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Best Shoes for Running Reviewed

last updated Jun 06, 2019

Whether you’re an experienced runner, or just looking into starting picking running up as your preferred form of daily exercise, a high-quality pair of footwear is definitely going to contribute to your experience. With a wide variety of running shoes and other running gear available for purchase, it is possible that you are confused in terms of what you need, or that you’re looking for some recommendations for models which will suit your personal preferences better than your current pair.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 19 hrs of research

icon
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
94.6/100 our score
Shock Absorption
93
Support
97
Outsole
93
Comfort
94
Fit
96
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Why is it better?

Engineered Mesh Upper

Four Available Widths

BioMoGo DNA Cushioning

Blown Rubber Outsole

GuideRails Holistic Support System

Weight: 312g

Heel to Toe Drop: 12mm

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Test Winner: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
18
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1267
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
19
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
20
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Ana Rockov
By Ana Rockov:

The latest update to this article replaces seven items and expands the Criteria for Evaluation section in order to give you all the info you need in order to buy the best running shoes for you. With a number of models considered, you should have an easier time finding that perfect pair.

Sorting Options
Shock Absorption Support Outsole Comfort Fit By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Shock Absorption
93 %
Support
97 %
Outsole
93 %
Comfort
94 %
Fit
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$129.95
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Shock Absorption
94 %
Support
95 %
Outsole
94 %
Comfort
93 %
Fit
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$159.95
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Shock Absorption
97 %
Support
89 %
Outsole
92 %
Comfort
95 %
Fit
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$179.27
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Shock Absorption
96 %
Support
90 %
Outsole
93 %
Comfort
91 %
Fit
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$119.49
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Shock Absorption
88 %
Support
94 %
Outsole
92 %
Comfort
91 %
Fit
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$164.95
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Shock Absorption
99 %
Support
88 %
Outsole
88 %
Comfort
89 %
Fit
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$150.00
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
Shock Absorption
90 %
Support
87 %
Outsole
91 %
Comfort
90 %
Fit
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$119.17
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.4
Shock Absorption
87 %
Support
86 %
Outsole
95 %
Comfort
88 %
Fit
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$129.95
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Shock Absorption
91 %
Support
85 %
Outsole
88 %
Comfort
91 %
Fit
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$129.95
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.6
Shock Absorption
88 %
Support
86 %
Outsole
90 %
Comfort
86 %
Fit
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (19.06.19)
Amazon Link
$119.95
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
  • ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 ASICS GEL-Kayano 25
  • Adidas Ultraboost 19 Adidas Ultraboost 19
  • Brooks Ghost 11 Brooks Ghost 11
  • New Balance 990v4 New Balance 990v4
  • Hoka One One Bondi 6 Hoka One One Bondi 6
  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35
  • Salomon Speedcross 4 Salomon Speedcross 4
  • Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2 Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2
  • Salomon Sense Ride 2 Salomon Sense Ride 2
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Top Rated Running Shoes

1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
93
Support
97
Outsole
93
Comfort
94
Fit
96
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$129.95
Pros:

Engineered Mesh Upper

Four Available Widths

BioMoGo DNA Cushioning

Blown Rubber Outsole

GuideRails Holistic Support System

Weight: 312g

Heel to Toe Drop: 12mm

Cons:

May Squeak

Too Soft for Some Users

Runs ½ Size Small

A stability runner for those who like a plush ride, the Brooks Adrenaline running shoe line has been a go-to for overpronators for years now. There are several things that the brand does exceptionally well, one of which is providing a great fit to a variety of foot shapes, and this is mainly due to the availability of their models in four different widths: narrow, normal, wide and extra wide. As for the looks, this is a pretty simple shoe, with colorways mainly being based on white, gray, blue and black.

Read more

The biggest update to the Adrenaline is the GuideRails Holistic Support System which now focuses on ensuring proper alignment, not just in order to stop foot pain, but also to prevent damage to the knees which so often happens for those whose foot tends to roll inwards. The cushioning system still uses the environmentally friendly BioMoGo DNA which is responsive and provides energy return that’s proportional to the pressure that’s put on it, as well as the DNA Heel Loft System that helps protect users who tend to land with the back of the foot.

The upper has been updated as well with an engineered mesh construction that’s lightweight, breathable and fits the foot like a glove. The tongue and collar feature generous padding, and the 3D printed overlay at the midfoot helps get the best lock-down for performance. As for the outsole, it is also made with shock absorption in mind, using blown rubber, but it also takes flexibility into consideration, allowing you to move naturally without constraint. As for the price associated with the Adrenaline GTS 19, it’s only slightly above average, making it a great investment for most users.

