Best Cross Country Shoes

Best Cross Country Shoes
Cross country running includes running through different types of terrains and overcoming all obstacles mother nature may throw at you. For this reason, cross country runners must invest in a pair of good cross country shoes. The best cross country training shoes allow you to maintain your running speed while providing enough support and stability for you to not hurt yourself.


Since cross country runners run mostly on soil, dirt, grass, and gravel, it is important that the pair of best cross country training shoes you invest in be able to handle all terrains and weather conditions. Another very important thing to keep in mind when looking to purchase your pair of best cross country training shoes is how much they weigh. Almost all cross country shoe reviews emphasize this point because it is of the utmost importance. When running such long distances, you must keep yourself as light as possible to conserve energy and not stumble and fall after losing your balance. The item that weighs you down the most when running cross country is your pair of shoes, so it is important to find a pair of good cross country shoes that weigh as little as possible.


At A Glance


Table of Contents


Another thing to keep in mind is buying a cross-country shoe that has spikes or comes with rubber nubs instead. This, of course, will depend upon the venue since the best cross country training shoes with spikes work best on grass, and other softer surfaces, while the best cross country shoes with rubber nubs work best on more complex surfaces such as gravel or rocky surfaces.


The best running shoes for cross country, as mentioned, must be as light as possible, meaning they have to sacrifice padding and cushioning to shave off that little extra bit of weight that can make a ton of difference when running. This means that these shoes don’t last very long either. The best running shoes for cross country last one running season at most because you’ll often need to train in them and they undergo normal wear and tear over time. The best running shoes for cross country also fit tighter than regular running shoes to keep your feet as close to the ground as possible and keep the bottoms of your feet as connected to your shoes’ soles. This helps when running fast on uneven surfaces and also helps prevent injury.


If you are new to cross country running, we recommend you buy good cross country shoes with a little bit of extra padding so that your muscles, especially your calves, can get used to running with very little support. These shoes with extra padding may also be good for runners who tend to overpronate and suffer from shin splints.


In this cross country shoes review article, we will be listing the best cross country training shoes and how to choose the best cross country shoes for you.


Cross Country Shoes – Top Picks

Preview Product Buy Now
Salomon Speedcross 5 Salomon Speedcross 5 Check Price on Amazon
Asics Gel Kayano 27 Asics Gel Kayano 27 Check Price on Amazon
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Check Price on Amazon
Brooks PureGrit 3 Brooks PureGrit 3 Check Price on Amazon


1. Salomon Speedcross 5

Best All-Round Cross Country Shoe


Salomon Speedcross 5 Check Price on Amazon


The Salomon Speedcross 5 is an all-round trail shoe that is extremely functional while being relatively affordable. The fifth edition of this shoe has useful updates from the previous Salomon Speedcross 4. Most cross country shoe reviews crown this one as the best shoes for cross country available on the market right now for all the good reasons.


The outsole of this shoe has Chevron lugs with deeper cuts that allow for more traction and grip on softer surfaces such as grass, dirt, or even mud. This shoe is adequately cushioned, with the cushion being more responsive than it is plush. OrthoLite technology is what provides this cushioning to the wearer, with the cushioning being breathable and light while still being firm and providing enough support for long trail runs. The upper of the Speedcross 5 is made of anti-debris mesh, which doesn’t allow any sort of debris into the shoe, even if you are ankle-deep in muddy water. You also need not worry about your laces coming open because the one-pull technology of the Quicklace lacing system keeps that from happening. You can also, as the name suggests, lace-up with a single pull on the laces.


The shoe weighs roughly 330 grams and has a heel-to-toe drop of 10 millimeters. These shoes do not have a rock plate, but that is no cause for concern because the hard exterior of the shoe and the Chevron lugs protect you from rocks and pebbles. This shoe is made for all terrains and can withstand anything you throw at it. Most users have stated that it didn’t fail them once, even when they were running on rocky, muddy, or sandy terrain. The only thing that this shoe won’t be very good at is running on concrete or asphalt. It is decently priced at $130.



  • Grip: The Speedcross 5 is considered one of the best shoes for cross country for a variety of reasons, but the one that makes the most difference and that cross country running shoe reviews often highlight is the incredible traction and grip of this shoe. It really doesn’t matter what kind of terrain you’re running on because you will never lose your grip with this shoe and it will continue to support you throughout your run.
  • Flexibility: Another big feature that doesn’t get mentioned very often is this shoe’s flexibility. Although it has a hard outsole and an anti-debris upper, the Speedcross 5 is still a very flexible piece of footwear and you will feel comfortable wearing it and running in it from the get-go.
  • Lacing System: As mentioned, the Quicklace lacing system allows you to lace up with a single pull, which is great if you need to take your shoes off in the middle of your run and then get back to the trail quickly. The snug fit of the upper combined with this lacing system also prevents any debris or small pebbles from entering your shoes.



