The Best Trail Running Shoes of 2019

Photo courtesy of On Running

The Best Trail Running Shoes of 2019

Trail running season is upon us! Here in Tahoe, the snow is finally melting and the trails are opening up. It’s time to start enjoying one of our favorite warm weather activities: trail running. Why do we love trail running? It’s inexpensive – all you need are shoes, running clothes and you’re ready to go (a nice change from the endless piles of gear needed for skiing!). It’s about exploring – pick a new trail each week and explore your home town. There’s no better way to get to know an area than by taking in the wildlife, vegetation, and sights on foot. It creates community – sure, running can be a solitary activity but it can also be a great way to connect to your community. Our local running club, Donner Party Mountain Runners, hosts formal and informal group runs for runners of all levels. You can check out their calendar here.

Whether you are a seasoned ultra runner or completely new to the sport, we want to help you run happy on the trails. Read on to learn about the best trail running shoes of 2019 and start running today!

Category – Trail

Weight – 10 oz | 283 g

Drop – 4 mm

Cushion – Firm and responsive

The Saucony Perigrine ISO is a lightweight trail running shoe that succeeds the Perigrine 8 and balances comfort, durability, and protection in one neat package. It features ISOFIT technology, a unique shoe construction that adapts to your foot and gives each runner a custom fit. You’ll notice how the upper hugs your midfoot and guides it into place with each stride.

The Perigrine ISO is an all terrain running shoe that can tackle many different conditions thanks to it’s PWRTRAC outsole and large, spaced out lugs underfoot. PWRTRAC is a sticky, high traction rubber that inspires confidence wherever the trail takes you.

A PWRFOAM midsole ensures that you’ll have a smooth, comfortable ride as you’re out cruising the trails. This cushioning is firm and responsive, propelling you forward with each step. Overall, we love the Perigrine ISO as an all terrain trail running shoe that is comfortable on any run.


Category – Moderate trail

Weight – 10.4 oz | 294 g (Men’s size 8.5)

Drop – 6 mm

Cushion – Firm and responsive

We are huge fans of On Running at Tahoe Mountain Sports and the Cloudventure ranks high on our list. We love how this shoe fits and feels right out of the box and as with any On Running shoe, there is little to no break in time.

The signature cloud elements are designed to minimize the wear and tear us runners subject our bodies to. They compress as you run, effectively absorbing shock and impact that would otherwise transfer to you muscles and joints. The new Cloudventure features a redesign of these cloud elements, the pods that make up the midsole and outsole. They are integrated with the midsole to provide exceptional cushioning and reboud, especially on the downhill. This new design also makes the cloud elements significantly more durable. Along with new cloud elements, the outsole uses new Missiongrip rubber which is noticably sticker than the previous generation of this shoe. It delivers grip and traction when you need on the trail.

These shoes were designed in the Swiss Alps and are ready to tackle mountain trails. The mesh upper fits like a glove and is great at keeping feet cool and ventilated. The cloud elements are the key to delivering all day comfort and support, leaving your feet happy at the end of your long run.

Click here for an in depth review of On Running’s Waterproof Cloudventure!


Category – Trail

Weight – 300 g

Drop – 8 mm

Cushion – Moderate

Salomon’s Ultra Pro is our top choice for an aggressive trail running shoe that provides the comfort and durability you need for the long haul. This one is designed for ultra runners and those pushing the boundaries of endurance.

The Ultra Pro has a comfy polyurathane foam midsole that serves a dual purpose: protection and cushion. It uses a graded construction to adapt cushioning to your distribution of body weight. The durable upper provides a secure fit and protection from the elements. It’s made of a breathable 3D mesh and is welded so there’s no annoying seams or painful rubbing contact points.

A couple specific technologies are at play when it comes to the Ultra Pro’s great fit: SensiFit and EndoFit. The first cradles your foot and provides a snug, customized fit. The second is an internal sleeve that hugs the foot and provides feedback during your run. Combine the energy saving midsole with a well constructed upper and you’ve got a comfortable shoe that can perform for miles.

With Salomon’s Contragrip rubber underfoot, you’ll feel confident taking on less than ideal trail conditions. The outsole provides traction while deep aggressive lugs dig into the earth and provide tread. The bottom line is that Salomon’s Ultra Pro trail running shoe is at home on all trails, from grassy knolls to rocky scrambles. It’s a great choice for long mountain runs or races.


