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Best Running Shoes

By: Lisa Maloney on September 07, 2017

Editor's note:
In this year's report on running shoes, Brooks remains a perennial favorite. Brooks and Asics are the best choice for high arches and flat feet, respectively. Also, don't miss our evaluation on the up and coming On Cloud running shoes from Swiss manufacturer On.

Brooks Glycerin 15 Review
Best Reviewed

Best running shoes

The Brooks Glycerin 15 offers a plush, smooth ride like no other running shoe. This isn't a racing flat, but it's flexible and responsive enough to be anybody's go-to for hundreds of miles of training, with no trace of the mushy feel that can haunt some thickly cushioned shoes. Brooks has made numerous small improvements over the previous model, including a more breathable upper that conforms to your foot, greater forefoot flexibility, and a wider outsole that creates a more stable ride.

Buy for $99.99
Brooks Ghost 10 Review
Best Reviewed

Best running shoes for high arches

The Brooks Ghost 10 offers just the right amount of neutral cushioning for many people with high arches, paired with a high-volume toebox that'll let your feet slide in without having to loosen the laces every time. Other high points include great traction in the outsole, just enough stiffness for good energy return, and a full-length "crash pad" in the midsole that helps this shoe accommodate any foot strike, although the 12mm heel-to-toe offset lends itself naturally to heel strikers.

Buy for $79.99
Asics Gel DS Trainer 22 Review
Best Reviewed

Best running shoes for flat feet

If you think that stability or motion control shoes have to be heavy and clunky, think again. The Asics Gel DS Trainer 22 is light, faster, flexible and responsive underfoot, thanks to a Flytefoam midsole and an unobtrusive medial post that is fused in place instead of glued into the midsole, allowing great underfoot flexibility without sacrificing its stable feel. This shoe is comfortable enough to wear every day but fast enough for races, with excellent traction and a stretchy, glove-like upper.

Buy for $120.00

Choosing the best running shoes starts with identifying your foot type

Running shoes are more than just glorified sneakers. They're built to guide your foot through the most efficient stride possible, with strategically placed cushioning to absorb the impact of each footfall. What it takes to generate that efficient stride, and where you really need the cushioning, depends on your foot type and gait.

Running shoes come in three main types: stability, motion control and neutral cushioning shoes. Some pronation -- inward roll of the ankle -- is normal when you run. But if you overpronate, experts recommend stability shoes to correct your stride and prevent the injuries that can result from this type of movement. Any foot type can overpronate, but it's especially common in people with flat feet.

If you overpronate severely, motion control shoes provide even more stability features to correct your stride. At the other extreme, some people supinate, running with their weight on the outside edges of their feet. This is especially common in people with high arches. If this is you, a neutral cushioned shoe can absorb that impact and redistribute it, helping your feet return to a neutral gait.

And finally, if you're lucky enough to have normal arches and efficient biomechanics -- in other words, your feet don't roll too far in or too far out as you run -- you will probably be most comfortable in either a neutral shoe or a stability shoe that provides only mild support, so it doesn't interfere with the natural flex and give in your feet as you run.

Clues to help you identify your foot type

Identifying your foot type and gait -- and from that, which type of running shoe you need -- can take some trial and error. Specialty running shops usually have equipment and trained staff to help with this. If you prefer to shop online, Runner's World has a great guide for identifying your foot type with nothing but some water, a pan and a piece of heavy paper. Examining the soles of your old running shoes is helpful, too. If you overpronate, you'll usually see extra wear on the inside edges of your shoes, and underpronators/supinators will notice more wear on the outside edges.

If you only use your running shoes for running, they'll last longer. To help you find the best footwear for other uses, we've put together reports on hiking boots and trail running shoes. And if you like tracking your fitness stats, we've also researched the best fitness trackers.

The best running shoes for most feet

While the running shoes in this section are best for most people, do keep in mind that because we all have different feet, there's no one single best shoe for everybody. Instead, choosing running shoes is all about figuring out which shoes fit your feet the best. This is something we cover further both in the introduction to this report and in our buying guide.

