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A new pair of running shoes makes any run, long or short, more comfortable and safer on your joints.
The best running shoes support your natural foot shape and landing pattern, and should last several hundred miles.
Our top pick, New Balance's 1080v10, is the best all-around shoe for both marathon and casual runners alike.
If you're looking for female-specific sizing, read our guide to the best running shoes for women.
If you're looking for an easy way to get some fresh air, spend more time out of the house, or incorporate more movement into your home-centric life these days, jogging and running are super accessible ways to support both your mental and physical health at once.
And shoes specifically designed for running are crucial: When you pound the pavement, you're sending impact forces through your foot and up through your legs. Part of what determines how your muscles and joints absorb this is your biomechanics, but the other part is your shoe construction. Many runners even have a natural propensity for the foot to roll inward or outward when they jog.
All this is to say, the shoe you wear while running makes a world of difference. No matter your run style, wearing a shoe capable of providing enough stability helps better protect your tendons and joints, while also making running more comfortable.
If you're looking for a new pair of running shoes but aren't sure where to look, I'm here to help. To find the best, I road-tested the latest releases from brands like New Balance, Nike, and Hoke One One, and not only wanted to judge their comfort or fit, but how well they performed over a variety of run lengths and use cases – including more than 200 miles of running through New York City's Central Park alone.
At the end of this guide, I've shared a detailed look at my testing methodology, as well as some tips on how to shop for a running shoe. I've also included a brief rundown of the different design changes running shoes have gone through in recent years.
Here are the best men's running shoes:
Best running shoes overall: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10Best cushioned running shoes: Hoka One One Clifton 6Best running shoes for training and racing: Nike Zoom Fly 3Best running shoes for long distanes: Asics GlideRideMost comfortable running shoes: Adidas UltraBoost 20Updated on 4/1/2021 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how we test running shoes and how to shop for them, added more to the slide on the changes in running shoe design, checked the availability of each recommended running shoe, and updated the pricing.
The best overall
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 is the best do-everything running shoe and our favorite men’s runner overall.
Pros: A great all-around daily trainer, Fresh Foam X provides cushioning and bounce, comfortable fit thanks to a soft Hypoknit upper
Cons: Runners with wide feet might feel tightness in the mid-section, some lace pressure
New Balance significantly re-designed the 1080v10 from the previous model and it shows. When I took my pair out of the box, I was immediately drawn to its slightly curved, rockered design and the white midsole of Fresh Foam X, New Balance’s soft but bouncy new foam.
The shoes’ redesign extends to the upper, which is a snug yet pliable material New Balance calls Hypoknit. Sliding your feet into the 1080v10s is smooth and easy thanks to a unique heel cup (dubbed the Ultra Heel) which curves away from your Achilles to prevent rubbing. The shoes initially felt loose but they’re balanced by a sock-like fit of the upper. I didn’t notice any slippage in the heel when I first ran in them, either.
There’s a lot of attention to detail on the 1080v10s. For instance, the small, scooped-out indentions on the foam are designed to cut down on weight while adding flex. Weighing in at just under 10 ounces, with a heel to toe drop of 8mm, the shoes are just right as a neutral daily trainer. I mixed up a few short fast runs and longer, slower runs with the 1080v10s during my testing and they did well on both.
The sole of the 1080v10s is comprised of six asymmetrical sets of rubber lugs in varying sizes, which were great for gripping wet pavement during wet-weather runs. The footbed was extremely comfortable and the shoes fit nicely, though runners with wider feet might feel some tightness in the mid-section. I also experienced a bit of lace pressure on the tops of my feet, but it wasn’t intense.
The best cushioned
Hoka One One
The Clifton 6 from Hoka One One goes heavy on the cushion to deliver just the right amount of bounce, especially after you break them in.
Pros: Thick foam means more cushioning for your legs, surprisingly lightweight, comfortable fit
Cons: Foam requires some breaking in, so-so grip on wet surfaces
It’s easy to see why we’ve picked the Hoka One One Clifton 6 as the best cushioned running shoe. Take one look at the thick stack of foam cushioning on the outsole, and you know you’re in for a smooth ride.