  • Water-Resistance: One major drawback of this shoe is its very low water resistance. Trails often have muddy or waterlogged areas, and while the anti-debris upper will prevent anything from getting in, it won’t stop your shoes, and consequently, your socks and your feet from getting wet. Dirty water can often cause skin irritations and blisters, which is why this is something we think Salomon should improve upon with their best cross country sneakers.
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: Another thing to keep in mind is the steep heel-to-toe drop of this shoe. With a 10mm heel-to-toe drop, it can take runners who are used to more gentle heel-to-toe drops of 4mm or 5mm a little more time to get used to running in these shoes.

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2. Asics Gel Kayano 27

Best Stylish Buy


Asics Gel Kayano 27 Check Price on Amazon


Asics’ Gel Kayanos have been around for over two decades now and have gone through various visual and performance-related changes over the years to make these shoes one of the best shoes for cross country. The Gel Kayano 27’s, in particular, have gone through a stylistic change, looking quite different from the 25 and 26 models. This time, there are two mesh layers in distinct colors, with six different colorways to choose from. The shoe also has balanced cushioning like its recent predecessors, with a firm but responsive heel and a softer and more cushioned forefoot. The shoes tend to be a little tighter around the midfoot, but that is the way most of the best cross country sneakers are and it is something that most users will get used to once the shoes are broken in and worn a few times.


The outsole uses Asics’ patented High Abrasion Rubber, which is extremely durable and doesn’t let up traction in any weather. Only minimal amounts of wear begin to show even after a hundred miles. The midsole also has additional gel cushioning to improve shock absorption. The midsole also uses Flytefoam Lyte as its bottom-most layer, while the upper layer of the midsole uses Flytefoam Propel which is the softer of the two materials. Another important component of this shoe as highlighted by most cross country shoe reviews is the MetaClutch exoskeleton heel. It fits well with the upper of the shoe and holds your foot in place when running, keeping you from over or under pronating.



  • Improved Design: As we mentioned earlier, the best shoe brands know how to integrate function and design into one shoe, and that is exactly what Asics has done with this shoe. They have improved upon the design of the shoe while maintaining its functionality and utility.
  • Durability: Durability remains one of the most important aspects of cross country shoes. Running through harsh terrain and weather for extended periods of time is not something all shoes can handle, and especially not over an entire running season. Asics’ Gel Kayano 27’s are very durable, showing only the most minimal wear even after 100 miles.



  • Price: Although they are very well made and are extremely functional, these shoes can also be a little too pricey for some, with a price tag of $160.

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3. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

Best Long Lasting Cross Country Training Shoe


Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Check Price on Amazon


The Speedgoat has been part of Hoka’s starting lineup for a while now and it is not hard to guess why. The shoe was designed based on the vision of Karl Meltzer, who is one of the most prolific 100-mile runners of all time. The fourth edition of this shoe is more durable, provides a better grip, and fits the feet better than its predecessors.


Although it weighs a little more than most other cross country shoes, weighing 306 grams for men, everything that weighs this shoe down comes with a purpose and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The toe box on this edition of the shoe is also wider than it was previously, meaning more room for your toes to rest in and get comfortable in, which is especially necessary during long cross-country runs. The outsole is made of Vibram MegaGrip technology and gives you a lot of traction on any surface, wet or dry.


Another change made to the cushioning is the EVA foam, which is reportedly lighter and more responsive than before.


One thing that a lot of cross-country shoemakers neglect is the ability of the shoe to repel water and waterproofing in general. The Speedgoat 4’s do an excellent job with this, with Hoka upgrading the shoe to a GORE-TEX liner which protects both feet and socks from getting soaked. The shoe has 5mm rubber lugs, which are great for rough terrain. It also has solid rock plate protection to keep sharp rocks from injuring you.



  • Cushioning: The cushioning on this shoe is superior to most other cross country running shoes. It is great for both daily training on less challenging trails and also for really technical trails that are mostly traversed by experienced runners. It gives the runner a lot of support, comfort, stability, and protection and is great for running long distances.
  • Durability: This shoe shows no signs of wear and tear even after 50 miles and only very minimal amounts of wear and tear after 100-150 miles. It is built for the long run and will be useful and functional for a long time.


  • Flat Trails: Although this shoe can handle relatively flatter trails, it is not designed for that express purpose, and some may find the shoe a little bulky for long runs on flatter trails.
  • Price: Costing $160, this shoe is not very cheap, but some websites do offer discounts on it, bringing the price down to $145.