2. ASICS GEL-Kayano 25

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
ASICS GEL-Kayano 25
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
94
Support
95
Outsole
94
Comfort
93
Fit
94
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Amazon Link
$159.95
Pros:

Jacquard Mesh Upper

Triple Density Foam

Forefoot and Rearfoot GEL Cushioning

AHAR Outsole

Dynamic DuoMax Arch Wedge

Weight: 336g

Heel to Toe Drop: 10mm

Cons:

Unsuitable for Speed Workouts

Mesh Durability

Breathability

A running shoe that’s been around for 25 years, the GEL-Kayano 25 by ASICS is a stability model made for road conditions, with an upper that’s been updated to provide users with a better fit. It’s a shoe that comes in two widths, and is an overall good choice for most overpronators who like the brand’s GEL cushioning. It uses a number of technologies that are already familiar to fans of the previous models, but with welcome updates to the upper.

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The GEL-Kayano 25 is made with a Jacquard mesh upper that’s lightweight and breathable, and allows for slightly more toe room than previous versions. Synthetic overlays on the sides of the shoe help achieve a locked-in feel, as does a sturdy external heel counter named the Meta Clutch system. This portion of the shoe is lined with a double layer of memory foam in order to provide users with a personalized feel, as well as a higher level of protection from rubbing or blistering. The Discrete Eyelet system allows users to comfortably tighten the laces without feeling too much pressure over the top of the foot, while the padded mesh tongue allows hot air to escape while running.

In terms of cushioning, you can expect a lot from this shoe - it features a triple density midsole, with a highly cushioned heel and slightly less material in the front. The Forefoot and Rearfoot GEL help eliminate force from impact, while the FluidRide foam, with the addition of FlyteFoam ensure excellent energy return that is manifested through a more powerful toe-off phase. As for support, the inner portion of the shoe (below the arch) features a Dynamic DuoMax system, which is, essentially, a wedge that provides arch support. The outsole uses abrasion resistant AHAR rubber, and works well on asphalt, light trail and treadmills. As for the associated cost, this shoe falls into the more expensive category, but can be found on sale, which allows you to get it at an average price.

3. Adidas Ultraboost 19

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.8
Adidas Ultraboost 19
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
97
Support
89
Outsole
92
Comfort
95
Fit
96
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$179.27
Pros:

Primeknit Upper

Boost Cushioning

Stretchweb Continental Rubber Outsole

External Heel Counter

Lightweight Midfoot Cage

Weight: 309g

Heel to Toe Drop: 10mm

Cons:

Expensive

Boost Gets Dirty

Cage Lacks Breathability

When it first appeared in 2015, the Adidas Ultraboost running shoes took the running world by storm, and not just because Kanye chose to rock it on multiple occasions. This model featured cushioning that was developed in collaboration with NASA, and is still one of the softest sneakers you can choose. A look that had been unchanged for 4 years got an update in February 2019, and it was definitely worth the long wait. The Ultraboost 19 is an even more comfortable and supportive shoe, with a look and functionality that work for all types of uses.

Read more

The biggest update in the 19 is definitely the bootie construction. The collar is less bulky, with construction that resembles that found in the Uncaged versions, with a true sock-like feel in the ankle area, and a more flexible fit. The TPU midfoot cage was also updated to with a more lightweight saddle that help get the security you need form the lacing system, but overall, you’ll find that the sock itself is supportive enough. The external heel counter has also been updated, now using less material, while still providing a great locked-in feel.

As for the midsole, it remains pretty much the same, with full-length Boost to keep you cushioned on long runs. The integrated Torsion Spring improves stability, both during landings and toe-off, while the removable insole allows you to add custom insoles in case you prefer a higher level of arch support. As for the outsole, it’s a Stretchweb Continental rubber unit that’s flexible and works great both in wet and dry conditions. As for price, be ready to pay top dollar for this model, seeing that it’s one of the more expensive running shoes listed in this guide.

4. Brooks Ghost 11

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Brooks Ghost 11
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
96
Support
90
Outsole
93
Comfort
91
Fit
92
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$119.49
Pros:

BioMoGo DNA Midsole

DNA LOFT Heel Pad

Stretchy Mesh Upper

Improved Lacing System

Improved Outsole Grip

Weight: 309g

Heel to Toe Drop: 12mm

Cons:

Slightly Heavy

Heel Too Cushy for Some Users

With a stretchy mesh upper that is both flexible and supportive, you will enjoy the experience of taking the latest edition of Brooks Ghost out for a run. The 2018 model features improved cushioning, especially in the heel area which often receives the most shock during hard landings, but updated parts also include the outsole which allows for more grip than the model's predecessors. What remains the same is the fit as well as the midsole stack and heel to toe drop.

Read more

Made for runners with normal to high arches, the Brooks Ghost 11 is a pair of neutral running shoes with some of the best cushioning available. Featuring a BioMoGo DNA midsole with a DNA LOFT addition to the heel, you can expect a soft feeling underfoot that will absorb shock, and that provides a more fluid transition than model 10.

