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Editor’s Note: We reviewed our shoe selections on November 20, 2023 to ensure models are in stock and added other top-performing shoes from our most recent round of wear-testing. Shoes that are discounted are likely to be replaced with new models soon, so we’ve provided shopping links to retailers that still have these models in stock. We will add more new models as they are released.
🎁 Black Friday Shoe Deals 🎁
Many brands have hot deals and savings on running shoes for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Below are some of the best Black Friday deals we could find!
Up to 47% off Brooks’s Hyperion Elite, Glycerin, Adrenaline, and other models
Big discounts on Saucony’s Ride, Guide, and Triumph models
Extra 25% off Nike’s Pegasus 40, Invincible 3, Infinity RN4, and other models
Up to 25% off Asics’s Novablast, GT-2000, Nimbus, Kayano, and other models
More than 50% off the Adidas Ultraboost Light, Pureboost, Supernova, Adizero Adios, and other models
You know what you want from your running shoes: lightweight, cushioning, support, and a comfortable fit. Or maybe you’re in search of a carbon-plated running shoe. Of course, the most important part of any running shoe is your experience over the hundreds of miles you’ll take it on. To help you find your next great pair, and to get a sense of how updates to your favorite road or trail shoe may change the way it fits or performs, we review hundreds of men’s and women’s running shoes each year.
Scroll down for reviews of our top picks among cushioned shoes, racing shoes, stability models, and trail shoes. Below that, we explain how we test and select these models, plus give helpful buying tips and insight from our gear experts.
The Best Running Shoes
Best Cushioned Daily Trainer: Brooks Ghost 15
Softest Daily Trainer: Saucony Triumph 21
Best Lightweight Daily Trainer: Hoka Mach 5
Best Women’s Running Shoe: Lululemon Blissfeel 2
Best Fit Update: Nike Pegasus 40
Best Value: Asics Gel-Cumulus 25
Best Carbon-Plated Trainer: New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2
Best Marathon Racing Shoe: Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3
Training and Racing Versatility: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3
Best All-Around Racing Shoe: Nike Vaporfly 3
Fastest-Feeling Stability Shoe: Brooks Hyperion GTS
Best Stability Shoe: New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13
Most Comfortable Trail Shoe: Topo Athletic Mtn Racer 3
Best Overall Trail Shoe: Hoka Mafate Speed 4
Best Zero-Drop Trail Shoe: Altra Lone Peak 7
You know it, you love it, and it’s turning 15. For over a decade, the Ghost has been our recommendation to newbies and runners looking for an everyday shoe. Our testers confirmed its reliability, calling the Brooks Ghost 15 “a tried-and-true daily trainer.”
That “sponginess” our tester refers to is the soft give that adapts to the bottom of your foot, as the foam’s firmness provides support and shock absorption. DNA Loft, which is compression-molded EVA, was previously used in the Ghost 14’s midsole. Now, DNA Loft v2 feels softer and more lightweight.—Amanda Furrer
Somehow, the Triumph just keeps getting better. Our wear-testers almost-unanimously gave the daily trainer high ratings in every category, from fit to comfort to cushioning. Even the one tester who gave less-than-impressed feedback on the shoe’s weight and speed—“it’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal”—couldn’t deny the Triumph 21 a high score. “This shoe does a lot right, with its cozy fit and interior,” he said. From the lacing to the midsole, that coziness won out as our testers’ favorite feature.
“The laces have a little stretch, making it really easy to cinch down the shoe and feel secure without discomfort,” said tester Jonathan Durand, an underpronator and heel-striker. “The padding through the tongue and upper was the perfect accompaniment in creating a lovely harmony for my high arches.” Might I add, Durand was the runner who made the Happy Meal comment.
Saucony redesigned the flat-knit upper and lacing in this iteration for a more secure fit. And the pillowy shock absorber underfoot, a Pwrrun+ midsole, is springier and 28 percent lighter than the original Pwrrun foam.
“These were not the snappiest shoes I have worn,” said Alyssa Dever, an overpronator and midfoot-striker. “But despite being so cushioned, they never felt too dense or like they were sapping my energy.” Dever drew comparisons to the Asics Gel-Kayano, a model she’s run in for more than 1,000 miles. “Though I’m only 130 miles into the Triumph, they feel just like they did on the first run.”—A.F.
