Best Cross Country Running Spikes of 2024

Cross country running is a test of an athlete’s endurance, perseverance, and speed.

It’s an exhausting sport that requires running on varying terrain in all weather conditions. A cross country runner can improve their safety, speed, and stamina by wearing the right pair of cross country spikes.

Over the last several months, our Marathon Sports experts tackled numerous cross-country routes in more than a dozen pairs of the hottest cross country spikes for 2024. This guide to the best cross country shoes includes the spikes they felt stood above the rest in terms of comfort, fit, durability, and traction.

Our Review Process

Our review process is simple. Marathon Sports team members lace up the shoes and put them to the test on their daily runs. When determining the best cross country spikes, they headed to local courses, testing the shoes on various surfaces, including grass, mud, pavement, loose soil, and more. After months of running, our reviewers reported back with their findings.

This review includes what our team members believe are the best cross country shoes for 2024.

What Is a Cross Country Shoe?

Cross country running shoes are designed for competition. They’re different than the shoes you wear for everyday running workouts and can make a drastic difference in your performance on race day.

Cross country running shoes are lightweight and sleek. They often include removable spikes for courses that require additional traction. Cross country running shoes feature more heel cushioning than traditional track spikes but typically less than a pair of daily trainers.

Do Cross Country Runners Need Spikes?

Removable spikes are included in many of the top cross country running shoes. That’s because cross country runners typically need the additional traction for wet, muddy, or uneven terrain. Spikes can save a runner from falling or becoming injured due to running on wet courses.

However, spikes are not recommended for all cross country races. Spikes are banned for California high school cross country runners, as many courses have long sections of hard-packed surfaces or pavement. Remember to research your organization’s requirements before shopping for spikes to ensure they’re legal for racing.

The 6 Best Cross Country Shoes

Our reviewers determined six running shoes stood out when compared to the competition. Learn more about each shoe’s comfort, support, fit, traction, and more by reading the individual reviews from our experts below.

Saucony Kilkenny XC 9 Spike

Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike Slime lateral side
Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike Slime lateral side
Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike - Prospect Quartz
Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike - Varsity (S29080-70) Lateral Side
Saucony Men's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike - Fog/Black/Vizi

Saucony Kilkenny XC 9 Spike

Men's Shoes
price:$64.95
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike Indigo lateral side
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike Indigo lateral side
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike - Prospect Quartz
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC 9 Spike - Varsity (S19080-70) Lateral Side

Saucony Kilkenny XC 9 Spike

Women's Shoes
price:$64.95

The Kilkenny XC 9 Spike is Saucony’s tried-and-true cross country spike. It’s versatile enough for first-time racers yet advanced enough to help you reach your gold medal goals. Our reviewers praised the Kilkenny XC 9 Spike for its breathable upper and the molded EVA midsole, providing comfort to the finish line and beyond.

Traction is essential for cross country runners, as they traverse a variety of terrain in all weather conditions. Wet, muddy conditions are not to be feared with the four-pin spike plate on the Kilkenny XC 9 Spike. It’s an ideal cross country shoe for mid to long-distance racing, as it offers the support, grip, and comfort needed to go the distance while maintaining speed and safety.

The Saucony Kilkenny XC 9 Spike is available in both men’s and women’s sizes. Find both versions available on our website and in stores.

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC

Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC Black/Dark Smoke Grey/White/Metallic Silver medial side
Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC Black/Dark Smoke Grey/White/Metallic Silver medial side
Nike Unisex ZoomX Dragonfly XC Bright Crimson lateral side
Nike Unisex ZoomX Dragonfly XC - Volt/Total Orange/Total Orange/Concord
Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC Volt/Black/Hyper Pink/White medial side
Nike Unisex ZoomX Dragonfly XC White/Total Orange/Laser Orange/Black lateral side

Nike Unisex ZoomX Dragonfly XC

Shoes
price:$159.95

Our reviewers raved about the Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC. It features some of Nike’s top running shoe tech, like ZoomX cushioning, a breathable Vaporweave upper, and a Pebax plate. It’s a cross country running shoe for athletes who break barriers in all conditions and on all terrain.

The full-length Pebax plate creates optimal energy return while remaining lightweight. The innovative Vaporweave upper is light even when soaked in water, while engineered mesh offers breathability and a snug fit. An arch band provides the support and security runners need in mud and other slippery terrain.

The Nike ZoomX Dragonfly XC features six spikes and wide pyramid pins to enhance grip. This is a cross country racing shoe for elite-level runners.

Nike Zoom Rival 6 XC

Nike Unisex Zoom Rival 6 XC White/Black/Orange medial side
Nike Unisex Zoom Rival 6 XC White/Black/Orange medial side
Nike Unisex Zoom Rival 6 XC side view
Nike Unisex Zoom Rival 6 XC Black/White/Silver lateral side

Nike Unisex Zoom Rival 6 XC

Shoes
price:$69.95

Another cross country spike from Nike is the Zoom Rival 6 XC. The ZoomX Dragonfly XC is an ideal shoe for advanced runners, while the Zoom Rival 6 XC is a superior option for beginners.

While it’s an ideal shoe for first-time racers, the ZoomX Dragonfly X offers technical features more advanced cross country runners will love too. Top features include ultra-grippy traction, a structured upper for support, and a well-cushioned ZoomX midsole. The waffle pattern on the outsole and six-spike setup offers plenty of traction for wet, muddy courses.