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4. Brooks PureGrit 3

Best Training As Well As Cross Country Shoes


Brooks PureGrit 3 Check Price on Amazon


Brooks has chosen a complete design overhaul for the third edition of their signature PureGrit shoe. No longer does the shoe sport a split toe, with the designers opting for a more traditional outsole with a singular piece. It also contains a different lug pattern, aimed at giving the runner more traction along with a rock plate in the forefoot, which helps protect your feet from injury by sharp rocks. These additions alone make it much more versatile than the previous versions of the PureGrit shoe.


Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA enhanced foam continues to be part of their PureGrit collection, making up the midsole of this shoe. The foam protects you from sharp rocks and keeps your feet comfortable through long runs. Although there aren’t many changes to the upper of the shoe, one can notice the shift to a traditional style of tongue as opposed to the wrapped tongue, which was to be found in previous iterations of this shoe. This is likely to make sure a larger section of people could run in this shoe.



  • Forefoot Rock Plate: The rock plate at the forefoot of this shoe is a new addition and is immensely helpful in protecting the runner’s feet from sharp rocks and other such objects. When training often, it is imperative that you take every precaution against injury to be healthy for your race so that you are not bogged down with a sprain in the knee or from blisters on your toes.
  • Traction: As mentioned, Brooks has changed the lug pattern of this shoe, choosing to go with an octagonal lug pattern that provides extra grip and traction and doesn’t let up on even the most slippery surfaces. This is especially good if you run early in the morning when the trail is covered in dew or if you go running on mossy trails.
  • Weight: This shoe weighs only 281 grams and is much lighter than the other shoes mentioned on this list. It does this while not compromising on protection, durability, or comfort, making sure that there is enough padding for the runner to not feel any discomfort while running. Lighter shoes are almost always better when running cross country, and this is one of the best lightweight cross country shoes available on the market right now.
  • Price: This shoe only costs $120, and some websites offer it at discounted rates. With the kind of technology used in this shoe and the materials used to build it, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck if you choose to buy this shoe.



  • Tongue Design: The only noticeable con of buying this shoe is the tongue design, which has been changed from a medial coupled wrapped tongue to a traditional running shoe tongue. This troubles runners because the tongue tends to move to one side of the foot after running a few miles, and if you are in a race you certainly don’t want to spend precious seconds putting the tongue back into place, only for it to shift to one side of the foot again after a few more miles.


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How To Choose The Best Cross Country Running Shoes

Choosing the best cross country running shoe for your particular needs can be tough, especially if you’re new to the sport. There is a myriad of shoes to choose from and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Keeping in mind the following tips should make it easier for you to choose the best cross country shoes for you.


  • Find The Trail: Which shoe is the best cross country running shoe for you depends entirely on the kind of trail you will be running on. If the trail is mostly grassy and with little to no gravel or rock, then a shoe with very little support and longer spikes is what we would recommend wearing. If the trail does include stretches of gravel or other such hard surfaces then shoes with more support and rubber nubs are your best bet since spikes tend to lose grip on such surfaces, and the extra support keeps you from being injured. For these reasons, you must find out what trail you’re going to be running on and what you can expect on that particular trail to select the best cross country running shoes for you.


  • Pronation: An extremely important part of finding the best cross country shoes for yourself is figuring out the level of pronation you are currently at. If you over or under pronate, then buying a stability shoe is likely the best option for you to prevent shin splints or any other injuries that can bring your running season to a halt. If not, then a regular good cross country shoe will do just fine. Suppose you don’t know if your level of pronation then set your current running shoes on a flat surface and check to see if they lean to the inside or outside or sit fairly in the middle. Also, check your shoe’s sole to see if there is more tread on the inside or outside. If it is the former, you are an under pronator, and if it is the latter, you are an overpronator.


  • Flexibility: Another key part of finding the best cross country shoes for yourself is figuring out your flexibility needs. Record yourself running at the pace you usually run at and check the footage to see how far forward your footfalls when you run and how much flexibility you need from your shoes. Now, push your prospective shoe forward in the same manner and see if it bends willingly and is flexible enough for you. The best running shoes for cross country are always highly flexible and durable. So, if the one you intend on buying is highly flexible too then, it is a sign that you are buying a pair of good cross country shoes.


  • Functionality: Many runners, especially new runners, tend to focus more on the design and aesthetics of the shoe they’re about to purchase rather than its functionality. This is the wrong way to go about it. No matter how good the shoe looks, if it can’t properly support you throughout your race and do everything that is asked of it, then it is by no measure the best shoe for cross country. Most brands that have been making the best running shoes for cross country for decades know how to blend both design and functionality very well and create shoes that both look good and perform well on the trail.


