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Embarking on a trail running adventure brings the thrill of nature. But unpredictable weather can quickly turn the excitement into a soggy challenge. That’s where the game-changing technology of waterproof trail running shoes comes in. Designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable, these shoes are the unsung heroes of off-road running. In this article, we’ll explore the top contenders in the world of men’s and women’s trail shoes. We’ll ensure your next trail run is fun without worrying about wet feet. Lace-up and get ready to conquer the trails in any weather!

1. Salomon Speedcross 5

Salomon Speedcross 5
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Drop: 10mm
Cushioning: Moderate

The Salomon Speedcross 5 is a stellar choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an exceptional combination of grip, cushioning, and fit. The incorporation of the Gore-Tex® construction not only ensures complete weather protection but also enhances comfort by reducing bulk. The floating tongues add a touch of innovation, contributing to improved overall comfort and a streamlined aesthetic. One standout feature is the Quicklace™ system. It provides a secure and customized fit with a simple pull, lock, and go mechanism.

The convenience of pockets on the tongues to store laces out of the way adds a practical touch. The SensiFit™ technology cradles the feet from the midsoles to the laces. It delivers a secure and snug fit that feels virtually customized. The Contagrip® TA soles are designed for maximum grip on various surfaces. The sole features an aggressive lug design that excels on loose, soft, and uneven terrains such as mud, wet ground, and soft snow. Whether navigating challenging trails or enjoying a brisk off-road run, the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX trail-running shoes impress with their performance and thoughtful design elements.

What I like: The Contagrip® TA soles provide outstanding traction on a variety of terrains.

What I don’t: The insole bunches together and the laces are too long.

See the Salomon Speedcross 5 See the Women’s Speedcross 5

2. Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX

Brooks Cascadia 17
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
Drop: 8mm
Cushioning: Moderate

The Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX trail shoes are a formidable companion for those who crave the thrill of trail running in unpredictable conditions. Designed to tackle rugged terrains and unpredictable weather, these shoes boast a Gore-Tex Invisible Fit waterproof membrane that is seamlessly bonded to the uppers, offering a lighter and more flexible fit. The TPU toe caps and mudguards add an extra layer of protection and durability to the uppers, ensuring longevity in the face of challenging trails. What sets the Cascadia 17 apart is its Trail Adapt System. It integrates midsoles, rock plates, and zonal pods to deliver enhanced control and stability on any terrain.

The Articulated Ballistic Rock Shield is nestled between layers of DNA LOFT v2 foam. It strikes a perfect balance by providing necessary protection without compromising the flexibility crucial for smooth transitions. The TrailTack rubber technology is composed of 25% recycled content. It offers reliable wet and dry traction. Inspired by the anatomy of mountain goat hooves, the biomimetic design of the outsoles includes a split forefoot for grip on uneven surfaces and zonal pods for superior control. Additionally, the eco-conscious will appreciate that these shoes are made with recycled materials equivalent to 11 plastic water bottles, aligning with Brooks’ commitment to sustainability. Overall, the Cascadia 17 GTX delivers on its promise of adaptability, protection, and stability, which makes it a top choice for trail runners seeking high-performance footwear.

What I like: An exceptionally comfortable and protective shoe designed for challenging and technical terrains.

What I don’t: Slightly rigid and heavy for regular daily training use.

See the Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX See the Women’s Cascadia 17 GTX

3. HOKA Speedgoat 5 GTX

HOKA Speedgoat 5 GTX
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 3.2 oz.
Drop: 4mm
Cushioning: Moderate

The HOKA Speedgoat 5 GTX trail running shoes are a formidable companion for those venturing into unpredictable and wet trail conditions. With brand-new uppers and the addition of Gore-Tex waterproof, breathable membranes, these shoes elevate the already beloved Speedgoat 5 to new heights of versatility. The incorporation of Gore-Tex ensures reliable moisture management, effectively keeping water out while allowing breathability—a crucial feature for trail runners facing varying weather conditions.

Beyond the waterproof enhancements, the Speedgoat 5 GTX retains the elements that make its predecessor a favorite among trail enthusiasts. The late-stage Meta-Rocker technology provides a smooth and efficient ride on diverse terrains, while the lay-flat gusseted tongue construction and bolstered heel collar contribute to a secure and comfortable fit. The inclusion of protective toe rands adds an extra layer of durability. It makes these shoes well-equipped for challenging trails. With Vibram Megagrip outsoles featuring Traction Lug technology and 5 mm lugs, the shoes offer increased grip on loose soil, ensuring a confident and stable stride in muddy or slippery conditions.

