The best running shoes 2020 | Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Hoka One One

Top men's road running shoes stress-tested for comfort and speed
The best men's road running shoes 2020

If you ask 10 different runners what the best running shoe is, you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

One might be nipping out speedy 5Ks and relying on lightweight shoes, while the next person could be consistently logging 80-100 miles weekly and needing shoes for marathon or ultramarathon distances

In short, finding the right shoe for you starts with considering what you want to use it for.

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.

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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

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

The best running shoes 2020: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

Nike’s Pegasus line has always been a go-to option for runners seeking a solid all-round running shoe to train and race in, but the introduction of the souped-up Pegasus Turbo has taken that to another level. The Turbo was launched in 2018 and immediately blew both the Pegasus 35 and every other all-rounder shoe out of the water in offering the ideal combination of comfort and speed, and the Turbo 2 is just as impressive as its predecessor.

In the midsole you’ll find a combination of two of Nike’s proprietary foams – ZoomX and React. ZoomX is the lightweight, bouncy foam used in the Vaporfly and it’s pretty much perfect aside from the fact it’s not all that durable, which is fine in a pure racing shoe like the Vaporfly, but not the Pegasus Turbo, which has many training miles to cover as well. Thus the hardy React foam has been added to the midsole to increase the durability of the Turbo, with great results – we found our set of the first edition of the shoe lasted well beyond 500 miles.

The second edition of the Pegasus Turbo leaves the brilliant midsole unchanged but has an updated upper, which is lighter and more breathable than on the original shoe. It’s not a huge change, but the good news is that Nike also did away with the racing stripe that ran down the centre of the first Pegasus Turbo, so the new shoe is easier on the eye as well.


Hoka One One Rincon

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

The Rincon has a lot of standout features on paper – it’s very light at 218g (men’s) while still having ample cushioning, and Hoka’s early stage Meta-Rocker is always impressive in delivering a smooth heel-to-transition.

What's more, you get all of that for $115, which is a bargain in a running shoe market that’s now stretching well beyond $200.

However, what really stands out about the Rincon when you actually run in it is how fun it is. It’s not bouncy like an Adidas Boost shoe or the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2, but that smooth transition, lack of heft and chunky cushioning all combine to create a ride that’s a joy to experience, whether you’re heading out for a tough tempo session, an easy recovery effort, or even a race.

Take the Rincon out for a long progression run in particular and you can experience how the shoe just feels better and better as you increase the pace and distance covered.

It doesn’t have the carbon plate you’ll find in the pricier Hoka One One Carbon X shoe, but the Rincon is just as good a racer at any distance shorter than perhaps a full marathon, and a whole lot cheaper and lighter than Hoka’s flagship road shoe to boot.


On Cloudflow

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

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.


Brooks Launch 6

The best running shoes to buy in 2019

There are several great all-rounder shoes available around the £100 mark, including the Nike Zoom Pegasus 36 and the Saucony Ride ISO 2, but the Launch 6 gets the nod from us not by providing one standout feature, but instead nailing the sweet spot between racing shoe and easy trainer. It’s the goldilocks shoe that can do it all.

You can reach for the Launch no matter what type of run you're planning, but we found it particularly excelled during tempo runs and steady-paced long efforts, especially those where you crank up to something like race pace near the end. The transition from heel to toe is quick and smooth, and the ride is slightly snappier than other all-rounder shoes, thought not so firm that the Launch is uncomfortable during long runs.

Brooks added some more foam to the midsole around the forefoot with the sixth version of the shoe, which didn’t really affect the ride, but should make a shoe that was already known for its durability even more long-lasting.

The upper is comfortable and fairly nondescript in appearance, although Brooks does release special editions from time to time (including a green shoe with clovers all over it for St Patrick’s Day), but that unassuming upper suits the Launch well. It’s not flashy, but it will get the job done every time, no matter what kind of run you have on your plan. For an added bonus, it costs less than £100, a rarity worth celebrating in the world of premium running shoes.


The best running shoes for racing

Nike Zoom Vaporfly NEXT%

The best running shoes 2020: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

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.

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 in place in the midsole, helping to propel you to those PBs, but the offset of the shoe has been changed, with more foam in the forefoot to reduce the drop of the shoe from 11mm to 8mm, which provides a more stable feel to the ride, especially when running in wet weather.

