Hybrid trail shoes for off-road and road | RUNNER'S WORLD

 Hybrid trail shoes for off-road and road |  RUNNER'S WORLD

Hybrid trail shoes for off-road and road | RUNNER'S WORLD

A lonely single trail winds its way through a lovely mountain landscape in the light of the morning sun, with a lake glistening in the background. In the middle of it all, a runner floats through nature: That's how we see trail runners. But often we just long for this scenery, because our everyday run usually has little in common with the dream world. In order to get to the next trail, we often have to walk at least a few hundred meters over asphalt roads. And for many, the trail run itself is not a one-off fun run from peak to peak over promising single trails, but rather a forest run on fairly level ground.

Forest and field paths on the outskirts are the classic running terrain and normal running shoes are often just as suitable as trail shoes - or even better. Because a large part of these paths is either paved or at least very flat and free of obstacles. In reality, trail shoes are subject to different requirements than we imagine. Fortunately, the manufacturers also know this and align their offers accordingly.

The best of both worlds: grip AND comfort

These "hybrid shoes" that we present to you here have the main feature of trail shoes: a rather heavily profiled outsole. But what sets them apart is the construction of the midsole. This is much softer cushioned than classic trail shoes, which ensures fatigue-free running on paved paths. This balancing act between robustness and comfort was made possible by modern midsole foams, which many manufacturers have recently led to noticeably voluminous but surprisingly light sole constructions and provide a completely new walking experience. Even trail specialists such as Salomon, Inov-8 or La Sportiva now rely on the comfort factor, as the models presented here show.

While trail runners used to fear for their kneecaps and menisci if a kilometer of asphalt got under their soles, the new models from Adidas, Brooks, New Balance and Nike have a level of comfort that can no longer be distinguished from cushioning shoes. "If I didn't know that this was a trail shoe, I wouldn't have noticed it," is the meaningful comment of a test runner, which applies equally to all four models.

The outsole: From coarse to soft

Another typical construction element of trail shoes, in addition to the "trecker sole", is the "rock plate" - a solid plastic plate that is integrated into the midsole, for example in the La Sportiva. It protects the foot from stones or branches that could push through the sole, which becomes all the more important the rougher the trail and the longer the run. The disadvantage of the record is that it is at the expense of flexibility and dynamics. The feeling for the soil condition also suffers. This is a disadvantage on firm, level ground and for more ambitious runners.

When evaluating trail shoes, it is important to take a look at the outsole: the better running properties on the road or firm ground sometimes come at the expense of off-road suitability, for example with the Nike model. If you want more grip on uneven terrain, you will choose a coarser profile. Anyone who only rarely needs this often feels rather disturbed by coarse studs. Nevertheless, the models presented here open up an enormous area of ​​application, ranging from asphalt to alpine passes - without major compromises.

The new hybrid trail shoes under test

Brooks Divide 2


Order here: men's model or women's model

The Divide 2 is one of the most interesting offers for runners who want to run with the shoe on firm trails and occasionally on the road. With the shoe, you can turn onto asphalted farm roads without having to make any compromises, without feeling like you've got the wrong sole. The Divide has 2 typical trail features: a so-called "rock plate", i.e. a solid plate that protects against stones pushing through, and a non-slip one outsole.

The upper is comfortably padded on the inside and the effective lacing keeps the shoe very securely on the foot. The running comfort is closer to a trail shoe - but this is mainly due to the stone protection in the forefoot area, which also has a stiffening effect. Otherwise, the name says it all - "divide" here means something like splitting up: And thanks to the well-cushioning midsole made of "BioMoGo DNA", solid ground under the sole is a real option with this trail shoe, "lack of cushioning was never a problem", says a test runner. The drop of 8 millimeters is also very suitable for beginner runners, who often feel better with them than with a flatter trail shoe.

Weight: 292 grams, drop: 8 millimeters, price: 110 euros

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6


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The current version of the Hierro is also extremely popular as a casual shoe; one can assume that this is due to the fact that the shoe cuts a very good figure with jeans. But that shouldn't and can't diminish its trail qualities. The shoe has become lighter - and in terms of comfort it's a good average. There are lighter trail shoes, but also significantly heavier ones. The shoe is also suitable for use on the road and offers comfort on a wide variety of surfaces. A clear improvement is the new upper material - more comfortable, more supple and with a secure fit. The tongue is very comfortable. The bottom line is that the Hierro is also suitable for very long trail use.

Under the heel, the midsole is 28 millimeters thick - indicating the level of comfort it offers. The "Freshfoam X" foam is actually very comfortable, whether on long trails or on an asphalt passage. The tuning is very successful for training speed (or sometimes intervals). The outsole from specialist Vibram offers the right, gripping grip. Also due to the wide contact surface, the Hierro certainly offers one of the most slip-resistant outsoles; perhaps only surpassed by the Inov8 Graphene sole. The Hierro is definitely comparable to the Inov8 G300.

Conclusion: The Hierro 6 is certainly one of the most versatile trail shoes currently; whether for occasional trail runners or for very long trail use, the shoe is equally conceivable. There are other options for light runners or competitions - but the Hierro is ideal for universal use away from the asphalt.

