One of the most important aspects of being a cross country runner is getting the best cross country shoes you can afford. You are going to be spending a lot of time running in them so they must be comfortable, supportive and offer you stability and breathability. We look at the top cross training shoes available, from a minimalistic style shoe to a very supportive one. Looking for new trainers for CrossFit? Click here.

We take a look at the different options available looking at the style, type of breathable materials used for construction, sole and inner sole, as well as supportiveness, stability, and comfort the shoes offer. Cross country is very different to running track or even trail running. You shoe must be able to cope with a number of different surfaces and give you the stability you need to be able to tackle uneven ground. If you like to cycle, you may also wish to see our review of the top cycling shoes!

Best Cross Country Shoes

PictureCross Country ShoesMaterialGenderOutsole
Salomon Men's Speedcross 4 TrailSalomon Men’s Speedcross 4 TrailMesh, TextileMen'sPremium Wet Traction Sole
Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC5Saucony Men’s Kilkenny XC5SyntheticMen'sSynthetic Sole
New Balance Men's 900v4New Balance Men’s 900v4Synthetic, MeshMen'sHydroHesion Sole
New Balance Women's 700v5New Balance Women’s 700v5Synthetic, MeshWomen'sRubber Sole
adidas Performance Women's XCSadidas Performance Women’s XCSSyntheticWomen'sAdaptive Traxion Sole
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC5Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC5SyntheticWomen'sCarbon Rubber Sole
adidas Performance Men's XCSadidas Performance Men’s XCSSyntheticMen'sAdaptive Traxion Sole
Women's Nike Zoom Rival XCWomen’s Nike Zoom Rival XCSyntheticWomen'sRubber Sole
Brooks Womens Mach 18 SpikelessBrooks Womens Mach 18 SpikelessSynthetic, MeshWomen'sPebax Rnew Rubber Sole
Brooks Mens Mach 18 SpikelessBrooks Mens Mach 18 SpikelessSynthetic, MeshMen'sPebax Rnew Rubber Sole

1. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail

best overall ratingSalomon Men's Speedcross 4 Trail


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This is a shoe designed to deal with the harshest of terrains including wet surfaces with ease, a feature-packed shoe that offers you the comfort, stability, and support you need. School runners choose this shoe for cross country! The features on this great shoe include an anti-debris mesh upper, which will prevent any debris getting into your shoe while running. The molded Eva footbed is designed to give you ultimate comfort and support while the midsole is lightweight with cushioning that will rebound, energizing your foot as you run.

Ortholite sockliner in the shoe will keep your feet cool and dry throughout, while the mudguard provides a protective barrier to protect your feet against abrasive synthetic materials as you traverse uneven terrain. The Quicklace system, which allows you to tighten your laces with just one pull and the lace pocket, keep them tucked neatly away. The outsole of the shoe offers ContaGrip which is designed to give you ultimate traction on wet surfaces, the shoe is also water resistant to ensure that your feet stay dry no matter the underfoot conditions.

A cross-country shoe should fit properly and keep your foot snug to offer the ultimate in comfort and stability and the Sensifit design of this shoe ensures that you get the best fit no matter what the shape of size of your foot.

Why We Like It

  • Anti-debris mesh upper
  • Molded Eva footbed
  • Ortholite sockliner
  • Quicklace system and Lace Pocket
  • Sensifit design

A shoe that provides you with support, comfort, and stability is essential when taking on a cross-country run. Robust, durable and lightweight, with an anti-debris mesh upper, molded Eva footbed and Ortholite sockliner, this shoe gives you exactly that along with a Sensifit for the perfect fit and Quicklace system to manage your laces.

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2. Saucony Men’s Kilkenny XC5

premium choice ratingSaucony Men's Kilkenny XC5


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A spiked pair of cross country shoe that is lightweight and designed to offer you the best in control when running cross country. A sleek looking shoe that is designed to give you the best performance. The minimally layered upper is extremely lightweight and molds to your foot offering the support you need. The fit of the shoe is one that is designed to accommodate neutral pronators, so it offers a neutral fit. The midsole has a compression molded EVA to ensure the best cushioning and comfort.

The tread is very versatile to allow you to be able to cope with any kind of terrain and the spike will deliver excellent performance to give you the grip you need to deal with really difficult terrain, ensuring you get the best stability. With a carbon rubber outsole is abrasion resistant and the traction on the shoe is superb with a 6-pin spike to get you through even the muddiest of courses with ease.

