No doubt about it, the last year has been an incredible time for running shoes, from cushioned long run classics to the latest carbon plate race shoes, pretty much all the brands have upped their game. And some, like Puma, have arrived out of nowhere to add to the competition.
But with so many running shoes, how do you find the ones that’ll work best for you?
Well, this video is a great place to start. From the 100s of pairs that The Run Testers have tested, we’ve selected the shoes that stood out most. If it’s made this list it’s a great shoe and well worth consideration.
Here’s the full video on the best runnings available to buy right now. Scroll down to see the individual reviews for each shoe, covering the design, fit and how they delivered on the run.
Best race shoes
1. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2
Price: From £209.95 / $250 | Weight: 186g/6.6oz | Drop: 8mm
Scan the feet in the start corals at any major marathon and you’ll notice a sea of the Vaporfly 2. Despite the arrival of the Alphafly, these carbon-plate racers are still the go-to shoe for chasing PBs over half and marathon distance. They’re lighter and more agile than the Alpha but still punchy when you run with good form and hit the higher paces.
The change in uppers from generation one to generation two is an improvement and the ZoomX foam balances protection and response, and works with that foot-long carbon plate to give you an ideal platform for running fast. These are shoes that make you feel race-ready the moment you lace them on.
2. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
Price: £210 / $225 | Weight: 209g/7.3oz | Drop: 8mm
The Saucony Endorphin Pro and Pro 2 were met with a mixed response when released, mainly due to the firmer ride when compared with other carbon plate super shoes available. With the Endorphin Pro 3, Saucony has made a shoe which is almost unrecognisable when compared with its predecessors.
The new higher stack of PWRRUNPB foam delivers the bounce and softness that people have come to expect from leading super shoes. That midsole works alongside the S-curve carbon-fibre plat and Speedroll design to produce an incredibly comfortable and fluid ride for running at speed, one that’s comparable with Nike’s leading shoes. Unlike some carbon plate racers, we’ve even found that the Endorphin Pro 3 is so versatile that it can be used across race distances from 5k all the way up to marathon, and works extremely well for training sessions at different paces.
For our third pick, we’ve got two racing shoes. Both are worthy of a place in the top spot, but for different reasons.
3. Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
Price: £274.95 / $275 | Weight: 244g / 8.6oz | Drop: 8mm
Even within the world of carbon super-shoe the Alphafly stands out as outlandish. It’s bigger and bouncier than any other carbon shoe, and while its weight and lack of agility makes it best suited to marathons than shorter races, get the Alphafly 2 lined up on a long straight and it’s unbelievably propulsive.
The updates from the Alphafly 1 make the shoe more accessible, with a wider, more stable base, higher drop and extra ZoomX foam under the Air Zoom pods to add more bounce to the forefoot. It’s a top option for big city marathons on PB-friendly courses, but very expensive, and there’s a case for nabbing a deal on the Alphafly 1 if you spot it in sales.
3. Asics Metaspeed Sky+
Price: £225 / $250 | Weight: 209g/7.4oz | Drop: 5mm
The Metaspeed Sky+ is the top carbon plate shoe available from Asics, and we found that to be the case even if you are a runner who fits the style suited to the Edge+, Asics other super-shoe.
The Sky+ is bouncier, and lighter, and great for racing at any distance from 5K to the marathon. It has a carbon plate paired with Asics’s bouncy FF Turbo foam, and a redesigned upper that creates a better fit than the original. Heel strikers beware, however, the lack of rubber on the outsole means you’ll see wear and tear of the exposed foam at the back.
Race Shoes Also Worth Looking At
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3
Price: £220 / $250 | Weight: 218G/7.7oz | Drop: 6.5mm
Where some carbon plate racers offer versatility across different distances, the Adios Pro 3 is best used for longer efforts over half marathon. The combination of 2 layers of Lightstrike pro midsole foam and updated ENERGYRODS 2.0 offer a slightly firmer ride than shoes like the Vaporfly Next% 2 and the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 which lends itself to a consistent pace over longer races.
The new lightweight upper gives a secure, comfortable fit and the Continental rubber outsole is one of the best we’ve tested for grip and protection of the midsole foam.
Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8
Price: £170 / $180| Weight: 194g / 6.8 oz | Drop: 6mm
The Adidas Takumi Sen 8 is one of our favourite new shoes of the year, and it’s the best of the new breed of lower-stack super-shoes. It’s very light and fast, but still has enough cushioning to protect your legs over longer distances, and it’s one of the best 5K racing shoes going.
At its full price, it’s hard to justify picking up the Takumi Sen 8 over the Vaporfly, but if you get it in a deal it’s a superb speed session shoe that’s also great for short races.
Best daily shoes
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
Price: £165 / $170 | Weight: 230g/8.1oz | Drop: 8mm
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 1 and 2 have long been our most talked about options for runners that want a shoe that can do it all. With the Endorphin Speed 3, Saucony has made few changes to the design – which may be welcome news to anyone that’s used the previous versions.
