Trail Running Gear of the Year 2024 | The best shoes, clothes, and nutrition for Spring/Summer

Out of hundreds of candidates, we've narrowed down our number 1 picks in every category of trail running gear – from shoes and socks to head torches and nutrition!

Trail Running Gear of the Year 2024

by Milo Wilson |
Updated on

Spring has sprung and summer sits on the horizon with crossed legs, high heels, and a sultry, beckoning finger. As we approach the season of weekly races, running holidays, and woodland trails that won't paint the back of your legs with wet mud, it's time for our annual Trail Running Gear of the Year awards!

All in all, this year there are 17 winners across the categories, 13 of which are outstanding products like shoes, shirts, sunglasses and energy-boosting stuff you can eat. The remaining four winners are brands we think have performed the best, either in their gear quality, their sustainability efforts, or the value they create for the consumer.

Best trail running shoes 2024 closer

Our awards editor Milo Wilson curated this list with advice from our fabulous LFTO testing team. Here are his top 5 picks from our overall list of winners - the creme de la creme, if you will.

Editor's picks

Best overall trail running shoe: Hoka Speedgoat 5

Best minimalist trail running shoe: Arc'teryx SL3

Best running jacket: Inov8 Stormshell

Best running nutrition: Mountain Fuel

Best running watch: Polar Grit X Pro

How we choose our Gear of the Year

Last year, brands sent us submissions specifically for these coveted awards, but this led to the pool of contenders for each category feeling too small and self-selecting. This time, we've spent 12 months testing gear around the clock, writing objective reviews, and keeping internal notes on which products blew us away.

LFTO Trail Running Tester Team

After a lot of discussion, we narrowed down the best clothing and accessories, but we couldn't handle giving an award to just one shoe. Instead, we split the shoe category into four: Best road-to-trail shoe, best long-distance shoe, best minimalist trail shoe, and the biggest bean of all: Best overall shoe.

Our minimalist expert Fliss Freeborn advised across the shoe and clothing categories while our sustainability pro Chris Williams ensured that we always picked winners with top eco-friendly credentials. Meanwhile, our editor Oli Reed sort of just watched us do all this and nodded approval every once in a while.

This year's winners have proved themselves when it comes to practicality, comfort, value, sustainability and performance for trail running. Let's jump in...

Best overall trail running shoe: Hoka Speedgoat 5

Hoka Speedgoat 5 gear of the year winner

Price £140 | Weight (per shoe) 291g | Upper Double layer jacquard engineered mesh  | Sole Vibram® Megagrip with Traction Lug | Men’s sizes 6.5 –13.5 | Women’s sizes 3.5 – 9

Shop the Hoka Speedgoat 5 here | Check out the women's version here

The Hoka Speedgoat 5 trail running shoes have earned cult classic status thanks to their remarkable versatility and agility on the trails. They're our overall winner because they truly excel across the board. Featuring a lightweight yet durable construction, including an updated breathable mesh upper for enhanced ventilation and a secure fit, the Speedgoat 5 offers remarkable stability over loose terrain plus plenty of room for toe splay.

The full-length EVA foam midsole, combined with Hoka's Meta-Rocker technology, delivers excellent impact absorption and propulsion, making long-distance runs feel effortless. With a 4mm drop, the curved design rocks you from heel to toe with minimal effort compared to minimalist, zero-drop alternatives. On long and fairly flat runs, they provide an unbeatably smooth ride. Meanwhile, the 5mm lugs put in work underfoot. Their zonal positioning allows for great traction on both lateral and medial planes – a proper all-terrain tank of a shoe with an even hardier Gore-Tex version.

That's why the Hoka Speedgoat 5 tops our list of the best trail running shoes of 2024.

Best road-to-trail running shoe: Asics Trabuco Max 3

Asics trabuco Max 3 gear of the year winner

Price £160 | Weight (per shoe) 305g | Upper 50% recycled technical mesh  | Sole ASICSGRIP™ outsole | Men’s sizes 5 –14 | Women’s sizes 3 – 10

Shop the Asics Trabuco Max 3 here | Check out the women's version here

The best road-to-trail running shoes are all about cushioning and balance. You need lugs that can grip different surfaces but aren't too aggressive on flat even tarmac, and you need a midsole that can absorb the increased shock of running on hard surfaces which other trail shoes needn't worry about. The Asics Trabuco Max 3 is a powerhouse in the realm of maximalist trail running shoes, largely due to its unique, proprietary midsole. Even with the plush cushioning and a phat stack height (43mm heel, 38mm forefoot), these shoes maintain a sense of ground-feel that even beats out the Hokas.

