Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (2024)

Article by Road Trail Run Contributors

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (1)

Our annual survey of the year’s best road and trail running shoes, apparel and gear is compiled via survey of our contributors. 26 contributors participated in this year's survey for road and trail. In this article you will find their trail shoes picks for 2023 in multiple categories including: cruiser trail shoes, technical trails focused, short and fast, long distance, door to trail, plated and shoe of the year.

Not all contributors received every product and for each shoe tested we had differing quantities provided by brands. Most were review samples although a considerable number of personal purchases are included.

The RTR Team had quite a year on trail with10 contributors chiming in with their Best Trail Shoes They logged just under 16,200 miles / 26,100 kilometers of trail and road running, ascending a staggering over 2,379,000 feet / 724,000 meters of vertical. And that is before we talk about their hiking, cycling and other activities. They sure put in the distance to test the gear and had wonderful performances as you can see below before we get into the trail shoe picks for 2023.

It is important to note when considering the trail and trail shoes there are considerably more variables in play than for the road including such factors as terrain, vertical, runner preferences in fit for the particular use and ultra type distances vs. shorter efforts. This makes decisive category wins more difficult than for the road,

Name

Location

Total 2023 Run Distance (miles)

PR's and Race Achievements

Vertical Feet Ascent

Vertical Meters Ascent

Cycling Distance

Hiking Distance

Nordic/Ski Mo Distance

Michael Postaski

Idaho,USA

3142

Pulse Endurance Runs 24H - 1st Pl. (123.74M) Scout Mountain 100M - 1st Pl. (23:37) Boise Trails Challenge - 3 days 13H *CR (221.5M)

487,188

1,435

96

77

Dom Layfield

California, USA

1600

Ran Quad Dipsea, 20 years after running it for the first time.

300,961

87

70

Sam Winebaum

New Hamphsire USA

1270

A few decent AG podiums in my 52nd year of running. A broken knee cap derailed my season ending half marathons

55,100

172

approx.125

Marcel Krebs

Germany

1635

3:17 marathon PR (2023 Hamburg Marathon), 1:32 half marathon PR (2023 Berlin Half Marathon)

54,948

Jeff Valliere

Colorado

1758

Pikes Peak Marathon - 3rd AG, Bolder Boulder 10K - 5th AG, Celebrated my 2,000th (recorded) ascent of Green Mountain, Several local Strava PR's and CR's

661,526

Alexandra Zvezdin

Quebec

1515

42:50 10km and 1st place in a 10km trail with 457m of vert

87,923

548 km

548km and 45 174m of vertical

Adam Glueck

California, USA

819

2nd M Overall in Pacifica Foothills 30km, 3rd M Overall in Marin Ultra Challenge 50km in < 5 hours

115,384

636.7 miles

137 miles

Markus Zinkl

Germany

1068

81,520

1572 km

Renee Krusemark

Nebraska

2947

First trail 50 miler; first time running more than 100-mile training weeks.

222,853

125

Total Run Miles

14686

Ascent (feet)

2,378,550

Total Run Kilometers

23635

Ascent (meters)

724,982

What is your favorite Daily Cruiser trail run shoe of 2023 and why?

Markus Zinkl

Salomon Glide Max TR. It fixed all the cons I had with the Ultraglide. Now with enough enough cushion in the forefoot, makes it a joy to cruise along in.

Jeremy Marie

Nike Pegasus Trail 4. I have the GTX version so it might not suit every season, but the simplicity and effectiveness if the shoe, for my mellow trails, is perfect.

Mike Postaski

Topo MTN Racer 3. This is perhaps the best all around, versatile trail running shoe on the market. I find it is not as dynamic for racing, but it leans towards comfort, especially with the toebox, making it great for training.

Jeff Valliere

Brooks Cascadia 17 - For it's all around versatility, comfort, traction, protection, security and cushioning.

Jeff Beck

Hoka Stinson 7. I've got a soft spot for massive cushioned trail shoes, and this is the most massive around.