Those updates are designed to improve the stability of the midsole as well as provide a wider fit – a change that may not be to everyone’s tastes. But aside from those changes the Speed 3 is still our top choice for daily training, able to tackle everything from easy day miles all the way up to race day thanks to the combination of a full-length nylon plate with the PWRRUN PB midsole foam and Speedroll design. If you want to buy just one shoe for all of your runs or you need a training partner for a carbon plate option, it’s a shoe that ticks all the boxes.
Hoka Mach 5
Price: £130 / $140 | Weight: 212g/7.5oz | Drop: 5mm
The Hoka Mach 5 is a lightweight, well-cushioned shoe that uses a dual-density midsole to deliver a soft but energetic ride that works well for a range of training runs. It’s comfortable to use for relaxed base miles, excels over longer runs, and still has the pace for speedy stuff even if it lacks the propulsion of a plate in the midsole.
The exposed foam outsole does reduce durability, but the Mach 5 is a great pick for runners who want a simple daily trainer that delivers at a similar level to high-tech shoes like the Endorphin Speed 3.
Puma Velocity Nitro 2
Price: £100 / $120 | Weight: 271g / 9.55oz | Drop: 10mm
The Puma Velocity Nitro 2 is more cushioned than our other top daily trainer picks, and more comfortable as a result, but the bouncy nitrogen-infused foam used for the top layer of the midsole still packs plenty of pop when you’re doing your speedier training sessions.
The superb Pumagrip outsole means that the Nitro 2 is very at home on light trails too, which is great for those who mix up their surfaces during their daily training. It’s also terrific value at its RRP £100 or $120, and often found in sales.
Daily Shoes Also Worth Looking At
Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2
Price: £140 / $160 | Weight: 241g / 8.4oz | Drop: 8mm
The Flow Velociti Wind 2 is a great option if you want a versatile training shoe that veers more towards a conventional design. It feels lightweight on the foot and has a leaner midsole than many daily shoes out there, which means it can tackle faster effort easily whilst still having enough cushioning for slower efforts. The thin upper is one of the most comfortable out there and makes for a supportive and breathable fit for faster sessions.
Another big bonus is that it also includes Under Armour’s MAPMYRUN connective technology that tracks running metrics without the need for a watch.
Saucony Ride 15
Price: £130 / $140 | Weight: 258g / 9.1oz | Drop: 8mm
The updates Saucony has made with the Ride 15 have made it a lighter, softer shoe that’s both more comfortable and also better-suited to speedwork. It’s a great all-rounder option that has a firmer, slightly more traditional ride than other shoes we’ve picked, which will suit runners who aren’t entirely in love with the market trend towards softer midsoles.
Best Cushioned Shoes
1. Brooks Glycerin 20
Price: £150 / $160 | Weight: 298g/9.8oz | Drop: 10mm
Few cushioned shoes have hit the top of our lists as often as the Brooks Glycerin line. For many years it’s been a shoe that delivers the right balance of midsole stack and comfort for runners that want to tick off mileage as enjoyably as possible.
The Glycerin 20 sees one of the biggest upgrades to the shoe in years due to the addition of a new nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 that makes for a softer and bouncier ride. In addition, there’s also an improved upper fit that combines plush comfort with a locked-down feel.
2. Saucony Triumph 20
Price: £155 / $150 | Weight: 264g / 9.3oz | Drop: 8mm
Another shoe that has consistently impressed us for easy days over the years is the Saucony Triumph, offering a plush, comfortable ride with a midsole that feels both soft and bouncy. The latest version sees updates to the PWRRUN+ midsole foam and modifications to the overall geometry of the shoe, resulting in an incredibly enjoyable ride when you’re focus is ticking off the miles and protecting your legs for as long as possible.
There’s also a redesigned upper for a more comfortable fit in addition to an updated lace design. Whether you want a comfortable shoe for easy days or a long training run partner for your marathon race shoes, the Triumph 20 is one of the best options out there.
3. Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 2
Price: 164.95 / $180 | Weight: 303g / 10.7oz | Drop: 9mm
Nike made minimal updates to the Invincible 2 compared with the original, and that’s alright with us because it’s one of the most enjoyable cushioned shoes on the market. The soft and springy ZoomX midsole delivers a uniquely fun ride, and the wide base of the Invincible 2 means that it’s still fairly stable despite all that foam.
It’s a great option for hammering out big mileage weeks during marathon training, but also any time you want a fun, relaxed run, the Invincible is a top option. We would say bag a bargain on the previous version if you can though, because not much has changed here.
Cushioned Shoes Also Worth Looking At
New Balance Fresh Foam More V3
Price: £130 / $164.99 | Weight: 288g/10.2oz | Drop: 4mm
The Fresh Foam More V3 is a max cushioned shoe that offers a more balanced midsole than many of the softer options available. The Fresh Foam foam used across New Balance’s range is slightly firmer than that found in shoes like the Nike Invincible 2 and Triumph 20, which makes it a good choice for runners that like a bit less squish.
