15 Best Running Shoes for Men & Women Reviewed

So you’re a runner, and you want the best shoes, right? Maybe you’re a prospect. Whatever the case, the fact remains that you need a pair that can perform and handle the miles which will inevitably be put on them. But, there are a plethora of options and it can be time-consuming to pinpoint the perfect pair.  What are the differences and what should you look out for in quality and material? Will you be able to figure this out before your next race or event?

Runner-Tying-Yellow-Running-Shoes-Best-Running-Shoes

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about that, as we’ve done hours of research, wear-testing and comparing to find the highest rated running shoes based on the most important aspects. These aspects include comfort or cushioning, overall support, fit, durability, and breathability. Regardless of the reason you choose to run, our list of the best running shoes guarantees there’s something here for you.

Last Updated: April 9, 2018
By Alanna Elia:

This page has been updated to ensure that the most relevant information and the latest models of running shoes are included. We have reworded parts of the page to make for a clear read and have added a 'Terminology' section which explains the key terms used throughout the page. We have also added two new running shoes in place of outdated, or unavailable models, which are the Saucony Cohesion 10 and Nike's Revolution 3.

Featured Recommendations

Brooks Ghost 9
  • Brooks Ghost 9
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • BioMoGo DNA midsole
  • Omega Flex Grooves
  • Price: See Here
Asics GT 2000 5
  • Asics GT 2000 5
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Impact Guidance System
  • Gel Cushioning
  • Price: See Here
Saucony Cohesion 10
  • Saucony Cohesion 10
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Heel GRID
  • EVA Midsole
  • Price: See Here

If you are serious about running, you should never compromise on quality running footwear. Benefits of an adequate running shoe include, but are not limited to, blister prevention, shock absorption; which prevents impact damage or stress fractures, longevity; so you don’t have to constantly replace your shoes, and an overall quality running experience. Don’t suffer through your runs with inadequate footwear or stress about the amount of time it takes to sort through the available options. You deserve to put the best on your feet and we’ve made it easier for you to do that!

 

15 Best Running Shoes for Men & Women

 

1. Brooks Ghost 9

The Ghost line has consistently satisfied runners throughout the years and continues to innovate and provide amazing performance with every new release. For the 9th installment in this series, its name certainly does proceed it. The Ghost 9 is a neutral, cushioned shoe that holds multiple awards and an endless amount of positive feedback due to it ranking high on the majority of the aspects that a perfect running shoe should. This is in no way the perfect shoe, but it's as close as you will get. If you love cushion, and a close-to-perfect fit, you found it.

Weight: 10.6 oz
Drop: 12 mm
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Cushioning / Comfort
For cushioning, the Ghost 9 midsole is made of Brooks' Biomogo DNA material, which is arguably their most adaptable and comfortable midsole material to date. With an extremely plush interior, and underfoot cushioning system, this shoe provides the comfort needed for long runs but is even ideal for short runs such as 5 and 10ks.

Breathability / Air-Flow
The shoe contains an engineered mesh upper that not only conforms to the contours of your foot but allows an incredible amount of air-flow. For this reason, they are perfect for long runs where your feet will certainly overheat. The encouraged air circulation is adequate enough to keep your feet cool for long runs, or hot days.

Cost / Value
These are priced average for running shoes of its type. Considering the full package; extremely smooth ride, adequately flexible, relatively lightweight, pleasantly cushioned with a crash pad and shock absorption capabilities, do you see just how much value to runners this shoe has?
Pros

BioMogo DNA Midsole

Omega Flex Grooves 

Segmented Crash Pad

Engineered Mesh Upper 

Normal, Narrow & Wide sizes

Plush Interior Cushioning

Cons

Limited Toe-Box Movement

2. Asics GT 2000 5

The GT 2000 5 is a highly cushioned road running shoe that offers support for over-pronation and comes in both standard and wide sizes. It is ideal for hitting long miles, and an extremely good go-to shoe for frequent marathon runners. Their "FluidRide" midsole material is cushioned enough to provide extra comfort, and responsive enough to give an adequate return of energy through each step. Whether you need extra support or extra plush comfort, the 5th version of the GT 2000 is worth checking out.

