The Best Running Shoes
Looking for reviews of the best running shoes? Each season, our experts test the best road running shoes and trail running shoes head to head against each other. Two dozen experienced wear testers spend approximately 2-3 weeks running in each shoe, providing objective feedback on comfort, cushioning, fit, ride quality and other criteria. Each shoe is compared against other similar shoes for fair comparisons. And we never let our advertisers or brand biases influence our reviews in any way, so you get unfiltered, candid assessments directly from our experts.
Road Running Shoes
If you are looking for thicker, plush, more cushioned road running shoes, check out our “Cushioned Running Shoes” category. For a lighter, faster, and more efficient experience, you’ll want to pick from our “Lightweight Running Shoes” category.
Trail Running Shoes
If you’re looking for the best trail running shoes, check out our reviews of thicker, more cushioned, and more protective “Cushioned & Protective Trail Running Shoes” or our reviews of thinner, lighter, more agile “Lightweight Trail Running Shoes.”
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Best In Class
Hoka One One MachCushioned Running Shoes, Road Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
The Mach is one of the best well-rounded road shoes we’ve tested and as one tester put it, “If I could only have one road shoe this would be the one.” It had the whole package; it’s lightweight, responsive, cushioned and just whole lot of fun to run in. A direct descendant of the Clayton, the Mach maintained everything people enjoyed about the Clayton, while fixing everything people didn’t like. Hoka’s new dual density ProFly midsole delivers seemingly opposing forces of a soft landing with a firm take off.
Brooks LevitateCushioned Running Shoes, Road Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
As a newcomer to the Brooks cushioned lineup, the Brooks Levitate proves it already earned the right to sit alongside best sellers like the Glycerin and Ghost. Boasting a brand new midsole compound called DNA AMP, the Levitate blends a uniquely springy and fun cushioned ride with a snug fitting, secure upper. While our testers raved about how comfortable and enjoyable this neutral everyday trainer was, they also found the shoe to be one of the slowest in the cushioned class. Tipping the scales at 11.2oz for men and 9.7oz for women, the Levitate is best suited for days when speedy times aren’t a priority and comfort rules.
Best for Faster Running
On CloudflyerCushioned Running Shoes, Road Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
On’s approach to the Cloudflyer is simple, freedom of movement with added cushioning while still maintaining a touch of stability. The Cloudflyer is a lightweight, flexible trainer that has characteristics of both a minimalist shoe and stability trainer. Most suited for lighter runners who appreciate a less-restrictive shoe that rides close to the ground, it lacks the structure most comfort trainers have. The flexibly and minimal design decrease durability, causing it to be one the least durable shoes tested.
Best Lightweight Cushioned Trainer
Altra DuoCushioned Running Shoes, Road Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
As the newest addition to the Altra line of zero drop road shoes, the Duo brilliantly strikes the ultimate balance of cushioning-to-weight ratio. Despite a the massive full length 31mm stack the Duo tips the scales at an astonishing 7.9oz for men and 5.3oz for women, making them one of the lightest and fastest shoes in the cushioned category. The Duo, like all Altra shoes are headlined by Altra’s unique Foot Shape design, to allow the toes to splay out naturally and a zero drop for a more naturally balanced run. While this rather non-traditional approach does take time to adjust too, the ride is easy going, responsive and cushioned. The only downside is some my find the excess space to feel insecure, giving the shoe a loss fit.
Best in Class
Hoka One One Evo MafateCushioned & Protective Trail Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
The Hoka One One Evo Mafate is a lightweight, fast, and maximally-cushioned shoe that’s ideal for ultramarathons and other long-distance trail running. It’s a ground-up revamp of the Mafate Speed 2, with a new midsole material and completely redesigned upper. Our wear-testers were impressed with the level of lightweight, responsive cushioning and the Evo Mafate’s agility across a range of terrain and trail conditions. There were some concerns about the fit and materials of the upper and a few runners noticed small rocks getting caught in the outsole, but overall, our team was very impressed with this shoe.
Most Plush & Comfortable
Saucony Xodus ISO 3Cushioned & Protective Trail Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
The Saucony Xodus ISO 3 is a durable trail runner that our wear-testers described as “bombproof.” There are major, bottom-to-top updates from last year’s Xodus ISO 2, including a totally redesigned upper and a full midsole made from Saucony’s responsive EVERUN (the same material as the Saucony Freedom and Liberty road shoes). Our wear-testers found the Saucony Xodus ISO 3 extraordinarily responsive and comfortable, and praised the durable, sticky outsole. However, the Xodus ISO 3 tips the scales at 12.9oz (for men’s size 9), which made it the heaviest shoe in this round of testing. One described it as “lumbering.” The weight worked against what would have otherwise been a Best in Category trail shoe.
Salomon Sense Ride GTXCushioned & Protective Trail Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
The Salomon Sense Ride GTX is a brand-new waterproof version of the previously-released Sense Ride. Overall, our wear-testers thought it offered a good balance between cushioning and performance, with a vibrant visual design. “I need two pairs of Sense Rides: one for the trail and one for the rest of my life,” said one of our wear-testers. Although there were some concerns about the narrow fit and speed-lacing system, our runners felt like the Salomon Sense Ride GTX is an excellent choice for trail runners looking for a speedy, responsive waterproof shoe.
Brooks Cascadia 13Cushioned & Protective Trail Running Shoes, Running, Running Shoes & Trail Running Shoes
It’s hard to go wrong with the Brooks Cascadia 13, the newest iteration of Brooks’ flagship trail running shoe. The 13th version of this popular trail shoe gets a tweaked and modernized upper, but keeps the midsole, outsole, overall fit and most details of the previous edition. However, the Brooks Cascadia 13 is relatively heavy, and our wear-test team found its ride and responsiveness to be average at best. In an era where trail runners expect even well-cushioned trail shoes to be light, lively and nimble, the Brooks Cascadia 13 is starting to feel dated.