Best Shoes for Orienteering. Which one Offers the Best Traction?

If you love the outdoors, then taking up an outdoor sport is a great idea. Orienteering is a great outdoor adventure sport that is both exciting and challenging where you combine walking or running with your navigation skills. The best shoes for orienteering can help in making your experience more bearable. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

What is Orienteering?

Orienteering is a group of endurance sports that require using your navigational skills with the help of a compass and a map to navigate from one point to another in unfamiliar terrain while moving at speed. It involves a huge mental element, but it’s very easy to learn and participate and each level has its own challenges which make it a very popular sport. For you to be successful you’ll need to have great map reading skills, quick decision-making skills, and great concentration. Apart from a map and compass, the trail running or walking shoes you wear will determine how well you’ll run the races and if the shoes will provide enough comfort, support, protection, grip, and traction on the different surfaces. 

Factors to consider when choosing orienteering shoes

Type of trails

There are 3 common types of trails; rugged and rough trails that are filled with roots and jugged rocks, grassy or smooth and dirt routes with few obstacles, and some smooth and some technical parts. You also need to consider how fast you intend to run and how many miles. This will help you understand if you need more traction and protection for your run.

Amount of cushioning

Trail running shoes vary in the thickness of their midsoles and the amount of cushioning. Some have thick midsoles while others have very little cushioning and others have a sweet spot in between. The amount of cushioning will depend on how much protection you want, the softness you want underfoot, and how much you want to feel the trail. More cushioning will reduce the impact your body will feel while less cushioning will allow you to run faster and be more aggressive.


The amount of traction will also vary in different trail shoes. Some have outsoles with a smooth and more flat surface designed for flatter, milder, and less technical trails while others have deep and wide lugs that dig into wet and soft ground or provide adhesion on rugged terrains like big rocks and slippery gravel.

How well the shoe fits

Trail running shoes should provide a snug fit around your arches and have a secure fit at your heels to prevent your feet from slipping or shifting when you’re running on uneven or loose terrain. The trail shoes should also have a bit more toe room between the tip of your toes and the front of the shoes. 


You should consider if the trail running shoes have a flexible rock plate in the midsoles of the shoes that will provide underfoot protection against sharp rocks and keep your feet out of harm’s way on rugged terrains. However, if you wear the same shoes on flat and soft terrain, it will be too much and you’ll feel awkward wearing them. Some shoes with thick cushioning don’t have rock plates because the thick midsole and outsole are enough to prevent sharp rocks from poking your feet. Most trail running shoes also come with reinforced toe bumpers and abrasion-resistant sides. So, the more technical and rocky your trail is, the more protection you need in your shoes.

Table for the best shoes for orienteering

Shoe brandFeatures Amazon link
Salomon men’s speedcross 5 trail running shoesLarge lugs welded upper, custom footholdAmazon 
Icebug women’s Pytho4 W BUGrip trail running shoesLow drop, protective toe box, steel studsAmazon 
Inov-8 men’s trail running shoes4mm deep studs, welded toe bumper, light and breathable upperAmazon 
Salming men’s off-trail sports shoes Anatomic fit, low drop, flexible forefoot, Amazon 
Wantdo men’s trail running shoesDiamond-shaped lugs, EVA midsole, breathable insoleAmazon 
VJ XTRM trail running shoesExcellent grip, fiberglass stability, full-length rock plate, 6mm cleatsAmazon

Salomon men’s speedcross 5 trail running shoes

These are excellent running shoes you can wear if you’re looking for adventure in the great outdoors. They’re designed with new technology and great craftsmanship to ensure you explore your passion for outdoor sports and challenge yourself without worrying about your feet. They’re designed with a completely welded upper with SensiFit and quick lace systems that work together to provide a snug fit and a custom foothold that will cradle your feet. The ortholite die-cut sock liner provides better comfort and allows your feet to breathe so they don’t get hot and sweaty on your trail. The contagrip outsole is designed with large and deep lugs with bigger spaces between to provide maximum grip on soft, rugged, or loose and uneven surfaces. The material is also very durable and helps with adhesion. The midsole is lightweight and rugged, but it provides great cushioning that cradles your heels to ensure that every foot strike is clean and stable which helps to protect your feet from injuries during your trail runs. 


  • The improved lugs keep your feet stable
  • Very comfortable and breathable
  • Excellent grip and protection
  • Great shoes for people with plantar fasciitis


  • The upper isn’t very supportive


Lightweight, comfortable, supportive, and durable trail running shoes that you can wear when walking or running in different terrains.

Icebug women’s Pytho4 W BUGrip trail running shoes

These are shoes you can ear both on and off trails and are designed to make it easier for you to get outdoors and experience nature. These are shoes you can use on all kinds of surfaces from narrow trails, pathless trails to snow, and bare ice. The low drop allows your feet to have good contact with the ground so you’re more stable on irregular terrain and with a combination of excellent grip, these shoes are perfect for trail and winter running and orienteering. Made with durable and sustainable material and a protective toe box that has enough space for your toes to breathe and to keep them safe. The BUGrip sole is made with special rubber that has 14-19 integrated steel studs with tips made of carbide steel which increases their durability and ensures your stability on different outdoor terrains.