Why We Like It

  • Carbon Rubber Outsole
  • 6-pin xc Spikes
  • Minimalist Mesh Uppers
  • Compressed EVA midsole
  • Neutral fit

Getting through even the toughest of courses is a breeze with the Kilkenny. The 6-pin spiked sole gives you the traction you need even on the muddiest of courses, minimalist mesh uppers are super lightweight and the carbon rubber outsole is abrasion resistant and flexible. A neutral fit is designed for neutral pronators.

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3. New Balance Men’s 900v4

great value ratingNew Balance Men's 900v4


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New Balance does it again with this great, affordable shoe that offers you everything you need to get through even the most difficult courses. The 360 degree mesh upper not only provides a shoe that is lightweight and will not hinder you in your running. It is also extremely breathable to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the race. The FantomFit lets the mesh upper mold to your foot giving you excellent support and a great fit.

The 6-pin spike plate offers traction on the New Balance. This is designed to be extremely flexible, allowing your foot a full range of movement, and it also offers aggressive lugs to offer that bit of extra stability. The rubber sole is abrasion resistant and the shoe is also very durable. Lightweight, comfortable and with superb traction, these cross-country shoes will offer you everything you need for a fraction of the price of other cross country shoes available.

Why We Like It

  • 360 degree mesh upper
  • Aggressive Lugs
  • 6-pin spike pad
  • Rubber abrasion resistant sole
  • FantomFit

A very well priced cross-country shoe that offers all the features you need. The 360-degree mesh upper offers breathability and the FantomFit ensures the shoe molds to your foot for great comfort. Rubber soles with a 6-pin spike pad and aggressive lugs ensure the best traction to cope with any kind of terrain.

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4. New Balance Women’s 700v5

New Balance Women's 700v5


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New Balance has provided women with a shoe that will cope with the harshest conditions when running cross country, balance, stability, performance, and comfort all come together in this great shoe. The upper of this New Balance is constructed from 75 percent mesh and 25 percent synthetic fabric to offer superb breathability which allows your foot to get the airflow it needs to remain cool and dry no matter how hard you work.

The revlite midsole and FantomFit offer you the best fit and most comfortable insole which superb cushioning, while the rubber sole with the flexible 6 spike configuration will allow you to maintain your grip on any surface, even with very difficult and muddy underfoot conditions. These lace-up cross country shoes are designed to get you going and keep you going, stylish, versatile, comfortable and offering superb stability and breathability this is a great woman's cross country shoe.

Why We Like It

  • 6 spike configuration
  • 75% mesh and 25% synthetic uppers
  • Lace-up style
  • Revlite midsole
  • FantomFit

A spiked cross country shoe that provides you with breathable upper constructed of 75 percent mesh and 25 percent synthetic, a revlite midsole for ultimate
comfort and supports a and FantomFit to ensure that you get the best fit in your shoe for great stability, comfort, and support.

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5. adidas Performance Women’s XCS

adidas Performance Women's XCS


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The Adidas xcs spiked cross-country shoe that offers superb traction on any surface, even muddy soft surfaces with a rubber outsole that offers grip and six forefoot spikes to enhance traction on difficult terrain. This shoe is comfortable, durable and offers great stability. A low top athletic shoe weighing in at a mere 6.5 ounces it is super lightweight. The upper is constructed of air mesh to ensure you get adequate airflow and is based on the therapeutic tape that is used by athletes.

Durability is provided by a rubberized print that covers the shoe and protects it from the elements, dirt and of course mud. The lacing system on the shoe is asymmetrical with a great lockdown to keep your foot snugly secure in the shoe. The inner bootee of the shoe gives it a barefoot feel and the Litestrike EVA midsole is both lightweight and cushioned to provide comfort.

Why We Like It

  • Six forefoot spikes
  • Lightweight at only 6.5 ounces
  • Air mesh uppers for breathability
  • Asymmetrical lacing system
  • Litestrike EVA midsole
  • Colors options

A superb example of woman’s cross country running apparel shoes that offer comfort in the Litestrike EVA midsole, breathability in the air mesh uppers, with an asymmetrical lacing system providing superb lockdown and weighing in at only 6.5 ounces it is one of the most lightweight cross country shoes on the market.

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6. Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC5

Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC5


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Saucony does it again with this superb Women’s Kilkenny cross-country shoe that is ready to take on any course. A spiked cross country shoe that is lightweight and supportive. The mesh and synthetic upper provides you with a breathable shoe to ensure you get the right amount of airflow to your feet keeping them cool and dry. The tongue and collar of the shoe are lightly padded, to offer an extra level of comfort while the fabric lining of the inner shoe gives you that barefoot feel.

The molded foam footbed with a compression molded EVA midsole offers you ultimate comfort and support, keeping your foot cushioned and stable. The XT-600 carbon rubber outsole not only provides you with durability but is also lightweight and flexible. The four spike design of the shoe, along with the rubber outsole, provide the best traction even on muddy surfaces to give you the edge when running cross country.

