The best road running shoes 2022 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

From lightweight race shoes to the comfiest options for easy miles [UPDATED]
The best road running shoes 2022

Picking up a new pair of trainers from a list of the best running shoes is no easy task, so we've broken those options down to make the decision easier for all types of runners.

Whether you're looking for the most comfortable option for ticking off your daily mileage or you want to find out about the latest carbon plate race shoes to crush your next PB, we run through the best options available at the moment.

We've tried to unpack years of learnings, mistakes and lessons below and rounded up the best shoes we've taken onto the roads. If you're looking for trail running shoes, we have a specialist guide for that.

Jump to the running shoes you want:

You also have to consider price, because part of running’s appeal has always been that it doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment. Today’s flagship shoes cost north of $200, but you can still find excellent picks under $150.

Below you’ll find a selection of shoes to fulfil the desires of all kinds of road runners, which we’ve tested by putting them through at least 50 to 60 miles of running at different speeds, including long, tempo and easy runs, speed sessions and races when possible.


The best all-rounder running shoe

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

Buy now: Saucony (UK) / Saucony (US) | $170

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

The Endorphin Speed 3, like its predecessor, has got something for everyone. The combination of a full-length nylon plate with the impressive PWRRUN PB midsole foam makes for a shoe that can take runners from comfortable training runs all the way up to race day.

At 229g, it sits at the lower end of the weight spectrum, making it an ideal option when it comes to picking up the pace. However, that stack off Saucony's lightweight foam makes it feel like a shoe with a lot more support and cushioning underfoot than you would expect from something so nimble.

Unlike carbon plate super shoes designed specifically for racing, the nylon plate in the Speed 3 offers a more subtle experience, with the Speedroll technology helping to promote an efficient movement instead of feeling like it's propelling you forward.

In comparison to Speed 2 – and something that will be music to the ears of anyone who enjoyed it – very little has changed in the Speed 3. The main focus for updates is stability, with a slightly widened base and higher side walls, there's also a redesigned nylon for additional support. For most those updates will be minimal, so if you can pick up the Endorphin Speed 2 cheaper it's worth saving some money.

Whether you're a beginner looking for a versatile shoe for all of your training or a seasoned athlete that wants something for faster training sessions, the Endorphin Speed 3 is one of the best options out there.

Hoka Mach 5

Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $140

The best road running shoes 2022 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The Mach 5 may well be the perfect balance of cushioning and speed, delivering the goods whether you're heading out for a slow recovery run or picking up the pace for a tempo session. The midsole foam is one of the most versatile we've tried in a running shoe and manages to be both lightweight and responsive while still being able to take the brunt of your long runs.

The only reason it isn't our favorite all-round running shoes is due to the fact that the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is slightly better when it comes to faster-paced efforts, but only just, and the Mach 5 probably takes the top spot if comfort is the deciding factor.

The Mach 4 saw a semi-update in the form of the Mach Supersonic, a shoe that was focused on speed instead of versatility and included an updated Profly+ midsole. However, it wasn't an upgrade that improved on the Mach 4 for many. The 5 takes learnings from both the Mach 4 and the Supersonic to create a shoe that feels lighter and more comfortable.

If you're looking for one shoe to do everything, and you don't want to fork out for the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, the Mach 5 is well worth a look.

New Balance FuelCell TC

Buy now: New Balance (UK) / New Balance (US) | $180

New Balance Fuelcell TC

As with any carbon plated shoe, comparisons with the Vaporfly range are inevitable. However, setting up any using carbon plate technology as a competitor to Nike's race shoe means that you're not seeing the bigger picture.

The FuelCell TC, unlike the Vaporfly, is a shoe that's designed for training and racing. Yes, it has a carbon plate, but that's largely where any similarity ends. At 281 grams it's noticeably heavier than a focussed race shoe and the build offers significantly more durability than what you find in the Next%.

The combination of the plate, the FuelCell foam and the comfy, durable build won us over instantly as an impressive all-round shoe, offering an impressively bouncy ride that still allows you to pick up the pace on race day or in faster training runs.

There really isn't anything the FuelCell TC can't do well, which makes it a great option if you want one pair of shoes that gives you a responsive, energetic feel with each step that'll cover you from enjoyable long training runs to hitting it hard on race day. We've covered over 100km in the FuelCell TC so far and find ourselves looking forward to wearing it for each run – not too shabby when it comes to the looks department as well.

