New Year’s Day 2024 has come and gone, and if getting outdoors while maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is at the top of your priorities, hitting the trails is the perfect way to do so. But to really soak it all in, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have the best trail running shoes to start out 2024 on the right note.

Ones that match the trails, the weather, and your own style. Whether you’re after speed, cushy comfort, rock-solid stability and traction, or shoes that’ll outlast the trail, we’ve got your back. We’re diving into some killer trail running shoes for you to make sure you find the perfect pair that can keep up with whatever you throw their way.

So, what are the must-haves when you’re on the hunt for some of the best trail running kicks? Think grip, cushiness and stability, weight, fit, lacing system, and protection. Your dream shoe should grab the ground, handle shocks like a champ, feel light but cozy, fit just right, and keep your feet safe from all that Mother Nature will try to throw at you. Different shoes perform better in different areas, so if you love to hit the rocky backcountry trails, you might lean towards a shoe that’s all about shielding and stability. But if it’s the smooth, groomed trails calling your name, speed and quick response might be your game.

To make your decision a breeze, we’ve lined up some of our favorites for trail running shoes in 2024. We’ve sorted them based on different features to make your buying process quick and easy. So, get ready to uncover the top trail running kicks of 2024, made to match your specific specs as you crush those trails.

Best overall trail running shoes: Merrell Men’s Agility Peak 5 GORE-TEX – Tahoe/Highrise

Merrell Men's Agility Peak 5 GORE-TEX - Tahoe/Highrise colorway on a light gray background.

No other brand does it quite as well as Merrell when it comes to trail running shoes and boots. So, why not start with the best and this trail running shoe that’s ready to tackle any terrain and weather: the Merrell Agility Peak 5 GORE-TEX.

Its breathable mesh and TPU upper, combined with a GORE-TEX membrane, keep your feet dry and comfy. The FloatPro foam midsole ensures lightweight cushioning and stability, while the Vibram MegaGrip outsole provides killer grip on both wet and dry surfaces. With added features like a rock plate for underfoot protection, a secure-fit heel sling, and a gaiter D ring for optional gaiters, the Agility Peak 5 is your go-to companion whether you’re hitting alpine trails, navigating muddy paths, or conquering rocky slopes.

Stay agile and confident with the Merrell Agility Peak 5 GORE-TEX.

Best cheap trail running shoes: Salomon Alphacross 5 – Black

Salomon Alphacross 5 - Black colored on a light gray background.

Meet the Salomon Alphacross 5, our top pick for the best budget trail running shoe. This versatile and robust shoe is geared to take on any challenge you throw at it.

Boasting a breathable mesh upper with a protective toe cap, it ensures a snug fit for optimal performance. The EnergyCell midsole offers top-notch shock absorption and cushioning, while the Contagrip TD outsole provides excellent grip and traction across various surfaces — perfect for all types of trails. The Quicklace system simplifies slipping them on and off, and the OrthoLite insole adds an extra layer of comfort and support.

Whether you’re pounding on grass, gravel, or mud, the Salomon Alphacross 5 guarantees stability and confidence, making it the ultimate choice for budget-conscious trail runners. With deep, aggressive lugs for optimal grip, mud-shedding capabilities, and a softer midsole compound for enduring comfort, the Alphacross 5 is not just a budget-friendly option but a versatile trail and running sneaker ready for any weather condition, rain or shine.

Best speed-built shoes: Nike Kiger 9 – White/Khaki/Vivid Sulfur/Black

Nike Kiger 9 - White/Khaki/Vivid Sulfur/Black colorway on a light gray background.

Like Top Gun, if you feel the need for speed, this trail running shoe should be on your radar. The Kiger 9 is your go-to lightweight and nimble companion. This trail running shoe strikes the perfect balance, preserving ground feel while delivering ample cushioning for those longer distances. The React foam midsole is a standout feature, offering flexibility, softness, responsiveness, and durability for an optimal running experience.

Navigating rocky terrains will now be a breeze with the flexible rock plate that shields your foot from sharp obstacles like rocks and roots. The new midfoot saddle support system enhances stability, ensuring a secure ride on uneven surfaces. The breathable mesh upper, featuring a padded heel cup and Quicklace system, guarantees a snug and secure fit, allowing you to focus on your run. The outsole, adorned with multi-directional lugs, provides exceptional grip and traction on various surfaces, particularly excelling on dry dirt trails.

Versatile and enjoyable, the Kiger 9 is tailor-made for tempo runs or fast efforts up to 50k. Whether you’re a seasoned trail runner or just getting started, the Nike Kiger 9 ensures you conquer the trails with speed, confidence, and the comfort your feet and body deserve.

Best cushioned shoes: Hoka Challenger 7 – Harbor Mist/Castlerock

Hoka Challenger 7 - Harbor Mist/Castlerock colorway on a light gray background.

If the feeling of running on clouds is running on your mind, even while on the trails, then you want a cushioned sneaker that can still handle the challenging terrain. Consider the Hoka Challenger 7 as our top pick for the best-cushioned trail running shoes, promising a blend of versatility and unparalleled comfort.

This shoe stands out with its breathable mesh upper, featuring a protective toe cap for durability and a snug fit that ensures optimal performance. What sets the Challenger 7 apart is its React foam midsole — a flexible, soft, responsive, and durable material designed to cushion each step, taking comfort to the next level.

Traversing various terrains is a breeze with the multi-directional lugs on the outsole, offering stellar grip and traction, be it on dirt paths or paved roads. The Challenger 7’s rockered shape facilitates a smooth heel-to-toe transition, enhancing your running experience. For added convenience, the Quicklace system ensures easy on and off, while the OrthoLite insole provides an extra layer of comfort and support.

No matter if you’re running on grass, gravel, mud, or snow, the Hoka Challenger 7 guarantees stability and confidence, making it the go-to choice for those seeking optimal cushioning on the trails. Added bonus: These sneakers offer the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance.

Best for Ulta runners: Altra Mont Blanc BOA – Maroon Bells

Altra Mont Blanc BOA - Maroon Bells colorway on a white background.

If you live for chasing miles after miles and seek those ultra-marathons like the Moab 240 Endurance Run, then you don’t want to settle for any ordinary trail running shoe. You need something that is seemingly indestructible. Meet the Altra Mont Blanc BOA, crowned as the ultimate choice for ultra runners seeking a versatile and innovative shoe adaptable to any trail and weather condition.

Engineered with a breathable mesh upper, inclusive of a protective toe cap, and embodying Altra’s signature FootShape fit for a natural foot movement experience, this shoe delivers unparalleled comfort. The midsole, crafted from Altra’s premium EGO MAX foam, ensures lightweight cushioning and responsiveness, while the outsole is equipped with Vibram MegaGrip LiteBase, providing superior grip and durability on diverse surfaces.

Setting itself apart, the Mont Blanc BOA introduces a unique BOA Fit System, offering a level of customization unparalleled in long-distance trail running. The dual-dial system allows for micro-adjustments on the go, enabling a personalized fit with separate adjustments for the heel and midfoot. This ensures a secure and comfortable fit, allowing ultra runners to tackle trails with agility and confidence.

Whether it’s grass, gravel, mud, or snow beneath your feet, the Altra Mont Blanc BOA is your reliable companion for enduring and conquering the most rugged terrains during ultramarathons or something as simple as your nearby hometown trail running adventures.