Comfort is king. In fact, some RW Shoe Lab. Each shoe on this list was ranked on overall performance, and also earned especially high scores from our testers in three specific categories: fit, cushioning, and—of course—comfort. The five shoes below promise a cozy fit. Scroll down for more shoes like these, plus in-depth reviews of each—and some buying advice.that when you choose a shoe simply because it’s comfortable, you’re less likely to get injured. So to guide you on your sole searching, we’ve highlighted the models that offer a “made-for-me” sensation, based on extensive feedback from more than 300 wear-testers and data from the
Find Your Fit
A shoe will never be comfy if you don’t have the correct fit. We advise to give yourself a full thumbnail’s width at the toe and also ensure that you have enough volume in the shoe. When you’re laced up, check how many fingers you can fit between the top pair of eyelets right over your bunny ears. It should be two—one finger means the shoe is too loose and you’ve tied your laces too snug to overcompensate; three can feel like your foot is bulging out of the upper. If you land in the first camp, try sizing down, adding a thicker insole to the shoe, or opting for a narrow fit. For more room, you might bump up a size, choose a wide fit, or swap in a thinner insole (or remove the sockliner altogether). Always keep in mind that you’re feet swell during a run, so it’s better to err on the side of a roomier shoe if you find yourself between sizes.
How We Test
Runner’s World has the most comprehensive shoe testing process in the industry. We work with more than 300 local runners of all ability, age, and size, for real-world wear-testing on paved roads, dirt paths, and rocky singletrack trails. After a month of running more than 100 miles, our testers report back their findings on features like fit, comfort, performance, and ride. While our testers are putting miles on the shoes, the same models undergo a battery of mechanical tests in our shoe lab, to objectively measure each shoe’s cushioning, flexibility, sole thickness, and weight. Our test editors combine their own experience in the shoe with data from the lab and feedback from our wear testers to create reliable, useful reviews of every shoe we test.
—BEST TRULY ZERO-DROP—
Altra Escalante 2
Testers raved about the Escalante’s comfort, with one tester declaring it “a stellar shoe that keeps one of the best rides in running going strong.” Boasting the company’s breathable flat-knit upper and a bouncy Ego midsole compound, the Escalante offers a responsive, go-fast sensation in both training and on race day. While the 2’s midsole feels a bit stiffer, the foam is still about as springy as it gets, according to RW Shoe Lab data.
—BEST DAILY TRAINER—
Brooks Ghost 12
Brooks’s jack-of-all-trades trainer is the kind of shoe you wear all the time, even when you’re not running—it’s that comfortable. Compared to the previous model, the 12 kept what we loved (like its über-soft DNA Loft midsole) while adding a few comfort-boosting features (like a better-fitting 3D printed upper). “From its soft, padded tongue to its silky smooth ankle collar and cushioning, it’s hard to rate this shoe as anything less than ultra comfortable, super stable, sturdy, and true to size,” one tester said.
—HIGH ENERGY RETURN—
Puma Speed 600 2
Hybrid foam—that mosaic of midsole pebbles—offers plenty of cushioning; however, it also adds some bulk to this shoe. But, even though our shoe lab placed the 600 2 in the “heavy” range, our wear testers found this Puma to ride remarkably light. Chalk it up to these three factors: the shoe’s moderate flexibility, a plate in the midsole that helps with propulsion, and the winning combo of two distinct foams, which provides firm cushioning and impressive rebound.
Saucony Kinvara 11
Saucony played it safe with its updates to the Kinvara 10; the 11 sees some braver changes. This version makes the switch from an EVERUN midsole to PWRRUN cushioning, which gives the shoe a much stiffer and firmer feeling overall, but also improves energy return according to our lab numbers. Testers favored the closer, wrapping fit from Kinvara’s redesigned insole, while the plusher tongue adds unexpected comfort to daily runs—without detracting from the shoe’s nimble ride.
—SOFT AND STABLE—
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
Nike built the Infinity Run with the goal to reduce running injuries—it offers more foam than the Epic React 2 in a rocker-style midsole, a flared forefoot for increased stability, and a more secure triple-layer Flyknit upper. Our testers raved about the shoe’s plush cushioning (our lab data showed to be even softer than Nike’s cushy Vomero 14) that also felt lively and energetic. “This shoe is so close to being perfect,” one tester said. “The cushioning is somehow pillowy yet responsive, but if you don’t have a foot that perfectly fits the shoe, the lacing won’t feel snug.”
—BEST FOR RECOVERY RUNS—
Adidas Ultraboost 20
The previous model of the Ultraboost was the shoe’s first update since 2015—we liked it because it finally answered runners’ prayers for a restyled upper. It swapped the old Boost’s rigid midfoot saddle for a flexible, mesh wrap that moves better with your foot on the run. Compared to the 19, The 20’s DNA remains unchanged: It’s still the softest shoe in Adidas’s Boost lineup, and the underfoot sensation remains plush, but it feels less bouncy and mushy than the earlier versions. The most notable improvement is its more locked-in fit through the heel.
—BEST FOR TRAILS—
Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2
The main updates in the Evo Mafate 2 focus on increasing comfort. It has a roomier toe box that alleviates crowding issues testers had with other Hokas, and the tough Kevlar upper gets a soft, stretchy panel over the top of the toes—you can actually see through it—that allows the shoe to expand as your feet swell. Underfoot, the tread claws mud and slop with aggressive 5mm lugs, and Vibram Megagrip rubber provides traction for traversing slick rocks. One tester even dubbed the cushioning, “among the best I’ve ever run in.”
—BEST FOR RACING—
Topo Magnifly 3
The Magnifly 3 is a standout in comfort and fit in the low-drop category. It features Topo’s signature neutral drop and wide toe box to allow your toes to naturally splay, and the dual-density EVA midsole lends just enough padding so your feet and joints won’t feel massacred after 13.1 to 26.2 miles at race pace. “There could be just a tad more cushioning in the heel area, but that may make the shoe slower,” one tester said. “The nice, firm cushion helped me speed through my workouts and races with ease.”
—BEST FOR UP-TEMPOS—
Skechers GOrun 7+
The slightly tweaked name might not suggest much of an update to the GOrun 7, but there are some major changes hidden behind that plus sign. The 7+ loses the tall sock-like collar of its predecessor and returns to traditional lacing that anchors you on a slab of bouncy, peppy HyperBurst foam. Our lab data also shows that the shoe is now softer in both the heel and forefoot, more flexible, and just as featherweight as the original (in fact, it’s actually a smidge lighter). “The lively foam and shape of the sole make this a smooth, responsive, and fun shoe to run fast in,” one tester said.
—BEST FOR LONG RUNS—
Mizuno Wave Rider Waveknit 3
The Waveknit 3 is essentially Mizuno’s Wave Rider 23 with a knit upper. The new stretchy construction embraces the foot for a snug and stable ride that feels “like slipping [your] toes into another sock,” according to one tester. It’s soft against the foot, while the midsole underneath feels even cushier, thanks to a pair of two responsive foams with a propulsive plate sandwiched between. Its plush, comfy fit makes this shoe ideal for both short speed sessions and marathon long runs.
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