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Are Trail Running Shoes Good For Snow?

Are Trail Running Shoes Good For Snow?

If you are a trail runner like me then you know the struggle is real when it comes to winter time and hitting your mileage goals. Snow and ice shouldn’t keep you from reaching your running goals! Which leads us to the question…

Are trail running shoes good for snow? Yes, trail running shoes are perfect for the snow. Because they are made for trail running, they naturally have very aggressive tread for traction. Which also performs great on snowy trails and roads.

Whenever you see fresh snow outside and want to go for a run, don’t let the wintry conditions stop you. However, in some cases you’ll want to beef up your traction for a more enjoyable outing. Especially if there’s icy patches anywhere. It’s no fun to slip and fall hard on a run. I know from plenty of personal experience.

Take Your Trail Running Shoe Traction To The Next Level

Although trail running shoes are designed to handle wet and snowy conditions, there are tools that would make them handle snow and ice even better, especially in extreme circumstances.

Before choosing the best traction device for you, however, you should ask yourself 5 simple questions:

  • What distance will I cover?
  • At what speed will I be moving?
  • What is the primary use of the traction device?
  • How often will I be using the device?
  • Will I be running in Ice, Snow or both?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2 best traction devices for your shoes.

Strap-on Spikes

These are strap-on metal spikes that are designed to pierce through ice and hard snow to provide you with more traction when running.

Since they’re attached to your shoe using light straps and have medium sized spikes, they are most effective if you’re considering taking a city trail or a run on a bike path.

However, over time and with regular use, the spikes may need to be sharpened so that they maintain their grip.

Some good examples of these are:

Yaktrax Run and Kahtoola Nanospikes

More Aggressive Strap-On Spikes

For more extreme conditions like hill climbing with a lot of ice, then these are the go-to’s…

Equipped with longer and wider steel spikes, they provide better traction given that they pierce deeper than normal strap-on spikes.

Though they might be uncomfortable since they can push up your shoe when walking, they grip around the shoe really well and are bound to stay on even when trail running in extreme conditions.

Just like the normal less aggressive treads mentioned above, you have to remember to sharpen the spikes regularly for top performance.

Here’s two products that demonstrate the more aggressive design:

Hillsound Trail Crampons and Kahtoola Microspikes

Using Sheet Metal Screws For Easy DIY Traction

Luckily, you don’t have to run to the store when it comes to improving your shoe’s traction. With the right tools and know-how, you can pull this off right in the comfort of your own home. Screwing your shoes is a great ‘quick fix’ that will have you out the door under icy conditions.

Some things to keep in mind:

Your shoes soles’ need to be thick to prevent the screws from penetrating inside.
If the screws are not well fitted and they fall out, they’ll leave tiny holes in the soles.
The traction provided from these types of shoes is not as good as that provided by strap-on spikes.

So, before you get to work, make sure you have the following tools:

  • A screwdriver or Drill (Power tools make the work easier)
  • A pair of thick-soled running shoes committed for winter running
  • 20 or more 3/8” Hex Screws (they provide a better ‘ice-bite’)

The process itself is quite simple and should take 15 minutes or less to complete. This is how it looks step-by-step:

  1. Drill the screws into the protruding parts of your shoe’s sole on the outer lining, leaving an even space between them.
  2. Drill a few screws across the middle but remember to focus on the thick lugs so that the shoe remains comfortable.
  3. That’s it!

What Features Make For A Good Winter Running Shoe?

In a pinch, you could grab just about any running shoe and ‘make do’ with it for your winter runs. But if you want to be comfortable and able to last for hours… here’s what you’ll want to look for in a good winter shoe.

For regular runners, you probably have an idea of the few things to look for in regular trail running shoes; good treads, breathability, foot protection, and flexibility, just but to mention a few.

Ideally, the criteria you’d use when choosing winter trail running shoes could be more or less the same.

However, given how extreme conditions tend to be during winter, winter trail running shoes are specially designed to cope with them.

Because of this, there are a few more things you’d need to consider/change when looking for a pair. These include:


Topping the list is the waterproofness of the shoes.

Soggy socks are the worst things to have on your feet when you’re enjoying a run, especially in the cold. The uncomfortable feeling can be unbearable at times.

Therefore, the best pairs of winter trail running shoes are equipped with a waterproof membrane on the upper parts to help prevent this.

Whether you’ll be tackling snow, rain or even muddy sludge, they should get your feet back home completely dry.


Unsurprisingly, the next best thing to keeping your feet comfy is ensuring they’re warm all the way during the trail run.

Although a good pair of winter socks can help with this, the shoes also have a big part to play,

“How?”, you may wonder.

