Cross country. Two ominous words that strike fear into the hearts of many. It’s a tough, tough sport that requires a ton of willpower and sheer cardiovascular aptitude. But that’s not all it takes to be successful at it. It also takes being able to keep your footing, meaning that your footwear is absolutely paramount to how well you do and how safely you are able to do it. Today, we are going to be looking at some of the best and most popular cross country shoes on the market in 2019. We will break down everything you need to know in an effort to help you identify what you need and want, and then we will also take a look at and review some top pairs so that you can get any idea of the best shoes and spikes out there! Ready, set, go!
Top Cross Country Shoes Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Material||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Asics Men’s Gel Venture 6 Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Synthetic||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Ryka Women’s Hydro Sport Cross Trainer Shoes||Training Shoes||Synthetic & Mesh||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Textile & Synthetic||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Brooks Men’s Launch 4 Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Mesh^Textile||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. Under Armour Men’s Toccoa Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Textile & Synthetic||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. New Balance Men’s Nitrel V2 FuelCore Trail Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Fabric||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. Asics Women’s Gel Craze TR 4 Cross Trainer Shoes||Training Shoes||Synthetic||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. Adidas Originals Men’s Solar Glide Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Man Made||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|9. Saucony Men’s Kilkenny XC5 Spike Cross Country Shoes–||Spiked Shoes||Synthetic||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|10. Asics Men’s Hyper XC Cross Country Running Shoes||Running Shoes||Synthetic||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
Cross Country Shoes Buying Guide
How Cross Country is Different
Some people will just assume that you can wear any old pair of running shoes and be able to get away with it for cross country, but this is definitely not the case. There are different types of cross country shoes, and we will take a closer look at those in a bit, but this is a very big deal. Not having the proper shoes beneath you will set you up for a very big failure, and not only in terms of performance. You could very well get injured without having the proper traction. Cross country is much different than track. Track is ran on the same sort of terrain every single time. Cross country is varied. You can be on the road, on the trail, or on grass. It can be hilly, flat, or muddy. You name it, and it can be present. This is a hugely different experience than the one that normal ‘road’ runners or track runners will have had. The races are also almost always much longer than the events you would see at track competitions, so this also requires more support and energy return. You can’t afford to have quite as much flimsiness to the shoes, since you are going to need to have something steady to hold you upright.
Must-Haves in a Pair of Cross Country Shoes
- There are certain things that you just can’t give up if you are a cross country runner, and here’s what your shoes have to be able to in order to give you a leg up on the competition and to give you a chance to be as good as you can be.
- Go with something light. This seems like an elementary idea, but it’s one that can make a world of difference. Cross country is an event that is more of a marathon than a sprint. Endurance events mean that you will be at it a while, so what you need to be assured of is having a little weight on you as possible. Shoes that are lighter in nature will help you get through the whole run just a bit easier. Fortunately, with modern technology that has been devised by shoe companies, you are able to get an adequate amount of support while still keeping with lightweight designs.
- Something breathable is also a must. Breathability might seem to be a big, fancy word made up by the shoe companies, and there are many- believe us- but this not one of them. If you are running on a very warm day, or even one that’s not, you might find yourself sweating profusely. There’s no way to alleviate the buildup of sweat inside your shoes if you don’t have holes that are built in to the shoes. Not only does this help dry moisture up, but it also gives you some air and allows you to breathe just that much easier.
- It’s also important to note that you can go too far here with this concept. Breathability is awesome, but it can also negatively affect you. If there are holes there for water to escape, then there are also holes to let in moisture. So if it’s damp out, you can end up with water inside the shoes. It’ll let some out, but it’s not going to let a downpour out, so that is something you have to weigh and consider. Some will have waterproofing to them and breathability, so it’s not like you can’t have one without the other or anything!
- Feel is everything. This is something that can’t be expressed all that well, but the way you feel in your shoes is essential. If you can’t tolerate them from the first moment you put them on, then you do not want to buy them. They might be the coolest or have the best, newest technology ever, but they will not come through for you in the clutch. Comfort is not everything, but it can and will make or break your time on the trail.
