Whether you’re pounding pavement or hitting trails, you need a trusty pair of running shoes. Even if you’re not trying to win the Chicago Marathon, a good pair of sneakers makes training far more enjoyable. Aside from the colossal impact your shoes have on your performance, you can’t underestimate the importance of comfort either. There are tons of styles out there, from sleek, barefoot models to thick, maximalist options.
The best choice largely comes down to personal preference, as well as the type of running you intend to participate in. For instance, a pair of shoes well-suited to short sprints might not work well over long distances. Some runners only want to wear the lightest shoe on the market — sometimes sacrificing a good foot feel — while others swear by comfort despite the added weight. Even the kind of weather you plan on running in plays a part. From minimal to maximum, road to trail, here are the best running shoes available.
Designed for runners who want their feet to feel fully enveloped in a cocoon of soft cushioning, this comfy road running shoe is built with Vibe Technology, a unique system of inserts which reduce tibial vibration and help fend off foot fatigue.
The technology, which is part of the Running Avenue (RA) collection, launched in 2017 but Salomon has since added a softer outsole to the three shoes that comprise its brand new Sonic RA line. The result is a Goldilocks blend of firm Energy Cell+ in the midsole and a dynamic Opal cushioning compound that makes the shoe both supportive and responsive — leaving little to be desired, especially considering its fair $130 price tag. If maximum cushioning isn’t your thing, the Sonic RA also comes in light and medium weight options.
Ease is the name of the game with this brand new road running shoe from New Balance. Forget traditional laces — built with highly customizable Boa technology, the 1500T2 is incredibly easy to slip on, crank down, and head out the door. With its utterly effortless closure system, it’s easy to motivate yourself to get going — in fact, T2 is a nod to the phrase, “transition area 2,” where triathletes make quick changes as a race’s run portion begins. At $120, it’s a bargain for the peace of mind your shoes won’t ever come untied again.
This stylish shoe fits snugly without being suffocating and you can choose exactly how tightly you want to cinch it down. It’s lightly cushioned with separate pieces which create a wrap around the top of the foot and a synthetic mesh super that keeps it breathable. Lastly, the lightweight materials make it incredibly fast and agile, making the 1500T2 the perfect option for racers and long-distance runners.
Whether you live in a rainy climate, run on trails with creek crossings, or simply like to be prepared for anything, this shoe from Arc’teryx makes a kickass trail companion. Built to be fully waterproof, the lightweight Norvan LD GTX boasts GORE Invisible Fit technology as well as a thin GORE-TEX membrane, so you can hit the dirt knowing you’re ready for whatever nature throws at you.
Arc’teryx designed the shoe with technical trail athletes in mind so it’s built to be fast, lively, and responsive. It features a Vibram Megagrip outsole that lets you easily navigate rocky, weather-beaten terrain with confidence and support while the breathable upper keeps it cool and comfortable. Although $195 may seem a hefty price to pay, everything Arc’teryx makes is of the absolute highest quality.
For athletes who want the absolute bare minimum in weight and cushioning, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite is a shoe that’s notable for its remarkable degree of support offered in such a minimalist package. Engineered to follow the natural shape of the foot, the no-sew construction is sturdy and strong while remaining exceptionally flexible to your every movement. It weighs just 150 grams and features a micro-thin TPU sole that delivers solid protection without being imposing. As a bonus, it’s 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free — making these minimalist shoes worth the $120 price tag.
This light-as-a-feather trail running shoe is a magnificent blend of comfort and versatility, offering superior technical capabilities without being too bulky or weighted down. Built by a company that’s already known for its expertise in backcountry skiing and climbing footwear, the Spin is specially designed for rugged landscapes and tough, variable terrain. With a Vibram outsole featuring Megagrip technology, $130 is a steal for sure-footedness on rocky trails or slick patches of dirt, and confidence your sole won’t slip and slide on the move. It has a high-density rock plate and mesh upper with welded poly-urethane overlay to make the shoe tough and durable while staying breathable, too.
If speed is what you seek, you can’t lose with this fast, nimble trainer from Hoka One One. Designed for ultrarunners and elite performance athletes, the Mach nevertheless makes a superb choice for your average road runner. It’s ultra-cushioned, dynamic, and whisper-light — qualities welcome on short sprints and long hauls alike.
Showcasing a dual density Profly midsole, the sneaker feels responsive while remaining capable of absorbing impact, as well. The shoe’s full RMAT outsole is tough enough to withstand primitive trails and inclement weather. For $140, it’s a great selection for runners who want to hit terrain of any type while still maintaining lightness and speed while navigating.
We’re living in the modern age and that means your running shoes can also track your training stats. Under Armour’s high-tech Hovr Sonic features Record sensor technology that records and analyzes your running metrics and uploads it to MapMyRun. The most remarkable part of the Hovr technology is that you don’t even need to have your phone with you for it to connect. That means you can ditch the cumbersome armbands and run light and free.
On top of its smart capabilities, Under Armour’s Hovr foam is incredibly comfortable and dynamic. This versatile road running shoe has high-abrasion rubber under the heel that absorbs shock and a removable Ortholite sock liner. We’ve spent some time in these ourselves and can speak not only to its incredibly high level of comfort but also that it’s worth the $100 price tag.
When Adidas announced it was bringing its NoDye technology to the running sphere — specifically to a selection of trail runners — hype surrounding the release reached an absolute fever pitch. After debuting the Terrex Agravic, Terrex Agravic Speed, and Terrex Trailmaker, it made waves by unveiling the Terrex Two Boa, a completely brand-new style. As its name suggests, the shoe features BOA technology, allowing you to skip the lace-up process and cinch down your sneakers with an easy, ultra-customizable dial.
Adidas’ NoDye tech is an eco-friendly colorway that ditches colors under the idea you can let the trail paint your shoes with its natural terra. This conserves the electricity, water, and chemicals used in favor of a simple, earthy look. Beyond its environmental story, the shoe is a fantastic trail runner in its own right, constructed with a highly breathable upper, lightweight cushioning, and a burly Continental rubber outsole. If you care about the environment, you won’t mind paying $120 — which is on par with most other running shoes of this caliber yet these come standard with an eco-friendly bonus.
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