5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer’s Guide]

Welcome to our best trail marathon shoes for trail racing buyer’s guide. Here you will find our 5 favorite trail shoes for trail marathon racing; they can of course also be used for training and other distances, depending on how they work for you. I don’t generally believe in having a pair of trail running shoes solely for racing, in my opinion, it’s important to train in the gear you plan to race with when it comes to trail running. If you know what to expect from your gear, at least you won’t have any gear-related surprises come race day.

SPEAKING OF RACING… if you haven’t read my ultimate trail marathon training plan/guide, and you’d like to improve your training and racing strategy for the marathon distance, then definitely go have a read! There’s a lot of great information in there for beginners, and seasoned racers alike – information that many won’t talk about in order to give themselves the edge over other competitors but I’m a sharer, so go and have a read after absorbing this best trail marathon shoes buyer’s guide.

Choosing the right trail shoes can, understandably, be confusing, especially when you factor in things like ‘type of terrain’, ‘distances’, ‘weather conditions’ and even ‘running styles’ – this is exactly why I wanted to create this more focused trail running shoes buyer’s guide. I don’t believe it should be so difficult for runners to find the best trail running gear, and as such it has become one of my missions of Trail & Kale, to make finding the best, most effective gear easy and to give you a consistent well-informed reason as to why our chosen gear is worth buying. If you plan to trail run all different distances, then head over to my ultimate Trail Running Shoes Buyer’s Guide for all scenarios which shares the best trail running shoes for each distance, and also the type of race, including obstacle races like Spartan, and Tough Mudder.

I have written this list based on my extensive experience of trail shoe testing and running on different trails all over the world, covering both long trail marathons and ultramarathons. This ‘best trail marathon shoes’ buying guide is updated regularly, so remember to check back the next time you need to buy new trail running shoes for marathon training and racing.

DON’T MISS THIS READ: If you want to learn more about trail running we have written a complete trail running guide for beginners


Important features to be aware of when choosing trail running shoes for marathon training, and racing.

Below are the important features to consider when choosing your next pair of trail marathon running shoes; these same features are the ranking factors for how I have come to order this list. Please have a quick read as it’s important to know why trail running shoes have such features, and how they help improve your performance and enjoyment while trail running.

  • Comfort while running the entire duration of a marathon – this could span several hours depending on the technicality of your race, and also your ability level.
  • Durability – ensuring they can handle plenty of miles in training and for multiple races.
  • Lightweight – when running 26.2 miles over mountainous terrain, the lighter the shoes the less undue leg muscle usage, and hence increased endurance.
  • Breathable / Drain well – Some trail races will feature some sort of body of water, whether it’s a river crossing, large puddles, or mud stretches, your trail running shoes will need to be able to drain quickly if you encounter any of these obstacles. Wet shoes on the outside and inside can lead to uncomfortable running, and an increased weight load on your shoes/legs. Shoes must be breathable for this reason and also temperature regulation within your shoes for hot weather races.
  • Have good grip in the outsole. For obvious reasons, the better the grip on various terrains and in varying weather conditions, the better the traction and reduced likelihood of slipping and hurting yourself.

5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Running

1. Salomon S-Lab Ultra 3 [Editor’s Choice]

Salomon S Lab Ultra 3 Best Fastpacking Gear Guide Trail and Kale

The Salomon S-Lab Ultra 3 trail running shoes are in our opinion, the best trail marathon shoes right now. They are primarily trail running shoes for ultrarunning or long-distance runs – this makes them especially good for trail and mountain marathons too. Because they’re built to combine comfort and performance, it makes sense that these unisex trail running shoes can handle pretty much anything from 10k trail races to the most grueling of ultramarathons. The trail marathon distance sits right in the middle of these two, which is a reason why they’re the best shoes for running a trail marathon.

The S-Lab Ultra 3 is one of those high-performance trail running shoes that are so comfortable that it feels like a road running shoe. They are very breathable, have a lightweight upper, and the midsole foam feels very responsive while providing soft cushioning and protection over very long distances.

The Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 trail running shoes have a built-in gaiter of sorts too, designed to stop debris and dirt from getting in the shoes – an issue that can cause discomfort on some trails. The S-Lab Ultra 3 trail running shoes also use a Contagrip outsole which is built for the widest variety of surfaces, and it really does handle it them very well. It delivers confidence on wet, dry, hard, or loose surfaces, and offers long-term durability to the outsole lugs.

DON’T MISS THIS READ: How To Become A Stronger Trail Runner – My Top 20 Performance Hacks (Nutrition, Recovery, Gear + More)

These trail running shoes also use Salomon’s awesome Quicklace system which allows you to fasten the shoes quickly and effectively and then stow the excess lace away in a little pouch on the tongue.

5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
REI sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

Drop: 8mm / Weight: 10.2oz (290g) / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for S-Lab Ultra 3

Recommended UK Online Stores for S-Lab Ultra 3


2. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 [Cushion King]

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Best Fastpacking Gear Guide Trail and Kale

Named after Karl Meltzer aka “The Speedgoat”, who holds the record for the most 100-mile trail race wins and epitomizes the “go everywhere, run everything” attitude, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is designed to attack all kinds of technical trails. The aggressive Vibram lugs will hold up to all kinds of rugged terrain and there’s extra heel support and midfoot lockdown in the upper. Cushioning never felt this good, and that’s something Hoka One One is famous for.