Removing the sewn on toe bumper found in the previous version, the Brooks Ghost 10 has an upper made entirely out of mesh, with inner reinforcements that mold to the foot and stabilize your movement without imposing any constrictions. Furthermore, the lacing system has been improved to put less pressure on the metatarsal area, ensuring that you can lace these up as tight as you need, without feeling discomfort in any part of the foot. Ranking average to slightly above average on this list when it comes to price, the Brooks Ghost 11 is a pair of flagship runners that you are bound to love if you’re a fan of the brand. The improved heel crash pad and transitions ensure that the level of cushioning is brought to a higher level, while over the rest of the foot the model remains just as comfortable, if not more, like its predecessors.

5. New Balance 990v4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
New Balance 990v4
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
88
Support
94
Outsole
92
Comfort
91
Fit
93
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$164.95
Pros:

ENCAP Midsole

Dual Density Foam Collar

Blown Rubber Outsole

Breathable & Durable

Wide Variety of Sizes and Widths

Weight: 385g

Heel to Toe Drop: 12mm

Cons:

Expensive

Heavy Weight

A stability runner, perfect for runners with low arches or slight overpronation issues, the New Balance 990v4 is one of the most popular options when it comes to footwear made for running. Made with a pigskin and mesh upper, produced in the USA, this is a shoe for those looking for quality over all else. In addition to 9 different color schemes, it also comes in 6 different widths to suit all types of feet, making it a common choice for everyday wear as well as for running.

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Using both leather and mesh in the upper, this is a pair of footwear that will adjust to the foot while still providing the wearer with the necessary stability and breathability. One of the best features, however, is the dual density foam collar which cradles the ankle and provides soft cushioning in order to prevent chafing, rubbing and any Achilles tendon issues that may appear with other footwear.

Users with low arches, flat feet or related issues such as plantar fasciitis can greatly contribute from wearing the New Balance 990v4, seeing that it was made to provide excellent midfoot stability, and to prevent overpronation, ensuring that the foot is properly aligned so as to absorb as much shock as possible.

Being the most expensive item on this list, the New Balance 990v4 may not fit everyone’s budget. Nonetheless, its a model to consider if you’re in the market for a pair of stability shoes, especially if you value a high quality make - these were entirely made in the USA, which partly explains the high price tag.

6. Hoka One One Bondi 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Hoka One One Bondi 6
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
99
Support
88
Outsole
88
Comfort
89
Fit
90
best offer for today
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$150.00
Pros:

Open Mesh Upper

EVA Foam Midsole

Meta Rocker Shape

Abrasion Resistant Outsole

Weight: 309g

Heel to Toe Drop: 4mm

Cons:

Unstable for Speed Work

Runs Narrow

Uncomfortable Tongue

If you want a maximalist running shoe, the Hoka One One Bondi 6 are excellent running shoes. This is one of those rare pairs of footwear that will work for almost anyone, considering that it does a lot of things really well. First and foremost, you shouldn’t let the 36mm heel height (32mm toe) turn you away - this is a model that packs considerably less weight than a number of other running shoes featured in this list. It works really well for daily training, but also for recovery days. The colorways are limited and loud, but for the comfort you’re getting, you will happily make that sacrifice.

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In the upper, the Bondi 6 uses mesh, combining closed and open weaves to promote airflow without sacrificing support, while 3D printed and sewn reinforcements in key areas ensure durability, as well as a more secure run. The heel area is covered with lycra which is not only soft to the touch, but also moisture wicking, and it will conform to the shape of the foot, seeing that it’s a stretchy material.

As for the midsole, these running shoes use EVA foam for maximal impact protection and a good amount of energy return, while the Meta Rocker construction helps you through the gait cycle, encouraging smoother transitions. Only parts of the outsole are covered in a high abrasion rubber compound, keeping weight down, but still preventing the EVA foam from deteriorating with use, and you will find that this design works really well on asphalt. Price is quite high, this being one of the more expensive models available for purchase, but if you want something that’s very plush, we definitely recommend trying it out.

7. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.6
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
90
Support
87
Outsole
91
Comfort
90
Fit
90
best offer for today
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$119.17
Pros:

Mesh Upper

Flywire Cables

Comfortable Collar

Full Length Air Zoom Unit

Cushlon Midsole

Duralon Outsole

Weight: 286g

Heel to Toe Drop: 10mm

Cons:

Midsole Creasing

Not a Snug Fit

Needs Break In

Marketed by Nike as a running shoe for everyone, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus is a line that’s been around for over three decades, and the 35th editions is quite a good one. It’s a neutral road runner that will work best for daily runs, but can even be used on full length marathon race days, and though it was made for road conditions, it will actually perform well on the treadmill, as well as hard trail. In true Nike fashion, it’s a shoe that comes in several fun colorways, with some even looking good enough for everyday wear, but you can also make it entirely yours and unique by going with an iD version.

