Trail Running Shoes for Rocky Terrain: 5 Not to Ignore

Are you looking for the best trail running shoes for rocky terrain? You may be looking to hit the trail soon and perhaps you are not sure what type of gear to get. Deciding on the shoes you will wear on any trail needs quite a bit of thought put into it.

They can make or break your run and you may find yourself lengthening or shortening the amount of time you run based on how comfortable you are. Have you ever tried walking on gravel or rocky terrain in shoes that are not made for that type of ground? 

Trail Running Shoes for Rocky Terrain

Photo Name What We like
Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe The shoes provide good grip. They are designed to be lightweight. You get to choose from various colours.
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe The shoes are incredibly resilient to rough terrain They have good heel cushioning. You can pick from various colours.
New Balance MT410v5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe Runner They provide extra width for your feet. They are very comfortable. They are reasonably durable.
ASICS Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe These shoes are very comfortable. They have a removable sock liner. They have good shock absorption features.
ASICS GEL Venture 5 Running Shoe The shoes are reasonably priced. They provide you with good traction They are very comfortable.

Loose rocks can cause your foot to buckle. One slight misstep, and you could break your ankle or just have a highly uncomfortable hike. If you think walking under these circumstances is unpleasant, try running. The impact is increased and so is the risk of injury. However, running on rocky terrain has great health benefits that outweigh running on a road or pavement. 

If you are looking to only do one type of exercise and get everything worked out and toned in one go, then trail running is one of your best shots at this. The shoes you wear when running on rocky terrain need to possess certain qualities for you to run smoothly in them and get the full benefits of running.

Rocky terrain will get you a complete workout more than you would get on a treadmill. In this article, we take a look at the different shoes you can choose from to go running on rocky roads.

In a Hurry

Do you need a quick guide to buying the best shoes for your run? There are a few factors that you will need to take into consideration. This is not a decision to make hurriedly. You must take time to see what the shoe offers in terms of features. If there is something you do not understand, ask.

Always make sure that you take the time to try on several pairs of shoes first so that you know how they feel. Spread your selection across different brands and features. This way you will know what manufacturers mean when they refer to comfort levels, or how minimalist the shoe is. 

Consider the stack height. If you would like to try out minimalist running, make sure to ease yourself into the lifestyle gradually to avoid injuries. Some believe that the more material there is under your feet the more comfortable they are and the better they will fare on the trail. 

However many others swear by being able to feel as much of the ground under your feet as possible. One of the most important factors to make note of is whether or not the shoe is waterproof. This is a welcome feature on hiking shoes but not on running shoes. When you are running on a trail you want your feet to be able to sweat and not trap the sweat in the shoe.

Our Top Pick

New Balance MT410v5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe Runner

We have done our homework and found our favourite pick to be the New Balance MT410v5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe Runner. They are imported and are made of synthetic material. They have a rubber sole and ACTEVA midsole.

Product Reviews for Trail Running Shoes for Rocky Terrain

Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe

Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe

The speed cross has an upper part that is made out of synthetic material. The sole is made of rubber. This is great for ensuring that you get sufficient grip when you’re treading on rocky ground. The thickness of the rubber also means that there is less pressure on the base of your feet from the rocks that you’re walking on.

The shaft of these shoes measures in low top from the arch. What may not be immediately apparent is the fact that these shoes are made for trail running. For those were only going to be using them for walking you will get a little bit more versatility if you were to choose to do some running.

We’ve already mentioned how seemingly strong this shoe is when it comes to the grip. This is courtesy of some well-pronounced lugs. The speed across four has the capacity to deal with technical trails. Although it is made for soft ground, it does just as well on large rocks. You will also be pleased to find that this is a fairly lightweight shoe.

The interior is well cushioned which ensures that you are very comfortable and well protected. To save you a bit of time, the leasing system is geared to be done fairly quickly. There is also no need to stop and redo it when you’re out on the trails. From an aesthetic point of view, you will take heart in the fact that they are several colours that you can select yours from. Some are more understated than others.


