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.”

Are you a running shoe expert? Join our wear testing team at recruiting@gearinstitute.com.

Running Shoes Reviews
Altra Escalante

Altra introduces a number of design innovations on the Escalante, and many of them are a success in terms of comfort and performance. The upper is snug but comfortable, and the outsole is grippy and responsive, but the standout feature of this shoe is the remarkable Ego midsole material that effectively combines plush cushioning and strong energy return. The Escalante is recommended for fast training as well as road racing for any distance up to and including a marathon.

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Nike Zoom Fly

There are no shortcomings in the Zoom Fly’s ability to help runners of all abilities run faster. The midsole configuration of resilient EVA plus midsole plate is remarkably effective for transition of energy from one foot strike to the next. Comfort is compromised a bit with the narrow forefoot and rigid all-around construction, but if you’re cool with the fit, the Zoom Fly is an ideal shoe for fast track workouts up to marathon racing.

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Hoka One One Hupana

Although this is marketed as more of a hybrid athletic/casual shoe, the Hupana is completely credible as a solid high performance road running shoe. The primary drawback is the fit issue through the heel for some users, otherwise the comfort of the knit uppers works well. Our testers were impressed by the energy return and durability of this material, and the Hupana would be suitable for fast workout days as well as long distance road racing.

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New Balance FuelCell

The magic is in the midsole on the New Balance FuelCell: the dual-construction combination of the company’s lightweight REVlite EVA plus firmer nitrogen infused TPU provide great responsiveness and underfoot feel. Our testers generally like the overall comfort after working out some initial wrinkles due to general stiffness in the heel collar and midfoot. A 6mm drop is right in the sweet spot for midfoot or heel strikers. The FuelCell is probably too heavy for a racing shoe, but well positioned as an everyday trainer that helps you feel faster and lighter.

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See All Road Running Shoes Reviews
Pearl Izumi Trail N3

The Pearl Izumi Trail N3 is the company’s burly, cushioned new addition to the E:Motion line of trail runners While it looks and feels as substantial as other maximalist shoes, the N3’s light weight, comfortable fit, and buttery smooth trail feel make it stand out in this category.

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Inov-8 X-Claw 275

The Inov-8 X-Claw 275 makes smart compromises in a lightweight, nimble package that can handle challenging trails as well as multi-hour runs.  Our wear-testers had some concerns about the model’s fit and its performance on gentler terrain, but praised its responsiveness and low weight.  

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Altra Lone Peak 3.0

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is an all-around trail runner that’s suitable for everything from speedy off-road 5K’s through all-day ultramarathons and light hiking. It mates comfortable, supportive uppers to a responsive EVA/Abound midsole and sticky TrailClaw outsole. Although some wear-testers reported that the Lone Peak 3.0 doesn’t feel light or agile, it’s a shoe that’s built for all-day performance and comfort.

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Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Neoshell Mid

The Neoshell Mid is a burly trail runner that doubles as a light hiking boot. Our wear-testers praised the shoe’s versatility, light weight, and performance on the trail, but some had concerns with the amount of padding around the heel collar and tongue.

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See All Trail Running Shoes Reviews