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In terms of fit, the Pegasus does quite well. The upper uses breathable mesh, but the best part about it is the collar which is high, yet turned outwards to protect the Achilles. The lightweight profile upper prevents bulkiness, while the Flywire cables wrap around the foot from the arch up, for that distinct fit you can only get from Nikes. The back features a reflective strip, making this a good model to use on night runs.

The midsole features a full-length Air Zoom unit which contains air and cushions each of your landings without sacrificing weight. Caged in a Cushlon carrier, you will benefit from a shoe that has a shock absorption system that doesn’t degrade with time or use, but that provides excellent energy return. The outsole uses Duralon, a durable rubber compound that will prevent the midsole from getting damaged, and that’ll provide great traction. It’s also shock absorbing, contributing to the bouncy ride you get from the Pegasus. Averagely priced, the Air Zoom Pegasus 35 is a good investment for Nike fans, but also those are looking for a unique look.

8. Salomon Speedcross 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.4
Salomon Speedcross 4
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
87
Support
86
Outsole
95
Comfort
88
Fit
91
best offer for today
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$129.95
Pros:

Lace Pocket

One-Pull Tightening

EVA Midsole

Deep Lugs

Weight: 310g

Heel to Toe Drop: 10mm

Cons:

Limited Airflow

Takes Time to Dry

The Speedcross 4 displays a plethora of improvements from its previous version, such as a precise foothold with the combination of Sensifit technology. This also incorporates a quick-lace system that allows for easy fastening and a perfect fit, with a lace pocket for easy storage. This easy-on and easy-off product is sure to get you going when the going gets tough and the trails get rough.

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Sensifit cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system, providing a secure, snug, and virtually customized fit all around the foot and weighs only 10 ounces to decrease fatigue and with an end result of overall top performance. The Ortholite foam creates a cooler, drier, healthier, adequately cushioned environment under the foot. It has an anti-debris mesh liner that proceeds to keep debris out from in between your foot and the footbed, which also helps airflow to stay consistent.

The Salomon Speedcross 4 can be considered a bargain compared with some other similar trail runners that don't even compete with its performance. Coming in at an average price for this list, below the midpoint, with the performance of a Salomon trail runner, you have a steal.

9. Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.4
Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
91
Support
85
Outsole
88
Comfort
91
Fit
87
best offer for today
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$129.95
Pros:

Waveknit Upper

U4ic Midsole

U4icX Heel Cushioning

Parallel Cloudwave Shock Absorption

Blown and Carbon Rubber Outsole

Weight: 284g

Heel to Toe Drop: 12mm

Cons:

Runs Small

No Wide Sizes Available

Gets Hot for Some Users

Essentially the knit version of the highly regarded Mizuno Wave Rider 22, this shoe is for those who enjoy the brand’s unique shock absorption and supportive technologies, but prefer an upper that’s slightly more advanced than simple mesh with overlays. This version of the shoe provides a better fit than ever before, thanks to the stretch fibres woven into the upper, so you can count on flexibility just where you need it, without sacrificing support.

Read more

This neutral road running shoe boasts a relatively low weight, and a ton of breathability which will definitely be appreciated by those who like long runs, or tend to work up a sweat. Airflow is maximized through the more open knit tongue, while the inner is lined with a premium sockliner that hugs the arch and contributes to a more supported feeling. However, the biggest benefits of investing in a model such as this come from the midsole and outsole which will make you feel like you’re running on soft ground, even when you’re actually on asphalt.

The midsole of the Waveknit R2 uses the brand’s U4ic midsole which is lightweight and responsive, while doing a great job at absorbing the shock which is not dispersed by the Parallel Cloudwave. It’s an energy returning PEBAX insert in the heel of the shoe which prevents shock from traveling up your leg, all while keeping weight down to a minimum. The entire shoe is quite flexible, including the midsole and outsole, and taking care of traction, is a combination of blown and carbon rubber for great grip and durability. In terms of cost, this is an averagely priced shoe, with attractive color options and gender specific features, so it’s a great investment for most runners.

10. Salomon Sense Ride 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.6
Salomon Sense Ride 2
Amazon Link
Shock Absorption
88
Support
86
Outsole
90
Comfort
86
Fit
88
best offer for today
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$119.95
Pros:

Breathable Mesh Upper

Printed Overlays

VIBE Shock Absorption

Contagrip Outsole

Excellent Protection

Weight: 270g

Heel to Toe Drop: 8mm

Cons:

Brand Tends to Run Narrow

The latest flagship by a company that focuses on trail running, the Salomon Sense Ride 2 has, so far, received a number of great reviews thanks to the cushioned sole and protective features, as well as an improved fit. It comes both in a regular, as well as a Gore-Tex version, so you can choose the one that fits your needs best. It’s best used by neutral pronators, comes in a couple of simple colorways, and is a surprisingly lightweight model at just 270g.

