There is no denying the competitive spirit many runners have and many famous track and field events, marathons and ultra marathons around the world are a testimony to that. Running in an arena or a city race can be exhilarating, especially if you win, but one type of racing requires a little extra skill because of the differing terrain. Enter, the cross country race. This race has runners charging through open fields, dirt tracks and rocky roads.
As with all competitive athletes, a good pair of shoes is an absolute must. While it is widely acceptable to wear ordinary track spikes in a cross country race, they may not be the best choice for a cross country race. Cross country spikes have more support in the heel and are better for running through natural terrain. The best cross country spikes can make all the difference and can have you crossing the finish line ahead of the packs.
The Best Cross Country Spike
Saucony are one of the best known brands in sporting goods and when it comes to cross country spikes, this pair of Men’s Kilkenny XC5 Cross-Country Shoes can give you the winning edge.
These cross country shoes are lightweight and have a versatile tread that is suitable for running over any natural terrain. It has a nice, comfortable fit so the only thing you need to focus on is the race.
Minimally layered upper
Performance neutral fit
Sleek, lightweight, and versatile tread,
Cross country spike delivers high-octane performance
- ModelKilkenny XC5-M
- Weight 2 pounds
With this pair of New Balance Men’s 900v4 Removable Spike cross country shoes you can charge through the course with complete confidence. These shoes feature lightweight and breathable mesh so your feet stay cool. The HydroHesion rubber outsole makes it easier to run in wet conditions and the foam insole is removable so your shoes can be washed and dried with ease. The spikes on these shoes are removable so you can wear these shoes before, during and after your race.
Lightweight and breathable mesh uppers
Lace up closure
Removable foam insole
HydroHesion rubber outsole
Durable and removable spikes
- BrandNew Balance
- Weight12 ounces
Running cross country is a challenge and when you hit the course in this Altra Men’s Golden Spike Running Shoe, you’ll feel like you’re running on air. Apart from being lightweight and breathable, the foot-shaped toe box gives your toes plenty of room to wiggle. These cross country running spikes are perfect for training and racing. The removable spike makes them easy to adjust to whatever terrain you are racing through. For more durable footwear like this, check out our selection of the best trail running shoes.
Ideal for cross country training & racing
3 mm diecut footbed
Eva / a-bound blend
Removable 5 mm steel spike
Foot-shaped toe box accommodates toe splay
No matter where you want to run, you’ll run like a pro in these Saucony Men’s Carrera Xc4 Track and Field Shoes. These cross country running spikes can take you from the track to open fields with ease. The soles have been designed to offer stability on any surface and the ISOfit lace system keeps your shoes snugly in place, without any pinching.
For a completely comfortable pair of cross country running shoes that look great and perform even better, these are sure to please.
ISOfit lace system
6-pin Pebax Spike Plate
Surface: Grass, Trail, Gravel
- Model S29066-1
- Weight 6.1 ounces
If you like to dominate the cross country courses, these Saucony Men’s Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoes are for you. They have been designed with comfort in mind so they provide such a comfortable fit, you’ll feel like you’re only wearing socks.
On the course, these shoes give you lots of traction to sprint through grassy slopes with ease thank to the 4-pin Pebax spike plate. Made with EVA foam for extra cushioning, these are the shoes you want for comfort and performance. Our guide to the best triathlon shoes features more extra comfortable and durable footwear like this.
Textile with synthetic sole
Flexfilm provides strong, lightweight material
More relaxed fit
ET-600 rubber outsole
4-pin Pebax spike plate to increase traction
- Weight 7 ounces
For multiple terrain types, the ASICS Men’s Cross Freak 2 Cross Country Spike is a definite winner. Firstly, the Trusstic System reduces the weight of the sole without compromising the structural integrity of the shoe so you get all the stability you need over all those tricky surfaces. The outsole features deep lugged rubber for superior traction and stability and the responsive cushioning is great when you are running over harder surfaces. For more amazing footwear for runners, check out our guide to the best motion control running shoes.
100% synthetic with rubber sole
Trusstic System reduces the weight of the sole
Deep lugged rubber outsole for stability and traction
Light, flexible mesh uppers
Responsive cushioning for harder surfaces
Comes with 9mm pyramid spikes and wrench
- ModelCross Freak 2-M
- Weight 2 pounds
These running shoes for under $100 from Ifrich are some of the best cross country shoes to get the whole family racing as they are suitable for men, women, boys and girls. The rubber outsole with metal spikes can increase your running speed and the track sneaker grips offer improved traction when you need it the most. Super comfortable, thanks to the soft EVA insole, you’ll get the maximum enjoyment out of your cross country runs with Ifrich Athletics Racing Running Track and Field Sneaker.
Soft EVA insole
Track sneaker grips for better traction
Lightweight and affordable slip-on traction
Rubber outsole with metal spikes increase speed
Includes 8 spikes & extra spikes with tool for replacement
- Weight1.32 pounds
Casual cross country runners and teens will love these PUMA Men’s TFX Distance V4-M cross country running shoes. They are suitable for track and field runners, but can take you through cross country courses with ease. They feature a soft foam insole for extra comfort and the mesh upper is breathable to keep your feet cool. Stand out from the pack with these affordable shoes. The bright colors are great for young runners who love to set themselves apart. If you are looking for more options for summer outdoor runs, check out our reviews of the best running sandals.
