Compared to normal running, trail running exposes you to “not-so-forgiving” terrain, and as a result of this, shoes designed specifically for trail running are a good investment in your health and well-being.
Trail running shoes offer more protection against rocks, feature special rubber outsoles for good traction and grip, and are generally made up of a solid and durable construct.
Waterproof trail running shoes are ideal for wet and cold conditions where they are needed most, whereas, they’re not quite recommended for hot and dry conditions.
It’s always a good idea to have two pairs of trail running shoes – one for the cold Winter months and one for the warm Summer times. Non waterproof models are perfect for the hotter months and warmer conditions.
We’ve spent countless hours researching the wonderful world of trail running shoes, we’ve listened to the experts, read loads of reviews, and we are impressed with what the market has to offer with brands like Adidas, Salomon, and The North Face – to name a few.
Our Editor’s Pick is the Adidas Terrex Agravic GTX (Compare Prices at our favorite shops: At Backcountry.com or Amazon). It’s a lightweight, yet durable, and stable waterproof trail running shoe with an exceptional grip that can also double as casual everyday wear. Let’s have a closer look at this and the other trail running shoes we reviewed.
Trail Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide – What Am I Looking For?
There’s an obvious difference between normal running shoes and trail running shoes. Sturdier constructs, underfoot impact cushioning and better grip, to name a few, are some of the general features you’d find in a trail running shoe as compared to a normal running shoe.
We highly recommend waterproof trail runners for the wet, colder months to ensure you keep your feet dry and comfortable – not only for obvious health reasons but for general comfort on your run.
In very hot conditions the waterproof technology of your trail running shoe can quickly become your worst enemy. After all, no one wants to be running around with hot, sweaty, uncomfortable feet – we won’t even mention the smell. Whew!
Let’s take a look at some things to consider when buying a waterproof trail running shoe.
Consider the type of feet you may have and pay close attention to the fit description in our reviews and other reviews. For wide feet, a shoe with a wide toe box would be highly recommended, and vice versa for narrow feet. Also, don’t assume your foot size stays the same. As you age your foot size changes, so it’s always a wise idea to get your feet measured.
If you can find out the last that best suits your feet then that’s even better. A last is a sophisticated foot form that each brand builds its shoes around. And, if you’re really serious, consider getting a foot assessment.
Footwear specialists can assess the shape and size of your feet and offer sound advice on which brands best suit your feet. It might be worth the time and effort going this route as a foot specialist will save you the headaches of blisters, bunions, and other foot issues.
Types of Waterproof Trail Runners
The type of trail running shoes you buy will vary based on your personal needs. Light trail shoes are ideal for gravel paths and rolling hills. They offer decent protection for rocks, roots, and branches. They allow you to maintain a brisk pace with a moderately stiff design.
Rugged trail shoes are designed mainly for hiking trails and a broad range of terrains. They usually feature toe guards for protection against rocks, durable midsoles for foot stabilization, and occasionally internal shanks for added protection. Varying lug patterns for traction and thick soles with soft or hard rubber are also common features in rugged trail shoes.
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Off-trail shoes tend to be constructed from very resilient materials such as EVA foam midsoles. Torsional rigidity is common in these shoes to avoid the shoe failing under severe twisting forces common in off trail environments.
Huh? Okay, let’s explain. Heel-to-toe drop basically refers to the measurement related to cushioning height – essentially the height at the heel and the height at the forefoot. Barefoot shoes have 0mm drop making them ideal for light trail running. Minimalist shoes have a drop of 0-4mm, and moderate and maximalist shoes offer a wide range of heel-to-toe drops. Bear in mind, that a low heel drop encourages a mid-foot or forefoot strike.
This results in a stable landing platform and is beneficial to better balance and muscle engagement. Seeing as not everyone benefits from a low-drop shoe, do some research first, and if you plan on transitioning to a low-drop trail running shoe, allow for some time to physically adjust to them.
Waterproof trail runners are specially designed to diminish excessive foot rotation – stiff construction of these types of shoes makes sure of this. Equally, because trail running is comprised of shorter strides ( as a result of adjusting where your foot lands) pronation control is not highly considered in the design of these shoes.
The type of soles is also very important in the battle against rough terrain. As seen in some of the shoes we’ve reviewed, Michelin rubber outsoles are great for rugged and rough terrain.
This is also paramount, not only for comfort but for impact protection. Keep in mind trails are located in the great outdoors – a place with rough, uneven surfaces, rocks, and other debris.