Saucony Ride 15

Buy now: Saucony (UK) / Saucony (US) | $130

The best road running shoes | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

Saucony's Ride line of shoes has long been its most popular for those runners looking for a bit of everything. The latest version sees some major updates to the legacy design, including an updated midsole foam, a more flexible forefoot design and modified midsole geometry for a smoother transition.

The PWRRUN foam is largely where the magic happens, delivering just enough cushioning for a soft ride without sacrificing the ability to pick up the pace if the mood takes you. Whether you're heading out for some long slow miles or you're planning to push yourself for some fast training sessions, it ticks all of the boxes as a versatile daily shoe. The updated midsole is slightly softer than the previous versions, something we found makes a noticeable improvement.

The upper, made from a mesh material, is as comfortable and plush as it gets. The soft fabric feels loose around your foot whilst still maintaining an impressive level of support, and the thick collar offers an exceptionally pleasing experience from the first time you step inside.

About the only thing the Ride 15 doesn't do is flat out racing. So if you're looking for a lightweight option for race day you may want to investigate some of the faster shoes on the list. For balance, value and all-round training, you really can't go wrong.

Hoka Rincon 3

Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $115

Hoka One One Rincon 3

There aren't many shoes that have the versatility of the Rincon 3 whilst still coming in at an affordable price point. Like its predecessors, it's a shoe that's designed to offer a good level of cushioning whilst still coming in at an impressively light 203g.

The midsole foam deadens the impact of running at a slower speed whilst still feeling firm and responsive enough to pick up the pace for faster training sessions. We've even found it to be a great lightweight option for race day if you want a competent shoe on a budget.

The only downside to the Rincon range is a slight issue with durability in the midsole foam, which means the shoe doesn't last as long as many workhorse trainers out there. So, if you're planning on picking up a pair to cover you for everything from daily sessions to race day, you may find yourself replacing it around 300 miles.

On Cloudflow

Buy now: On (UK) / On (US) | $139.99

On Cloudflow

The Cloudflow line of shoes has always been a reliable option for anyone seeking a lightweight, responsive shoe to train and race in, but the redesigned shoe has even more appeal as an all-rounder thanks to the addition of On’s Helion foam to the midsole, which makes the shoe softer and more accommodating for easy runs as well.

There’s still enough snap in the Cloudflow to race in, and it’s light at 235g (men’s) or 198g (women’s). Of the all-rounders on this list, the Cloudflow is probably the firmest option, so if you prefer a more responsive ride for all your running it’s a great pick.

Hoka Carbon X3

Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $200

Hoka Carbon X3

When the Carbon X was released in 2019 it became one of the years' most talked about shoes. Unlike the soft and bouncy Nike Vaporfly, the Carbon X showed that a carbon plate shoe doesn't need to be reserved for race day. Instead, it was a great all-rounder option that could be used for anything from daily training miles all the way up to ultra running.

Now on its third iteration, the Carbon X line has evolved to include a sock-like engineered mesh upper, an updated ProflyX midsole and an extended swallow tail heel design. For some, the changes made over the past two years have meant that the first version is the superior Carbon X option, but it's a shoe that still offers a solid ride, delivering a versatility that can cover almost any session. The rubberized EVA outsole also ensures that the shoe has a good level of durability, especially when compared with many of the leading carbon plate shoes.

The best running shoes for racing

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2

Buy now: Nike (UK) / Nike (US) | $239.99

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2

How do you follow up the greatest long-distance racing shoe of all time? That’s the question Nike had to answer with the Next%, the successor to the Vaporfly 4% – the shoe that runners of all levels have been using to set personal bests and world records over the past couple of years. The Next% 2 retains that technology and updates it with a modified upper to increase fit and comfort.

Nike started by adding in 15% more ZoomX foam into the midsole of the Next% compared to the 4%, to provide more comfort and bounce. The carbon plate is still one of the best options out there today, helping to propel you to those PBs with incredible responsiveness that promotes a noticeable efficiency when tackling any distance.

The upper and outsole are also able to handle rainy days. The former is now an engineered mesh, which is more breathable than the previous Vaporweave upper, and the outsole manages to tackle corners at speed – exactly what you need on race day.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

Buy now: SportsShoes (UK) / Nike (US) | From $275

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

The Alphafly NEXT% received a lot of attention when it was originally announced due to the large stack height and the fact Kipchoge used a prototype model during his sub-two-hour attempt. Since then it has become one of the most popular carbon plate race options, as well as one of the most expensive shoes runners can buy.

