Are you planning a long-distance backpacking journey? In that case, it’s important that you simply select the most effective path runners for thru-hiking (if path runners are your jam*). Consider this as an funding in your future happiness. Your ft are your most essential asset as a thru-hiker, in any case. You’re relying on them to hold you 1000’s of miles via thick and skinny.

For those who deal with them proper, it’s attainable to finish a complete thru-hike with out a lot as a blister. However in the event you don’t maintain them, any variety of (progressively extra horrifying) foot afflictions might take you out of motion in a heartbeat. That’s why it’s so essential to decide on correct footwear in your hike.

Footwear are extremely private — extra so than most gear — as a result of everybody’s foot form, gait, and preferences are distinctive. You’ll solely determine what’s best for you via trial and error, nevertheless it helps to know a bit in regards to the match and options of some high fashions prematurely.

*Boots and mountaineering footwear additionally exist. We cowl the latter on this separate roundup.

Finest Path Runners for Through-Climbing: Fast Navigation

Finest Path Runner FAQs

The 9 Finest Path Runners for Through-Climbing

Altra Lone Peak (Males’s | Girls’s) (Most Well-liked with Through-Hikers)

Best trail runners thru-hiking

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Altra Lone Peak.

MSRP: $150
Weight (pair): 22 oz.
Drop: 0mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: Sure
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Widest toe field round; iconic amongst thru-hikers; gaiter-compatible; light-weight; out there in vast.
Cons: Not the grippiest; different manufacturers provide extra sturdy uppers; annual updates are laborious to maintain up with.


Lone Peaks are simply the preferred shoe mannequin amongst thru-hikers: nearly a 3rd of respondents in our annual Appalachian Path Through-Hiker Survey reported utilizing Lone Peaks, that are identified for his or her minimalist, zero drop design and their vast toe field. (By the way, we’ve examined quite a lot of path runners that declare to have a large toe field, however none have ever appeared fairly as roomy as this iconic shoe.)

The newest model has been redesigned with a sturdy, seamless, stitch-less higher, although an up to date model may quickly alter issues additional. The footwear proceed to function Altra’s proprietary EGO midsoles and MaxTrac outsoles.

Traditional Lone Peak options just like the Gaiter Traps and vast FootShape toe field are additionally round to remain, and the distinctive tread sample on the underside of the shoe stays the identical. The Lone Peak is on the market in vast sizes.

Whereas main adjustments are attainable sooner or later, extra possible is that these footwear proceed to adapt step by step. Whereas small adjustments could seem minor, even the slightest tweaks can trash the ft of essentially the most loyal buyer, so don’t take your favourite technology without any consideration. That stated, Lone Peaks have remained insanely widespread amongst thru-hikers all through the ups and downs of their many incarnations, and we anticipate that pattern to proceed.

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Brooks Cascadia (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest Path Runner for Slim Toes)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Brooks Cascadia.

MSRP: $130
Weight (pair): 20 oz.
Drop: 8mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: Sure
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Gaiter-compatible; sticky outsole for added grip; light-weight; gentle and adaptable midsole.
Cons: Stiff; greater drop isn’t for everybody; slim minimize will really feel cramped for some.


In a world of vast toe containers, Brooks retains it old-school with their slim and snug-fitting Cascadias. Though some might object to the closeness of this design, it’s ideally suited for slenderfoots who can’t appear to keep away from slipping and sliding in additional generously proportioned footwear. “I charge the grip above common and sturdiness appears to be like nice,” stated contributor Owen Eigenbrot of the Cascadia 15s (2021’s mannequin). “The brand new higher materials is breezy and dries rapidly.”

Final 12 months’s model of the Cascadia (16) was streamlined to carry the full weight down by practically 1 / 4 pound, and the 17 retains it this manner, making the Cascadias one of many lightest footwear on our listing. The mid and outsole have each been redesigned to make the shoe extra versatile and adaptable on tough trails. The brand new midsole can be lighter and softer than earlier variations.

