5 Best Cross Country Running Shoes for Top Performance! 2024

I’m thrilled to share with all the avid runners out there my top selection of the best cross country running shoes! Having the right footwear is critical for conquering those rough terrains while keeping a spring in your step.

Best Cross Country Running Shoes

1. Saucony Women´s Kilkenny XC 9

Our Women´s Pick
Saucony Women´s Kilkenny XC 9


  • ✅ Featherlight construction boosts speed
  • ✅ Reliable traction without spikes
  • ✅ Stays comfortable through long races


  • ❌ Sizes run small; upsizing may be necessary
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05/23/2024 04:27 pm GMT

My wife’s first sprint in the Saucony Kilkenny XC 9 made her feet feel swift as the wind; it’s like they were tailor-made for breaking new ground on the grassy terrain. The lightweight, breezy mesh says goodbye to the drag, keeping her strides feeling effortless and natural.

Traversing up hills and banking turns, she was grateful for the sturdy rubber soles. The grip was solid without traditional spikes — a perk during diverse meets where variable course conditions are a given. Plus, their snug, glove-like fit wrapped her feet in secure comfort, never distracting her with unwanted slippage.

Those with a preference for plush cushioning might be taken aback by the minimalist feel, but for her, it’s all about that raw, close-to-earth connection.

2. ASICS Resurgence XC

Performance and Comfort
ASICS Resurgence XC


  • ✅ Advanced breathability
  • ✅ Supportive upper construction
  • ✅ Foam midsole ensures soft


  • ❌ Machine wash care 
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05/23/2024 05:44 pm GMT

I laced up the ASICS Resurgence XC and immediately noticed the superior breathability. The airflow kept my feet comfortable even on a long, rugged terrain run. Not once did I feel my feet overheating, a testament to the shoe’s design. The stability is another high point; the supportive construction made a noticeable difference in my stride and overall foot positioning.

The midsole foam is a game-changer – my landings felt cushioned and softer than usual, which made for an overall smoother running experience. It’s like the shoes absorbed the shock before it could reach my legs, and that’s a feeling I’d appreciate on any run.

However, be mindful about the sizing. I had to size up compared to my usual, something I learned after a snug first attempt.

3. New Balance Men´s XC Seven v4

Best Pick Overall
New Balance Men´s XC Seven v4


  • ✅ Outstanding traction on varied terrain
  • ✅ Noticeably lightweight construction
  • ✅ Eye-catching design that stands out


  • ❌ Limited color options may not appeal to everyone
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05/23/2024 04:47 pm GMT

The electric red and victory blue colorway isn’t just for show; it’s a virtual signal to competitors that I mean business. My first sprint told me these were more than aesthetic; my feet felt anchored to the earth with every push.

The lightweight build of these shoes was a boon during long distances. When opponents were flagging, I still felt spry, with plenty of spring thanks to the REVlite midsole. The rubber outsole with its aggressive lugs gave me a gripping advantage over the more treacherous paths.

Running in these shoes isn’t just a physical experience; it’s a morale boost. Each kilometer I conquered, the shoes remained comfortable, without any excess weight dragging me down. Sure, they weren’t the best for puddle-heavy courses, but for a dry, cross country race, they’ve become my go-to.

4. Brooks Men´s Draft XC

Traction and Support
Brooks Men´s Draft XC


  • ✅ Excellent value
  • ✅ Provides solid grip and durability
  • ✅ Comfortable


  • ❌ Not ideal for those who prefer minimal arch support
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05/23/2024 05:28 pm GMT

I slipped my feet into the Brooks Draft XC and could feel how the well-crafted design blends comfort with functionality. The canvas upper hugged my feet for a snug fit, which is reassuring on uneven cross-country terrains. I noticed the shoes have a reassuring sturdiness to them, possibly due to the durable rubber soles, adding confidence to each step I took.

The grip was the first thing I tested, taking them straight out of the box onto a soft, challenging trail. They performed brilliantly, maintaining traction on steep inclines and loose surfaces. An unexpected downpour during my run didn’t faze these shoes; the grip was reliable even on wet grass.

Support is paramount for me, having had minor plantar fascia issues in the past. The Brooks Draft XC’s arch support impressed me as it was more pronounced than in other shoes I’ve raced in. Some might find it a bit much if they prefer a flatter sole, but for my needs, it was spot on. They cushioned my strides without feeling overly rigid, which can sometimes be a fine line to tread.

5. Dannto Men´s Trail Sneakers

Conquer Every Terrain
Dannto Men´s Trail Sneakers


  • ✅ Lightweight and comfortable
  • ✅ Water-resistant material keeps
  • ✅ Breathable mesh upper


  • ❌ Limited arch support and cushioning
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Lacing up the Dannto Trail Sneakers, I noticed an immediate sense of lightness on my feet, which made it easier to maintain my pace without feeling weighed down. On my daily jog, the breathable mesh was definitely a plus; my feet stayed cool and sweat-free, even on warmer days.

During a surprise rain shower, I was pleasantly surprised at how the shoes repelled water, keeping my socks dry. The rubber soles offered decent traction on the wet pavement, which added to my confidence through slippery stretches.

However, if you’re a serious runner who logs heavy mileage, these might not be the heavy-duty workhorses you need. After several jogs, the materials showed signs of wear, hinting at a possibly shorter lifespan for more intense training routines.

Buying Guide for the Best Cross Country Running Shoes

🏞 Fit and Comfort

I always recommend starting with the fit and comfort of the best cross country running shoes. Try different sizes to see which one offers a snug fit without compromising circulation. Look for padding in the collar and tongue for added coziness.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Arch Support: Essential for stability and comfort.
  • Toe Box: Enough room to prevent blisters, not too roomy to allow slipping.
  • Lacing System: Secure to keep your foot stable.

🌦 Weather Adaptability

Check the material and design for weather adaptability. A waterproof feature might be necessary for rainy climates while breathable fabric is a must for dryer, hotter areas.

Important aspects:

  • Upper Material: Mesh for breathability or water-resistant materials.
  • Drainage: Ability to release water to avoid squelchy shoes after a puddle encounter.
  • Outsole: Look at the pattern and composition for different terrains.

🏃‍♂️ Traction and Grip

Traction is critical to prevent slipping. The grip should be suitable for the terrains you’re planning to run on, be it forest trails or mountain paths.

Traction features to look for:

  • Lug Pattern: Deeper lugs for muddy conditions.
  • Rubber Compound: Softer rubber for wet rocks, harder rubber for dry trails.

🧩 Durability and Material Quality

Durability is a factor to reflect on since trails can be unforgiving. High-wear areas like the heel and toe should have reinforced materials.

Durability pointers:

  • Reinforcement: Protective toe caps and heel counters.
  • Midsole Density: Look for a balance between soft cushioning and firm support.
  • Upper Wear: Check for reinforced areas where shoes might tear.


What are the best cross country running shoes?

Look for durable, lightweight shoes with aggressive traction for varied terrain. 

How do I choose the right cross country running shoes?

Consider fit, support, and flexibility to ensure comfort and performance. 

Are there specific features to look for in cross country running shoes?

Look for water resistance, toe protection, and a secure lacing system for optimal performance.

I also have tested the best running headlamp or the best running rain jacket. I think this could be interesting for you!

If you like our blog article about the best cross country running shoes, don´t forget to follow us on Pinterest. So you don´t miss any news and also I would love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Sebastian Gradl 26.09.2023
Sebastian Gradl

Nice to meet you, I´m Sebastian Gradl!

I write the articles on runfitjourney.com.

I hope I can awaken your passion for running too and would be happy to take you on the runfitjourney!

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