The upper and outsole are also better able to handle rainy days. The former is now made of Vaporweave, which is more breathable and absorbs less water than the Flyknit used for the 4%’s upper, and the outsole has more traction. Sometimes the 4% could feel a little dicey when rounding sharp corners at speed, but that’s not the case with the NEXT%.


New Balance FuelCell Rebel

The best running shoes to buy in 2019

There’s an awful lot to like about the FuelCell Rebel and that starts with the price. While $129.99 isn’t cheap by any stretch, it’s significantly cheaper than the other shoes we’d rate in its class as a racing and faster training shoe, such as the Pegasus Turbo 2 and the Hoka One One Carbon X. It’s very lightweight at 208g (men’s), but still has enough cushioning for longer runs – and it’s also a great deal of fun to run in.

The Rebel’s midsole is made of New Balance’s FuelCell foam, which is lightweight and bouncy, exactly what you want when you’re aiming to log long distances at speed. Most runners will find that it’s not quite soft enough for easy training, but any time you want to up the pace the Rebel is a terrific shoe to have on your foot, and it has enough cushioning for a full marathon.

Although the bootie-like upper is comfortable and provides a secure fit, we’ve found that the Rebel in general runs a little small, so it’s worth moving up half a size.

Saucony Kinvara 11

The best running shoes 2020 | Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Hoka One One

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 11, by far one of the most impressive looking designs we've seen over the past year, has all the benefits we've come to expect from the shoe. The biggest upgrade, aside from the smart new aesthetics, is the addition of Saucony's PWRRUN foam in the midsole (the Kinvara 10 used a EVA+ midsole with an EVERUN topsole).

At 220 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 11 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 11 is great value for money and well worth a look if you're training for a PB.

Adidas SL20

The best running shoes 2020 | Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Hoka One One

Adidas may well be one of the big players in the running space but over the past few years its range of race shoes has largely been overshadowed by Nike's output. Yes, there's the Ultraboost – a formidable all-round shoes, but a long way off a fast racer.

The SL20 is probably the most exciting release from adidas in recent years – until the release of its new carbon plate shoe, that is. At 230g it's clear where the shoe is focussed, thanks to a new foam adidas are calling Lightstrike. For fast running it's an absolute dream, offering an incredibly light and snappy ride that's perfect for anything from track training to 10k road racing. Anything longer and we've found it may be a bit too hard to offer enough cushioning for most runners.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the shoe is the price. If we were to have guessed we would have said it would be significantly more than the $120 price tag – you can even find it considerably cheaper at a lot of retailers, something that makes the SL20 incredible value.

The shoe also incorporates an incredibly durable Continental rubber outsole, a secure upper mesh and comes in a range of colorways. As with most adidas Shoes, it can come up slightly tight on the forefoot, though.

The best cushioned running shoe

Adidas Ultraboost 20

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

The original Ultraboost was a game-changer in terms of offering a quality running shoe that was also fashionable enough to stroll around town in, and it was much-imitated as a result. After the Ultraboost 19 – that saw adidas make its first major update to the shoe since it launched with upgrades to comfort, durability and boost cushioning – comes the newest addition to the range, the Ultraboost 20.

Aside from a purely aesthetic design makeover launched in partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory, updates include Tailored Fibre Placement technology in the Primeknit upper for added support and additional design tweaks to the Boost midsole.

That Boost foam is the key to the shoe’s appeal. It lasts forever, offering a springy ride that especially good for helping you to hold your pace over long runs. The Ultraboost might not be a light shoe, but we’ve always found that we could clock up decent speeds over long runs in it because of the bounce in the foam.


Brooks Glycerin 17

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

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

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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.


Mizuno Wave Skyrise

The best running shoes 2020: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

Although, in our opinion, the Wave Skyrise isn't one of the most attractive looking shoes on the market. What it lacks in looks it makes up for in comfort over any distance.

Everything about this shoe is made to make those slow training miles as enjoyable as possible. The sturdy upper incorporates a Dynomotion fit fabric that's both supportive and relaxed. The mesh design is stretchy and offers a nice level of breathability, and the tongue is enjoyably padded offering a snug cushioned fit.

