Do you think the general-purpose running shoes are fit for downhill running? The answer is obviously “NO”. If you’re going to conquer steep terrains, you need the right shoes designed for hilly challenges! This article will guide you on selecting the Best Downhill Running Shoes for your outdoor runs.
If you are a sports enthusiast and enjoy running through rough and hilly landscapes, here are the 8 Best Downhill running shoes that will keep you safe, comfortable, and perfectly on your track:
- La Sportiva Bushido II
- Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
- Salomon Speedcross 5GTX
- Scarpa Spin Ultra
- Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Downhill Shoes
- Brooks Caldera 3
- Inov-8 X-Talon G 235
- Adidas Terrex Agravic XT
8 Best Downhill Running Shoes
The best way to select your downhill running shoes is to consider the nature of the terrain you are going to run. Downhill running shoes are built for different territories; however, some are all-rounders. The list below comprises the best downhill running shoes that excel in technical terrains.
La Sportiva Bushido II can be your perfect partner as you tackle the descend of the slope. The shoe is from La Sportiva, a climbing company that makes the shoe a suitable option for running downhill. It is a stiffer shoe ideal for running over extended stretches and also smooth on a path.
La Sportiva Bushido II offers the highest stability and traction on a responsive platform. Its outsole has sticky lugs that aggressively grab uneven terrain. It is a well-cushioned shoe that makes an excellent option for those looking for comfort. It also features a toe cap to protect your foot from rocks and has a breathable mesh for excellent ventilation.
- The slip-on construction gives the shoe a sock-like feel and wraps the foot without compressing.
- TPU stabilizers provide stability in rocks and roots.
- The large lugs provide a firm grip and also improve braking power.
- TPU toe-cap and forefoot rock plate guard the toes against rocks.
- 3mm extra midsole cushioning offers a softer feel.
- A highly breathable tongue fixed in place for better breathability
2. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
Hoka One One is one of the well-cushioned downhill running shoes with a thick midsole foam to provide comfort. The design of the midfoot cage cradles the foot to achieve excellent stability and an ergonomic fit.
3. Salomon Speedcross 5GTX
Solomon Speedcross 5 GTX is famous for its mountain-ready design. If you are looking for a non-compromised downhill running shoes, then Speedcross 5 GTX is a perfect choice for you.
This stylish selection has arrow-shaped lugs for excellent traction over soft ground, such as mud and dirt. With their quick lace system, you can just pull the laces, and you are good to go. If you are looking for a well-cushioned and light shoe, then Solomon Speedcross 5 will serve you well.
- A super-soft midsole provides substantial cushioning and without added weight.
- The Continental grip rubber sole and chevron-shaped lugs give excellent traction in mud, snow, and wet surfaces.
- Quicklace lacing system and lace pocket for quick and convenient lacing.
- More massive lugs on the outsole for better grip over several surfaces.
4. Scarpa Spin Ultra
Scarpa Spin Ultra is among the best downhill running shoes. It combines stiffness, cushioning, and protection you require as you fly down the hill. The mesh upper of the shoe ensures your feet do not get sweaty.
Scarpa sporty shoes use the Megagrip compound on the outsole responsible for the sticky and firm grip on a slivery ground. If you are looking to cover a long distance, then Spin Ultra can be the best for you. It also uses two layers of foam as a cushion against the rocky ground.
- The Vibram Megagrip outsole has lugs to provide traction in different terrains.
- Mesh uppers with welded TPU overlay to improve breathability.
- Protective rubber toe to protect your toes from bruises.
- H- EVA Plate for support and also shield against underfoot impact.
- EVA midsole cushioning provides comfort and propulsion.
- Vibram outsole with Megagrip with pronounced lugs that provide reliable traction.
5. Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2 Downhill Running Shoes
Another top-quality mountain-ready downhill running shoes is Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2. The smart collection features Megagrip outsole for traction on mud, rocks, and snow. It is primarily built for wet technical terrains.
The shoe also works well on rough ground as it is well-cushioned. The upper is reinforced to protect against rocks and firm roots as you stumble down the hill.
