What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?

What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?

What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?

I’ve gotten this question a few times, so I decided to write a post about it.

What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?

While trail running has been popular throughout the years, recently, there has been a rise of trail running. Since the pandemic started, many runners have opted for the trails. Plus, more low key trail races are happening right now.

But for many of us, we don’t have access to singletrack, technical trails, or we aren’t ready to run them. We don’t want to invest in another expensive shoe we might use once a month, but we need something to provide more support on the trails.

That is where hybrid running shoes come into play. There aren’t too many; in fact, it’s a very specific shoe made for both trails and roads. It’s a jack of all trades, and while not perfect for either, it is good for both. It makes a lot of sense for many people who run on both trails and roads.

Last week, I talked more about trail shoes and why you shouldn’t use trail shoes on the roads. This week, I’m looking at why a hybrid running shoe might be the best option for you.

So What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?

They combine the best of best worlds and often have deeper grooves than a road shoe, but not as many features as a true trail shoe. For instance, most hybrid running shoes don’t have toe bumpers or reinforced uppers to keep debris out. They are more durable for running trails but not as durable as a trail shoe.

The Short Answer: It’s like if a trail shoe and a road shoe married and had a baby.

What are the Differences Between Trail Shoes, Road Shoes, and Hybrid Shoes? 

Trail Shoes:

  • Rigid.
  • Deeper lugs (usually 5mm+).
  • Best used for technical trails and will give you the best footing on the trails.
  • Can cause injuries if used on roads.

Hybrid Running Shoes:

  • More flexible and softer than road shoes.
  • Shorter lugs than trail shoes (usually between 2-4 mm)
  • Best used for runs where you combine roads and trails.
  • Jack of all Trades: Not perfect for either roads or trails, but good for both.

Road Shoes:

  • Flexible, soft and has more cushion than trail and hybrid shoes. 
  • Usually lighter and more breathable.
  • More of a variety with cushion and support and best used for roads.
  • Can cause issues with footing and sliding on trails.

What is a Hybrid Running Shoe?


So When Should You Invest In a Hybrid Running Shoe?

If you find yourself running on a trail weekly or want to get into trail running, it is good to start with a hybrid shoe. That way, you find a shoe you can use on both roads and trails and not one that sits in a closet 6 out of 7 days a week (or more).

What are the Disadvantages of a Hybrid Running Shoe?

With all of the pros, there must be cons, right? One major issue is the lack of options with hybrid shoes. If you are someone who needs a lot of support (or any support) in your running shoe, hybrid shoes don’t generally have that. To be fair, most trail shoes lack medial and arch support as well.

A few includes:

When Should You Replace Hybrid Running Shoes?

  • When Things Start to Ache: Like most running shoes, they should last between 400-500 miles. When you start not to feel good (small aches and pains), the general rule could be the shoes.
  • When You Don’t Have Much Traction: If you find yourself sliding along the trails, chances are you’ve worn out the traction (like a car tire).

What Should a Hybrid Running Shoe Feel Like?

Like any running shoe, it should feel good. With your running shoes, you want them to feel good in the store and when you first try them on. You shouldn’t “break them in.”  As long as a hybrid running shoe feels good, you are good to go.

If you find yourself trying new things like trails, it might be time to invest in a hybrid running shoe you can get a lot of use in.

If you are interested in learning more about running shoes, I wrote a running shoe guide ebook.

Questions for you:

How often do you run on trails?

Do you own a hybrid running shoe? What is your favorite shoe?