Peter Stuart

Nike Pegasus Trail 4. Great road-to-trail. Comfy on any distance run.

Dom Layfield

Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2. Comfortable, bouncy, grippy, zero drop. This shoe can go happily on any terrain, and almost any distance.

Renee Krusemark

While not exactly a cruiser, the Saucony Rift is soft and lightweight with plenty of stack for comfort.

Marcel Krebs

HOKA Mafate Speed 4: The Mafate Speed 4 is very comfortable and offers great grip and traction at almost every surface. The midsole hits the sweet spot between stable and bouncy; great stability on flowing trails is also caused by the wide and comfortable platform of the HOKA Mafate Speed 4.


Honorable mention:

ASICS GEL-Trabuco 11: The Trabuco 11 offers great comfort, fit and traction. It comes at a wide and stable platform and is a great choice for long days on the trails and also works well as a hiking optio

Sally Reiley

Topo Mtn Racer 3 - I did not do many trail miles this year, but this shoe performed fantastically for me when I did.

John Tribbia

Saucony Peregrine 13. With its added 1.5mm of midsole cushioning, the Peregrine 13 is now even more comfortable for long runs and everyday use. But don't worry, it still retains all of its all-mountain, fast-technical capabilities.


The Peregrine 13 is the perfect shoe for runners of all levels who want a shoe that can do it all. Whether you're running on technical trails, smooth singletrack, or even the road, the Peregrine 13 will give you the performance and comfort you need.

Beto Hughes

Topo Pursuit for a 0mm drop it feels natural and the cushioned is excellent for those daily trainings on the trails.

Alex Zvezdin

Brooks Cascadia 16. I used and abused 2 pairs of this shoe. It offered all the protection I needed from rocks on the rugged trails from the Canadian far East to the Rockies. Amazing versatility for faster runs and slow hikes. Great for packed snow in the winter too. I'm sure this shoe is the reason why I haven't rolled any ankles recently; great stack height for uneven terrain. Solid price for a shoe that will last you a while.

Adam Glueck

Puma Fast-Trac Apex Nitro: I was surprised as most Puma trail shoes I’ve found have been overbuilt and heavier than necessary, but this one has all the ingredients I like. The foam is a nice compromise between cushioned stability and responsiveness, lighter than a long distance shoe and more protective than a short distance racing shoe. The upper is sublime with a narrow and precise fit similar to a Salomon sense, and the outsole has excellent grip.

Sam Winebaum

For non technical trails the Craft Pure Trail for its propulsive and protective plate and great cushion with honorable mention Saucony Endorphin Rift. For more technical trails Salomon S/Lab Genesis. In 2024 I am already pretty sure Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra will be one of top contenders in this category.

No clear winners here as each runner’s definition of cruising varies by terrain and pace. That said, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review) and Topo’s MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review) each got 2 votes.

What is your Favorite Technical Trails Shoe of 2023 and Why?

Markus Zinkl

Scarpa Kalibra HT. It manages the best balance of cushion, grip and agility for really technical mountain terrain. The Boa system makes for a great fit and lockdown with easy adjustability for ascents and descents.

Nils Scharff

The North Face Vectiv Sky - TNF's Sky Running shoe is a weapon over short, steep and / or technical trails. An almost perfect lockdown paired with great traction and energy return make for a ton of fun!

Jeremy Marie

NNormal Kjerag.Light, efficient foothold, precise despite the room toe box, good grip, low to the ground.

Mike Postaski

ON Cloudventure Peak 3 - For pure technical terrain, you can't beat the ultra secure ON upper, and the super narrow ground platform. Great lugs also grip well, and Speedboard gives some protection while remaining close to the ground.

Jeff Valliere

Saucony Peregrine 13 - With a secure upper, great traction, excellent protection and cushioning, the Peregrine 13 handles rugged terrain very well.

