Select BITR Apparel On Sale. Shop Now
top pick icon
Trail Running Shoes • December 28, 2023

Most Exciting Trail Running Shoes of 2024: Our Picks

most exciting trail shoes 2024

We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

What You Need To Know

Our Picks

What we’re most excited about for trail running in 2024

How We Picked

Some models we’ve tried, every other we’ve seen in person and are judging off past experiences with prior models

Use Range

Everything from technical racers to long haul cruisers (in alphabetical order, by brand)

Dirt Doggin’

As we roll into 2024, the state of trail running remains in a boom phase. Some may even call it the second gold rush. The continued climb of trail running popularity has forced the hand of brands far and wide to put in the work of developing a wide range of trail shoes and gear that can cater to the needs of all types of athletes. 

When we were at The Running Event this year, we noticed some trends. First, many companies are offering full line ups of trail shoes that suit specific training and racing demands. The cool thing with trail running is that because of the variability in terrain and distance, depending on geography and race structure, there are now a handful of choices available to meet specific running needs. When we say there’s something for everyone, we’re not kidding. 

The second trend was expansion of road-to-trail options. It makes complete sense. Sure, many road shoes can work for a variety of terrain, as anyone who has used a Nike Pegasus for every kind of surface knows. That’s an old approach, though. We now see trail specific companies bridging that gap and creating footwear that is proficient for both road and more technical trails, not just light trails. 

Although it’s a bit overwhelming to sift through all the current options, we tried to pick out a few that have caught our attention for early 2024. Here’s the short list of what we’re excited about in the coming months.

The Most Exciting Trail Running Shoes of 2024

adidas terrex agravic speed ultra - the running event

Adidas Terrex Agravic Speed Ultra

April 15, $220

Watch The Preview
Use

Race day

Weight

9.5 oz. (270 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W7

Stack/Drop

38 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

With an FKT for the longest embargo ever, the Adidas Agravic Speed Ultra is the shoe that has captured our attention the most. It has been on Adidas Terrex athlete’s feet for years as they kick ass and take names with them, including a win at 2023 Western States and podiums at UTMB.

They have taken their learnings and high-end materials from their road racing counterparts in the Adios Pro 3 and Takumi Sen 9 and have adapted those technologies to the trail. This means you get a premium race day package that utilizes a dual layer of Lightstrike Pro foam sandwiched around a custom TPE EnergyRod system. The EnergyRods fork through the forefoot, combine in the midfoot and fork again through the heel to promote adaptability while maintaining some zing for a true racer feel. 

This is one shoe we’ve actually had a chance to run in (literally this past weekend), and can tell you it is the real deal. Though a bit dicey on super technical terrain (let’s be honest, it’s not really meant for that), once it gets on lighter trails it’s an absolute rocket, and maybe the first trail shoe to feel like a true racer.

altra mont blanc carbon

Altra Mont Blanc Carbon

March, $260

Watch The Preview
Use

Ultra distances, race day

Weight

10.9 oz. (309 g) for a US M10.5,

8.8 oz. (249 g) for a US W8.5

Stack/Drop

29 mm in heel, 29 mm in forefoot (0 mm drop)

Altra has a bunch of updates coming this next year. Perhaps the most intriguing is the Altra Mont Blanc Carbon. The original Mont Blanc still owns one of my favorite midsole foams to date (for trails); however, the upper missed the mark in a major way, turning an expensive shoe into nothing more than a glorified gravel road rambler. Thankfully, this update maintains the same foam and silhouette, but brings some premium elements to the shoe as a whole.

This go-around, the shoe gets a bathtub-style construction with a rim of Ego Max all around and under a Carbitex Monoflex carbon fiber plate. However, right beneath the foot is a bed of Altra Ego Pro foam, the same supercritical midsole used in the premium race day shoes. With all of that combined, Altra fans just might finally have a worthy racer for the trails. At a price point of $260, let’s hope that’s the case.

brooks caldera 7 - the running event

Brooks Caldera 7

January 1, $150

Watch The Preview
Use

Long hauler over any terrain

Weight

10.6 oz (300 g) for a US M9, 9.4 oz. (266 g) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

26 mm in heel, 20 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop), midsole only

