10 Best Cross Country Training Shoes of 2022

It’s every running parent’s dream for their kids to get into running! No matter what kind of runner you are, kids who participate in cross-country need good shoes to protect their feet.

It can be challenging to choose running shoes for cross-country runners. Kids who are just starting out are unlikely to need spikes. Teenagers who run cross-country meets may practice in shoes without spikes.

The shoes we selected are either road shoes or trail shoes that are suitable for running on less technical surfaces. They offer good traction, support, and cushioning while remaining affordable.

It comes in a GTS version for those who need support. Best of all, it’s a great value at such an affordable price.

Check out this article with our favorites for the best cross country training shoes for your kids.

The shoes on this list are our top picks if you want affordable running shoes that will protect your kids’ feet while they run.

TOP 5 BEST AND FAVORITES

10 Best Cross Country Training Shoes Reviews

1. BROOKS LAUNCH 9

BROOKS LAUNCH 9

There is nothing fancy about the Brooks Launch 9, but it does the job very well. It comes with everything a cross-country runner would need for practice or competition.

WHAT WE LIKE

It is a great choice for a new cross-country runner who wants a shoe that will last for many miles. A women’s shoe is just over 7 ounces and a men’s shoe is just over 8 ounces. These shoes won’t weigh you down.

This shoe does not feature any fancy technology, but it does provide everything a high-school cross-country runner needs. In addition to Creel Warp upper support, open mesh sections allow for good ventilation throughout. Flat laces enhance the shoe’s lockdown.

BioMoGo DNA midsole has been strengthened with an additional 2 mm to deliver speed and responsiveness without sacrificing comfort. A generous layer of Green Rubber is also applied to the outsole, making it quite durable and offering good traction on typical cross-country trails.

WHY WE LIKE IT

It’s a classic running shoe that provides all the comfort and safety a cross-country runner will ever need. It’s also very light and quite affordable.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

This shoe has a durable green rubber outsole, but if you live somewhere where it rains a lot, it may not be the best choice.

WHAT’S NEW

The Brooks Launch 9 features a Green Rubber outsole and has 2 mm more cushioning in the midsole than the Launch 8, which is surprising given that it has lost half an ounce in weight.

PROS:

  • A lightweight, versatile training and racing shoe
  • BioMoGo DNA foam has a higher stack height for greater comfort and support
  • XC courses benefit from a generous layer of Green Rubber on the outsole
  • For greater safety and coolness, flat laces and multidensity mesh upper provide a good lockdown

CONS:

  • In wet weather, the traction isn’t great

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2. NIKE AIR WINFLO 9

The Nike Air Winflo 9 is fast, lightweight, has a bit of a spring in its midsole, and is surprisingly affordable.

WHAT WE LIKE

It’s a great shoe for those who want something light, comfortable, and responsive.

The midsole features Cushlon foam for a good balance between softness and springiness. A full-length Nike Air unit extends along the shoe’s length for extra energy return.

The mesh upper is light and perforated to let air flow through, cooling your feet down. The tongue is gusseted to eliminate chafing, and Flywire cables are integrated into the lacing system to help keep the foot in place.

A diverse tread pattern on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe provides slightly different grip for surfaces of all types.

The outsole features a guidance line that gently guides the foot through its natural gait.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Winflo 9 is a high-quality shoe at a low price. Teens who have average to narrow feet will appreciate its light bounce, plus it’s light enough to be fast on the field.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

The Winflo, like all Nike shoes, has a narrow fit, which may not be ideal for runners with wide feet.

WHAT’S NEW

Adding some bounce to the Nike Winflo 9 is a recent update to the Cushlon foam.

PROS:

  • Nike Air cushions provide both cushioning and responsiveness
  • Running with perforated, translucent mesh uppers keeps your feet cool
  • Gusseted tongues reduce chafing and discomfort
  • Integrated Flywire cables provide extra support and lockdown

CONS:

  • It may not be suitable for those with wide feet

3. NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 39

The Pegasus 39 is a great choice if your kid is a true Nike fan and you don’t mind spending a bit more. It’s durable, comfortable, and light and everything you need for XC.

WHAT WE LIKE

The Nike Pegasus 39 is a fantastic cross-country shoe with a range of features designed to protect the feet and improve performance.

A plush upper along with comfortable padding around the ankle, as well as an internal heel counter, keep your foot well in place. This allows you to benefit from the arch support provided by the shoe.

Additionally, the midsole has a full-length piece of React foam, as well as two Air Zoom cushions, one in the heel and one in the forefoot.

You’ll have the grip you need and a high level of durability with the combination of firm carbon rubber on the outside and soft blown rubber on the inside.

WHY WE LIKE IT

It also comes in at an affordable price for what you get, providing comfort, shock absorption, responsiveness, and style.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

In the heat, the Pegasus 39’s plush upper may slightly overheat your feet, so if that is a problem for you, you may not want to wear it.