Jeff Beck

Saucony Endorphin Rift. Saucony traction and foothold are severely underrated.

Dom Layfield

Topo Athletic Terraventure 4. Stable, grippy. Rock solid

Renee Krusemark

Many options here. The Peregrine 13 can do anything, the Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 v2 (if you like zero drop), the NB SC Trail (high drop), or the upcoming Merrell Skyfire 2 Matryx.

Marcel Krebs

inov-8 TrailFly G-270 v2 offers excellent grip and ground feel. Its mitsole is stable, but still offers energy return when running on flatter and faster parts. It also offers suitable cushioning and comfort up to half marathon distance. Due to the zero drop, you also have excellent ground feel and control.


Honorable mentions:

Arctery'x Norvan SL 3: The Arctery'x Norvan SL 3 fits like a glove and features a Matryx upper similar to the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar. It is incredibly light and offers pretty good grip. On account of the low stack height and dense midsole it is an ideal option for shorter runs on technical terrain.

The North Face VECTIV Summit Sky: If you prefer more cushioning and a carbon plate also on technical terrain, you should have a closer look at the Summit Sky from The North Face. It performs well especially on mixed terrain with technical and runnable parts.


John Tribbia

Norda 002. It is a versatile, well-cushioned shoe that provides a connected ride on a variety of surfaces. The upper is comfortable and secure, and the outsole grips well. The shoe is quick, agile, and confidence-inspiring, making it a great choice for daily training or short to mid-distance races.

Alex Zvezdin

Arcteryx Vertex. The integrated gaiter is amazing. The cushion is good enough for longer efforts while maintaining enough ground feel for technical terrain. Transitions well on gravel & road too. Grip is good. If they didn't give me heel blisters for such a long break-in period and if traction was better on wet rocks they might've been my favourite 2023 trail shoes.

Sam Winebaum

NNormal Kjerag: Nimble, stable and secure if short and fast it is my choice. If highly technical and slow paced the Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX. Honorable mention: Norda 002

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (2)

An interesting three way tie of very different approaches with 2 votes apiece: The carbon plated North Face Vectiv Sky (RTR Review), the more traditional tech trails option Saucony Peregrine 13 (RTR Review) and finally the nimble super light NNormal Kjerag (RTR Review)

What is your Favorite short and fast trail shoe (race or training) of 2023 and why?

Markus Zinkl

North Face Summit Vectiv Sky. Ride wise, it reminded me a lot of the Naked Trail Racer, which has also a lot of pop from the carbon fibre plate. The Vectiv Sky aces the Naked in the breathability of the upper. When I run in a shoe and struggle to run slow, I know it is a good fast day shoe. This is exactly what I experienced with the Vectiv Sky.

Nils Scharff

ASCIS FUJISPEED 2 - My running focus this year was clearly on the road, so I didn't have many trail shoes on my feet. But the ASICS FUJISPEED 2 immediately made me long for the trails again. Whether on a relaxed recovery run or during a tempo session: it's really fun!

Jeremy Marie

For non-technical trail I'm still favoring the S/lab Pulsar. Otherwise, the NNormal Kjerag which handles uneven terrain more easily.

Mike Postaski

Merrell Long Sky 2 Matryx - Very impressive light weight + Float Pro foam is quick and responsive. No plate here, but the previously listed features make it a fast-feeling, uptempo shoe for fast training days.

Jeff Valliere

Merrell Skyfire 2 Matryx - Merrell? Who would have thought, but the Skyfire 2 is my favorite for all out speed on the trails for short distances and going for the race win or PR on technical trails. Snappy and light, with amazing traction, security, protection, stability, the Skyfire 2 is the new king of the hill.

Jeff Beck

Saucony Endorphin Rift. The midsole makes you want to run faster than you can...or at least it does for slow runners like myself.

Peter Stuart

Topo MTN Racer

Dom Layfield

Hoka Zinal 2. Light, fast, nimble, refined. Feels great for short races. (Up to 50 km). Really light. Not as improbably light as Salomon Pulsar, but a much more practical, mainstream shoe.

