Each trail running shoe will have its own unique features, from the amount of grip or padding, all the way to the weight and shape. Some of the key things to consider are listed below.
Trail running shoes generally have a deeper, wider spaced grip patterns than their road running equivalents. The size and depth of the grip depends on the intended terrain but the idea is that large, aggressive and often multi-directional lugs will give the wearer the greatest grip and stability.
A good lacing system should hold the foot comfortably in place, without excessive tightening or bagging of the surrounding material. Salomon shoes use their famous ‘Quick Lace’ system (so popular in fact this has now been adopted by other manufacturers), which is a thin Kevlar lined lace and toggle, which quickly tightens the shoe.
Some of the shoes will have a gusseted tongue, which is a thin piece of material that binds the tongue to the shoe. This has the dual purpose of stopping the tongue slip sideways whilst keeping debris from entering the shoe.
A reinforced toe surround is another common feature. This is a rubber rand which protects the toes from injury, in the eventuality that they come into contact against all the rocks and roots along the trail.
A big feature, especially in Britain, is the use of a protective layer between the midsole and out sole. Commonly known as a rock guard or rock plate, it stops sharp edges of rocks, gravel and roots from pushing up through the sole and into your foot. This helps increase the comfort on difficult terrain and lessens the risk of injury from impact.