For anyone unfamiliar with Nike's carbon plate shoes, the difference between the Alphafly NEXT% and the Vaporfly NEXT% can be unclear. Both offer similar technical features – including ZoomX foam and the carbon plate – but in practice, they deliver very different experiences.

As well as having a lower drop of 4mm, the shoe also includes two Air Zoom pods at the front, a new Atomknit upper, and more rubber on the outsole for grip. Like the Varporfly NEXT%, it's a shoe built for speed and delivers a high level of bounce and propulsion when running.

For many, the two shoes are difficult to choose between, but the Alphafly NEXT% delivers a higher level of support and cushioning than the Vaporfly, in contrast, it's slightly heavier and the lower offset is not for everyone.

Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3

Buy now: SportsShoes (UK) / Adidas (US) | $250

The best road running shoes 2022 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The previous two iterations of the Adizero Adios Pro appeared high in our picks for the best carbon plate shoes for race day. They didn't quite have the performance benefits we felt from the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 or the Asics Metaspeed Sky, but they were both great options for anything from 5k to marathon distance.

The Adizero Adios Pro sees a number of tweaks to its predecessor, including an update to the Energyrod design –in the shape of Energyrods 2.0 – and a revamped upper to add additional support. The result is an improved modification to the Adios Pro 2 that brings with it a more stable ride than the likes of the Vaporfly Next% 2.

It's a shoe that sits in the upper echelons of the carbon plate race world but has a more subtle level of energy return than some of the bouncier options out there. For many people that may be exactly what they want and delivers a well-balanced ride for running over any race distance.

New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite V2

Buy now: SportsShoes (UK) / New Balance (US) | $224.95

New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite V2

It doesn't seem long ago that the first carbon plate shoes that weren't made by Nike hit the market. Now many brands are producing new iterations of their own carbon plate lines, often with vast improvements on previous versions.

The New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite V2 is a prime example of that, taking the competent RC Elite and flicking the volume dial up a few notches. The bulk of that advancement has come in the form of a more pronounced plate for propulsion and a healthy increase in the amount of midsole foam.

When you first get your hands on the Elite V2, you immediately notice how incredibly soft that midsole foam really is. To the touch, it's like pressing down on a marshmallow – a sensation that produces a noticeable level of bounce when you take them out for a run.

Like the Nike Vaporfly, it's a sensation that seems to absorb the energy from every stride and returns it back in the form of a light, fluid motion that makes racing feel significantly more efficient. Is it as good as the Nike Vaporfly? It's definitely one of the most similar super shoes we've tried, however, the softness may not be to everyone's taste.

Asics Metaspeed Sky

Buy now: Asics (UK) / Asics (US) | $250

Asics Metaspeed Sky

When it comes to race day, the Metaspeed Sky is one of the most impressive carbon plate shoes we've tested. The combination of the propulsive plate with Asics' FF Turbo midsole foam – like an upgraded version of the FF Blast foam found in the Novablast – makes for an almost identical experience to that found in Nike's super shoes.

The upper is made from a light, breathable material that feels comfortable and relaxed as well as offering a good lockdown when picking up the pace, and there's plenty of cushioning around the heel collar to hold the foot in place with soft, luxurious padding.

The Metaspeed Sky isn't the only carbon plate shoe that Asics has released this year – there's also the Metaspeed Edge. Both shoes are designed to help increase the efficiency of running styles, with the Metaspeed Sky focused on those runners with a wide stride length, and the Metaspeed edge built for those runners who increase cadence when running at speed.

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

Buy now: Asics (UK) / Asics (US) | $250

The best road running shoes 2022 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The Metaspeed Sky+, along with the Edge+, is more of an update to the Metaspeed Sky than a completely different shoe, but we've added both here due to the fact that many people are unsure which to go for when picking up a race option.

The main differences are the addition of extra midsole foam to produce even more bounce than its predecessor, a lighter modified upper and a repositioned carbon plate. The result is a noticeable but minimal improvement to one of the best carbon plate racers on the market, and it's well worth picking up if the shoe is the same price as the original.

