How we decided

We purchase all the shoes we review and test them for over 50 miles. We don't receive free samples from companies and provide only expert, unbiased opinions. If you purchase from our links we might get a little commission from the retailer, this allows us to buy the shoes we test.
Published November 14th, 2018

If this is your first time buying running shoes, try also our running shoe finder: answer 5 simple questions and we'll recommend a few shoes that can work for you.

Let's start with the best running shoes for most people: these are shoes that received high praise from both our testers, our readers and the running community in general.

Best Running Shoes for Most People

The Asics Gel Cumulus 20 is a smooth fitting and sturdy feeling daily trainer with an emphasis on rearfoot+forefoot cushioning for shock absorption. It’s priced competitively for what it offers, and follows in the footsteps of a successful line of shoes. Read full review »

Pros

  • Premium tech at a standard price
  • Redesigned stylish upper
  • Durable outsole and upper

Cons

  • Can feel too sturdy/stiff for midfoot runners
The Brooks Glycerin 16 is a maximal cushion trainer for any neutral runner. The fit and cushion is great, and this could be a great marathon shoe for anyone. Read full review »

Pros

  • Tons of cushion
  • Good flexibility
  • Great traction
  • Breathable
  • Comfortable upper

Cons

  • Insole moved when running a race in the rain
  • Took a very long time to dry after wet runs

Most people will do very well in a neutral shoe, but if you need some stability (like I do) these shoes are trued and tested.

Best Support (Stability) Running Shoes for Most People

The Adrenaline GTS is a staple support shoe from Brooks. This shoe offers a very supported run while still allowing you to go fast when needed. Our tester says that it is a step above the rest in the stability game. Its biggest advantage is to provide great support while not feeling heavy. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight shoe that gives a high amount of support.
  • Redesigned upper.
  • Impressive amount of colorways available.

Cons

  • Light construction and high heel drop clashed at times.
I loved running in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 and I don't plan to stop doing so any time soon. Very comfortable shoe for my flat foot, nicely cushioned but responsive thanks to the wave plate. Feels lighter than it is. Read full review »

Pros

  • Good stability throughout the whole gait
  • Soft cushioning
  • Really comfortable upper
  • Good fit for my foot, with securely locked heel, wrapping midfoot and good room in the toebox

Cons

  • $130 price point maybe a bit high
  • The 12mm drop might be a little too high, if you are used to land on your midfoot.

If you already have a daily, high-mileage training shoe and are looking for a lighter, faster option to add to your rotation we recommend you to try these:

Best Fast Training Running Shoes for Most People

Kinvara is possibly Saucony's most successful shoe, used by many to train and race marathons. A low weight and low heel drop will push you to your toes and increase your tempo. Read full review »

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, yet responsive ride
  • Versatile
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transition
  • Improved outsole for traction

Cons

  • Pro-lock technology in the midfoot upper is unnecessary and can restrict natural foot movement if not adjusted properly.
The ASICS Gel DS Trainer 23 combines support with performance; thanks to a springy Flytefoam midsole and redesigned upper. It continues to be the sleeper hit from ASICS. Read full review »

Pros

  • Dependable trainer. Equal parts supportive and fast.
  • Lightweight and springy midsole.
  • Redone upper material with adaptive mesh.

Cons

  • Narrow fit.
  • Tongue too thin.
  • Limited color options.

These shoes are for runners who look for the most cushioned, soft ride there is.

Best Maximal Running Shoes for Most People

The Saucony Triumph is a top-of-the-line trainer that can log tons of miles and just keep going. I put over 100 miles on these shoes prior to finalizing my review, and they were great from mile one. Sacuony has created a truly great shoe, and one I will happily continue wearing past this review. Read full review »

Pros

  • Ample cushioning for all runs
  • Very flexible and you can push the pace
  • Upper is soft and supportive
  • The ISOFIT upper adapts to your feet as you run

Cons

  • Tongue can bunch on longer runs
  • Costly
If you are not afraid of a zero-drop, the Altra Paradigm 4.0 is an ultra-cushioned daily trainer that is ready to tackle the high miles while providing a zero-drop set up. With lots of top-level technologies, you'll pay for the plush shoe. Read full review »

Pros

  • Tons of cushion
  • Super wide toe box
  • Light weight for the cushion
  • Good energy return
  • Soft, breathable upper

Cons

  • Slightly tight on the midfoot
  • Zero-drop takes getting used to

If you are ready to lace up for race day, here are the shoes we recommend to most people. For more options, please check our marathon-specific selection.