In the meantime, the up to date rock plate gives ample safety from tough, technical terrain, making the Cascadia ideally suited for hikers/runners preferring a firmer, extra responsive experience. The TrailTack outsole is each splendidly grippy and notably extra sturdy than many competitor fashions. Considerate additions like drain holes and gaiter traps can be appreciated by many hikers.

Learn our assessment of the Brooks Cascadia 15.

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Hoka One One Speedgoat (Males’s | Girls’s) (Most Snug Path Runner)

Best trail runners thru-hiking

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Hoka One One Speedgoat.

MSRP: $155
Weight (pair): 20.6 oz.
Drop: 4mm
Cushioning: Most
Rock plate: No
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Vibram Megagrip outsole with Traction Lug gives higher grip; lighter CMEVA midsole compound; vast toe field.
Cons: Cumbersome; costly; maximal cushioning can create lateral instability; flat tongue might be uncomfortable; midsole foam can break down prematurely.


Our reviewer says the Speedgoats’ famously plush midsole is much like strolling on clouds. Pair that with the up to date Vibram outsole with Traction Lugs, and also you’ve received your self a dang clean experience (in quite a lot of wild shade schemes besides). Regardless of the additional cushioning and boxy design, the Speedgoats are middle-of-the-road by way of weight, maybe partly as a result of they remove the rock plate favored by many path runner fashions.

Updates to the Speedgoat 5s made them an oz lighter per pair than the earlier mannequin. They’re grippier now too, due to the up to date Vibram Megagrip outsole, and (considerably hilariously) a millimeter taller. Hoka additionally upgraded the mesh higher to a double-layer jacquard mesh made with recycled content material, which ought to assist improve sturdiness. For a shoe this cushioned to weigh simply 20.6 ounces is fairly exceptional. Light-weight consolation certainly.

Price noting: this model appears to be on a dramatic upswing within the thru-hiking world with the variety of thru-hikers sporting Hokas growing 12 months over 12 months in our annual Appalachian Trial thru-hiker survey.

Additionally price noting: in the event you love the look of the Speedgoat however require extra ankle assist than a path runner can provide, know that Hoka additionally provides a mid-boot model of the Speedgoat (males’s | girls’s).

Learn our assessment of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4.

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Astral TR1 Mesh (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest Path Runner for Moist Trails)

best trail runners thru-hiking

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Astral TR1 Mesh.

MSRP: $130
Weight (pair): 21.2 oz.
Drop: 1mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: Midsole high shank
Waterproof: Not out there

Professionals: Anti-odor insole; near-zero drop; mesh uppers and drain holes within the midsole for fast drying; vast toe field; cheesy outsole.

Cons: Some customers report sturdiness points; no waterproof possibility.


This providing from Astral Designs isn’t a standard thru-hiking shoe, nevertheless it’s an excellent selection for moist trails with frequent stream crossings. Much more than most path runners, the TR1 Mesh is unmatched in its skill to empty and dry rapidly due to light-weight mesh uppers and literal drain holes minimize within the midsole. There’s one thing deeply cathartic about stepping out of a stream and watching water actually spout out of your midsoles.

Add a large toe field, splendidly grippy tread (their patented G Rubber excels in moist and slippery circumstances), and near-zero drop to the equation and you’ve got a shoe that’s snug and deeply interesting for hikers. These footwear are nice for moist hikes, however they’ll maintain up on a big selection of technical terrains as nicely.

“I’ve hiked 1000’s of miles in Astral’s TR1 Mesh mannequin, together with miles on the Oregon Desert Path and the CDT, which collectively cowl virtually each terrain possible,” stated contributor and mountaineering guru Katie Gerber. “These are my go-to path runners via spring, summer time, and fall.”

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Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 (Males’s | Girls’s) (Most Versatile Path Runner)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Topo Athletic Terraventure 4.

