Best Road to Trail Running Shoes for 2021

by | Updated on September 15, 2021

Our top choice among the best road to trail running shoes is Brooks Catamount, a comfortable ultra trail runner designed for speed.

best road to trail running shoes
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If your usual running routine involves a tarmac and a trail, choosing your best road-to-trail running shoes can make a difference between a pleasant and unpleasant running experience. While road running shoes can take on both the pavement and light trails, when uneven surfaces become more challenging, it is where you’ll start to lose grip on the ground.

What are the Best Road to Trail Running Shoes?

The best road-to-trail running shoes are trail runners that can easily cross over from the road to trail. They have comfortable cushioning on the road for even heavy strikers and a grippy and protective outsole on rough terrains.

If your route has mixed running surfaces, this article will help you choose your best road-to-trail running shoes.

Disclosure: We provide links to shoes mentioned in this article and use our affiliate links to earn commission income from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. This website is an associate of Nike, On, and Zappos.

Best Road to Trail Running Shoes for 2021

– Salomon Sense Ride 4 –

salomon sense ride 4
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Salomon Sense Ride 4 is a responsive, neutral trail runner for mixed terrain. It has regular cushioning, light protection, and a breathable upper. It is fast and agile and has improved heel support, which offers less slippage, more padding, and a better locked-in fit than its predecessor.

The sole will offer decent protection when you step on rocks, debris, and uneven surfaces. Salomon Sense Ride lineup keeps improving, so expect a better experience each time a new model comes out.

Shop Sense Ride 4 »

– Brooks Divide 2 –

brooks divide 2
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If you are new to trail running, Brooks Divide 2 is one of your best options. It is a comfortable road-to-trail neutral running shoe. It has a super breathable mesh upper with debris and moisture protection. The midsole is well-cushioned, and the outsole is super grippy on the road and light trails.

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– Brooks Cascadia 16 –

brooks cascadia 16
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Brooks Cascadia 16 is a well-cushioned mountain trail running shoe, which also feels comfy on the road. This new model has a redesigned outsole that now offers a more consistent grip on a wide variety of surfaces. It has a DNA LOFT v2 midsole, which provides a softer and lighter cushioning than its predecessor.

Even though it’s a neutral shoe, it has multidirectional stability because its midsole has raised sidewalls. It has a breathable mesh upper with more protection around the forefoot. The upper is also well-structured and can take on long runs on the trail. This shoe has improved support and cushioning around the heel.

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– Nike Pegasus Trail 3 –

nike pegasus trail 3
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Nike Pegasus Trail 3 has the comfort you love from the Pegasus lineup. It has Nike React technology, a durable foam cushioning designed to be more lightweight, responsive, and big on energy return. It has rugged traction similar to mountain biking tires.

The Peg Trail 3 has a breathable mesh upper with good lock-in, an improved lacing system, and toe protection. It’s not the lightest shoe, but it feels light on the foot. And it has a stable base and a good feel on the road.

Shop Pegasus Trail 3 »

– On Cloudventure –

on cloudventure
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On Cloudventure is another trail runner that feels comfortable on the road and trail. It has a breathable and supportive upper that fits like a glove. It has a new sole, designed to have better grip and durability than its predecessor. And a durable full-length Helion foam cushioning for superior energy return and temperature resistance.

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– Altra Lone Peak 5 –

altra lone peak 5
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Altra Lone Peak 5 is a comfortable trail runner you can use for long runs on the road and the trail. It’s a zero-drop shoe, which offers an equal 25 mm stack height from heel to toe. It has Altra’s signature FootShape toe box, designed to give the toes maximum stability and power. The women’s shoe has Fit4Her technology tailored for the woman’s foot.

This new model has an epic upgrade and now uses the Altra EGO technology for the first time. Altra EGO is a soft and comfortable midsole foam cushioning with superb energy return and responsiveness.

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– Brooks Catamount –

brooks catamount
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Brooks Catamount is Outside Magazine’s Gear of the Year for 2021. It’s an ultra trail runner designed for speed. It doesn’t matter if you are running uphill or downhill because its grippy traction will deal with any surface (wet or dry). Between the midsole and outsole is a Rock Shield that runs from the midfoot through the forefoot. This technology will protect your foot from sharp objects on the ground.

The Catamount also has a super breathable mesh upper, and it is very comfortable from heel to forefoot. The upper has a minimal amount of padding but provides comfort where you need it. It uses an ultralight and responsive DNA FLASH foam, which allows you to run fast.

Shop Catamount »

Final Thoughts

The best road-to-trail running shoes are multi-terrain trail runners that perform well on the road and trail. Although they won’t surpass the performance of serious road running and trail running shoes, they will do very well on mixed surfaces. These running shoes feature softer cushioning underfoot and provide traction and comfort for pavement and grip for rough terrains.

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