Taking after its immediate predecessor, the Hoka Mach 5 has replaced the Mach 4’s Profly midsole foam with Profly+, which delivers higher energy return. Also adapted from the Supersonic is the narrower fit around the saddle. Placing my Mach 4 and Mach 5 beside each other, it’s a noticeable change: The 4’s lacing system is more gappy, and the overall shape is boxier, even though the shoes share the same last.
Like my experience testing the Supersonic, the first couple of runs in the 5 just didn’t have that smooth rocker flow or high rebound I experienced in the Mach 4. Runner-in-Chief Jeff Dengate pointed to the tighter midfoot as a possible culprit. However, I theorize that it’s the density distribution in the new midsole foam. The original Profly foam is softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot. Jeff and I are both midfoot-strikers, so perhaps it just takes some Profly+ fine-tuning to make the Mach feel more pre-Sonic. After a week of running in the shoe on a vacation, I was finally won over. I noticed a shift when my pace became faster. It’s no Mach 4, but it’s a Mach I still love, and testers unfamiliar with the fourth version were instantly enamored with the fifth.—A.F.
Lululemon is now both a yoga and running brand, a dual image enhanced by its recent foray into footwear. The company released its first running shoe, the Blissfeel, last year. Its debut earned our Gear of the Year award—but maybe you still need convincing. Let the Lululemon Blissfeel 2 persuade you.
The Blissfeel 2 is the same weight as its predecessor, yet it feels slightly heavier and firmer, even though the stack height and foam are unchanged from the original model. Running in the 2 felt like running in Adidas’s Ultraboost. It’s thickset, but there’s plenty of pop to the 2’s ride. The toe room and cushioning felt like a reprieve after testing narrower, less-supportive trainers.—Amanda Furrer
Last year’s Pegasus was undoubtedly a capable workhorse, but it disappointed us in one key area—its shallow, low-volume toebox. The Peg 40 finally remedies this pain point with a new upper that opens up the front of the shoe and widens the forefoot. While the mesh itself doesn’t breathe as well as the 39 (unfortunately, the thicker material also adds a bit of weight to the 40), it does let our toes splay better than any previous version of the Pegasus. In addition, the midfoot and lacing feel more locked-in, due to a snug arch band that replaces the Peg 39’s stretchy Flywire cables.
What hasn’t changed is the underfoot construction. Nike kept both of the midsole Air units—there’s one in the forefoot and one in the heel—and the cushioning is still a full-length piece of React foam. Still not as light and bouncy as ZoomX, React feels medium soft and moderately flexible.
“I most liked the Pegasus’s consistency and durability. The bounce, traction, ride, and stability were never compromised by additional wear or the surface I was running on,” one tester said. “I felt good bounce, energy return, and support from the cushioning, but it was not super soft and plush. While it can work for some speedwork and long runs, I would save these for normal easy training or tempos,” he added.—Morgan Petruny
The Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 is is the most cushioned Cumulus we’ve seen yet. In fact, it feels a lot like earlier versions of its ultra-plush cousin, the Nimbus. (Asics added even more foam to that shoe in its most recent iteration, so the Nimbus remains the cushier of the two.) Still, neither is geared for speed day. Testers said the Cumulus is surprisingly light for its “nice, thick, and foamy” workhorse sole, but it does sacrifice some pep underfoot.
“When I wear racers like Asics’s Magic Speed or Saucony’s Endorphin Speed, I feel like I’m being rocked onto my toes, making me more efficient and pushing me forward. While I didn’t feel that sensation in this shoe, it’s one of the most comfortable I’ve worn,” said one tester, while piling on double-digit weekly long runs for the Paris Marathon. “The inside feels plush and the secure lacing really hugs around your foot. I was more than happy to keep them on all day to grocery shop and run errands.”—M.P.
The debut SuperComp Trainer was one of our favorite shoes last year. It had super-thick stacks of incredibly bouncy foam and it was ridiculously fun to wear. So much fun that we gave it a “Gear of the Year” award. Tough shoes to follow, for sure. That’s what New Balance is hoping to do, albeit by making the V2 a somewhat different beast.
The midsole now conforms to World Athletics rules, which limit a midsole to 40mm thick for use in competition. But, who cares here? Nobody is winning a race in these pogo sticks—the lead pack is likely to pick the SuperComp Elite v3, which is designed for true speed. Sure, a 7mm reduction in stack height makes the shoe more stable, but it also results in a shoe that’s just less bouncy. That might not be a bad thing, because in testing we found the shoe more finely tuned. There’s still a ton of cushioning there, yet it’s better controlled and feels more like a performance trainer.
