Trail Running Shoes:
This is the most important purchase you will have to make. Trail running shoes offer extra grip and some protection especially on the area of the toes in case you kick some rocks or roots during your adventure. Those are some of the keys things you need to look for when choosing a trail running pair of shoes:
Trail Running on uneven, loose or/and ground requires a certain amount of grip. Here in Ireland, a run around the Phoenix Park might not require much grip, while a run along the Wicklow Mountains will require to have more prominent studs.
Cushioning and rigidity:
Some shoes offer very little cushioning with little rigidity allowing you to better feel the ground. Other shoes come with heavier cushioning with lesser underfoot flexibility offering stronger impact protection.
The drop is the height difference between the front of the shoe and the heel. Unlike road running, Trail running shoes tend to have smaller drops as there is a natural shift of body weight to the front while running on uneven ground. Minimalist shoes are not the only shoes offering zero drop, and some heavy cushioned shoes also come in low to zero drop.
Mesh and width:
Some shoes come with very breathable and flexible mesh. Others offer strong support around the foot. Waterproof are practical for rainy runs and warmer in Winter. But they are less breathable and if water gets in the shoe, it will stay there! Choose a tighter shoes for technical terrain as you do not want your foot to move inside the shoe. Some shoes offer tighter fit while others are wider especially for long distance running as the foot tends to widen during long runs. There are very few extra wide fit trail running shoe options.
Shoe weight have little incidence for short runs while every gram counts for ultra runner.