While previous versions of this iconic shoe received mixed reviews for having foam that’s either too hard or too soft, Hoka gets it just right on the Clifton 6. After taking them on a long run right out of the box, the foamy outsoles had some spring to them but they weren’t too bouncy. They felt soft but it didn’t seem like I was running with pillows strapped to my feet.
They do require some breaking in, as the ride got better the more I ran in them. By my fourth run, I was cruising smoothly along.
Hoka One One redesigned the overall fit on these as well to deliver a much-improved feel. The upper is a stretchy, breathable mesh that wraps securely around your foot with plenty of room in the toe box. I also liked the padded heel collar that’s notched in the back to fit your Achilles.
The laces are minimal but that prevents them from putting pressure on the top of your foot when tied tight. It also cuts down on the overall weight which, despite their bulky look, tip the scales at just nine ounces. As with previous Hokas, the Clifton 6 has a slightly rockered design to propel you forward. The heel to toe drop is 5mm, which adds to the forward momentum when you run.
To cut down on weight, the Clifton 6’s sole features reinforced rubber only on specific segments of the forefoot and heel. I didn’t feel these were the most stable shoes I tested, particularly when running on slick pavement but I also didn’t feel like I was out of control. The reduction in weight, however, was much appreciated.
Cushioning is king on the Clifton 6 but not at the expense of speed. In fact, some of my fastest runs were with these shoes, which pleasantly surprised me. Meanwhile, the reduced impact from the plush foam meant my legs were happy, too.
The best for race training
The Zoom Fly 3 is the less expensive, more versatile little brother to Nike’s elite Vaporfly racing shoes, and a great option for both training and going for a PR on race day.
Pros: Full-length carbon fiber plate in the midsole adds pep to your step, new Vaporweave upper repels moisture while letting your feet breath, internal bootie fits your foot comfortably, soft React foam offers good energy return
Cons: Carbon fiber plates in midsoles aren’t for everyone (try on first), slightly heavier than previous model, long shoelaces flop around
Out of the box, Nike’s Zoom Fly 3 shoes look fast and sleek. I’d even go so far as to say that the neon green pair I tested looked a little audacious. Put them on your feet and they feel a combination of all three.
Like its pricey Vaporfly kin, the Zoom Fly 3s have a carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole and how you feel about that will probably determine how you feel about these shoes. Personally, I love carbon fiber plates because of the added pep they give to my step, almost like I’m jumping on mini trampolines propelling me forward. Some find the sensation slightly unstable, so try these on first and test them on a treadmill (if you can) before you buy.
Nike included a new upper on the Zoom Fly 3s which is a parachute-like material called Vaporweave. It’s designed to repel moisture while also letting your feet stay ventilated and breathe.
While I liked the form-fitting Flyknit upper in previous Zoom Flys, they tended to get soggy on humid days and soaked through when it rained. Vaporwave doesn’t offer the same snug fit as Flyknit but my feet stayed dry in the Zoom Fly 3s, even during sloppy winter weather. I also liked the neoprene bootie in the heel cup, which eliminates the need for a tongue, letting your feet slide comfortably into the shoe.
The midsole is comprised of Nike’s React foam, which is denser and heavier than ZoomX (which is what the Vaporflys use) but offered a soft yet responsive rebound during runs of varying speeds. The React foam and carbon fiber plate combo really shined at faster paces, letting me speed up quickly without feeling like I was burning off excessive energy.
Overall, Nike’s made significant improvements on the Zoom Fly 3, including more rubber on the sole’s forefoot to provide added traction in wet weather. Whether you’re training for a race or actually running one, this shoe is a winner.
The best long distance
The Asics GlideRide promises a new design in running shoes that gets you to run more efficiently. In many ways, the GlideRide delivers, making it our favorite shoe for long runs.
Pros: Pronounced rocker shape with curved Guidesole technology helps you generate consistently efficient strides with less wasted energy, layered foam midsole provides a well-cushioned ride while reducing stress on the ankles, lightweight multi-directional mesh upper fits like a glove
Cons: Aggressive arch support could be a problem for those with flatter feet (try these on a treadmill before you buy), heavy shoe overall, better for recovery runs than racing
The GlideRide has such a pronounced, rocker shape, it’s actually difficult to walk normally in them. These shoes are, quite simply, designed for running and once you start to build up some momentum in them, the curved shape helps roll you along.
