If you’re new to trail running, or even if you’re a veteran, you know that problems may arise that you might not have anticipated – problems that you have no control over whatsoever.
Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Trail conditions, animal encounters, and your competition’s fitness level are all out of your control.
However, choosing the right pair of shoes is something you can control, and it just might eliminate some of your problems before you even hit the trail.
There are many factors to consider before choosing the right pair of shoes, but among the most important is the fit of your shoe.
Ultrarunners know best of all that a shoe that fits too snugly or too narrowly can cause heart-wrenching issues over the course of a race. When you run on trails, especially over a long period of time, your feet tend to swell, spread out, and flatten.
If your shoes aren’t wide enough, this can cause serious problems – blisters, severe pain, and blood pooling.
Wide trail shoes can help to remedy the issues associated with the swelling and flattening of the feet over time.
When choosing a trail shoe, there are many elements to consider.
How far are you going? Are you focused on quantity (distance) or quality (speed)? How technical is the trail? How much grip do you need? How much cushion?
This guide is meant to introduce you to some of the best wide trail running shoes in various categories. Its aim is to help you narrow down what shoe is best for you based on your individual preferences and needs.
However, before we dig in, here are just a few terms that you may find useful in your search for the ideal shoe.
Anatomy of a Trail Shoe
The front part of the shoe in which your toes rest. When considering a pair of wide trail running shoes, this part of the shoe is crucial to consider. As you run, your toes spread and sometimes swell. A roomy toe-box is key to comfort over long distances.
Consider: Width, comfort
The top part of the shoe that holds your foot snugly in place. It is vital that the upper keeps your foot securely in place and allows for the expansion of the foot that inevitably occurs on the trail.
Consider: Stability, breathability, fit, comfort, lacing pattern
The combination of foam and rubber that lies between the shoe’s upper and its outsole. The thicker and “squishier” the midsole, the more comfort over long periods of time on the trail or on hard-packed surfaces. However, a thicker midsole has the potential to create a less natural feel and decrease your ability to feel the ground under your feet.
Consider: Cushioning, foam type, energy return, comfort level, height
The durable, rubber bottom of the shoe that contributes to traction, protection, and durability. This part of the shoe is equipped with lugs that bite into sloppy and soft surfaces to keep you stable.
Consider: Lug height, lug spacing, material (hard or soft rubber), flexibility
Now that you’ve got the lingo down, let’s dive into some of the best wide trail running shoes of 2020.
Best Road to Trail Cruiser: Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 Wide
If you’re someone who likes to mix things up, running on the trails most of the time but switching to the roads periodically, the Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 just might be your shoe. As far as trail running shoes for wide feet go, the Challenger is one of the most versatile.
The durable yet flexible Unifi Repreve yarn upper is made from post-consumer waste plastic. A massive win for the planet!
The Challenger ATR 6 steals the show on dirt roads and smooth trail terrain. It is fast and responsive enough to allow you to push yourself on quicker runs or blast through shorter races but still cushioned enough for your long-haul days.
The plush midsole saves your legs on long downhill descents and on hard surfaces without feeling overly mushy. Closely spaced 4mm lugs allow for some traction, but use caution in loose dirt or snow.
Overall, an excellent shoe for door-to-trail use with maximum cushion for ultra-distance events on minimally technical terrain.
Best Do It All Workhorse: Altra Timp 2
An excellent all-around trail running shoe for wide feet, the Altra Timp 2 is a “jack of all trades” that provides comfort over various terrains and distances.
When considering trail running shoes with a wide toe box, do note that the toe box of the Timp 2 is slightly narrower than in previous versions of the shoe.
Another notable upgrade from earlier versions of the Timp is the Quantic foam midsole. Quantic is a plusher, lighter version of the previously used A-Bound midsole. With 22mm of Quantic foam, the Timp 2 finds a happy medium between being an extremely comfortable shoe and feeling fast and responsive on roads and trails alike.
Midfoot strikers, in particular, have noted the comfortability of this shoe.
The MaxTrac outsole grips fairly well in sloppy conditions but truly shines on dry, smooth trails. The Timp 2’s 9.9oz weight is not too heavy to use for faster efforts or races. A breathable mesh upper keeps the foot steady without any rubbing or blister-prone areas.
Whether you’re scrambling down steep slopes or cruising on smooth crushed gravel, the Timp 2 is a fantastic go-to shoe.
Best for Technical Terrain: Salomon Speedcross 5 Wide
Are you a runner who thrives in the harshest, most challenging of conditions? The more mud, roots, and rocks, the better?
If so, the Salomon Speedcross 5 Wide is the shoe for you.
The Speedcross 5’s wide toe box allows the forefoot to splay out comfortably and makes it easy to land without twisting an ankle. When considering trail running shoes for wide feet, it is essential to consider the amount of cushioning a shoe offers.
When running on very technical terrain, too much cushioning can actually mask the feel of the trail, which can lead to a fall.