Crafted from at least 50% recycled materials, including a ventilated jacquard mesh upper with protective overlays and an integrated gaiter system, the Trabuco provides structure and flexibility for tackling trail debris with ease. Its ASICSGRIP outsole performs exceptionally on wet surfaces, making it a standout on slippery rocks, loose trails, and wet roads. While it may not be the choice for speedsters in races, for those seeking a supportive training companion, the Trabuco Max 3 is a top contender, offering comfort, protection, and reliability for both road and trail adventures.

Read our full Asics Trabuco Max 3 review

Best long-distance trail running shoe: Scarpa Spin Infinity

Scarpa Spin Infinity trail running shoes gear of the year winner

Price £155 | Weight (per shoe) 305g | Upper TPU thermo-welded film  | Sole Vibram® MegaGrip outsole | Men’s sizes EU40 – 48 | Women’s sizes EU36 - 42

Shop the Scarpa Spin Infinity here | Check out the men's version here

The Scarpa Spin Infinity is now the go-to choice for long-distance runs for both members of our team who tested out this shoe. It offers the essential trifecta of structure, comfort, and stability. With its neutral profile and midweight design, the Spin Infinity is all about structural support, featuring a foot-wrapping overlay and rigid heel counter that ensure a snug and secure fit without compromising flexibility. The 4mm drop and slightly curved dual-density foam midsole strike a perfect balance, delivering just the right amount of structure without feeling overly stiff. It's undoubtedly one of the best long-distance trail running shoes of the year.

The Spin Infinity uses Scarpa's Adaptive Cushioning System, with generous padding along the heel and tongue, preventing any slippage during those extended runs. The approach is more about keeping your foot in place so you can maintain proper form, rather than simply throwing a bunch of pillowing under the insole. With a stack height of 26mm, it offers sufficient ground protection while prioritising agility, keeping you connected to the terrain without feeling like you're running in high heels.

The shoe's breathability is further enhanced by open mesh panels along the upper, while features like the gusseted tongue and extended TPU toe bumper provide added protection from trail debris. Equipped with Vibram Velox Cross lugs, this all-rounder excels on a variety of terrains, making it ideal for distances where support and comfort are paramount.

Read our full Scarpa Spin Infinity review

Best minimalist trail running shoe: Arc’teryx SL3

Arcteryx SL 2 minimalist trail running shoe gear of the year winner

Price £140 | Weight (per shoe) 215g | Upper Matryx Micro, constructed from PU-coated recycled polyester fibres wrapped around a nylon core  | Sole Vibram® MegaGrip rubber compound and Vibram Litebase | Men’s sizes 6.5  - 12.5 | Women’s sizes 3.5 - 8.5

Shop the Arc'teryx Norvan SL3 here | Find the women's version here

The Norvan SL3 is a dream for runners looking for agility and nimbleness in mountain terrain, offering a sleek, minimalist design tailored for precision and versatility. Departing from its long-distance counterpart, the LD3, the SL3 prioritises tackling scree and scrambles with its narrowed forefoot and thoughtful features, including heel loops for harness clipping, a testament to its mountain-ready design.

Crafted with insights from mountain athletes, the SL3 shines even in non-alpine environments, boasting an ultralight construction weighing a wildly low 171g per shoe (size 8.5), perfect for those who want to feel light on their feet. With a low stack height ranging from 19mm to 12mm and a responsive, ground-feel-focused midsole, this SL3 is great for moving fast over over challenging terrain. It even topped our best minimalist trail running shoes list. While the Vibram outsole provides reliable traction on rocks, its 3.5mm lugs may struggle in wet and muddy conditions. The shoe does have a snug fit, enhanced by an integrated tongue and knit collar, so wide-footed runners may find the fit too restrictive, but for those seeking a secure and agile companion on the trails, the Norvan SL3 delivers unparalleled performance.

Read our full Arc'teryx Norvan SL3 review

Best running jacket: Inov8 Stormshell

Inov8 Stormshell running jacket gear of the year winner

Price £160 | Weight 149g | Materials Pertex Shield 2.5 layer waterproof fabric with 58% recycled construction | H/H 20,000mm | Men’s sizes XS-XL | Women’s sizes 6-16

Shop the Inov8 Stormshell here | Check out the men's version here

The Inov8 Stormshell is aptly named and delivers on what it promises. Made to cope with the wettest conditions, the Stormshell is a performance-driven layer with a streamlined fit. The structured hood keeps the rain off and out of the eyes, with a drawstring cinching the sides for adjustability. A high collar and zip create a secure fit, while soft lining inside the zip garage avoids any uncomfortable rubbing.