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The upper uses a stretchy mesh that allows for the foot to remain dry and cool, but printed overlays ensure protection as well as stability. Enveloping the entire foot, from heel, to midfoot to the toes, these lightweight printed overlays ensure that you get a customized feel, while the seamless EndoFit sleeve ensures a premium in-shoe feel. The lacing system utilizes QuickLace with a lace pocket for easy on and off, while the OrthoLite sockliner gives an added layer of shock absorption underfoot.

One of the best things about the Sense Ride 2 is the Profeel Film on the chassis that protects the foot from the unpredictability of the trail, preventing pebbles and sharp rocks from disrupting your run. A VIBE shock absorption system, combining energy return with plush shock absorption in the heel and forefoot areas for a softness that’s rarely available in trail models. As for the outsole, it uses Contagrip rubber with hexagonal lugs for great traction even on soft terrain. The price of this model is, surprisingly average, so if you’re after something that will work best in rugged settings, it’s definitely highly recommended.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Shock Absorption

Every time you land when running, a force that equals five times your entire body weight is generated. While you may not think much of it, this amount of shock can quickly add up. If you’ve ever experienced pain in your feet, such as in your heel or arch, if you tend to get tired, or your muscles ache, you may want to consider investing in a pair of shock absorbing shoes.

For decades now, manufacturers are looking to find the best possible way of eliminating shock from traveling up your legs. Most often, they will design sneakers with midsoles made to eliminate large amounts of force, allowing you to run for longer, without experiencing pain or fatigue. Methods of doing this vary greatly, but most materials used to absorb shock are foam based. Each brand has their own compound, and even these can vary greatly between models. Nonetheless, there are a few shock absorbing methods that are most often found in running footwear.

  • EVA: This foam was first used in running gear about 50 years ago, seeing that it’s a material that is very lightweight, but still absorbs and disperses force. It has a number of variants that can be lighter, bouncier, or more durable. It is often combined with traditional rubber to give a product that’s both cost effective and functional.
  •  

  • GEL: Developed by ASICS in the mid 80s, GEL cushioning units are most often placed inside a foam midsole to increase comfortability and durability. They’re made with a material that helps absorb shock, preventing it from affecting the foot, thus making it possible for runners to train longer. It’s most likely found in the heel area, but flagship models will also feature it in the forefoot.
  •  

  • AIR: The idea to place air pockets inside a pair of shoes came in the late 70s from an aeronautical engineer. Since then, most of Nike’s high performing footwear has included this type of cushioning, especially running and basketball shoes. At first, air pockets were only inserted into the heel, but nowadays, they often come in a full-length size. They’re always caged in a foam unit to maximize durability.
  •  

  • Wave Plate: Mizuno is a brand that does shock absorption quite differently. In the late 90s they found a way to use a TPU construction in order to disperse generated force, without the usual downsides of foam based materials. The Wave plate doesn’t flatten or pack with use, and offers a great amount of energy return, helping with long distance runs.
  •  

  • Grid: Saucony’s shock absorbing system includes a grid structure underneath the heel that allows for the runner’s weight to be placed on more than just one spot, thus decreasing the amount of force that is transferred to the skeletal and muscular structure.
  •  

    One thing that should be considered with cushioned sneakers, however, is that you should never go with footwear that is too soft, as it will decrease the speed that you’re able to develop. Too much shock absorption can also negatively influence stability, especially at great speeds and when moving in a lateral direction. Heavier users, as well, need to make sure they purchase firmer footwear that will be able to support them.

    Support

    Just like with your everyday footwear, you need to make sure your running gear supports your foot in the right places. Joint pain, especially in the knees and back is often the result of insufficiently supportive shoes, which is why everyone needs to determine the type of shoe they need. In running footwear, sneakers are categorized as one of the following:

  • Neutral: these shoes have the same density (softness) of midsole both on the inside and the outside of the arch, and are made for users with neutral pronation (normal arches). They don’t limit the way in which your foot lands or pushes off, and are the most widely available type. They often come with removable insoles that can be replaced with custom orthotics for those who want a more customized feel underfoot.
  •  

  • Stability: Users with low arches will often need a more supportive shoe that will hug their foot from below, preventing it from rolling inwards. If you tend to overpronate, you may want to invest in a pair of stability shoes, as this will prevent issues that arise from daily training.
  •  

  • Motion Control: Users with flat feet will need to wear motion control shoes which are the firmest type of running shoe. These direct the movement of the foot to be anatomically correct, preventing you from putting too much pressure on your joints, or developing injuries.
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    There’s another type of shoe that’s made for running, and that’s the minimalist shoe. These are made for speed workouts and competition days, and provide the person using them with a barefoot feel, offering only the most basic type of protection in terms of traction and coverage.

