Best Trail Running Shoes of 2021

Here is our top picks of the best ultra trail running shoes. Based on our personal experiences.

Velocity 7600 by Vasque

Heavy for a trail runner the Vasque Velocity is great super duty trail running shoe. The Velocity features a heavy well lugged sole which is ideal for runners looking for stability and traction. Vasque is known more for their hiking boots than their running shoes, but they have done a fine job adapting to this new market. When I first stepped into the Velocity I noticed the Velocity’s deep toe box and wide front section make it feel more like a hiking boot than a running shoe. But after a few minutes they began to grow on me, and now I feel cramped in my old trail runners.

velocity vasque

The above benefits, combined with a protective forefoot and toebox, make the Velocity an excellent trail runner for a veteran trail runner, but might not be the best choice for those accustomed to a road shoe.

  • Pros: A solid sole allows you to tackle any terrain you are faced with, except road of course. A deep and wide toebox adds to the Velocity’s comfort and protection.
  • Cons: The heavy sole took longer than usual to break in, giving me shin splints during the break-in period.

AMP by Vasque

The AMP by Vasque appears to be the long awaited update to the Velocity. As you have read on this site, both Tim and I are big Vasque fans; the credit for this mostly belongs to the Velocity. I am happy to report the AMP has kept up the Velocity’s legacy. As I first put on the AMP a few things quickly jumped out at me: Protection, Stability and Break-in time.

  • Protection – After the Velocity I switched to the Lightspeed, a lighter but less protective shoe, and was looking to gain back some more protection from the trail with the AMP, which it delivered. The good news is this protection did come at expense of the weigh as my size 14s are still relatively light.
  • Stability – surrounded by an inch high (from the sole) additional layer of shoe, the AMP provides an excellent level of stability but not in an annoying or overbearing way. The perfect balance between movement and support.
  • Break-in time – Zero, which for me is amazing, I was comfortable on my first run, which does not usually happen for me.

amp vasque

Overall, Vasque wins again with the AMP, a quality shoe that perfectly balances protection, support and weight. In fact, I liked it so much, I am on my second pair.

  • Pros – a great balance of all things needed on a run.
  • Cons – slightly shorter than other Vasque models, consider buying a half size up.

Air Zoom Steens by Nike

A great into shoe for the new trail runner, the Nike Air Zoom Steens, is a light weight trail runner with a strong nod to its road runner brothers. The Air Zoom Steens features your typical Nike fit with a snug heel and arch and limited toe box wiggle. As a light weight runner, the Air Zoom Steens is easy to break in and feels more like a road runner than a trail shoe. For this reason I highly recommend to those runners new to trail running who are looking for a good transition shoe before they get into pure trail runners like the Vasque Velocity. In trade off for its light weight, the Air Zoom Steens lacks in protection and therefore I would caution those who run on rocky trails to look for another shoe.

air zoom steens nike

  • Pros: Light weight and flexible for runners new to trail running and who want the feel of their road runner.
  • Cons: Limited protection put you at risk of stone bruises on the rockier trails.

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