If, however, you can pick the older version up at a discount we'd say that the differences are negligible for most people, so until the Metaspeed Sky 2 is released its worth saving your money if you can.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

Buy now: Saucony (UK) / Saucony (US) | $200

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

The Endorphin Pro 2 is a carbon plate racer that's designed to be used alongside the excellent Speed 2 and Saucony's daily workhorse, the Shift 2. When compared with other super shoes like the Nike Vaporfly or the Asics Metaspeed Sky, the Endorphin Pro 2 is noticeably firmer, lacking the bounce often associated with those shoes. As a result, it's best suited to 5k and 10k races instead of marathons.

The benefit of the Endorphin Pro 2 is a more natural feel that tends to be smoother than many carbon plate shoes, which makes it a good option for those runners that are new to the super shoe game. The more conventional midsole design also makes them more stable than many high-stack racers.

Note: the pictured design is the Saucony Endorphin Pro VIZIPRO edition which features reflective design elements for visibility when running at night.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Buy now: Saucony (UK) / Saucony (US) | $225

The best road running shoes 2022 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The Endorphin Pro 3 has seen so many updates that comparisons with the Pro 2 are largely pointless. Unlike its predecessor – which was a firmer carbon plate alternative to the likes of Nike's super shoes – the Endorphin Pro 3 goes all-in on soft, bouncy cushioning.

That thicker stack of PWRRUN PB foam in the midsole is at the heart of the new design and produces a propulsive feel that's along the same lines as the Nike Vaporfly 2 or Asics Metasdpeed Sky+. For many, this will be a welcome change and delivers an experience that's a worthy competitor to the leading carbon plate shoes out there.

There are also updates to the upper mesh which now feels more comfortable with some extra wiggle room for the toes, along with a good level of outsole rubber for grip and anti-slip laces. If you're looking for the same performance benefits as the Nike and Asics racers, the Endorphin Pro 3 is well worth a look.

On Cloudboom Echo

Buy now: On (UK) / On (US) | $269.99

On Cloudboom Echo

When On released the Cloudboom in 2020, comparisons with the leading carbon plate shoes were inevitable, however, the shoe wasn't designed to deliver the same high-cushioned experience we'd come to expect from the likes of Nike and Adidas.

The Cloudboom Echo is a shoe with a lot more in common with the leading carbon plate offerings available. The most significant is the softer, bouncier stack of midsole cushioning that runs the full length of the shoe.

For those that want maximum cushioning and a soft, propulsive toe-off, the Cloudboom Echo may still lean more towards the harder end of the carbon plate spectrum, but that is by no means a bad thing – not everyone likes super soft shoes, and the Cloudboom Echo may just be the perfect alternative if that's the case.

It's an impressively comfortable and responsive shoe that delivers on race day, whether that's a 5k or a full marathon. Noticeably more forgiving than the original Cloudboom's hardness, it's by far the most exciting shoe On has released for some time, and a promising look into the future of the brand when it comes to performance technology.

Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper

Buy now: SportShoes (UK) / Skechers (US) | $190

Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper

The Skechers Go Run Speed Elite Hyper is an impressively lightweight race shoe that incorporates a number of welcome features for race day.

The Hyper Burst midsole foam manages to be both cushioned and responsive, despite the shoes minimal weight, producing an experience that makes the shoe an excellent choice for race day. In addition, there's a carbon-infused winglet plate in the front of the shoe to promote an even springier toe-off – although the effect is far more subtle than you'll find in some of the full-length super shoes.

The outsole is covered with a surprisingly thick helping of Goodyear performance rubber to protect the midsole and increase durability, while the lightweight upper is both comfortable and breathable for fast-paced efforts.

The level of cushioning is less than what you'll find in shoes like the Vaporfly or Alphafly, which makes the Speed Elite Hyper better suited to races up to half marathon distance.

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2

Buy now: Brooks (UK) / Brooks (US) | $250

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2

After the launch of the disappointing Hyperion Elite earlier in the year, Brooks has come back for round two with a significantly more impressive carbon fibre contender.

Updated with a DNA Flash midsole – instead of the DNA Zero foam used in the previous iteration – the Elite 2 has become one of the standout competitors to Nike's Vaporfly NEXT% and Alphafly NEXT% options, featuring a soft, springy experience that's conducive to picking up the pace on race day.

Although it may not quite have the noticeable energy return that you'll find in Nike's leading carbon race shoes, the Elite is a great all-round option for racing whether you're aiming for a Parkrun PB or you going for a full marathon distance. At those longer distances, it delivers a consistently comfortable ride that keeps your legs feeling fresh for miles.