  • Buy Two: As mentioned, even the best running shoes for cross country only last one running season at best, after which they begin to lose their grip and their support, rendering them useless or, sometimes, dangerous for running. This is why, if you plan on training for your race a few months before the day of the event, we recommend a pair of the best cross country sneakers with which you can train while using your other pair for the actual race.


The above mentioned were some cross country shoes that you may find useful!


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques1: What shoes are best for cross country?

Ans: Having the right shoes for cross country running is perhaps the most essential gear that you can own. Therefore, the right shoes for this form of sport are ones that have a breathable fabric, offer proper foot protection, allow the feet to flex naturally, and most importantly, offer adequate traction to give you a firm grip on uneven terrain. Based on these criteria, some of the best shoes for cross country you can choose from are Salomon Speedcross 5, Saucony Kilkenny XC 8, ASICS Gel-Kayano 27, Adidas Supernova Riot M, and Altra Vanish XC.


Ques2: Do you need spikes for cross country?

Ans:  Having the feature of spikes in your cross country shoes is more of a preference than a necessity. Though there are certain benefits attached to it, spikes offer better traction on uneven terrain, especially in muddy or wet conditions. Certain versatile brands also offer removable spikes that you can attach and detach according to the landscape you are running on. However, spikes are not for everyone, especially young boys and girls, as they tend to strain the feet, tendons, and calves. Spiked shoes also lack durability as these shoes are made lightweight, so they tend to wear out quickly. In case you primarily run on hard and rocky surfaces, it would be better to choose rubber soles over spikes.


Ques3. Which spikes are best for cross country?

Ans: The definition of best spikes for cross country can vary from runner to runner and depend on the running needs. For us, the best overall choice would be Mach 19 Brooks and New Balance XC5K v5, which offer optimum traction and higher efficiency. If you are looking for spikes for muddy courses, you can go for EVO XC Hoka One One. Those searching for a budget-friendly option can consider ASICS Hyper XC 2.


Ques:4 Do spikes make you run faster?

Yes, spikes can boost your speed as they are designed to offer maximum traction. Spikes also offer better toe spring, making it easier to run faster as you are practically running on your toes with zero heel. It is for this reason sprinters mostly wear spikes to get the maximum traction in the shortest distance.


Ques5: Can you wear track shoes for cross country?

Though the track spikes are slightly different from cross country spikes, you can safely wear them for cross country runs. While track spikes work well on grassy terrains, if you mostly run on rocky surfaces, the hard plastic-based spikes on some of the track shoes can be a little uncomfortable on harder terrain. Make sure that the track shoes you are using are distance spikes and not the ones used for jumping, hurdling, or sprinting. Since different shoes are made for different sports activities, make sure that your track shoes give the desired traction for cross country run.


Ques6: Do sprinters wear socks?

Ans:   Most of the front-line sprinters don’t really prefer sock-wearing. Those that do usually prefer thin versions of socks for comfort. However, there are also many athletes who prefer wearing sprinting performance compression socks that offer good ankle region stability as well as overall feet protection and support. These compression socks are designed to increase the blood flow to the feet and lower legs.



The best shoes for cross country come in many different forms, and it is important to know the differences between them. There are cross country shoes with spikes and shoes with rubber lugs, both of which serve their purposes very well and are meant for a certain kind of terrain and trail. These two kinds of cross country shoes are not replaceable, and both are the best cross country sneakers for their respective trails.


It is also important to know how to choose the best cross country sneakers for yourself and what to look for when buying one, which is what we have tried to do in this cross country shoe review. The shoes mentioned are the best shoes for cross country available right now and each does a perfect job at what it was designed for.


The Salomon Speedcross 5 is perhaps the best all-round cross country shoe you can buy. It looks great, has a ton of features such as the Quicklace lacing system that make the entire experience of cross country running a lot easier, are extremely durable, and are priced decently enough to be affordable by most runners, beginner, or advanced.


The Asics Gel Kayano 27’s are a little more expensive but are top of the line, with improved design, and the constant innovation of Asics to make their shoes perform as well as they possibly can.


If you are looking for a cross country training shoe that will last you a long time, the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is your best bet. With a versatile range of terrains through which it can traverse, it is great for those who like changing up their preferred running trail and like to wander off to explore new places.


Lastly, Brooks’ PureGrit 3 is an excellent shoe that comes at an excellent price and performs magnificently both during training and when partaking in a race. It is light and provides plenty of traction and protection, ensuring that your feet are protected from anything you may encounter on the trail.