Hybrid running shoes are the perfect option for people who are unsure whether they want to run on trails or roads. If you want to replace your old running shoes or mix up road and trail running, we’ve created a list of the best hybrid running shoes to help you get started with your search.
What Are Hybrid Running Shoes?
Just like what its name explains, hybrid running shoes have the DNA of both road and trail running shoes. While they have their disadvantages, they make perfect sense for those who often run on rough trails and paved roads or don’t want to buy two different types of running shoes, which they might only wear a few times a month.
How do trail running shoes, road running shoes, and hybrid running shoes differ from each other?
- Unlike trail running shoes, most road-to-trail hybrid running shoes don’t have a reinforced upper or a toe bumper, which cushions and protects your toes from hard objects (e.g., rocks and tree roots) and impact. Road running shoes don’t also have a reinforced upper, but instead they have plenty of mesh to allow air to freely circulate.
- Hybrid running shoes and road running shoes typically don’t have a rock plate built into their midsole. Most trail running shoes have a rock plate (made from carbon fiber or plastic) between their midsole and outsole for stability and protection from hard or sharp objects, such as rocks, which you might run over.
- The outsoles of hybrid running shoes usually have shorter cleats or lugs (around 2 to 4 millimeters). Compared to their hybrid version, trail running shoes have bigger and softer lugs for better traction. The pattern of the lugs will usually depend on the kind of terrain you’re going to tackle. On the other hand, shoes for on-road running have rubber outsoles that are smooth and flat for better ground contact.
The right pair of hybrid running shoes can help improve your performance, keep your feet comfortable, and prevent injuries while running. On that note, let’s start by going through some of the best hybrid running shoes (road-to-trail) that might match your requirements.
The Best Road-to-Trail Hybrid Running Shoes
Vectiv Enduris II – The North Face
The North Face Men’s Vectiv Enduris II combines exceptional features for a comfortable and efficient run. These shoes will work perfectly well for female runners who have large and wide front feet.
The Vectiv Enduris II has all the necessary features to keep your runs as comfortable as possible. It has an air-mesh upper to ensure proper circulation and keep your feet cool the whole time. The tongue is soft and padded to prevent chaffing and rubbing while you run. And a well-designed, reinforced toe box offers extra protection from hard objects on the road.
In terms of performance, The North Face throws in the OrthoLite X55 footbed and rockered midsoles to help propel your feet forward, making your runs easier and more efficient. They also added an internal heel counter to keep the heel of your foot in position.
Fresh Foam X 880v12 – New Balance
Comfortable, excellent fit, and spacious—the Fresh Foam X 880v12 shoes are a great choice for walking and distance running on lighter trails. New Balance also made sure your nighttime and early morning runs are a bit safer by including reflective detailing in the design.
The Fresh Foam X 880v12 is New Balance’s 12th generation neutral cushioning running shoes. (In general, neutral shoes refer to footwear that offers minimal support.) These shoes feature a dual-layer midsole, which consists of a top-bed foam and underfoot Fresh Foam X that work together to prevent over-pronation and provide better cushioning upon impact.
To add extra cushioning to these shoes, New Balance used a blown rubber for the outsole. They also included a Jacquard mesh upper that keeps your feet dry and feeling fresh every single time.
The toe box is slightly wider, so your wide feet have enough wiggle room on both sides. These running shoes are currently available in four width options.
Men’s Agility Peak 4 – Merrell
The Merrell Men’s Agility Peak 4 might not be for fast runs, but there are many more things to love about it—vibrant colors, a well-thought design, and a quality construction. It’s the perfect option for people who like to hike and jog, or don’t know what to expect when they begin trail running.
For the new Agility Peak 4, the slightly beefier midsole is made from the lightweight and responsive FloatPro foam. To give you confidence to tackle any dry or wet terrain, the bottom of these shoes is made from Vibram Megagrip rubber.
The Agility Peak 4 does a good job of maintaining good contact with the ground, thanks to its FLEXconnect dual-directional flex-grooves midsole. For added protection, Merrell placed a rock plate between the midsole and outsole of these shoes to shield your feet from blunt or sharp objects.
Norvan LD 3 – Arc’Teryx
Mainly designed as a trail running shoe, the Arc’Teryx Norvan LD 3 has no problems switching back and forth from dirt roads to concrete pathways. It has the basic features you’d expect from a road-to-trail running shoe: a highly breathable, single-layer mesh upper, a toe cap for protection, a wide toe box, and a shock-absorbent material in the forefoot and heel.