- Mesh uppers for breathability and to enable the shoe to dry quickly.
- Additional TPU protection helps uppers resist wearing out.
- Toe caps add protection to your toes.
- Integrated tongue pocket to tucks away laces and help prevent untying.
- EVA midsoles provide cushioning and propulsion.
- Mid-forefoot TPU film provides underfoot protection against sharp rocks.
- Vibram Megagrip rubber compound outsole with more extended lugs for traction on a slippery rocks
6. Brooks Caldera 3 Downhill Running Sports Shoe
Brook specializes in making trail running shoes, and its latest Caldera 3 has retained the top spot. Brooks Caldera 3 has a raised heel and high forefoot height to provide soft padding as you descend the slope. It features a toe cap to guard your toes against the rocks.
The shoes’ improved outsole does well on muddy ground and rocks. Caldera delivers excellent performance on extended runs. It is suitable for long-distance running on moderate terrain. The stiffness of the shoe and its weight provide maximum comfort during downhill running. Brooks Caldera 3 is an intelligent choice among downhill runners for its flexibility and cushioning.
- A BioMoGo midsole offers considerable cushioning while taking the shape of the foot for a responsive ride.
- A curved arch for excellent support through the midfoot and ankle, while
- The mesh uppers make your feet flexible and also gives ample room for the toes.
- The outsole lug pattern maximizes traction on downhill running.
- It has a hard rock plate that protects your feet from getting bruised the rocks.
- An internal saddle that adapts to your feet for comforts.
- A 3D Rubber Print Mud Guard to protect your feet from flying debris.
7. Inov-8 X-Talon G 235
If you are looking to conquer a steep slope, then X-Talon G 235 can be your right partner. It is an ultra-distance downhill running shoe suitable for tough terrain. The shoe is aggressive with long lugs that bite into muddy and slivery grounds.
It is the right choice if you are looking to run during wet seasons. It also features treads made from the Graphene compound for durability. X-Talon G235 is a responsive shoe and can be the best option if you like experiencing the ground underfoot.
- It features Inov-8’s Powerflow midsole for shock absorption, comfort, and protection for long miles.
- It has 8mm cleats made from sticky grip rubber, for excellent traction and also shedding mud
- A functional groove in the forefoot provides flexibility and maximum propulsion.
- Upper is made of ballistic nylon to resist scratching and tearing.
- DWR treated to repel water on wet condition.
8. Adidas Terrex Agravic XT Smart Downhill Shoes
Adidas Terrex Agravic XT is another mountain ready running shoe made for rough terrain. Terrex Agravic XT outsole is made of Continental rubber and has slug patterns that resemble that of a mountain bike. The shoe has a sticky outsole and grip well on slippery rocks, mud, or snow.
Adidas Terrex Agravic XT is well cushioned and provides a reliable ride over rugged terrain. If you are going for downhill running during the rainy season, you will not have to worry about your shoe soaking in water. It has a protective layer that shrugs off wet grass, water, and mud to keep your feet dry. The toe cup has a heavy rubber to protect your toes from rocks.
- Boost material offers endless cushioning and high adaptability on rocky surfaces.
- Breathable sock-like construction for a snugger fit and comfort.
- Abrasion-resistant for protection against tear.
- Molded TPU and mesh upper with welded zones and a TPU toe cap
- Continental Rubber outsole for extra traction in wet and dry conditions;
- Mesh lining to improve breathability
What to look for in downhill running shoes?
The right shoe plays a significant role in downhill running. We believe that everyone can be a trail runner with the help of a pair of downhill running shoes.
Downhill running shoes, just like general purpose shoes, come in several types, and each one mirrors the nature of the running surface and your running ability. So it is essential to check out the below factors when choosing the perfect downhill pair.
#1. Effective Cushioning
The first thing to consider in your shoe is cushioning. Descending downhill can be tough on the body, worse if the terrain is rough. A well-cushioned shoe provides the softness in every footfall and protects your knees from too much pressure.
