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The Best Running Shoes of 2023, tested and reviewed

Written on 04th December by Ruggero Loda Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru
307 other reviews
Welcome to our completely revamped selection of the best running shoes available right now.

Every year we buy and thoroughly test more than 120 pairs of shoes across every kind of category: from daily trainers to marathon racers, from max cushion to trail shoes.

The shoes we end up selecting as "best" are the shoes that deliver exactly on their promise - we also try and favor a good value/price ratio.

For each category we selected a winner, a runner-up and a "also consider" option, which might be something interesting to test if you want try something different.

We also have a dedicated selection of the best running shoes for women. Check it out!

Table of content

Our Top 5 picks for all categories

Best for Daily Training
Best for Stability
Best Max Cushion
Best for Fast Training
Best for Trail Running

What to consider

The first consideration when choosing running shoes is to think of what you will be using them for.

Are you just starting out and want your first running shoe? You are looking for a daily trainer. If you are looking for a shoe to log your slow, long distance training runs, you are possibly looking for a max cushion shoe.

Don’t fret into a racing shoe with carbon fiber plate if you are just starting out: the plate will not make you faster, it will just get in the way of your running gait.

Don’t worry, we’ll explain what each shoe is better suited for and which kind of runner should be buying them.

Here are a few more considerations you need to make when choosing a running shoe.

Comfort

In the past 10 years or so, science has debated on what the most important aspects to consider when buying a running shoe are. Currently, it is accepted that the most important factor to consider is comfort and fit.

Over the course of thousands of steps (each run), every discomfort or ill-fit is repeated and amplified.

Honestly, the best and possibly only way to assess the comfort of a running shoe is to try them on. Don’t only try them on in the store (or at home), but walk in them, try some running/sprinting and check if they rub somewhere, or if they are too loose somewhere else…

In our running shoe reviews we always indicate how wide/narrow a shoe is at the heel, the midfoot and the forefoot. This does not replace trying the shoe in person, but it can help you eliminate shoes that might just be the wrong fit for you.

Cushioning

The sole of a running shoe will absorb some of the impact of your foot landing on the pavement. We call this cushioning.

Did you know that with each running step you experience a force approximately 3 to 5 times your bodyweight?

Shoes with a high degree of cushioning are preferred for mitigating the impact on your ankles, knees and the rest of the kinetic chain. But cushioning also means that the force you exert gets dampened by it, instead of being directly transformed into propulsion.

It’s a trade-off (comfort vs performance) that each runner needs to take based on their needs/preferences.

Stability

Stability is a concept that was at the basis of running shoe selection that has been questioned in the past ten or so years.

While stability of the past concerned if a shoe would help with over-pronation, nowadays we talk about stability in regards to all the aspects of a shoe that might help a runner with unstable ankles, for whatever reason.

A running shoe can help with stability by having a wider base, or some “guide-rails” on the side of the midsole to help the foot stay in position, or other solutions in the sole or the upper.

If your ankles are your weak spot, you might want to look into a running shoe with some stability in them.

Responsive vs Plush

When we talk about cushioning, we often use these terms: responsive and plush.

The best way to illustrate what we mean is with this example. Imagine you are running barefoot on the beach.

Plush is the feeling you have running on dry sand: the landing is soft, but you waste a lot of energy with each step.

Responsive is the feeling you have running on wet sand: the impact is harder (but still cushioned), but you can run easier and faster.

The difference between plush and responsive is up to both personal preference and the particular use you will do of a shoe. Responsive is better for racing or fast training, plush is better for long, slow mileage.

Best for Daily Training

Your daily training running shoes are the ones you use most often for your training.

This is a very personal choice, but generally an everyday training shoe is a neutral shoe with balanced cushioning (not too plush, not too responsive) that can be used for daily mileage and faster training efforts.

You want this shoe to be comfortable, deal well with different weather and surfaces and have good durability.

