Breaking In & Comfort of Trail Runners
Trail running shoes need little or no breaking in time. You can pretty much be worn straight out of the box. Their less robust, a lot more versatile design means they are easier to maneuver in, hence they don’t have to be worn-in before a hike (though we might still advise it). This provides a clear advantage if you need a new pair after clocking up big miles.
Light, Breathable Upper Material
The upper part of the trail runner is usually made from a breathable mesh material enabling air circulation, especially since running may make your feet truly feel very hot and sweaty. This is also important for trail runners who expect to cross on puddles or streams as thin mesh material dries quickly. I have been using on trail runners or approach shoes in recent months. When I take on my next Ultra Challenge – I’ll be looking to use a lightweight shoe to aid me with speed.
Tough, High Grip Soles
The soles are generally lined with either rock plates or thick foam, and the lugs are usually short, deep, or sticky. Some like the ones with thick foam as it is more compact and an outstanding shock absorber, making it easier to bounce and explode swiftly.
Low/Zero Heel-to-Toe Drop On Trail Running Shoes
Many trail running shoes now are also following the trend of barefoot or minimalist shoes. These kinds of shoes have zero-drop ground contact, which means there is not much material between the runner’s feet and the ground. This saves a lot of weight and allows quicker, explosive steps, which is important hiking at pace.
Tight Fit on Heels and Wide Toe Box
You can usually differentiate a pair of regular running shoes from trail running shoes based on its looks and fit. Trail running shoes are tighter around the heels and mid-foot, with a wider forefoot or toe box. This allows the toes to splay for precision and stability.
Durability Issues With Trail Runners
Due to their lighter weight and design, you won’t last as long as hiking boots. On average, you should replace your trail runners every 500 miles to prevent excessive wear that could damage your feet.
At the end of the day, the decision between wearing hiking boots or trail running shoes is down to what you personally prefer. A basic rule of thumb to follow is to use hiking boots if you’re new to hiking. You can then graduate to trail runners when you gain more experience.