As well as a light, comfortable upper, the Elite 2 has additional support in the heel section, which makes for a nice secure fit. For us, it's also a noticeably more stable shoe than some of the high stack carbon plate options out there.

Saucony Kinvara 12

Buy now: Saucony (UK) / Saucony (US) | $110

Saucony Kinvara 12

Saucony's Kinvara series has long been a favorite with those looking for a fast, lightweight shoe that still offers a nice level of cushioning – and the most recent addition to the range doesn't disappoint.

The Kinvara 12, by far one of the most eye-catching looking designs we've seen over the past year, has all the benefits we've come to expect from the shoe. The most important being Saucony's PWRRUN foam in the midsole which offers a good balance between responsiveness and cushioning when it comes to faster training.

At 213 grams, it's a great option for race day and that new cushioning manages to make it feel comfortable as well as offering a level of responsiveness that's surprising for a speed shoe of this level. In fact, to say the Kinvara 12 is a race shoe is a disservice as it delivers extremely well as a training shoe if you're looking for something that's a bit snappier.

With an increased level of durability due to the PWRRUN foam and an extremely supportive and comfortable mesh upper, the Kinvara 12 is great value for money and well worth a look if you're training for a PB.

The best running shoes for fast training

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

Buy now: Pro:Direct (UK) / Nike (US) | $200

Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next%

The Tempo Next% takes learning from across Nike's performance range and pulls them together to produce a shoe that's designed specifically for tempo running.

That technology includes React foam in the heel for minimising impact, ZoomX foam in the midsole for a lightweight, propulsive feel and Air Zoom pods in the forefoot to deliver a responsive bounce when you push off with each step.

Although it shares numerous similarities with the Vaporfly and Alphafly race shoes, the Tempo Next% delivers a very different experience. It's heavier than those options with a level of hardness that is immediately noticeable when you start running. The reason for that is likely due to the fact it's built to be more durable, offering significantly more miles than you can expect from shoes specifically designed for race day.

As the name suggests, the shoe is designed for those runs where you want to train at a higher speed for longer, safe in the knowledge that you can wear them many times without fear that they'll wear down quickly.

Hoka Rocket X

Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $180

Hoka One One Rocket X

The Hoka Rocket X is an important lesson that all shoes built with a carbon plate are not designed for the same purpose. Like the Carbon X, the Rocket X is a shoe delivering an experience that feels like a non-carbon shoe but still benefits from the addition of a plate.

By that we mean it doesn't have the bounce that you get from the Alphafy Next% or the Vaporfly NEXT%, but, it's still an incredibly fast shoe, feeling more like a traditional lightweight racer with a very subtle energy return benefit. That energy return becomes noticeable as you run and makes it a great option for tempo runs and races up to half marathon distance.

For the price, the Rocket X is by far one of the best value carbon plate shoes available at the moment. It offers a good level of cushioning – although maybe not enough for most marathon runners – and has a firm, locked-down fit that makes it great for running at speed.

Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2

Buy now: Under Armour (UK) / Under Armour (US) | $160

Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2

The Velociti Wind 2 is a fantastic option if your focus is faster training but you want a more conventional design. In many ways, it feels more like a minimal shoe when compared to many comparable options out there and as a result is popular with runners that want something lightweight that keeps things simple.

The feel and design are where the simplicity stops as the Velociti Wind 2 is by far one of the most technologically advanced shoes on the market. Inside the shoe is a sensor that measures your movements, linking with the Mapmyrun app to give you data on your running metrics after each run.

For many, that information may be unnecessary, which is a shame because we'd love to see a cheaper version of the shoe that strips out the futuristic elements. Even without it the Velociti Wind 2 is a great choice for speedy sessions and a worthy alternative to carbon plate super shoes.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo

Buy now: Brooks (UK) / Brooks (US) | $160

The best road running shoes | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The Hyperion Tempo was originally designed to be a faster training shoe that partners with the original Hyperion Elite carbon plate racer. Due to a disappointing feel to the midsole of that shoe, Brooks updated the design to include the same DNA Flash midsole foam found in the Hyperion Tempo – a fairly positive move that suggests the Hyperion Tempo was doing something right.

It's a shoe that excels at faster training, offering a nice level of cushioning and pop despite the lack of a carbon plate. We've found it works best for efforts over 15km and may even be a good choice for race day if you're not in the market for a carbon plate option. Over longer distances it feels noticeably bouncy but still has enough cushioning to take impact over high mileage sessions.