Just recall for a while a bike with fat tires, it offers a smooth ride, and you rarely feel the ground. However, too much-cushioning compromises your stability. Downhill running shoes are cushioned differently.
Some have thicker foam in the midsole for maximum cushioning, while others have thinner foam. Whatever your preference, the only way to differentiate the cushioning is by checking the amount of foam in the midsole.
#2. Firm Ground Grip or Traction
When you’re running downhill, your shoes should firmly grip the ground. This ensures that you don’t slip and risk sustaining injuries. Often you’ll encounter certain areas that have mud, snow, and slippery rocks. Your shoe must not fail you under such conditions
You should choose a shoe with a rugged rubber outsole to bite more on the ground for stability. Flatter speed shoe offers the least grip and may not help much. After all, you will be on a “free fall.” Well, to get the right shoe for the job, look out for one with a good tread depth (lug) and pattern.
The level of traction you want your shoe to have depended on the nature of the slope. Muddy ground requires well-spaced tall lugs while tightly spaced lugs are suitable for rocky terrain.
Weight is crucial if you want to cover more distance. Downhill running shoes should have a considerable influence that does not make you feel fatigued at the end.
The shoes have different designs; unfortunately, most downhill running shoes are sturdy to offer protection from injury and exceptional performance as you descend downhill. However, you may find a lighter shoe with a little compromise on comfort and traction.
If you want to keep your feet solidly in place as you fly downhill, then your shoe should be stiffer to offer a stable ride. Most shoes built for stability have a broad base to resist ankle rolls.
You may want to have a rigid shoe to shield your feet as you stumble over uneven ground. Check out the bottom of the shoe and stiffness of the outsole to ensure that it has a stable platform. Some of the shoes have a rigid piece of plastic in between the midsole and outsole to provide extra stiffness.
If you are worried about freezing your toes as you run over slushy snow or during cold rainy weather, your shoe should be waterproof. With a waterproof shoe, you can go running during the winter season.
A waterproof shoe has a waterproof material between a piece of outer fabric and inner lining. Waterproofing, however, adds extra weight on the shoe and may not be suitable if you prefer a lighter shoe.
Having a sweaty foot as you wheeze down the slope is the least thing that you want to experience. The breathability of the shoe is one of the primary considerations when choosing the right shoe for your downhill running.
If you are looking to go running during summer, your shoe’s ventilating ability comes into play. Check out the material of the shoe to know if it is suitable for breathability. Most running shoes are made from a nylon mesh or a thin fabric and a tight weave for both strength and free air circulation.
#7. Toe Protection
Downhill running on a shoe without toe protection is like inviting an injury, and it will happen. The terrain is often tough and challenging, and the least that you would expect from the pair of shoes is the protection of your toes. Check if your shoe has a toe guard for absorbing a direct impact should you hit the rock or hard ground.
#8. Lacing Systems
Lacing rarely comes on the radar of most runners though it contributes a lot to the comfort of the shoe. Most of the downhill running shoes use a standard lacing system, while others use a quick lace system.
Standard lacing is essential if you want if to play with laces get the fit right. On the other hand, a quick lace system is suitable for if you like to do things faster; you just pull and stick away from the laces.
Downhill Running Shoes Fitting Tips
Should your downhill running shoe fit you as any other casual shoes? Certainly not. To fit you comfortably for your running experience, your running shoe must be bigger than your normal well-fitting shoes!
Fitting Technique For Your Running Shoes:
1. Toe Allowance:
Properly fitting running shoes should allow for a small space of about your thumb’s width between your shoe and your longest toe.
2. Mid Foot Comfort:
Having ensured that your toes have adequate wiggle room, you should feel comfortable at your midfoot. The shoe should fit gently. There should be no strain whatsoever.
3. Heel Comfort
Your heel should stay in place with little or no slipping effect. This is to ensure that your heel remains in a stable and comfortable position with each running stride!
Downhill running shoes protect your feet in many ways that a road running shoes may not. The shoes are designed to tackle anything that the wild throws your way as you descend the slope. You must, therefore, remember to choose the right downhill shoes and the right size.