The 10 Best Skechers Running Shoes

Michael Charboneau
·10 min read
Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Runner's World

The West Coast counterweight to New England-based running shoe brands like Saucony and New Balance, Skechers doesn’t have the traditional, 100-year-old running roots of some of its East Coast competitors. Although Skechers is still a baby of a company (relative to others) and its influence on the running shoe market is even newer, the company has made itself into a contender in the race for running shoe dominance.

Skechers launched in 1992 and leapt headfirst into the grunge era with, of course, a big black combat boot. Its popular line of Roadies sneakers, which were a simple, everyday wear-around shoe, helped the brand gain prominence in the mid-90s. The company’s innovations for runners have come more recently; Skechers created its GOrun line of running shoes in 2011, and a number of remarkable kicks have come from the line since.

Skechers’s Rapid Running Success

The GOrun shoe, a minimalist, lightweight (6.9 oz for a men’s size 9) trainer, was the first in the GOrun lineup, and it made clear Skechers’s commitment to high-performance running shoes. With the GOrun, Skechers was no longer making athletic shoes that you could run in—it was making running-specific shoes designed for you to run in. In 2011, runner Meb Keflezighi signed a professional contract with Skechers, and he helped the company refine its racing-flat design by giving detailed feedback on his shoes. The collaboration between Keflezighi and Skechers led to the GOmeb racing-shoe line, and in 2014, Meb won the Boston Marathon while wearing a pair of the GOmeb Speed 3.

The Latest in Skechers Running

Skechers has continued to build on its running successes since then. In 2017, the company debuted Ultra Flight foam and used it in shoes like the GOrun Maxtrail and Maxroad. This proprietary TPU-based material is designed to be lighter and bouncier than older foams like EVA, so you get the same level of cushioning with less weight and more energy return. More recently, Skechers created a ton of buzz with the release of its Hyper Burst foam on the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper in late 2018. Essentially, Hyper Burst is EVA foam that has been exposed to supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2 gas that’s heated under pressure until it turns to a liquid). This creates irregular-shaped pockets in the foam, making it lighter and bouncier than normal EVA while still just as durable.

How We Tested

We’ve tested many of the shoes below, and the others we’re in the process of testing. That means getting feedback from our Runner’s World staff and team of over 350 wear testers, as well as analyzing the shoes in our lab. We’ve performed a battery of mechanical tests to assess the energy return of Skechers’s Hyper Burst foam, the traction of its Goodyear rubber outsoles, and the breathability of its knit and mono-mesh upper materials. Where possible, we’ve linked to full reviews for a more in-depth look at an individual shoe’s performance. For those shoes that we haven’t personally laced up, we rely on our own research, extensive experience, and consultation with product engineers. Long story short, Skechers has come a long way since the ’90s (haven’t we all?), and it has only gotten better at creating shoes for runners.

—THROWBACK AESTHETICS—

OG Hyper

To celebrate the (almost) 10-year anniversary of the original GOrun shoe, Skechers launched the OG Hyper, and it’s a nod to the minimalist craze that was raging back in 2011. With its chunky overlays, the upper recalls the design of the first GOrun, but the midsole is all modern: It’s made from Hyper Burst cushioning, so you can expect a quick, snappy ride. However, the sparse rubber placements on the outsole might present some durability issues.

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—BEST DAILY TRAINER—

GOrun 7+

The GOrun is a lightweight, neutral trainer suitable for daily workouts, and it was the second Skechers shoe (after the GOrun Razor 3) to get upgraded with the company’s Hyper Burst foam. Like its predecessor, the foam is still the main highlight, and it provides a fast, bouncy—if somewhat firm—feel underfoot. But, the upper gets a massive improvement; gone is the sock-style ankle collar in favor of a much more secure, traditional lacing system for a locked-in fit when you’re cranking at faster paces. Goodyear rubber pods on the outsole add durability, and the grooved sole allows the shoe to flex with your foot for a smooth ride. “I’m excited about the future of Skechers, and this shoe is one of the reasons why—Hyper Burst feels like a lighter version of Adidas’s Boost foam with a little more pop,” said one tester. “This a lively, responsive, and fun shoe to run fast in.”

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—BEST BARGAIN—

GOrun Razor 3 Hyper

Fans of the New Balance RC 1400 and the original Reebok Floatride Run Fast will find a kindred spirit in the Razor. Like those shoes, it’s exceptionally lightweight and delivers good cushioning underfoot, but its heel-to-toe offset is slightly lower. That means the heel won’t feel quite as soft as those other two, but it still has the versatility for uptempo workouts—both on the track or pavement—and can be used for races from 5K on up to the marathon. During hill workouts, we found that it was lively on the climb but not punishing when we cruised back down. Just don’t expect something cushy soft. Hyper Burst foam feels surprisingly firm underfoot, despite earning average scores for softness in the heel in tests at our RW Shoe Lab. (Its forefoot cushioning scores were actually slightly softer than average.)