The winner

Puma Velocity Nitro 2

$64 at Amazon.com
In short
The Puma Velocity Nitro 2 is an exceptional, versatile daily trainer. With a responsive ride and comfortable fit, it is a nearly perfect package. A great daily trainer that can handle a number of distances, workouts, and surfaces.
Pros

  • Versatile ride.
  • Exceptional grip.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Affordable.
Cons

  • Upper mesh can overheat.
  • Shoe lace length.
Who should buy it

This is ideal if you are looking for something for every day running. Anything from easy runs to longer efforts.

Who should not buy it

While it can go fast, I wouldn’t use this for workout and race day.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
8.8 oz
Heel
33.5 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
10 mm
Toe
23.5 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
10
Build quality
10
Upper
10
Sole unit
10
Landing
10
Transition
10
Toe-off
10
Traction
10
Durability
10
Value / Price
10
Team review
After many years of seemingly having disappeared from the running shoe conversation (even while sponsoring Hussain Bolt), Puma has recently come back to the scene with an amazing line of running shoes. The Velocity Nitro 2 is Puma's daily trainer and one of our favorite shoes of the year. Its midsole has two layers of Nitro foam - where the upper layer is softer to provide a more comfortable ride and the lower layer is harder, to preserve energy. The result is a comfortable stride that can take you through long mileage. The upper can get hot on warm days.
Read full review

Runner up

Nike Winflo 10

$100 at Nike
In short
The Nike Winflo 10 is a neutral daily trainer that allows you to use them for an array of activities. They are incredibly comfortable and work great for runners who are new to the sport, runners who are veterans, and individuals who just want a good-looking practical shoe.
Pros

  • Versatile
  • Budget-friendly
  • Comfortable enough for all day wear
Cons

  • Not the most responsive on longer runs
  • Laces could use an upgrade
Who should buy it

This shoe is for the individual who is looking for a versatile shoe that can accomplish different goals. They are great for short runs to logging mid-range distances.

Who should not buy it

They are not for the runner who is looking for a shoe that will help them during those grueling long runs. They work well for runs under 10 miles. I also wouldn’t suggest them for a racing shoe.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
9.9 oz
Heel
33 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
10 mm
Toe
23 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
7.0
Landing
7.0
Transition
7.0
Toe-off
7.0
Traction
9.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
10
Team review
Potentially, the Nike Pegasus 40 is a better shoe than the Winflo 10. But the Winflo is significantly cheaper than the Pegasus, while not sacrificing all that much. The fit is great: the Winflo 10 is an extremely comfortable shoe. It's also very versatile - from casual wear to gym session it's hard to find a situation where they won't feel at home. While a lot of attention on Nike comes from their record-breaking racing shoes, the Winflo 10 has secretly won the hearts of many runners around the world. I often recommend this shoe as you can't really go wrong with it.
Read full review

Also consider

Brooks Ghost Max

$149 at Amazon.com
In short
The Brooks Ghost Max is a good, text book daily trainer which can perform a variety of runs well. It has a balanced ride with good stability and a typical Brooks comfortable upper. The Ghost Max is a spinoff series of the regular Ghost. It has a softer, more cushioned ride which feels more lively than the Ghost 15.
Pros

  • Comfortable, luxurious upper
  • Softer than regular Ghost
  • More forefoot cushioning
  • Modern ride
  • Stable
Cons

  • Lower than average outsole durability
  • Laces fray easily
Who should buy it

If you find the Ghost 15 too firm and flat, the Ghost Max is worth a try. It has a more modern ride which feels more engaging.

Who should not buy it

If you buy the Ghost every year because you enjoy how firm, stable and consistent it is from year to year, you shouldn’t buy the Ghost Max.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
10 oz
Heel
39 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
6 mm
Toe
33 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
8.0
Build quality
9.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
7.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
6.0
Value / Price
7.0
Team review
The Ghost Max is a step into the future for the Brooks Ghost. It is a well balanced, highly cushioned daily trainer that is soft enough for longer runs and responsive enough for faster efforts. It is very stable also thanks to its wide foot base and can definitely take the bulk of marathon training and run the marathon too. It's not your typical daily trainer: it's your daily trainer re-imagined.
Read full review

Best for Stability

We talked about stability earlier. These are the running shoes for people whose ankles need a little help while running.

