When, If Ever, Should You Wear Trail Shoes?

Trail shoes are a waste and you shouldn’t wear them. That’s a wee dramatization of the comments some of Appalachia’s fine mountain men have left on iRunFar’s prior post on trail shoe diversity. Their comments and the discussion it has sparked are worthy of a separate post, so read on.

For this discussion, I choose to be part of the conversation rather than abstractly pontificating about the relative merits and demerits of wearing trail shoes ahead of time, so look for my thoughts in the comments. To get things started, here are some highlights of the conversation so far:

Trail shoes are kind of a joke. Do we really need all of that stuff on our feet in order to run trails? What about a nice pair of cushioned road shoes? All that other stuff on most trail shoes is just extra weight. Plus, the stiffness kills the motion of running. I do wear trail shoes at times, but I wear road shoes as often and wonder why I ever bother with the trail shoes. If you have decent trail running technique, you should give it a try. – wonderboy

Wonderboy, I sort of agree with you for running on terrain that is not rocky and rooty (like dirt roads / fire roads), but if you have ever kicked a rock while running or ran on a muddy slippery trail you will know why runners appreciate trail shoes. I run in a trail shoe that is a beefed up road shoe, but the extra traction and protection is worth the little extra weight. – aerojust

In any discussion of trail shoes, there are always those who say “but you don’t neeeeed them”. So what? Maybe you should strip your life of all things you don’t actually *need*, and then report back. ;) – sara

Please share your thoughts about wearing trail shoes.

  • When you leave pavement are your always running in trail shoes?
  • If you wear trail shoes for some but not all off-road running on what factors do you base your shoe decision?
  • If you’ve sworn off wearing trail shoes altogether, why have you done so?
  • In general, what are the best and worst general qualities of trail shoes?

Poll Results: When Do You Wear Trail Shoes?

Every time my tootsies toe the trail.
15 (37%)
Almost any time I get my shoes dirty.
7 (17%)
I go with the flow, man. I wear ’em, like, whenever I want to.
6 (15%)
Only when conditions (rocks, mud, snow) call for them.
9 (22%)
I only wear road shoes or racing flats.
2 (5%)
Shoes are for weenies – I run barefoot.
1 (2%)