- Flexibility is king. Having a pair of shoes that allow you to have some range of motion is very much a necessity when you are running cross country, therefore you need to have something flexible. Sometimes you can go overboard and have too much. Flexibility overly done is basically going to amount to a flimsy product, sure, but this is still something you need. As you run, you’ll want to wiggle your toes and move around a bit. Without any flex in your shoes, this would be impossible.
- Last but not least you gotta have support. Support is one of those things we all chase in shoes but oftentimes never quite figure out what it is. Maybe you feel comfort but you when you get done with whatever activity you have done, you hurt. That’s a lack of support. Look for shoes that are supportive to you and your feet. If you have had injuries in the past or suffer from a lot of soreness, ask around about shoes that go above and beyond with support. You may sacrifice an ounce or two or weight, but it will be worth it at the end of the day.
The Types of Cross Country Shoes
There are a few types of shoes that you might see when you run cross country. A good runner will probably have a pair or two in their closet from two or more of these categories so that they always have their bases covered. Here’s a look at what you may see and why you should pick this kind.
Practice shoes don’t have to just be for practice, but we are going to label them this way because they are meant to be your workhorse shoes. These types of shoes are very similar to the ‘normal’ running shoes you will see, but you have to understand that not all of those are going to be at a high level for cross country. Shoes that are good for even practicing, which is often tougher than the races, mind you, are going to have to have superior comfort and support to them, as well as great traction. Regular road running shoes don’t always offer this, and you certainly don’t get the durability that you need from them in most cases. If a cross country race is going to be around three miles in length, you can count on running at least double that at practice. Five a week is 30 miles per week, so it won’t take long to rack up a ton of miles and be ready for a brand new pair of shoes, especially if you didn’t have durable ones to begin with.
Spiked shoes are the type of shoes that you should be looking into for your races, assuming you are looking to push your limits and be a serious contender. They will not make you an automatic favorite, but they will help you get supreme traction to the ground and will also be super light so that you can fly through the field. The problem with spiked shoes- and a reason why they are race shoes- is that they lack durability. This is because they are so light and are made for pure performance. This type not only wears out on the upper part, but it will also require you to replace the spikes quite a bit, too. Obviously, this is not conducive to a lot of durability, so you are not going to want to wear them for practices and the like.
A little bit more detail is needed here to give you a full picture of what you are getting. Performance, sheer performance, is going to be improve with the use of spikes, but you are going to pay a cost with durability. Both the shoe itself and the spikes are going to wear out fairly quickly. Yes, you will have better traction on all sorts of surfaces, but you will have to deal with replacing spikes. This can be a very expensive undertaking, so if you are not an ultra serious runner, then they are probably not the best choice for you.
Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes make for some pretty good cross country shoes as well because they are very versatile are used to going through a ton of conditions. These shoes have awesome traction that is able to get you through muddy and grassy settings, and they are usually quite flexible, too, or at least can be. Many, however, are not going to like the fact that trail running shoes are generally heavier than regular running shoes are. This fact might just hold you back a little. But if you are looking for something that is super durability, the extra weight is going to actively work to aid that, giving you much more use of them. The other issue with trail running shoes is that they aren’t all that great on ‘normal’ road. So if you want something for practice, then these likely won’t be your best bet. They are far from awful, but they’ve just not been made with that purpose in mind, really.
Cross Training Shoes
In our list below, you’re going to see a couple of cross-training shoes included. This is likely a small surprise to you, seeing as how they are not made in anyway with cross country in mind. Even if they sound like similar things, they are not. With that said, cross training is very diverse and it means that those types of shoes, some of them anyway, are able to be used for running and other things. High school students are super active and they may not have their entire sights set on just running cross country. If it’s more of a hobby, or they just have a ton of activities and the budget is running a little short, then you can do a whole lot worse than a cross trainer. This is why we have decided to include this type here. The drawback to them is going to be their lack of traction compared to the other three, and also the fact that they are going to be significantly heavier, too.