The winner

Asics Gel Kayano 30

$159 at Amazon.com
In short
The ASICS Kayano 30 is a top-tier stability trainer. Drawing inspiration from other ASICS offerings the Kayano has been completely rebuilt for its 30th edition. The result is an adaptable and stable shoe that provides comfort mile after mile. This overhaul continues Kayano’s run as one of the leaders of the stability field.
Pros

  • 4d Guidance System
  • Completely Rebuilt
  • Adaptive Stablity
Cons

  • Midfoot tightness
Who should buy it

A runner who wants a rebuilt Eco-friendly stability trainer ready to take them through any training plan.

Who should not buy it

Main Specs
Type
Stability
Weight
10.7 oz
Heel
40 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
10 mm
Toe
30 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
10
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
9.0
Landing
10
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
9.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
9.0
Team review
This year's Kayano 30 is one of the best updates in an established shoe franchise ever. They are a premium shoe and you can feel it in almost every aspect. The sole is soft and comfortable and the upper is comfortable and elegant. It is a shoe that can take long mileage very well and feel comfortable all the way through. It's personally one of my favorite shoes of the year (I run in stability shoes, mostly).
Read full review

Runner up

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23

$119 at Amazon.com
In short
The Adrenaline 23 is a reliable stability trainer. Brooks continues to take the formula that works and tweaks it slightly to improve its stable and comfortable ride. These small changes continue to keep the Brooks Adrenaline as one of the leaders of the stability pack.
Pros

  • GuideRail System
  • Comfort
  • Adaptive Stability
  • Durability
Cons

  • 12 mm drop
Who should buy it

This would be for a runner who wants a dependable long lasting stability trainer.

Who should not buy it

Main Specs
Type
Stability
Weight
10.1 oz
Heel
36 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
12 mm
Toe
24 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
9.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
7.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
9.0
Durability
9.0
Value / Price
9.0
Team review
The Adrenaline is a very traditional stability shoe - but that's also one if its main advantages. It is the Go-To-Shoe of many runners who need stability - Brooks rarely makes massive changes from one year to the next. For example this year's Adrenaline is a very similar shoe to the 22nd version - but it managed to become a little softer and to have a better mesh pattern in the upper. Another shoe you can't really go wrong with.
Read full review

Also consider

Hoka One One HOKA Gaviota 5

$174 at RunningWarehouse.Com
In short
The HOKA ONE ONE Gaviota 5 offers top comfort and support, with an ultra-wide base and one of the brand’s highest stack heights, yet has dropped almost an ounce from previous models. This latest Gaviota offers an enhanced stability, accommodating fit, comfort, lower weight, and a more smooth transition through the footplant over the past two models.
Pros

  • Wide, plush base
  • Comfortable, secure fit
  • Large heel loop
  • More accommodating toe box
  • Lighter than previous
Cons

  • Moderate outsole durability
  • Price
Who should buy it

Gaviota’s updated midsole supports runners who supinate (run on the outside of the foot) as well as overpronate (roll excessively in) and is especially suited for long and recovery runs; it is also a great shoe for walkers and those on their feet all day who need supportive shoes.

Who should not buy it

Though Gaviota is lighter than in the past, it is not best for speed-focused runs or runners who prefer a light, quick feel underfoot. The midsole support is helpful for non-neutral runners, this outsole is not the most durable option for those with heavy wear patterns.

Main Specs
Type
Stability
Weight
10.9 oz
Heel
999 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
6 mm
Toe
999 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
10
Build quality
8.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
9.0
Landing
10
Transition
9.0
Toe-off
7.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
7.0
Value / Price
8.0
Team review
The Hoka Gaviota 5 does not look like a traditional stability shoe and it doesn't try to be one. It's big, it's chunky. It has only 5mm drop and an early-stage-rocker. Stability is assured by the "H frame" (a way of the midsole to encapsulate the sides of the foot) and a wide base, plus a supportive upper. It's a fun shoe to run in and it's extremely comfortable. If you want to try something different, give the Gaviota 5 a try.
Read full review

Best Max Cushion

Max cushion is a category that some time ago was called "premium cushioning".