The rocking chair-like design is created through a complex foam layering system, with a curved sheet of soft Flytefoam sandwiching a rigid foam plate that Asics calls the Guidesole. Tucked in the rear of the shoe is a thin wafer of Gel, which has become an Asics trademark. The result is stable cushioning in both the heel and the forefoot, which takes stress off your ankles as you swing your leg forward to take another stride.
In real-world testing, I found the Asics GlideRide allowed me to generate consistently efficient strides. I was able to waste much less energy while running and felt less tired. Long runs were a breeze, too. I could just keep going and going.
At just over 10 ounces, the shoes were heavier than I like. Part of this has to do with some of the plush, protective materials used in the heel collar of the shoe, which made them feel comfy but also a bit clunky. There’s aggressive arch support in the shoes, as well, which can cause trouble for runners with flatter feet.
On the other hand, the new lightweight multi-directional mesh of the upper fit like a glove, and there was plenty of room in the toebox. The base of the shoe has a generous amount of reinforced rubber in an oval pattern for a great grip. With all its materials and heavily engineered midsole, the GlideRide isn’t a stripped-down racing shoe but it is perfect for recovery runs.
The best comfortable
The Adidas UltraBoost 20 isn’t only the most comfortable running shoe we tested, it’s also the most stylish, making it great for both training and running around town.
Pros: Your feet will feel like they’re being swaddled, collaboration with International Space Station (ISS) Lab produced a stylish, futuristic look, Boost foam still provides runners with excellent energy return
Cons: Quite heavy for a running shoe, Primeknit fabric makes feet feel hot
The UltraBoost 20 was created in partnership between Adidas and the International Space Station (ISS) Lab and the collaboration shows. The midsole features Adidas’ familiar Boost foam, which looks like pellets of Styrofoam melded together. Boost, as mentioned, is a pioneering foam renowned for its bouncy, energy return.
What’s new in the UltraBoost 20 is the iridescent shine of the foam, which on the pair I tested gave off a purply blue glow, depending on how the light was hitting them. The tongue features an ISS Lab insignia and the shoes, overall, have a space-age look to them. Adidas even says they’ll eventually be used by astronauts on the ISS.
Runners will appreciate the UltraBoost 20’s upper, which is made from Adidas’ Primeknit fabric, a comfortably stretchy material that offers a luxurious sock-like fit. Adidas has added stitched fibers around the outside forefoot to give the upper more stability, too. I also didn’t feel like my feet were sloshing around in them as I’ve often experienced with Primeknit shoes in the past.
The heel cup has a plush padded collar that felt particularly soft around my Achilles. Meanwhile, a plastic, trapezoid-shaped counter on the exterior of the heel helps prevent slippage. In short, the UltraBoost 20s made my feet feel like they were being swaddled and the lockdown, overall, was excellent.
At over 11 ounces, the UltraBoost 20s are the heaviest shoes in this guide. At first, they felt it, too. MY runs in these heavier-than-average shoes would always start off slow and plodding but would eventually pick up speed the further I ran. Much of that has to do with the powers of the Boost foam, which really do help you bounce along at a fairly good clip.
A history of running shoe design
Not long ago, every running shoe was a variation on mostly the same design: A mesh upper with a thin slab of foam sandwiched in the middle and a rubber sole glued to the bottom. That changed in 2012 when Nike introduced its innovative Flyknit threading technology, which produced a form-fitting but breathable upper for its running shoes.
Adidas upped the ante years later with Boost, a supremely bouncy foam the company pumped into the midsole of its shoes to give them added energy return. Before Adidas introduced Boost, there was Hoka One One, a brand devoted to making highly cushioned running shoes with oversized foam outsoles since 2009.
Nike’s even released upgrades over its own original designs and recently introduced an even lighter and more responsive foam called ZoomX. Though controversial, ZoomX propelled elite and amateur runners alike to a number of race victories. The most impressive was Kenyan elite runner, Eliud Kipchoge, who ran the first sub-two-hour marathon in history. On his feet were a pair of Nike shoes with ZoomX and a springy carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole.
