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  • Minimal Trail Running Shoes
  • DirtyLyle

    Can anyone recommend any minimal trail running shoes? I’m keen to give them a go off-road, but all the reviews of the Merrells and New Balances say they’re either crap in mud or painful over rocks. Are there any out there with decent grip AND protection?

    …or if you don’t want to make a recommendation, feel free to emphasise your moral superiority by pontificating that minimal running is the emperor’s new clothes, I’ve been taken in by marketing, and how you used to run 10 mile cross-countries in pumps. 😉


    my nikes have been great for minimal running.

    not run anywhere since october!!!!

    ba – dum – tish – /coat.



    still the best.

    (they’re more ‘fell’ than ‘trail, but you did mention mud and rocks…)

    my NB 101 (or whatever they’re called) really aren’t bad in mud, but they do a terrible job of holding onto my feet.

    my NB minimus do a great job of holding onto my feet, but are a bit lacking for grip.


    any of them without tread will be garbage in this weather.

    i wear 5 fingers and anything more than a solid woodland trail and they are terrible – they just aint good in mud , the merrels have as similar sole so cant see them being any better

    those that feel stones etc through them are likely doing it wrong as one of my regular runs is through a quarry with loads of harsh stones and should be sore surfaces – they just arnt a problem.

    id be looking at something more like an inov-8 (if they made one that lasts) for winter trail running how ever i opted just for running carefully in my vibrams.


    Inov8 have different grades of shoe to reflect how far down the ‘transition’ route you are.

    e.g. Roclite 285s are a 2, whereas 315s are a 3 or 4 (closer to regular running shoes) with the baregrips being a 1 (akin to barefoot).

    Otherwise NB MT101s are reasonably grippy and are pretty close to a minimal shoe. the heel to toe differential may not be all that, but they are minimal support and can be had quite cheap and are probably a good first step towards more minimal shoes.


    converse all stars for the minimal brand logo whore trail runner


    some of the salomon trail anklets should give a little support

    i have some ancient sauconys for mug plugging, got a great open tread which slips on da tarmac

    me thinks somewhere will weld an aggressive sole to your old footwear so you could go down that path

    Premier Icon zilog6128

    I use Merrell Trail Gloves which IMO are excellent. They have a “rock plate” which has protected me thus far from any sharp bits on the trail! Not sure I would use them on full-on mountainous terrain though. Absolutely no grip in current conditions of course!

    Currently looking myself for something with a bit more grip. Sports Direct had a couple of pairs of NB Minimus with a grippier-than-normal sole last time I went in. I think they were exclusive editions, so probably not the latest model or whatever, but they were only £50.

    The biggest problem for me is that all the “proper” off-road minimal shoes (Baregrip, etc) have a really aggressive tread that would be pants on tarmac and my regular run is 50/50.

    converse all stars for the minimal brand logo whore trail runner

    I’ve done a bit of running in Chucks (when I’ve forgotten my proper shoes). Not bad, but for me the sole is not flexible enough to be comfortable for anything other than short distances.


    i bought a pair of these two years ago from Next in the sale for £30 which was an absolute bargain nearly 2 years ago. brilliant trainers, i’ve still got them in the boot of the car…only problem is the tread is now starting to wear in places so i’m going to get another pair soon…


    I have inov8 terroc 33’s and they have been great for everything in fact this reminded me to get of my lazy ass and start running again.

    Premier Icon StuF

    I’ve got some vivobarefoot breatho trails – no problem in mud, slightly slippy on wet rock and on tarmac are ok but you can feel the lugs through them.

    I’m loving trail running in them at the moment


    Inov Roclite 285, which are a 6mm drop heel-toe, have a (lower profile than open fell shoes) studded sole which would be good in loose and/or mulchy clag but you may feel the lugs through the soles of your feet if your running routes include a large proprotion of tarmac; or Trailrocs, which come in 3 different transitions – 6- (Trailroc 255), 3- (Trailroc 245) or 0mm (Trailroc 235) heel-toe and have a more all-terrain tread pattern. I’ve a pair of the Trailroc 245, although most of my routes have very little tarmac, they’re a very good all-round, all-year compromise, coping well with everything bar slippery leaf and mud mixed mulch; I have a pair of La Sportiva Crosslites for open fell use.

    Premier Icon stever

    How much grip do you need? There’s a shoe for everyone out there. Minimal cushion/max grip you could try a Baregrip 200. Good all rounder is NB101 – not strictly a ‘barefoot’ shoe, but very low. I wouldn’t go for a full fell shoe for general trail use. X-Talon 190/212 are pretty grippy/minimal but wear quickly on anything hardpack.

    Premier Icon Mugboo

    Very new to this game but Jamie off of here sold me some Merrell Mixmaster 2 Aeroblocks and so far so good. Comfy, grippy enough and waterproof.

    First run in 7 yrs, 3 miles of normal running = 6 days of agony.
    2nd run, 1st attempt at barefoot, right calf cramp.
    3rd, barefoot style, now offroad, painless till I got back on Tarmac when my left calf cramped up.

    Fingers crossed I’ve broken it’s back… Certainly no other leg pain 🙂

    Good job because after too much Erdinger I told my unfit mate I’d do the Yorkshire 3 peaks in half his time in September. Me and my big, drunken gob!!

    I have a pair of New Balance Minimus which are ok but crap in proper mud,

    Vivobarefoot’s are excellent

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