The FuelCell midsole foam is a combo of nitrogen-injected TPU and EVA that feels lively and energized. Adding to the energy return is a curved carbon-fiber plate and a cutaway section of foam under the foot. These deform when you land, so you sink a bit into the void, then bounce back on toe-off. Testers appreciated that the cutaway has been reshaped to catch fewer rocks—instead of trapping golf balls, now you’ll just collect marbles.—J.D.
I first experienced the thrill of racing in the Adizero Adios Pro 3 on the international stage. I ran the Paris Half Marathon this past March in the shoes after logging just one short test run in them a few days prior. Despite jet lag, miles of walking in the City of Lights, and fueling solely on croissants, I still clinched a PR.
The shoe fits like Asics’s Metaspeed Sky: not restrictive around the midfoot, not too narrow in the toebox. Its synthetic upper provides paper-thin coverage that hugs your foot much like a track spike or racing flat. It’s a tight fit squeezing your foot into the Adizero Adios Pro 3, with its flat tongue and secure padded collar. But the folded heel tab makes all the difference, helping you ease into the shoe with little struggle.
The midsole is two layers of resilient LightStrike Pro foam, which delivers high rebound, and cushions ground contact so your body doesn’t take a beating. In place of a carbon-fiber plate, which the original Adizero Adios Pro had, are five connected carbon-infused rods that resemble the metatarsals in your foot. EnergyRods 2.0, as Adidas calls them, aren’t as stiff as a full-length carbon-fiber plate, and they work with the movement of your foot instead of forcing it into position during turnover.
Completing the trifecta of what a super shoe entails, the last component after responsive foam and carbon fiber is geometry. The Adizero Adios Pro 3 has a rocker with a transition point located at 70 percent of the shoe’s length. This positioning helps your foot roll forward as you accelerate. Molly Sunderlin, a local tester who slightly underpronates and runs with a midfoot strike, told us that the rocker worked well with her running mechanics, saying her stride felt “easy and efficient.”
Sunderlin also noted that, even though the fit was a little too roomy, the shoe still felt stable and secure.
“The platform is quite wide and the midsole is medium-soft—not so soft that you squish into it. I felt in control even on some muddy roads following rainstorms,” she said.—Amanda Furrer
Time and time again, we hear runners say the Rebel v2 is a solid top-three pick for them. And, like me, many couldn’t help but use this “technically speed day” shoe for every run. So, the company took the hint and made the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 even better for daily miles.
The Rebel v3 has more of what its predecessor lacked: the outsole has more rubber coverage to withstand higher mileage, the knit upper feels more durable, and there’s 1.5mm more FuelCell foam underfoot. While those are essential improvements for taking the shoe on long runs, they ruled out the Rebel for those who like a firm ride for racing. Read: Some testers said the boost in durability and comfort came at the cost of a slightly mushier ride, though only a 0.1 ounce weight increase for a men’s size 9.
If you’re looking for a shoe with a comparable über-soft bounce and price point—but want just a smidge more heel-toe drop and cushioning—I’d highly recommend the Asics Novablast 3.—Morgan Petruny
Look at the lead pack of any major marathon and you’ll see a sea of Vaporfly. Even though Eliud Kipchoge wore the $275 Alphafly to break the two-hour barrier, now most runners—from the elite wave back to BQ hopefuls—reach for the Vaporfly. But, in the recent Majors, this new version, The Nike Vaporfly 3, was nowhere to be seen—when we spied the top 10 shoes across the finish line at the New York City Marathon, not a single prototype was found. By then, though, I already had a pair to test, and I can report after racing my own marathon that the third iteration feels just as lively and fast as the previous two.
Nike overhauled the Vaporfly from the rubber up, looking to make it the lightest yet. But, in my size 12, I see only a 0.1-ounce drop from version 2 (my pink pair of the first Next% was 0.4 ounces lighter still). One attempt to shave weight came in the midsole shaping. The foam is still the same ZoomX that delivers top-of-the-line energy return, but a cutout on the lateral sidewall—your foot doesn’t need support there—and a small channel under the midfoot reduces material.
