Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoes
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Our Top Choices for Waterproof Trail Running Shoes
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 recommendations…
|Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes||Check Price|
|Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R2 GTX||Check Price|
|Adidas Outdoor Terrex CMTK GTX||Check Price|
Salomon is a legend in the trail running market, designing some of the best shoes for really challenging terrain. The Speedcross 4 is one of their most versatile models, functioning equally well on both flat hardpack and muddy inclines.
The most notable feature of this shoe is the aggressive outsole made from the company’s famed dual-density Contagrip rubber. Thick lugs protrude from the base to give superior traction and allow for plenty of flex and excellent durability.
Up in the midsole, you’re looking at a 10mm heel to drop, which provides moderate protection for heel-strikers, but gives it a clunkier feel than some of the more minimalist models. The uppers provide some stability and protection, but the Speedcross is probably not the best shoe to wear on the most grueling routes.
One of the more unique features of Salomon’s trail runners is the Quiklace system, a nylon cord that cinches up and replaces the usual fabric laces. It’s faster than tying the shoes and pretty much never comes loose – the extra cord gets stashed in a convenient pocket on the tongue. The downside is that there’s no way to do a DIY repair if it breaks midway through your run.
The Speedcross 4 is one of the best waterproof trail running shoes on the market right now. They’ve got a great balance of features, so if you’re just getting into the sport and aren’t sure what you’re looking for, you really can’t go wrong with this choice.
Adidas’s Terrex Swift R2 straddles the boundary between a heavy trail runner and lightweight hiking shoe. A pair weighs almost two pounds, which is about twice as much as some of the more minimalist models. If you can get past the heft, though, they have some of the best protection features and are an excellent option if you’re running on rougher terrain.
The first thing you’ll notice is just how stiff they feel. Since they were designed for hiking, they don’t have a lot of flex, and that inflexibility can be annoying on steep inclines or very uneven trails. Additionally, if you’re someone who likes to feel the trail beneath them, these shoes aren’t going to cut if for you.
The Terrex R2 uses a similar lacing system to the Speedcross, but the cinching nylon cord has no pocket to tuck into, so there’s a small chance it could catch on some trailside debris.
Priced considerably lower than many of the other popular trail running shoes, the Terrex Swift R2 is a great buy for budget-minded individuals who want an all-mountain shoe and can handle its extra stiff frame.
Similar to the Terrex Swift R2, the Terrex CMTK is a hiking shoe attempting to walk the line as a trail runner. They come with a stiff sole for great rock protection, and a rigid upper that should prevent any thorns from ruining your run.
All that stiffness and protection is certainly going to affect your speed, though. You’ll never get into a rhythm with the Terrex in the way that you could with a more flexible shoe. If you think you’ll only use your trail runners for, well, running, then it’s best to get something that permits a more natural stride.
That being said, the CMTK are less aggressive compared to the R2s; the lugs are smaller and spaced further apart, there’s a little more flex in the uppers, and they have conventional laces rather than the quick lace setup found on the R2.
The Adidas Terrex CMTK is an inexpensive pair of shoes and they do their job relatively well. If you do a lot of hiking as well as some trail running, these are a good compromise.
If you’re looking for the best waterproof trail running shoe, you can’t go wrong with the XA Pro 3D from Salomon. In the company’s trail running shoe family, they are the roughest and toughest, designed to hold up under the most difficult conditions.
The XA is built for stability, with some burly thermoplastic overlays running up the side; many trail runners like to use them as a lightweight hiking or approach shoe because of this. However, that extra support comes with extra weight – each shoe tips the scales at around 20 ounces.
Despite the aggressive outsole and thick supports, Salomon chose not to include a rock plate on the XA’s, so you will feel those pebbles on rocky trails. However, the GoreTex sleeve that protects the interior of the shoe is one of the best in the business, keeping your feet dry even when completely submerged in puddles.
Like the Speedcross line of trail runners, the XA Pro 3D has a Quicklace system to keep a tight hold on your foot without any pressure points. They also use the Contagrip sole, which gives excellent traction, but the softer material wears down fast, so they’re not the most durable shoes out there.
The XA’s are the burliest of Salomon’s shoes and one of the best men’s trail running shoes on the market. Minimalists won’t like their clunky feel, but the level of protection they provide is unrivaled.
If you’ve felt all of the previous shoes were too technical and aggressive for your level of trail running, then the New Balance 481V3 might be the perfect pair for you. These look a lot more like casual shoes or at least a road running shoe compared to the hiking boot-like models above.
The outsole is equipped with short lugs that will function well on hardpack trails or asphalt roads, but probably not so great in deep mud. With a thick cushion in the rear, the midsole on these trail runners is tailor-made for heel strikers.
New Balance’s uppers are considerably more flexible compared to Salomon’s or Adidas’s models; this gives them a much comfier feel and makes them a solid choice for everyday shoes. The waterproofing isn’t amazing, but your feet should stay dry in a light rainstorm or after a stint in some shallow mud.