The reality is when Hoka came into play a few years ago and introduced its extremely high midsole full of soft foam, it was not a matter of premium cushioning anymore.
It is now a race for the Maximum Cushioning.

These shoes are usually kept for long, slow training days - but more and more people use these shoes as everyday trainers because... why not?

The winner

Saucony Triumph 21

$148 at Amazon.com
In short
The Saucony Triumph 21 is a daily trainer that can log all the miles you want to throw at it. This shoe is designed to take a pounding and make you feel comfortable the whole time, and it hits the mark.
Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable in all running situations
  • Enough traction for all runs in all conditions
  • Lots of energy return on the toe-off
  • Well proportioned last
  • Breathable upper that flexes with each step
Cons

  • The cushion can be too bouncy for all-day wear if you stand a lot
  • If you land extreme end of heel, the cushion becomes unstable
Who should buy it

This shoe is designed for any daily runner who wants high cushion. Bigger, or smaller runners would benefit from it as it provides cushion and is not too heavy.

Who should not buy it

There is absolutely no stability features in this shoe, so anyone who needs any type of stability — especially with a high-stack and high-bounce sole unit.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
10 oz
Heel
39 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
10 mm
Toe
29 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
10
Upper
10
Sole unit
9.0
Landing
9.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
9.0
Value / Price
7.0
Team review
We picked the Triumph 21 as the best Max Cushion shoe because of how everything just works in this shoe. From the comfort of the upper to the cushioning feeling when you step in them, you can feel it's a premium shoe from the first time you wear them. The Triumphs are very light for the amount of cushioning they provide, they have a friendly 10mm drop and the upper is very breathable. The competition for the best max cushion shoe this year has been fierce, but we feel we can recommend the Triumph 21 to most runners in search for plush cushioning and a comfortable long run.
Read full review

Runner up

Nike Vomero 17

$160 at Nike
In short
The Nike Vomero 17 is a good, premium trainer that delivers a cushioned, stable ride. It has a balanced ride suitable for most types of runs. While it isn't as exciting as some of the other premium trainers, it excels in outsole durability. Version 17 is an improvement over version 16. It has a plusher, more energetic ride with smoother transitions due to the removal of the outdated Zoom airbag.
Pros

  • Smoother ride due to the removal of the airbag
  • Lighter than previous version
  • Extremely durable outsole
  • Softer ride
Cons

  • Warm upper due to the inner sleeve
  • Price has increased
Who should buy it

If you’re a runner looking for a more modern, more engaging Pegasus, the Vomero 17 is the shoe for you. The ZoomX in its midsole gives it a much more exciting ride than the boring Pegasus ride.

Who should not buy it

If you’re looking for a similar ride to the Pegasus Turbo 2, you should skip the Vomero 17 because it’s much heavier and not as fast. The Vomero 17 is more of a daily trainer than a shoe you can use for speedwork.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
10.6 oz
Heel
39 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
10 mm
Toe
29 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
8.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
6.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
10
Value / Price
7.0
Team review
The Vomero 17 has probably gone under the radar this year, but it's a fantastic update to a very comfortable, smooth riding shoe. Brandon, in his review, defined it the best Nike trainer in the 2023 range because of how good it felt while running. Although it has a very high stack it is also very stable - so it can help neutral runners whose form might degrade towards the end of a long run. It is softer and more comfortable than before and it weights less than last year's version.
Read full review

Also consider

Asics Superblast

$199 at Amazon.com
In short
The ASICS Superblast is a versatile, maximalist trainer without a carbon plate. It's a pricey option for those wanting a racer but who don't like carbon plates or for those wanting a speed trainer but find the Magic Speed 2 too firm. It's a distant cousin of the Novablast 3 but it's lighter, more cushioned and has a smoother ride.
Pros

  • Super smooth transitions
  • Highly cushioned ride
  • Excellent stability
  • Lightweight
Cons

  • No trampoline-like bounce
  • Outsole picks up stones
  • Heavy price tag
Who should buy it

If you’re a runner who loves the Novablast 3 but you want a smoother ride with more cushioning and stability, the Superblast is the shoe for you. The Superblast is also for those wanting a versatile trainer/racer which can be used for virtually every type of run.