100% mesh with rubber sole
Great for track and field, or cross country
Soft foam insole
Improved traction and cushioning
Suitable for young runners
Eye-catchingly bright colors
- ModelTFX DIST
- Weight3 pounds
Take the charge and run over any type of terrain you dare to race through in these ASICS Men’s Hyper XC Cross Country Spike. They have been made from 100% synthetic and mesh with a solid rubber outsole for super stability. The tread pattern offers superior traction without losing out on maneuverability and the Trusstic system means the sole is lighter, without affecting the structural integrity of the shoe. Enjoy your run and have fun. For those of you who have feet wider than average, we have prepared our selection of the best running shoes for wide feet.
Solid rubber outsole
Sleek and lightweight
Tread pattern delivers grip and maneuverability
Trusstic System for a lighter sole
- ModelHyper XC-M
- Weight3 pounds
Nike are a brand you know you can trust for competitive sporting footwear and these Men’s Zoom Forever 5 XC Spikes are proof of that. These are among the best cross country shoes for serious competitors. The dynamic arch band keep the midfoot nice and secure even over really rough terrain and the Cushlon midsole offers responsive cushioning that is lightweight and comfortable. If you are new to running, be sure to pick your favorite pair from our list of the best running shoes for beginners.
Made from synthetic
Dynamic arch band secures the midfoot over rough terrain.
Cushlon midsole offers lightweight, responsive cushioning.
Nike Anti-Clog Traction outsole
Open-holed mesh construction
- Weight2 pounds
Cross Country Spike Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of Cross Country Spikes
Brand – Running in any race can be tricky but when it comes to cross country courses, you can't cut corners with your footwear. That's why we looked at brands that have a reputation for excellent design and manufacturing. The brands in our selection are all well known in sports, and some even more specifically in the cross country circuit. It simply isn't worth risking your safety or the health of your feet on cheap imitations.
Price – There is no need to spend an arm and a leg to get a great pair of cross county spikes so we’ve included prices to suit every budget. While there are definitely cross country running spikes that are at the high end of the pricing scale, there are still great quality shoes available in the budget range as well.
Reviews – Customers can be very vocal when it comes to parting with their hard earned money and you’ll definitely know if they aren’t satisfied with a product. The same applies when they are happy with their purchase which is why we check the reviews before putting together our selection. Good reviews are an indication of how well the cross country spikes perform, but we can learn a lot from the negative points as well. The negative points may not be an issue for some, but they can be a deal breaker for others.
Features To Look For In Cross Country Spikes
Comfort – Sprinting on a track is very different to racing on a cross country course. For one, the surface on a track is carefully designed and made, not to mention maintained making it easier for sprinters to run. Cross country courses are unpredictable and varied so comfort is important. You could be running over grass that still has a layer of morning dew one moment and running over rocky terrain the next. Cross country courses usually cover longer distances as well. If your shoes aren’t comfortable, it won’t be long before you start considering pulling out of the race.
Material – The materials used to make cross country spikes need to be durable, yet lightweight. Runners cover a lot of varied terrain and some of it can be quite rugged so these shoes can’t be made from flimsy materials or they could fall apart half way into a race. The material also needs to be lightweight as cross country courses tend to cover a lot of ground and runners do not want any extra weight slowing them down.
Breathability – Running a cross country course is hard work and sweating is a certainty. The last thing a runner needs is soggy shoes. When shopping for cross country spikes, look for breathable materials that will let the heat and sweat escape. That is why most cross country spikes are made with mesh uppers and insoles are made from breathable foams that are soft, yet wick moisture away to keep feet comfortable and dry.
Cross Country Spike FAQ
Q: What are cross country shoes?
A: Cross country shoes are basically running shoes that have been designed for running longer races over a variety of terrain. Most cross country shoes feature spikes for better traction which makes it easier to run over the varied terrain and they usually feature better cushioning and support for improved stability for the feet.
Q: What are cross country shoes made of?
A: Cross country shoes, like most running shoes, are generally made from synthetic materials. The soles are usually made from flexible rubber for grip and flexibility, while the uppers are usually made from breathable mesh which help keep feet cooler during those long runs. Insoles are usually made from breathable and soft foam like EVA.
Q: Do you run faster with spikes?
A: We mainly see spikes on running shoes on the track, but do the spikes actually help you run faster? Well, yes and no. Whether you are running on a track or a cross country course, spikes give you better traction. This means your shoes are better able to grip the terrain and propel you forwards faster. This is especially important if the terrain is a little wet as it will also prevent you from slipping and falling.
If you love to race, you probably have your favorite pair of running shoes and possibly even a good pair of track shoes. While you can use these for a cross country run, it’s probably better for you to get a pair of cross country spikes. The best cross country spikes will protect your feet and help you perform better.