Although it may seem obvious, weather protection is also a very important feature to consider when buying waterproof trail running shoes. Shoes with GORE-TEX membranes are usually great for waterproofing and breathability. Moisture tends to pass through GORE-TEX fabric easily, and even in warm conditions, runners can keep water out while perspiration evaporates.
Additionally, seamless uppers that are built from waterproof materials are usually guaranteed to keep your foot dry. Over the years, breathability in waterproof running shoes has improved significantly with technological advancements in materials and designs. Still, nonwaterproof shoes are better suited for hotter conditions and seasons, and it’s a great idea to keep two pairs of trail runners to ensure at least one pair thoroughly dries before the next outing.
The weight of a running shoe, as most runners will agree, plays a significant role in performance on the trail. Keeping the weight down in choosing a trail running shoe can be a fickle balance between features, design, and performance.
The grip is as important as any other feature, especially in the outdoors. It goes without saying that at some point you’ll be encountering wet, slippery, less than favorable conditions. While aggressive, ruggedly built outsoles contribute greatly to good traction, the type of material used also plays an integral role.
As we’ve mentioned before, shoes with Michelin rubber outsoles tended to gain popular reviews for excellent traction while keeping the overall weight of the shoe down. Lugged soles tend to improve traction significantly, and stand tough against loose rocks, slabs, and gravel.
We made sure that the shoes we reviewed in this article matched style with functionality. We are fully aware that readers consider style as one of the priorities in choosing trail running shoes and understandably so. In other words, because you’re running the trail doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it! That’s why most models we reviewed come in different color combinations, so you can pick the one that suits your taste.
Just as we do here at All Things Waterproof, you should consider safety paramount. If you anticipate that the majority of your running will be done across rugged terrain, then we’d advise you to pick a more rugged shoe like Altra Lone Peak 3.0 or the Under Armour Fat Tire GTX, which offers excellent grip and are ideal for various terrain types. Alternately, for gentler, easier trail running, those types of shoes may be on the heavy side, whereas shoes such as the Kanadia 7 GTX tend to be more suitable for light to moderate trails.
The 10 Best Waterproof Trail Running Shoes 2020 – Reviews
1. Adidas Terrex Agravic GTX
- Light, fast, stable
- Good grip
- True to size
- need some break-in time
The Adidas Terrex Agravic GTX trail running shoe earns our Editor’s Pick position. What makes this shoe great for the trail are its light, fast, and stable qualities. A breathable GORE-TEX membrane does its job in keeping your feet dry from start to finish.
We know how potentially unforgiving trail environments can be, and so does Adidas, that’s why these waterproof trail shoes feature Continental rubber bike tire outsole tread for outstanding grip, and a breathable EVA tongue for added comfort.
These trail running shoes have been described as being ideal for people who like boost and rainy, muddy, unforgiving terrain. They are also perfectly fine to be worn as casual sports shoes.
2. Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
- Easy lace system
- Good grip
- Rugged & durable
- Reviewers have reported a narrow fit
The Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX was built for almost any type of terrain, environment, or conditions. Its streamlined profile offers exceptional durability, and its waterproof GORE-TEX membrane keeps water and moisture well away from your precious feet.
Durability? Perfect for jogging along the trail. Rugged? Great for long trail runs. The lacing system is simple, elegant, and fast. Foot cradling Sensifit construction makes this shoe very comfortable, and its Contragrip outsole makes for outstanding grip keeping you vertical.
3. Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX
- Excellent grip
- Easy to adjust lace system
- Comfortable snug fit
- Reliable & versatile
- Toe box reportedly narrow
The Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX is a durable, comfortable, and reliable trail running shoe. The lacing system is easy to adjust and its upper fits snugly and contributes to its comfort. Its waterproof features have been praised by many users and it has been reported to be true to size. A Wet Traction Contragrip outsole contributes to its exceptional grip – making ideal for various types of terrain.
4. Inov-8 Roclite 282 GTX
- Good grip
- Great natural flexibility
- Sizes run small
Built with durable, synthetic uppers, this shoe is guaranteed to keep your knickers dry thanks to its GORE-TEX waterproof and breathable membrane – common in these types of shoes. Of the other Inov styles, this shoe offers the highest level of cushioning, great flexibility, and underfoot impact protection.
Sticky rubber on the outsole not only provides a durable external layer, but it also maintains traction over a variety of conditions and environments. This shoe is ideal for the minimalist runner!