Weight: 11 oz
Drop: 10 mm
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Comfort / Cushioning
Not only is the sole comprised of an extremely responsive material, but it also offers support and gives an additional layer of gender-specific cushioning (less dense material composition for women). Asics also incorporates their Gel-Cushioning system which also provides ample shock absorption, and on top of that, a removable "ComforDry" sock liner. With proper temperature regulation and top of the line cushioning, these are about as comfortable as it gets.

Stability / Support
With the inclusion of Asics Duomax support system, runners are able to benefit from an enhanced, stable platform without the addition of much weight. Those who have issues with over-pronating will find this shoe very fitting. Support is further increased by an external heel counter, and for midfoot structural integrity, their guidance Trusstic system.

Cost / Value
The GT 2000 5 is a whopper of a deal considering it's quality and performance. Most shoes in this price range tend to cut a bit back on features, but Asics did not hold back or skimp, nor did they overprice this model. It's an extremely affordable shoe and falls into the more affordable side of this list despite its high ratings. If you want a perfect shoe with cushioning and support, you want to look into these.
Pros

Normal & Wide Sizes

Duomax Support System

Impact Guidance System

Gel technology

Fluidride Midsole

Gender-Specific Cushioning

Cons

Sizes run small

3. Saucony Ride 10

The Ride 10 is a moderately cushioned neutral road running shoe that is also a favorite for those who regularly hit extended miles on the track. The 10th version stays true to its line while offering an upgraded engineered mesh upper, and triflex outsole. The shoe is a perfect blend of lightweight cushioning and flexibility. Oh, and wear testers love the ventilation too!

Weight: 9.5 oz
Drop: 8 mm
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Weight / Performance
With just enough cushioning to soften the impact of each foot strike and keeping the shoe relatively lightweight, the Ride 10 delivers what its name implies, a great ride. The upper boasts engineered mesh which gives an extremely conforming fit, and allows great air-flow, and the sole incorporates Everun technology for enhanced energy return.

Cushioning / Comfort
Cushioning comes by way of the Everun sole, and an unmatched comfortable fit due to a woven heel that wraps in a perfect hold. Runners reported long miles felt effortless, almost as if cheating. If that's not a good report, we don't know what is! A wide toe-box, well vented upper and adequate cushioning makes for the perfectly comfortable running experience.

Cost / Value
These lightweight runners are priced fairly and somewhat average for this type of shoe. The fact is, for how well they perform, it's a breath of fresh air that they don't cost too much. The Ride 10 is an affordable shoe for all budgets and ranks average for this list.
Pros

Cushion & Weight Balance

 Flexifilm Upper

Tri-Flex Outsole

Woven Heel 

Cons

Only 3 color options

4. Nike Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2

4. Nike Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2
The Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2’s are the low topped successor to the well renowned original Lunarepic Flyknit and clearly a one up. The shoe remains with it's comfy cushioning and has regions specifically supported on the foot to dish one out for the long haul. It benefits from their latest and greatest technology, is lightweight, tight and slips on easily with its updated design. The shoe is also benefited by Flywire technology for a perfect lace-up fit and side shoe perforations for added breathability. It is a very nice, low topped running shoe bound to have the brands fans purchasing this one and waiting for the next.

Weight: 8.8 oz
Drop: 10 mm
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Sock-like Upper
This shoe sports Flyknit fabric which wraps around the runner’s foot, giving a snug fit and natural feeling that flexes with every movement. The targeted cushioning is based on focusing on pressure points while the runner is in motion. The outer sole is targeted as well with extra padding.

Cushioning Material / Flywire
The soft cushioning the Nike Lunarepic Low Flyknit 2 has been made of soft and firm foam, helping runners sustain impacts. Flywire intersects the lace loops to give the runner a real nice grip like feel, helping prevent ankle twists.

