As more recreational and competitive runners take their running off road, we are seeing trail shoes make their way into weekly shoe rotations. And so they should! The importance of sport specific footwear isn’t a new concept here at Mizuno. We have been highlighting the benefits of running and playing in the right shoe for many years. Shoes are a powerful tool for improving comfort, enhancing performance and reducing the risk of injury. Which is why it’s essential you’re using the right tool (shoes) for the job (trail running). Using a tool incorrectly, in this instance taking your running shoes off road, can compromise your comfort, performance and safety. Not to mention your beloved running shoes will wear down much quicker on trails, resulting in the need to replace them sooner. So, if you’re noticing your running shoes wearing out, if you’re frequently slipping and falling, or you’re feeling a little unstable on trails, read on to find out what you should consider when selecting the perfect trail shoe for you.

How are trail surfaces different to road surfaces?

Road running takes form on smooth, paved surfaces, whereas trail running takes you off road and into nature (think mountains, valleys, bushland, coastlines and deserts). This means running on softer, uneven and unstable surfaces such as loose ground, mud, rocks, branches, sand, water and even snow. Naturally, there are varying degrees of difficulty. Milder terrain boasts smoother surfaces, less obstacles and less elevation, whereas more difficult or technical terrain will see rougher surfaces, more natural obstacles and involve steeper climbs and sharper declines.

How are trail shoes different to running shoes?

Running shoes are light and soft, designed for repetitive heel to toe motion on smooth surfaces like road or footpaths. They’re great, just not great for trail running. Running shoes don’t offer the necessary support, protection and traction to tackle rugged, technical terrain. Trail shoes on the other hand, are purpose built for this, and offer the protection, support and traction you’ll need to take on challenging trails.

Key features of trail shoes:

Outsole Design (tread) - looks and feels very different to running shoes. Trail shoes feature a robust outsole with lugs which grip soft ground to provide superior traction and durability on terrain even in wet conditions. 
Cushioning - trail shoes usually feature a stiffer or more stable midsole foam. This offers more protection and assists in stabilising the lower limb on unstable surfaces.
Upper security - most trail shoes will feature a sturdier and/or reinforced upper material. A secure upper can offer a tighter lockdown of the foot and greater durability over time.
Protection - from the elements. Trail shoes include additional protective features such as rock plates, toe shields, abrasion resistance and water resistance all of which assist in keeping feet dry and protected from injury or blistering.

Factors to consider when picking your perfect trail shoe

Finally, when choosing your trail shoe, be sure to keep in mind the trails you’ll be running. If you’re running longer distances, you may prefer the comfort and protection of a highly cushioned shoe, whereas if you’re running shorter distances, a lightweight and responsive shoe will keep you fast on your feet. For more technical terrain, a deeper lug construction will grip the ground best, whereas for milder terrain or a mix of road and trail, a hybrid outsole may be suitable. If you’re braving wet conditions, a water proof upper such as Gore-Tex will keep your feet dry.
Mizuno's trail collection offers a range of shoes suitable for every run.


Wave Rider GTX

A versatile, all-weather shoe which will take you from road to trail with ease.
Key Features:
  • Dynamic cushioning
  • Water repellent upper
  • Multi-directional grip
Shop Wave Rider GTX

    Wave Daichi 7

    A lightweight and balanced technical trail shoe for moderately technical trails.
    Key Features:
    • Lightweight and soft Foam Wave cushioning
    • Smooth and adaptive upper
    • Forefoot rock plate
    Shop Wave Daichi 7

      Wave Mujin 8 

      A robust and cushioned trail shoe perfect for long and unpredictable terrain.
      Key Features:
      • Soft and stable Foam Wave cushioning
      • Supportive upper reinforcements
      • Outsole design for exceptional traction
      Shop Wave Mujin 8