Renee Krusemark

Basically any of the shoes I chose for technical terrain (note: I don’t run rugged mountain terrain).

Marcel Krebs

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar (SG) 2 | The Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG 2 is an excellent choice for shorter races on flowing trails. The SG=Soft Ground version is best suited for softer terrain but also performs well on firm surfaces what makes it more versatile than the OG. It fits like a glove, is incredibly light and comes with great energy return and a grippy outsole.


Honorable mention:

ASICS Fuji Speed 2: If you prefer a more stable but yet very agile shoe, have a closer look at the ASICS Fuji Speed 2. It offers a wide platform, a classic heel cup with a pretty good overall fit. It features a carbon plate which propels you forward and adds stability. it also comes at a pretty low weight for such a shoe.

John Tribbia

Hoka Zinal 2 is a top-tier choice for trail runners who want a shoe that is specifically designed for climbing. The shoe has a firm, responsive ride that is perfect for tackling steep, technical trails. The outsole is also designed to provide traction on muddy and soft surfaces. While the Zinal 2 is not a daily trainer, it is an excellent choice for runners who are looking for a shoe that will help them perform their best on uphill climbs. The shoe is also a great choice for runners who are looking for a fast, responsive shoe for running on moderately technical trails.

Adam Glueck

I really enjoyed the Hoka Zinal 2. It’s extremely light for the amount of cushion it has, the outsole provides just enough traction without being overly inefficient and heavy, and the sock-like upper allows for technical descending and step climbing.

Sam Winebaum

No question about it the NNormal Kjerag. Low to the ground, agile and stable with a superb upper it is super light, adequately protected and quick.Honorable Mention: Norda 002 and if non technical Saucony Sinister.

For 2024 I suspect it will be the Merrell Long Sky Matryx as it has the magic of the Kjerag in a bit more shoe with deeper grip and livllier foam

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (3)

The Hoka Zinal 2 (RTR Review) takes the fast and short race and training category with 3 votes.

What is your favorite Long-Distance training and racing trail shoe of 2023 and why?

Markus Zinkl

Hoka Mafate Speed 4. With its Vibram Megagrip outsole, its the shoe with the best grip by a long shot. Somehow it felt even gripier than I would usually expect from Vibram. In addition to that a really versatile midsole and enough room in the toe box.

Jeremy Marie

Scott Ultra Carbon RC. A touch firm at first, it gains a bit of give after some miles and a real "easy runner" for non technical trails.

Mike Postaski

Hoka Tecton X 2 - Hoka's flagship ultra racer gets a much improved upper, making it the ultimate ultra distance racer. Big stack, light weight, responsive and protective. No issues taking these 100 miles or more.

Jeff Valliere

For long distances, it is hard to beat the Speedland GS:PGH, with a softer more compliant midsole, generous, yet overall secure fit with 2 way BOA fit system, durability, protection and optional removable carbon plates, the PGH is a fine choice. For long distance faster running/racing on moderate to less technical terrain however, the Salomon Glide Max TR is a better choice as it is much lighter, more responsive and with very plush cushioning underfoot, simple, max cushioned, yet stripped down for racing.

Jeff Beck

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v3. It's a shoe that's even bigger than its very long name, the FFMTv3 is neck and neck with the Stinson for the biggest trail crusher out there. The New Balance is a great shoe to spend all day in.

Peter Stuart

Hoka SpeedGoat 5

Dom Layfield

Hoka Mafate Speed 4. Lovely, progressive, plush cushioning without squishy feeling or instability. Almost miraculous.

Renee Krusemark

The Saucony Peregrine 13 or Endorphin Rift are great. The Rift doesn’t have the best durability for training though. The Saucony Endorphin Edge is still a good choice depending on terrain because it can be unstable.