  • The shoes provide good grip.
  • They are designed to be lightweight.
  • You get to choose from various colours.
  • There is a lot of cushioning inside the shoe.
  • There are various colours to choose from.
  • The lacing system is quick and easy.


  • Not ideal for the rain.
  • Sizes tend to run small


Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

The Moab 2 is made for the hiking market. As such, it does not have the look that we have come to associate with running shoes. When you do try it, your perceptions will be rightly proven wrong. The upper part of the shoes is made out of a mixture and suede and mesh.

The suede is integral to ensuring that this is not a shoe that falls apart after little use. From the mesh, you will get great breathability. This is something that you will come to appreciate as you run. 

The soles are made out of a synthetic material that is rubbery. It has a good tread pattern to give you sufficient grip as you run down the trail. Another great feature for trail running is the way that the tongues are designed. They are made to ensure that debris and dirt and kept out of the shoes. God forbid that your toes will come crashing into a rock.

That is an all too familiar tale when the terrain is uneven. The toe cap on the front of these shoes ensure that you do not have to worry about that. To minimise the chances of slipping as you run, there are 5mm lugs underneath the soles. The fact that they have used Vibram on the outsoles is an added advantage.

There is air cushioning on the rear end of the soles. This an essential feature for protecting you from impact on hard surfaces. They have made use of recyclable material in the manufacturing of these shoes. 


  • The shoes are incredibly resilient to rough terrain
  • They have good heel cushioning.
  • You can pick from various colours.
  • They are very breathable.
  • They are quite durable.
  • The environment is considered in the manufacturing.
  • There is good arch support provided.


  • Lack the sole flexibility that is key to running. 
  • There is some pinching in the lace region.


New Balance MT410v5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe Runner

New Balance MT410v5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe Runner

If you fancy some of the features that the Merrell Moab 2 offers but would like a shoe that is more geared towards runners. Here is an alternative for you. The upper part of this shoe is made up of a mixture of textile and synthetic material. It sits on rubber soles that are perfect for providing you with much-needed traction and grip when running. The designs have some clear similarities as well. Perhaps that is a stretch. 

ACTEVA has been used in the midsole region of the shoes to enhance the room on which you can tread with comfort. One could say that it has a volumising effect. The outsoles have what the manufacturer describes as AT Tread. There are New Balance’s 2.0 performance inserts in these shoes as well. We have yet to try out the 1.0 so we cannot comment on how much better this version is in comparison to its predecessor. 

To sum it up. This is a shoe that is designed to provide your with a good balance of performance and durability without slacking on the looks. 


  • They provide extra width for your feet.
  • They are very comfortable.
  • They are reasonably durable.
  • There is ample arch support provided.
  • The soles have a good tread and traction.
  • There is good underfoot cushioning.


  • Sizes seem to run small.
  • Some users think that quality control could be better.


ASICS Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe

ASICS Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe

This list would be incomplete without the inclusion of the Gel-Venture 6. These are shoes that are made to take on the rough, rocky terrain that most shoes wouldn’t dare to be seen on. The first thing that Asics did to achieve this was to provide an outsole that is designed for the trails.

The upper part of these shoes is made out of synthetic material that is perfect for ensuring good breathability. They sit on a rubber sole with good tread pattern. You will have no issues with falling over due to lack of grip. The outsoles have reverse lugs that are perfect for both downhill and uphill runs.

From the aesthetic side of things, this is a simple design with contrasting colours. There are no features that we could say are particularly distinguishing. They do say that simplicity is genius. This may be one of those instances. You can be the judge of that. The shafts of the shoes run up to the low-top of your arches.

This gives you a good amount of arch support as you run. Asics have used a cushioning system at the rear of these shoes that ensures shock is absorbed as one moves. Less impact is felt in the soles of the feet. If you need additional room to add your orthotics, you may remove the sock liners from the shoes to make room. 


  • These shoes are very comfortable.
  • They have a removable sock liner.
  • They have good shock absorption features.
  • They provide you with good grip.
  • They have lugs that are good for both uphill and downhill runs.
  • There is a fair amount of breathability.
  • They offer you good value for money.