At an impressively light 150g, the Stormshell remains fairly breathable in use, while also offering a high level of waterproofing thanks to the taped seams and waterproof Pertex Shield fabric. Performance and comfort are what makes it the best waterproof running jacket of 2024. If the weather clears up, the one pocket at the front of the jacket can also be used as a stuff sack to easily pack it away.

We found the women's fit particularly comfortable, offering a slim silhouette without being restrictive. The partly elasticated wrists and hem keep the jacket in place well, though the sleeves seem to fall a little short for some, but we eventually got used to the thumb loops (which felt a little tight at first - give them time to relax).

Read our full Inov8 Stormshell review here

Best running watch: Polar Grit X Pro

Polar Grit X smartwatcj gear of the year winner

Price £459 | Weight 79g with wristband  | Materials Plastic case, sapphire screen glass, stainless steel bezel | Features Trail running mode, route navigation and profiles, long battery life

Shop the Polar Grit X Pro here

We chose the Polar Grit X Pro smartwatch as our best running watch of 2024 because this thing is loaded beyond the brim with features that specifically benefit trail running. From mapping and speed tracking to elevation and GPS functionalities, it covers all the essentials for trail runners seeking advanced metrics. Standout features include Precision Prime mode for accurate wrist-based heart rate tracking and FitSpark, which tailors daily workouts based on recovery, readiness, and training history.

Moreover, the Nightly Recharge function monitors recovery during sleep and provides personalised tips for exercise, sleep, and energy regulation. The Hill Splitter feature automatically detects uphill and downhill segments, offering detailed performance reporting for ascent and descent. Additionally, the watch tracks power generation during runs and provides turn-by-turn navigation using Komoot's mapping, ensuring runners stay on course and informed about weather conditions. With its robust feature set and intuitive design, the Polar Grit X is our clear top choice for trail runners seeking in-depth insights and performance optimisation.

Best running legwear: Montane Slipstream Twin Skin

Montane Twin Skin running shorts gear of the year winner 2024

Price £80 | Weight 121g | Materials 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane, Waistband: 78% Nylon (recycled), 22% Elastane | PocketsLarge rear zip; x 2 side gel pouches | Men’s sizes XS-XXL | Women’s sizes 6-18

Shop the Montane Slipstream Twin Skin here

The Montane Slipstream Twin Skin shorts offer a double-layered construction for optimal performance, featuring a stretchy nylon inner short and a durable polyester outer. The inner layer minimises chafing while providing compression and stretch, thanks to the CARVICO with ECONYL® fabric enriched with recycled nylon. The soft feel against the skin and barely-there stitching make the inner short fantastically comfortable over long distances.

Constructed with a mix of polyester and elastane, the outer layer offers flexibility and durability, ideal for navigating rough terrain. With three pockets including a YKK zipped pocket at the back and two hip pockets for essentials like gels or snacks, the Slipstream Twin Skin shorts provide plenty of storage without weighing you down. These are our best running shorts of 2024 because they truly deliver the whole package: Exceptional comfort, durability, weight, and performance, (plus pockets that don't get all droopy at the first sign of a flapjack).

Read our full Montane Slipstream Twin Skin review

Best running top: Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt

Patagonia ridge flow tee shirt gear of the year winner 2024

Price £60 | Weight 105g | Materials 4-oz 100% recycled polyester jacquard jersey with HeiQ® Pure odor control and a wicking finish | Men’s sizes XS-XXL

Shop the Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt here

When it comes to picking the best running shirt of the year, you’ve got to hammer into the fine details. While your average band tee does suck for running, most dedicated sports and outdoor brands produce decent, lightweight, breathable tees. So what puts the Patagonia ridge flow above the rest? For a start, it has fantastic sustainability credentials. The fabric used in the Ridge Flow shirt is 100% recycled polyester, and the threads come together in a sophisticated jacquard knit which maximises breathability and minimises extra weight.

The material is also given both an anti-odour treatment and a moisture-wicking finish. This is where reviewing dozens of running shirts over the year comes in handy – of all the tees our tester Milo has worn to various races and tennis tournaments, the Ridge Flow shirt produced the smallest number of horrified glares and nose-peg deployments from nearby competitors. The side vents also have a tangible effect, and the non-restrictive fit allowed for plenty of comfort during arm-flailing mountain downhills.