Who should not buy it

If you want a soft ride with a high level of speed assistance, the Superblast is not for you. It doesn’t have a carbon plate so it’s not as propulsive as a conventional super shoe.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
8.4 oz
Heel
45.5 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
8 mm
Toe
37.5 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
9.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
8.0
Value / Price
5.0
Team review
Building on the success of the Novablast series, Asics launched the Superblast this year to an incredible reception. The Superblast is really stable, plush and smooth-riding - but what's most incredible is the light weight. It's like a cushioned super-shoe without the carbon plate. It's quite expensive at $220 list price so it's not for everyone - but if you are looking for something different in a max cushion shoe, try the Superblast.
Read full review

Best for Fast Training

We have seen shoes for everyday running, shoes for your long, slow days.

Now we are looking at the shoes you wear when you want to train for speed. Tempo workouts, fartlek, repeats, track days... what do you wear when you want to go fast?

The winner

Hoka One One Mach X

$179 at Holabird Sports
In short
The Hoka Mach X is an excellent new speed trainer which has a versatile ride. It shares more in common with the Rocket X 2 than the Mach 5 because it has a soft, energetic ride as a result of the Profly X layer in its midsole. The Mach X fills the important role of the plated speed trainer which has been missing from the Hoka lineup.
Pros

  • Good energy return
  • Excellent lockdown
  • Great durability
  • Versatile ride
  • Very stable
Cons

  • Slightly too expensive
  • Runs a half size small
Who should buy it

If you love the Rocket X 2 and you’re looking for a similar ride in a cheaper, more durable package, the Mach X is the perfect shoe for you.

Who should not buy it

If you’re looking for a trainer with a similar ride to the Mach 5, the Mach X is not for you. It’s softer, stiffer and a lot heavier than the Mach 5.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
9.4 oz
Heel
mm
Carbon plate
Plate in other materials
Heel drop
5 mm
Toe
mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
10
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
9.0
Landing
9.0
Transition
9.0
Toe-off
9.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
9.0
Value / Price
7.0
Team review
Brandon defines the Mach X "the most versatile training shoe I've tested this year" - and believe me, he tested a lot of shoes. It's a shoe you can run a race with, you can do faster workouts or go extremely long mileage. It's soft, it's durable and it can easily pick up the pace. One of the shoes of the year full stop.
Read full review

Runner up

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2

$179 at RunningWarehouse.Com
In short
The New Balance SuperComp Trainer v2 is an excellent, versatile maximalist trainer which delivers a plush, energetic ride. It’s capable of recovery, easy, long runs and uptempo workouts but it feels more comfortable at slower paces. Version 2 has a brand new upper and midsole which makes it more comfortable, and lighter but less cushioned.
Pros

  • Improved upper comfort
  • Weight reduction
  • Better versatility
  • More stable ride
Cons

  • More suited to slow paces than fast paces
  • Less of a rockered ride
  • Less bouncy than v1
Who should buy it

If you are looking for a speed trainer which has a very soft, cushioned ride, the SuperComp Trainer is a great option. If you want a cheaper, more durable version of the SuperComp Elite v3, it’s also a great option.

Who should not buy it

If you enjoy minimal speed trainers which have lots of ground feel, the SuperComp Trainer v2 is not for you.