    Outsole

    Before you spend $100 on a pair of running shoes, it’s highly recommended that you consider the type of outsole that is used on your selected model. Running is an activity that can be done anywhere, at any time (and in all weather conditions), but not all gear is made the same. The outsole on your shoe serves two main functions. On the one hand, it needs to protect you from the obstacles underfoot such as rocks and pebbles, hot or cold terrain, but it also needs to deal with the type of surface you’re running on. Asphalt is quite different from the treadmill, hard natural ground found on dry trails, or mud and snow. You will also find that not all shoes will work well in rain or snow, which is why you may want to consider having different shoes for different weather conditions.

    The first thing you want on your shoes is a traction pattern that’s appropriate for your running conditions. Road shoes will work best with minimal lugs and abrasion-resistant rubber compounds that won’t wear out from the hard surface, while trail models need to have more aggressive lugs that will help you keep a secure footing on soft, wet or even muddy terrain.

    The two most commonly used materials in running shoe outsoles are blown rubber and carbon rubber. Carbon rubber is a hard compound that has a great durability, however, it weighs a lot, which is why it’s most often used in the heel section of shoes. Blown rubber is softer, contributes to the cushioning you get from your shoes, and weighs less. However, it is also less durable, and may wear down with use quicker.

    Fit

    The way a shoes upper is designed has a lot to do with with the overall fit. A well designed upper will have the ability to conform properly to the contours of your foot. Uppers are usually made of mesh that is durable and breathable and can stretch to a degree. This is sometimes a hard feat to hit as too much material can make the mesh stiffen, not allowing for a proper wrap-around of the foot, but too little can leave the shoe with durability issues. This is especially true for the road, and has less of a priority in trails, as they are usually made of thicker, layered materials that are naturally stiff, and needed for rougher environments.

    The way it fits the foot not only affects the overall comfort level, but it will also provide a much more stable platform in which to run on. A loose or improperly fitting shoe will wiggle, leave room for rubbing, and cause blistering. Some are manufactured bigger or smaller than others, and in which case we will let you know if you need to size up or down to get that perfect fit. The thing is, you will need extra space in the toe-box for when your toes splay, and we’ve considered this as well.

    Comfort

    There's a number of things you should consider before making a purchase, but the most important is that your shoes are comfortable enough for you to run in them. On a long run, there’s nothing worse than a shoe that your feet do not agree with. Aching feet and general foot pain are a leading cause of calling a run off short of the distance, or not going out at all. Shoes with inefficient cushioning can cause a multitude of complications and even lead to bad injuries that can be avoided.

    Common injuries that can be prevented with adequately cushioned shoes:

  • Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are hairline cracks in your bones that occur as a result of the constant impact and shock. Shoes with high cushion can soften the impact of your foot to the ground, thus preventing such issues.
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  • Runners Knee: This is an injury that occurs with constant running over-training where the cartilage in your knees deteriorates. There are several ways to contract this issue, but in general, softening the impact of force that your knees are subjected to will help prevent it in some cases.
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  • Shin Splints: Shin splints is another way, to sum up, the intense throbbing of your shins due to swelling or other complications which stem from beating up your legs. They are common when subjecting your legs to the shock of changing routines without being gradual with it or training too hard. Of course, you can ease the beatings your legs take by having adequately cushioned shoes, and they will help.
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  • Achilles tendinitis: As the trend goes, this is another injury that stems from beating up your body. Its signature is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which leads to stiffness, extreme pain and a bad day. Adequately cushioned options will help in preventing this issue.
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  • Plantar fasciitis: This is perhaps the most well known and common injury. It’s characterized by the inflammation of the tissue that extends the bottom of your feet. Although there are many causes of this complication, and many ways to prevent it, having worn out footwear, without enough underfoot padding is one of the several known contributors to it.
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    The inner cushioning of the upper, the shoes’ footbed, and other cushioning aspects such as a padded collar are just as important as a soft, shock absorbing midsole — the more cushioning, the better, in general. Your feet take a pounding out there, especially if you constantly run double digit miles. In the case of a shoe with inadequate inner cushioning; long miles will result in brushing off the inner layer, and if too rough, will lead to blisters. The same occurs with the collar. A properly padded collar will ensure constant rubbing does not lead to skin irritation. You want something that your feet will be happy with. Make sure they have adequate cushioning and are comfortable enough to get you through the miles.

