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Recommendation for running shoes good for trail, pavement and treadmill?


I am used to running on concrete or on a treadmill but i want to get more into trail running. Is there a shoe that would be good for all three of those types of surfaces? 

6 Replies

Hi @Katiexsharp I can't necesarilly recommend a specific shoe, as I am by far an expert on running shoes. However, if you are looking for a single shoe that can cover concrete/treadmill material, dirt/gravel roads/trails, and low-intensity trail runs (runs on trails that are well established)  I would recommend looking into a "Light Trail Shoe," as REI calls it. Here is the link to the section of the REI website for light trail shoes

However, if you think you will be running on trails with unstable surfaces or difficult terrain (which may be a next step for you depending on your experience with trail running and where you are geographically located), I would look into REI's "Rugged Trail Shoes" options. This is the category I tend to stray towards in my trail running shoes. While these may not look like a typical running shoe you would use on a treadmill or paved road, I have used them on such surfaces and they seem to do quite well regardless. However, I would just be cautious, as this will likely reduce the longevity of your shoes. The "rugged trail" running shoe that I currently use is the La Sportiva Bushido II - Women's. REI has this shoe on sale right now, dropping its usual price of $130 to $98, which is an amazing deal for such a great shoe. 

Personally, I have one pair of Light Trail running shoes that I tend to use for running on a treadmill or on a paved/dirt/gravel road. I have a second pair of Rugged Trail shoes that I use when I go running out on the trails. I feel like the Rugged Trail shoes tend to leave me feeling more secure in my footing, which is extremely important when running on unfamiliar/challenging terrain.

This is just my advice from my own experience. I am sure that some of REI's employees can help you out even more than I can. @REI-JohnJ @REI-JenK @REI-AlyS @REI-DaveM @REI-PearlD

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Hey Bryn!


thank you so much for your reply. It’s really VERY helpful!! I will look into both suggestions you made. Thanks again!

Hi @Katiexsharp !

@bryndsharp has some great recommendations, and explained well the breakdown between our light and rugged trail shoes. 

What kind of trails do you want to run? If you're looking at crushed gravel, or packed and flat dirt, then a light trail shoe, or even a road shoe would translate well between road/trail/treadmill. An example would be the Salomon X-Mission 3. If you're looking to run more technical trails with rocks, roots, mud, or lots of elevation, then it's best to have two pairs of shoes--one for the road and treadmill, and one for the trail.

Keep in mind that many manufacturers use different rubbers on the bottom of their shoes for road and trail. Many times, a manufacturer will use a softer rubber for trail runners to increase traction. Just like a winter tire, however, you can easily wear down that rubber through the repetitive footstrike on hard concrete or a tread belt. Therefore, you may wear out the shoe faster if you wear it on different surfaces. That goes for road shoes you wear on the trail, as well. 

It's also a nitpicky thing for me, but I'm bothered by the sound that my trail shoes make on a treadmill. I can hear the rubber pressing off and on the belt, even over my headphones! It might not bug you, but it's a big reason why I have shoes for that surface.

Finally, it's well to note that there's a slight chance trail shoes, or road shoes used on the trail, might damage a treadmill. For instance, you could scratch the belt if there's a pebble stuck in your shoe's lugs. If you don't clean your shoes after a muddy run, you could loosen some dirt causing a mechanical issue, or tripping hazard. Some public gyms may even restrict you from using a treadmill if it appears your shoes are really muddy or dirty. 

With all this in mind, if you're looking for more shoe recommendations we're happy to help! You can schedule an appointment with our Virtual Outfitting service, or respond here and we'll pass along more ideas!

Happy running!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hey I think the 2 pair option seems the way to go!

thanks for all the info. I’ll schedule something if needed! (:

@Katiexsharp you've got some great advice from @bryndsharp and @REI-PearlD already. I'll add one additional comment - I really dislike the feel of a trail shoe, with the deeper lugs on the sole, when I'm on a flat surfaces (Iike concrete and a treadmill). I feel more unsteady and less sure-footed because those deeper lugs that you find on trail running shoes really are designed to accommodate uneven surfaces. Plus I notice much faster breakdown of the rubber on a trail shoe when I wear them often on concrete. My recommendation: 2 shoes with very different purposes!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hey such awesome info from everyone! 
thank you!!

i think 2 pairs makes the most sense for me right now given the feedback.


appreciate your help!