Hoka Bondi X

Buy now: Hoka (UK) / Hoka (US) | $200

Hoka One One Bondi X

The Bondi X is a very difficult shoe to pin down. The addition of a carbon plate to Hoka's maximally cushioned Bondi inevitably draws comparisons with the growing pile of carbon plate race options available at the top of this list. For us, any similarities with shoes like the Nike Vaporfly or Asics Metaspeed Sky are, however, limited.

Despite the addition of a carbon plate, the Bondi still runs like a more conventional cushioned shoe, lacking to propulsive feel that many super shoes deliver. That is by no means a bad thing, and for fans of the original Bondi, the upgrade may well be a welcome addition that takes the shoe from being an enjoyable daily option to one that can be used on race day.

If you were looking for a shoe to replace the Nike Vaporfly or Metaspeed Sky, the Bondi X is unlikely to make the cut. As well as being noticeably heavier, the foam lacks the energy return you'll find in those two shoes. For cushioned training, it could be a good choice, especially if you want something that can tackle faster sessions.

The best cushioned running shoes

Brooks Glycerin 20

Buy now: Brooks (UK) / Brooks (US) | $160

Brooks Glycerin 20

Like the Hoka Clifton, the Glycerin is built for comfort, with plenty of soft cushioning underfoot and a plushy-padded upper and tongue. As a result heavier runners, or anyone who just wants a more comfortable run, should look closely at the Glycerin.

Given that it’s purpose-built for comfort rather than speed, it’s not surprising that the Glycerin is quite heavy and the heel-to-toe transition of the shoe is sedate, rather than snappy. If you’re all about logging a faster Parkrun then it might not be your best bet, but if you’re new to running and want to cruise around in the utmost comfort, it’s definitely up there with the Clifton. In particular, anyone tackling their first marathon should check it out as a top pick for the long grind of training.

In addition to an improved mesh upper for a better fit, the latest iteration of the Glycerin ups the comfort level even more by introducing a new nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 midsole. The result is a softer, bouncier ride that manages to improve on an already fantastic shoe for easy day miles and daily sessions.

New Balance Fresh Foam More V3

Buy now: New Balance (UK) / New Balance (US) | $164.99

New Balance Fresh Foam More V3

The New Balance More v3 is the ultimate running shoe if your absolute main focus is cushioning. The thick wedge of Fresh Foam X foam feels like you've just stepped onto a mattress, absorbing the foot into a pillowy realm that makes walking and running a thing of joy.

It's a shoe that's best used for those daily training miles when speed is the furthest thing from the agenda. Stick an audiobook on or delve into a smooth jazz playlist and clock up your base miles in complete comfort. The plush upper also holds the foot firmly in place while still having a generous fit, while the thick base offers a good level of stability despite the stack of cushioning.

For us, it's a great shoe for those runs that you really don't want to step out of the door for and makes longer sessions as painless as possible, taking the brunt of the impact and ensuring a smooth ride until you stop your Garmin and fall back onto the sofa.

Asics Novablast 2

Buy now: Asics (UK) / Asics (US) | $130

Asics Novablast 2 Running Shoe

The Novablast was one of the bounciest, softest and most noticeably cushioned shoes we've tested – as a result, it was a deeply polarising shoe. The Novablast 2 takes learnings from its predecessor and improves both the stability and firmness, whilst still painting the cushioning and bounce that made the shoe so popular.

Although the Flytefoam Blast midsole can feel a bit like running on marshmallows, the energy return you get with each step is noticeably springy and it delivers the good from short runs up to marathon distance.

The downside of the Novablast 2 is still a slight lack of stability, and everything from the high cushioning to a slightly loose feeling upper does make them struggle as a great technical option, especially for longer distances and racing.

For a general runner who's putting in a couple of lighter runs a week, they're an incredibly enjoyable shoe to run in and we've found ourselves picking them off the shelf increasingly often when our main focus is fun mileage. The 8mm drop is an acquired taste and definitely not one to experiment with if you're used to a flatter shoe, but if you like a bit of bounce, they're well worth a look.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

Buy now: New Balance (UK) / New Balance (US) | $149.99

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

Few shoes have managed to match the Fresh Foam 1080 range when it comes to versatility and cushioning, with the v11 – and its predecessor, the v10 – showing how a shoe can tick boxes from slow, enjoyable training runs all the way up to race day efforts.

