The Best Road 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.
Of all shoes tested this season, the Glycerin 15 stands out as “one of the most enjoyable comfort rides,“ and excels in just about every category. It offers unmatched comfort, fits like a glove, and protects from the hardest impacts while maintaining responsiveness. Compared to other shoes tested the Glycerin 15 has a steeper heel drop at 10mm but it doesn’t feel cumbersome or reduce the overall ride quality.
Each go-around, Hoka One One modifies the Clifton series making it a slightly better shoe and this year is no different. Noticeable changes to the upper and midsole make the Clifton 4 a more comfortable and responsive shoe. The soft mushy underfoot feeling is replaced by a firmer, better performing midsole. While the upper is more comfortable and pliable than its predecessor, testers still wished there was more width and room around the midfoot.
The Asics GEL-Cumulus is a moderate level cushioning everyday trainer that is more performance oriented than other shoes tested due to a responsive midsole and lower stack height. The GEL–Cumulus is a perfect one-shoe quiver for beginner to intermediate runners who tend to land towards the rear of the foot.
The Adidas UltraBOOST ST is a perfect comfort shoe for runs when performance, speed and responsiveness are not a priority. Built with mild stability, the UltraBOOST ST hands down offers one of the softest rides of all the shoes tested this season, but at the cost of performance. Retailing at $200 the UltraBOOST ST is by far the priciest shoe of the test.
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.
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.
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.
Best “Old Meets New” Combination
New Balance FuelCellLightweight Running Shoes, Running & Running Shoes
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.