Best Running Shoes for Marathon Racing

The 890 returns with a list of improvements from its predecessors. The shoe has a lot of the same attributes that made it a solid daily performance shoe but is definitely more attractive than ever. Read full review »

Pros

  • Engineered mesh upper that has excellent, comfort, breathability, and durability.
  • New last improves the fit from previous versions.
  • RevLite foam midsole material

Cons

  • Heavier than previous version.
If you are competing for the podium, the Zoom Fly are amongst the best marathon racing shoes that still will fit most people. The Zoom Fly is the more affordable version of the Zoom Vaporfly 4% and is a serious contender for best value for performance marathon shoe ever. Read full review »

Pros

  • New sole materials and design for efficient running
  • Snug lacing system
  • Full rubber coverage under forefoot
  • Simple and effective upper design

Cons

  • This shoe is in a class by itself and only competes against the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%

Trail Running is quite a generic term that includes running over a variety of terrains, inclines and mileage. We believe the shoes listed below offer a good choice for all your trail running needs.

If you want a more in-depth look at trail running shoes, check our dedicated article.

Best Trail Running Shoes for Most People

This is a shoe that works on all terrain save – maybe – for the most technical. The Challenger ATR 4 is a trail shoe that can handle pavement, while also boasting a lot of cushioning but overall is lighter than most other trail shoes. Read full review »

Pros

  • Comfort and cushioning
  • Roomy toe box
  • Great option for combination trail and road runs

Cons

  • Smallish lugs don’t handle mud well
  • Not the best option for technical terrain
If you are planning to hit difficult trails, but still looking for a very versatile shoe, you might consider these. The New Balance Hierro v3 is a beast of a trail runner that can log lots of miles on multiple surfaces. At an affordable price point, it is worth a look. Read full review »

Pros

  • Tons of cushion for the long trail runs
  • Vibram outsole grabs everything
  • Sock-like upper keeps dirt out
  • Quick turnover with the aggressive upturn on the toe
  • Wide base keeps it stable on most trails

Cons

  • Not a lot of structure to the upper
  • Wide base means narrow trails can be hard to navigate

Although our recommendation is to buy a previous version of a current running shoe (you can easily find last year’s version of a shoe for up to 40% discount, scoring you a $100 shoe for $60), some of the running shoes in the $60-$80 range are actually quite good.

Here are our favorites, and watch this video to let Frank explain to you why you shouldn’t buy EXTREMELY cheap running shoes.

Best Cheap Running Shoes

The Saucony Cohesion is our favorite low-budget running shoe. It looks great, it has no bells and whistles or the latest Saucony technology but still manages to provide a comfortable, cushioned run weighting less than 10 ounces. Definitely recommended as a no-nonsense running shoe for daily training
The Asics Gel-Flux 5 brings a total redesign to the Gel-Flux series, including the signature GEL rearfoot cushioning system and guidance systems in the midsole. The shoe competes as a daily trainer in the affordable price point category. Read full review »

Pros

  • Style and material upgrades
  • Solid fit with no hot spots

Cons

  • Odd material choices on sidewall

What are the best running shoes?

Possibly the most asked questions by our readers and any person who knows I run this site, “what are the best running shoes” is not an easy question to answer!

Running shoes are a very personal matter. So personal in fact that a recent medical research established that comfort and fit are the most important matter while selecting a running shoe in terms of minimizing the risk of injury.

For this reason, it is impossible to make a list that will be valid for everyone.

We are a team of testers with different running experience, body shapes and sizes, individual bio-mechanics. This always updated list is divided into different sections so that every runner can find the best running shoes for them.

Here are a few pointers and definitions to help you choose correctly.

Neutral (or cushioning) running shoes vs stability (or support)

Traditionally, all running shoes are divided into Neutral running shoes or Stability running shoes.

This is based on the concept (lately less popular) that the height and elasticity of your foot arch determines what your shoe should do for you.