MSRP: $135
Weight (pair): 20.2 oz.
Drop: 3mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: Sure
Waterproof: Sure!

Professionals: Vibram outsole; rock plate; vast toe field; roomy heel.
Cons: Barely harsh/responsive experience as a consequence of protecting rock plate; restricted colours.


For those who love the vast toe field of Altra path runners however would favor to keep away from the Lone Peak’s zero drop-ness, the Topo Terraventure could also be your good shoe. It’s vast within the toes, like Altras, and has a modest 3mm drop that may present extra assist for heel strikers. Its grippy Vibram outsole additionally outperforms Altras by way of traction and is fastidiously designed for an ideal match that hits the candy spot between sloppy-roomy and too tight.

The roomy match, Vibram rubber, and low drop are traits which might be shared throughout all Topo Athletic path runners, and the Terraventure is the moderate-cushion model of this fashion. As such, it acts as Topo’s proxy to the Altra Lone Peak, however with actual benefits for many who worth these. In contrast to the Lone Peak’s, the outsole has confirmed to be exceptionally grippy and sturdy, with Vibram Megagrip rubber having clear benefits over Altra’s in-house outsole. Because of this, we really feel that the Terraventure is a greater all-around shoe. Regardless of if the path is slippery, rugged, or clean, the Vibram gained’t allow you to down.

For those who favor a extra cushioned experience, Topo’s Ultraventure 3 (males’s | girls’s) is a return to type after the earlier iteration suffered widespread sturdiness points. With quite a lot of the identical options that we love in regards to the Terraventure, Topo’s cushiest path runner is as soon as once more prepared for the pains of a protracted thru-hike with the most recent updates to the higher mesh.

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Altra Olympus (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest Most Cushion, Roomy Toebox Path Runner)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Altra Olympus.

MSRP: $170
Weight (pair): 25 oz
Drop: 0mm
Cushioning: Most
Rock plate: No
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Extensive footshaped toebox; grippy Vibram rubber; nice sturdiness; cloudlike consolation.

Cons: Heavy; dear; heel space of the outsole has minimal rubber which limits grip on this space.


Hoka Speedgoats are all the fad today, however for these of us who like fats cushion and nonetheless just like the Altra match, there’s an excellent possibility. The Olympus has slowly and steadily made features on the Altra’s hottest path runner, the Lone Peak, turning into a typical selection amongst thru-hikers. And it’s simple to know why. Taking the identical roomy match that’s amazingly widespread for the all-day consolation, Altra inflates the midsole to an astounding 33mm stack top. Some people won’t like feeling so disconnected from the bottom, however when you get used to it, there is no such thing as a going again — end-of-day foot fatigue is drastically decreased, and the cushion continues to be going robust a whole bunch of miles after much less plushy footwear start to really feel like cardboard.

The opposite main enchancment over the Lone Peak is the addition of the Vibram Megagrip rubber to the outsole. This compound is noticeably grippier and extra sturdy than Altra’s home mix. Except for the lacking patch situated within the arch space, these footwear have confidence-inspiring grip.

Apart from being dear and comparatively heavy, the Olympus are superior footwear for thru-hiking. Nonetheless, if you’d like a lighter model with a barely narrower match, Altra’s Mont Blanc can be an excellent shoe that has even higher traction than the Olympus. Each of those ought to final lengthy sufficient to justify the premium worth.

Lastly, in the event you’re not offered on the Altra match and zero-drop platform, there are different choices that present a gentle experience and nice grip/sturdiness. The aforementioned Hoka Speedgoats (males’s | girls’s) are an apparent selection, however don’t sleep on the Topo Ultraventure 3 (males’s | girls’s). All ft are totally different, and although all these footwear are related, one pair may simply match higher than the others.

Learn our assessment of the Altra Olympus right here.

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Hoka One One Challenger (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest Medium Cushion Path Runner)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 7.