Cost/Value
These shoes are near the higher ranged price for running shoes. But, with added and old technology, this shoe would be best of both worlds it seems. Nike provides quality, and their Flyknit uppers are arguably one of the highest quality, most breathable material compositions of any shoe.

5. Hoka One One Clifton 3

5. Hoka One One Clifton 3
The Clifton 3’s are lightweight, breathable and a great shoe overall for runners who look for those extra miles or exceed their present limitations. They come masked with a plethora of color variations and a design to turn heads. They also come equipped with cunning running shoe technology, such as its Speedframe construction and unique breathable mesh, topped with synthetic overlays for structure. Hoka One One fans won't be disappointed.

Weight: 8.6 oz
Drop: 5 mm
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Speedframe Tech / Wide Footing
As mentioned earlier, the Clifton 3’s are equipped with Speedframe tech, meaning that forefoot irritation is reduced all the while keeping its ultralight weightlessness. The forefoot also promotes wider fitting, which enhances the comfort in the forefoot. Breathable mesh is also intertwined into the shoe, with multiple synthetic overlays giving an overall great fit.

Material / Breathable Fabric Lining
A highly breathable fabric lining is included as well, offering inner-shoe comfort while maintaining ample airflow for temperature regulation and moisture wicking. The materials are synthetic and mesh and the sole is made of EVA foam rubber for cushioning and shock absorption.

Cost/Value
The Clifton 3’s are a decent priced, coming in under the mid-dollar range, and quite average for this list. They are dependable, comfortable, extremely cushioned and lightweight, making this an amazing running shoe for the longer distances.
Pros

Speedframe Construction

Wider forefoot fitting

Breathable Synthetic mesh overlays

Large, cushioned Eva foam rubber midsole

Lightweight

Cons

Outsole is known to wear faster than normal

6. Saucony Cohesion 10

6. Saucony Cohesion 10
The Cohesion 10 is a neutral running shoe that provides a stable and cushioned ride. Featuring a heel GRID system and an injection-molded EVA midsole for added support, along with a mesh upper for breathability. This Cohesion 10 is a worthy successor to the highly popular, Cohesion 9 and is equipped with some noteworthy enhancements, including a plush tongue and collar for added comfort. These running shoes offer a moderate cushion and are perfect for any training style.

Weight: 8.5 oz
Drop: 12mm
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Heel GRID System
The Cohesion 10 features Saucony’s innovative heel GRID system that provides the wearer with stable cushioning in the heel so you won’t need to worry about sure footing while running on a variety of terrain.

EVA Midsole
The Cohesion 10 is designed with a high Abrasion EVA foam midsole for added stability and comfort. EVA is a lightweight foam material which is an alternative to the traditional rubber that's used in the construction of a midsole.

Cost/Value
The Cohesion 10 is available at an affordable price and offers outstanding features for the associated cost. This running boasts the same features as shoes that cost twice as much, making the Saucony Cohesion 10 a bargain for your buck and the perfect option for anyone who is serious about running on a variety of terrains.
Pros
  • Mesh Upper
  • Heel GRID
  • EVA Midsole
  • Plush Tongue/Collar
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Stiff Sole

9. Salomon Speedcross 4

9. Salomon Speedcross 4
The Speedcross 4 displays a plethora of improvements from its previous version, such as a precise foothold with the combination of Sensifit technology. The shoe 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 shoe be sure to get you going when the going gets tough and the trails get rough.

Weight: 11 oz
Drop: 10 mm
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Secure Fit / Lightweight Support
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 an overall top performance.

Breathability / Air-Flow
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.

Cost / Value
This shoe actually can be considered a value when 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 mid-point, with the performance of a Salomon trail runner, you have a steal. Consider this, they are marked down significantly! Get yourself a pair before there are no more.
Pros

Lace Pocket 

One-pull Tightening

EVA Midsole

Deep Lugs

OrthoLite Sock-liner

Cons

Limited Airflow

8. Mizuno Wave Rider 20

8. Mizuno Wave Rider 20
Mizuno's Wave Rider line of running shoes focuses on responsiveness, movement, and smooth transitions. The 20th addition stays true to what runners loved about the previous, with upgrades to make it even better, and Wave Riders responded very well! They include a revamped wave plate for a much more efficient spring to each step with upgraded breathability to ensure you get the best performance possible. The Wave Rider 19 was an almost perfect shoe with a seemingly immaculate ride, but the 20 has outdone it.