When it comes to the midsole, Mizuno has added something called XPOP PU Foam, a material that contains thousands of small beads for cushioning on impact as well as responsiveness. There's also a ventilation system to keep air moving through the foot during a run.

Covering that soft, cushioned midsole is a fairly thick layer of X-10 carbon rubber which not only offers a good level of grip on wet or slippy terrain but also protects the less durable material underneath.

We've been running in the Wave Skyrise for over 80km and at no point have we regretted it on training runs. It's definitely not a speed trainer, but for those long miles, it's an excellent companion that'll last for a long time.

The best stability running shoe

Asics Gel Kayano 26

The best running shoes to buy in 2019

Stability shoes often come unstuck when the extra support features added to the shoe to prevent overpronation become intrusive and uncomfortable during your run. Asics has always done a great job of preventing this from being the case with the Kayano line, and the 26th version of the shoe continues that fine tradition of being a comfortable long-distance stability running shoe.

Despite being a fairly heavy shoe at 315g (men’s) you don’t feel that weight at all when running in the Kayano 26, which has a firm, responsive ride thanks to the Flytefoam Propel foam used in its midsole. It makes for a great half marathon and marathon racing shoe as a result, though some runners might find that it feels a little too firm during easy training runs, especially at first while the shoe breaks in.

A series of additions to the midsole and outsole, along with the Metaclutch heel counter, help to gently guide your foot into a neutral position and combat overpronation while running, but these stability features are not overbearing, so even neutral runners can use the Kayano.



The best long distance running shoes

Saucony Triumph ISO 5

The best running shoes to buy in 2019

The Triumph ISO 5 is a Rolls Royce of a running shoe, offering supreme comfort mile after mile, and enough bounce in the sole that you can pick up the pace whenever you want. It’s a great shoe for beginner runners, especially those training for a first marathon, because it has enough cushioning to protect your body from the impact of running but it’s not so heavy that it will hold you back as you get into the sport and improve.

Everun is Saucony’s proprietary foam and it provides a similarly springy feel to Adidas’s Boost foam, returning the energy you put into each stride to help power you through your runs. The Triumph ISO not only has a full-length Everun midsole, but the material is used in the topsole as well, so although this is a shoe built for cruising, it still feels snappy when you crank up your speed.

The breathable mesh upper is designed to adapt to the shape of your foot and combines with the plushly-padded tongue and heel to snugly hold the foot in place without feeling oppressive. Underneath is a contoured footbed that adds to the almost sock-like feel of the fit.

There are other shoes that offer similar levels of comfort, like Brooks’s Glycerin line, but the Triumph ISO 5 is that rare shoe that combines a plush feel with a genuinely responsive ride when you do want to up the pace on your long runs.


HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6

The best running shoes to buy in 2019

Given the substantial stack of cushioning on the bottom of the Clifton 6, 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 6 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 the Clifton 6 for faster running more comfortably than with past versions of the shoe. The shoe is also pretty light at 266g, despite being amply-cushioned, thanks to the foam Hoka uses.

The upper of the Clifton 6 has also been updated, with a more stretchy mesh material being used. It’s breathable and holds the foot in place comfortably without any rubbing, reducing the risk of blisters ruining your long runs.


The best budget running shoe

Kalenji Run 100

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

This shoe is so absurdly cheap you might well dismiss it instantly as a waste of time, but if you’re new to running and just need a shoe to log the occasional walk/run or treadmill session of 5K or less in it’ll do the job while barely troubling your wallet.

The Run 100 (or Run One, in the USA) is cushioned, but not the most comfortable shoe, and if you do start running with any regularity you should upgrade to a better shoe – the Run 100 won’t last all that long anyway if you are pounding the pavements several times a week. Still, you really can’t argue with that price.


Adidas Galaxy 4

The best running shoes 2019: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

Although this budget offering from adidas doesn't have some of the more advanced features that you'll see in the top end trainers, it takes enough of the design aspects to be a great value option for those looking for something a bit more affordable.

Yes, it may be missing the popular Boost midsole, but the Cloudfoam alternative offers a good amount of cushioning for your buck. The build and durability of that Cloudfoam means that it'll cover runners for anything up to half marathon distance without any issue and has a nice roomy shape for those with wider feet.