One of the first shoes to get high stack right (outside of Hoka) was the Brooks Caldera. For many iterations, they have been climbing the stack ladder until maxing out with last year’s Brooks Caldera 6. This year’s version takes a slight step down to provide more control with less weight – which is honestly the most hopeful scenario with the Brooks Caldera 7. Notable changes are a decreased height in the sidewalls and an overhauled TPEE air mesh upper, as well as a Trail Tack Green outsole providing stick traction on wet and dry surfaces. The new outsole design should also provide increased stability, adaptability, and traction on the trails. On the cushion side of things, a DNA Loft bouncy midsole remains the same, which is great because we loved it in the last version.

brooks catamount agil - the running event

Brooks Catamount Agil

March 1, $180

Watch The Preview
Use

Short trail races on technical terrain, VKs and FKTs

Weight

7.7 oz (218 g) for a US M9/W10.5 (unisex)

Stack/Drop

16 mm in heel, 10 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop), midsole only

Trail running shoe designs are expanding in all directions. And while the maximalist trend spirals ever higher, in some cases, footwear is going lower. Case in point: the Brooks Catamount Agil. It’s a very low stack, high precision, grip-it-and-rip-it type racer. 

The upper on this shoe is almost see through and boasts a sock-like collar for a very light and secure fit. Underfoot, a slim slab of DNA Flash v2 (same as in the Hyperion Elite) in concert with a dual forked plate system will give runners a snappy and adaptable ride. For those who run short course races, VK’s, and the like, the already proven Catamount Agil should be on the top of your list.

craft explore hybrid - grey

Craft Xplor Hybrid

Spring 2024, $135

Watch The Preview
Use

Daily trainer, long run, marathon

Weight

9.2 oz (261 g) for a US M9

Stack/Drop

38 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Craft is leaning into a fairly niche identity in creating hybrid running footwear, fully inspired by the gravel bike idea of popping to and from gravel roads to light/moderate trails with equal performance. The Craft Xplor Hybrid puts this design methodology on display.  It’s a fairly simple shoe with an engineered mesh upper, 38/32mm steamed TPE beaded midsole (variation of supercritical foam) and a literal bike tire tread from Vittoria tires as an outsole. Being that most of my runs go from my front door with a couple miles of gravel before landing at a trailhead, the Craft Xplor Hybrid is a shoe I’m very much interested in.

Hoka Speedgoat 6 GTX

Hoka Speedgoat 6

July 15, $155

Watch The Preview
Use

Any distance, any terrain

Weight

9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US M10,

8.2 oz. (232 g) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

40 mm in heel, 35 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

On the Hoka side, let’s kick things off with the, well… GOAT of trail running. Since its inception, the Speedgoat has been a staple in many runner’s trail rotation. Its versatility, comfort, and traction have been hard to replicate in other trail offerings. Even though it had a rocky reign during the 5th generation, the Speedgoat 6 will try to counter its wrongs. A new Matryx-like upper seeks to give security and durability to runners. The midsole gets a tweak for similar reasons. Of course, you’ll still get a Vibram MegaGrip outsole, now with an adjusted lug pattern for even more bite. All of this adds up to the lightest Speedgoat to date.

Hoka Tecton X 3

Hoka Tecton X 3

August 15, $275

Watch The Preview
Use

Daily trainer, uptempo

Weight

N/A

Stack/Drop

Men: 44 mm in heel, 39 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop), Women: 38 mm in heel, 33 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

I am not sure that ‘flashy’ is the best descriptor for the Hoka Tecton X 3, but it’s definitely not the worst. The shoe is a sight to behold. The first two versions of the shoe have ended up on our Best In Gear awards lists for the past two years, including Trail Shoe of the Year. However, to say the Tecton X 3 is a totally different shoe from the first two versions would be an understatement. Even so, it’s a certified winner, as proven by Jim Walmsley en route to his 2024 UTMB victory.

Where do we begin when it comes to the changes in this shoe? How about the in-your-face integrated gaiter? Or, instead of a supercritical foam, we now get a full Peba midsole sandwiched around parallel carbon plates? Have we mentioned the premium Matryx upper or best in class Vibram Litebase Megagrip outsole yet? This thing is top shelf, all the why. Which is also why it comes with a jaw-dropping $275 price tag, nearly a 50% price increase over v1. As much of a departure as this is from the first two versions, we’d be lying if we said this isn’t at the top of our most anticipated shoes of 2024.

La Sportiva Prodigio/Levante

February 15, $155 (both models)

Use

Mountain running

Weights

Levante: 7.4 oz (210 g) for a US W7 (women’s only),  Prodigio: 9.5 oz (270 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W7

Stack/Drop

Levante: 34/28 mm (6 mm drop), Prodigio: 34/28 mm (6 mm drop)

One of La Sportiva’s design principles is that they should be able to take any shoe they make out the door of their headquarters and be able to run among the heights of their Dolomite playground. This has led to the design of high-precision, highly protective mountain-grade shoes.