Our best-reviewed running shoe for most feet, the Brooks Glycerin 15 (Est. $100 and up), builds on the kudos its predecessor accrued after hands-on testing from the likes of OutdoorGearLab.com, Competitor.com and GearPatrol.com. Testers from SoleReview.com -- basically the Consumer Reports of running shoes -- praise the Glycerin 15 for its smooth, cushioned and markedly non-mushy ride. Although this isn't the fastest race day shoe out there, it's the sort of daily trainer you can use to log hundreds of miles, and owners say its plush cushioning is great for all sorts of "problem foot" conditions, including plantar fasciitis, arthritis and high arches.

The Brooks Glycerin 15 runs a little smaller and narrower than its predecessor, so make sure you go a half-size up -- possibly a full size if this is your first time in Brooks shoes, which generally run small. The toebox also feels a little narrower than the toebox on the Glycerin 14, thanks to increased heel padding that pushes your foot forward. Still, this shoe remains ridiculously comfortable, and is available in narrow and wide widths to help you get a better fit. Users also say that the 15's mesh upper vents breathe much better than the previous overlays of the 14.

Ride-wise, the Brooks Glycerin 15 now has greater forefoot flexibility than its predecessor. A wider outsole encourages a more stable ride, while extra flexibility in the forefoot makes for quicker toe-offs. These aren't lightweight shoes -- a pair of men's size 9 weighs 21.2 ounces -- but they still feel agile underfoot.

Some of that extra softness and flexibility might translate to reduced durability, with SoleReview.com forecasting an average lifespan of just 300 miles. That said, we also find notes from one reviewer who's logged more than 350 miles each on two pairs of these shoes and says that both pairs are still going strong.

Not long ago, zero-drop shoes were considered a part of the minimalist running "fad" -- but they have since settled in as an accepted part of the market. The most popular zero-drop shoe we've encountered by far is the Altra Escalante (Est. $130), which comes in men's and women's specific lasts and has an extra-wide toebox. It's nabbed an Editor's Choice award from Runner's World, is picked by SoleReview.com as one of the best neutral running shoes, and gets top marks from GearPatrol.com too. Heads up: Despite Altra's trademark extra-wide toebox, many users say this shoe runs about a half-size small in general fit.

Unlike many other minimalist and zero-drop models, the Altra Escalante has just the right amount of cushioning for long runs. "Feels squishy while standing around, but changes to a springy feeling as you run," writes one user. Runner's World verified this in their testing, which showed that the Escalante has better energy return than 95 percent of other shoes they've tested. The zero-drop build suits forefoot strikers, and the softness of the shoe makes adapting easier if you're new to zero-drop shoes, which don't have the elevated heel you'll find on typical running shoes. If you're a heel striker or tend to overpronate this isn't the best shoe for you, although they do take Superfeet insoles nicely for those who want to add a little support.

Users say the Escalante's flat-knit upper, the first ever from Altra, is a big hit. It conforms to your foot for a supremely comfortable, breathable fit, and the wide, foot-shaped toebox leaves plenty of room for toe splay. Users say you can barely feel debris as you run over it, and we didn't find any complaints about this shoe's durability. A pair of men's size 9 in the Altra Escalante weigh 16.4 ounces.

Swiss shoe manufacturer On has developed quite a following in a short time, and their On Cloud (Est. $120 and up) shoe is a rising star in this year's report, drawing a "Top Pick" from OutdoorGearLab.com and a lot of love from consumers. Some reviewers call these racing flats, but they're really everyday trainers that blend super light weight with great cushioning and responsive handling, thanks to a very unusual midsole/outsole combination.

That combination is called CloudTec. Instead of the standard layered construction, On uses hollow blocks of firm EVA foam in the sole, adding a carbon rubber outsole in the highest-wear areas. The channels between the EVA blocks, paired with a comfortable, glove-like upper secured by quicklaces, really let the shoe flex and move with you. Said channels also pick up gravel and other debris the minute you step off a smooth roadway, so this shoe is at its best on clean surfaces. The 6mm heel-to-toe offset suits any foot strike.

The one flaw we see picked out by reviewers at OutdoorGearLab.com, and echoed by some users, is that the upper's mesh overlay sometimes bunches over the big toe. The footbox itself is plenty roomy, although users say that this shoe can feel narrow through the midfoot.