The Speedcross has a stack height of 20mm in the toe and 30mm in the heel, which means that the heel is extremely well padded, but in the toes and forefoot, you can feel all the details of the trail.
With an almost boot-like Sensfit upper, there is no better trail shoe than the Speedcross for protecting the top of the foot. The secure quick-lace system locks your feet in so you can feel confident on uneven ground. In the darkest of conditions, the Speedcross 5 shines bright.
The outsole is equipped with enormous lugs for keeping you upright in sloppy terrain. This unique outsole is designed with grippy, soft rubber. Softer rubber grips better but does wear down more quickly than hard rubber.
Thus, the Speedcross 5 is ideal for use on your most technical trail days but is not necessarily your best choice for daily use, as the soft rubber will break down more quickly. Ready to go play in the woods? Try the Salomon Speedcross 5 for your next adventure!
Best for Quick and Dirty Missions: Saucony Peregrine 10
A classic and well-loved trail shoe, the Saucony Peregrine is trusted by trail runners of all abilities, those with wide feet included.
As its avian-inspired name implies, the Peregrine 10 is built for speed.
Equipped with an extremely grippy outsole and an abnormally high number of lugs (78), the Peregrine 10 is not only speedy, but also allows for excellent traction in slippery, technical conditions.
An intricate lacing system, complete with attached wings, create a customizable fit that is easy to adjust, allowing wide feet to expand during longer runs. The Everun topsole layer made of TPU foam is, according to Saucony, three times more durable than their previously used EVA foam and creates a cushier, bouncier ride with greater energy return.
The thick EVA midsole contributes to the Peregrine’s comfort without adding so much cushion to detract from speed.
If you’re looking to go fast over sloppy or technical terrain, the Saucony Peregrine 10 is sure to satisfy your need for speed while keeping you confident and upright.
Best for Long Training Days: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Wide
Renowned for its workhorse qualities and ability to withstand miles of trials, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is ideal for those looking to go the distance. As the miles add up, your feet inevitably swell and spread out.
The Speedgoat 4 Wide is a perfect shoe for ultramarathoners looking for trail running shoes with a wide toe box.
The Speedgoat’s soft and cushy EVA foam makes it one of the best options for ultra-distance events. Heavier and more cushioned than many trail shoes, the Speedgoat 4 is not an ideal choice for speedwork or shorter runs and races.
Not only is it highly cushioned, but the Speedgoat’s Vibram Megagrip outsole and 5mm lugs ensure that you maintain control while running technical terrain.
The new model is made with a breathable, mud-repelling mesh upper that will keep your feet comfortable on rainy days or through creek crossings.
The Speedgoat 4 Wide is an ideal shoe to support your feet and legs through long hours of technical trail running.
Best for Big Mountain Adventures: Saucony Xodus X
Light, flexible, and responsive, the Saucony Xodus X is ideal for those looking for adventures in the high peaks.
The midsole of the Xodus X utilizes Saucony’s TPU expanded bead foam, which, according to Saucony, is more durable and less temperature-sensitive than EVA foam, making it an excellent choice for high-altitude mountain adventures.
A shoe that is durable and made to last with a firm outsole and a bouncy midsole, the Xodus X is perfect for steep, technical terrain, including mountain running.
The Xodus X is lighter and more versatile than previous versions, with more room in the wide toe box to allow for the inevitable swelling that comes with long-distance events. The high-abrasion mesh upper allows for a secure fit when running steep, technical courses.
No matter if you’re going up, down, or sideways across the hills and valleys, the Xodus X helps to minimize your chances of rolling an ankle on uneven ground. If you specialize in bagging peaks, this just might be your shoe.
Honorable Mention: Topo Athletic Ultraventure Trail Shoe
Flatter and wider than many running shoes on the market, the anatomically shaped toe-box of the Topo Athletic Ultraventure gives wide feet room to spread out.
These versatile trail shoes are especially great for long efforts when your feet tend to flatten and swell.
The Vibram outsole and 6mm lugs make it grippy over challenging terrain. Suppose you’re looking to avoid some of the big-name brands, but you’re unwilling to compromise on quality.
In that case, Topo Athletic might be an excellent company for you to try out. Simple and effective, the Ultraventure has found an ideal balance between being cushioned and light and responsive, allowing for various runs across different distances and speeds.
Now that you’ve been introduced to some of the best wide trail running shoes on the market, the choice is up to you!
Before making your choice, however, be sure to consider the types of trails you typically run, how long you’ll be out there, and how fast you’ll be going. Based on those characteristics, try out one (or more!) of these excellent pairs of wide trail running shoes.
The wide fits of these different trail running shoes will help you keep up with the demands of trail running as your feet flatten and swell with the effort.
And, of course, swollen feet are nothing to look forward to, but with the right pair of shoes, you can begin to mitigate the negative impacts of spending hours and hours on your feet.
Whether you’re a speedster ready to go out and bag some segments in the Peregrine 10, or a slow-and-steady type heading out on a multi-day FKT adventure in the Hoka Speedgoat 4, we wish you the best of luck. Happy trails!