Gone too is the big, flat slab of rubber under the forefoot, replaced with a web of diamond-shaped lugs—think waffle sole, rotated 45 degrees, with cutouts. In my three races (a 2:57 marathon and two sub-18-minute 5Ks), the roads were dry and the shoes felt planted. The new construction eliminates the loud, slappy sensation found in almost all the new super shoes.
In those races, though, I felt pressure from the Flyknit upper. It’s extremely thin and breathable, but it doesn’t stretch at all. I laced my shoes up a little too tightly, apparently, because the top of my foot was screaming late in my marathon.—Jeff Dengate
Stability Running Shoes
In 2020, Brooks’s development team used the Hyperion Tempo as a prototype to test DNA Flash, the nitrogen-infused foam that would eventually be used in the brand’s supershoes. Rechristened simply as “Hyperion,” the shoe formerly known as the Hyperion Tempo is back with the same foam. Along with it, Brooks rolled out a stability-focused version, the GTS, which caters to speed demons who need just a little extra support.
Brooks’s GTS (go-to support) shoes feature a GuideRails system, a holistic approach in promoting foot and knee alignment. The denser foam on the lateral and medial sides of the midsole serves as a “bumper.” GuideRails add a fraction of extra weight to the shoe, but this didn’t give the Hyperion GTS a black mark from our wear-testers. In fact, its equal parts of support and responsiveness earned the GTS higher scores than its neutral sibling.
Local tester Justin Brown, who averages 6:45 miles in training, found the Hyperion GTS provided a good balance of cushioning and support during speed workouts, including—befittingly—tempos.
“This shoe is cushioned enough to wear for the entirety of a workout, start to finish, including warmups and cooldowns, regardless of pace,” said the heel-striker. “But I would stick to a more plushly cushioned neutral shoe for my daily trainer.”
Like Brown, tester Stephen Kazmierczak described the Hyperion GTS as having a similar feel to a racing flat. He quickened his usual pace of 7:30 down to 7:15, and then to 7:00. An overpronator, Kazmierczak praised the shoe’s stability during his long runs.
How does the new Hyperion GTS compare to its predecessor? I found it feels virtually the same—just a little more supportive from the upper’s second layer of mesh. The Tempo, Hyperion, and GTS have all earned rightful places on my “for keeps” shoe rack.—Amanda Furrer
For more great choices, check out our top picks for stability running shoes.
Like the 860v12, the updated New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13 still has two layers of Fresh Foam in its midsole—the top is soft, the bottom is speedy. However, for the 13th version of the shoe, New Balance has once again tweaked the formula for its midsole cushioning. Now adjusted to a slightly lower durometer—a measure of hardness—the bottom EVA-based layer feels a smidge more forgiving than the v12. The ride is also a bit livelier, more closely matching the experience you’d feel from the shoe’s neutral counterpart, the Fresh Foam X 880.
“I know this shoe is designed to be firm and has a loyal fan base that praises its cushioning, but for me, it was a bit too firm after about five or six miles,” one tester said of the v12. This softened version weighs a touch less and also responds more readily when you quicken the pace.
For those in the market for stability shoes and trying to separate the masses, choose the 860 if getting a close-to-perfect fit is your top priority. That’s where this trainer takes the cake. The forefoot and toebox are wide and a little stretchy, spacious but not sloppy. It’s rare that not a single tester mentions a cramped pinky toe or hot spot in their sample pairs, but our testers raved that the 860’s fit was roomy yet locked down from heel to toe.—Morgan Petruny
Trail Running Shoes
When choosing the best Topo Athletic shoe of 2023, it was a toss-up between the Mtn Racer 3 and the Terraventure 4. Both of these trail shoes fare well on gnarly terrain because of their Vibram Megagrip outsoles. The spaced-out lugs are tacky without being too aggressive on hardpacked dirt or the patches of pavement that you sometimes have to cross. We chose the Mtn Racer 3 because it’s a more user-friendly shoe that can withstand technical trail.
Unlike the Terraventure 4, the Mtn Racer 3 doesn’t have a flexible rock plate in the forefoot. To provide underfoot protection without a plate, Topo increased the stack height by 3mm in the heel and forefoot. The Zipfoam midsole has also been updated; the foam is softer, lighter, and more responsive.
