Cross country running is fun and challenging. It is a great way to get outdoors and spend time in nature whilst improving your stamina and fitness.
One of the mistakes that people make when they take up cross country running is using their road trainers.
Cross country running requires specialist shoes to give you more grip and traction on rough terrain.
Choosing a pair of cross-country shoes can be difficult, especially if you have never bought any before. There is so much choice and it is hard to know which shoes are going to be best for you.
We have put together this guide of the best cross-country shoes to help you find your ideal pair. We have reviewed some of the best shoes and provided a buyer’s guide to help you make your decision.
If you want to find your next pair of cross-country running shoes then you are in the right place. Keep reading to find out which shoes we recommend.
Here are our top recommended cross country running shoes to help you achieve the best performance.
OUR TOP PICK
These men’s cross country shoes are made by Asics, one of the best brands of running shoes.
They are designed for different types of terrain as the outsole has deep luggs for traction and stability and there is a trusstic system plate to stop your foot or ankle from twisting on uneven ground.
The EVA midsole is compression molded and offers excellent cushioning even when running on hard surfaces. There are 5 spikes to help you stay upright on muddy ground.
The uppers have a mesh layer for breathability and a TPU layer for durability, so your feet will stay cool but the shoes will be able to cope with the rugged courses.
These shoes manage to accomplish all of this whilst remaining relatively lightweight so that you can still pick up a good speed.
They come in one color option which is green and brown with orange detailing.
- Brand - Asics are a well known and trusted brand
- Versatile - The soles and the trusstic plate are suitable for multiple terrains
- Traction - These shoes provides excellent traction and the spikes keep you steady on muddy ground
- Stability - The trusstic plate will help you to remain steady in uneven ground
- Durable - The TPU uppers make the shoes durable
- Breathable - The mesh lining promotes air ventilation through the shoe
- Lightweight - The shoes will not weigh you down
- Color - There is only one color option available
Asics also make cross country shoes for women. These shoes are similar to the men’s, with a trusstic system plate to keep you stable on uneven terrain.
The rubber outsole has a deep tread to provide impressive traction on various surfaces which is what you need for cross country running.
These shoes are designed to be able to cope with the rugged terrain of cross country races. They have TPU uppers which are very durable, but they do not sacrifice comfort.
The mesh lining allows air to flow through the shoe to keep your feet comfortable and dry, preventing the build-up of moisture inside the shoe.
They have a cushioned EVA midsole to provide support to your feet when running on hard and soft surfaces.
There are 5 spikes on these shoes which dig into muddy ground to prevent you from slipping and falling. This means that you can still build up speed in treacherous conditions.
The shoes are lightweight which also helps you to build up speed. They are available in two colors - black, pink and lime, and blue, navy and white.
- Versatile - You can wear these shoes on different types of terrain
- Stability - The trusstic system plate keeps your feet stable on uneven ground
- Spikes - The spikes stop you from slipping on muddy ground
- Traction - The soles are designed to provide great traction
- Durable - The TPU uppers are very durable
- Breathable - The mesh lining encourages air flow through the shie
- Support - The midsole offers great support for your feet
- Lightweight - The light weight of the shoe allows you to build up speed
- Color - There are only two colors to choose from so you might not be able to match the shoes to the rest of your running gear
Barefoot style shoes are designed to provide little support and cushioning so that you can run in a natural posture similar to how our ancestors would have run.
A lot of people like to run cross country in this way. However, our feet are not used to being barefoot so they still need some protection.
These shoes have a zero drop sole which means they have a very slim profile.
The toe box is wide to give you plenty of space to spread out your toes for balance, as you are more likely to land towards the front of your feet using barefoot shoes as the arch of your foot is not supported.
The sole is super flexible to give your feet their full range of movement. The sockliner of the shoe is removable, so you can make them feel even more minimalistic if you want to.
The material of the uppers is stretchy and breathable, so your feet will be comfortable and moisture won’t build up inside your shoes. There are 20 different colors to choose from.
- Barefoot - The barefoot style allows you to run in a natural posture
- Zero drop sole - Your feet are protected but not over supported
- Width - The toe box is extra wide to give you plenty of space
- Flexibility - You have full range of movement with these shoes
- Breathable - The mesh uppers allow air to flow through the shoes
- Colors- You can choose from 20 different colors
- Sockliner- The sockliner is removable which means it can slide around inside the shoe if you leave it in
- Spike - These shoes do not have spikes due to the design, so you might find muddy ground a bit slippery and difficult.
These women’s cross country shoes are very well designed. They have a triflex rubber sole with a deep tread for excellent traction, even without the spikes.
