon! It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. The Ultra Glide is Salomon’s answer to Hoka’s reign over the cushioned trail shoe category and they nailed it. This shoe has a peppy, energetic ride, a soft, breathable upper, and a grippy, durable outsole. It’s worth a look at $140 and has a ton of great features. The only gripe I could conjure up is it’s a touch narrow if you have a wide foot.
Brooks updates their venerable trail crusher in this 16 version of the Cascadia. If you demand stout grip, a stable platform, and bright colors take a look at the Cascadia 16. It’s true to size, durable as hell, and packed with features like a ballistic rock plate, lace loop, and enough upper lacing eyelets to ensure a custom fit. These aggressive kicks are ready for adventure!
Looking for a versatile trail shoe? Take the Altra Olympus 4.0! From gravel path, dirt single track, beat-up forest roads, and technical rocky climbs, this shoe just made us run with confidence! And since it's billed as a long-distance trail shoe, we had to see for ourselves that it delivers. And deliver it did! It gave our feet all the protection and comfort they could ask for.
A trail shoe we'd take during ultras. the Hoka Speedgoat 4 just bit through all the super technical terrain we put through! Even better, it made our strides surefooted with its intense focus on stability. We tell you, this shoe is a tank! It's going to swallow all the harsh elements with ease. It's not Hoka soft, but for the protection it brings, at $145, it's worth all the money spent!
I’ve never really been keen on Adidas trail shoes, they seemed like an afterthought to me and their focus was admittedly on their soccer cleats and road shoes. But then the Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra arrived and I just refused to cut these in half. They are that good out on the trails, and that sexy on your feet that I had to do this review without taking the saw to them!
Offering generous cushioning and refined upper construction, the Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 is fit for runners wanting to have loads of comfort. With its updated cushioning system, the road running shoe supplies maximum stability and support. Given all the technical features implemented to the platform, optimal ventilation, security, and traction are to be expected.
Overall, it’s a better version of the last model, which I liked. This is a great mountain running shoe that I’ll be taking up to altitude over and over! Thank you for Inov-8 for improving the G260 and its few flaws.
The Corescore is a score from 0-100 that summarizes opinions from users and
experts. Below shows the distribution of scores for all running shoes.
This shoe has a 10% penalty on its user ratings because it has fewer than 50 ratings. It
also has a 10% penalty on its expert reviews because it has fewer than 5 reviews. This is
to avoid that shoes with few ratings unjustly receives high scores.
The Salomon XT-6 has been a hugely popular shoe for nearly a decade both for its looks and its ability to take you anyway on a trail. With heaps of protection, insane grip, and a responsive, speedy ride the XT-6 is still a relevant trail shoe to help you explore the less beaten trails. It’s a shoe that’s sure to leave you confident traversing steep gradients, or comfy at the end of a long hike.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor is a neutral running shoe designed for trail running. It features a combination of comfortable, stable, and responsive parts that gives an adequate ride. You can use this shoe as a daily trainer or for long-distance running.
A beast in all our trail runs, the Saucony Peregrine 11 was more than confidence-inspiring! It's a tank that mutes out all the harshness of the trails while eating up everything you throw at it! From slick mud, snow, dry, and rocky stream crossings, this shoe just bites hard and deep into the ground. It's also built to run fast, and we got exactly that in the Peregrine!
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.