The last kind we will discuss here is that of minimalist design. These shoes have become popular in recent years and theorize that less is more. They have ‘no drop’ to them, which means they sit right on the ground and they have little cushion and support. They maximize your range of motion and promote natural movement. Virtually, they are like running barefoot without taking the risk of stepping on something and getting hurt. Cross country shoes are already relatively lightweight, but these go even further. Because of that, they may feel like a good shout for you. While they could be, it’s hard to suggest them, especially to someone that is still growing and developing as most cross country runners are. You need some support, even if you don’t want an abundance of it, so it’s difficult to suggest this as being the best answer. Nonetheless, it’s one that is available to you should you want to go in this direction.
Finding the Right Fit
Getting the best possible fit is going to go a long way to making sure your shoes are the best they can be and that you are protected and able to perform as well as you can. Here are some things that you should be doing to make sure you get the perfect fit for your shoes.
- Don’t assume you have the same size as you always did. Shoe sizes change a lot, and various companies will fit you differently. You may be a 7 in one and an 8 in another, it’s all relative. There is no universal sizing system, contrary to what you may think. Resizing yourself is smart to keep you running correctly.
- When you do try on shoes, make sure to do so when you are ‘warm’ and prepared as if you are going to be running. Whatever you plan on wearing during race days should be what you wear when you try on shoes, whether it’s at the store or at home after they have arrived at your house. Run a bit before you try them on, or walk a lot so that you can make sure your ankles and feet are a little swollen. This way you know you will have plenty of room in there and won’t feel handcuffed by the shoes when you thought they were just about as perfect as they could be originally.
- Balance out your width with your length. So many people key in on just the length of their shoes and they totally forget the width part. Or they go much too far in the opposite direction. When you have shoes that are too narrow, it’s a recipe for discomfort and a sure fire disaster. But you can’t just go up a size and assume you’ll be just fine. Some companies just will not fit well with your feet and your body. It’s perhaps a harsh fact, but it’s one you need to come to accept. Many times, it’s best to stick with a company or brand that you know well and have used before. At least you will have a semblance of how they feel. This is why so many athletes have brand loyalty. It’s not all about colors and style, it’s about finding their comfort level.
- Don’t forget the space between the top of the foot and the upper of the shoes as well. If this area rubs up against you, it could also create blisters, which are quite obviously very painful and will grind you to a halt. If you don’t come to a halt, you’ll at least soon be wishing that you had!
How To Make Cross Country Shoes Last Longer
There are lot of things you can do to make shoes last longer, and that’s something you should be looking to do with your pair of cross country shoes, too. Here’s a look at some tips and tricks to help you get the most life out of those shoes that you possibly can.
- Never wear your shoes for other activities or leisure. The temptation is going to be there, and you may feel it’s easier to just wear your shoes to school and then to practice, but you really shouldn’t. Every step you take, whether it’s running or walking, is putting additional mileage on the shoes. That means the support wanes gradually and that the traction is going to lessen. That’s just the way it is, so take care of them and use them sparingly.
- Have a pair for races and a pair for practices. We know that budgets are not never-ending, but this is a good idea if you want both pairs to last as long as they can. What many people end up doing is using their new ones (the race ones) as their practice ones the next season. This way, you get full use out of them.
- Take your shoes on and off properly after each use. This means you should tie them and then put them on or untie them and take them off. This will save the support over time and can really add up in some extra action for those shoes.
- Double check and make sure you have the right fit. If a pair of shoes don’t fit right, they will never hold up as well as they were intended to. That’s just a fact of life. You may grow from one season to the next, so if you are feeling a little bit off, then this could just be the reason why you are.
Materials Used, Durability, and Price
How well you treat your shoes is going to go a long way toward determining the ultimate lifespan of them, but it’s also going to come down to the materials that are used to make them and the quality at which they are made. You could have the very best materials being used but they could be stitched poorly, for example, which would not do you a whole lot of good. You also could have the best craftsmanship out there but lack the right materials, so it does go both ways. Look for things that are reinforced. Whether it’s the upper so that the mesh is backed up a bit from the possibility of tearing or the soles being thicker to allow more of a beating to be taken to them. The midsoles also can play a big role here. The thicker the insole is, the more of a pounding the shoes can take. This does come at the cost, in most instances, of some extra weight, but it will lead to more durability. With that being said, shoe companies today have made some changes in materials- such as the introduction of EVA foam- which has made shoes lighter but more protective than they used to be. You get both benefits without giving up all that much. Of course, with higher durability, you will get a higher price. The truth of the matter is that cross country shoes are generally more expensive than other types of running shoes out there anyway. It’s just best to go ahead and invest a little bit more if you want them to last!