Why We Like It

  • Mesh and synthetic upper
  • Compression molded EVA midsole
  • Molded foam footbed
  • Four-spike design
  • XT-600 carbon rubber outsole

Running cross-country is a breeze with these lightweight, mesh and synthetic upper running shoes for cross country. Compression molded EVA midsoles, molded foam footbed and four spike design with an XT-600 carbon rubber outsole, offer the comfort, stability, breathability, and traction required during any cross country race and are sure to give you the edge.

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7. adidas Performance Men’s XCS

adidas Performance Men's XCS


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Adidas offers you a lightweight, weighing in at a mere 7 ounces, cross country running shoe that is designed to give you the edge over your opponents when taking on any cross country course. Air mesh uppers, which are inspired by the therapeutic tape worn by athletes, gives you complete breathability, while the rubberized print allover protects the shoe from dirt and mud, giving is superb durability. The lacing system offers great lockdown and ensures that the shoe fits properly on your foot.

The Litestrike EVA midsole is not only lightweight but offers the cross country runner comfort and support and combined with the inner bootee construction what is lightweight and gives you the barefoot feel, your foot stays snug and supported at all times. The extreme adaptive traxion offers you the best traction on both hard and soft surfaces with an outsole designed to grip and six forefoot spikes for extra traction.

Why We Like It

  • Litestrike EVA midsole
  • Adaptive Traxion design
  • Air mesh uppers
  • Rubberized allover print for durability
  • Six forefoot spikes

Offering superb features in a cross-country running shoe, such as a lightweight air mesh uppers, litestrike EVA midsole, and rubberized allover print, along with adaptive traxion and six forefoot spikes this shoe will provide any man running cross country with comfort, support, stability and durability, along with superb traction on any surface.

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8. Women’s Nike Zoom Rival XC

Women's Nike Zoom Rival XC


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Nike has always been a good name in running shoes and their Zoom Rival XC cross country running shoe is one of their best offerings for women who like to take on the challenge of cross-country running. The Phylon midsole is designed with a responsive cushioning to redirect the energy of impact and offer your foot the support and comfort it needs. The anatomical heel with a rounded design enables you to roll with the ground and take on even the most difficult terrain with ease.

Your foot remains locked down into the shoe with the Flywire technology so you get the best stability when traversing rough and uneven terrain. The sticky rubber sole offers superb traction and that shoe is designed to fit snugly on your foot. The Rival XC offers the comfort and supports every woman running cross country needs along with superb stability and great traction it is the perfect fit for taking on the difficult and rough terrain cross country running brings.

Why We Like It

  • Phylon midsole
  • Anatomically rounded heel
  • Rubber outsole
  • Flywire lockdown
  • Lightweight

One of the best women’s cross country shoes on the market offering a Phylon midsole for ultimate comfort along with an anatomically rounded heel, flywire lockdown, and lightweight grippy rubber outsoles, it is ready to take on even the roughest and muddiest of terrains encountered when running cross country.

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9. Brooks Womens Mach 18 Spikeless

Brooks Womens Mach 18 Spikeless


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Brooks comes to the party with a women’s shoe that offers you a whole host of features to ensure that when you run cross country your foot is support, comfortable and stable at all times. The support of the shoe is designed for a neutral pronator with lightweight and flexible uppers and sole. The heel drop is a mere 4mm giving it a barefoot feel. The mesh upper with a 3D print design is breathable and will allow your foot to stay cool and dry throughout.  The lace-up closure keeps the shoe securely on your foot with an adjustable fit to ensure comfort.

Extra comfort is provided with a tongue and collar that are both lightly padded and the soft, durable fabric lining inside with molded EVA midsole for cushioning.  An aggressive lug pattern gives you the traction you need to take on any kind of surface and the Pebax Rnew outsole plate not only is durable and flexible but also gives you energy return to allow for quick acceleration. Lightweight, weighing in at a mere 4 ounces, this shoe provides you with everything you need, giving you the edge when taking on a cross-country course.

Why We Like It

  • Mesh upper with 3D print design
  • Lace-up closure for adjustable fit
  • Padded tongue and collar
  • Molded EVA midsole cushioning
  • Pebax Rnew outsole plate

Offering the best features designed to give you the ultimate in comfort, support and stability with mesh uppers for breathability, lace-up closure offering an adjustable fit, padded tongue and collar with molded EVA midsole for superb cushioning and comfort and a Pebax Rnew outsole plate with aggressive lugging for great traction.