    Breathability
    A shoe that does not allow adequate airflow will leave a runner more susceptible to a number of problems, including a build-up of heat as it’s not able to escape easily or efficiently, which then leads to even more issues. Overheating is regulated by airflow that is allowed through the mesh upper of a running shoe, if there is not proper ventilation the temperature inside your shoe will build causing excessive sweating which will ultimately lead to blisters and allow bacteria to grow, yielding the perfect environment for unwanted odors.

    Weight
    In an endurance run, every ounce counts, and every shed ounce makes a difference — no need to carry around any more weight than needed on your feet. Models nowadays are made of quality materials that are both durable and lightweight, so finding a shoe that weighs close to nothing but still provides ample protection and lasts is completely possible. An example of such advanced materials is the EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) compound that is used in the midsole make-up of a large number of shoes. It is a material that is soft but durable and very light in weight. When looking for lightweight choices, our sights were set on models that were lightweight in comparison to most others. For road, the average weight would be around 9.5 to 10 ounces for a single shoe with anything under 8 ounces extremely light. For trail, average weight is around 10.5 to 11.5 ounces as they usually contain more protective features which raise the weight.

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    expert tips icon
    Training Tips

    If your new to running, or a more advanced runner, there are a variety of training methods that can help you reach your next goal.
    For speed, work in some interval training during the week, where you increase your speed for a quarter to half mile (or, select a timeframe, something like 30-60 seconds), then recovery for a short time. Repeat 4-5 times during the run.
    For distance, have a 'long run' day, where you aim to go longer distance wise. Increase this mileage every week by 10% until you hit your goal!

    Arch Types

    Different people have different shaped arches, which can determine the level of support you need from your sneakers.
    Place some paper on the ground, and dampen the bottoms of your bare feet. Step onto the paper to make an imprint of your foot. If you see a sharp 'S' shape, you likely have high arches. If you see little to no 'S' shape, it's likely you have fallen, or flat arches. Check with your local running shop to see which kinds of support you need to perform your best, based on your arch type.

    Other Factors to Consider

    Style

    The terrain and specific usage of a pair of runners is a critical aspect that should be obvious and needs to be emphasized. There are too many types, for too many specific purposes to not know exactly what you need. The two main types of shoes for running are trail specific and road specific, but there is a large number of other categories, including shoes that offer arch support, are neutral in support, extra cushioned, zero drops, minimalistic or barefoot, some made for cross country, some specific for long distances, and some made as trainers or for sprints. There are several differences that you can expect from the different types of runners, and those about road and trail shoes are described below.

    Trail models are made to withstand the bare environment, which includes terrain from dirt to mud and everything in between. On the other hand, road footwear is made specifically for use on hard paved surfaces or tracks, and these types of shoes are typically more light in weight. Trail models will seldom feature lightweight, breathable Flyknit uppers, unlike road shoes, as their main purpose is to perform in rough conditions. Similarly, you won’t see any road options with deep lugs or aggressive outsoles as a flat profile is needed for flat surfaces, and aggressive outsole profiles on trail running shoes are made to bite the dirt.

    Common Features to expect on Trail Models

  • Aggressive tread on the outsole
  • Deep Lugs
  • Waterproofing or Water Resistance
  • Gore-Tex Linings (Can be found on a few road runners)
  • Heavier in weight, more durable material
  • Integrated Gaiters
  • More material layers
  • Quick-laces
  • Less breathability in the upper’s mesh
  • Extra/Thicker overlays
  • Thicker, pronounced toe bumpers
  • Stiff
  • Common Features to expect on Road Models

  • Lightweight, breathable mesh uppers
  • Outsole profiles with more surface room/flat profile
  • A lot less in weight
  • Much more flexibility
  • Flexibility

    There’s nothing worse than a stiff shoe, especially one that’s supposed to help you perform better through intense exercise. Pair that with something that does not provide adequate responsiveness or return of energy and you will have yourself one heck of a time enjoying your runs, and your performance is sure to suffer greatly. Running shoes are generally made of fairly responsive EVA foam-like rubber that acts as a spring, and bounces back when force is put onto it. Not only does EVA provide a nice bounce to each step, but it is also fairly soft and flexible. To add more flexibility to the articulation areas of the toes and forefoot, companies now include segmented outsoles, or “Flex grooves” to promote more of a bend with a breakthrough in the generally “stiffer” outsole material.

    Trail models are generally stiffer, and rank lower in flexibility, while some road models such as seen in the Flyknit series can be rolled up they are so flexible. Then, there’s everything in between. Just weigh out your options because a shoe that flexes extremely easy naturally won’t generate much force in return.