MSRP: $145
Weight (pair): 17.8 oz
Drop: 4mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: No
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Light-weight; outsized midsoles add cushioning and shock absorption; gusseted tongue retains particles out.
Cons: Outsole isn’t the grippiest; some customers report points with match.


The Challenger 7 is ideal for hikers who love the springy really feel of the Speedgoats in precept however discover it too squashy to permit for snug/environment friendly mountaineering in follow. Though this moderately-cushioned providing nonetheless rocks Hoka’s signature chunky midsole, it’s noticeably firmer than that of the Speedgoat, which has a lot midsole that it might probably really feel stiff and unresponsive in comparison with the extra maneuverable Challenger.

The Speedgoats have a better stack top and a “stickier” Vibram outsole than the Challengers (that are normal rubber). These options solely add to the sensation that the Challenger is a nimbler, extra steady shoe general. It was as soon as Hoka’s go-to mannequin for vast ft, however the model has since expanded its choices to incorporate “vast” Speedgoats as nicely. Regardless of this, the Challenger nonetheless has an general roomier design.

The Challenger 7, the most recent model of this shoe, is pretty totally different from its earlier incarnation (the Challenger ATR 6). Its higher and mid have been constructed with new supplies, and it’s additionally plusher than the earlier mannequin thanks largely to an additional millimeter of stack top all through.

Learn our assessment of the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6.

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Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2 (Males’s | Girls’s) (Most Sturdy Path Runner)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2.

MSRP: $170
Weight (pair): 19 oz
Drop: 0mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: No
Waterproof: Not out there

Professionals: Graphene grip for enhanced sturdiness and traction; new nitrogen-infused midsole is extraordinarily cushiony and light-weight.
Cons: Costly; no rock plate; no waterproof possibility.


Aptly named Inov-8 took a novel strategy to their path runners, incorporating a graphene compound into the rubber outsoles to enhance sturdiness and traction. We thought this appeared like a gimmick, however our reviewer examined a pair of Inov8 Terraultra G 270s totally and located them each bit as sturdy and grippy as marketed: their pair was going robust at 650 miles and counting on the time of the assessment. This shoe has the identical vast toe field and zero-drop that many hikers love in minimalist path runners.

The G 270 V2 builds on its predecessor, the G 270, with enhanced cushioning, breathability, and sturdiness. There’s additionally a G 280 with a nitrogen-infused midsole for extra ultralight cushioning. At $170 per pair, these are the priciest path runners on our listing. “However as a consequence of their sturdiness, they might find yourself cheaper over the course of a thru-hike,” testers Joal and Jenny identified.

Learn our assessment of the Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2.

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La Sportiva Mutant (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest for Off-Path Climbing)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: La Sportiva Mutant.

MSRP: $165
Weight (pair): 22 oz
Drop: 10mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: No
Waterproof: Unavailable

Professionals: Grippy rubber with deep lugs; sturdy; supportive lacing system.
Cons: Expensive; no rock plate; runs small.


If grip on rugged terrain is considered one of your most coveted path runner options, then look no additional than La Sportiva. The model makes kicks with a number of the stickiest rubber round. This, mixed with a narrower, extra exact match makes their footwear nice for top routes and off-trail scrambles. Ditto for mucky stuff. The 6.5mm lugs are significantly deep and are able to deal with sloppy circumstances.

To be sincere, we’ve got essentially the most in depth expertise with the model’s Bushido lineup, however till the vastly anticipated Bushido III drops, they’ll be tough to search out in all sizes. Nonetheless, the Mutant brings all of our favourite options to a barely totally different match. With shoe compatibility being so private, deciding between the 2 may come down to non-public choice anyway, so we’ve got no hesitation in recommending this wonderful wanting shoe.

Even in the event you love your loose-fitting Altra’s for on-trail cruises, the arrogance of dependable traction and slop-free match when the bottom will get sketchy is definitely worth the barely extra restrictive really feel.