Plus, it comes with advanced materials that offer great comfort and support during your extended trail runs:
- The Vibram Megagrip rubber outsole offers an unequaled grip on all types of dry and wet terrains, including ice, loose dirt paths, and mud.
- The Vibram Litebase significantly decreases the weight of the sole by decreasing the thickness, which helps you run more effortlessly and avoid muscle fatigue after your run.
- The thick InFuse midsole is made for those runners who don’t want to feel a single rock beneath their feet.
- The tongue is made from eco-friendly Ariaprene foam that’s non-irritating and allows freedom of movement while running.
Speedgoat 5 – Hoka
Despite weighing 9.7 oz, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 still feels light to make your runs seem effortless. It’s a good choice specifically for people who are experiencing heel pain and mild foot or ankle arthritis, thanks to its late-stage Meta Rocker design, which reduces the elevation of the toe-end from the ball of the foot.
Hoka took all the features that made the Speedgoat 4 their most popular trail running shoes, and then added them to the Speedgoat 5. Plus, they made some improvements, including a lighter midsole, more spacious mesh upper, and a grippier outsole with 5-millimeter lugs. It also has a more forgiving fit to accommodate a wider range of foot shapes.
Cloudultra – On
If you’re looking for a new pair of running shoes with the best cushioning, you’re going to be amazed with On’s Cloudultra. These hybrid running shoes come with the Helion superfoam and CloudTec cushions, which allow you to feel the trail and enjoy soft landings, while providing a rebound push to get you moving forward.
In addition to the cushioned feel, you’ll also enjoy the adjustable sock-fit construction that envelops your foot like a sock for comfort and stability. On also integrated a liquid-injected plastic plate called a “speedboard” into the midsole. This plastic plate works with the cushioning of CloudTec to help you run faster without exerting more effort.
The Cloudultra hybrid running shoes are best suited for light-trail running. Giving you the confidence to navigate any trail in any condition is On’s Missiongrip outsoles, which have multiple grip patterns for optimal traction and stability.
Men’s Parkclaw G 280 – Inov-8
Inov-8 is one of the leading brands for technical off-road footwear, so it’s not surprising their Parkclaw G 280 Shoe has the right features for on-road and trail running. For starters, it has wear-resistant, graphene-enhanced soles that are covered with ninety-eight 4-millimeter lugs (per shoe) to provide a stronger grip on whatever surface you’re running on.
The increased grip doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed comfort and performance. For the insole, Inov-8 used the Boomerang footbed for extra cushioning and increased bounce and speed. Between the inner and outer soles is a graphene-enhanced foam, also called the G-fly foam, which delivers up to 25% more energy rebound to help you run faster and longer.
Men’s Trail Runners SWT – Allbirds
Best known for making “the world’s most comfortable shoes,” Allbirds has successfully released their first ever hiking and trail running shoes—the Allbirds Men’s Trail Runners SWT. These rigorously road-tested shoes can take on any dry, wet, and rough trails, thanks to multi-directional lugs, a breathable single-piece upper, a water-repellent finish, and a comfortable, sock-like collar, among other features.
What’s great about these shoes is that Allbirds used sustainably sourced materials to make it easier on the planet. The upper is made from a blend of ZQ Merino Wool and FSC-certified Tencel Lyocell (a semi-synthetic fiber made from eucalyptus tree fiber). The midsole is made from SweetFoam, a material sourced from parts of sugarcane.
Challenger ATR 6 – Hoka
Hoka made only a few minor changes to the design and look of the Challenger ATR 6. Compared to its predecessor, this version is more suitable for all-terrain, long-distance runners and those who have high-arched feet. Its distinct outsole has a zonal construction to enhance grip and traction on a range of terrains.
Environmentally conscious runners will love the fact that Hoka used more recycled materials for manufacturing the Challenger ATR 6 compared to its predecessor. For instance, the upper and collar are made from the Unifi Repreve recycled yarn that comes from post-consumer waste plastic.
Men’s Outroad – Altra
The Altra Men’s Outroad is perfect for running, regardless if you go for a run on paved roads or uphill, rough trails. It comes with the MaxTrac rubber outsole that features multi-directional lug patterns, which make your every step on all types of terrain a lot easier and safer.
With the addition of their thick EGO midsole foam, Altra aims to provide what almost every runner wants from any running shoe cushioning—bouncy and responsive, yet cozy and soft. The Outroad hybrid running shoes also come in Altra’s narrowest fitting option, the Slim FootShape fit. This shape maintains a wide toe box to give your toes enough room to splay wide and move naturally.