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10. Brooks Mens Mach 18 Spikeless

Brooks Mens Mach 18 Spikeless


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Brooks mach offers you the ultimate cross-country running shoe for men with the Mach 18 spike-less cross country running shoe. Designed for the neutral pronator, this shoe is lightweight and flexible to take on any cross country course. The 4mm heel drop gives you the sock-like feel yet, which offers the cushioning you need in the molded EVA midsole and soft fabric lining along with the padded collar and tongue. Your foot remains cool and dry with the breathable mesh uppers and 3D printed design.

The microfiber internal support of the shoe ensures that your foot is always stable and supported during the cross country race. Traction is provided with the Pebax Rnew outsole plate, which also offers an energy return to give you explosive acceleration. The rubber outsole of the brooks running mach shoe is designed with an aggressive lug pattern to ensure that you maintain your grip even on muddy or difficult terrain. The lace closure keeps your foot securely in the shoe and provides an adjustable fit.

Why We Like It

  • Molded EVA midsole
  • Soft fabric inner lining
  • Microfiber internal support
  • Breathable mesh uppers
  • Aggressive lug pattern and Pebax Rnew outsole for durability and grip

Running cross country is challenging and the Brooks gives you all the features you need to take on the challenge. Molded EVA midsole, soft fabric inner lining with microfiber internal support and breathable mesh uppers keep your foot supported, comfortable and stable. The aggressive lug pattern provides superb traction for any terrain.

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Buyers Guide Questions

XC Buying GuideChoose the right shoe for XC training with our buying guide. Running cross country is not easy. You will be faced with many challenges such as rocky or uneven surfaces or muddy, wet and slippery terrain. This type of track and field trail running is great for building lower and upper body strength and cardiovascular health. XC training has also been shown to have positive effects on runners’ brain connectivity! When you are looking to buy a pair of shoes you need to consider before buying cross training trail shoes.

Durability in the synthetic materials used to construct the shoe is one of them, as is the traction you get from the sole of the shoe. Gender-specific shoes are important as the loose or snug fit of the shoe will ensure stability and if you have a shoe that is designed around your types of feet, whether you are male or female, you will have a better chance of winning your cross country races.

Do you need xc spikes, or do you need to go spikeless? If you’re goals are weight loss, you may need different beathable materials to those with other goals. All of this you should consider before buying these types of shoes or running apparel. When choosing the right cross cross country running shoes, you need to keep three key aspects in mind.


The type of materials used on the shoe is important. The uppers should be lightweight and not weight the runner down, allowing a full range of movement in the foot to enable them to cope with the terrain they are going to be faced with. They should also be debris resistant and mold to the foot offering support. Mesh and synthetic materials are often used in the construction of the cross-country shoe as they offer all of these features as well as being durable.


Men and women have specific needs in shoes. A man’s shoe is designed differently to a women’s in that they are often slightly heavier and wider than a woman’s. Men and women also have different strides and the shoes are designed to cater for those differences. When you select your shoe, the fit is paramount.

If your shoe does not fit properly, you may find yourself tripping and falling, especially on uneven, rough terrain and therefore selecting a gender-specific shoe can prevent injury, provide for a great, snug fit and offer the most comfort to any cross country runner.


The outsole of the shoe is important, as this is what gives you the traction you need to get through the race. Most of the cross country shoes will have soles that are made from rubber, this offers you the best traction. They may also have a cross country spike plate to add to the level of traction you get, this aids in getting through muddy and wet areas easily.

The outsole of the shoe should also be as durable as possible as well as being flexible to allow your foot to have a great range of movement and to allow you to cope with any obstacles that may come your way when running cross country. Large rubber lugs on the soles will also add to the traction of the shoe. You also need to decide whether you are buying for wide feet, or narrow feet.

What are Cross Country Shoes?

Cross country shoes are athletic shoes designed to be worn when you run cross country races. They are made to be durable, flexible, lightweight and supportive. Some cross country shoes offer track spikes for added traction, especially on muddy surfaces. When running cross country, you can be faced with a number of different terrains you need to deal with, cross country shoes are made to cope with any and all challenges, and unlike track and field or normal running shoes they will offer you excellent padding and cushioning to help you deal with rocky and uneven terrain.

Do you wear Spikes in Cross Country?

Spikes for Cross CountryWhen taking on a cross-country run you need to be able to deal with difficult terrain that varies throughout your race. Having the best traction possible is paramount when running cross country and having spikes or studs ensures that you remain on your feet no matter what obstacles you face. Cross country running shoes often provide a flexible spike plate that combines with studs to give you the traction that you need when running cross country.