Weight: TBD
Drop: 12 mm
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Performance
Mizuno incorporates a completely new plate dubbed "cloud wave" that enables a pleasant ride, that some wear-testers say is on point with the 18th version of the WR, which saw a slight change in the 19th but is back better than ever with the new tech. Compared to its previous versions, it's updated midsole composition is 30% more responsive, and much more durable as they now utilize U4ic foam.

Comfort / Breathability
The WR 20 now features an engineered mesh upper (sigh of relief), which gives Wave Rider fans a breath of fresh air as previous versions have been known to lack in the area of temperature regulation. The engineered mesh is known to fair extremely well in providing adequate breathability and airflow, and users can't say enough good things about the addition. Another upgrade comes by way of a softer heel collar, which was a consistent complaint of the 19. Thanks, Mizuno!

Cost / Value
After 20 version of the shoe, it's as tight as ever in terms of quality and performance but stays true to its price point. We can guarantee this a great pick-up for those who prefer a super responsive ride paired with adequate comfort and lightweight performance.
Pros

Cloudwave Plate

Engineered Mesh Upper 

Plush Heel Collar 

Durable

Upgraded Features

Cons

Stiff Laces

7. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17

7. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
The GTS 17 is a smooth and free-flowing running shoe with plump heel cushioning and a perfect ride. This monster of a running shoe is stacked with a plethora of shoe technology, creating a diverse road runner that you will love. The shoe has noteworthy traits that make it one of the most incredible, such as the BIOMOGO DNA midsole cushioning and updated V-Groove tech; traits that make it top tier and show the capabilities Brooks has to offer.

Weight: 10.7 oz
Drop: 12 mm
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Biomogo DNA Midsole / Segmented Crash Pad
This BIOMOGO midsole cushioning located in the midsole allows the user's foot to eventually, over time, mold their foot into the padding, much like putty or a guarded mouthpiece. This is extremely important for comfortability, basically adapting itself with every step. This shoe sports a Segmented crash pad. The crash pad is fully lengthened across the shoe and can withstand most landings while delivering smooth heel to toe mobility in the process.

Progressive Diagonal Roll Bar / Updated V-Groove
The shoe has a Diagonal Roll Bar, meaning, while running, the shoe guides the user's body back into itself, diminishing any chances of impeding the user's natural rhythm and motion. It also has a comfortable V-Groove, created to naturally release the feeling tension in underfoot, making it soft and smooth.

Cost/Value
The Adrenaline GTS 17 are averagely priced and a fantastic shoe with a staggering amount of shoe tech goodies for their price. This shoe deserves a definite spot on the list, not because of what it costs, but because of the value in performance, it presents.
Pros

BIOMOGO midsole

Segmented crash pad

Progressive Diagonal Roll Bar

Updated V-Groove

Cons

Wears Early On

10. Nike Revolution 3

10. Nike Revolution 3
The Nike Revolution 3 is a lightweight and neutral running shoe that features a breathable mesh upper and traditional front lacing. The Revolution 3 comes complete with cooling knit panels and a specially designed outsole that has an effective grip pattern and durable rubber sole unit. It’s cushioned insole and smooth lining make the Revolution a smooth wear, while a padded tongue and collar add extra support and comfort. These speedy running shoes will keep your feet feeling their best while you’re out there testing your limits.

Weight: 8.9 oz
Drop: 6mm

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Cooling Knit Panels
The Nike Revolution 3 features cooling knit panels on the sides for added airflow and breathability along with a mesh upper for a maximized cooling effect. These running shoes are perfect for warmer weather or anytime you need a little heat control.

