Durable trail runners?

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    Mo FromBrisbane
    BPL Member


    I’m being very indecisive w.r.t. shoes. I purchased my first pair of trail runners last year (La Sportiva Helios), and absolutely love them. So light, and so comfortable.
    They aren’t, however, very durable.
    I’ve not used them a lot, and the sole has worn enough to really concern me. They’ve also developed a split on the side of the upper, pretty much at the widest part of the foot. The mesh has just torn.

    Soon I’m setting off on a 1200km urban hike (lots of asphalt). I have zero confidence a single pair of trail runners will last the entire trip, which has lead to me to re-consider my footwear. Re-supply seems difficult (I live in Aus, the hike is in Japan).

    Is there a shoe that is some/most of the benefits of trail runners but durable?

    Bob Shuff
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    Long urban hike in Japan sounds awesome.  Sign me up!

    I’ve been hiking primarily on-trail with Hoka One One¬†Rapa Nui 2 Trail-Running Shoes, but I wouldn’t call them durable. ¬†They are showing a lot of wear on the sole and sides, but seem to be still functional in all ways, and I’m continuing to hike with them. ¬†They are super cushioned. ¬†I wear custom orthotics, which replace the removable insole to help with my over-pronation.

    I liked these so much I got a pair of Hoka One One Challenger ATR Trail-Running Shoes, which were the newer versions REI was selling on a clearance.  They are still new in the box, but I plan to switch over to them soon for urban hikes, and will decide if I keep the old ones for the trail.  I think Hoka One One has an even newer model.

    To me the comfort is king. ¬†I get the stability from my orthotics, and when on-trail I don’t care about the looks. ¬†When I go on vacation with the family this summer, my wife won’t like me wearing my old ratty trail shoes.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Mo

    Both my wife and I have been bushwalking and running in New Balance shoes for … well, a long time.

    But whatever you buy, do make sure the shoes are big enough and wide enough.Get your feet measured (in thick socks) on a Brannock Device at a shoe store, allow an extra half size at least, and never ever compromise on width.

    The NB Leadvilles are very good: in a rare happening NB are up to version 3 of these. Most shoes never get beyond V1.




    Noah K
    BPL Member


    Locale: Washington

    They’re not really runners, but I’ve been doing a lot of scrambling/bushwacking with merrell capra sport’s. ¬†So far they’ve been very durable. ¬†Just have to make sure you don’t get the waterproof version :)

    Victor Jorgensen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    + 1 on the NB Leadville’s. ¬†Mine are the V2 which seems to hold my heel in place better than the V3 when initially trying them on. ¬†I have average to slightly thick and wide feet and heels.

    Justin Baker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    If your shoes wear out you can just walk into a store and buy new ones. You might not recognize all the same brands but you should be able to find something that works for you.

    Cody Hallenbeck
    BPL Member


    Locale: Siskiyous and Sierras

    My current favorite shoes are Merrel Grasbow Airs, and was impressed that they made it through approximately 300 miles before I retired them–including the Sierra High Route. That would have been terrible durability under gentler conditions, but considering that more than half of that mileage was off trail on challenging terrain, I considered it pretty great. I could have probably beaten on them for another 100-200 miles if on a continuous hike. For reference, I’ve destroyed La Sportiva Wildkats and Brooks Cascadia 9 and 10s far faster on similar terrain. They have good grip, are comfortable for me, don’t tear out the upper fabric easily, and are on the firmer side in terms of cushion compared to other real trail runners.

    Unless your feet are really large I’d suspect buying new shoes once or even twice in the trip wouldn’t be hard at all, and really 1 or 2 day shipping in the developed (and really in much of the developing world) isn’t that hard to figure out. For what its worth, I’d probably use some sort of road running shoe for this trip, as the soft rubber and tread of trail shoes would wear faster. How much cushion you’d want is up to your personal preferences and pack weight.

    Arne L.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Europe

    In my opinion, the Saucony Xodus are fairly durable trailrunners with a good sole.

    I put them trough a lot last year (6 to 7 trips, one month of hiking in total) and they’re still (rather) usable. I use them for training at the moment.
    There’s a small hole in the mesh at the toes but that’s totally my own fault.

    William Kerber
    BPL Member


    Locale: South East US

    I’ve got a pair of Saucony TR7 trail runners that I’ve got over 1,000 miles on. Starting to fray in a few¬†spots and the tread is wearing down pretty good on the front half of the sole. I have a new pair in a box in the closet, but trying to see how far this pair will¬†go until they are uncomfortable. I did put Dr Scholl’s active inserts in them to replace the stock foot bed.

    Ryan K
    BPL Member


    Probably more minimal that you’re looking for, but I’ve been wearing my Trail Glove 3’s every day for a year, for work, hiking, running, etc. with surprisingly¬†minimal wear. Most of the wear has been to the 2 layers of¬†fabric¬†over the non-removable insole – I started to wear holes¬†under my heel and big toes pretty quickly and they’ve become larger over time, but I don’t notice when the shoe is on. ¬† The outsoles show some wear on lugs, and¬†a few spots along the sides show some separating between upper¬†and outsole but not enough to need repair. ¬†Usually wearing down the outsole heel has been the factor requiring me to buy new shoes, but switching to minimalist shoes several years ago fixed that – it doesn’t feel good to scuff my foot or heel at all, so my walking and running style has automatically changed to reduce wear on the outsole. ¬†My only complaint at this point is the that the insole is not removable and replaceable.

    Kim Fong Ong


    Locale: (null)

    I am in Japan and it is easy to buy good trail runners from Amazon Japan’s webstore and have the shoes delivered to the nearest convenience shop where you can just pick them up. Brands like Innov-8 and La Sportiva are readily available. But you should really know you shoe size in centimeters as this is the system in Japan.

    Ito Jakuchu
    BPL Member


    Locale: Japan

    it is easy to buy good trail runners from Amazon Japan’s webstore and have the shoes delivered to the nearest convenience shop where you can just pick them up.

    What Kim says – with a caveat. Check first because if you have a bigger foot, larger than 28cm (‚Čą44EU, ‚Čą10US) you could be out of luck. This is often the case in¬†normal¬†stores as well, but there they can then sometimes (not always) get the shoes from somewhere else. This would take time of course, but perhaps they could forward to a¬†convenience store further up trail.

    Amazon often doesn’t have the sizes above 28cm though. Some models also are not carried at all in larger sizes in Japan. It is now better than 15 years ago, but it can still be an issue, depending of course. Plenty of times I have ordered from Amazon US because of this.

    Again, agree with what Kim says – if you fall in the general size range. If not, double check availability in Japan.

    Have fun road walking.

    Ito Jakuchu
    BPL Member


    Locale: Japan

    One more thing –

    Perhaps not always, but in general, the ‘stickier’ or ‘grippier’ a sole is on wet rock, the softer the material and the faster it will degrade. The harder the sole, bit more slippery perhaps, but longer lasting.

    Of course there are all kinds of compounds, and some may even do what the marketing slogans tell you, but just a base line to check things against. Tread design will affect grip on different surfaces as well of course.

    I have used Salomon X Ultras for a year, twice a week here in the mountains – very very, very durable. They are in between beefy trail runners and light trekking shoes so not pure trail runners. The sole has not worn out yet (replaced them finally after doing a piston on Mt. Fuji though). I wear lighter trail runners but the Salomons are very solid, with a bit harder sole material, but they make up for it with their deeper lugs.

    Most important though is a shoe that fits you well. Especially width (I have narrow feet myself).

    Just commenting on some material and size issues.

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