WHAT’S NEW

A new fit has been updated for a more supportive fit, as well as more Zoom Air units on the midsole to improve the bounce.

PROS:

  • Midsole with full-length React foam and Air Zoom cushions for extra shock absorption
  • Comfortable upper with plush, soft material
  • A dual-rubber outsole provides excellent traction and durability
  • Supports medium to high arches well

CONS:

  • The shoe runs a little warm

4. SAUCONY PEREGRINE 12

SAUCONY PEREGRINE 12

You might want to consider the Saucony Peregrine 12 trail running shoe if there isn’t enough traction under regular running shoes for your teen to run on their XC courses comfortably.

WHAT WE LIKE

A rock plate in the midsole keeps your teen’s feet safe from hidden rocks and roots on the trail. The Peregrine also works well for cross-country running.

It has a decent amount of PWRRUN foam in the midsole, which is quite firm. The heel-to-toe drop is unusually low, which should be fine for short or mid-distance runs.

The thick, 7.2 mm insole adds comfort and shock absorption to the shoe.

Lock it down with comfortable laces to ensure that the shoe doesn’t move on your foot. The upper is stripped down with supportive overlays and a snug, comfortable heel counter.

You’ll be able to handle almost any course depending on the ground conditions thanks to the 5 mm lugs on the outsole.

WHY WE LIKE IT

As a budget-friendly trail running shoe, the Saucony Peregrine 12 offers more grip than your average running shoe.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

It is no longer as padded as it was in the previous version of the shoe, which may cause chafing for some.

Runners may also find it uncomfortable due to the narrow midfoot, which offers good lockdown.

WHAT’S NEW

An ounce lighter than the 11, the 12 features a more streamlined upper, and the outsole is simplified while still performing well.

PROS:

  • With PWRRUN foam, your feet will be cushioned and supported underfoot
  • A 5 mm lug pattern provides excellent traction on technical trails
  • The midsole contains a fiber-weave rock plate that protects against rocks and hard ground
  • The heel counter locks the foot in place and prevents unnecessary movement

CONS:

  • Chafing may occur due to the stiff heel collar
  • The midfoot is slightly narrow

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5. NIKE STAR RUNNER 3

NIKE STAR RUNNER 3

They are lightweight, versatile, and comfortable for cross-country running, adding to their friendly price tag. A great choice for first-time cross-country runners.

WHAT WE LIKE

It is a great choice for cross-country runners at the middle school level. If you are a Nike fan, this shoe will get your child started!

The lightweight foam underfoot keeps your middle schooler’s feet protected and comfortable enough for short cross-country courses, but also makes the shoe lightweight, which means greater speed.

You’ll find a breathable mesh that keeps your child’s feet cool while exercising, and a toe bumper around the forefoot makes these shoes even more durable.

You’re helping the environment when you buy these shoes because they contain some recycled material as well as a generous layer of rubber underneath.

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Nike Star Runner 3 is a lightweight, versatile, aesthetically pleasing, and budget-friendly shoe designed specifically for younger runners.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

A lot of support is lacking in the midsole of the Star Runner. Although this is generally adequate for young runners, it may not be sufficient for those who require additional support for their feet.

WHAT’S NEW

There has been a redesign of the shoe to make it appear smoother and more streamlined. A new tread pattern has also been added to the outsole.

PROS:

  • XC running shoes that are lightweight and versatile
  • Recycled rubber soles provide excellent traction
  • Having a rubber toe bumper increases the shoe’s durability, which is great for young wearers
  • The soft, comfortable foam underfoot keeps you comfortable for a long time

CONS:

  • Shoes that need more support may not be suitable

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6. ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 24

ASICS GEL-CUMULUS 24

XC runners will appreciate the ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24’s cushioning and protective features.

WHAT WE LIKE

If you like more cushioning underfoot, the Gel-Cumulus 24 is a great shoe for you. Flytefoam cushioning in the heel, Flytefoam Blast in the forefoot, and gel padding in both the front and back of the shoe provide plenty of comfort and shock absorption in this shoe.

In addition to its engineered mesh upper, the shoes feature a snug heel to prevent any unnecessary movement. An engineered mesh upper is made from recycled materials for comfort and streamlining.

Forefoot foam has something called 3D Space Construction, a foam that compresses differently depending on whether it’s designed for male or female feet.

As well as providing excellent grip on cross-country terrain, AHARPLUS rubber covers strategic areas on the outsole to lighten the shoe.

WHY WE LIKE IT

For cross-country runners looking for a comfortable, plush, and protective shoe, the Gel-Cumulus 24 is an excellent choice.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

You can buy the Gel-Cumulus 24 in wide and extra wide widths, but they may still be too narrow to fit wide feet comfortably.