Relatively lightweight with a high level of comfort makes them perfect for running all year round as well. The only downside is an upper that doesn't feel as durable or long-lasting as the more premium options out there.



And the rest

We test a lot of running shoes at Get Sweat Go and not all of them make the cut to be classed as 'the best' in our view. That doesn't mean they're not worth a look though and there are plenty of options out there that offer a great alternative to some of the more pricey running shoes on the list.

Asics GlideRide

The best running shoes 2020: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

The GlideRide received a lot of attention when it launched in 2019, largely due to its unconventional design and claims that it lets you run longer while expending less energy.

To some degree, it's a successor to the previous MetaRide shoe, incorporating a number of the design features but coming in significantly lighter and at a much lower price point. From an aesthetic point of view it's a much sleeker alternative to the MetaRide, still with a similar level of cushioning and support but less clunky and with a more subtle design.

The main feature of the GlideRide is the noticeable curved design from the heel to forefoot. Asics calls it Guidesole and it's an extremely rigid structure that's made to reduce ankle flexion and provide a shock-absorbent landing.

As a result, the feel of running in the GlideRide is very distinctive and the rocker motion has the effect of propelling you forwards with every step. It's a strange experience and one that takes a while to get used to. For some, especially those who've used and enjoyed running in the MetaRide, the GlideRide is an improved version that won't disappoint.

For us, the combination of the thick upper and Guidesole makes for a restrictive motion that's almost forcing the body into moving a certain way. Because of that, it's well worth nipping into a shop and testing them out before investing. They're also not designed to be a race shoe, so if you're planning on doing events as well as training runs then you'll need to look at getting a separate pair.

361 Degrees Spire 4

The best running shoes 2020: Go faster and longer with our top picks for all distances

Although 361 Degrees is a lesser-known brand in the US and the UK, they're one of the largest retailers in China with a massive range of shoes to choose from. The Spire 4 is the latest neutral cushioned shoe added to that line-up featuring a number of upgrades from its predecessor.

When used in training runs, we found the Spire 4 to be a fairly average running shoe. It's neither excels or disappoints across any distance and delivers a competent all-round experience. It wasn't until we picked up the pace, however, that it started to offer something more.

At higher speeds in training runs the combination of the heel to toe offset and a noticeably hard and responsive midsole meant the Spire 4 came into its own. Since then we've used it largely for training runs when we wanted to up the pace more. It even works relatively well when used in races.

For us, the Spire 4 isn't the fastest shoe out there and for long slow runs the hard midsole may cause issue for runners who like more cushioning. However, if you do like a more rigid base to your running shoes and you're looking for one all-rounder that sits between faster training and a modest race pace. It may well be a nice option.

It's also important to note that the shoe is quite thin on the foot. 361 Degrees has released an extra wide version to account for that.


Under Armour HOVR Machina

The best running shoes 2020 | Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Hoka One One

There are two ways to review the HOVR Machina. One is to talk about it in terms of how it compares with other running shoes available and the other is to look at the built-in sensor technology designed to offer real-time feedback on your running.

First we'll cover the tech side of things. The chip and sensors that sit within the HOVR Machina give the wearer insight – via MapMyRun – on speed, distance, stride length and cadence as well as limited information on foot strike. That feedback utilizes Under Armour's vast database of runner information to help deliver insightful feedback on how you can perform better.

It's not the first time Under Armour has released a connected shoe and it's a concept that's a long way ahead of most other brands available at the moment. The technology is also useful if you're the kind of runner that likes to trawl through data. It's still early days for smart shoes though, and the actual usefulness of the data delivered depends largely on your level of understanding. Trying to modify your cadence if you've just started running is not necessarily a good thing and the insights delivered via the app are still fairly minimal – although that will change as Under Armour gains more data.

As a running shoe, the HOVR Machina is a competent and durable option for daily training miles, but it doesn't particularly excel in any area. For us it feels quite chunky on the foot and, although it has a good level of cushioning, there are far better options out there for comfortable training miles. One of the major downsides to the HOVR Machina is the fact that the chip isn't transferable. If you want to track your miles in other shoes, maybe for racing, you'll need to buy other pairs of US's connected shoes.


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