The Speedgoat 4 is one of the fastest and toughest trail running shoes out there.

Drop: 4mm / Weight: 10.8oz (306g) / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for Speedgoat 4

Recommended UK Online Stores for Speedgoat 4

sportsshoes.com Sportsshoes.com £124.99 See Deal
amazon.co.uk Amazon.co.uk See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 21st April 2021 1:00 am

3. On Cloudultra

On Cloudultra best trail marathon shoes trail and kale

The Cloudultra is On Running‘s latest trail running shoe and it’s their excellent contribution to the ultrarunning and endurance running arena. Long overdue I’d say, as I’m a big fan of On running shoes due to their constant ability to innovate on running shoes. Yes, they have a larger focus on road running over at On, but their trail running shoes have been developing fast.

Years ago, I reviewed one of their first trail running shoes, the Cloudventure Peak, and came to the conclusion that the upper design and construction was fantastically comfortable and lightweight, but the outsole left a lot to be desired – not anymore!

The On Cloudultra has answered my calls for an On trail running shoe that can handle technical terrain very well and remain comfortable for many many miles on trails and even the roads – they really are great trail running shoes for marathon racing and training.

Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

Drop: 8mm / Weight: 10.41oz (295g) / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for On Cloudultra

Also available in the US, UK, and Globally at on-running.com:


4. Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6

Nike Terra Kiger 6 Best Trail Running Shoes Trail and Kale 2

The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 6 is the lightest trail running shoe on this list and is a real beast when it comes to fast trail runs and races. The Terra Kiger 6 also happens to be the most minimal trail running shoe from the Nike Trail running range, it boasts the lowest drop from heel-to-toe too, and it’s the only shoe that still uses air zoom units in the heel section of the midsole.

The mesh upper is flexible, breathable, and supportive with a snug lacing system that gives you a much-needed comfortable and supportive fit for rocky and technical trail sections.

The Terra Kiger 6 has a full React foam midsole, which delivers a smooth and responsive ride on hard trail surfaces, as well as a forefoot rock plate for protection from sharp rocks. This midsole makes the Terra Kiger 6 a great ‘door to trail’ approach shoe too.

The mesh upper is flexible, breathable, and supportive with a snug lacing system that gives you a much-needed comfortable and supportive fit for rocky and technical trail sections. Nike has also added a special Zoom Air unit in the heel that provides added cushioning for long runs like a trail marathon. 😉

Drop: 4mm / Weight: 9.75oz (276g) / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for Terra Kiger 6

Recommended UK Online Stores for Terra Kiger 6


5. La Sportiva Bushido II

la sportiva bushido II best trail marathon shoes trail and kale

The La Sportiva Bushido 2 is for those looking for a high-performing trail shoe with a combination of responsiveness, stability, and comfort with excellent protection and impressive traction. These are still one of my favorite trail running shoes, and I’m so glad La Sportiva has kept it around for so long.

They provide enhanced cushioning while also providing a stable, lightweight, sticky, and aggressive outsole. The performance and protection on technical terrain, is impressive, to say the least, I’m going to be running in these a lot!

Drop: 6mm / Weight: 10.5oz (298g) / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for Bushido II

Recommended UK Online Stores for Bushido II


*BONUS* Altra Lone Peak 5 [POPULAR CHOICE]

Altra Lone Peak 5.0 best barefoot trail running shoes Trail Kale

The Altra Lone Peak 5 has a new trimmed down upper to enhance comfort and flexibility, while the midsole foam has been tweaked for a more resilient feel underfoot. Altra signature FootShape™ toe boxes allow the toes to relax and spread out naturally and the big toe to remain in a straight position. This shoe is hugely popular within the Trail & Kale community but as it is a zero-drop shoe I have listed it instead as a ‘popular choice’ for those who are fans of the barefoot/zero drop running style.

It’s not to everyone’s taste but we have often written about the benefits of barefoot running and how it can help improve a runner’s form and reduce the risk of picking up injuries, when done correctly. See the below related post for a complete guide on how to start barefoot running!

We are fans of low/zero drop running and the fact that the brand sticks to their guns by creating zero drop shoes is a major reason why Altra has such a large fan base of repeat buyers!

Drop: 0mm / Weight: 10.5oz / Support Type: Neutral.

Recommended US Online Stores for Lone Peak 5

Recommended UK Online Stores for Lone Peak 5

NOT IN THE US? If you can’t find these products in your country (e.g. you’re in the UK or Europe) this ‘MY US’ international package service (which we have used) can receive your US shopping and send it to you! You’ll save 20% on shipping on your first shipment – click here to learn more and get the discount.


I hope you enjoyed reading this best trail marathon shoes buyer’s guide – if you have any questions about any of these shoes, please ask in the comments below. Alternatively, follow us over on Instagram and ask us over there – don’t forget to say “hello!”. 🙂


5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
5 Best Trail Marathon Shoes For Training & Marathon Races [Buyer's Guide] 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
REI sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. We may earn money if you buy from a link.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting Altra didn’t make the list. Though the opinion here is based solely on the writer the list should be expanded. I’ve tried Speedgoats twice and they lack the grip and stability that Altra does. Not to mention they are like most shoes on the market and crunch the front of your foot as if it was in vise.

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