The Best Cross Country Spikes in 2021

Natalie Cecconi
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Tried and true, it is a fact that spikes are one of the main essentials for a runner when it comes to cross country. Every runner can recall that competitive spirit they use when doing track and field. For many people, it was their one chance to go out there and be the best that they could be.

I remember my middle school hope of racing to see who would win the biggest medal. For me, that dream never came true. I would always get good medals for my age bracket, but never at the top. However, I did go on to run in college and I will never forget the feeling I got when I was given my cross country spikes.

I was part of a large group of people running miles around a grass field. Running used to sound like a chore to me, until that day… I was only fifteen years old. My team was together and it was our time to shine.

We were waiting for our turn for the 5k race. I remember having sparkles in my eyes as I was getting my bearings on the field. I could feel my legs warming up, as my spikes were getting accustomed to the little cleats in them. It hit me that this was finally my stretch and boost of confidence that I was looking for.

NameCategoryProduct
Saucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track ShoeBest OverallSaucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoe
New Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running ShoeBudget PickNew Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running Shoe
New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running ShoeUpgrade PickNew Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running Shoe

1. Saucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoe

Our rating: 9 / 10

Saucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoe

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Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Great traction
  • Plenty of cushioning and support
  • Plenty of padding
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable design
  • Wide availability

Cons:

  • The lacing system feels cheap
  • Not the most durable design

The Saucony Men’s Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoe is a lightweight spike that is designed to be used in dry conditions on steep terrain. These spikes are super lightweight and fit great, so you can wear them comfortably for several hours without any annoying rubbing or blisters.

These spikes are designed with imbedded nodes which make gripping the track surface easy. They have a wide upper that allows for plenty of flexibility and room. But it still keeps your foot in place well.

The last thing you want to worry about when using these spikes is a poorly constructed tongue. Not only is it thin and provides little protection, but the lacing system also feels cheap.

2. Saucony Men's Havok XC2 Track Shoe

Our rating: 9 / 10

Saucony Men's Havok XC2 Track Shoe

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One of the best track spikes around is from Saucony. It's the Saucony Men's Havok XC2 Track Shoe. It comes in four different colors, so there should be a color that suits you.

This spike has a zero-drop; meaning that the heel and forefoot are at the same height. This helps you to improve your natural form and cuts down on unnecessary muscle fatigue.

It also has a wide forefoot so your foot isn't restricted at all as you run and jump.

3. Nike Men's Zoom Rival XC Spikes Blue Jay/Rage Green/Blue Fury/Blue Orbit Size

Our rating: 8 / 10

Nike Men's Zoom Rival XC Spikes Blue Jay/Rage Green/Blue Fury/Blue Orbit Size

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Durable and they grip the track well
  • Lightweight and sturdy

Cons:

  • The spikes get loose after a number of years
  • Not suitable for high mileage training

Cross Country spikes are essential for any serious cross-country athlete. They can be expensive, but titanium spikes are always the best choice for athletes.

The spike plate has a minimalistic design that offers maximum protection. The spike plate is 14mm thin with a minimalist heel height. The spike plate has a wide forefoot area that is designed for high speed movements.

Each spike is located in the perfect position for maximum traction. The spike plate has a knurled indent for each spike, so it's easy to install or remove.

4. Saucony Men's Carrera Xc4 Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10

Saucony Men's Carrera Xc4 Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great value for the price
  • Very lightweight
  • Durable, sturdy design
  • Great ankle support
  • Explosive power transfer

Cons:

  • Tend to get hot and uncomfortable
  • Sizes are generally on the smaller side
  • Doesn't have enough arch support

Black/Blue, 12.5 M US (42 EU)

Our runner-up pick is the Saucony Men’s Carrera Spike.

With a 6mm lug height, this lightweight trail running shoe is designed with aggressive heel and toe lugs for optimal traction on multiple terrains.