Well, most are equipped with an integrated knit sock that covers both your feet and toes, keeping them warm.

Moreover, there are ones with a high-top that covers your ankles preventing snow or water from penetrating through, which in turn keeps your feet warm and protected.

Durability and Protection

Considering how the terrain on a trail can sometimes be difficult to navigate with normal conditions, you can imagine how challenging this can turn out to be in the snow.

To prevent your feet from getting hurt, then, the shoes are generously padded along the soles to absorb any shock you may encounter. The high-top ankle covers are also a welcome addition.


Who wants to slip and slide on slick surfaces every time they run? I know I don’t. I presume you don’t either.
Thanks to the well pronounced outsoles and grippy lugs on winter trail running shoes, this can now be a thing of the past; even when descending relatively steep slopes!

The Best Trail Running Shoes For Snow and Ice

If you are shopping for some new trail running shoes that you want to also perform well in the winter – here’s a few ideas to get you started. We chose a selection of higher end and on down to some more affordable options for you to consider.

Under Armor HOVR CGR Connected

Although the name can be a mouthful, Under Armor has every right to give it to this pair.

First off, the ‘HOVR foam technology’ is tailored to provide you with what Under Armor describes as a zero gravity feel.

Like astronauts in space, this is supposed to make you feel lighter and hence give you more energy to tackle your daily run. It also provides a soft landing with every step to ensure your comfort.

The ‘CGR’, or Cold Gear Reactor, is a form of insulation in the shoes that not only insulates to keep your feet warm but also repels water to keep them dry with help from the ‘UA Storm’ technology.

Add all this to the Michelin rubber sole for additional grip on wet surfaces and you have yourself a great pair of winter running shoes.

(More product details)

Brooks Ghost 11 GTX

Given their reputation of providing durable, high-quality shoes, Brooks has not disappointed with the Ghost 11 GTX.
Not only are they completely warm and waterproof thanks to the Gore-Tex upper layer, but the lining also provides you with enough breathability during your runs.

Fitted inside the shoe are a number of crash pads and shock absorbers that keep you comfortable even on the toughest of terrain. Additionally, the arch support provided by their BioMoGo cushion is nothing short of spectacular.

The outsoles, are not only built to last but are also grippy enough to tackle most wet and snowy conditions.

(More product details)

Adidas Ultraboost All Terrain

When it comes to sheer looks and beauty, not many can do it better than Adidas. Looks, however, are not the only thing the Ultraboost All Terrain shoes have to offer.

Just like the Under-Armor HOVR pair, the midsoles are padded with responsive cushioning that make the shoes both comfortable and wearable for hours on end.

The ‘Primeknit’ uppers and ankle splash guard sort you out in the waterproofing department, while the ‘Continental Rubber’ outsoles provide you with enough traction to tackle most any terrain.

(More product details)

Salomon Speedspike CS

With a history in manufacturing shoes for mountain climbers, Salomon has designed a shoe that tackles icy surfaces with ease.

The most noticeable feature of the pair are the 15 carbide spikes on the lugs that make trail running on icy and snowy surfaces a breeze.

If tying laces is not your thing, the zigzag upper overlays with a ‘quicklace’ system are sure to give you a smile. When fitting the shoe, all you have to do is pull the laces then move the buckle to tighten. Easy right?

‘ClimaSalomon’ shells, as they’re called, are padded around the forefoot to provide you with warmth and protection around your toes.

Another addition this shoe has other than the traction is a breathable and waterproof toe-sock liner that makes it quite comfortable.

(More product details)

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Shield

It’s hard to complete a list of shoes without mentioning the godfather, Nike.

The successor to the Pegasus 34 Shield, the 35 Shields are marketed as not only being waterproof but also windproof.

The shoes upper is equipped with a one-pull toggle lacing system that admittedly takes a while to get used to but makes lacing in wet conditions easy once you get used to it.

The full-length rubber sole, on the other hand, provides you with enough traction to prevent sliding and slipping in the rain or melting ice.

(More product details)


Related Questions

What to wear when running in the winter? A good rule of thumb for deciding what to wear when it’s cold outside is to dress for 20 degrees warmer. Running heats you up very quickly and if you are overdressed, then you can quickly turn into a sweaty mess. So, make sure to dress appropriately! It’s usually less layers than you would think.

Is it bad for your lungs to run in the cold? No, by the time the air you breathe reaches your lungs it is actually quite a bit warmer. In very extreme cold you can simply wear a face max and this is more than enough protection.


Related content: What Is A Rock Plate In Trail Running Shoes?

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