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Are vegan trail running shoes the best all-round option for the outdoors? Check out this guide to see if they’re perfect for you and which vegan-friendly choice is the right fit

Ever felt weighed down by big bulky hiking boots? Or found yourself slipping all over the place trying to run off-road in standard running shoes? Well, trail running shoes might well be your answer.

And I’ve got good news: vegan trail running shoes are in their plenty!

It’s not so easy to be certain what’s 100% vegan and so, like usual, we contacted all the trail running brands to double-check.

Keep reading or jump ahead to find out:

This article may contain affiliate links, they will never cost you more money but helps Veggie Vagabonds keep making content like this – thank you!

vegan runner in the mountains
Uphill, downhill, wet, dry, rocky, muddy… with the right trail shoes it doesn’t matter

1. Finding Vegan Trail Shoes

Like I mentioned, there are lots of vegan-friendly trail running options but it’s not 100% clear sailing.

Trail runners are generally made from synthetic materials (vegan), compared to things like hiking boots which are often made from leather.

Unfortunately, some brands still use animal products in the glue or the dye. This means you can get synthetic trail runners which are still not vegan.

As is the case with a lot of outdoor gear, some brands have a vegan certification whilst others don’t. With large supply chains, it’s expensive to officially certify them 100% safe and most don’t bother – what a shame!

For this reason, a number of brands state something along the lines of: “the shoes do not contain any animal-based materials but we haven’t had an outside body certify this”.

All the options listed below are labelled whether they are a) vegan-certified with vegan info available on their website b) vegan-certified but information is not available online c) don’t contain animal products but haven’t been certified.

We contacted all the major trail running brands for confirmation so you don’t have to 🙂

Find more vegan outdoor gear and get expert ethical adventure tips by signing up to our mailing list below!

2. Vegan Trail Running Shoes & Sustainability

Unlike some other pieces of outdoor gear, it’s not common to find trail runners made from recycled materials or other sustainable certifications.

As most trail runners are synthetic anyway, going for vegan options will not really make much of a change environmentally.

To go eco-friendly, your best bet is to shop responsibly and care for the shoes! You’ll find plenty more tips in our Guide to Ethical Outdoor Gear.

Man backpacking across mountains
Always opting for the greener path

3. Why Wear Trail Running Shoes?

Trail running shoes are effectively running shoes that have much tougher tread patterns, are firmer, with more protection and ankle support.

In action, this means you’ll have much better grip on off-road terrain, stronger stability and less chance of injury moving fast over dodgy surfaces.

These guys are designed for running along mountains, hills and tracks in changeable conditions so they’re typically low-ankle, light and robust. For ultra runners this is the shoe of choice because they’re real comfortable over super long distances.

4. Trail Runners vs. Hiking Boots

Trail runners are obviously good for trail running but they’re also stiff competition for hiking boots.

As long-distance trail runs are basically faster-paced hikes, many people use trail running shoes for hiking. And I’m one of them.

They’re far lighter, more comfortable and take pretty much no time to break in. However, they’re less suited to cold conditions and you do have less ankle support than hiking boots.

Think boots might be better for you? Check out our guide to vegan hiking boots

girl hiking in vegan trail running shoes
In warmer conditions we’ll generally opt for trail runners over hiking boots

5. Trail Runners vs. Road Running Shoes

Pretty much, if you’re going to be running on concrete and concrete alone then standard vegan running shoes are best.

If you’re going to be running all over the place then you’ll find running shoes offer very little traction on worse surfaces. This is where the trail runner shines.

You can run comfortably on roads, though they are heavier, and I did this regularly for 10-15+ mile runs wearing my Agility Peak Flex.

6. Why I Love Trail Running Shoes

They’re the perfect all-rounder. The easiest and most comfortable shoes for hiking 90% of the time AND you can run in them.

With toe caps you can use them for cycling and touring, they’re brilliant approach shoes, nice for scrambling, camping, assault courses… basically, they’re pretty sound choices for most land-based adventures.

Why buy two or three pairs of shoes when one can do it all? It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly!

Man hill running for trail training
In running shoes you’ll be slipping and sliding!

7. How to Pick the Best Vegan Trail Running Shoes for YOU

Think about the type of trail running you’ll be doing – if you’re aiming to run long and fast then go for lighter shoes. Going to be really muddy? Pick trail runners with bigger lugs (grips on the sole). Rocky and technical? Go for options with more support and protection.