Main Specs
Type
Cushioning
Weight
9.7 oz
Heel
40 mm
Carbon plate
Full length carbon plate
Heel drop
6 mm
Toe
34 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
9.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
7.0
Value / Price
8.0
Team review
If you are a marathon runner, the NB FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 (that's a terrible name for a shoe) could be your one shoe that does it all. It's a bouncy shoe that feels responsive and fast. It's comfortable and well cushioned and it feels at ease at a variety of paces. It's priced very competitively for a carbon-plated trainer and has a near-perfect combination of plushness and responsiveness.
Read full review

Also consider

Saucony Kinvara Pro

$178 at Amazon.com
In short
The Kinvara Pro is an exciting new, stiff speed trainer with a carbon plate. It performs well at a variety of paces due to its stable ride and its snappy forefoot. It’s a great training companion for the Endorphin Pro and Elite if you want a similar ride at a cheaper price point. While it doesn’t have as much bounce or energy return as other speed trainers, it still has a fast, propulsive ride.
Pros

  • Stiff ride, similar to the Saucony racers
  • Stable ride for such a thick midsole
  • Energy-saving forefoot rocker
  • Comfortable upper
  • Highly cushioned
Cons

  • Midsole foams feel a bit flat
  • Low outsole durability
  • Narrow fit
Who should buy it

If you find the Endorphin Speed 3 too soft or flexible for speed training, the Kinvara Pro is a good option which delivers a more similar feel to the Saucony super shoes. It has a more stable, snappier ride.

Who should not buy it

If you prefer minimal rides with a lot of ground feel, look elsewhere because the Kinvara Pro is a firm, maximalist trainer. If you like flexible, natural rides, the Kivara Pro is also not for you.

Main Specs
Type
Lightweight
Weight
8.4 oz
Heel
42 mm
Carbon plate
Half length carbon plate
Heel drop
8 mm
Toe
34 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
8.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
7.0
Landing
8.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
8.0
Durability
7.0
Value / Price
8.0
Team review
With the introduction of their Endorphin line of shoes, meant for everything from fast training (Endorphin Shift and Speed) to racing (Endorphin Pro and Elite), the Kinvara suffered a bit of an identity crisis. Enter the Kinvara Pro: lightweight, highly-cushioned and stable with a half carbon plate in its midsole. It's a shoe that's comfortable in fast training and in racing and it has a very interesting price for this kind of shoe. It didn't get as much hype as the other releases in the Endorphin line, but the Kinvara Pro is an excellent shoe and a great way to step into fast training.
Read full review

Best for Trail Running

We don't really need to explain the concept of trail running and why it requires a specialised running shoe.

A good trail running shoe has good traction, protection from the elements (be it water, rocks or sticks) and must feel comfortable over long distances on very uneven terrains.

You should tailor your choice of trail running shoes based on the terrain you will most likely run on. We call "more technical" trail shoes that are meant to deal with increasingly harsh conditions: from ice to slippery terrain, from very vertical climbs to rapid descents.

There are tons of trail running shoes, if this selection is not enough for you don't hesitate reading our selection of the best trail running shoes, where we look at many more shoes in more detail.

The winner

Hoka One One Stinson 7

$169 at RunningWarehouse.Com
In short
The HOKA Stinson 7 provides an exceptionally stable, reliable, highly cushioned ride for road to non-technical trails. For everyday training or longer efforts where the terrain varies between roads, grass, and gravel, the Stinson 7 goes the distance in plush comfort.
Pros

  • Exceptionally stable on road and non-technical terrain
  • Plush cushioning
  • High stack protects from underfoot hazards
Cons

  • Subpar agility in tight spaces and on rocks
  • Outsole can get slippery on rock when wet
  • Break-in period may be required before optimal comfort
Who should buy it

For a road-to-trail runner or non-technical trail runner or hiker looking for a stable, maximalist shoe to go the distance in comfort.

Who should not buy it

Trail runners who primarily run on technical, uneven terrain with tight rocks where a lot of agility is required or speed is the focus.

