The Gearage: Craft Xplor Hybrid

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Cody Jett in a red jacket and running clothes after finishing a race, holding hands up smiling.

By: Cody Jett

Cody Jett is our East Coast (or, more accurately, Beast Coast) contributor. Cody lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with his wife and two kids. When Cody is not working or spending time with family, he enjoys trail documentaries, his Phillies, and checking out new gnarly trails.

You can find the Gearage podcast on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts.  Interested in trying a pair for yourself – bop on over to grab a pair

Craft is back at it again, shaking up the trail running scene like an enthusiastic mixologist. In the last two years Craft came charging into the trail scene like a herd of wild gazelles – signing top-tier pros and leaving competitors scratching their heads. Hold onto your shoelaces folks, because 2024 is no snooze fest. Craft has brought their latest creation to the market – the Craft Xplor Hybrid – dubbed the gravel bike of shoes. Last year, they compared their Nordlite Ultra to a Subaru, and now they’re pedaling their way into our hearts with a gravel bike analogy. We can’t wait to see which analogy they bring to trail running next.

Analogies can only take us so far; it’s the shoe’s performance that truly matters. We are left with one question, can this shoe really handle both the smooth streets and the rocky trails? Let’s lace up our shoes – and hit the road to uncover the truth!

Craft Xplor Hybrid

Total Miles: 45

The Good:

  • Foam When you come across updates to the foam in a shoe’s tech specs it can evoke two distinct reactions – either you’re left scratching your head, wondering why they’d mess with something that worked so well, or you’re pleasantly surprised, questioning why it took them this long to make the change. It’s a bit of a gamble for shoe designers, as they navigate between these two extremes. However, in the case of the update to the Px foam, I’m delighted to report that it falls squarely into the second category. The tweak to the foam has resulted in a slightly softer feel, which translates into an incredibly comfortable ride. 
  • Road to Trail The Xplor Hybrid is a true all-rounder, effortlessly transitioning from smooth, buffed trails to the unforgiving pavement of urban roads. Its responsive cushioning ensures a comfortable and stable ride no matter the terrain. Along with stellar performances on the roads and trails, I also found the Victoria rubber did an amazing job in the snow and on icy conditions. 
  • Comfort – With the recent update to the Px foam, spacious toe box (yes, I have widish feet), and secure lockdown, the Xplor has truly raised the bar in terms of comfort. Whether I’m hitting the trails, strolling with the dog, or doing the school run, slipping into the Xplor feels like stepping into a cozy cloud. Surprisingly, I often find myself reaching for these trail shoes for everyday activities over my usual sneakers or road shoes. Logging double-digit miles in the Xplor is an absolute delight.
  • Looks While looks are subjective and might not be a number one reason to buy a shoe, I do enjoy the Xplor Hybrid colorways. There’s something about the vibrant color “Lazer” that makes me happy when I put these shoes on. It did pain me a bit when I had to run through muddy trails and take away some of its “Lazer” shine.
Craft Xplor Hybrid

The Bad:

  • Upper – If you happen to have narrow feet, brace yourself for a bit of truth about Craft shoes, they might not be the perfect fit. The Xplor Hybrid has a generous toe box which is a positive for some, but not my narrow footed friends. In the Xplor Hybrid if you find yourself needing to cinch those laces tight to get the snugness you crave, be prepared for potential discomfort or even worse blisters. 
  • Technical Terrain – While the Craft Xplor Hybrid shines bright on the smooth roads and glides effortlessly on well-groomed trails and gravel roads, it hits a snag when faced with technical terrain. The shallow lugs on the Xplor just don’t have it, leaving one feeling a bit unsteady when the trail gets rough and rocky. The wider design aims to provide stability, but when it comes to bombing down gnarly technical trails, I just never felt comfortable… but to be fair you don’t take a gravel bike on an Enduro course either.
Craft Xlpor Hybrid

The Pro:

“The Vittoria outsole is pretty rugged and sticky, nice traction for loose and packed trails, the Px foam is beyond bouncy and smooth as California singletrack.”Craft Elite Run Team Member Runner David Laney

“Between the new Px Foam and Vittoria outsole, this shoe is a certified banger. i’ve used it on everything from wet to dry, dirt to asphalt, and it just rips. this amount of comfort should be illegal.”Craft Elite Run Team Member Runner Tim Tollefson

The Verdict:

This summer, if you’re looking for a shoe to rack up miles on the road to buffed-out trails, this is the shoe for you. The Px foam is a delight to hit the trails with, delivering an enjoyable ride for all distances. The shoe’s design ensures comfort and performance (as long as your foot is not too narrow), making it an excellent choice for versatile running adventures.

Craft Xplor Hybrid

*** Disclaimer – The Craft Xplor was provided by Craft for review. Craft did not pay for this review, all opinions are our own.***

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