Color, Style, and Fashion
Everyone wants to look cool. It makes you feel better, and honestly it does boost your confidence and can lead to better performance. Not that it’s going to turn you into a world champion, by any means, but it can help. No one should be stuck with something they absolutely hate. But with that said, you need to also make sure that the shoes you get are functional. It will do you no good at all to have a pair of great looking shoes that just don’t hold up well, support you, or help you go faster or longer. So, don’t start by looking at what looks cool. Instead, begin by looking for the features you look for in a pair of shoes. If you don’t know which has them, then look through reviews and guides, such as this one, or go to a store and ask an expert. After you have nailed down specific shoes for your running pattern and ones that fit the profile you’re looking for, you can then look for a color and style you like. Don’t put the cart before the horse, the old saying goes!
We talked about the brand loyalty aspect a little earlier, but here is a little bit more about brands. A lot of runners, as we also mentioned previously, like to stick with the same brand. It breeds familiarity and you just know what to expect from your shoes. But which brands are to be trusted? It is just the big ones you know of like Nike and Adidas or does it extend? Luckily for you, it extends out quite a bit. There are a lot of brands out there that work specifically on running shoes. If they don’t work on just running shoes, they aren’t nearly as diverse as those two companies are, which means they can put more time into them. This is why they are able to compete with the ‘big dogs’ and why they are viable options for you to pick. With that said, it’s also wise to evaluate a brand if you don’t know them well. If you have never heard of them and you Google them and see few results, it’s most likely because they don’t have much of a reputation. You can find some great upstarts, for sure, but it’s tough to do so. You might save a buck initially, but it might soon crumple down at your feet when they tear apart in quick fashion.
The Ten Best Cross Country Shoes of 2019 Reviews
Asics Men’s Gel Venture 6 Running Shoes
We’ll begin our list here with one of the most versatile running shoes you’ll find out there today, the Gel Venture 6. These shoes aren’t your traditional cross country shoes, to be fair, but they are great for practice and can get you through a race due to the sheer support and comfort they have. The use of gel is prevalent in Asics and has been for a long time, and that legacy continues with these. It’s not just inside the shoes, though, it’s also outside, with the midsoles using it to great degree to cushion those hard blows. Not only do they absorb those shocks, but they also help you push off very well during each and every stride. The reversed lugs that they have on them mean they can go on trails as well, giving you help going up and down them. All the while, they also use high abrasion rubber which will keep them from getting tears on the bottom nearly as easily. On top of that, they go beyond their usual stance and offer a ton of colors, providing you with plenty of help with your looks.
- Gel cushioning
- Reversed lugs make them versatile
- Resistant to abrasions
Ryka Women’s Hydro Sport Cross Trainer Shoes
This is one of those pairs that is an example of thinking outside of the box a bit, but they can help you get where you want to go very well. These shoes are made with cross training in mind, but part of that purpose is going to be running. This is clearly the case because they have laced the shoes with technology that makes them brilliant in wet conditions. Not only do they have a lot of mesh to them, but they also have drainage ports in the soles to let off water. This makes them truly great for wet events and awesome for athletes that are going to need a good, general shoe to go into other events and activities with as well. In the midfoot, they have a cage that utilizes webbing in order to give you support laterally should you need it, and of course, you get the support you need going forward if that is the case. They have pretty good traction on them, too, though they won’t have as much as spikes, for one. It’s an outside the box idea, but it’s not one to overlook or scoff at without a second glance!
- Awesome in the water
- Great support
- Nice choice of colors
Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes
These are more like what you would think of being a cross country shoe, even if they are technically a trail runner. These shoes from Salomon are some of the finest out there for going up all sorts of climates and terrains. They have obvious and pronounced grips to them without going with spikes, meaning you will get more durability and will not have to spend the extra money on spikes. They also have a great ‘foothold,’ which promises to hug your foot and lock it in to make you feel like you’re wearing an extension of a sock. The midsole is made with stability and cushioning in mind, too, with EVA used in order to keep the weight down and to keep you chugging along wherever and whenever you need them. With a toe cap and reinforced rubber in the front and rear, you can count on them to be durable and easy to use. That’s because of their shoe laces, which are not present, instead using a tightening system to get you where you need to go quicker. One worry you may have had was about the weight, but given all of the extreme protection and traction you get, these are remarkably more lightweight than you would think.