A youngster may not notice it’s a bit heavier, but it might make a difference to their performance.

WHAT’S NEW

The 24 has a 2mm lower heel-to-toe drop than the 23. The heel has been revamped, the outsole has been lighter and simplified, and the midsole has been simplified, making the 24 lighter than the 23.

A new Trusstic system has also been added to the shoe, which is intended to increase comfort.

PROS:

  • A combination of Flytefoam and FF Blast cushioning along with gel in the forefoot and heel provide exceptional cushioning and shock absorption
  • AHARPLUS rubber outsole provides full contact with the ground
  • Recycled mesh upper
  • The 3D Space Construction provides additional protection

CONS:

  • There isn’t much room for wide feet in this shoe
  • It’s still a little heavy

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7. BROOKS GHOST 15

BROOKS GHOST 15

The Ghost 15 is a good cross-country shoe for runners who like Brooks shoes specifically because of its comfort, protection, and support.

WHAT WE LIKE

There is a lot of cushioning in the Brooks Ghost 15, making it unusually soft and comfortable.

It provides strong support for medium to high arches with its DNA Loft foam that runs the length of the shoe.

The spring offers a little bit of energy return, but it’s mostly comfort padding, so some might find it disappointing.

The midsole isn’t the only thing that’s plush. The upper is also exceptionally luxurious, and the flat laces help you secure your foot.

The Segmented Crash Pad in the heel provides some flexibility but helps absorb shock when the foot lands.

There are 5 mm of rubber under this shoe, which is more than the standard. Not only does it minimize shock, but it also makes this shoe surprisingly durable.

WHY WE LIKE IT

It’s a solid and reliable option for cross-country runners as it provides excellent cushioning and comfort on various surfaces.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

It is a very cushioned shoe, but it is not the most responsive shoe on the market.

If you are looking for a shoe that will keep you comfortable for long distances on varied terrain, this is the one.

At 12.4 mm, the heel-to-toe drop is one of the highest you’ll find. Even that extra 0.4 mm makes a difference to how the shoe feels, placing extra strain on your feet.

WHAT’S NEW

There is no BioMoGo foam included in this version, which was included in the 13, instead it features full-length DNA Loft foam.

PROS:

  • The DNA Loft foam in the midsole provides comfortable softness and shock absorption
  • During your run, the plush upper keeps the foot locked down while remaining comfortable and free of chafing
  • The Segmented Crash Pad on the heel protects the feet from shock during heel landings
  • With a 5 mm rubber outsole, the shoes provide excellent coverage while enhancing softness

CONS:

  • Shoes are not as responsive as other shoes
  • This shoe has a high heel-to-toe drop

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8. NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM X 880V12

Those who have wide feet should consider New Balance’s Fresh Foam X 880v12. It has a great fit and all the features a cross-country runner needs to stay comfortable and achieve good results.

WHAT WE LIKE

Its Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a great cross-country shoe for youngsters starting out, and it also looks great on the feet.

It has a modern, colorful design, and the upper is quite plush, so it is comfortable and locks down well on wide feet.

In the heel area, Fresh Foam X and FuelCell foam provide a good combination of cloud-like padding and responsiveness.

It is versatile enough to handle XC courses and still be worn for other activities due to its thick blown rubber outsole. The midsole is comfortably padded, and the outsole is thick enough for you to take it on any adventure.

WHY WE LIKE IT

You’ll find great cushioning and a lot of plushness in the Fresh Foam X 880v12. It fits well and locks down easily.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

It is heavier than most of the shoes on this list, having gained some weight from the previous version. Also, the upper runs a little warm in hot weather.

WHAT’S NEW

There is now a dual-density midsole, and the shoe weighs almost an ounce more than the previous version. This may be due to more padding on the upper.

PROS:

  • A dual-layer Fresh Foam X and FuelCell midsole provides outstanding cushioning
  • You get a solid lockdown thanks to a plush, padded upper
  • An excellent traction outsole is made from thick blown rubber
  • It’s a versatile cross-country shoe that’s ideal for easy runs

CONS:

  • The upper may run a little warm
  • This shoe is slightly on the heavy side

9. BROOKS LAUNCH 9 GTS

BROOKS LAUNCH 9 GTS

The Brooks Launch 9 GTS shoe is a good choice if your young cross-country runner overpronates. It is also easy on the wallet.

WHAT WE LIKE

A wide, stable platform and mild stability features make the Launch 9 GTS ideal for those with flat feet—overpronation.

The Launch 9 stability version has all the same great features as the regular Launch 9 while adding GuideRails to stop rolling or twisting.

The midsole stability system is lighter than usual for a stability system, but it prevents overpronation well. It is also lighter than usual for a stability system, and it does not compromise your comfort or speed.

