Though I enjoy wearing zero drop, barefoot-style shoes casually and while running on roads, I’ve found out the hard way that running trails in minimally cushioned shoes can sometimes be difficult, especially if pointy rocks are strewn about (a bruised foot during my first 50K made me realize the value of a good rock plate…).
Fortunately, more and more options are popping up in the cushioned, zero drop trail running niche – below are my recommended shoes in this category. All of the shoes listed below work well on roads too and thus offer quite a bit of versatility. However, if you are looking for dedicated zero drop road shoes, you can also view my recommended zero drop, cushioned road shoes here.
NOTE: I’ve only included shoes that I personally have worn or that have been reviewed here on Runblogger.com. If you think there’s a shoe that should be here that’s not currently included, leave a comment and I’ll look at giving it a try!
Zero Drop, Cushioned Trail Shoes
Merrell Ascend Glove
Stack Height: 10.5mm, 10.5mm
Quick Take: firm cushion, forefoot and heel rock plate, wide forefoot, drains well, decent traction
Stack Height: 12mm, 12mm
Quick Take: removable rock plate, very flexible, super-wide toebox, runs 1/2 size small, very versatile shoe
Inov-8 Trailroc 235
Stack Height: 13mm, 13mm
Quick Take: roomy fit, no rock plate but protective outsole, firm ride, decent traction, some have had upper durability issues
Skechers GoBionic Trail
Stack Height: 12mm, 12mm without insole, 18mm 14mm with insole
Quick Take: soft cushioning, rock plate, good traction, removable footbed allows switching between 0mm and 4mm drop