What I like: The Vibram Megagrip outsoles with Traction Lug technology and 5 mm lugs offer an outstanding grip on loose soil.

What I don’t: Thick midsole reduces trail feel in technical terrain.

See the HOKA Speedgoat 5 GTX See the Women’s Speedgoat 5 GTX

4. New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5

New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
Drop: 6mm
Cushioning: Light

The New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5 shoes offer a winning combination of performance and sustainability. The DynaSoft midsole foam, boasting approximately 3% bio-based content, not only delivers ultra-responsive cushioning but also aligns with eco-friendly practices by utilizing renewable resources. This conscientious approach contributes to a reduced carbon footprint without compromising the shoe’s overall comfort and responsiveness. The engineered mesh upper with no-sew overlays ensures breathability and a sleek fit, while the EVA foam insert enhances overall comfort, making these shoes an ideal choice for trail runners seeking a balance between performance and environmental responsibility.

Equipped with an AT Tread outsole, the Dynasoft Nitrel V5 excels in providing versatile traction for both on and off-road activities. The 6mm drop, though approximate due to development and manufacturing variances, contributes to a stable and comfortable stride. The adjustable lace closure allows for a customized fit, ensuring that runners can tailor the shoes to their preferences. Overall, the New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5 trail running shoes stand out not only for their technical features but also for their commitment to sustainability, making them a thoughtful and reliable choice for environmentally-conscious athletes.

What I like: The AT Tread outsole ensures reliable traction on both on and off-road surfaces.

What I don’t: Consider sizing up as this model runs small.

See the New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5 See the Women’s Dynasoft Nitrel V5

5. Salomon Thundercross

Salomon Thundercross
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 7.7 oz.
Drop: 4mm
Cushioning: Maximum

The Salomon Thundercross shoes stand out as a reliable and versatile option for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a high-performance shoe. These shoes are equipped with waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex membranes. It ensures that your feet stay dry and comfortable even in challenging, muddy conditions. The tight mesh construction effectively prevents debris from getting trapped, offering a hassle-free trail experience. What sets the Thundercross apart is its springy midsole. It’s crafted from a combination of EVA and olefin (OBC) called energyFOAM. This innovative design not only provides a cushioned and comfortable ride but also imparts a responsive and lively feel to your every step.

The Quicklace™ closures make slipping into and out of these shoes a breeze. It’s a minimalistic and robust lace system that allows for one-pull tightening. Additionally, the shoe uppers are made with 46% recycled content, highlighting Salomon’s commitment to sustainability. The All Terrain Contagrip® rubber with aggressive 5 mm lugs ensures excellent traction on various surfaces. This makes the Thundercross a dependable choice for tackling technical terrains and diverse trail conditions. Overall, these trail running shoes deliver on their promise of waterproof protection, comfort, and performance, making them a reliable companion for avid trail runners.

What I like: The tight mesh construction effectively prevents debris from getting trapped between your feet and the footbeds.

What I don’t: Average grip in mud.

See the Salomon Thundercross See the Women’s Thundercross

6. HOKA Challenger 7

HOKA Challenger 7
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 3.4 oz.
Drop: 4mm
Cushioning: Maximum

The HOKA Challenger 7 GTX delivers a standout performance, which makes it a reliable choice for runners seeking comfort and protection across diverse terrains. Regardless of the weather conditions, these shoes prove their worth with the incorporation of Gore-Tex Invisible Fit waterproof/breathable membranes. It shields your feet from inclement weather and ensures a dry and comfortable experience. The updated design, featuring simplified mesh uppers and new, soft foam midsoles, not only enhances the overall aesthetics but also contributes to an unparalleled plush feel.

One notable improvement in the Challenger 7 is the increased stack height. It provides an even plusher sensation underfoot. This adjustment adds to the shoes’ versatility. This makes them suitable for both street running and conquering challenging summits. The strategic lug design, drawing inspiration from gravel tires, showcases 4 mm lugs that are tightly spaced in the center and larger and more aggressive at the perimeter. This thoughtful innovation significantly improves traction on uneven terrain, offering runners the confidence to navigate various surfaces with ease. In summary, the HOKA Challenger 7 GTX trail-running shoes successfully merge style, comfort, and performance, making them a top-tier choice for enthusiasts who demand the best in their off-road adventures.

What I like: The updated design, featuring simplified mesh uppers and increased stack height, contributes to a plush feel underfoot.