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—BEST FOR RACING—

GOrun Speed Elite Hyper

When Skechers looked to add a carbon plate to its fastest shoe, it did so with the goal of increasing rigidity without adding weight. To do it, the company designed a “winglet” system using a carbon-fiber polymer that’s 40 percent lighter than a full-length plate. Banana-shaped wings at the edges of the forefoot allow your foot to flex laterally, and then direct forces forward as you go through your stride. Everything else on this shoe is stripped to the bare minimum, including the see-through mono-mesh upper and the thin layer of Hyper Burst foam underfoot. The trade-off is durability: In only 185 miles, one tester wore away nearly all the foam under the lateral winglet. “This shoe is the answer for someone seeking a carbon-fiber racer with springy responsiveness, but a more minimal feel,” he said. “The stack height is much lower than Nike’s 4% or a Hoka.”

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—BEST FOR RECOVERY RUNS—

GOrun Ride 8 Hyper

Skechers swapped the Flight Gen foam found in the last version of the Ride for its new Hyper Burst foam, which gives this shoe light, responsive, and durable midsole cushioning. The new foam also lowers the overall weight of the shoe, but the stack heights remain fairly consistent. Goodyear rubber on the outsole should provide good traction and durability, and the shoe comes topped with a knit upper and a removable insole for a dialed-in fit. “The ride was plush, but not too soft that it felt squishy. As a heel striker, I felt a nice cushion when landing; the cushioning was my favorite feature overall,” one tester said. “I always felt secure and had no issues with my foot sliding around inside the shoe.”

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—BEST FOR LONG RUNS—

GOrun MaxRoad 4+

With the MaxRoad 4+, Skechers optimized the Hyper Burst cushioning platform for covering long distances quickly. There’s plenty of foam, but this shoe is lighter than the ultra-plush Ride, and with its grooved sole, it’s designed to create a cushioned ride that still feels light and fast. The durable Goodyear rubber outsole can handle high-mileage runs, and the lightweight mesh upper will keep your feet cool. Our four testers unanimously pegged the shoe’s plush yet light cushioning as their favorite feature, but felt that the comfy midsole just didn’t have the cozy fit to match; the sizing runs a little short, and the toe box feels rather narrow.

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—BEST FOR SPEEDWORK—

GOmeb Speed 6 Cloak Hyper

Skechers continued its GOmeb line of speed shoes with this Cloak iteration, which swaps in a zebra-print upper for added style points. Aesthetics aside, it’s impressively light, features a full-length Hyper Burst midsole, and it now comes in both men’s and women’s sizes (Skechers previously offered it only in unisex sizing). There’s also an injected nylon plate in the midsole for extra stability and responsiveness, and an external heel counter on the upper ensures a locked-in fit. “The cushioning is on the firmer side, but I still found this shoe adequate for my runs on concrete sidewalks,” one tester said. “But, I definitely prefer it for shorter efforts—or speedwork, given how light it is—rather than long runs.”

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—BEST FOR CROSS-COUNTRY—

GOrun Speed XCR Ultra

Aimed squarely at cross-country runners, this stripped-down racing flat is inspired by Skechers athlete Edward Chesarek (that’s where the “King Ches” decal on the upper comes from). The shoe features a super light, breathable mesh upper with a knitted collar for a close fit—and to guard against trail debris. Grooves along the outsole help the shoe flex with your stride, and sections of lugged rubber under the forefoot and heel help you maintain a sure grip through hills and corners. It’s also available in a spiked version.

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—MOST VERSATILE—

GOrun Razor+

The Razor+ utilizes the same Hyper Burst midsole as the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper (which we honored with an Editors’ Choice award), but it includes some extra features for traction and a comfier ride. Compared to the Razor 3, the Razor+ has a softer mesh upper and additional rubber on the outsole for added grip, but the midsole and stack height are the same. That means you’ll get a lightweight, highly responsive shoe that feels fast enough for race day, but still packs plenty of cushioning for training miles. Of the seven testers we had in the shoe, each one gave the Razor+ full marks for its impressive lightness. “It may sound like damning the shoe with faint praise, but it is really astounding how light this shoe is,” one tester said. “Despite its lightness, this is not a flimsy shoe. It performs as a daily trainer that’s plenty responsive to transition easily from easy days to speedwork and even races.”

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—BEST STABILITY SHOE—

GOrun Forza 4 Hyper

The Forza 4 is Skechers’s take on a support shoe. The main support feature is the dual-density midsole, which uses a combination of responsive Hyper Burst foam and firmer Ultra Flight foam under the arch to counter overpronation and keep your feet aligned. It also features a generous full Goodyear rubber outsole for added grip and stability, and the lightweight mesh upper comes with a built-in heel counter for a secure fit. “I loved the traction the Forza provided on wet roads—it’s my go-to shoe for rainy days now—and I was surprised by how light it was for a stability shoe. I usually run in a neutral shoe, and the weight difference wasn’t noticeable,” one tester said. “The cushioning is resilient, as well, and doesn’t lose its bounce by the end of my 17 milers.”

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