The spikes are removable, and they provide you with great grip on muddy ground and some extra spring in your step to improve your momentum.
The shoes fit snugly like a sock which helps to support your feet. They have an EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning and shock absorption. The cushioning is durable and offers protection against rebounding.
The uppers of these shoes have a thin film which makes them more durable but doesn’t impact the flexibility and secureness of the fit.
The mesh material makes the uppers breathable to prevent a buildup of moisture inside your shoes so that your feet stay dry and comfortable.
There are two colors to choose from black or mutant green.
- Traction - The triflex rubber sole provides excellent grip
- Spike - The removable spikes add extra stability for muddy ground
- Secure - The shoes fit snugly and securely
- Support - The EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning
- Durable - The fabric uppers have a durable lining for protection
- Breathable - The shoes are well ventilated thanks to the mesh material
- Colors - There are only two colors to choose from
- Sizing - Some customers found that these shoes ran small
These cross country running shoes for men come in three different color choices, each with a striking design.
The rubber sole has a deep, patterned tread for great traction as well as four spikes for stability in muddy conditions.
They will keep you upright and are suitable for various terrains. The sole extends over the toe for extra durability.
The insoles and midsoles are cushioned, but the shoes have a lower profile than some other cross country shoes.
This is to keep them lightweight so that you can still achieve great speeds, and to keep your feet in a flatter position for balance.
The uppers have breathable mesh material to allow air to flow through the shoe to keep your feet cool and allow the sweat to dry.
These shoes come with extra spikes and an extra pair of laces which is very helpful. The spikes are removable so you can choose whether or not you want to wear them based on the course and the conditions.
- Colors - There are three different designs with bright colors
- Traction - the rubber sole has a great tread for grip and traction
- Spikes - The spikes are removable and the shoes come with a spare set
- Breathable - The mesh uppers allow the shoes to stay well ventilated
- Size - These shoes run large so you will need to order a size smaller than normal or they will be too big
- Support - There is less cushioning on these shoes than some other cross country shoes
These women’s cross country running shoes are very similar to the ones reviewed above. They have rubber soles with an excellent tread pattern to give you traction on various surfaces.
They have four removable spikes which you can use to give you extra stability in muddy conditions.
The uppers of these shoes are made from mesh material which keeps the shoes lightweight but also makes them well ventilated.
The arch of the foot is supported by the midsole which makes them comfortable, but your foot stays in a relatively flat position to help you stay balanced on uneven ground.
These shoes are only available in one color- purple and yellow.
- Traction - These shoes have an excellent tread which provides good grip
- Spikes - the four spikes are removable so you can choose to use them for muddy conditions
- Ventilation - The mesh is breathable which allows air to flow through the shoe
- Color - The shoes are only available in one color design
- Support - They are not as cushioned as other types of shoes
New Balance is a very well known and trusted brand in footwear so you can be sure that these trainers are of great quality. They are made from synthetic materials which are very durable.
The soles have 5 spikes to help you grip to muddy ground, but they also have a deep tread to keep you balanced on different kinds of terrain.
The mesh uppers are breathable to help prevent sweat from building up inside the shoe. This keeps your feet dry and ensures that the shoes remain hygienic.
The Revlite midsole is responsive and provides excellent cushioning and support whilst being lightweight and flexible to help you achieve your best performance.
These shoes come in three different colors. The knit construction gives them a snug fit which feels secure on your feet.
- Brand - New Balace is a well known brand with premium products
- Durable - The shoe is constructed with synthetic materials which are long lasting
- Traction - The sole has a deep tread and five spikes for grip and stability
- Breathable - The mesh material keeps the shoes well ventilated
- Support - The shoes have lightweight and flexible cushioning
- Colors - There are three different colors to choose from
- Size - These shoes run quite small so you will need to order a larger size than usual
If you are looking for women’s cross country shoes from New Balance then these will be perfect for you. They fit very securely, with laces and traditional tongue style for reliability.
They are still flexible and offer your feet a good range of movement. The shoes are made from synthetic materials which are durable and long lasting.
The soles of these shoes have a geometric tread pattern which is ideal for providing excellent traction on various types of terrain.
They have six spikes which dig into muddy ground to provide stability and spring bound motion to give you momentum even if the surface is slippery. This will help you to build up great speeds.
The fact that these shoes are lightweight will also help you to run quickly. The revlite midsole cushioning is flexible and supportive without weight down the shoes, so your feet will be comfortable.