5. Saucony Women's Havok XC2 Flat Cross Country Running Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10

Saucony Women's Havok XC2 Flat Cross Country Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Outstanding performance on hard-packed surfaces
  • Very comfortable with the anatomical sock liner
  • The heel feels snug

Cons:

  • A little heavy
  • The arch support is not as comprehensive as other options

The Saucony Women’s Havok XC2 is an exceptional cross country spike suitable for intermediate and advanced athletes. Featuring a 9mm heel-to-toe drop for a natural foot strike, the shoe has been designed with an anatomical sock liner that is super comfortable, and has a full-length PowerGrid® Energy Return delivery system that ensures excellent pronation support. The shoe also has an external heel counter that provides a great fit and increases durability.

The Havok XC2 is designed with a lightweight breathable mesh upper that provides comfort and excellent air circulation. The XC spike has a moderately firm EVA midsole that offers responsive shock absorption and a slightly firm heel. The Vibram® XS-Compound outsole offers superior traction on mud and other natural terrain, and is covered with a non-marking rubber outsole.

6. New Balance Men's Cross Country 5k V5 Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

New Balance Men's Cross Country 5k V5 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great breathability and comfort
  • Compatible with multiple shoe forms
  • Well-made and durable
  • Good cushioning
  • Great traction

Cons:

  • Non-adjustable midfoot strap
  • Velcro straps can wear out easily

New Balance's men’s cross-country spike shoe is designed for the dedicated distance runner who needs a shoe with great traction and durability.

The Cross-Country 5K V5 boasts a lightweight cushioning system that seamlessly transitions into a powerful traction outsole with a deep lug pattern for traction.

This shoe is probably the best choice for the person who is looking to do some trail running, muddy roads, grass and woods. The outsole gives you great flexibility and a great fit and it fits perfectly immediately.

7. New Balance Men's Cross Country 900 V4 Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

New Balance Men's Cross Country 900 V4 Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Good traction on muddy surfaces
  • Supportive and highly flexible
  • Great overall value

Cons:

  • The shoe doesn’t have the best support which may hamper some runners
  • The spikes rub on the outer sole

The cross country version of the popular running shoe, the New Balance 900 V4 is a lightweight and breathable racing flat. It comes with a 6mm spike plate that provides great traction on mud and firm ground.

What’s great about the New Balance V4 is that it features a breathable mesh upper which is stretchable and gives runners a secure and comfortable fit. Additionally, the inner heel of the shoe is made from Phylon which gives you an extra cushiony feel for when you’re making quick turns. And it comes with a stack height of 15-17mm which makes it ideal for short distance races.

It’s also worth noting that New Balance is a brand known for making shoes with great stability. This is especially true of the 900 V4. It has an injected insole which gives you fantastic support and protection from your foot to your joints.

8. New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great for long distance runners
  • Cushioned sole for a smooth transition

The New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 is a great shoe for long distance runners. With the reactive cushioning, it has a softer feel when your feet hit the ground, less jarring than other shoes, making your run more comfortable.

The soft foam weaved fabric makes the shoe lighter and easier on your feet. With an 8mm heel to toe offset, great midsole and outsole, this shoe in the best of running shoes when it comes to being comfortable.

When you use the New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4, you don't have to worry about durability issues. It has a rubber outsole, plastic heel, and nylon forefoot.

9. Saucony Women's Carrera Xc4 Track and Field Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Saucony Women's Carrera Xc4 Track and Field Shoe

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Pros:

  • A great option for beginners or low-mileage runners
  • 2mm drop provides a lower platform
  • Offers a contoured support insole, tapered heel, and Ortholite sockliner
  • Features a breathable mesh upper and an injected TPU heel clip
  • The well-placed outer lugs help maximize traction and grip
  • Makes for a great everyday trainer for runners

Cons:

  • Might feel too clunky or weighty for some runners
  • The narrow profile can be tight on wider feet
  • The arch support is little too firm for some runners
  • Durability might not be that great since these shoes are not dual-density
  • Might be a bit too clunky for technically sound runners

Our top pick is the Saucony Women’s Carrera XC4 Track and Field Shoe. Weighing in at 8.8 ounces (266 g) and providing a 6mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe is an optimal choice for beginner or low-mileage runners. It features a breathable mesh upper and an injected TPU heel clip, offering a contoured support insole, tapered heel, and Ortholite sockliner. The well-placed outer lugs help maximize traction and grip. The upper is synthetic material, which is lighter weight and better suited to long distance running.