Category – Moderate to technical trail

Weight – 10.3 oz ( Men’s 9)

Drop – 4 mm

Cushion – Moderate

Hoka’s are known for cushioning and the Speedgoat 3 is no exception. This trail running shoe combines the thick cushion you know and love with a rugged outsole to bring you a trail runner that can handle technical terrain. It’s named for Karl Meltzer, a Hoka athlete nicknamed the “Speedgoat” who currently holds the record for most 100 milers trail race wins, so you know it’s built to take on the mountains.

The oversized EVA foam midsole provides lush cushioning while remaining lightweight. This midsole is incredibly effective at absorbing shock and impact on your run. Trust me, throw these on your feet and your knees, hips, and back will thank you later! The Speedgoat’s Vibram outsole has an aggressive lug pattern and a sticky Megagrip compound, enabling the Speedgoat to take on a wide variety of conditions and surfaces. The 5 mm lugs provide good traction on softer surfaces like mud and snow and the oversized base will keep you stable on the trail.


Category – Moderate to technical trail

Weight – 10.5 oz | 298 g

Drop – 0 mm

Cushion – Moderate

With more cush than the Superior 4 or Lone Peak 4, Altra’s Timp 1.5 is ideal for folks looks for an aggressive zero drop trail running shoe that can keep them going all day long. It’s a favorite among distance runner and ultra marathon runner who need extra support and cushion for long days in rugged terrain.

Like all Altra’s, the Timp 1.5 is a zero drop shoe meaning your toe and heel are equal distances from the ground. This encourages a more natural way of walking and running and lower impact form. Side note: if you are switching from a traditional drop to a low or zero drop shoe, be sure to break them in slowly.

The Timp is mountain ready. It has a build in Gaitertrap so you can easily attach running gaiter’s and run without sand, mud, or debris sneaking in over the top of your shoe. For traction it uses canted Trailclaw lugs, which do exactly what they sound like: claw into soft surfaces to keep you on the trail. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about durability with these shoes. You can put them through the wringer on rocky technical terrain, the durable Duratread outsole can handle it.


Weight – 11.6 oz

Category – Soft dirt, mud, snow trail

Drop – 10 mm

Cushion – Moderate

The Speedcross 5 is our top choice for aggressive traction. We recommend it for races like Tough Mudder or Broken Arrow Sky Race. It has 6mm chevron lugs which dig deep and excel in soft conditions – mud, dirt and snow. The outsole uses sticky Contragrip rubber to help you grip slippery surfaces. We’ve tried it out on dry rocks, slippery rocks, even icy surfaces and in our experience, this shoe delivers the best grip and traction out there.

This performance oriented shoe is comfortable and supportive thanks to a light chassis and new upper. Sensifit technology cradles your foot and locks it in place for a snug, secure fit. The midsole uses Energycell+, a high rebound compound, to cushion your ride and propel you forward on your run.

And when you choose Salomon, there’s no more hassle tying your shoes or dealing with untied laces. The quicklace system is easy to use and secures your foot comfortably in place with one quick pull. It fits on the narrow side but it’s also available in wide sizes! It also comes in a waterproof Gore-Tex version.

Click here to read an in depth review of the Salomon Speedcross.


Category – Moderate to technical trails

Weight – 9.52 oz | 270 g

Drop – 8 mm

Cushion – Moderate

The Sense Ride was a best seller from the moment it hit our shelves. It has a comfortable fit with just the right amount of cushioning and great traction underfoot, thanks to Wet Traction Contragrip. It’s a versatile trail runner that strikes the perfect balance of comfort, function, and protection. This all around performer can handle it all – long ultra-marathons, steep technical jaunts, on and off trail terrain, etc.

The Sense Ride has a roomier toe box than other Salomon’s and the upper has been redesigned to securely lock your foot in place. The foot feels close to the ground so the user can feel rugged or flat terrain. Endofit technology hugs the foot from tongue to midsole for a snug fit and precise feedback. The midsole uses Vibe technology to dampen vibrations and provide rebound so that you can keep moving quickly through the mountains.

This is a great shoe for summer trails in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe. You’ll love how the lightweight mesh upper breathes on hot days while still keeping debris out. The upper is also stitch free, adding to a that comfortable “like-a-glove” fit.


Ready to start running? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Trail Runs in Lake Tahoe and Truckee.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Tahoe Mountain Sports will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Affiliate commissions help fund the content for this blog.



Siobhan works at Tahoe Mountain Sports and currently manages TMS blog content. She loves everything about living in the mountains, from snowy winter days on skis to the hot, dusty trails of the Sierra's in the summer. Favorite activities include skiing, trail running and backpacking.


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