La Sportiva is taking a big modern step to offer more comfort and performance for their long-distance athletes. What this means is the birth of the Prodigio (34/28 mm) and Levante (women’s specific style – 30/24 mm). Both take on a new XFlow foam (nitrogen-infused EVA midsole) with a bathtub construction and higher stack than anything else La Sportiva currently offers. Word is that the Prodigio and Levante are the most diverse performing shoes that the brand has ever had, and we are here for it.

la sportiva - levante women

Women’s specific La Sportiva Levante

merrell agility peak boa gtx

Merrell Agility Peak BOA GTX

Spring 2024, $190

Watch The Preview
Use

Ultra-distance adventures

Weight

N/A

Stack/Drop

31 mm in heel, 25 mm (6 mm), midsole and outsole

Merrell is entirely underrated in trail running. Maybe the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach is what’s going to finally put them on the general public’s radar.

Building off of their successful Agility Peak 5 base (our Best Value Trail shoe of 2023), Merrell is adding a BOA fit system and GoreTex upper, making this one of the most quality built shoes ever. A stout Vibram Megagrip outsole finishes things off. The heel fit was the only thing holding this shoe back from matching the greatness of the Speedgoat, but with a secure BOA fit, this shoe brings a ton of promise!

Nike Zegama 2

May 2024, $170

Watch The Preview
Use

Ultra distance training

Weight

11.2 oz. (320 g) for a US M10,

9.3 oz. (264 g) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

36 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (4 mm drop)

Confetti! Balloons! Jubilation! Nike listened to the people! The Nike Zegama 2 is going to be an exciting drop in ‘24 both for the features it maintains and the ones it changes. Let’s cut to the chase: the updated Zegama gets a Vibram Megagrip Litebase outsole, addressing one of our major critiques of the first version (the subpar traction which has long been the Achilles heel of Nike trail shoes). Runners can expect a similar midsole formula with a ZoomX core, but there’s a bit more of the firmer carrier foam than the previous version to add stability to the package.

It also goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway: Nike Trail continues to stun us with their colorways. They have the best designers in the game, hands down.

Nnormal Kboix

Nnormal Kboix

Sometime in 2024 (maybe), price N/A

Use

Race day, or training, or whatever

Weight

N/A

Stack/Drop

N/A

Europe-based Nnormal debuted their next big release just before The Running Event, making their booth one of the hotter stops for at the show. I was able to stop by and briefly talk with athlete Ali Ostrander and Mike Ambrose (product development) about what’s coming this spring.

The Nnormal Kboix is a trail runner that pulls together some of the best ingredients in trail running. We’re talking Vibram outsole, Matryx upper, and changeable drop-in midsoles. Modular tech is not new in the running and mountaineering space, but the Nnormal Kboix is taking it where nobody has gone yet. There will be three drop-in midsoles available to match your specific running needs (soft, reactive, and bounce). Need a firmer more nimble underfoot experience? You can have that. Needing more responsiveness to pick up the pace? There’s a midsole for that. You get the idea.

Taking it a step further, Nnormal is hoping to offer repair and replacement midsoles (for purchase) as part of the Kboix package making this a (hopefully) high-performing and sustainable option in 2024.

salomon genesis

Salomon Genesis Series

Price and release varies

Watch The Preview
Use

Technical trail running

Weight

Varies

Stack/Drop

Varies

Salomon is back, baby! As much as I’ve loved their past few years of new models and updates, most of those have been for the long distance American audiences. Yes, I’m American, but my generation fell in love with Salomon for their technical prowess and build quality. 

Last year’s S/Lab Genesis became a favorite for Salomon fans who like the traditional Salomon fit, who want to go long, and who desire mild support to support any endeavor.

Can we give Courtney Dauwalter a shout-out for winning the triple crown of ultrarunning (UTMB, Hardrock, and Western States) with this shoe? We can. And 2024 is when we will see the Genesis family come to life. There will still be a Salomon S/Lab Genesis, base model Genesis, Genesis Gore Tex, and S/Lab Genesis Spine. All are intriguing to say the least.

saucony xodus 3 - yellow and orange

Saucony Xodus Ultra 3

June 1, $160

Watch The Preview
Use

Ultra-distance, max cushion and performance

Weight

10.1 oz (286 g) for a US M9,

8.7 oz (247 g) for a US W7

Stack/Drop

36 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

With a similar-yet-opposite approach to the Zegama, the Saucony Xodus Ultra 3 adds more to the softer bouncier layer– 23% more to be exact. This shoe has a premium PWRRUN PB core (the same midsole foam found in their high-end training and road racing models) closest to the foot. As with the previous version, an outer PWRRUN shell provides stability and durability.