Main Specs
Type
Trail
Weight
12.7 oz
Heel
45 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
5 mm
Toe
40 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
9.0
Build quality
9.0
Upper
8.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
9.0
Transition
8.0
Toe-off
6.0
Traction
6.0
Durability
9.0
Value / Price
8.0
Team review
The Hoka Stinson 7 takes the crown as best "road-to-trail" running shoe. Its main selling point (aside from looking great) is its comfort. It has the plush cushioning you expect from a Hoka shoe, but it is also very stable - protecting you from the wrong step. It is not meant for very technical terrains, but it's meant to take you from home to the wild and back feeling comfortable and protected. The Stinson 7’s versatility runs the gamut of uses from reliable ultra-distance training and racing, hiking, to being comfortably and casually on-trend.
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Runner up

Asics Fuji Lite 4

$129 at Amazon.com
In short
The Fuji lite 4 is a fantastic versatile trail shoe for the masses. The updates have made the shoe livelier and improved outsole traction leaves no trail unobtainable.
Pros

  • Amazing traction
  • Nimble and quick
  • Comfortable well fitting upper
  • Durable construction
Cons

  • No rock plate
  • Outsole has the ability to clog in muddier terrain.
Who should buy it

Trail runners wanting a versatile and quick shoe for daily mid distance mileage over all types of terrain.

Who should not buy it

Runners that like a highly or softer cushioned shoe.

Main Specs
Type
Trail
Weight
9.4 oz
Heel
33 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
4 mm
Toe
29 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
10
Build quality
10
Upper
10
Sole unit
10
Landing
10
Transition
10
Toe-off
10
Traction
9.0
Durability
10
Value / Price
10
Team review
The Fuji Lite 4 is a nimble shoe ready to tackle every terrain. It's a lower-stack shoe, and that helps you feel connected to the ground. One of its main strengths is the great grip on a variety of technical terrains. It does not have a rockplate - so if you run on rocky terrains you will definitely feel them under your foot, but the toebox-cap really does an amazing job at protecting your toes. It's a shoe built for speed.
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Also consider

Saucony Peregrine 13

$128 at Amazon.com
In short
The Peregrine 13 continues its legacy as a lighter weight nimble trail shoe but now with more cushioning and greater protection. This shoe is a great choice for any trail runner looking for a responsive Gripping shoe for everything from easy runs to racing.
Pros

  • Well tractioned
  • Responsive
  • Breatheable and light weight
  • Comfortable rock plate
  • Balanced cushioning
Cons

  • Outsole not suited for pavement
  • Slightly narrow toebox
  • Rigid lower heel counter.
Who should buy it

Neutral trail runners looking for a trail shoe that con do it all.

Who should not buy it

Higher volumes feet runners or runners wanting a race specific shoe.

Main Specs
Type
Trail
Weight
9.2 oz
Heel
28 mm
Carbon plate
No plate
Heel drop
4 mm
Toe
24 mm
Rating breakdown
Comfort
10
Build quality
10
Upper
10
Sole unit
10
Landing
10
Transition
10
Toe-off
10
Traction
10
Durability
10
Value / Price
10
Team review
The Peregrine is known for its excellent grip, lighter weight, and nimble platform. Technical trails and fast tracks is where this shoe excel thanks to amazing grip and a fantastic midsole. The Peregrine 13 sports a rockplate, which you can't really feel because of the cushioning. The cushioning, traction and agility of the Peregrine make it a shoe that is at easy in many places.
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Quick Questions you might have

What is the best brand of running shoes?

We have tested more than 1200 pairs of running shoes here at Running Shoes Guru, and we can comfortably say that there is no better brand. There is too much competition, any brand that was not good would not have survived.

Do running shoes matter for beginners?

Choosing the correct running shoe, if anything, is even more important for a beginner. Your body is not used to the stress of running and the right running shoe will help you be gentle on your body - but choosing the wrong running shoe could make your running experience terrible.

How much should I spend on running shoes?

There are decent running shoes for around $70. More expensive running shoes are usually better but there are dimishing return. This means that going from $70 to $100 gives you a much better shoe, but going from $150 to $180 the difference is not as much. Overall I would say that a shoe in the $100-$120 range would be ideal for a beginner. If you can find a good deal, even better.

Can I run in non-running shoes?

Technically you can, of course - but it's not recommended. The running stride and motion is very specific - and has nothing to do with the motion of other sports such as tennis, basketball, weight lifting....