When combined with the rocker design, that midsole helps promote an efficient turnover that makes long-distance runs smooth and enjoyable. There’s also a plush engineered mesh upper and a healthy covering of outsole rubber to ensure the shoe can cover many miles.
Best All-Rounder Running Shoes
1) Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
Price: £155 / $160 | Weight: 232g / 8.2oz | Drop: 8mm
We’ve mentioned the Endorphin Speed 3’s versatility but we can’t stress enough just how far that goes. For many people that want to own just one shoe to rule them all the Speed 3 is at the top of the list.
The Speedroll technology and PWRRUNPB can tackle easy runs and daily miles in comfort, but when you want to up the pace the shoe has no issues with tempo training, intervals or even race day, thanks to the addition of the nylon plate. Many Saucony fans even preferred the Speed 2 to the brand’s Carbon Plate Pro 2 for race day – although with the launch of the Pro 3 that may change.
2) Hoka Mach 5
Price: £130 / $140 | Weight: 212g / 7.5oz | Drop: 5mm
If you’re keen to avoid using plated shoes for your training and racing, the Mach 5 stands out as a comfortable but quick option that would be a great pick for longer events like the marathon in particular.
It’s light enough not to feel an encumbrance in shorter events too, even if it lacks the pop of a plated shoe. The downside of using the Mach 5 as your all-rounder is that it’s not the most durable shoe in the world owing to the exposed foam outsole, but it’s also a little cheaper than shoes like the Speed 3.
3) New Balance Fuelcell TC
The New Balance Fuelcell TC is far from a new shoe but we’ve added it here because it’s still one of the best options out there for versatility. The soft, bouncy Fuelcell midsole works alongside the full-length carbon plate to produce a ride that’s almost comparable with many super shoes designed for race day, offering a fun, energetic experience that means you can plough through easy miles all the way up to race day efforts.
Sadly New Balance is yet to update the shoe but it still remains one of the go-to options and you can also pick it up fairly cheaply at various places.
All-Rounders Also Worth Looking At
Brooks Hyperion Tempo
Price: £140 / $150 | Weight: 207g / 7.3oz | Drop: 8mm
The Hyperion Tempo is very lightweight and has a more traditional ride than the other all-rounder shoes on our list. It’s almost like a more cushioned racing flat, and certainly has the speed for your events even if some runners will find it a tad too firm to use for all their training.
If you like a shoe with plenty of feel for the ground, however, it can handle all your training and then produce the goods on race day.
Hoka Rincon 3
Price: £105 / $115 | Weight: 203g / 7.2oz | Drop: 5mm
The Hoka Rincon range has been a go-to lightweight option for runners that want a cost-effective shoe that works just as well for easy runs as it does for faster efforts. The conventional design and feel makes it a good option for newer runners and the thin thin mesh upper means that they’re a great choice for training in the heat.
The midsole foam is not the springiest you’re likely to find on the market – and many users have mentioned durability issues – but for the price, it’s one of the best options out there for comfort and versatility.
Best Value Running Shoes
1) Puma Velocity Nitro 2
Price: £100 / $120 | Weight: 271g / 9.55oz | Drop: 10mm
We’ve talked about Puma’s Velocity Nitro 2 and its predecessor almost as much as the Speed 1 and 2 over the last couple of years, and for good reason. For the price, there’s no better option for a shoe that can tackle all of your training runs.
The plush comfortable upper feels supportive and cushioned while the dual-layer midsole combines Puma’s soft, bouncy nitrogen-infused Nitro foam with a firmer EVA underneath. The result is a versatile cushioned/daily shoe that delivers the good for anything up to fast effort. At £100 it’s easily our best value pick out there.
2) Reebok Floatride Energy 4
Price: £75/$100 | Weight: 250g/8.8oz | Drop: 9mm
The Floatride Energy 4 is fantastic value at its full RRP, and then is actually often available in sales for less. It’s a reliable daily trainer with a protective and responsive ride that works for a wide variety of runs, from easy plods to intervals.
The outsole also grips well on wet roads and even light trails, and the Floatride foam midsole is long-lasting, making the shoe even better value. While we prefer the bouncier feel of the Nitro 2, if you want a more traditional shoe at a great price, the Floatride Energy 4 is very hard to beat.
3) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
Price: £109.95 / $120 | Weight: 279g / 9.8oz | Drop: 8mm
The Pegasus is a durable and comfortable daily trainer that has a reasonable RRP and a happy knack of popping up in sales. The Pegasus 39 is lighter and better-suited to faster training than the 38, while still being well cushioned and great for cruising through your easy runs as well.
Another standout feature of the Pegasus 39 is the outsole, which grips well on light trails as well as the road, and is highly durable.