New Gear Blurs Lines Between Trails & Roads

Hybrid trail shoes, lifestyle-inspired apparel and multifunctional gear are becoming more popular.

Running apparel and shoes have long dictated that runners make a gear distinction between road and trail. Being an independent lot, we would often ignore convention, finding ourselves miles later with feet sore from running in knobby treads on the road or happy but with a shirt snagged beyond recognition after tearing off down a trail. Sport-specific gear is still critical, especially when setting out for a marathon or running over a rocky mountain range. But for everyday training runs on roads or trails, there’s been a shift to gear created for “going on a run,” wherever it might take you.

Running also once was once limited to, well, runners. New points of entry, from multi-discipline gym training, to group-based workout programs, to triathlon, to different types of races—like women’s only events, family fun runs, zombie runs and mud runs—are exposing new audiences to the sport. And those new audiences have more varied clothing requirements, tastes and expectations. Pushing the trend on the manufacturing side are fabric innovations, new construction methods and unique design elements. When it comes to consumers, adaptability, stylish designs, functionality, value and safety are elements that drive purchase and end-use decisions. Moisture-wicking fabric is still important, for example, but so too are full-coverage designs and a sense of style.

Scroll through some of the images below to see specific examples of these new trends.



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