Comfort/Fit
Run in comfort thanks to the Revolution 3’s cushioned insole and smooth fabric lining. These shoes feature a padded tongue and collar which adds additional support and makes for a pleasant wear, while a rubber outsole with an effective grip pattern ensures a no-slip run.

Cost/Value
While the Revolution 3 is heavy on features it’s light on your wallet. This is a deluxe running shoe that offers excellent support, cushioning, and durability, but costs far less than some of the leading competitors. If you are in search of a well-made running shoe for less than these are a great choice to consider.


Pros
  • Wide Toebox
  • Cushioned Insole
  • Neutral 
  • Padded Tongue/Collar
  • Low Price
Cons
  • May Tear

11. Hoka One One Bondi 5

11. Hoka One One Bondi 5
Hoka One One clearly exceeded expectations with the fifth installment of its highly cushioned, high-performance, highly commended Bondi road runners. With updated cushioning and comfort, you will love these if you were a fan of the Bondi 4. They stayed true to the line but listened to user-feedback to enhance an already loved shoe. If you looking for a lightweight, cushioned and breathable, then the Bondi 5 will win you over hands down.

Weight: 10 oz
Drop: 4 mm
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Cushioning / Comfort
With plush cushion a neutral ride, the Bondi 5 is a considerable road runner for those who want the most cushioning without all the weight. In fact, it's incredible how much cushioning can be added without an extreme amount of weight. When going for long distances, this shoe holds its title with its signature marshmallow midsole for optimum underfoot protection. A slightly beveled heel enables a smooth transition, and its relatively lightweight structure will keep you going mile after mile.

Breathability / Air-Flow
It's engineered mesh upper ensures optimized breathability and 3D Puff Print frame gives Lightweight support. The Bondi 5 only weighs 8.5 ounces for a lighter and natural feel.

Cost / Value
The Bondi 5 is an investment to seriously consider if you put all of the key factors together that makes this shoe a great lightweight road runner at an incredible cost. If max cushioning is what you need, there's no shoe that does it better, period.
Pros

EVA Midsole  

Curved Heel

Zonal Rubber 

3D Puff Print Frame 

Cons

Narrow Upper

12. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v7

12. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v7
New Balance is known for its emphasis on high-performance running shoes, and the FF 1080 v7 delivers right on the mark. Its engineered mesh upper and no-sew application guarantees a quality run. They promise a perfect ride for tempo runs and short distances in higher bursts. If you want a performance shoe that can withstand the utmost pressure then go no further than the Fresh Foam 1080.

Weight: 10.8 oz
Drop: 8 mm
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Support / Fit
This runner was designed with a foam padded collar to promote strong ankle support and features a secure fit to guarantee top health and performance. Outsole grooves designed from runner data are flexible and help you move freely and more efficiently.

Cushioning / Comfort
The Fresh foam 1080 v7 was designed for maximum comfortability with a soft Fresh Foam midsole to enhance natural movement.

Cost / Value
This shoe is priced accurately for the value of features which it displays like a blown rubber outsole to support those hard drops and to reduce shock, which is a blessing for faster-paced runners. They are somewhat high in cost but are worth every penny.
Pros

Outsole Flex Grooves

Engineered Mesh

Bootie Construction 

Foam Collar 

Roomy toe box

Cons

Stitching May Rub

13. La Sportiva Bushido

13. La Sportiva Bushido
The Bushido is a neutral trail running shoe made specifically for mountainous terrain and is relatively lightweight for its type. The shoe includes a sticky, aggressive outsole for excellent traction and grip. The feature contributes to its versatility over rocky and wet surfaces, or dirt. The shoe is designed with their “STB Control” technology that's characterized by a TPU frame, providing optimum stability and cushioning.

Weight: 10.5 oz
Drop: 6 mm
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Comfort / Cushioning
The midsole of the Bushido is made of 32A compression molded MEMIex that provides ample cushioning. Additionally, the TPU frame is molded around the foot to provide responsiveness which contributes to the overall cushioning and comfort of the shoe. The inner part of the shoe is lined with highly breathable lateral mesh inserts that offer optimum breathability, helping the feet maintain an optimal temperature and remain dry.