Learn our assessment of the La Sportiva Bushido II.

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Salomon XA Professional 3D V9 (Males’s | Girls’s) (Finest Excessive Drop Path Runner)

Finest path runners for thru-hiking: Salomon XA Professional 3D V9.

MSRP: $140
Weight (pair): 23 oz.
Drop: 11mm
Cushioning: Reasonable
Rock plate: Sure
Waterproof: Males’s | Girls’s

Professionals: Quicklace system = no extra untied footwear or fumbling with laces on freezing mornings; excessive stage of stability and safety.
Cons: Heavy for a path runner; excessive heel-toe drop will attraction to some hikers; comparatively stiff midsole might be uncomfortable; quicklace precludes precision lace tensioning.


For those who’re on the fence between path runners and burlier mountaineering footwear, the XA Professional 3D V9 (what a mouthful) does an honest job straddling the road between the 2 classes. It’s undoubtedly heavy for a path runner, nevertheless it provides extra stability and assist than minimalist, ultralight fashions.

Particularly, hikers who are suffering from heel ache might recognize the extra assist provided by the 11mm heel-to-toe drop. Whereas which may not be way more than different footwear on this listing, with superior traction, stability, a rock plate for added safety, and considerate options like Salomon’s simple single-pull lacing system, we expect it’s the best-executed high-drop shoe on the listing.

The XA Professional 3D V9 builds on the long-lasting XA Professional 3D. It’s two ounces lighter than the unique (for the pair) and makes use of thinner, softer supplies. The eponymous “3D chassis,” a skinny layer of dense foam between the midsole and outsole that gives extra assist and reinforcement, has been redesigned to enhance precision, responsiveness, and power management.

Any providing that includes Salomon’s Quicklace system may be given the “Finest Path Runner for Raynaud’s Syndrome Victims” award, as nicely, because the single-pull lacing setup is straightforward to handle, even with cold-addled fingers. (Admittedly, the Quicklace system is polarizing; some hikers hate it with a ardour, particularly as a result of it makes particular lacing strategies like heel lock lacing inconceivable).

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Finest Path Runners for Through-Climbing: FAQs

Path Runners or Boots for Through-Climbing?

Path runners have surged in reputation lately and are actually extra widespread than conventional mountaineering boots amongst thru-hikers. If you wish to save power (they are saying a pound on the ft is price 5 on the again), preserve your ft comparatively cool and dry (path runners’ light-weight mesh uppers enable moisture to flee rapidly), and be capable to “really feel” and react to the altering path floor via a versatile, responsive pair of footwear, go together with path runners.

If you need footwear that may final a very long time, defend your tender soles from the impression of tough terrain, and supply unyielding foot and ankle assist, mountaineering boots are the best way to go. They’re heavier, sure, however they supply much more safety. And whereas they price greater than path runners up entrance, they usually final two to 3 instances as lengthy, which means fewer footwear within the landfill and extra {dollars} in your pocket over the course of a thru-hike.

Climbing footwear are basically low-top boots. They’re beefier and extra supportive than path runners, however not fairly as cumbersome as boots. They’re compromise answer in the event you can’t resolve between path runners and boots.

Climbing Footwear Terminology

Earlier than we dig into our picks for the most effective path runners for thru-hiking, let’s first set up some widespread footwear terminology in order that we’re all on the identical web page:

  • Higher: The “principal physique” of the shoe/the versatile materials above the midsole. Normally fabricated from sturdy mesh or leather-based.
  • Insole: A detachable footbed insert situated contained in the shoe that gives cushioning to your foot. Many hikers improve to aftermarket insoles like Superfeet that provide higher and extra focused assist than the manufacturing unit model.
  • Midsole: The rubber bit between the insole and the outsole.
  • Outsole: The grippy rubber backside of your shoe the place all of the tread is situated.
  • Rock plate: A nylon shank discovered within the midsole of some path runners to guard your sole from sharp rocks.
  • Heel-to-toe drop: The peak differential between the shoe’s heel and toe, usually measured in millimeters. The heel is elevated greater than the toe in most footwear in order that the toe factors barely down, however some minimalist footwear have zero drop (no top distinction between the heel and toe).

