What is the difference between trail running shoes and normal running shoes? I want to know in terms of construction (heel to toe drop etc) of the shoe and the cushioning. Is the cushioning in trail running shoes more than that in normal running shoes?


Generally the drop of trail running shoes will vary by model in much the same way it varies in regular running shoes.

The principal differences that make a running shoe a trail running shoe are traction and durability; both of these will have an impact on the cushioning. Trail running shoes generally:

  • Have stiffer/heavier rubber outsoles with larger and differently-configured lugs for traction
  • Have stiffer (and thus harder) midsoles, both to support climbing on steeper trails and protect the foot from rocky surfaces (i.e. the cushioning will be thicker and of a harder material)
  • Have heavier uppers to resist tearing (sometimes the uppers are water-resistant as well)

Of course, there's a lot of variation between trail shoes, just as there is in regular shoes, so there are exceptions to all of these. But if you were to take a regular running shoe and make it into a trail running shoe, these are probably the changes you would be making.

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