Waterproof isn’t always good – waterproof or Gore Tex trail runners are good for very wet and cold/snowy conditions but these shoes have will have worse ventilation. If you are going to be running in warmer or drier climates then perhaps you don’t need it?

What are your feet like? Are they wide or thin? Long or short toes? Weak muscles or strong muscles? Keep reading to find options for every foot!

Oh, and remember: synthetic materials don’t stretch very much so try and get the right fit first time!

Looking for more vegan adventure content?

The Best Vegan Climbing Shoes

Vegan Insulated Jacket Buyer’s Guide

Tasty Backpacking Food for Vegans

Vegan-Friendly Camping Recipes, Meals & Spice Mixes

8. What’s a Trail Running ‘Drop’?

A trail running ‘drop’ refers to the difference in height between your heel and toes.

A lower drop encourages you to run with each pace landing closer to the balls of your feet. This promotes faster running and puts less strain on your body. HOWEVER, most of us are used to shoes with big drops, so are our bodies and so have become our muscles. For this reason, low drop running shoes are recommended for more experienced runners.

Typically 8-11mm is advised for beginners and 4-8mm for more experienced trail runners.

You can also get zero-drop running shoes, sometimes called barefoot, minimalist or flat shoes. These are designed to allow your foot to run in its natural form but are not advised for beginners as the average foot’s muscles may not be strong enough.

Man trail running through woods
Personally, we opt for shoes with a moderate drop

9. Trail Running Q&A

Q. Can I use trail running shoes to run on roads? Yes, though some will be better suited to it. You’ll find a variety listed below that are best for both.

Q. Are trail running shoes good for cycling? They can be but if shoes have rigid soles you may find they slide off the pedals. I find them the perfect touring/adventure shoe if you use toe clips to stop the sliding.

Q. Which trail running shoes are best for wide feet? Shoes from Altra, Hoka One and Inov-8 typically are more accommodating for wide feet and even have wider models you can select.

Q. Are trail running shoes good for hiking? Yes, they definitely are.

Q. Can women wear men’s trail running shoes and vice versa? Yes, it’s more than fine for men to wear women’s trail running shoes and the other way around. Women’s shoes have less volume, typically at the top of the shoe, they may be narrower and have different colour schemes too but at the end of the day it’s just the fit that matters!

10. The Best Trail Running Shoes for Vegans

As we mentioned above, all these awesome options were checked with the manufacturer and we’ve added their vegan certification.

La Sportiva Vegan Trail Running Shoes

An awesome brand with a wide range of products, vegan certification, easily accessible vegan information and also good environmental standards.

la sportiva bushido trail shoe
La Sportiva Bushido trail running shoes via

La Sportiva Bushido 2

“A seriously popular competition-level trail running shoe for hard runners”

  • Weight: 610g
  • Cost: £120
  • Drop: 6mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: competitive mountain runners and skyracers
  • Cons: heavy

The Bushido 2 is the second edition of the already seriously popular Bushido. These trail shoes are designed for sky running (mountain running over 2,000m) meaning they can handle series off-road terrain.

Because of the high stability and aggressive design, they’re also pretty great for long-distance hiking too.

Buy on:

Alpine Trek UK // REI USA

La sportiva wildcat trail shoes
La Sportiva Wildcat trail running shoes via:

La Sportiva Wildcat

“Massive traction and cushioning for great protection running or hiking”

  • Weight: 630g
  • Cost: £110
  • Drop: 12mm
  • Cushioning: generous
  • Designed for: comfort on medium trail runs or long hiking trails
  • Cons: clumpy fitting, less suited for running, heavy

With a 12mm drop and maximal cushioning, the Wildcat offer amazing protection along long trails or off-road runs.

The aggressive sole will have you feeling confident on all terrain and the additional cushioning makes it ideal for heavy-clad hikers or beginner trail runners.

Buy on:

Alpine Trek UK // REI USA

More vegan trail running shoes from La Sportiva

  • La Sportiva Mutant – aggressive trail runner with 10mm drop – UK // USA
  • La Sportiva Kaptiva – medium to long-distance mountain runner with 6mm drop – UK // USA

Hoka One Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Hoka One are a very cool brand that offer a wide variety of vegan shoes that are certified and clearly labelled as vegan-friendly.

