Waterproof trail running shoes help prevent water penetration with a special membrane, which tends to make the shoe hot and less breathable. If you run in wet or wintry weather, these shoes might be worth the extra expense. But know this: There aren't a lot of models to choose from, and this can be evident by the lack of reviews. Running publications haven't reviewed many waterproof trail shoes, so there's less of a consensus about the best models. The easiest way to determine which shoes are, in fact, waterproof is to look for the Gore-Tex technology. These liners are often used in the top-rated waterproof trail-running shoes that we found.
The Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Trail Runner (*Est. $145) features a Gore-Tex XCR seam-sealed inner bootie that offers plenty of breathability but keeps the shoe waterproof. The shoe gets virtually no attention from professional reviewers, but more than 20 users provide feedback at Amazon.com. They praise the shoe for being sturdy, comfortable and, most important, waterproof. Some reviewers note that the laces have a tendency to break, but others say this comes only after heavy use and is easily repaired.
Another well-known waterproof trail-running shoe on the market, the La Sportiva Wildcat GTX (*Est. $135) offers a stretchy Gore-Tex XCR waterproof liner, and is praised for its well-cushioned interior and sticky rubber outsoles. The best review of this shoe can be found at the blog RunBlogger.com. The writer says that despite weighing in at nearly 14 ounces, the shoe feels surprisingly nimble. He adds that the aggressive tread and waterproof liner make this a good shoe for slushy winter and spring runs.
The North Face Ultra 106 Gore-Tex XCR trail running shoe (*Est. $110) also features this waterproof technology and is less expensive than other models. Plus, a medial stability post makes the shoe ideal for overpronators looking for a waterproof trail-running shoe. REI.com features 10 user-generated reviews that rate the shoe a positive 4.3 stars out of 5. Owners praise the shoe for its straight-out-of-the-box comfort, and say the stellar traction and waterproof lining make it well suited for wet, rainy mountain running. A few note that the laces break easily but say the issue is easily repaired.