What I don’t: Avoid light colors or white shoes. The shoes stain easily, and washing doesn’t help.

See the HOKA Challenger 7 See the Women’s Challenger 7

7. Salomon Sense Ride 5

Salomon Sense Ride 5
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 5.6 oz.
Drop: 8.3mm
Cushioning: Moderate

The Salomon Sense Ride 5 delivers an impressive combination of features that make it an excellent choice for runners tackling diverse terrains and unpredictable weather conditions. Boasting balanced cushioning, these shoes are equipped with waterproof membranes that keep your feet dry both from external elements and internal moisture, ensuring a comfortable and dry experience even in challenging weather. The lightweight, flexible, and durable engineered mesh uppers, featuring Sensifit™ technology, provide an optimized and comfortable foothold, offering a secure fit that enhances your overall running experience.

The thoughtful design of the Sense Ride 5 extends to its practical details, such as the minimalist and robust Quicklace™ laces, allowing for easy one-pull tightening and hassle-free on-and-off. The Energy Surge foam midsoles strike a perfect balance between plush cushioning and adapted response, providing the necessary support for long-distance runs. Additionally, the All-Terrain Contagrip® outsoles inspire confidence with their exceptional grip on various surfaces, be it wet, dry, hard, or loose. Whether you’re a seasoned trail runner or a novice exploring different terrains, the Salomon Sense Ride 5 is a reliable and well-rounded choice for those seeking comfort, durability, and performance in their footwear.

What I like: The Energy Surge foam midsoles strike a well-calibrated balance between plush cushioning and adapted response.

What I don’t: The shoe is both shorter and narrower than the previous generations.

See the Salomon Sense Ride 5 See the Women’s Sense Ride 5

8. La Sportiva Bushido II

La Sportiva Bushido II
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Drop: 6mm
Cushioning: Moderate

The La Sportiva Bushido II GTX is a formidable companion for those who refuse to let challenging weather conditions hinder their favorite trail runs. Designed to tackle cold, snow, rain, and ice, these shoes seamlessly blend weather resistance with an uncompromised fit and feel. The incorporation of Gore-Tex Invisible Fit™ membranes ensures that the elements are kept at bay without sacrificing the snug fit that trail runners demand. The slip-on construction of these shoes embraces the foot like a sock, providing a secure and comfortable feel without creating unnecessary pressure points.

Notable updates in the Bushido II GTX include ergonomic, padded, and highly breathable tongues that stay in place thanks to gusseted construction. The enhanced heel design further contributes to the overall comfort and fit, allowing runners to focus on the trail ahead. The FriXion® XT V-Groove2™ outsoles, featuring dual-compound rubber, deliver outstanding grip on various terrains, be it dry or wet. The cleverly designed outsole lugs wrapping around the midsoles add traction and stability, particularly beneficial on off-camber terrain. Whether you’re navigating through wet trails or facing challenging weather, the La Sportiva Bushido II GTX trail running shoes provide the reliable performance and comfort that trail enthusiasts seek throughout the seasons.

What I like: The slip-on construction wraps around the foot like a sock.

What I don’t: They exhibit an unusually snug fit, even when compared to other models within the La Sportiva footwear lineup.

See the La Sportiva Bushido II See the Women’s Bushido II

Waterproof Trail-Running Shoes: Comparison Table

Salomon Speedcross 5Gore-Tex1 lb. 8 oz.10mmModerate
Brooks Cascadia 17 GTXGore-Tex1 lb. 6 oz.8mmModerate
HOKA Speedgoat 5 GTXGore-Tex1 lb. 3.2 oz.4mmModerate
New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5Gore-Tex1 lb. 4.8 oz.6mmLight
Salomon ThundercrossGore-Tex1 lb. 7.7 oz.4mmMaximum
HOKA Challenger 7Gore-Tex1 lb. 3.4 oz.4mmMaximum
Salomon Sense Ride 5Gore-Tex1 lb. 5.6 oz.8.3mmModerate
La Sportiva Bushido IIGore-Tex1 lb. 5 oz.6mmModerate

How to Choose Trail-Running Shoes?

How to Choose Trail-Running Shoes?

In this section, we will dive into the key factors to consider when choosing the perfect pair to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trail running experience.

Understanding the Importance of Waterproofing

Trail runners often encounter a variety of environmental conditions like muddy paths, creek crossings, and unexpected rain showers. Waterproof shoes play a crucial role in keeping your feet dry and comfortable. They prevent blisters, discomfort, and potential long-term foot issues. Waterproofing technology creates a barrier between your feet and external moisture. It allows you to tackle any trail with confidence.