Are Minimalist / Zero Drop Climbing Footwear Price It?

It’s difficult. Minimalist zero-drop footwear is supposed to imitate naked ft, the concept being that much less shoe assist will result in stronger muscle mass, improved stability, and a extra pure gait. In distinction, many podiatrists argue that cushioning exists for a motive, and sporting unsupportive footwear can create new foot issues and exacerbate present ones. With that in thoughts, hikers with flat ft and different pre-existing foot issues ought to be particularly cautious with minimalist footwear.

For those who’re contemplating zero-drop footwear, we advocate you purchase a pair or two from a retailer with an honest return coverage (we’re you, REI) and take a look at them out on path. There’s actually no different solution to know whether or not a sure fashion will give you the results you want. For those who go the zero drop route, break the footwear in slowly and know that you simply’ll possible expertise calf and Achilles fatigue at first as your muscle mass modify. That is regular, however watch out to not push your self too laborious at first lest you harm your self.

Take a look at Excessive Drop or Zero Drop: The way to Select Footwear that Work for You for an in depth breakdown of the respective execs and cons of excessive and zero-drop footwear.

After-Market Insoles

Many hikers swap out the flimsy insoles that come normal with most mountaineering footwear for a beefier, extra supportive after-market providing. Superfeet, which can be found at REI and most different outfitters, are particularly widespread. For those who go this route, swap out your Superfeet each time you substitute your footwear to get the utmost profit out of them.

Sure, they’re a bit costly, however you gained’t be capable to end your thru-hike in the event you wreck your ft, so that is an space price investing slightly additional. For those who actually battle with foot ache, it may be price visiting a podiatrist and getting customized orthotics which might be molded to your distinctive foot form.

Blister Prevention

Discovering a shoe that matches your foot completely (and discovering the right dimension of that shoe) might be an important step you possibly can take towards blister prevention. Everybody’s foot is totally different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to this drawback: you simply must determine it out via trial and error.

For those who’ll be thru-hiking, keep in mind additionally that your shoe dimension might improve over the course of your hike. As a result of you possibly can’t predict whether or not and to what extent your shoe dimension will change, we advocate beginning with a pair of footwear that matches your ft now, relatively than beginning a dimension too huge in anticipation of a change which will or might not occur. The beginning of a thru-hike is difficult sufficient with out including the issue of too-big footwear.

Different strategies embody:

  • Cowl potential hotspots with Leukotape as quickly as you’re feeling them.
  • Slather on some Vaseline to cut back friction.
  • Put on a skinny, protecting pair of liner socks underneath your main socks. Go for toe socks for max safety.
  • Use the heel lock lacing methodology to maintain your ft from sliding round in your footwear.


Why must you belief us?

As a result of we’re so extremely clever, after all! Engaging, too. (To not point out extraordinarily humble).

But when that isn’t sufficient to impress you, there’s additionally the truth that everybody who contributed to this text is an skilled thru-hiker with 1000’s of on-trail miles underneath their belt. We’re gear nerds who love placing our tools to the take a look at on trails lengthy and brief, and we’ve examined dozens of footwear in pursuit of a smoother, extra snug hike.

Furthermore, we survey a whole bunch of Appalachian Path thru-hikers yearly to study their behaviors, demographics, and—you guessed it—gear preferences. Which means our picks for the most effective path runners for thru-hiking aren’t simply our opinions: they’re primarily based on years of suggestions from the thru-hiking neighborhood.

Take a look at AT hikers’ favourite footwear from the 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 thru-hiker surveys.



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