Protection
The shoe is constructed with Thermal adhesive microfiber which reduces the overall weight considerably thereby offering a high-performance shoe that is extremely lightweight. This keeps the feet protected from emergent injuries that may be caused by heavy shoes. The outer sole is made with the patented La Sportiva Dual-Density FriXion compound that offers a good grip on uneven surfaces thereby preventing any slipping that may cause injuries. Additionally, the shoe is made of XT V-Groove with Impact Brake System that offers the user the option to halt instantaneously and avoid collisions.

Cost / Value
The shoe is priced average for this list and is quite the bargain considering their versatility and performance on technical, rugged terrain. Many shoes that offer some of the same features as the La Sportiva Bushido cost near the two hundred dollar mark, and as such, this shoe delivers both quality and value. They are perfect for those looking for versatility, performance, durability, and stability all in one hardy trail runner, without the extra weight.
Pros

Lightweight

Sufficient Foot protection

Breathable Mesh

Offers adequate cushioning

Cons

Need Breaking In

14. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3

14. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3
The Challenger ATR 3 is a multi-terrain trail running shoe that is considered one of the best options amongst similar shoes of the same build and design. They are made with a 3D Puff Print frame to reduce overall weight and incorporate a Podular Outsole design that may seem to be a stylistic approach but is a highly functional aspect. The shoe is highly versatile to say the least and can be used on both road and trail, mud or dry.

Weight: 9.5 oz
Drop: 5 mm
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Comfort / Cushioning
Their 3D Puff Print frame reduces the overall weight of the shoe considerably, providing a comfortable ride in conjunction with its oversized EVA midsole. The midsole is not a fashion statement that's for sure. It acts as a cushion and is designed with their Meta-Rocker technology that guides the foot smoothly for an easy transition from strike to toe-off.

Traction
The outsole has a Podular design that provides sufficient traction on uneven terrain, with 4mm Lugs that offer additional grip on the trail, but are flat-topped and can be used in surfaces that require high friction such as roads. The midfoot is designed with Speed frame Construction technology that offers support and structure.

Cost / Value
The ATR 3's come in with an average price tag for running shoes on this list. The novel technology used on the out and midsole is quite innovative and generally contributes to the overall value of the shoe. At the retail price, this shoe is a worthwhile investment.
Pros

Traction

Multi-Terrain Outsole 

Breathable

Ample Room 

Excellent Cushioning

Cons

Exaggerated sole platform is not for everyone

15. Zoom Vomero 12

15. Zoom Vomero 12
The Vomero 12 is a running shoe in this shoe giants highly commended and, not to mention, favored "Zoom" collection. This shoe offers an excellently cushioned and responsive ride that is consistent throughout its usage, without breaking down through the miles. The shoe is fitted with “Air Units” that built on the toe and heel area to provide optimum responsiveness that contributes to more effective propulsion. Each step creates an “action and reaction” effect on these units that provide the required spring to each push.

Weight: 11.1 oz
Drop: 10 mm
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Responsiveness/Comfort
The Vomero 12 is designed with an inner plush comfort fit collar that provides ankle support. Additionally, the shoe is made with a thick midsole sock liner that offers a snug and comfortable fit. The Nike Air Units built into the heel and toe area create ultra-responsiveness that contributes to the overall comfort of the shoe. The midsole is designed with a soft Lunar core and firmer Cushlon carrier that offer smooth transitions during mid strikes for distance and cardio runs.

Durability
The outsole is designed with lighter and durable traction pattern that is configured on the rubber lugs. These lugs are made from industrial-strength compounds that enhance the durability of the shoe. The upper part of the shoe has Flywire cables to offer a more supportive and secure fit. The Flywire cables are quite durable since they are made from malleable metallic compounds. Lastly, the Zoom Air units prolong the shelf life of these shoes because they dissipate the force such as friction that can cause wear and tear thereby increasing their durability.