But what does this all mean to the average runner looking for a new pair of shoes? The good news is much of this high-end racing shoe tech trickles down into regular running shoes. And while these innovations won’t necessarily make you run as fast as Kipchoge, they should help you become a better runner more quickly.
How to shop for a running shoe
Generally, you should look to replace your old shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you run 20 miles per week, that’s every four to six months.
If you’re shopping for a new shoe for the first time or looking to branch out from your go-to pair, there are a few key factors to consider when shopping for a pair of running shoes. The below certainly play into comfort, which in turn influences how likely you are to stick with the sport or hobby. But moreover, some aspects below are important to reduce your chance of injury, which can certainly happen with the wrong shoe underfoot.
Cushioning Most standard running shoes have enough cushioning to support the average person’s foot, knee, and hips from the shock that goes through your lower limbs with every step. Cushion thickness usually differs at your heel, midfoot, and forefoot. However, some people prefer more cushioning (usually if you have a history of injuries) or less (like with a minimalist shoe).
Heel-Toe DropThe drop of a shoe is the difference in height between the heel and the ball of your foot. This affects how force is distributed when your foot comes into contact with the pavement. Experts disagree on how exactly drop affects injury rates, but generally, you want a shoe that feels comfortable throughout an entire stride (touchdown, rolled through to push off).
StabilityHow your foot strikes the ground is individual. The easiest way to tell is to go to a running shoe store to get fitted for a shoe, where they’ll have you run on a treadmill and record your foot’s movements, which can then be seen when the video slows down. But you can also look at a well-used pair of walking shoes and see if the inside edge or outside edge is more worn down.
When you land and roll through to push off, many people’s feet will roll inward so there’s more pressure along the inside edge (called over-pronating). This also causes your arches to collapse. Others, their foot will roll slightly outward so they’re putting more pressure along the outside edge (under-pronating). Meanwhile, some people naturally land evenly.
If you over- or under-pronate and wear a neutral shoe, the repeated pressure in the wrong spot and how it affects your arches can domino to all sorts of aches and pains, even contributing to full-blown injuries. Companies now build shoes with a variety of technology like wedges and dual-density foams to bolster the side of your foot that your strike favors. This helps your foot then strike more neutrally.
FitFit can refer to a lot of aspects of the foot, but the three biggest variables for most runners are toe box, heel, and arches. If you know you have a wide toe box or a wide heel, you’ll want to look for a model that specifically offers more room in this area to avoid hot spots and make your runs more comfortable.
WeightIt sounds silly that a sub-10-ounce shoe would ever be considered “heavy,” but when you’re seven miles in, every ounce truly matters for how like lead your legs feel. If you’re just getting into running, you likely won’t notice weight much. Heavier isn’t bad — in fact, some of our favorite running shoes could be considered on the heavier side.
Weight is determined by cushioning and materials used, so usually a heavier shoe is also quite supportive. For this reason, we’d advise weight be one of the last considerations for most runners. But if you’re looking to PR a race or get into longer distances, you’ll do well to look for a lighter shoe to shave fatigue off your legs where you can (like the Zoom Fly 3).
How we test running shoes
Each pair of running shoes featured in this guide went through an extensive testing process consisting of a variety of run distances and terrain. This included progressively longer runs through New York City’s Central Park where I started at three miles and worked my way up to five- and eight-mile runs.
The next phase of testing concentrated on longer distances. For these, I extended the runs to a half-marathon length (13.1 miles) and ran at slow yet steady paces. The idea was to assess stability, foot fatigue, and overall comfort multiple hours into a run.
Finally, I concluded the tests by running shorter 5Ks at a faster race pace while also including hill work, interval sprints, and run repeats to see how each pair handled rolling terrain. All told, each shoe endured roughly 40 to 50 miles of testing, along with a special focus toward what they’re designed to excel at (i.e. more race-pace runs in Nike’s Zoom Fly 3 and several long runs in the Asics GlideRide).
Read the original article on Business Insider