Waterproofing Technologies

Several advanced technologies are employed to make trail running shoes waterproof. Two of the most popular are Gore-Tex and eVent. Gore-Tex, a breathable and waterproof membrane, is widely used in outdoor footwear. It allows moisture to escape while preventing water from entering. It keeps your feet dry in a variety of conditions. eVent is another effective waterproofing technology known for its breathability. It’s a suitable choice for those who prioritize ventilation without compromising on water resistance.


While waterproofing is critical, breathability is equally important. Shoes that lack adequate breathability can lead to sweaty and uncomfortable feet, potentially causing blisters and irritation. Look for shoes that strike a balance between keeping water out and allowing moisture from your feet to escape.

Materials like mesh uppers and well-designed ventilation systems contribute to breathability. It’s advisable to choose shoes that offer both waterproofing and breathability to ensure a comfortable and dry trail running experience.

Fit and Comfort

The fit of your shoes is paramount, as an improper fit can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. When selecting your shoes, pay attention to the width, arch support, and overall structure to ensure a snug yet comfortable fit.

Consider the type of socks you plan to wear during your runs, as this can influence the fit of the shoes. It’s recommended to try on shoes with the same socks you intend to use during trail running to get an accurate sense of the fit.

Traction and Outsole Design

Trail running often involves navigating through uneven, slippery, and challenging terrain. Traction is a key factor to consider, and the outsole design plays a crucial role in providing stability and grip. Look for shoes with multidirectional lugs that offer excellent traction on a variety of surfaces, including wet rocks, mud, and loose gravel.

The material of the outsole also contributes to overall durability. High-quality rubber compounds are commonly used for trail running shoe outsoles, providing a good balance of grip and longevity.

Weight and Flexibility

The weight and flexibility of your shoes can significantly impact your overall performance on the trail. Lightweight shoes are preferred for agility and reduced fatigue during longer runs. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between weight and the level of support your feet need, especially on challenging terrain.

Flexibility is crucial for adapting to the uneven surfaces encountered in trail running. Shoes that allow natural foot movement enhance agility and responsiveness, providing a more enjoyable and efficient running experience.

Ankle Support

The level of ankle support required depends on personal preference and the type of trails you plan to tackle. Some trail runners prefer low-cut shoes for increased mobility, while others opt for mid or high-cut models for enhanced ankle support and stability on technical terrain.

Consider the demands of your chosen trails and your comfort level when deciding on the ankle height of your waterproof trail running shoes.

Durability and Construction

Trail running can be demanding on footwear, with shoes subjected to rocks, roots, and other obstacles. Assess the overall construction and durability of the shoes. Pay attention to reinforced toe caps and protective overlays. These features enhance the shoe’s ability to withstand the rigors of trail running and provide lasting performance.

Additionally, inspect the seams and waterproofing technology to ensure they are well-integrated and capable of withstanding repeated exposure to moisture and challenging conditions.

Brand Reputation and Reviews

Researching the reputation of the brand and reading reviews from other trail runners can provide valuable insights into the performance and durability of specific shoes. Established brands with a history of producing high-quality outdoor footwear are generally a safer bet, but it’s still essential to consider the specific features and technologies offered by each model.

Customer reviews can offer real-world perspectives on factors such as comfort, waterproofing effectiveness, and durability. Pay attention to reviews from individuals who have similar trail running preferences and conditions to ensure the information is relevant to your needs.

Budget Consideration

When navigating trail running shoes on a budget, it’s essential to strike a balance between cost and crucial features. Begin by establishing a reasonable budget range, acknowledging that various brands offer options at different price points. Prioritize key elements such as waterproofing technology, breathability, and traction, ensuring that essential features align with your running needs.

Consider exploring previous model versions, taking advantage of sales and clearance events, and comparing prices across different retailers. While well-known brands are often associated with quality, don’t overlook less specialized brands that may offer affordable alternatives without compromising performance. Keep an eye on online retailers, check warranty and return policies, and view your trail running shoes as a long-term investment to make a budget-conscious yet informed decision.


Choosing the perfect pair of trail running shoes involves careful consideration of various factors, from waterproofing technologies and breathability to fit, traction, and durability. By understanding your specific needs and the demands of the trails you plan to conquer, you can make an informed decision that enhances your comfort and performance on every run. With the right pair, you’ll be ready to embrace the outdoors, regardless of the weather conditions.