Their shoes typically offer a lot of cushioning with options to buy many models in a standard or wide fit and for men or women.

HOKA-ONE-ONE-Speedgoat vegan trail runners
Hoka One Speedgoat trail running shoes via:

Hoka One Speedgoat 4

“An exceedingly comfortable shoe with wide, narrow & Gore Tex options”

  • Weight: 520g
  • Cost: £115
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Cushioning: generous
  • Designed for: comfortable trail running
  • Cons: pretty stiff with slight energy loss in cushioning

This shoe has lots of midfoot and arch support combined with ample cushioning, making the Speedgoat 4 an awesome choice for ultrarunning on and off-road.

The newer model also has increased breathability, a larger toe box and tougher soles for better traction running uphill and downhill.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s USA

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 trail running shoes for vegans-01
Hokka One One Challenger trail running shoe via:

Hoka One Challenger ATR 5 GTX

“Award-winning and a seriously popular option for long-distance runners”

  • Weight: 500g
  • Cost: £100
  • Drop: 5mm
  • Cushioning: generous
  • Designed for: all-terrain, all-round trail runner that can go onto concrete too
  • Cons: Not strong on heavy mud

These guys have a stellar reputation for being awesome all-round options, shining for both long-distance running on and off-road. They’re Gore Tex and have been designed for a famously comfortable ride.

A brilliant pair of vegan trainers for the all-round vegan runner.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s REI USA

More vegan trail running shoes from Hoka One

  • Hoka One Evo Jaws – stripped-down performance with 3mm drop – UK
  • Hoka One Torrent – lightweight (420g) off-road racer with 5mm drop – UK Men’s & Women’s // USA Men’s & Women’s
  • Hoka One Mafate Speed 2 – highly-supportive shoe with serious cushioning and 5mm drop – UK Men’s & Women’s // USA Men’s & Women’s

Inov-8 Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Inov-8 set the bar high with their exceptional-quality synthetic trail running shoes. They’re worn by many pros and have been used for lots of record-breaking trail and mountain runs, like Paul Tiernay breaking the 214-peak Wainwright record.

Their shoes are vegan-certified and they’ve also got a good environmental ethos too.

inov8 terraultra vegan trail shoes
Inov-8 Terraultra trail running shoes via:

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270

“Award-winning zero-drop trail running shoe that can handle anything you throw at it”

  • Weight: 540g
  • Cost: £130
  • Drop: 0mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: long, hard off-road running on varied terrain
  • Cons: pretty expensive and not as good on thick mud

If you’re looking for a hard-wearing pair of trail runners for tackling everything but seriously muddy routes, the Terraultra is likely a wise choice.

The shoes give fairly unrivalled traction with its Graphene sole whilst still being amazingly comfortable, perfect for long, hard runs. The zero-drop shoes encourage a very natural running style and are perfect for anyone wanting to push out the mileage in almost any conditions. You can find our full review here.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK

Inov-8 Roclite G 275 vegan-friendly trail running shoes
Inov-8 Roclite trail running shoes via

Inov-8 Roclite G 275

“Hotly-tipped as the best trail running shoes for comfort and protection over unpredictable terrain”

  • Weight: 550g
  • Cost: £100
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: sturdier support for trail and hiking
  • Cons: not good for road running

The Roclite takes a lot of the technology from the Terraultra but places more emphasis on protection over tricky terrain in terrible conditions.

These are a pretty sweet option for anyone with mid-width feet and can be used to tear up trails or for fast hiking.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // REI USA

Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 trail shoes
Inov-8 Mudclaw trail running shoes via:

Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260

“If you’re going to be running on mud then look no further”

  • Weight: 520g
  • Cost: £90
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Cushioning: modest
  • Designed for: wet, muddy conditions
  • Cons: not designed for drier conditions

Specifically designed for wet, boggy, muddy, swampy terrain, the Mudclaw gives traction when most other shoes can’t.

The 8mm lugs make light work of the wet and wild, with it becoming a favourite amongst competition obstacle course runners too.

Buy on:

Alpine Trek UK // Backcountry USA

More vegan-friendly Inov-8 trail shoes

  • Inov-8 XTalon G 235 – lightweight shoe for muddy conditions with 6mm drop – UK Men’s & Women’s // USA
  • Inov-8 Trailroc G 280 – highly cushion for tough, rocky runs – UK // USA Men’s & Women’s

Merrell Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Merrel vegan shoes are seriously popular and now come with a clear vegan certification which is really handy.