The On Cloud weighs just 14 ounces for a pair of men's size 8.5, and shoes this light usually don't do well in terms of durability. But so far, so good: Although we're still waiting on detailed feedback on the On Cloud's durability, testers from OutdoorGearLab.com report that the mesh and synthetic overlays have held up to abuse well, as has the carbon rubber on the outsole.

If you want a reasonably cushioned shoe with some unobtrusive structure to it, the Nike Air Zoom Structure 20 (Est. $105 and up) is excellent. It's available in wide and narrow widths, and users say it offers plenty of toe room. The laces snug the upper into a comfortable, sock-like fit over the midfoot, and the tongue won't slide around on you.

This shoe earns a "Top Pick" designation from OutdoorGearLab.com, along with praise for its responsive and stable ride, and good cushioning after a short break-in period. That stability is provided by a wedge of foam along the inside edge of the shoe; it's fused to the rest of the sole, creating a flexible, sturdy joint so you don't get any of the rigidity that typically accompanies a shoe with stability control.

SoleReview.com estimates the likely life of the Nike Air Zoom Structure 20 at around 450 miles, although light runners might get as many as 700 miles from a pair. A pair of Structure 20s in men's size 10 weigh about 22.4 ounces, and there is a 10mm offset from heel to toe.

The best running shoes for high arches

For runners with high arches that cause them to supinate or underpronate (rolling their weight to the outside edges of their feet), the best shoes usually have neutral cushioning or only a little unobtrusive support, like all the models we've already discussed. That said, the following shoes have drawn particular praise from reviewers with high arches. Even if you have a neutral gait, the shoes in this section as also worth a look, because they tend to "get out of the way" and let your feet move naturally.

Our best-reviewed shoe in this category is the Brooks Ghost 10 (Est. $120 and up), a perennial favorite for runners with high arches. The Ghost 10 also wins a much-coveted Editor's Choice award from Runner's World, thanks to its secure fit, soft midsole and quick turnover. The high-volume toebox leaves plenty of room for your high arches and even bunions, and you can find the Ghost in both narrow and wide widths. Like most Brooks running shoes, the Ghost line typically runs a half-size small.

The overall feel of the Brooks Ghost 10 is soft, comfortable and light, with good ventilation. Users say the uppers are soft and comfortable and that the forefoot is softer and easier on the toes than previous versions of the Ghost. Paradoxically, a few users also say the Brooks Ghost 10 actually feels stiff underfoot -- but that type perceived stiffness is usually the mark of a stable ride and good energy return. A full-length "crash pad" in the midsole, a carryover from previous iterations, accommodates any foot strike, although the 12mm heel-toe offset makes a heel strike feel natural for most.

The Ghost also has great outsole traction, although SoleReview.com warns that can create a week point in durability; grippier outsoles usually wear down faster. They estimates the Ghost 10's average lifespan at around 300 miles before that outsole starts to wear out or the glued forefoot mesh weakens. A pair of men's size 9 weighs 20.8 ounces.

Another excellent neutral-cushioned shoe is the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 (Est. $100 and up), one of the longest-lived shoes still in circulation. Its popularity hinges on the simple, efficient design that earned it a "Best Buy" designation from OutdoorGearLab.com. They describe the Pegasus 34 as "a pretty versatile shoe with enough padding, support, and cushion to make most runners happy without sacrificing speed or fit."

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is available in both narrow and wide widths, with Flywire cords that help wrap the upper around your midfoot for a glove-like fit. It draws great scores for comfort from OutdoorGearLab.com, thanks in part to having Nike's proprietary "air bag" cushions in the forefoot. Most users say these shoes offer great transitions from foot strike to toe-off, good support for high arches, and good outsole grip -- even if they feel a little stiff.

SoleReview.com says the outsole rubber on the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 offers a good balance between traction and durability. They estimate average shoe life at about 450 miles, a sentiment echoed by a user who routinely averages 500 to 600 miles of heavy use per pair. A men's pair of size 10 shoes weighs 20.8 ounces and has a 10mm offset from heel to toe.

If you have high arches and want a little more structure to your shoes, you might enjoy the Hoka One One Arahi (Est. $110 and up). Although this is technically a stability shoe, we found reviews from runners with all foot types -- including lofty arches -- who say they love its great cushioning and low heel-to-toe drop. In fact, the arch support may be a little too much for those with low arches or no arches at all.