“The best part of the Mtn Racer 3 was the cushioning. I was able to tear up and down the mountains without feeling the rocks and roots under my feet,” said one decade-long member of our wear-test team. “The extra layer of Vibram and the placement of the lugs, as well as the flexibility, made long and short runs equally enjoyable.”—Amanda Furrer
The Speedgoat might be more popular, but we’re going to claim the overhauled Hoka Mafate Speed 4 is the company’s best trail running shoe right now—especially if your trails require comfort and versatility. We found this out firsthand by using the shoe to race up and down Whiteface Mountain. With a wide range of trail options to pick from, the Mafate was the race day choice for both myself and video producer Pat Heine-Holmberg to tackle the Olympic ski hill in New York’s Adirondack Park. I found it had more than enough bite on black diamond ski trails so I could claw my way uphill, but the cushioning protected my body when I had to dash back down 4,000 vertical feet over just 3.4 miles.
There have been a number of big changes to this model that make it more runnable and comfortable than before, including a new two-layer foam setup. The Profly+ midsole puts a lightweight, bouncy foam closest to your foot, which boosts comfort and makes the shoe feel alive when you’re running along hard-packed ground. The bottom layer is durable and firm enough to crush over sizable rocks and protect the bottom of your foot.
When you get into steep or muddy terrain, the shoe still shines. The outsole has been redesigned and there’s a lot more rubber underfoot. Each lug has three distinct tiers, giving you an enormous amount of sharp edges to cling to the ground. Plus, it’s Litebase, to help keep weight in check—Litebase makes the sole thinner and lighter, without diminishing traction.—Jeff Dengate
“The route I run most is a four-mile loop on a mountain that has every kind of surface that one can expect to get in Pennsylvania—gravel, technical downhills, rocky climbs, and water crossings,” said one tester who put more than 150 miles of running on the Altra Lone Peak 7 in both wet and dry conditions. “This shoe grips all of it. The traction is fantastic, and the cushioning is ample, but still allows for ground feel and solid footing on rock.”
But, let’s be honest. Traction has never been an issue for the Lone Peak. A secure fit has. Altra has tinkered with its upper to ensure that its roomy toeboxes allow for natural foot movement and toe splay, but not too much motion that it feels sloppy. It’s a tough balance to get right. While the sixth version’s customizable lacing system did the trick for some, this version feels more locked-in from a new stitch-less upper. Fewer bulky overlays and no seams let the mesh wrap the foot more closely without wrinkling and bunching.—Morgan Petruny
How We Test Shoes
Runner’s World has the most comprehensive running shoe testing process in the industry. We work with more than 275 local runners of all abilities, ages, and sizes for real-world wear-testing on paved roads, dirt paths, and rocky singletrack. After a month of running more than 100 miles in their respective running shoes, our testers report back their findings on features like fit, comfort, performance, and ride.
While they’re putting miles on the shoes, the same models undergo a battery of mechanical tests in our RW Shoe Lab, where we objectively measure each shoe’s cushioning, flexibility, sole thickness, and weight. Our test editors combine their own experience in the shoes with data from the lab and feedback from our wear testers to create reliable, useful reviews of every pair we run in.
How to Choose the Best Running Shoe
Some runners care a lot about weight, and research shows that you expend more aerobic energy with heavier shoes. Lighter shoes typically have less cushioning, which can make them feel faster, but new midsole foams now make a plush ride possible without adding much heft to the shoe. If you’re going long distances, some extra cushioning might be a better option, as it provides impact absorption.
To test softness, we go to our Shoe Lab to take individual measurements of both the heel and forefoot, since the overall experience can vary based on where a runner touches down and toes off. The cushioning scores are given on a scale of 1 to 100, with one being the firmest. (A harder-feeling shoe won’t necessarily lack cushioning, and according to some biomechanical research, a midsole that’s too soft can actually increase peak impact forces.) In addition to those key stats, we also look at the running shoe’s stability features, flexibility, and energy return to help you find one you’ll love.
Also, be sure to consider a running shoe’s drop—sometimes referred to as offset—which is the difference between the heel and the forefoot measurements, or how much your toes “drop” below your heel. It’s important because a higher drop can lead to more heel striking and also transfers some strain away from the lower leg and up toward the knee. Conversely, a lower offset will shift that load farther down the chain of motion during your gait cycle to the calf and the Achilles.
Neither option is necessarily better than the other; when deciding on a shoe’s drop, choose what feels most natural and comfortable to you, taking into account your personal running mechanics and injury history. Many shoes have a drop between 6 and 12mm, but some shoes are lower than 4mm. A few based on minimalist designs have no drop.
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