New Balance isn’t exactly known for their trail running line, and the 481V3s could be disappointing for runners tackling tough terrain. But if you only hit the trail occasionally, these are still a great option.
Minimalist trail runners are going to love the Cloudventure as it ditches all the stability and protection features seen on some of the more technical models in favor of being a lightweight, go-fast shoe.
On-Running prioritized traction on the outsole, building it from a very soft, sticky rubber. They also added a deep channel down the center, with just a couple of blocky lugs along the sides. This design is great for clearing mud, but these shoes will not last as long as some of the stiffer-soled shoes which have more surface area in contact with the ground. If you ever take them on the pavement, expect to get just one season out of these shoes.
The midsoles provide a decent cushion without feeling clunky (each shoe weighs just twelve ounces). With 6mm heel to toe drop though, they’re not great for heel strikers.
The Cloudventure also has some of the most comfortable uppers of any trail running shoes. They’re flexible, breathable, and easily conform to your foot with no break-in period. However, that breathability comes at the cost of water-resistance; they’re not waterproof enough to be submerged without getting soaked.
However, if you’re an experienced trail runner who wants to really feel the ground, these will be right up your alley.
This shoe is the classic zero-drop trail runner, with excellent waterproofing, a tough outsole, and stiff enough upper to protect you against the elements. However, this is a mid-cut shoe, so the Altra Lone Peak 4s will run hot; do not get these if you’re running in 80+°F degree heat on a regular basis.
The outsole is built with some well-spaced lugs that are designed to dig into the trail and not get loaded down with mud and debris. The sole is quite hard, which is supposed to shield your foot from sharp rocks (it has no rock plate) but has the less desirable effect of reducing traction (not enough flex).
There’s a full 25mm of foam cushioning between your foot and the outsole, which makes for a very comfortable ride. At just 24 ounces a pair, they’re surprisingly not that heavy for having all the extra padding.
The uppers are thinner than the previous Lone Peak model, helping to shed weight without reducing protection significantly.
In terms of protection, they’re pretty middle of the road, with a thick, stiff sole to stop you from feeling the pebbles on the trail, and a moderately stiff upper to guard against anything prickly that might be flanking your route. These would be great for just about anyone getting into trail running. They don’t have the best traction, but as a newbie, you probably won’t need it anyway.
Building on the wildly successful Speedcross 4 platform, the 5’s is designed to take on even more difficult terrain. Like the 4’s, the Speedcross 5 has the aggressive outsole lugs and incredibly durable Contagrip rubber. This time around, Salomon made the rubber a bit stickier, though, which helps immensely on steep inclines.
On the upper, Salomon covered more of the surface in a protective overlay. This feature is a double-edged sword, though: the added protection (along with the improved outsole) makes them much better than the 4 for rough trails, but by reducing the amount of mesh, they made the 5 less breathable. If you live in a hot climate, this is something to be wary of.
Some of the 4’s users complained that the shoe was too narrow, so Salomon added some width, particularly in the toe box, to give them a roomier feel. However, if your feet run narrow, the 5’s could feel sloppy.
The updated Speedcross won’t win over too many more fans, but for those who loved the features on the 4 and just needed something a little more aggressive, it’s a welcome addition to the Salomon trail running family.
You could be forgiven for thinking the Zoom Pegasus was a road running shoe; they’re lightweight, incredibly breathable, and super flexible. What they are not is protective, which is what most buyers would expect from a trail runner. However, if you only occasionally hit the dirt, these could be the shoes for you.
The most glaring difference between these shoes and your standard trail runner is the outsole; the lugs are nearly non-existent. While they do a decent job at shedding water through a couple of channels cut in the sole, mud gets caked on and won’t come off. These are not a good choice for rough and tumble trail runners.
What they lack in terms of protection they more than make up for in comfort though, thanks to its very flexible sole. The Zoom Pegasus looks quite similar to a pair you’d wear for road running or fitness classes, being more aesthetically pleasing than most trail runners.
Similar to the Adidas Terrex R2, the Pegasus has no laces, just a drawcord that cinches at the top. The cord is a little thicker, though, which puts less pressure on the top side of your foot.
While just about every other company was hopping on the minimalist shoe trend several years ago, Hoka One One was happily churning out some of the finest maximalist shoes for those wanting an extra cushion in their step. Their Speedgoat 3’s have a minuscule 4mm drop between the heel and toe but come with a massive forefoot cushion that you either love or hate (some say it feels “squishy”).
While they might look clunky, the Speedgoats have great traction, even on gravel-strewn or mud-caked trails. The soft rubber of the outsole is pretty sticky, and it gives your foot enough flex, even with all that cushion, to better conform to the terrain.
The biggest downside to the Speedgoat 3s is that they’re a little pricey. If you’ve never run in a maximalist shoe, this is a big investment that might not pay off. If you have the chance to try them on at a store and move around in them, you’ll get a better feel of whether it’s worth the cost.
These are also a great pair to pick up if you’re something of an inpatient person – Hoka One One’s shoes require next to no break-in time, so you won’t need to adjust your training schedule. No doubt, one of the best pairs of waterproof trail running shoes.