The BioMoGo foam in the midsole provides both comfort and springiness, while the stiff sole prevents the shoe from twisting and protects your feet against potential hazards on the ground.

Across the outsole, tacky and eco-friendly Green Rubber has been generously layered to increase durability and keep you safe.

WHY WE LIKE IT

This stability shoe provides good support for overpronators without feeling uncomfortable or intrusive. It’s also cheaper and lighter than many other stability shoes, so it’s ideal for XC skiing.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

In spite of the light and unobtrusive guide rails, this shoe may not be comfortable for people with neutral feet. Make sure you get the right version to avoid discomfort.

WHAT’S NEW

The shoe also bears a slimmer upper, 2mm more midsole, and a revamped, eco-friendly Green Rubber outsole, making it more durable and lighter than its predecessor.

PROS:

  • The BioMoGo DNA foam in the midsole provides a good balance of softness and bounce
  • This stability shoe is lightweight and protects you while running at speed
  • Stiff soles prevent twisting and protect the foot from hazards
  • Green Rubber outsole provides durability and protection

CONS:

  • A neutral runner may not find this suitable, and it’s easy to get the wrong version

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10. MIZUNO WAVE RIDER 26

MIZUNO WAVE RIDER 26

The Mizuno Wave Rider could be the right shoe for your cross-country runner if they want shoes that won’t slow them down while they’re running.

WHAT WE LIKE

Despite the Wave Plate in the midsole, the Wave Rider 26 weighs only 10 ounces.

You’ll find that Enerzy foam cushions your feet as you run over unpredictable terrain. It provides shock absorption and comfort, so your feet won’t tire as quickly.

This shoe also features a Wave Plate embedded in the midsole, which disperses the body weight evenly across the shoe, and makes it more stable by adding stiffness.

You’ll stay stable on cross-country surfaces thanks to the full forefoot and high-wear areas of the heel covered in X10 Carbon Rubber.

WHY WE LIKE IT

Its excellent features make it excellent for cross-country running, and it’s still light enough to feel comfortable and is also reasonably priced.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

In this shoe, the heel-to-toe drop is 12 millimeters, which may cause some pressure on the forefoot for midfoot and forefoot strikers.

WHAT’S NEW

The upper is constructed of jacquard mesh, while the cushioning has been upgraded.

PROS:

  • Cross-country runners will find soft comfort underfoot thanks to Enerzy foam in the midsole
  • The Mizuno Wave Plate in the midsole distributes weight evenly and returns energy
  • Its X10 Carbon Rubber outsole ensures long-lasting grip
  • A lightweight shoe for what it contains

CONS:

  • A high heel-to-toe drop may place pressure on the forefoot

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BUYER’S GUIDE – RUNNING SHOES FOR CROSS COUNTRY

WEIGHT

Choosing lightweight cross-country shoes will allow the wearer to move quickly over the trails, and will also reduce the likelihood of injury on rough terrain.

SUPPORT

It is generally recommended that high school athletes wear neutral shoes, but if your teen overpronates, lightweight stability shoes will help them.

CUSHIONING

The amount of padding is usually a matter of personal preference, but there should be enough to protect the athlete’s feet from rocks or hard ground, but not so much that it weighs them down.

Take your teen with you when you try on shoes. Focus your search on shoes that are less cushioned than others—not necessarily minimalist, but not too cushioned.

TRACTION

Choosing shoes that have good traction for dirt, grass, and pavement is important. Most road running shoes are suitable for cross-country running.

It’s a good idea not to wear trail shoes on less technical cross-country courses since the chunky lugs can hinder performance.

PRICE

You don’t need to buy the most expensive cross-country shoes for teenagers who may not even continue with the sport.

A moderately-priced cross-country shoe is ideal for teens as most don’t require excessive cushioning, which you will find in the more expensive shoes.

FAQS

CAN YOU USE RUNNING SHOES FOR CROSS COUNTRY?

The best cross country shoes are those with minimal traction or that are less technical than most XC courses.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRACK AND CROSS COUNTRY SPIKES?

A cross-country spike is a softer and less aggressive spike than a track spike.

You can use XC spikes for longer distances by removing the spikes and adding blanks, which allows the shoe to be more durable, and you can add the spikes back when necessary.

DO SPIKES HELP IN CROSS COUNTRY?

Runners who enjoy cross-country running and run on technical terrain will benefit from spikes, which offer extra traction on tight corners and help maintain grip on tricky ground.

In the case of younger athletes or those who are not yet running on tough terrain, spikes may not be necessary.

ARE TRAIL SHOES GOOD FOR CROSS COUNTRY?

It is recommended that trail shoes are worn by new athletes who require additional grip on cross-country terrain, but most XC courses are not technical enough to require them.

Lastly, they’re generally heavier than road shoes, which can affect performance. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

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