10. Saucony Women's Kilkenny Xc8 Track Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Saucony Women's Kilkenny Xc8 Track Shoe

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If you’re an endurance runner looking for high-performance cross-country spikes, then the Saucony Kilkenny XP 8 is a shoe you’ll want to consider. This model is designed with an in-house, racing-inspired IBR+ midsole material. It’s designed to deliver a responsive ride, while maintaining a lightweight design.

The back of the upper is constructed with Duotone TPU overlays. This provides a lightweight, yet supportive upper. And the heel features a rubberized overlay. This allows for a smoother heel strike, and prevents excess abrasion.

The shoe’s midsole features the IBR+ compound. This provides the Kilkenny with responsive cushioning, while maintaining a lightweight design. The shoe’s tread design is very grippy and features a Pebax spike plate.

11. New Balance Men's Cross Country 900 V4 Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

New Balance Men's Cross Country 900 V4 Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Good traction on muddy surfaces
  • Supportive and highly flexible
  • Great overall value

Cons:

  • The shoe doesn’t have the best support which may hamper some runners
  • The spikes rub on the outer sole

The cross country version of the popular running shoe, the New Balance 900 V4 is a lightweight and breathable racing flat. It comes with a 6mm spike plate that provides great traction on mud and firm ground.

What’s great about the New Balance V4 is that it features a breathable mesh upper which is stretchable and gives runners a secure and comfortable fit. Additionally, the inner heel of the shoe is made from Phylon which gives you an extra cushiony feel for when you’re making quick turns. And it comes with a stack height of 15-17mm which makes it ideal for short distance races.

It’s also worth noting that New Balance is a brand known for making shoes with great stability. This is especially true of the 900 V4. It has an injected insole which gives you fantastic support and protection from your foot to your joints.

12. Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Provides amazing grip on dirt trails
  • Great stability
  • Very lightweight
  • No break-in required
  • High traction outsoles
  • Provides great support and stability
  • Well-made faux leather

Cons:

  • The sole isn’t suitable for heavy use
  • Not suitable for rain/snow/wet conditions

The ALtra Men’s AL0A3621 shoe is a good choice for long-distance runners. It provides amazing grip on dirt trails, and it delivers great stability and flexibility.

In addition, it is very lightweight, which makes it perfect for trail running. The shoe does not require break-in, as it provides optimum cushioning from the very beginning. It comes with a specially designed flex point designed by Altra with a unique flex groove. This reduces the wear of the toe area.

Another great thing about this shoe is that it’s very flexible. The sole of the shoe is not particularly high performing, but it’ll be fine on moderately rough terrains. They’re made of TPU (Thermoplastic Poly Urethane). It’s a synthetic rubber material that offers outstanding durability and traction.

13. Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10

Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Provides amazing grip on dirt trails
  • Great stability
  • Very lightweight
  • No break-in required
  • High traction outsoles
  • Provides great support and stability
  • Well-made faux leather

Cons:

  • The sole isn’t suitable for heavy use
  • Not suitable for rain/snow/wet conditions

The ALtra Men’s AL0A3621 shoe is a good choice for long-distance runners. It provides amazing grip on dirt trails, and it delivers great stability and flexibility.

In addition, it is very lightweight, which makes it perfect for trail running. The shoe does not require break-in, as it provides optimum cushioning from the very beginning. It comes with a specially designed flex point designed by Altra with a unique flex groove. This reduces the wear of the toe area.

Another great thing about this shoe is that it’s very flexible. The sole of the shoe is not particularly high performing, but it’ll be fine on moderately rough terrains. They’re made of TPU (Thermoplastic Poly Urethane). It’s a synthetic rubber material that offers outstanding durability and traction.