- Much lighter than they appear
- Durable traction compound
- Awesome on trails and off the road
Brooks Men’s Launch 4 Running Shoes
Brooks is one of the leaders in the world of running shoes, and it’s no wonder their Launch 4 has made the list as a result. The first you’ll notice is the looks, which are eye popping, to say the least. But that’s just a bonus and a taste of what all they have to offer. These would be best for practice or for runs on a very defined area that you know, since they are very lightweight, flexible, and breathable. This means they might have a hard time on really tough terrains but should really set you free when it comes to those ‘easier’ sort of runs. The rear of the foot has a lot of cushioning to it, helping to take pressure off that area as you stride so that you don’t end up picking up any devastating Plantar Fasciitis or similar injuries. The tongue and the heel collar are made with padding, each working to help you increase your degree of comfort so you can relax as much as possible during you run or race. The ‘cushole’ midsole is extraordinary, working by being a ‘board’ that gives you just enough push without giving too much, meaning you get flexibility and rigidity balanced as well as it can be. They do run a little small, so be aware of that and make sure to adjust accordingly.
- Light and flexible
- Great for practice runs and easier courses
- Cushioning is responsive and supportive
- Does run a bit small
Under Armour Men’s Toccoa Running Shoes
If you’re looking for a shoe that can put up with quite the beating off the ‘beaten path’ that doesn’t have a lot of extra weight behind it, then these are one way for you to look to. This is a pair of trail running shoes that are a cross between full on trail runners and then road runners, too. This is where their lightweight nature comes into play. Despite being light, though, they still have a nice amount of traction and tread, which is also reinforced using abrasion resistant materials all over the outsole. The midsole has EVA used, which is going to help contribute to them having less weight while still allowing you to have ample cushioning to survive and thrive your run. The upper is made out of breathable mesh, but they have laced it with ‘ripstop’ synthetic materials to make sure it’s reinforced so that it does tear easily. The insoles feature an EVA sockliner that is very plush and made to fit you, something that is sure to please you and make you feel right at home.
- Great traction compound
- EVA midsole helps reduce weight
- Feels like home thanks to insole design
New Balance Men’s Nitrel V2 FuelCore Trail Running Shoes
Next up is a pair of shoes from New Balance that don’t look at first glance like they are indeed trail running shoes. But don’t fret, they definitely are! The outsole they have used is great for all terrains, utilizing a combination of lugs and different patterns to provide you with the grip you need on grass, mud, and the trail. These are strong, flexible, breathable thanks to the use of synthetic leather and mesh on the upper, giving you a good mix of both. The use of the NB response 2 insert increases performance and adds to the comfort by making them more responsive and cushioned. On top all of that, you also get great looks, which are not always the forte of New Balance and are very much a welcome sight. These are a bit heavier than most and heavier than they might appear, so take note of that.
- Very flashy looks
- Responsive thanks to insert
- Versatile traction compound
- Heavier than many
Asics Women’s Gel Craze TR 4 Cross Trainer Shoes
Here is another example of a pair of cross trainers that have made the list, largely due to the fact that they use Asics’ tremendous gel technology. It is used in the rear of the foot, using a new system to enhance the midsole and make it much easier to absorb shocks and then explode off. This was made with weights in mind, but it’s going to work wonders for you on the trail or road as well. It’s even got high abrasion resistant rubber in strategic places in the foot where you usually see more wear and tear, as well as a much lighter compound than their usual gel in the midsole called Spevafoam. This foam has been engineered to be lighter in weight than the standard EVA found in so many, which is another reason this shoe has been included in this list. This is the perfect choice for someone that just can’t stick to one activity and is on a budget!