Weight: 337 grams (men), 280 grams (women) Drop: 8 millimeters Price: 140 euros

Asics Trabuco Max


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The Trabuco has been one of the most popular trail running shoes for many years. With the new version as Trabuco Max, this should be consolidated, and the shoe is also more universal. Because the Trabuco has always been popular as an all-rounder - with which you can travel very comfortably on easy trails, forest or hiking paths, but also on stretches of road. The "Max" emphasizes this strength - now offers even more cushioning with the 28 millimeter high midsole (heel; 23 millimeters at the front) and an additional "Flytefoam" cushioning layer. "Wonderfully cushioned, super soft ride with a high bounce effect, great!" describes a test runner. This Trabuco is therefore even better suited for long trail stretches, even over rough ground, only in deep mud are the rather flat lugs quickly overwhelmed.

The "Guidesole" with its light rocker construction (also known from the Glideride street running shoe) then fits the impression of comfort, brings a lot of protection and stability in the rolling process. The speed lacing system was also good for such use, "I was able to quickly adjust the lacing depending on the route - whether uphill or downhill," said one tester. So the Trabuco Max now has the potential not only to win the hearts of hardcore trail runners. There is one caveat to bear in mind: the shape of the last is better suited for narrow and medium-wide feet. Otherwise, it quickly becomes too tight in the toe area. It can be compared to models like the Altra Olympus or a Hoka Speedgoat.

Weight: 297 grams (men), 237 grams (women) drop: 5 millimeters price: 160 euros

On Cloudventure


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The Cloudventure's mid-outsole unit consists of 20 very differently sized cloud elements. The Missiongrip outsole provides a firm grip on impassable trails, but can also be used on normal field or forest paths as well as on the street. Another extra: The two-layer upper material also provides sufficient support on the top of the foot

The individual clouds of the Cloudventure compress under load and react individually, while at the same time shifting slightly horizontally. Downhill, the impact shock is noticeably reduced and traction improved. Good running properties for long trails. A small disadvantage: Stones keep getting stuck in the sole.

Weight: 295 grams Drop: 6 millimeters RRP: 160 euros

Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max


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The Inov8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max with graphene sole is the first trail running shoe with the new G-FLY foam. It offers 25% more energy return, according to manufacturer Inov8. Due to the voluminous midsole, the Trailfly (373 g in US 11) is not hard like a trail shoe, but comfortable and suitable for ultra use. "I wouldn't have thought for a second that I was running a trail shoe if I hadn't known it," says one test runner. In the future, trail runners will no longer have to worry that the first few kilometers on the way to the trail will be particularly uncomfortable because the shoes are cushioned too hard. The outsole with the up to one centimeter deep, laterally and longitudinally inserted flex grooves is comparatively very flexible and offers a safe, superior walking feeling with the outstanding grip on trails. And there is no reason to worry about premature wear of the sole.

Conclusion: The Trailfly Ultra G300 Max is an absolute recommendation for trail runners, ultra-trail runners, but also for trail beginners or road runners who are looking for a shoe for occasional trail use. Its home is the terrain, the trail, but it fears neither the road nor the park path. In addition, the fit adopted from the revised Inov8 G270 offers plenty of space and perfect support for the foot in the shoe.

Weight: 300 grams (men) Drop: 6 millimeters Price: 195 euros

Hoka Speedgoat 4


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The Speedgoat 4 is a mature trail shoe with all-round qualities. The walking characteristics are characterized by the "rocker" construction of the midsole, the very comfortable cushioning for a trail shoe and the outsole with a rough profile. The lugs are five millimeters deep, which is enough for most trails. Above all, the grip on sand and soft ground is exceptionally good, and this also applies to downhill passages. The comfortable midsole has better cushioning qualities than many road running shoes. Contrary to the massive visual impression, the Speedgoat runs quite dynamically. Especially on longer stretches, you will be happy about the good rolling comfort and the very good cushioning at the same time - a noticeable advantage, especially for long distances.

With its wide range of possible uses, the Speedgoat has such a wide range of functions that it represents an extremely attractive, comfortable solution for beginner runners, trail beginners and trail professionals alike. In the slightly more expensive waterproof version (GTX, 160 euros), the Speedgoat is recommended for damp running surfaces, whether slush, meadows or mud trails.

Weight: 309 grams (men) Drop: 4 millimeters RRP: 160 euros

Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra


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Our test runners had mixed opinions about the Agravic Ultra. "The Agravic Ultra reminds me more of a light hiking shoe than a running shoe," noted one test runner on his test sheet. Others found that the firm upper material in combination with the stable running behavior gave them a lot of security, especially in technical terrain. Both assessments are absolutely correct: With the shoe you feel like you are plowing over bumps. At the same time, you don't notice much of it. It is precisely these properties that make the shoe a real all-rounder, as it offers enough grip on trails and enough comfort on flat paths.

Yes, there are models that allow you to be more agile, get more feedback from the ground, and run faster. What you prefer is a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. For us, the Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra is a top trail shoe for runners who run many hours and kilometers and want a lot of protection and stability. If you prefer agile running behavior with lots of feedback, the Speed ​​Ultra is the more suitable trail shoe from Adidas Terrex.

Weight: 299 grams (men), 249 grams (women) Drop: 8 millimeters Price: 160 euros

Merell Moab Flight


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The Moab Flight is a well-protected and well-cushioned trail shoe that should offer the foot good support on all surfaces. The wide Vibram sole ensures rolling comfort and firm grip, even on very loose soils such as sand. The midsole offers an optimal compromise between cushioning and lightness. So runners do not have to do without comfort and dynamics. The relatively light and comfortable shoe has a wide range of uses, especially in our latitudes. It runs comfortably on trails and doesn't lack comfort even on solid ground. The foot is super secure and the sole offers very non-slip rolling properties.

Weight: 298 grams (men), 241 grams (women) Drop: 10 millimeters RRP: 125 euros

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