top of page

5 things to know about trail shoes in winter

Editor’s note: This is the third in a four-part series about winter trail running.

In the first post in the winter trail running series, I covered the “why” and the second post highlights a half-dozen tips for running on the trail. This installment covers what you should know about trail shoes for winter running.

There is good reason why some road runners lace up trail shoes for their jaunts on snowy sidewalks and streets. Those same reasons apply to choosing proper footwear when the trails are masked in snow and ice.

Here are five key things to know about trail shoes for winter running:

1. Lug out below: When picking out a trail shoe specifically for winter running, take a close look at the lugs. Their purpose is to grip loose dirt, mud and rocks – and, of course, snow and ice. You’ll want to make sure that the lugs are large enough for a solid grip to help keep you upright, regardless of the trail’s conditions.

2. Consider this: Another option is to buy a grippy attachment, like Yax Tracks. These strap on to the bottom of your shoes and provide extra security. These would allow you to wear your favorite pair of running shoes without having to buy a separate pair, if your winter is short yet unpredictable. Additionally, some trail shoes are built with hard metal carbide spikes for extra icy conditions. In either case, remember to take them off before walking in your home.

3. Keep warm: Even when the trails are not filled with ice and snow, winter running can be challenging due to the cold. For those running in bitter cold temperatures, or whose feet feel really cold during runs, consider running shoes made out of Gore-Tex. The lightweight and breathable fabric repels water while allowing water vapor to pass through, thereby keeping the skin warm.

4. What the cold does: It’s also worth noting that freezing temperatures can harden the lightweight midsole cushioning found in most road running shoes. This turns a usually soft, comfortable road shoe into one that feels stiff and hard. Most trail running shoe midsoles are designed to perform well regardless of the temperature.

5. Remember to do your research. I am among the reviewers for, a review site that pays for the gear we test and write about. So there is no pressure from a shoe manufacturer on the reviewers. The reviews are honest, informative and from real runners who try out shoes for at least 50 miles. Here are the top trail shoes for 2021.

I appreciate you reading this and welcome your feedback, comments and questions. Look for the final installment in this series coming soon to

(Last year, I also did a four-part series on the basics of trail running (here’s part four, which links back to the previous three in that series).


bottom of page