- Much lighter than EVA even is
- Great for versatility
- Helps take off time
- Not specifically for cross country
Adidas Originals Men’s Solar Glide Running Shoes
These are the kind of shoes that would be better for practice, but they will really go a long way toward helping you in that endeavor. They are great with their cushioning, using their famed Boost technology to give you all the support you need while also ratcheting up the comfort level greatly. It also works to reduce your fatigue, giving back your energy and not letting it go to waste. There is a lot of cushion in the rear of the foot and it eases off toward the front, suggesting that this would be best for a heel-first striker to use. The mesh used in the front of the upper is great and gives a lot of breathability and flexibility, which is also given thanks to the ribbing they have used when your foot is flexed from stride to stride. These might not be the best bet for races due to their weight and their lack of traction, but for practice you will have plenty of support to keep you healthy and happy.
- Excellent color schemes
- Reduces fatigue and gives energy back
- Awesome for heel strikers
- Not as durable or good in races
Saucony Men’s Kilkenny XC5 Spike Cross Country Shoes
If you want to go with some spikes, then this is the kind of choice you should turn to. Saucony is a major player in the running game, and it’s no wonder when you see these. They are made for one thing in mind: the race and pure speed and acceleration. With hardly any material on the upper and a very sleek design, they are light and made for quick, hard strides. Thanks to the use of synthetics, they will be as strong as they can and be quite flexible while still being the go-to for agility. The traction is great, using tiny lugs to grip the ground in the back. Up front, you have the option to have four spikes or to go with none, depending on the type of surface you are. This makes you able to use them in both practice and the race, though you might suffer if you aren’t that strong by consistently using them in practice.
- Built for speed
- Very light and flexible
- Can use spikes
- Not as durable for repeated use
Asics Men’s Hyper XC Cross Country Running Shoes
These are also shoes made with very much the race in mind, but unlike the Saucony, these have a much larger profile than their counterparts. They have the possibility of five spikes up front, which are metal ones, and they are made to have more cushioning than their rivals. This means they will be better in practice but might lag behind in the race (if all things were equal and skill was no measure, of course). The rest of the sole is very grippy, too, using very nice rubber to grip the ground and help you efficiently navigate the road ahead. They use their Trusstic technology in them, which is a way to engineer the soles to be less heavy while still retaining their shape, ensuring you get the best, most complete life you can from them. These shoes do run small and narrow, so that is something you will need to account for before you decide to purchase them.
- Good for the race
- Slightly heavier and more supportive than the above Saucony
- More durable than many
- Runs small and narrow
Conclusion And Final Cross Country Shoes Recommendations
Getting an edge in cross country is never easy. There’s always a bigger fish, a wise man once said, and that means there is almost always, unless you’re the best in the world, a faster runner than you. Shoes might seem like a small thing, but they can make a world of difference to your performance and your safety. Finding out what you need to know in 2019 is not as easy as it might appear, however. There’s just so much information to be had, much of it including biased stances for various companies. Then there are endless listings of products. Today, we’ve helped you by putting everything in one single place so that you could have the best start possible. You’ll now be able to at least have a great start toward an awesome pair of shoes or spikes. Good luck on the trail!
FAQ’s About Cross Country Shoes
When Should I Replace My Cross Country Shoes?
Replacing your cross country shoes is a very necessary thing to do from time to time, but deciphering when exactly to do that can be tough. One way you can do this is by tracking the mileage that you have ran. Shoes can generally sustain between 400 and 600 miles, so this one way. A better way is to look at how they are feeling on you. If they no longer feel supportive and you are aching more than you used to, then you will want to look at getting something else. You also definitely need to make a change if you notice that either the upper is tearing or that the soles of the shoes are peeling off. If this is the case, you are setting yourself up for disaster if your persist, both in terms of a lack of performance and safety as well.
Should I Have a Couple of Pairs?
This wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, honestly. There are a whole lot conditions you may find yourself in when running a cross country race, and if you want to truly compete with the best, you will figure out quickly that it takes more than single pair. This is even more the case when you consider you need something for practice as well. Having a pair to practice in and a couple of different ones for the race, or vice versa, might be your ticket to the top. But if you’re less serious and doing it for fun, being a part of the team, or to keep in shape, then you’ll be just find getting one pair.