It’s been a big year for trail running shoes and we’ve seen some fantastic new options appear as well as a host of updated classics. We’re not going to tell you this is the absolute best list of trail shoes available at the moment, though – the range of trail shoe options and the variety of terrains make it a mammoth task to undertake.

Check out: The Best Running Shoes 2021

Instead, we’re going to give you a detailed rundown of our top picks, with each of The Run Testers picking their current favourite trail shoe. You can also find an overview of some of the trail shoes that we’ve used over the past year that we think are well worth taking a look at.

Hit play for our favourite trail shoes you can buy right now.

For detailed video reviews of some of our favourite trail shoes available at the moment click play on the following videos.

Hoka Zinal

Price: £140/$160 | Weight: 242g/8.5oz | Drop: 5mm

The Hoka Zinal is a trail shoe focused on lighter terrain and shorter distances. The lean design and minimal weight of the shoe mean it excels when speed is your main focus, although we have found it lacks the technical features required for more demanding trails. There are, however, still plenty of technical aspects of the shoe that make it more than a bare-bones option, that includes a cushioned Profly midsole, a Vibram Megagrip outsole, a light mesh upper, a toe bumper for added protection, and a gusseted tongue. It’s a great option for warm, dry trails, especially if your main target is getting faster or racing.

North Face Flight Series Vectiv

Price: £180/$199 | Weight: 297g/10.5oz | Drop: 6mm

The Flight Series Vectiv is an interesting option, predominantly because it’s a rare case of a trail shoe incorporating a full-length carbon plate. The benefits of that are negligible on soft, muddy ground, but it excels when it comes to speed and efficiency over hard trails – delivering the same benefits we’ve come to expect from a carbon plate road shoe.

There’s a subtle level of cushioning to deaden impact over longer distances and Kevlar and polyamide materials have been used to increase durability across the shoe. Other features we liked include a reinforced toe cap for protection and a SurfacecCTRL rubber outsole that does a good job at gripping wet surfaces.

Merrell Rubato

Price: £125/$140 | Weight: 293g/10.3oz | Drop: 0mm

The Rubato is a shoe with a lot of cushioning for lighter trails. The soft, squishy FloatPro Foam midsole makes running on hard ground an absolute joy and means the shoe excels for runners who tackle routes that cover road, paths and gravel tracks – although the high stack and shallow lugs mean the shoe offers few benefits when used for soft or muddy ground.

The comfort of the Rubato extends across the whole shoe, with a breathable mesh lining and an EVA foam midsole, and the outsole provides a good level of grip from wet surfaces as well as protection from sharp, pointy objects. The shoe also has a 0mm drop, which may be an issue for many runners.

Nike Pegasus Trail 3

Price: £114.95/$130 | eight: 326g/11.5oz | Drop: 9.5mm

The Pegasus Trail 3 is a road to trail shoe that excels on the comfort front thanks to the large stack of React foam in the midsole. The outsole is less impressive, and this is a shoe to keep away from wet rocks and soft ground, but when you are on firm dry trails it provides a highly enjoyable ride.

Given the fact it’s equally at home on roads as it is light trails, we found the Pegasus Trail 3 to be a handy commuter option for our route which mixes road and canal towpaths, and it’s a great shoe to take on holiday when you’re not sure what kind of terrain you’ll be on – something helped by the fact it’s a real looker, especially in the teal colourway.

Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 300

Price: £170/$190 | Weight: 300g/10.5oz | Drop: 6mm

The TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX is a heavily cushioned trail shoe designed to give a high level of comfort and rebound over long-distance efforts. It features Inov-8’s graphene-enhanced foam for greater energy return and a graphene grip outsole for traction on tough terrain. It’s a great option for those trail runners that want comfort over high mileage efforts and delivers an enjoyable experience on harder trails and even road.