For years, trail runners lagged behind road shoes in the cushioning department as the more popular roadies got all the high-tech R&D. But with more people trail-runningand with many hikers opting for lightweight runners, toolook for more manufacturers to put their best shock technology into trail shoes.
Today's crossover shoes, like the Gear of the Yearwinning Vasque Blur, match sophisticated, low-profile cushion with aggressive outsoles. The best of the new breed blend the stability of a traditional trail runner with road-shoe explosiveness.
Uppers need to be tough to withstand trail abuse and stable so your foot doesn't flop around on uneven terrain, while simultaneously flexing for a smoother toe-off and high-mileage comfort. That's a tall order, but manufacturers are responding with new materials and reinforcementslike the lightweight injected-TPU rand on Timberland's Endurion.