Our reviewers appreciated the higher level of cushioning and supportive upper for remaining comfortable from start to finish on long-distance runs. Nike’s track spikes are available in men’s sizes, so women should remember to use the brand’s conversion guide when shopping.

New Balance XC Seven V2 Spike

New Balance Unisex XC Seven V2 Spike - Black/White (UXCS7BW2 D)
New Balance Unisex XC Seven V2 Spike - Black/White (UXCS7BW2 D)

New Balance Unisex XC7 v2

Shoes
price:$69.95

New Balance is one of the most iconic names in running, and their track and cross country spikes are some of the best. The XC Seven V2 Spike is similar to the Nike Rival 6 XC, as it’s directed toward newer cross country athletes. It’s versatile enough for all courses yet offers slightly more cushioning and support than an elite-level XC spike.

Outstanding features include the ultra-lightweight REVlite midsole and the structured yet lightweight mesh upper. The six-pin spike plate provides traction while encouraging optimal speed.

Our team members found the XC Seven V2 Spike comparable to the Rival 6 XC in terms of long-term comfort and exceptional fit. The eye-catching forefoot graphic and colorways add to the shoe’s aesthetic appeal.

adidas Adizero XCS Spike

Adidas Men's Adizero XCS - Screaming Green/Sonic Ink/Signal Green (FZ2481)
Adidas Men's Adizero XCS - Screaming Green/Sonic Ink/Signal Green (FZ2481)
Adidas Unisex Adizero XCS Spikes - Footwear White/Core Black/Solar Red (FY4089) Lateral Side
adidas Unisex Adizero XCS Spike - White/Gold/Black

adidas Unisex Adizero XCS Spike

Shoes
price:$64.95

The Adizero XCS Spike is full of technical features designed to help you achieve your next PR. Our reviewers raved about the Bounce midsole, offering flex, comfort, and impact protection while remaining lightweight. They commented that the shoe feels practically weightless while running.

The shoe’s textile upper is supportive yet breathable to keep sweat at bay and dry quickly when running on wet terrain. A five-pin outsole offers the traction cross country racers need on dirt, grass, and mud.

Another stand-out feature of the Adizero XCS Spike is that Adidas designed it to be more sustainable than many other XC running shoes on the market. Twenty-five percent of the materials in the upper are made from 50 percent recycled content. This recycled content comes from production and post-consumer household waste. Adidas’ mission is to lower the harmful environmental impact of manufacturing new products.

Our reviewers appreciate the Adizero XCS Spike for its cushioning, breathability, and unbelievable light weight. Adidas’ classic three stripes and eye-catching colors create a desirable look too.

New Balance XC5K V5

New Balance Men's XC5K V5 - Energy Red/Henna (MXC5KER5 D)
New Balance Men's XC5K V5 - Energy Red/Henna (MXC5KER5 D)
New Balance Mens XC5K v5 - Team Teal/Dynamite (MXC5KTD5 D)

New Balance XC5K V5

Men's Shoes
price:$109.95
New Balance Women's XC5K V5 - Tidepool/Verdite (WXC5KBG5 B)
New Balance Women's XC5K V5 - Tidepool/Verdite (WXC5KBG5 B)
New Balance Women's XC5K V5 - Pink Glo/Garnet (WXC5KCP5 B) Lateral Side
New Balance Women's XC5K V5 - Cobalt/Lime Glo (WXC5KCG5 B) Lateral Side

New Balance XC5K V5

Women's Shoes
price:$109.95
New Balance Unisex XC5K V5 - Phantom/Steel (UXC5KSR5 D) Lateral Side
New Balance Unisex XC5K V5 - Phantom/Steel (UXC5KSR5 D) Lateral Side

New Balance Unisex XC5K v5

Shoes
price:$109.95

The New Balance XC5K V5 is another cross country spike for elite-level racers. It’s loaded with New Balance’s top running shoe technologies to remain lightweight, grippy, and aggressive.

The shoe’s look and fit were inspired by traditional track spikes to remain ultra lightweight and responsive. However, they incorporate the supportive fit and cushioning cross country runners need to tackle long distances at top speeds.

This year’s edition features a knit collar that hugs the foot while remaining breathable and comfortable. The upper also offers a sleek New Balance logo to inspire confidence at the starting line.

Five spikes on the shoe’s outsole offer the grip runners need on uneven and wet terrain. However, runners can easily remove them for courses that include pavement.

Our reviewers appreciate the shoe’s aggressive stance with a recessed forefoot plate to propel the runner forward. They commented that this felt like the fastest shoe of all the ones they tested, thanks to New Balance’s dedication to providing speed and support in a comfortable package.

Find the Right Cross Country Spike for You

Our team members had varied opinions on which were the absolute best shoes for cross country. That’s because different runners have varying opinions on what makes an ideal running shoe. Some of our reviewers prefer the comfort of more midsole cushioning, while others prefer to sacrifice cushioning for a lighter-weight construction and faster speeds.

All the shoes in the list above are designed to help cross country runners achieve their goals, whether they’re entering their first race or their 50th. Stop by one of our Marathon Sports locations to take part in our The Right Fit™ process. Our experts will help you choose the cross country spikes or other running shoes that fit your gait, foot shape, running style, and goals.

Shop around our website today our or visit one of our locations to browse our complete selection of men’s cross country spikes, women’s cross country spikes, high-performance running shoes and more. It’s our mission to connect you with the best running shoes and gear to help you reach your goals.

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