Trail Footwear

Onward & Upward


There’s plenty of “wow factor” appeal to be found in trail running and light hiking footwear across the board in 2023. Brands are tuned in to consumer trends and leaning into tech. And there is increasingly a blurred line between some of the performance details in road and trail shoes. 

Design details that are trending up in road shoes — such as bigger stack heights and plush cushioning — have made their way to the trail, as has carbon plate technology. Additionally, new participants are influencing trail offerings. 

“Beyond the overall growth of trail running, the biggest thing we’ve seen is the diversity of the audience,” says Eric Sarin, head of footwear development, Craft. “The age range is wider, ethnicity and gender representation are also expanding, and the variety of terrains trail runners experience is also evolving. It seems people are naturally understanding the great impact being in nature can have.”

Sarin adds that the brand’s trail collection is designed to be “versatile and dependable” for consumers who are looking for products that match the varying environments they run in — whether on technical trails, lighter trails or crossing over on pavement”

Many new participants on the trail are seeking versatility in their footwear. “Since 2020, we have started to see a whole new category of individuals who are exploring the trail segment,” says Chad Mullavey, manager, global product line, footwear, ASICS. The brand’s new Trabuco Max 2 addresses this, Mullavey notes, setting out to “create an all-in-one type solution for the trail, offering both maximum cushioning and traction in an approachable shoe, suitable for both the individual looking to dip their toe in trail running and likewise those looking for an ultra-oriented model.”

Katie Pyle, trail product manager, Saucony, notes, “I’m seeing a few different trends right now in the trail space. Most notably, a push towards a higher stack height, more minimal and strategically designed protection in the uppers, the rise of new brands in the space, and of course, sustainability.”


Carbon fiber propulsion meets trail technology in the Tecton X 2, a speedy, carbon-plated trail shoe that has been refined for 2023 with a redesigned upper featuring a lightweight, hydrophobic Matryx textile construction. This update improves the fit, durability and protection from the elements, enhancing the propulsive ride that the original Tecton X was celebrated for. A lay-flat gusseted tongue helps mitigate trail debris. MSRP $225.


The Lone Peak 7 is a lightweight, streamlined update to the brand’s most popular trail style. Avid trail runners will find the shoe has comfortable underfoot protection, reliability, and durability. The Lone Peak 7 features the brand’s Altra Ego midsole and it boasts a durable and secure upper. The MaxTrac outsole and multi-directional lug pattern deliver grippy traction, while the shoe’s StoneGuard offers underfoot rock protection. MSRP $150.


The Ultra Ridge GTX is a new, lightweight hiking boot from Saucony, weighing in at less than a pound (each boot). The all-weather, all-terrain performance hiker offers a cushioned feel and has a waterproof, mid-cut GORE-TEX upper to keep feet dry and protected from unwanted debris. Toothy lugs and a grippy PWRTRAC outsole deliver performance in a variety of conditions. MSRP $190.


The Pure Trail is a premium trail running shoe with a full Cr Foam midsole for cushion and stability with reduced weight and explosive rebound. The shoe comes with an exposed rock plate for stability and midfoot protection and it has a full traction outsole for a wide variety of off-road use. The upper is a single layer TPU mesh that is ultra-light, flexible, and durable. Available in August/September. MSRP $179.


The Trabuco Max 2 aims to deliver on energy-saving design and ample cushioning. FF BLAST PLUS technology has been added to the midsole to absorb impact and propel the wearer’s momentum forward. This material also creates a more dynamic feel that helps keep the shoe lightweight. GUIDESOLE technology is positioned to create an easy forward roll. MSRP $150.


The new Roclite 345 GTX V2 is a lightweight and agile hiker from inov-8 that features Graphene-infused rubber in its outsole for durable grippiness. The upper features Gore-Tex. The V2 is an upgrade to the original V1, delivering more comfort, a better fit and more energy return, the brand says. It also has an updated heel lock and lacing system, as well as a padded tongue and ankle cuff. MSRP $200.


A lightweight trail runner, On’s third generation Cloudventure Peak 3 is built for speed. It features slip-resistant Missiongrip rubber and a redesigned 3mm lug pattern for enhanced traction on technical and wet terrain. A single layer, mono-mesh upper stays close to the foot, and a two-finger Speedboard made of 30% carbon and injected TPU delivers agility and stability on uneven ground. MSRP $159.99.


Upstart brand Vimazi is bringing its “pace-tuned” approach off-road with the Trail Z3. Vimazi shoes are designed for runners based on the pace at which they run. Rather than focusing on “bouncy shoes,” Vimazi CEO Scott Tucker explains, the brand focuses on tuning the densities of the heel versus the forefoot so the shoes “compress optimally to forces of the impact and propulsion phases of the stride, which vary according to the pace you run.” 


The Steadfast Trail for Fall 2023 is ready to hit the trails, delivering Xelero’s signature tech in a durable, comfortable style. The Steadfast Trail is a waterproof and breathable shoe that  features Xelero’s patented motion control technology, offering a balance of support and cushioning. MSRP $234.99