14. New Balance Men's Cross Country Seven V2 Spikeless Running Shoe

Our rating: 5 / 10

New Balance Men's Cross Country Seven V2 Spikeless Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Soft upper material for a comfortable fit
  • Good quality spike plate
  • Value for money
  • Excellent traction and stability
  • Can be used in multiple surface areas

Cons:

  • Poor grip on wet surface areas
  • Not suitable for wide feet

Our top choice in cross-training shoes is the New Balance Men’s Cross Country Seven v2 spikeless running shoes. These shoes can be worn for cross-training and as everyday shoes – the materials are so good that even when you walk on regular streets, your feet won’t hurt.

The reason we rave about these shoes so much is that they are darn near perfect! They’re practically indestructible – you can literally run thousands of miles and they won’t fall apart.

The only real con is that the outside is not made of rubber. However, this is a necessary design consideration that allows them to be used on multiple surfaces – that’s why we didn’t penalize them too much for that.

15. Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 5 / 10

Altra Men's AL0A3621 Golden Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Provides amazing grip on dirt trails
  • Great stability
  • Very lightweight
  • No break-in required
  • High traction outsoles
  • Provides great support and stability
  • Well-made faux leather

Cons:

  • The sole isn’t suitable for heavy use
  • Not suitable for rain/snow/wet conditions

The ALtra Men’s AL0A3621 shoe is a good choice for long-distance runners. It provides amazing grip on dirt trails, and it delivers great stability and flexibility.

In addition, it is very lightweight, which makes it perfect for trail running. The shoe does not require break-in, as it provides optimum cushioning from the very beginning. It comes with a specially designed flex point designed by Altra with a unique flex groove. This reduces the wear of the toe area.

Another great thing about this shoe is that it’s very flexible. The sole of the shoe is not particularly high performing, but it’ll be fine on moderately rough terrains. They’re made of TPU (Thermoplastic Poly Urethane). It’s a synthetic rubber material that offers outstanding durability and traction.

16. New Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running Shoe

Our rating: 4 / 10

New Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Very competitively priced
  • Excellent comfort and traction
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for cross country running
  • Provide great shock absorption
  • The sporty contemporary design is breathable and attractive
  • Easy to clean
  • Perfect for most weather conditions

Cons:

  • Not ideal for rocky and loose terrains
  • The lacing system could be stronger
  • Overall weight could be improved

The New Balance Women’s Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running Shoe is our favorite model for cross country spike shoes. The shoe is lightweight and has a breathable upper for cooling comfort. It also has excellent traction and support for long distance running.

This shoe has an Ndurance spike plate system that offers a durable rubber material that can be used in virtually any terrain. It is lightweight, sturdy, and provides great shock absorption for long distance runs.

The cushioning is of medium density and it excels in providing shock absorption to the user, which helps protect their joints from the most extreme impact. This shoe is great for both steep uphill and downhill runs thanks to its excellent traction system.

17. Brooks Men's Mach 18 Spikeless Nightlife/Brooks Brite Blue/Black 11.5 D US

Our rating: 4 / 10

Brooks Men's Mach 18 Spikeless Nightlife/Brooks Brite Blue/Black 11.5 D US

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Pros:

  • Comfortable and supportive
  • Very lightweight
  • Strong and flexible
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Come in wide range of colors

Cons:

  • There are other options out there with similar features
  • Resoling is hard if you choose to buy used
  • The spikes could be better

If you’re looking to compete, look for a spike that is lightweight and provides lots of support.

You want something that won’t slow you down. Look for shoes with little heel-to-toe drop, a durable upper and flexible midsole.

You will also want something with good traction and rich spike plates, and you want to make sure you can clean them easily.

18. Brooks Mach 18 Women's Cross Country Spikes Fiery Coral/Electric Purple/Black Size 8

Our rating: 3 / 10

Brooks Mach 18 Women's Cross Country Spikes Fiery Coral/Electric Purple/Black Size 8

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5

The Brooks Mach 18 Women’s Cross Country Spikes has a great fit and lots of cushioning which makes it perfect for trail running. With excellent traction, it has a comfortable inner sole that doesn’t wear down over time. Plus, the spike plate has great width, so it provides a stable base for cross-country running. Its leather upper breaths well and looks great too! Here’s how to clean your sneakers like a pro.