5. Adidas Terrex Fast GTX
- Surround Waterproofing
- Good Breathability
- Strong soles with great traction
- Rugged & Durable
- plastic stripes on the sides may come to lose after heavy use
As anticipated, the GORE-TEX 360° surround waterproofing enhances breathability and ensures your feet stay dry when you take the Adidas Terrex Fast GTX out on a wet trail for a run. A breathable mesh and synthetic overlay are supposed to promote comfort and security, and Continental rubber and TRACTION outsole aim to provide excellent grip.
This shoe has great waterproofing characteristics, it’s durable with good support, and is reliable for almost any terrain encountered. Also great for regular hiking or walking.
6. The North Face Men’s Ultra 109 GTX
- Good grip & foot protection
- Sizes run small
Providing great underfoot protection, subtle pronation correction, coupled with GORE-TEX waterproofing, this trail running shoe will keep you covered on the slickest, steepest trails.
Breathable mesh contributes to good foot health and condition, a PU-coated leather upper offers good support and durability, and a protective toe cap ensures safety over rocky and uneven terrain.
7. Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neo
- Excellent grip
- Great Protection from Rocks
- Comfortable & stable
- Upper is not very breathable
The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neo shoe features an excellent grip, comfortable fit, and impressive cushioning – ideal qualities in any trail running shoe. Its TrailClaw outsole delivers exceptional traction on various surfaces and terrain, and its waterproof construct keeps your feet warm and dry. Altra Lone Peak perfectly blends traction, comfort, support, and stability.
8. La Sportiva Wildcat 2.0 GTX
- Exceptional grip
- Good waterproofing
- Ideal for icy, snowy surfaces
- Shoe can be narrow for people with wide feet
This shoe got rave reviews where snowy and icy conditions are concerned. The Wildcat 2.0 GTX offers exceptional stability and cushioning, ideal in any trail running shoe. It features sturdy construction, and an outstanding grip on icy, snowy surfaces and the waterproof breathable Gore-Tex membrane has been impressively reviewed by users.
9. Adidas Kanadia 7 GTX
- Very light
- Great waterproofing
- Good traction
- Mud-shedding outsole
- Sizes run small
The Kanadia 7 GTX is noticeably lighter than other trail shoes with GTX membrane – awesome ain’t it? It’s great for muddy trails thanks to its mud-shedding outsole. Despite its waterproof feature, the Kanadia 7 GTX is breathable, with good cushioning and plush comfort, keeping you comfortable out on the trail.
10. Under Armour Verge Low GTX
- Excellent grip
- Thick responsive midsole
- Plush and comfortable
- Reportedly somewhat rigid in the rear portion
This trail running shoe features a lightweight, breathable, mesh upper with supportive welded overlays and Anafoam stability chassis that delivers a body-mapped fit for structure and support. A Gore-Tex membrane provides good waterproofing for those wet trails.
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It has been reported to be a durable shoe with a Michelin rubber outsole that offers outstanding traction. A thick, responsive midsole provides comfort on all trails.
Care Instructions for your Waterproof Running Shoes
Some shoes might have cool features such as mud-shedding but it’s no excuse to skimp on general care and upkeep of your shoes.
Always rinse shoes with warm water after running in muddy, dirty terrain. The sooner you wash them, the easier mud and debris will be removed. Additionally, leaving debris on materials for extended periods of time can jeopardize their integrity.
- Dry shoes thoroughly after rinsing.
- Store in a cool, dry place when shoes aren’t being worn for extended periods of time.
- Avoid leaving shoes locked up in hot, humid vehicles and in eyeshot of potential thieves.
- Consider the limits of your shoe. Just because the shoe may be waterproof doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to cross rivers and waterfalls in it.
- Remove wet laces and allow them to dry completely before re-lacing your shoes.
For those with sensitive feet, Leukotape is a handy device for battling foot irritation caused by your shoes. It’s waterproof and it can deal with the irritation long before it becomes a problem.
So, now there’s nothing stopping you from getting out onto the running trail. We’ve given you the best waterproof trail running shoes, we’ve outlined a detailed Buyer’s Guide, and once you’ve got your awesome pair of runners, we’ve given you a few points on how to keep them squeaky clean.
Always keep your personal use, needs, and comfort levels in mind, and priority, when choosing your shoe. Pay close attention to material details, because this could mean the difference between having wet, soggy feet on the trail, or dry, comfy feet that can take you miles.
The outdoors can be an unforgiving place, however, with the right equipment – in this case, waterproof trail running shoes, it can be an awe-inspiring and satisfying haven. So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading, go get your shoes, and hit the trail!