Cost / Value
The shoes are a bit pricey and may be considered expensive by those looking for normal running shoes but there is nothing normal or average with the Vomero 12. These shoes can be used for many training and causal purposes and still remain functional on the track. Their durability is unsurpassable and their support system commendable. This is an extremely valuable and worthwhile purchase for those looking for a pair of good running shoes that will supplement other sporting and casual needs.
Pros

Excellent grip and traction

Great responsiveness

Exact fit through lacing structure

Smooth transitions

Offers unique foot propulsion

Cons

Narrow toe box

 

Importance of Running Specific Shoes

A critical eye when choosing footwear for running is much more important than being picky about casual shoes. Fashion is a relatively small factor in a running shoe’s features, they are designed for functionality and the best performance as a priority.

Running-At-Night-Best-Running-Shoes

What you want in a running shoe ultimately depends on how you will be using them, your foot type, and sometimes it boils down to personal preference. There is road running shoes, trail running shoes, some with arch support, some waterproof, some ultra lightweight, some extra durable, and much more.

We cover the absolute best in terms of wear-testing feedback, consistent quality, and improvements in several of the most notable running shoe categories to ensure everyone can find what they need.

Major aspects we looked for include, but are not limited to, material that is lightweight but durable, overall breathability for temperature regulation, proper traction for specific environments, comfort, and cushioning. Shoes that rank high in these areas are the most appropriate considerations to ensure your footwear is up-to-speed.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Running Shoes

White-Running-Shoes-Best-Running-Shoes

 Breathability / Temperature Regulation

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.

Traction / Grip / Outsole Profile

The outsole profile will be different between road running shoes and trail running shoes, but no matter what, a respectable running shoe must be able to grip its particular terrain and ensure the wearer does not slip. A proper trail running shoe should have an outsole profile of either aggressive tread or lugs to bite into the dirt ground. A road running shoe’s profile will be much different as they will need a more flat surface area with minimal tread in order to build up friction and ultimately allow ample traction for flat, hard surfaces.

Weight / Lightweight

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. Running shoes 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 most running shoes as it is soft but durable and very light in weight. It’s hard to find a running shoe that can be considered heavy as they are all weigh in relatively low. When looking for lightweight running shoes, our sights were set on those that were lightweight in comparison to most other running shoes. For road running shoes, the average weight would be around 9.5 to 10 ounces for a single shoe with anything under 8 ounces extremely light. For trail running shoes, average weight is around 10.5 to 11.5 ounces as they usually contain more protective features which raise the weight.

Shock Absorption/ Cushioning / Comfort

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; as happens when running. Shoes with high cushion can soften the impact of your foot to the ground, thus preventing such issues.
  • Runners Knee – This is an injury that occurs with constant running over-training where your knees cartilage deteriorates. There are several ways to contract this issue, but in general, softening the impact of force that your knees are subjected to when running will help prevent it in some cases.
  • 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 running 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.
  • 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 running day. Adequately cushioned running shoes will help in preventing this issue.
  • Plantar fasciitis – This is perhaps the most well known and common running injury. It’s characterized by the inflammation of the tissue that extends the bottom of your feet and occurs. Although there are many causes of this complication, and many ways to prevent, having worn out shoes, without enough underfoot padding is one of the several known contributors to it.

The inner cushioning of a shoe upper, its 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 shoes 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 a shoe that your feet will be happy with. Make sure they have adequate cushioning and are comfortable enough to get you through the miles.

Proper Fit / Conforming Upper / Contour

runner-tying-shoes-on-a-track-best-running-shoes

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 and be 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 road running shoes, and has less of a priority in trail running shoes, as they are usually made of thicker, layered materials that are naturally stiff, and needed for rougher environments.

The way a shoe 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 shoes 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.