The cushioning is responsive as the sole bends naturally when you push down with your foot. The sole has a good amount of shock absorption. The forested sole provides an efficient path to move faster. There is ample cushioning so that you can jog and jog with great comfort.

19. Nike Women's Zoom Rival XC Running Shoes Hyper Grape/Mango/Black Size 7 M US

Our rating: 2 / 10

Nike Women's Zoom Rival XC Running Shoes Hyper Grape/Mango/Black Size 7 M US

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Pros:

  • * Available in multiple sizes and colors

The Nike Women’s Zoom Rival XC Running Shoes are a fantastic pair of shoes that you can wear for cross country, workouts, and more. They look great and have plenty of cushioning.

These shoes are designed for high-impact, high-intensity workouts and races. They feature a breathable mesh upper with synthetic overlays. This offers the perfect combination of support and breathability for high-intensity situations.

The inner sleeve is made of Nike’s signature Phylon midsole and a semi-rigid exoskeleton for additional support. It also has a sticky rubber Waffle outsole for excellent traction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best cross country spikes?

You want your spikes to be comfortable. The last thing you need to worry about when you are running is discomfort. Some of the best spikes are actually manufactured by Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Asics and other leading brands. Others are made of rubber, nylon, and fabric.

When purchasing your new spikes, you should look at the width and the heel-to-toe drop. You want your spikes to be at least 5 millimeters in width. This will give you a lot of power and traction.

You will also need spikes that have a heel-to-toe drop from 4 to 8 millimeters. This will help with forward propulsion and in withstanding impacts.

Your spikes should feel natural to your feet. You want spikes that are flexible and allow your feet to move freely. The material that is being used to make the spikes will determine how comfortable they are on your feet.

What is the best size spikes for cross country?

The standard size of cross country spikes is 20 millimeters with 20 pins. It is best to have tall spikes because the raised heel helps to make the legs a bit shorter. It also gives the muscles of the thigh a better workout since they don’t get used to carrying the body weight. It also allows for greater haptic.

What are the best spikes for long distance?

Choosing the best cross-country spikes is an absolute must if you plan on doing long distance running. Everyone loves long distance running, and the feeling of running in a field is simply unbeatable.

But not matter what the sport, winning is everything. And this also applies to cross-country. Your spikes will be the difference in you being the victor or remaining a lap behind.

Your spikes will help to reduce friction and will impact during running.

These are designed to provide you with the best traction possible along with help to propel your feet. The spike thickness can be a concern, but there are many cross country spikes that provide a medium thickness so that you can absorb impact but also have enough protection and grip to stop the movement of your feet during a run.

Is there a difference between cross country spikes and track spikes?

Cross country spikes and track spikes are very similar and the main difference is size. When spikes first came out, they were first designed and worn by track athletes. Track athletes would have to jump over barriers and take turns on the infield at a wide range of different speeds. This required distinctive speed spikes. These initial spikes were slightly larger than those of distance runners.

Distance runners then moved away from track spikes. These spikes were simply too large to work on cross country terrain. But even so, they were too small to be effective in a track environment. As a result, distance runners also created their own spikes. The main difference is size. Distance runners’ spikes are larger than those of sprinters but smaller than the track spikes.

Conclusion

If you are looking for the best spikes for sprinting, you might want to search for one that has both quickness and durability because these two things are the most important things when it comes to this kind of sport. The weight of the spikes is also important. Weight can affect your sprint ability, and you might need to have spikes that are lighter compared to the other models available.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Saucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track ShoeBest OverallSaucony Men's Kilkenny Xc 8 Track Shoe
New Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running ShoeBudget PickNew Balance Women's Cross Country Seven V2 Spike Running Shoe
New Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running ShoeUpgrade PickNew Balance Women's Cross Country 5k V4 Running Shoe