  • Excellent grip
  • Great shoes for trail runs
  • Made with quality materials
  • Very comfortable and breathable


  • The shoes are a bit heavy


Excellent trail running shoes you can wear in different terrains that will provide you with excellent grip, support, traction, and keep your feet comfortable throughout.

Inov-8 men’s trail running shoes

These are super light trail shoes that you can wear on all types of trails. They’re made with a lightweight and breathable upper material that will cradle your feet to give you a better and more flexible fit. It will give your feet allowance to move and still keep your feet in place when running. The wider toe box allows your toes the freedom to move around and the welded film toe bumper will protect your toes from hitting stones and rocks on your trail. The gusseted tongue will prevent dirt and debris from entering the shoe. The midsole has excellent cushioning that will absorb the shock impact from your feet hitting the ground while the external heel cage supports your heels. The 4mm deep studs at the outsole are designed with a wide contact area to provide excellent grip and stability on uneven and unstable terrain and ensures that mud and debris don’t stick to the soles of your shoes. The sole is made with a durable rubber that improves its durability and traction on any surface. 


  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Has excellent grip and traction
  • The toe box is very roomy
  • Responsive and bouncy cushioning


  • Doesn’t have enough protection at the toe box


Lightweight trail running shoes that you can wear on your trail run in the woods and mountains. They will ensure you have the perfect grip, comfort, and support on your adventure.

Salming men’s off-trail sports shoes 

These are natural running shoes that are designed to allow you to run faster. They’re lightweight which helps in improving your running efficiency and are flexible which allows the shoes to conform to the movement of your feet for a more natural run. The low heel to toe drop ensures that your feet have the right footing when landing on any surface and it also gives you a more natural balance with gravity without altering your body position. The roomy toe box ensures your toes don’t get squashed together or rub off on the side or upper part of the shoes which can cause painful blisters, calluses, or bunions. The runlite foam in the midsole is light and cushiony so you get a bounce-back effect which reduces the energy your feet will use when moving. The anatomical heel cup is designed to adapt to the shape of your feet to provide a comfortable and flexible fit while Michelin sole is designed with a sticky material that provides excellent grip and traction on wet slippery surfaces.


  • Comfortable shoes to run in
  • Lightweight and have a great fit
  • Provides superior grip on wet and slippery surfaces
  • The upper drain water very well


  • Some customers complained about the shoe’s durability


Lightweight and very comfortable shoes that are ideal for OCR and trail runs. They provide superior grip on wet surfaces and ensure mud doesn’t stick on the sole to add on weight.

Wantdo men’s trail running shoes

These are lightweight and comfortable trail running shoes designed with a TPU upper and breathable double mesh that helps to improve airflow in the shoes to keep your feet dry and improve the shoe’s durability. Your toes are also well protected from the rocks and stones on your trail while the lace-up enclosure ensures your feet are properly secured in place. The EVA insole is removable and breathable so you can get a customized insert if you want while the EVA midsole keeps your feet comfortable with the cushioning and provides enough arch support on uneven terrain. These trail running shoes also feature a TPU support plate that adds stability and comfort while the deep diamond-shaped lugs on the Vibram outsole provide superior traction on different terrains. The unique rubber sole is durable, slip-resistant, and ensures you’re stable on uneven or lose ground.  


  • Very comfortable
  • Super light with attractive design and color
  • The outsole is rugged with excellent traction
  • Very supportive


  • The shoes might need some breaking in time


Comfortable and breathable trail running shoes that will ensure your trail runs are enjoyable and fun.

VJ XTRM trail running shoes

These are trail running shoes designed for rocky and mountain trails and provide the best grip so you’re assured of a smooth trail run with no slips and falls. The upper is made from a blend of polyester and Kevlar materials for superior protection and durability. The toe box is wide enough to ensure that your toes have enough breathing room and wiggle space to be comfortable throughout your run. The strengthening rubber toe cap protects your toes from hitting rocks and stones on your trail while the 4 mm drop provides a secure landing and improves your stability on different surfaces. The cushioning in the front and heel area will provide great comfort for your feet while the full-length rock plate in the sole will protect your feet from sharp sticks and rocks that you might step on as you run.


  • Provides a snug and secure fit
  • Has a firm but soft and responsive insole
  • Very comfortable
  • The wide cleats provide excellent traction and don’t hold rocks


  • Has a narrow toe box
  • Sizing may differ


These are excellent trail running shoes that focus on providing you with the best grip to ensure your feet stay securely on the ground no matter the terrain.


When you’re looking for the best shoes for orienteering, you need to consider the balance, protection, and overall performance of the shoes as well as the shape and fit of each shoe brand. You should also find out which one best suits your feet by trying different brands. The Salomon men’s speedcross 5 trail running shoes are perfect for your trail run adventures. They will ensure your feet are comfortable, protected, stable, and have a natural feel to your feet.

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