Spikes are often worn in track running to provide the traction you need and for explosive acceleration. The same can be said of cross country, although the cross-country spike plates tend to be a little more flexible and also the spikes slightly longer at around 9 to 12mm in length. A more flexible spike plate is essential when running cross country to be able to deal with the hard-packed ground or stony trails. For the study on ground reaction between different running shoes click here.

Cushioning on the spiked soles of cross country running shoes are also slightly different to track in that they provide a lot more cushioning in the forefoot and rear foot to offer the comfort levels needed when taking on difficult and uneven terrain.

What are the Best Shoes for Running Track?

The best shoes for running track are those that offer you the most lightweight, barefoot-like feel that you can get. Track shoes also offer track spikes to enhance the traction you get and to give you that explosive push-off you need. They are designed to be flexible and breathable to give your foot the comfort, support, and stability you need when running at speed.

What are Cross Country Shoes made Of?

Cross country shoes are mostly designed to be as lightweight and supportive as possible. Most cross country shoes have a mesh or synthetic upper that is debris resistant and breathable. The soles of the shoe are usually rubber with aggressive lugging and/or spikes to give you the traction you need when tackling difficult terrains such as mud or hard, rocky surfaces.

Do you Run Faster with Spikes?

Spiked shoes are often a lot lighter than your other running shoes as they do not require the thick soles with traction, as the spikes provide this. The lighter the shoe, the easier it is to pick your feet up and the less fatigued you get during the race, this all adds up to ensure that when wearing a lightweight spiked shoe, the faster you can run and that shoes that offer that barefoot feel give you a few seconds advantage over other runners.


Whatever types of shoes or running you enjoy, you need to have the right footwear for the task. When running cross country, you need a shoe that offers you durability and protection, along with comfort, support, and stability to keep you on your feet and in the race. Designed for ultimate traction with or without spikes and barefoot, lightweight feel and snug secure fit, cross country shoes give you the edge over any opponent not properly equipped to take on the challenge of a cross-country course.

Salomon Men's Speedcross 4 Trail

Top Pick

Salomon is a well-known brand of shoe and the Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail shoes are designed to the best of their specifications to help cross country runners take on the challenge of harsh terrains, wet muddy surfaces, and uneven, difficult footing environments. That makes this our top trail running shoe reviewed for weight loss and xc training in 2018. The features of this great cross country shoe include an anti-debris mesh upper to prevent your shoe from picking up unwanted debris as you run.

The molded EVA footbed is both lightweight and comfortable while the lightweight, cushioned midsole offers you the utmost support and will help to energize your foot as you run. The ortholite sockliner in the shoe helps to keep your foot cool and dry no matter what the circumstances and the mudguard act as a protective barrier against abrasive materials.

A Quicklace system designed to allow you to tighten your laces with just a pull of the string, along with the lace pocket keep your laces tightly managed throughout. ContraGrip is designed to provide you with superb traction, allowing you to take on wet and muddy surfaces and remain stable on your feet at all times. Sensifit provide comfort as it ensures that the shoe fits snugly on your foot.

Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC5

Premium Choice

Running in a spiked shoe can give you the edge you need in any cross country race, it is designed to offer you the best traction on any surface including wet and muddy ones, and that is what the Saucony Men’s Kilkenny XC5 provides for you. The shoe is lightweight and with a sleek look, it offers you the best in looks and performance, making it our premium choice for 2018.

The uppers of the shoe are extremely lightweight and designed with minimalism in mind, the shoe molds to your foot offering you great support and stability. It accommodates neutral pronators with a neutral fit. The midsole of the shoe is molded EVA to offer you superb cushioning and a high level of comfort when running.

The tread of the shoe is able to handle any kind of terrain with the 6-pin spikes and carbon rubber outsole you can be sure of your footing always, no matter what the conditions. The outsole is also abrasion resistant offering great durability.

New Balance Men's 900v4

Great Value

The New Balance Men’s MXC900v2 offer you all the features you need in a great cross country shoe at a very affordable price and that is what makes it our great value choice for 2018. The shoe is very breathable and designed to be lightweight so as not to hinder you and allow you to move freely.  The 360-degree mesh upper will ensure your feet stay cool and dry throughout the race and the FantomFit of the shoe offers great support, molding to your foot providing superb a superb fit.

Traction is provided by the 6-pin spike plate that, due to its flexibility, offers your foot full range of movement and the aggressive lugs add to the traction ensuring you stay on your feet and keep you stable no matter what kind of surface you are faced with.

The rubber sole is abrasion resistant and makes the shoe extremely durable. This lightweight, comfortable shoe with excellent traction is exactly what a cross country runner needs to reach their goals and run a great race under any conditions.


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