Best running socks: Lorpen T3 Trail Running Padded Eco

Lorpen socks winner of trail running gear of the year awards

Price £19 | Materials 43% Red-Cycled Nylon, 29% Coolmax EcoMade®, 15% Stretch Nylon with Lycra®, 13% Tencel® | Sizes EU31 - 50

Shop the Lorpen T3 Trail Running Padded Eco socks here

A concise summary of the Lorpen Trail Running sock is that you don’t notice you’re wearing them. And that is high praise indeed. The T3 Trail Running Padded Eco uses a combination of materials and Lorpen’s Selective Layering System. It’s a rather complex sock design but the end result is seriously impressive.

The blend of Coolmax EcoMade polyester, Tencel (Eucalyptus tree cellulose fibre), and nylon – cleverly placed – proves exceptional comfort and breathability. The use of sustainable materials – recycled nylon and Coolmax, and biodegradable Tencel – also deserves praise.

It’s pricey, but if you’re after the very best running sock this is it. And you can use it all year round.

Find the women's version here

Best running hydration pack: Scott Trail TR 10

Scott RC Running pack gear of the year winner

Price £120 | Weight 120g | Materials Shell: 25% Elastane 75% Polyamide; Lining: 100% Polyamide | Sizes XS - XL

Shop the Scott Trail TR 10 here

The TR 10 running pack immediately struck us with its sleek and stylish design - it's rare that a running pack feels so natural against the body. We're also impressed with its remarkable lightness, weighing just 110g. Despite its featherweight construction, it offers a spacious 10-litre capacity bladder pocket, perfect for a full camelback plus a jacket - and maybe a slim volume of poetry. With six front pockets, including dedicated slots for gels and 500ml flasks equipped with fixation loops for added security, this pack ensures easy access to essentials while running.

You'll also find zip pockets on the waist which easily accommodate most mobile phones (or extra snacks for long runs). While the stretch fabric of the lower pockets means you can fit more in, an elasticated material might be better for security. So, be sure to throw your keys into something zipped. Overall, the TR 10 shines with its ergonomic design, comfortable fit, and varied storage options, making it a standout choice for light race days and longer days on the trail.

Best running sunglasses: SunGod Ultras

Dynafit sunglasses gear of the year winner

Price £150 | Weight 26g | Materials 8KO Nylon, 2mm Nylon | Sizes 4 different nose pads for adjustable fit | Features Full UV protection, hingeless technology, triple layer scratch resistance

Shop the Sungod Ultras here

The SunGod Ultras are hands-down our favourite sunglasses to run in. It's all due to the complete coverage provided. The wrap-around, cut-out lens covers all the gaps you may notice in a normal pair of running sunnies, not letting any harmful UV rays through. With the Ultras you can fully focus on the trail ahead. The minimalist design with no frame around the lenses makes them feel almost like they're hovering in front of your eyes. They're super light, and the slight elevation from the nose bridge allowing for great ventilation and zero fogging.

The 2mm nylon lens is one deftly curved mono-lens with SunGod's 8KO technology for boosted clarity. The lens also has triple-layer protection from scratches and 100% UV protection. If you normally struggle to find you're right size, this shouldn't be an issue with the Ultras as they come with four different sizes of nose pad. The best part is that SunGod is a certified B Corp and these sunnies are 100% carbon neutral, with a lifetime guarantee which should extend their lifespan. They're a no-brainer, and this guarantee adds a load of value to the cost.

Best running head torch: Petzl NAO RL

Petzl RL Headtorch gear of the year winner

Price £149.99 | Weight 145g | Materials plastic, aluminum | Brightness 1500 lumens | Features reactive lighting, red rear lighting, long battery life

Shop the Petzl NAO RL here

The first thing that grabs you about the Petzl NAO RL is the massive 1500 lumens on offer; double the output of standard trail running torches. Even in standard mode, it offers a substantial 900 lumens, a bright, consistent light for up to two hours. With lower settings providing extended burn times and still offering ample lumens, versatility is the key feature. Yet another use, the provided stash pouch is translucent and can be hung up and turned into a lantern easily. A great 2-in-1 if you're wild camping (or want to navigate with a handheld lantern like a Scroogey trail runner.

Comfortable and easy to fit straight out of the box, the NAO RL features an ergonomic head cradle setup that distributes weight effectively, minimising bounce and battery drag. For such a large battery, we were impressed by how light the overall headgear feels. The adjustable angle of the front light and two red light modes on the rear battery pack enhance visibility and safety on the roads. Despite its powerful performance, the NAO RL remains lightweight at 145g, with the added benefit of the battery pack doubling as a charger for other devices.