  • Runners with high arches don’t amortise the shock of impact with the ground enough, therefore needing shoes with extra cushioning
  • Runners with low or flat arches have their arch collapse under the impact resulting in mis-alignment of the running gait, therefore needing shoes that correct this issue

Although there is much more to choosing a pair of running shoes than this, most runners will be find in Netrual (cushioning) running shoes. Some runners though (like me) absolutely do need stability in their shoes in order not to get injured.

Low drop or zero drop running shoes

A running shoe drop, or heel-to-toe offset, is the difference, measured in millimiters (mm) between the height of the shoe sole in the heel area vs the height of the sole in the toe area.
For reference, traditional running shoes usually have an offset (drop) of 12mm. Low drop are considered shoes with a drop between zero (called zero drop) and 4mm. Everything in between is also possible.

The logic is: shoes with a higher heel will favor heel strike during running, while shoes with a zero or low drop will favor a more forefoot or midfoot running gait. It is largely a matter of preference, but running on your toes requires a completely different set of muscle activation and switching from one kind of shoe to the other without proper conditioning and a very gradual approach might result in injury.

Minimal vs maximal running shoes

In a nutshell minimal vs maximal refers to the amount of cushioning that the shoe gives to the runners.

Starting in 2009, more and more runners have been promoting a barefoot running idea: shoes are bad for you, you should run barefoot or, if that is not possible, with “as little shoe as possible”. Milions of runners made the switch to minimalism and quite a few got injured. As a result, companies came out with running shoes that are lightweight (one of the principles of minimalism) but with very high, soft soles that really cushion the foot.

There is not a right or wrong type of shoe here – it entirely depends on the runner, their style and preferences.

Premium running shoes vs cheap running shoes

A high price tag is not a guarantee that a shoe is better than another. This said, we always recommend to shop for running shoes that have a recommended retail price of $100 or more.
This does not mean you need to pay more than $100! New versions of running shoes are released every year and – most often than not – changes versus the previous version are small and incremental in nature. This means that instead of buying this year version of a shoe, you can very often buy last year’s model for a fraction of the price, often as low as 50% less.

Trail running shoes vs road running shoes

While the distinction might seem obvious, it’s good to mention some points that differentiate a trail running shoe from a road one.

  • Trail-specific outsoles: the bottom of a trail running shoe usually has a layer of very grippy rubber to avoid slipping over ice, rocks or wet pavement. The shoe will often present aggressively designed lugs to maintain traction in grass, mud or gravel.
  • Rock plates: some trail shoes ahve rigid inserts that protect the foot from sharp rocks or stone bruises. This makes the shoe stiffer, but this protection is mandatory on certain kind of terrain
  • Protective toe bumper: similar to the rock plate, most trail shoes have hardened toe areas to protect your toes from the damage caused by, for example, kicking a rock
  • Weather resistant uppers: very often trail running shoes have water resistant upper, higher collars or special lacing systems that help keeping water, mud or small rocks outside of the shoe.

Daily training running shoes vs racing/speedwork running shoes

The last distinction we want to highlight is the difference between high mileage, every day shoes vs shoes for speedwork and racing.

It has become a common practice for runners all over the world to have at least two separate pair of shoes:

  • A pair of traditional, highly cushioned and comfortable running shoes in which they log the majority of their training mileage. These shoes are usually heavier and with a high drop.
  • A pair of lightweight, low drop shoes to be used when they train at slower distances and higher paces. Or on race day.

This web site uses cookies. Click Accept to continue. Review Our Cookie Policy

On these and other websites owned by RSG Media BV we use cookies and other similar techniques.

We place and use different types of cookies for the following purposes:

Functional cookies:
To make our websites work as intended.

Analytical cookies:
To collect and analyze statistics to improve the experience on our websites and the effectiveness of advertisements.

Tracking cookies:
To build personal profiles of you so that we can show you targeted content and advertisements that match your interests.

Social cookies:
To allow you to share your reaction through 'likes' or commentary.

In addition, third parties (which are partly outside the EU) can place cookies on our websites, including tracking cookies that can also be used to build up a profile of you. Tracking cookies may have an impact on your privacy.

By giving your consent below, you agree that we place and read cookies on all our websites (see this overview) and combine these collected data.

Your consent remains valid for 6 months unless you withdraw it.

Close