  • Somes users feel that quality has deteriorated over the years.
  • Quality control measures could go a long way.


ASICS GEL Venture 5 Running Shoe

ASICS GEL Venture 5 Running Shoe

Our final pick is another Asics shoe. The Gel Venture Trail shares some features with the shoes that we reviewed above. You will be pleased to know that these are the good features that we all appreciate. The upper part of the shoe is made out of a breathable synthetic material that is well supported.

The soles are made out of rubber. I am sure you would have guessed that one. It has shafts that measure low top from the arch. The entire design of the shoe is made to enhance your trail running experience. There is something inspiring about products that fulfill their main aim to a great degree.

The rear foot gel sole that we mentioned with the shoes above is also present on these ones. You also get the removable sock liner that allows room for medical orthotics to be slotted in. These are fairly easy to remove. The outsoles on these shoes have reversed lugs. They are designed specifically for the trail.


  • The shoes are reasonably priced. 
  • They provide you with good traction
  • They are very comfortable.
  • There is sufficient underfoot cushioning.
  • They have sufficient room for those with wide feet.
  • There is plenty of support for foot pain.


  • Some users have reported getting weak soles.
  • Users have also noted a decline in quality over the years.


Buyer’s Guide

Is trail running more difficult than road running?

The difficulty or ease of a trail is purely subjective. Some get bored with the straight and unexciting trail the road offers. This may make the trail seem harder. Whilst others like the adventure presented by a rocky trail. Some see a rocky trail, with its full body workout as an enormous task they are not willing to try.

There is a consensus that trail running is significantly harder than road running. The thing about trail running is that it gives you a lot of different things to look at. 

Distractions along the way can motivate you and they can also help the distance go by faster. Running on a plain road or city street can get pretty boring and make the distance seem longer. Running on a trail requires a lot more concentration and watching where you step than road running.

There is a definitive answer as to which trail is easier to run on. It is a subjective matter depending on what you value. Both trail running and road running offer benefits that are unique and can not be compared, but rather be chosen based on personal preference. 

Can I wear running shoes for hiking?

Hiking can be harsh on your feet especially if you do not have the right gear on. The shoes you wear count a lot in how you go through the workout. Hiking shoes have certain features that make the hike easier. Trail running shoes have similar features and hence can be interchanged.

Sometimes you need to use the same pair of shoes on both, and reaching for your trail running shoes is the best option you have Trail running shoes are the best type of running shoes to go hiking in and are often recommended by experienced hikers. Road running shoes won’t perform as well as trail runners but can still do the job.

What’s the difference between trail running shoes and running shoes?

The way shoes are made is the major difference between trail running shoes and road running shoes. Shoes that are designed for road running are made of lightweight material so that you are faster on your feet and also to encourage responsiveness.

On paved roads, you will not need as much traction as you would on rocky roads. Because of this, you will find that the treads on road shoes are thinner than the treads on trail shoes. 

Trail running shoes are also heavier than road running shoes. They are meant to support and protect your feet on rugged terrain. The soles on these shoes are much tougher and thicker than those on road running shoes. The soles on trail shoes are more durable as they are made for rugged terrain and to also save you from gruelling toe-stubbing moments.

Are trail running shoes good for the treadmill?

Most people stay fit and ready for the trail and getting a new pair of shoes that are different from your regular trail running shoes is not cost-effective and quite frankly unnecessary. At the end of the day, they are both forms of running and the shoes you wear on the trail can also be worn on the treadmill.

Can I run on the road with trail shoes?

Trail shoes can easily be switched to road running shoes. The reverse is what’s dangerous and not advisable. Road running shoes may not always have the traction you need on an off-road trail.  In this case, the saying rings true, “it is better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them” Tail running shoes have traction and great durability to grip onto the rugged trail. These are all features that will come in handy when running on the road.


Running shoes are an extremely personal choice when it comes to buying hiking or running gear. You must know what options are available to you and what feels good for you. Also taking into consideration, the safety features needed. We hope that our top picks help you make a decision that keeps you running longer. Happy shopping!

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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