The Fresh Foam midsole manages to be cushioned whilst still maintaining a high level of responsiveness without being too soft or sluggish. The result is a shoe that feels great for daily training miles but still packs a punch if you want to push yourself harder and pick up the pace.

Another factor that has made the shoe so popular is the sock-like upper design, an elastic mesh material that allows the foot to move freely whilst still holding it in place with a secure and confident fit.

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run

Buy now: Nike (UK) / Nike (US) | $180

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run

ZoomX foam is the incredibly soft and responsive material used in both the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2 and the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%. In those shoes, it's used predominantly due to it being both lightweight and bouncy for runners looking for speed on race day.

The ZoomX Invincible Run applies the same foam to daily runs, using it to produce a soft and cushioned experience that makes pounding the pavement feel like you're running on marshmallows, whilst still adding an element of propulsion and bounce.

To get around the unstable nature of ZoomX foam Nike has created the midsole with a wide base across the whole length of the shoe. The result is an incredibly comfortable and fun shoe for ticking off training miles.

The shoe isn't for everyone though as the squishy midsole lacks the versatility that you'll find in options like the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 or the Asics Novablast 2, both of which offer a better experience when training at higher speeds, or even race day.

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3

Buy now: Nike (UK) | Nike (US) | $180

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3

The third version of Nike's popular daily training shoe sees little in the way of updates. There are some minor modifications to the heel for support and the upper has a softer feel than the previous model, but other than that it holds little in the way of surprises for fans of its predecessors.

For most people, that decision will come as welcome news, as the Infinity is a solid workhorse all-rounder that delivers the goods for people who want to log many miles of training. That's largely due to the React midsole that offers a nice balance between cushioning and firmness, making it perfect for those looking for one pair of shoes to take them from shorter sessions all the way up to marathon distance.

That versatility is the reason it's a great choice for beginners that want a bit of everything, even those after a reliable option for race day. The wide base also makes for a stable ride, especially when compared to some softer options, and the Flyknit upper has a nice stretchy feel that holds the foot comfortably in place.

Saucony Triumph 19

Buy now: Saucony (UK) | Saucony (US) | $150

The best road running shoes 2021 | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony

The Triumph line from Saucony is the perfect example of how a brand can successfully develop a classic trainer year after year to ensure it still delivers the goods. Like its many predecessors, the Triumph 19 is a shoe designed for comfort over daily miles and high mileage sessions, but, it's much more than just a classic cruiser.

The PWRRUN+ midsole foam manages to balance a high level of soft cushioning with just enough propulsive bounce to make it a versatile option for those runners looking to pick up the pace. For some, that may mean having the flexibility to head out the door with the option to vary speed depending on how you feel on the day, for others it could well be the perfect shoe for hitting a marathon in comfort.

The thin upper has just the right level of cushioning to feel noticeably plush, whilst the generous level of outsole rubber adds a good level of durability, as well as traction on wet roads.

On Cloudmonster

Buy now: On (UK) / On (US) | $169.99

The best road running shoes | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

On isn't usually a brand associated with max cushioning and as a result is often overlooked by runners searching for soft easy day shoes. The Cloudmonster aims to rectify that with a thick wedge of Helion Superfoam in the midsole to take the brunt of many miles of training.

When compared with cushioned shoes like the Nike Invincible or the New Balance More V3, the Cloudmonster still has the firmer feel of an On shoe, which makes it a good transition if you're a long-time On fan who wants a bit more comfort. Because of the firmer midsole foam, the Cloudmonster is also more versatile than many max cushioned options and has a good level of responsiveness for picking up the pace on daily runs.

For us, the Cloudmonster is a solid entry to the On collection and a fills a gap that has long been missing in the line-up. It may not be the softest cushioned shoe out there, but it's a great step towards On catering for all types of runners.

Asics Gel-Cumulus 23

Buy now: Asics (UK) | Asics (US) | $120

Asics Gel-Cumulus 23

The Gel-Cumulus line has long been one associated with comfort, both from the generous, soft upper as well as the cushioned Flytefoam midsole. For us, it's a shoe that's targeted towards those runners that want comfort above all else, but still like a shoe that will allow a moderate level of versatility in what it's used for.

For long training runs, we found that the Gel-Cumulus 23 has the benefits of a max-cushioned shoe. The midsole absorbs the impact with a soft landing each time, enhanced by the addition of the gel section that sits in the heel block. However, it doesn't feel bulky or heavy, which means it allows for training at a faster pace without being uncomfortable or unwieldy. It may not be the most exciting shoe at any pace or distance, but it's a reliable workhorse that keeps the feet fresh for many miles.