Terrain / Type

trail-running-through-mud-best-running-shoes

The terrain and specific usage of a running shoe is a critical aspect that should be obvious and definitely needs to be emphasized. There are too many types of running shoes, for too many specific purposes to not know exactly what you need according to how you will be using them, and the environment you will be running in. The two main types of running shoes are trail specific and road specific, but under these labels are shoes that vary from those 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’s that, and everything in between, and we have guides specific for every type, but since we’ve included trail shoes and road running shoes of all types in this list, we will go over the importance of these two main types and what you can expect in differences from the two.

Trail running shoes are made to withstand the bare environment, which includes everything from dirt to mud and everything in between. On the other hand, you have road running shoes that are made specifically for running on hard paved surfaces or tracks and are typically more light in weight. You won’t be seeing any respectable trail running shoes with such features as a lightweight, breathable Flyknit upper as that would hinder performance on the rugged ground. On the other hand, you won’t see any road running shoes 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 Running Shoes

  • Aggressive tread on the outsole
  • Deep Lugs
  • Waterproofing or Water Resistance
  • Goretex 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 Running Shoes

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

Flexibility / Energy Return

Flex-Grooves-Best-Running-Shoes

There’s nothing worse than a stiff shoe, especially one that’s supposed to help you perform better through intense exercise. Pair that with a shoe 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 is EVA provide a nice bounce to each step, it is fairly soft and flexible. To add more flexibility to the articulation areas of the toes and forefoot, shoe companies now include segmented outsoles, or “Flex grooves” to promote more of a bend with a breakthrough in the generally “stiffer” outsole material.

Trail running shoes are generally stiffer, and rank lower in flexibility, while some road running shoes such as seen in the Flyknit series can literally 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.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Running Shoe Brands/Companies: Who makes the best, highest quality running shoes?
A: There are several running shoe brands that have been around a long time, that provide extremely high-quality shoes. 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 a shoe that made the list,  but they have plenty on great running shoes 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: Running Shoe types: Who are Stability Running shoes for?
A: Stability running shoes 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 running shoes provide cushioning that corrects the awkward angle and compensates for it allowing the runner to experience a natural run.

Q: Running Shoe Types: Who are Neutral Shoes for?
A: Simple, Neutral running shoes 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 shoe is all you need.

Q: What’s the best way to wash running shoes?
A: Let’s face it, despite the breathability of a running shoe, 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 the shoes. There’s no easy way to clean a running shoe, 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 your shoes are on borrowed time, it’s probably best to just replace them.

Q: How will rain and moisture affect my running shoes?
A: Fortunately, most shoes nowadays are stitched and glued to be able to withstand water, and prevent water damage, unlike shoes of the old days that would suffer and fall apart due to moisture. Most running shoes 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 running shoes 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 versions of their shoes. The best running shoes for men, and for women will generally be the same shoe, 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. Running shoes are made for the high intensity running, 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. Get a pair of running shoes if you plan to run.

Q: How many miles can a running shoe last?
A: A good running shoe should last from 300 to 500 miles. If your running shoes call it quits coming up around 200 miles, they are not quality. A great running shoe will hold up all the way until you get bored of them. They are out there.

Terminology

  • Collar: The stitching which makes up the rim of a shoe or boot.
  • Midsole: The midsole is the layer of cushioning that sits between the insole and outsole of a shoe.
  • Outsole: The outsole of a shoe is the outermost sole which connects directly to the ground.
  • Overpronation: Overpronation is when the foot excessively turns inwards and consists of the foot rolling towards the medium, or middle of the body.
  • Shock-absorption: Shock-absorption is when a mechanism reduces the level of shock felt throughout the body by absorbing and dispersing shock waves.
  • Stress fractures: A stress fracture occurs when a bone is fractured from repeated mechanical stress, rather than from a sudden onset.
  • Toe box: Consists of a piece of material placed in-between the toe cap and the lining of a shoe.
  • Traction: The grip of an object over any surface such as pavement or off-trail terrain.
  • Wear-testing: Manufacturers are able to get a more accurate prediction of wear and tear in footwear products through wear testing under conditions simulating the exact wear process.

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,

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