The shoes are well ventilated thanks to the breathable mesh uppers that encourage air circulation around your feet as you move.
- Secure - These shoes are very comfortable as they fit securely
- Flexible - The shoes move with your feet so you have a good range of movement
- Durable - the synthetic materials are long lasting
- Traction - the tread pattern and spike provides good grip even on mud
- Lightweight - You can build up speed as the shoes are lightweight
- Support - There is cushioning to support your feet as you run
- Color - These shoes are only available in one color - black yellow and white.
These cross country shoes don’t have spikes so they are better for running in dry conditions where there won’t be as much mud.
However, the sole has deep luggs to provide impressive traction across various types of terrain so you will still be able to achieve an excellent performance with these shoes.
The shoes have a slim profile with minimal but well positioned cushioning to give your feet support without weighing down the shoes.
They are made from durable yet breathable material to ensure that the shoes are long lasting but your feet are well ventilated. The shoes come in 6 different colors to choose from
- Traction - The shoes provide great grip on various terrains
- Durable - The synthetic materials are very durable
- Ventilation - The materials is breathable so you will be able to stay cool and comfortable
- Colors - There are 6 colors to choose from
- Spikes - These shoes have no spikes so they are not ideal for muddy conditions
- Support - They have less support than some other cross country shoes
Now you know what our top recommendations are for cross country shoes, it is time to narrow down your choice and decide which shoes are going to be the best option for you.
Here is some advice on how to make the best decision.
The first thing you need to decide is how much money you want to spend on your shoes. You need to spend enough to get a good quality pair of shoes that will last, but you don’t want to end up going over budget.
If you have a smaller budget then some of the big brands might be out of your price range, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get a good pair of shoes.
Long time runners often gravitate towards a particular brand. Each brand will have a slightly different shape and style, and since everyone’s feet are unique, some brands will be better suited to your feet than others.
You might also prefer certain brands due to their reputation or respect within the running community. Perhaps you like your running clothes to be the same brand as your shoes.
Breathability is an important feature of a running shoe, including cross country running shoes. Your feet will sweat as you run, which can cause moisture to build up inside the shoe.
If the trainer has good ventilation it will promote air flow through the shoe, helping your feet to stay cool and dry.
This also helps to prevent bacteria growing in the warm, moist environment leading to possible health issues like fungal infections and athlete’s foot.
Excellent traction is vital for cross country shoes as the routes are uneven and slippery underfoot. Make sure you choose a pair of shoes that will offer your good grip.
This will allow you to build up speed without worrying about losing your balance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between Track Shoes And Cross Country Shoes?
Track shoes and cross country shoes both have spikes, so you might be tempted to use your track shoes for cross country. However, cross country shoes have move padding because they are designed for long distance.
Track shoes have less padding to make them lightweight so that you can build up more speed over short distances.
Can You Wear Trail Shoes For Cross Country Running?
You can wear trail or fell running shoes for cross country races if you prefer, but they might not be the best option. If the course is quite muddy then trail shoes can offer you good grip, especially if they have a deep tread.
However, softer paths are better suited to cross country shoes with spikes. Some runners decide to bring a pair of cross country shoes with spikes, and a pair of trail running shoes with them on race day.
This lets them assess the course and the weather conditions and decide on the best shoes for the circumstances.
How Do Cross Country Shoe Spikes Work?
Spikes on cross country shoes provide you with more grip on certain kinds of terrain. This allows you to run faster without slipping or losing your balance.
The spikes also give you more spring, giving you more momentum with each stride. The spikes come in various sizes - if it is very muddy you will be better off with longer spikes, and shorter spikes are better for dry paths.
What Should You Wear Cross Country Running?
Having the right shoes is important, but you also need to make sure that you dress appropriately. It is best to dress in layers in case the weather conditions change.
If it is cold then you might need a thermal base layer, if it is wet then a waterproof jacket will be necessary.
Always make sure that your clothes have moisture wicking and quick drying technology to keep you dry and comfortable. Running socks are a good idea to protect your feet from blisters.
Are Cross Country Shoes Unisex?
A lot of cross country shoes are unisex. This might mean that you need to order a slightly different size to usual, as unisex sizing is usually more in line with me’s sizing than womens.
It is important to wear the right kind of shoes for cross country running to prevent slips, falls and injury. It can be daunting to choose your first pair of cross country shoes, or even a new pair to replace your old pair.
There is so much choice available that it can be hard to narrow it down. We have provided our top recommendations with reviews to help you decide which product is going to be best for you.
If you are still struggling to decide then remember to check out the buying guide for advice on how to choose the right trainers for you.