Brooks Ghost 14

Buy now: Brooks (UK) | Brooks (US) | $140

Brooks Ghost 14 running shoe

When a shoe line reaches its 14th version you know it must be doing something right. In the case of the Ghost 14 that something is, for the most part, comfort.

Featuring a full-length DNA Loft midsole, the Ghost 14 is a great choice if you're looking for a reliable, cushioned ride that covers you whether you're doing a short recovery run or heading out for some long, slow miles.

The upper has a relaxed fit that feels instantly comfortable and the light midsole does a great job at taking the brunt of the impact when you're covering a lot of training miles. In addition, there's a thick layer of rubber on the outsole to ensure that not only can it grip varied terrain, but you can feel safe in the knowledge that the added durability will keep them in your shoe rotation for a good while.

The only issues we found with the Ghost 14 were that the loose fit doesn't feel as secure and locked down as many runners might want and the soft cushioning does lack responsiveness when it comes to picking up the pace.

HOKA Clifton 8

Buy now: Hoka (UK) | Hoka (US) | $140

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8

Given the substantial stack of cushioning on the bottom of the Clifton 8, you’d be pretty gutted if you stepped into it and it didn’t feel gloriously soft, so it’s fortunate that it absolutely does deliver on that front, offering as comfortable a ride as you’ll find on any running shoe.

That soft ride makes the Clifton a great option for any runner who prioritises comfort in their shoe. Whether that’s just for long and easy runs, or for all your running, the Clifton is durable and protects your legs from the rigours of a busy training regime.

In past editions of the Clifton, however, the soft ride has made it a far from ideal shoe to use when you want to up the pace. With the Clifton 8 – and its predecessors the Clifton 6 and 7 – Hoka has managed to tweak the ride of the shoe to make it smoother and a little more responsive. It’s still not going to outgun a pure racer, but you can use it for running at speed more comfortably than with past versions of the shoe. It's also pretty light at 250g, despite being amply-cushioned, thanks to the foam Hoka uses.

Hoka Kawana

Buy now: Hoka (UK) | Hoka (US) | $140

The best road running shoes | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

Despite being a cushioned shoe the Kawana is a long way from the softer options on this list. Hoka has added a new CMEVA midsole foam that feels noticeably firmer than many of the brand's other options, which may be an issue for Hoka fans that are used to a softer ride from their shoes.

That may alienate some of the more traditional Hoka runners, but it does offer an interesting alternative to those who prefer a harder ride. There's also a thicker base to the shoe which works alongside the dense midsole foam to produce a noticeably stable experience – one that gives a good level of responsiveness when picking up the pace.

It may not be the liveliest shoe out there, and at slower paces, it can feel slightly cumbersome, but the payoff is a reliable feel that plants the foot securely with every step.

The best stability running shoes

On Cloudflyer

Buy now: On (UK) | On (US) | $159.99

On Cloudflyer

The third iteration of On's popular support shoe has become one of our favourite options when it comes to daily training miles. Like its predecessors, the Cloudflyer is designed to deliver stability and cushioning without adding unnecessary weight to the ride.

The result is a shoe that offers a wonderfully balanced all-round experience across any distance; the kind of shoe you pick wear when you want to enjoy your run for as long as possible.

The updated design incorporates On's Helion Superfoam, a material that feels significantly softer than the midsole in the earlier version, whilst still retaining a nice level of energy return as you're running.

As stability shoes go, the Cloudflyer offers a subtler level of support than you might find in some of the heavier options available. So much so that it feels more like a cushioned daily trainer than a shoe specifically for those who pronate. Whether you do or not, it's an excellent choice if you're looking for a sturdy, comfortable and lightweight ride that can be used for everything from short distances to marathon events.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v12

Buy now: New Balance (UK) | New Balance (US) | $134.99

The best road running shoes | Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony and more

The 860v12 delivers the same subtle level of stability we found when testing the On Cloudflyer. It's an experience that feels more like a traditional cushioned road shoe than something specifically built for pronation, making it a good option for those that don't want to go for a heavy-duty stability shoe.

The addition of a medial post – along with an overly generous covering of outsole rubber – does technically make the shoe a heavy choice, however, when testing over daily training miles

Tags:    Running
Tagged    Running