The Hoka One One Arahi earns a "Top Pick" designation from OutdoorGearLab.com, where it is declared "a unique, maximalist stability shoe that will meet the needs of any runner." They praise its responsiveness, and a tester with Competitor.com describes feeling "an immediate energy boost -- almost like being propelled forward -- in her stride."

Hoka One One's characteristic thickly padded sole -- a good inch tall -- and low heel-to-toe drop can take a little getting used to, but this shoe is frequently named as a favorite for users with plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and other types of "problem" feet, so it's worth a try for almost anybody. Fitwise the Hoka One One Arahi runs just a little narrow, although wide sizes are available. because it encourages a natural stride, which most thickly padded shoes do not.

Durability for these shoes is middle of the road, no pun intended. Most users can expect to get around 300 to 400 miles out of a typical pair, although we do see occasional reports of early problems, perhaps due to the shoe's generally light construction. A standard pair of men's size 9 weigh 18.6 ounces, and the heel-toe offset is 5mm for men and 4mm for women.

The best running shoes for flat feet

If you have flat feet, also known as fallen arches, there's a good chance that your feet overpronate when you walk or run. Stability and motion control shoes combat this by providing extra support in the arch and forefoot to keep your feet in line.

Motion control shoes were once universally clunky and heavy, but our best-reviewed shoes for flat feet, the Asics Gel DS Trainer 22 (Est. $110 and up), are completely the opposite. Reviewers say these shoes are very lightweight, fast and comfortable without sacrificing support, thanks to the responsive Flytefoam midsole and an unobtrusive medial post.

Several flat-footed, overpronating users make a point of praising these shoes for their stability. The Asics Gel DS Trainer 22 also earns a high recommendation from the flat-footed expert at RunningShoeGuru.com, who describes them as "a workhorse that can double as a race day shoe." Their cushioning is notably firm in the forefoot but a little softer in the heel, and the outsole offers some of the best traction we've seen in this category, even in inclement weather.

Comfort is generally good, thanks to a stretchy, glove-like upper and a rigid exoskeleton around the heel that really locks your foot into place. However, several reviewers comment on the thin tongue, which can slide around a bit and might let you feel pressure points along the top when the laces are tied. The Trainer 22 is also a little narrower in the toebox than people are used to, although it still fits most feet, and runs a little short. Between those two factors, reviewers say you should order a half-size to a full-size up.

We found no complaints about the durability of this shoe -- in fact, some users say the upper feels unusually durable compared to superlight knit uppers that are currently popular. The Asics Gel DS Trainer 22 has a 10mm heel-toe offset and weighs 8 ounces for a men's size 9.

If you want a stability shoe that is available in wide widths, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 (Est. $120 and up) is also excellent for runners with flat feet. It's larger and heavier than the Asics Gel DS Trainer 22, but reviewers say it still feels light underfoot and offers plenty of cushioning -- so it's a good choice for running long distances at a more relaxed pace.

The consensus is that the Wave Inspire 13 fits true to size, with a sturdy, solid heel that keeps your foot locked in, although SoleReview.com notes that the ankle collar tends toward the loose. Both users and the flat-footed expert at RunningShoesGuru.com say that the Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 offers great stability. "I do not have an arch, so I pronate hugely. This shoe holds my foot straight and is so supportive and cushiony," writes one user.

However these shoes can feel a little stiff at first, and unlike most models discussed in this report, they take about 50 miles to break in. Once you do break them in, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 will last a long time; heavier runners can easily get 400 miles or more per pair. More good news: the toebox on the Inspire 13, a problem spot on previous iterations, now lasts longer. A pair of men's size 9 shoes weigh 22 ounces, and this model has a 12mm offset from heel to toe.

Expert & User Review Sources

We identified the best shoes for several foot types, including flat feet and high arches, by evaluating input from a number of expert sources. Runner's World is one of the best, followed by SoleReview.com, OutdoorGearLab.com, GearPatrol.com, Competitor.com and RunningShoesGuru.com. Information from the latter is particularly helpful for runners with flat feet. User input from everyday runners is enormously important too, especially when it doesn't agree with expert evaluations; the best sources we spotted for user input on running shoes were RoadRunnerSports.com and Amazon.com.

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