Marcel Krebs

The HOKA Mafate Speed 4 offers an almost perfect package of optimal grip and traction, comfort and energetic ride. It performs well at almost all surfaces and terrain as long as it does not get too technical.


Honorable mentions (up to marathon distance)

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar (SG) 2 | The Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG 2 is an excellent choice for shorter races on flowing trails. The SG=Soft Ground version is best suited for softer terrain but also performs well on firm surfaces what makes it more versatile than the OG. It fits like a glove, is incredibly light and comes with great energy return and a grippy outsole.


ASICS Fuji Speed 2: If you prefer a more stable but yet very agile shoe, have a closer look at the ASICS Fuji Speed 2. It offers a wide platform, a classic heel cup with a pretty good overall fit. It features a carbon plate which propels you forward and adds stability. it also comes at a pretty low weight for such a shoe.

Beto Hughes

Topo MTN Racer 3 a great update from v2 and perfect for those long trail races, stable and excellent grip.

Adam Glueck

I really enjoyed the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, as on a lot of my California trail runs, I didn’t feel like I needed additional traction, and the balance of stability, propulsion, and efficiency of the endorphin speed is unmatched. I podiumed in the Marin Ultra challenge in this shoe, and I’d wear it again for similar racing.

Sam Winebaum

For smooth trails Salomon Glide Max TR or Craft Pure Trail. For more technical long long efforts Salomon S/Lab Ultra. I did not review the Mafate Speed 4 but pretty sure it might top the S/Lab Ultra

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (4)

Hoka, the max cushion pioneers clearly dominate the long distance category with Mafate Speed 4 (RTR Review) the top vote getter with 4 votes and with Tecton X and Speedgoat with receiving one vote apiece.

What is your favorite Door to Trail trail shoe of 2023 and why?

Jeremy Marie

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (GTX version). Flexible, adequate lugs that don't get in the way on pavement, versatile traction. Cushioning is very good, responsive thanks to React foam.

Mike Postaski

Topo MTN Racer 3. This is perhaps the best all around, versatile trail running shoe on the market. I find it is not as dynamic for racing, it leans towards comfort, especially with the toebox, making it great for training.

Jeff Valliere

The Challenger 7 has an incredible cushion to weight ratio and cruises the roads like a road shoe, but is also great on the trails (though moderate to less technical at most). Traction is good in dry conditions, but not for wet/snowy/icy.

Jeff Beck

ASICS Trabuco Max 2. Killer trail shoe that's just as home on the roads, the midsole is a borderline speed performer, while also being a great every day pace shoe.

Peter Stuart

Nike Pegasus Trail

Dom Layfield

Hoka Challenger 7. Tons of cushioning for the weight. Runs a little narrow in forefoot, so consider the wide version.

Renee Krusemark

The Nike Peg Trail 4 and Hoka Challenger 7 remain great options. While more road than trail, the upcoming $100 Merrell Morphlite is super lightweight.

Marcel Krebs

The ASICS Fuji Lite 4 combines the accommodating fit of a road shoe with a grippy outsole and a well balanced midsole. It comes in at a pretty low weight and a very competitive price point.

Honorable mentions:

Salomon Sense Ride 5: The Salomon Sense Ride 5 is more of a trail shoe featuring Salomon's quicklace system but also runs very smooth on concrete. It comes with a 8mm drop like the Fuji Lite 4 and is also reasonably priced.

Craft Nordlite Ultra: Sizing issues aside, the Craft Nordlite Ultra offers good grip, a wide platform and a firmer but well performing midsole which offers plenty of cushioning.B17

John Tribbia

Salomon Sense Ride 5 is a great all-around trail running shoe that is perfect for runners who want a stable, cushioned, and comfortable shoe that can handle a variety of terrain. The shoe has a secure fit and good ground feel, making it a great choice for long or short runs on the trails or roads. While the Sense Ride 5 is not a race shoe, it is a high-performing option that is sure to please trail runners of all levels.


Beto Hughes

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v3 lots of cushioned and works very smooth from road to trail.