The brand has a wide range of vegan boots and standard shoes but also an impressive range of barefoot and trail options.

Merrell MTL Long Sky vegan trainers
Merrell MTL Long Sky via:

Merrell MTL Long Sky

“Super popular runner-designed shoe for LONG stints in wet and dry weather”

  • Weight: 560g
  • Cost: £110
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Cushioning: moderate/generous
  • Designed for: ultra runs on tough terrain
  • Cons: not the most supportive

These guys have big lugs on a Vibram Megagrip sole for serious traction across wet or dry weather and tricky terrain. Combined with soft cushioning and durable design, they’re tough but a pleasure to wear.

Designed by record-breaking ultrarunner Anna Frost and designed for long races and competitions in changeable conditions.

Check out the full MTL review or buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // REI USA

Merrell Trail Glove 5 vegan barefoot shoes-01
Merrell Trail Glove barefoot running shoe via:

Merrell Trail Glove 5

“Merrell’s trademark zero-drop shoe for minimalist running at almost no weight and a low cost”

  • Weight: 392g
  • Cost: £60
  • Drop: zero drop
  • Cushioning: minimal
  • Designed for: minimalists and barefoot aficionados
  • Cons: specialist shoe for strengthened feet

At less than 400g, these are seriously lightweight running shoes!

Zero-drop or minimal running shoes are designed to promote a more natural running position for your feet and body. The Trail Glove will help to strengthen your feet but will take some getting used to.

Don’t try smashing any PBs on the first outing!

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s REI USA

More vegan-friendly Merrell trail shoes

Salomon Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Up until recently Salomon vegan shoes were almost non-existent but fortunately that has changed.

Sadly there is no obvious information about this online but the options below were confirmed to be 100% vegan-friendly by their product specialists.

Salomon Speedcross trail running shoes via:

Salomon Speedcross 5

“A nicely flexible long-distance trail runner with speed-lacing system”

  • Weight: 540g
  • Cost: £100
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: comfort on varied conditions
  • Cons: not great for heavy mud

As one of Salomons most popular vegan running shoes, these guys have pretty awesome reviews from off-road runners to hikers and backpackers.

The speed-lacing system makes them really easy to get on and off, with enough stability and traction for confidence on all but icy trails. Then it’s time for some microspikes!

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s REI USA

Salomon Sense Ride 2 running shoes
Salomon Sense trail running shoes via:

Salomon Sense Ride 2

“Lightweight, fairly priced, on and off road… pretty solid all-rounders!”

  • Weight: 480g
  • Cost: £80
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: lightweight on and off road, good for beginners
  • Cons: not the best cushioning for rocky runs

If you’re looking for an all-round box-ticker that won’t hurt the bank, the Sense Ride 2 is a great option.

These guys will hold their ground in all seasons, wet or dry, steep or flat, gravel or concrete. With the moderate cushioning and larger drop they’re also a solid choice for beginner trail runners or comfortable hiking shoes.

Buy on:

Ellis Brigham UK // REI USA

More vegan-friendly Salomon trail shoes

Altra Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Altra have a large range of vegan trainers and vegan running shoes but unfortunately there is no information about this online. The models below were confirmed by their product team.

Altra Lone Peak 4.5 trail shoes
Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes via

Altra Lone Peak 4.5

“One of the most popular trail shoes for hikers and backpackers”

  • Weight: 600g
  • Cost: £100
  • Drop: zero drop
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: fast hiking
  • Cons: heavy, not so comfortable

The Altra Lone Peak has been the go-to trail shoe for many long-distance and thru-hikers. It offers seriously good stability and protection whilst being nicely durable: ticking boxes for backpackers.

These guys are pretty heavy and some readers have mentioned newer models are less comfortable.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s REI USA

Altra superior 4.5 trail runners
Altra Superior trail running shoes via:

Altra Superior 4.5

“Interested in barefoot shoes but not 100% sure? These are the perfect compromise”

  • Weight: 500g
  • Cost: £100
  • Drop: zero drop
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: almost minimal feel
  • Cons: not best for seriously rocky terrain

The Superior 4.5 have a loyal following as they offer the attractions of a barefoot shoe but with added protection and comfort.

With a zero drop and less cushioning, you’re still encouraged to run on your forefoot with a natural style. Now Altra has added better protection and stability to better suit them to varied terrain. The 4.5 also comes with an additional StoneGuard insole for protection.

