Confused about shoes – trail edition

Long distance runner seeks stable, long-term relationship.

Twenty something woman seeking partner for mountain getaways.

Fitness fanatic who loves adventure and long romps on the weekend is looking for a partner who can keep up. 

My want for a pair of trail shoes could rival any dating site’s wanted ads.

My love of trail running began back in grade seven when I ran cross-country. Although I haven’t raced on trails in literally a decade, I still love getting out there instead of pounding the pavement.


Give me trails in Edmonton’s river valley, glorious mountainous trails in Jasper, or even red dirt trails in Hawaii and I run happy.


Without many race plans on the horizon I want to up my trail game. It’s easier on my body, better for my mind, and the hills rock my cardiovascular system.


I think it’s finally time for trail shoes but I’ve never worn a pair before. I’ve read blogger reviews, looked up shoe guides online, and bought the most recent Trail Runner magazine for their shoe guide.  But I want to hear your opinions. Any advice is welcome!

Do you have trail shoes? What do you look for in them? What brand is your favourite (trail or non)?

All I know is that I want Gore-tex to help block out the cold and snow that is looming!

45 responses to “Confused about shoes – trail edition

  1. Love your want ads for trail shoes!! I’m lovin’ my Montrail Bajadas right now. I kind of stumbled into finding them (found a great deal online!), but after reading the reviews, decided to give them a try. I absolutely LOVE the roomy toe box. It makes a huge difference on the descents. And the traction on the bottom helps you grip the trail. If you have a local store that carries trail shoes, go try on a bunch and then shop online for a better deal. Good luck finding your perfect match! I can’t wait to read more about your trail adventures!

  2. I am jealous of all the places you have ran and the beautiful scenery! I would love to get into trail running. We used to run up and down the trail of a big bluff in college and I loved it!

  3. I’ve got a couple of pairs of trail shoes, including a pair with Gore-tex uppers. The only time I’ll wear those is if I’m running in the snow (which is obviously next-to-never now that I live in Texas), paired with some cheap MEC ankle gaiters to keep the snow from getting in the top. The Gore-tex is way too hot and holds in way too much moisture for me to run in them any other time, including in the rain (hold in more water than they let out, since they don’t drain at all). But since you live in Edmonton, and there’s snow on the ground 10 months out of the year (close, right?!), you’ll definitely get more use out of Gore-tex trail shoes than I do, although you’ll probably find yourself wanting non-Gore-tex next summer.

    Since this pair (Columbia Ravenous Gore-tex) are my snow/ice shoes, I put sheet metal screws on the sole for traction. I have a pair of Yaktrax, and they’re great for walking and running on pavement, but they suck for running trails in the snow. Screws are the only way to go. I can send you more details on what screws to get, how to put them in, etc if you want.

    • Thanks so much for your input, Jesse! I don’t know if I’ve seen Columbia runners around here; I’ll have to take a better look.
      Kelly used screws in his shoes a couple winters ago. What size do you use?

      • I use #8 sheet metal screws, 3/8″ length (not sure what the closest metric equivalent screw is, sorry!) The sheet metal screws have a good head for grip, with a little lip around the outside. Some friends of mine use 1/2″ length screws, but I was always afraid of them poking through the midsole on the forefoot of the shoe.

  4. I think a lot of it depends on what your favorite non-trail shoes are. I was a big fan of the Brooks PureGrit (they are more minimalist, but the Cascadia, which isn’t, also has really high review in the ultra/trail world), I have also really enjoyed a lot of the Merrel and New Balance designs.

    I’m still in the process of finding the right trail shoe for me – I want something more minimalist, but I also have super sensitive feet when it comes to blisters, so I have to be picky. My main recommendation would be to get a shoe from a store that has a 100% satisfaction guarantee policy so you can test them out on a few runs and still bring them back if you don’t like them. I’m not sure what you have in Canada, but I know that REI does and I always get all my shoes from them for that reason.

    Good luck!!

    • Thanks for the comment Logan! Sounds like you’ve tried out a few. I think I’ll try on a brooks since that is what I run in on the road, but the new balance intrigue me, too, since lots of people have mentioned them.
      Our MEC is a lot like REI, but I’ll have to see if they take them back after I use them outside if I’m not happy!

  5. Sorry I cant help you there. I have been intrigued with trail raining, but unfortunately I am not already any real trails 😦

  6. I love the saucony exodus, feels more like a road runner that I was used to, but with stability for trail running

  7. AH I haven’t done much trail running simply because I have a fear of slugs…so weird I know!! They are all over the trails in my area though so it’s difficult hahaha. I do love the idea though!

  8. Lol this want ad is great 🙂 and i dont know how you run trails- i love trails as much as the next gal- but walking them is juuust fine for me 🙂 that said, i need trail shoes too. let us know which ones you end up getting!!

  9. I don’t own any trail shoes.. so unfortunately I can’t help ya out. Good for you though for running trails. I would be so afraid to run on uneven ground, I get hurt all the time.. no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

  10. Can’t wait to hear your reviews, I’ve never found a trail shoe I’ve loved since the New Balance 801s (a million years ago)… don’t think you can get them anymore.

  11. I am wanting to start running trails more often too. I just bought the Brooks PureGrit because I have run my past few marathons in the PureFlows, so I’m hoping my feet like these just as much. I have not tried them out on the trails yet, hopefully this weekend I’ll get them dirty!

  12. I ordered some awhile back and they look really cool but I hate them for running!!! They are Salomons – that’s all I remember (and I sat down for the first time all day and have no energy to get back up and look – sorry!).

    • Hope you had some time to relax this weekend!
      I’m tempted to buy Solomons just because my favourite runner is sponsored by them! But, it’s good to hear you don’t like running in them.

      • But you might love them. I have been wearing them to walk around in some just to see if that help break them in a bit better – I’m gong to test them out on a run again before I decide to give up on them completely.

  13. I have a pair of Adidas Trail Response as my winter trail runners (I’m in Calgary so they are my snow shoes), a pair of New Balance MT1010 for shoulder season (and chinooks) and some New Balance minimalist trail shoes for summer. I love trail runners!

  14. I just wear regular ol’ street shoes on the trails! Good luck in your search for Mr. Right Shoe.

  15. I loooooove my New Balance Trail Minimus shoes so much! I actually wear them almost all the time now.

  16. Oh man… I am no help with this advice because this gal still wears her road runners on the trail…oops! A lot of the people that I work with are in love with the La Sportiva brand, specifically the “Wildcat” – I am not sure why but at least that is my minor, really unhelpful tidbit 🙂 BUT I am loving this post anyways and all of the comments because I need to know more about trail shoes!

  17. When I moved back up to Chicago, I got some trail shoes for winter running. I bought a pair from Brook’s and I LoVE them!

  18. runnerbydefault

    A few years ago I did a mud run and my favorite part was the trail running. I would love to do more of it! Especially along that gorgeous trail in your Hawaiian picture!! Good luck on your shoe search.

  19. Your “in search of” ads are hilarious! Bill and I are in the market for trail shoes, too! We want to add more hiking, trail running, and racing to our routine. Let me know what you decide to get. Nicole (I notice she commented, too) recommended a pair for me. I just need to go to the store and check them out.

  20. i use kswiss trail but really want to try the new mizunno trail running shoes. ANd i want to run with you!

  21. mizuno assends are a great pair of trail shoes, they feel like regular running shoes, with a ton of grip.

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