Adam Glueck

I really enjoyed the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, as on a lot of my California trail runs, I didn’t feel like I needed additional traction, and the balance of stability, propulsion, and efficiency of the endorphin speed is unmatched. I podiumed in the Marin Ultra challenge in this shoe, and I’d wear it again for similar racing.

Sam Winebaum

Nike Pegasus Trail for its great road ride to go with more than adequate trail manners:. Honorable Mentions: Saucony Ride 16 TR and Craft Pure Trail

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (5)

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review) wins the door to trail category with 4 votes. We particularly liked the improved rubber on the GTX version. Hoka Challenger 7 (RTR Review) and Salomon Sense Ride 5 (RTR Review) follow with 2 votes apiece.

What was your Favorite Carbon/Plastic Plated Trail Shoe of 2023 (Propulsion + Protection)

Markus Zinkl

North Face Summit Vectiv Sky

Jeremy Marie

Scott Ultra Carbon RC.

Mike Postaski

Hoka Tecton X 2 - The parallel plate design just works. Not the fastest, but efficient for long ultra distances, and also adds a level of protection without compromising stability.

Jeff Valliere

North Face Summit Vectiv Sky - light, fast, agile, protective and relatively competent in technical terrain, the Sky is lighter, faster and more runnable on trails than it competitors like the Ultrafly and the Tecton X2 (though one could argue the Tecton and Ultrafly would be better for ultra distances with more cushion/protection).

Dom Layfield

Hoka Tecton X 2. A great shoe that can go any distance. I remain skeptical about performance benefits of plated shoes on trails, but I'll take the weight savings!

Renee Krusemark

New Balance SC Trail or Merrell Skyfire 2 Matryx.

Markus Zinkl

North Face Summit Vectiv Sky

Marcel Krebs

ASICS Fuji Speed 2: The ASICS Fuji Speed 2 offers a great package for mid distances races on technical but still runnable terrain. It features a full carbon plate and comes with a grippy outsole.


Honorable Mentions:

HOKA Tecton X 2: If you are going to run in dry conditions on flowing trails, the Tecton X 2 is an excellent choice which is also pretty light for the given stack height. Outlook: The new Tecton X 3 features a more aggressive outsole pattern, so the Tecton X should become even more versatile in 2024.

adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra: The adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra is a great long distance racer with plenty of cushioning. It features Energy Rods for stability and propulsion. The aggressive rocker works especially well over long distances on runnable terrain.


John Tribbia

New Balance SC Trail: The SC Trail is a shoe that defies categorization and it snuck up on me! It's a lightweight, nimble shoe that can handle a variety of terrain, from paved to rocky trails. It's also a plush, all-day ultra distance shoe that can be used for racing or all-day adventures.


The combination of versatility and performance over such a wide range of distances and terrain is something special.

Adam Glueck

I really enjoyed the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, as on a lot of my California trail runs, I didn’t feel like I needed additional traction, and the balance of stability, propulsion, and efficiency of the endorphin speed is unmatched. I podiumed in the Marin Ultra challenge in this shoe, and I’d wear it again for similar racing.

Sam Winebaum

The North Face Vectiv Sky and New Balance SC Trail were lots of fun at faster paces but not as versatile as the plastic plated Brooks Catamount 2 whose combination of protection and propulsion had me more confident on more trails and for longer distances than the other two.

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (6)

The North Face Summit Vectiv Sky (RTR Review) gets 3 votes followed by the Hoka Tecton X 2 (RTR Review) and New Balance SC Trail (RTR Review) with 2 votes apiece.

What is your absolute favorite trail shoe of 2023 and why?

Jeremy Marie

NNormal Kjerag. I needed lots of miles before appreciating it, but for my trail running conditions, it's almost the perfect blend. And, I can't reasonably put the S/Lab Pulsar as my top choice once again ? Can I?