Buy on:

Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s REI USA

Arc’teryx Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Arc’teryx are a very reliable brand who design high-functioning outdoor and mountain products. They offer a number of vegan trail options but don’t have vegan info online.

Arcteryx Norvan SL
Arc’teryx Norvan trail running shoes via:

Arc’teryx Norvan SL

“The lightest shoes on this list that still give traction and protection”

  • Weight: 370g
  • Cost: £140
  • Drop: moderate
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: super light in better conditions
  • Cons: not great for mud or protection, expensive

At 370g, the Norvan SL is mighty light which makes you feel like you’re running on clouds with the added cushioning.

With its low weight, the lugs are fairly small so it’s not suited to overly muddy or slippy terrain.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Men’s & Women’s Backcountry USA

Arc'teryx Norvan VT 2 running shoe
Arc’teryx Novan trail running shoes via:

Arc’teryx Norvan VT 2

“For technical mountain running and fast scrambling, the Norvan VT 2 has everything you need”

  • Weight: 640g
  • Cost: £110
  • Drop: moderate
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: scrambling, mountain runs
  • Cons: heavy, fairly narrow

Compared to the Norvan SL, the Norvan VT 2 is intended for verticle or steep mountain terrain. This means it’s ideally suited for technical runs on changeable surfaces and gives all the protection you’ll need.

This also means, if you’re going to be running on steadier surfaces then you might not need the features which do come with additional weight.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s Alpine Trek UK // Backcountry USA

Brooks Vegan Trail Running Shoes

Like a number of the other trail running brands on this list, Brooks offers a number of options but doesn’t display any vegan information. The shoes models below are 100% safe!

Brooks Cascadia running shoes
Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes via:

Brooks Cascadia 15

“Top comfort and protection but not so responsive”

  • Weight: 620g
  • Cost: £105
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Cushioning: moderate
  • Designed for: high protection and comfort
  • Cons: heavy, not very springy

Brooks trail runners are known to be solid, comfortable and protective, but those qualities come with additional weight. This also means it’s a good option for newbie off-road runners or for general outdoor footwear.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s REI USA

Brooks caldera 4 trail shoes
Brooks Caldera trail running shoes via:

Brooks Caldera 4

“A sweet all-round option at a respectable weight, capable to manage all conditions”

  • Weight: 500g
  • Cost: £115
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Cushioning: generous
  • Designed for: door to trail, varied conditions
  • Cons: not good on mud

The Caldera comes at a fairly lightweight but still keeps it’s strong protection and stability over varied terrain. Though, it’s not the strongest on thicker mud.

With a generously cushioned midsole, these guys can handle rocky trails and keep your feet happy over longer, difficult distances.

Buy on:

Men’s & Women’s REI USA

Any vegan trail shoes you love but we missed out? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. Hello,

    According to Hoka the Speedgoat 4 is not vegan. Where did u get the info that this shoe would be 100% vegan?


  2. Hey Geert, it’s listed on their page as vegan: For all outdoor gear, we contact brands unless it’s specifically stated on their website to be vegan-friendly. With the vegan search function you can see all the models for men/women.

  3. I ran into this, but occasionally a shoe model has a goretex GTX and leather version of the same shoe which can make it confusing 🙂

  4. Hi Ellie, Yes sometimes shoes can have multiples of the same style with different materials. It can be a little confusing when searching but I hope this posts helps with finding the right pair for you 🙂

  5. Regarding your comment about the vegan search function, this cannot always be trusted. I was looking at Skechers yesterday via a search for ‘vegan’, after narrowing down to 24 shoes via a few other filters, I noticed a vegan filter near the bottom of the page which suggested only 18 vegan shoes. 1 of those numbers has to be incorrect.
    Searching for vegan on a website is great and hopefully the companies assess search results to see what interests customers, but it is always wise to check the product details to find confirmation of the search results.

  6. This is a good point Shane, thanks for flagging. Although some companies may list things as vegan they can’t always guarantee this.

    Also we’ve found that is a product is vegan, a newer version can come out which isn’t. Sometimes companies don’t make this clear and as a buyer it’s easy to assume a model will remain vegan. It’s something we’ve found difficult to stay on top of with big guides like this with companies constantly changing products and suppliers, thus not being able to confirm the supply chain.

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