With intuitive light modes and reactive lighting technology, the Petzl NAO RL sets the standard for running head torches, making it a top choice for night-time trail runners seeking optimal visibility and reliability.

Best running nutrition: Mountain Fuel

Mountain Fuel gear of the year winner 2024

Shop Mountain Fuel Nutrition here

You can't take a bite out of a Mountain Fuel Feel Good bar without thinking of the word 'wholesome'. Using simple, natural ingredients, Mountain Fuel have created something really special with their edible range. Their products are, first and foremost, delicious.

We first encountered Mountain Fuel through their energy bars, which are outstanding for their light and airy texture (a seriously impressive feat when you're trying to pack in the carbs). We've since tried their range of energy gels, which include their standard Sports Jelly which combines energy and hydration, as well as their Ultra Chia Gel, a natural alternative to the standard super-sweet, artificial gels that dominate the market.

We've also had the chance to test their extensive suite of shakes, including morning and night fuel, as well as several recovery supplements. These have performed excellently and helped to bulk out Mountain Fuel's range to be fully comprehensive for anyone looking to dial in their nutrition to the absolute max.

Best Performance Brand of the Year: The North Face

The north face logo lfto
©The North Face

The North Face are our winners because they've produced excellent running gear this year, most notably with the Summit Series. The Vectiv Summit Pro was our top pick for racing shoe with its dynamic midsole rocker and explosive carbon plate. we've seen this shoe at the top of podiums, including on the feet of Elsey Davis (click here for her top tips on training like an ultra runner) at the Eiger Ultra 50k. The Pro 2 is set to be even better, coming soon.

Meanwhile, the Futurelight summit running jacket was exceptional, only losing first place to Inov8 due to a couple of missing features. Build and material wise, the Futurelight jacket is actually the better pick if you're looking to move fast and train hard. The Summit Tee shirt and mid-layer are also exceptionally breathable, which allowed us to use an easily customiseable three-layer system during our winter runs.

Sustainable Brand of the Year: Alpkit

Alpkit logo lfto

Year-on-year, we continue to be impressed by Alpkit, as their dedication to using recycled materials across jackets, tents, and apparel is matched by their many circular programmes to extend the life of most kit. Alpkit is a certified B Corp with a focus on integrating sustainable business practices rather than adopting them here and there.

For example, Alpkit has a repair service that accepts any brand. There's also its Continuum Project that takes in unwanted gear (again, from any brand) and passes it on through its charity partners. Alpkit also recycles down as of 2022. It will take in down jackets, sleeping bags, and duvets. Alpkit’s waterproof jackets are now PFC-free and 80% of its clothing contains recycled material according to its 2023 sustainability report.

Best Value Brand of the Year: Decathlon

Decathlon logo lfto

In the bustling world of sporting goods retail, one name shines brightly for its exceptional value proposition: Decathlon. This French giant has clinched the coveted title of "Best Value" in the industry, and it's not hard to see why. Decathlon's secret sauce lies in its finely tuned blend of in-house brands, economies of scale, and streamlined operations, all orchestrated to deliver top-notch products at unbeatable prices.

At the heart of Decathlon's success is its ingenious approach to in-house branding. By crafting and curating its own lineup of sports equipment and apparel, Decathlon bypasses the traditional middlemen, forging a direct path from production line to store shelves. This vertical integration not only slashes costs but also ensures meticulous attention to quality, as each product bears the imprint of Decathlon's unwavering commitment to excellence.

With brands like Quechua for hiking gear and tents, and Domyos for fitness apparel, Decathlon caters to diverse sporting needs without breaking the bank. Their emphasis on simplicity in design allows for efficient production processes, enabling them to offer customers the best value without compromising on functionality or durability.

Best Retailer: Sportsshoes

sportsshoes logo lfto

If you've read even a single one of our roundups, you'll have seen popping up a fair bit. The reason for this is simple: we haven't found a retailer we trust more. In addition to their reliable stocking and shipping, Sportsshoes also strives to provide as many discounts as possible, and we've found time and time-again that once a new generation of shoe comes out (see: Saucony Peregrine 14), then the previous version (here, the Peregrine 13) will always have a hefty price cut.

Of course, many retailers do the same. But what truly sets Sportsshoes apart is their own bespoke content. We've never seen a retailer offer so much free advice, whether it's marathon training plans or up-to-the-second shoe reviews. Their content almost rivals ours. Almost.

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