The extra cushion underfoot and slightly wider platform should place the Saucony Xodus Ultra 3 firmly into the ultra-distance/premium comfort trainer category. Much of the rest remains familiar with an engineered mesh and strategically mapped PWRTRAC outsole that Saucony is well known for.

the north face altamesa 500 - the running event

The North Face Altamesa 300 / Altamesa 500

January, $129 (300) and $155 (500)

Watch The Preview
Use

General trail running

Weights

N/A

Stack/Drop

300: 25 mm in heel, 19 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop), midsole only // 500: 30 mm in heel, 24 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop), midsole only

As a complement to the Vectiv Pro, The North Face will be releasing the Altamesa 500 and 300. Both models’ primary responsibility is to take on the likeness of a race day shoe and tone it down a little bit. 

The Altamesa 500 is the high-stack option with the same nitrogen-infused, supercritical Dream foam and midsole geometries as the Vectiv Pro but without the carbon fiber plates. Stability comes via a slightly wider footprint.

Then there’s the Altamesa 300, the same shoe that Zach Miller switched to from the Vectiv Pro 2 during the last 30-ish miles of UTMB. It’ll be a mid-stack option with a high-rebound EVA midsole foam, and rock plate to boot. Both are looking like very promising additions to the already diverse line of The North Face trail runners.

The North Face Flight Vectiv Pro 2

January, $250

Watch The Preview
Use

Ultra distances, race day

Weight

10.1 oz. (286 g.) for a US M9 / 8.5 oz. (242 g.) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

N/A (6 mm drop)

I would be remiss not to follow up the other two ultra-distance racing shoes without mentioning The North Face Flight Vectiv Pro 2. We’ve had mixed results with the first version of this shoe, and many people had issues with the winglets in the forefoot; however, it is the only trail shoe available that maintains a similar race-day responsiveness as carbon-plated road shoes. 

The changes to this version aren’t substantial on paper; it’s mostly an upper update to make the shoe lighter and more secure. Their newly coined Dream midsole foam is a blended supercritical Peba/EVA with high levels of responsiveness and durability. Supposedly, and perhaps most importantly, the plate is embedded further into the midsole to avoid irritating runner’s feet. In my miles so far in this shoe, that seems to be the truth. Because of it’s real super shoe feel and adaptability on the trail, this one already has my pick for 2024 race day shoe of the year until something convinces me otherwise.

4
Comments

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Brook P says:

    “Counter the Speedgoats wrongs of the 5?”

    You guys couldn’t fault the Speedgoat 5???

  2. Frank Field says:

    I am SUPER STOKED to try the Prodigio and the Genesis! I will be running 50 through the mountains of western Montana in July, and the La Sportivas look perfect for the varied technical terrain. Let me know if you want a report. I’m planning to do my first 100 in September, and I think the Salomon would be good for that, as it takes place on an old railroad bed converted for rails to trails use. Cannot WAIT to try these and more. That Catamount Agile looks intriguing for training runs too. I did two 50s in the Catamount 2 this year, but I think the Agil is a bit light on cushion for a century.

  3. Tomme Jogs says:

    The Monte Blanc Carbon didn’t get +3mm… that was the Vanish Carbon. The Mont Blanc Carbon uses the bathtub construction of Ego Max with an Ego Pro core, with a Carbitex MonoFlex plate (previously called AFX). Always have to sneak in your patented BITR Altra errors Easter eggs.

    1. Robbe says:

      Thanks for the correction! Though you should know the shoe is called the Mont Blanc, not “Monte” Blanc as you suggested. Maybe you got it confused with the French version?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

the
Authors

taylor
Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

More from Taylor
Shoe Size

10.5

Fav. Distance

100K

PRs
  • 27:03

    100M
  • 13:40

    100K
  • 7:42

    50M
  • 4:34

    50K
Previous Post
Next Post
Previous Post
top pick icon Read Article most exciting running shoes of 2024
Daily Trainers • December 28, 2023

Most Exciting Running Shoes of 2024: Our Picks

Next Post
Read Article green saucony racing shoe
Best of Road Running Shoes • December 28, 2023

Best Saucony Running Shoes Right Now (2024)