Mike Postaski

Topo MTN Racer 3 - Have to go with the Topo based on pure versatility, and the fact that they're the default shoe I pick for most runs when I'm not testing. Special mention to the Salomon S/LAB Genesis - this shoe was released before 2023 but I just got it this year and it's perhaps my favorite trail shoe right now - when leaning towards long distances in moderate/technical terrain.

Jeff Valliere

Merrell Skyfire 2 Matryx - a light speedster that means business on technical trails, the Skyfire 2 is such a surprise and so fun to run in, just begging to go fast and chase those Strava PRs/Crs.

Jeff Beck

ASICS Trabuco Max 2. One of those shoes that gets nothing remotely wrong, and everything very right, it's fit includes one of the biggest toeboxes in a "standard" shaped shoe, the outsole is grippy and durable, and the midsole is spectacular.

Peter Stuart

Pegasus Trail. Most versatile.

Dom Layfield

Hoka Zinal 2. Fast, light, beautiful. Less is more.

Renee Krusemark

Saucony Peregrine 13. Honorable mentions: NB SC Trail, Saucony Rift, Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 v2.

Markus Zinkl

Scarpa Kalibra HT. This one surprised me the most. I really found it hard to point out any cons. While it is very specialized to rocky, dry and mountainous terrain, it is the best one I've tried to date for that.

Marcel Krebs

HOKA Mafate Speed 4: The HOKA Mafate Speed 4 is an excellent all rounder on the trails - especially for long runs with a great fit and an awesome outsole.


Honorable mentions:

Salomon S/Lab SG 2: The Salomon S/Lab SG 2 is incredibly light and offers great energy return at a pretty low weight. An excellent choice especially for shorter and fast races.


ASICS Fuji Speed 2: The ASICS Fuji Speed 2 offers a great package for mid distances races on technical but still runnable terrain. It features a full carbon plate and comes with a grippy outsole.

John Tribbia

The Salomon Sense Ride 5 is my favorite shoe of 2023. It may be because I’m a big door-to-trail fan and the shoe covers all of my needs as a stable, reasonably cushioned, good ground feel, and all-terrain shoe. Moreover, the fit on my slightly narrow foot is secure and really comfortable. While this shoe is probably not race worthy and you probably won’t see it atop the podium, it is a high performing choice with decent cushion and great ground feel on the full spectrum of terrain. Without a doubt, this is my shoe choice for an everyday long or short run in the trails and on the road to get there.


Beto Hughes

Topo MTN Racer 3 is a shoe that works for longer runs on mountain trails, it feels stable and fast too, the upper is very secure and the drop is on point for the trails. Also the toe box is just perfect.

Adam Glueck

I really enjoyed running in the Hoka Zinal 2, as its light weight and responsiveness always put a smile on my face.

Sam Winebaum

NNormal Kjerag. So much secure all around versatility as such incredibly light weight. Not a distance shoe for me with most of my runs shorter and mixing all kinds of terrain and some road and for that this rocket is all smiles. Honorable Mentions: Craft Pure Trail, Salomon S/Lab Genesis, and TNF Vectiv Sky..

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (7)

No clear decision here with 2 votes each and that’s OK as every runner’s terrain, pace, and preferences are different. We have a three way tie between two light speedsters in the Hoka Zinal (RTR Review) and NNormal Kjerag (RTR Review) and the all arounder Topo MTN Racer 3 (RTR Review).

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (8)

2023 Best Road Running Shoes HERE

Best Trail Running Shoes of 2023: The RoadTrailRun Team's Annual Survey (9)

Best of Run 2023: Apparel, Gear, Nutrition, Tech, Biggest Surprises, Overall Run Brand of the Year

HERE

Thanks for reading and following RoadTrailRun in 2023.

Here is to a Fast and Fun 2024 wherever your trails and road adventures take you!

Find all RoadTrailRun reviews at our index page HERE

Sampleswere provided at no charge for review purposesand may earn commission on products purchased via shopping linksin this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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