    Bottom Line

    Shopping for athletic gear can be an intimidating task, but once you’ve found what works for you, you’ll have a go to model you’ll greatly enjoy. Footwear made for running and is no different. If you’re a first time shopper, you can follow the simple steps below for a pair that will serve you well:

  • Set a budget. Running footwear can be bought for $30, and it can cost upwards of $200. The price will most often reflect the quality and durability you can expect, but you can also take a look at older models of flagship shoes in order to get a high quality product at a slightly lower price.
  • Determine your pronation. If you happen to overpronate, or need custom orthotics, you may find that your choices are slightly more limited.
  • What type of surface will you be running on? Unfortunately, most shoes won’t be able to handle trail and road at the same time, so if you plan on hitting both, you may need to purchase two pairs of footwear.
  • Consider any other requirements you may have. If you want to run in winter or rain, you may need to invest in GTX runners. Or, if you’re located in a hot climate, you should prioritize breathability.
  • Try on the shoes before purchasing. The best thing to do is go to a brick and mortar store and try on a few models to see if you get the best fit. Running shoes should not require breaking in, and need to fit you snugly but comfortably. Unfortunately, some simply won’t work for certain foot shapes, so it’s best to know before spending your hard earned money.
  • Don’t forget to take good care of your shoes. Make sure they’re able to dry between wears, and clean them as often as necessary (just don’t chuck them in the washer or dryer).
  • Once you’ve worn your shoes for a couple of months, consider the aspects that you liked and the ones that need improvement. Go from there for your next purchase. Finding the best pair may take some time.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    q: Brands/Companies: Who makes the best, highest quality running shoes?

    a:

    There are several brands that have been around a long time, that provide extremely high-quality models. It’s difficult to pinpoint the best as that’s a relative question, but the highest rated, biggest, and most well-known companies are Adidas, and Brooks for a running specific brand. Unfortunately for 2018, Adidas didn’t have an option that made the list, but they have plenty of options out of later years that are still amongst the best. There are also brands such as Hoka One One, Salomon and many others that have set a permanent foothold in the running industry, so there isn’t one best, just a best according to your preferences.

    q: Types: Who are Stability Running shoes for?

    a:

    Stability models are made specifically for runners who have pronation issues. Typically, they correct issues that revolve around a foot that lies naturally at an awkward angle, causing it to roll inward. Stability or support products provide cushioning that corrects the awkward angle and compensates for it allowing the runner to experience a natural run.

    q: Types: Who are Neutral running shoes for?

    a:

    Simple, they are for those who don’t need any extra arch support or pronation support. If your foot angle in normal, and you don’t have issues with supination, or over-pronation, then a Neutral is all you need.

    q: What’s the best way to wash my pair?

    a:

    Let’s face it, despite the breathability, the long miles will inevitably lead to odors that you will want to wash out. The fact is, putting them into a washing machine will only ruin them. There’s no easy way to clean them, but there are plenty of products available to remove odor. Since bacteria growth is a leading cause of odor, putting them in the freezer may help somewhat, as the extreme cold will kill bacteria. But, If they are on borrowed time, it’s probably best to just replace them.

    q: How will rain and moisture affect them?

    a:

    Fortunately, most models nowadays are stitched and glued to be able to withstand water, and prevent water damage, unlike models of the old days that would suffer and fall apart due to moisture. Most are made to combat the accumulation of moisture as it happens when your feet perspire during runs, so typically integrate materials that are quick drying. Although, you need to make sure not to take it as a hint to run in the rain with inadequate shoes, as not all are made with the ability to grab traction on wet surfaces.

    q: What are the best options for women?

    a:

    Although women’s feet will have slight anatomical differences than that of men’s, the important aspects that a shoe needs to provide to be effective remain the same, and companies generally do a good job in compensating for the differences in feet structure from women’s or men’s version. The best option for men, and for women will generally be the same, just get the women’s version and you will be blessed with all the great features and a perfect fit specific to your foot’s structure.

    q: Can I use my regular shoes for running even though they’re not made for it?

    a:

    You can, but it’s not the smartest thing to do, and we do not recommend it. They are made for the high intensity, long miles and to combat the constant slapping that your feet will be doing to the floor. These factors combined, and with regular everyday shoes, your feet will end up with aches and pains. In the long run, you may just end up with permanent injuries that could be avoided by using the correct gear. We don’t recommend taking chances with your health.

    q: How many miles can they last?

    a:

    A good product should last from 300 to 500 miles. If they call it quits coming up around 200 miles, they are not quality. A great model will hold up all the way until you get bored of them. They are out there.

    Sources

    1. Matt Allyn, How to buy the Right Running Shoes, RunnersWorld
    2. REI Staff, Running Shoes: How to Choose, REI
    3. Zap Staff, Running Shoe fit Guide, Zappos
    4. Asics Staff, Types of Running Shoes Explained, Asics
    5. RC, Running Trends, Reviews & News, RunnerClick