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?

Looking for a PB? Check out our list of the best carbon-plated racing shoes

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 and 3

Nike Vaporfly 2 – Price: £225 / $250 | Weight: 213g/7.5oz | Drop: 8mm

Nike Vaporfly 3 – Price: £235 / $250 | Weight: 206g/7.3oz | Drop: 8mm

Whether you opt for the Nike Vaporfly 2 or 3, you’re getting probably the most reliable all-distance racing shoe on the market. The key feature across both shoes is the midsole, which is made from Nike’s bouncy PEBA-based ZoomX foam and contains a full-length scooped carbon plate, with the combo delivering a fast and cushioned ride for running fast at any difference.

There are some differences between the two shoes, with the Vaporfly 3 having more foam in the midsole, which creates a softer ride that can make it more comfortable deep into a marathon in particular. It’s also a little lighter than the Vaporfly 2, but the extra midsole foam on the 3 comes via a thinner outsole, however, and we have seen more wear on the Vaporfly 3 than on the 2 after similar mileage.

The Vaporfly 2 will also be a lot cheaper as it’s available in sales, so there’s certainly a value case for grabbing the older shoe. Whichever Vaporfly you pick up, however, you can be sure you’re getting a top-notch racing shoe

2. 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 make 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. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Price: £210 / $225 | Weight: 209g/7.3oz | Drop: 8mm

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 isn’t so much an update to the Endorphin Pro 2 as it is a complete overhaul. That’s largely due to an updated PWRRUNPB foam designed to produce a significantly more cushioned feel, and redesigned carbon plate to produce a springier ride. The shoe also features a new, thinner breathable mesh upper, along with an impressive XT-900 rubber outsole.

Unlike the Endorphin Pro 2, which had a somewhat niche appeal when compared with shoes like the Vaporfly 2 and the Asics Metaspeed Sky+, the Endorphin Pro 3 offers a more accessible ride that can handle everything from comfortable daily miles to racing everything from 5k to marathons. The natural feel of the design also makes it a good option for runners looking for a carbon plate shoe that lacks the aggressiveness of some options.

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 marathons. 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.

Asics Metaspeed Sky+

Price:  £225 / $250 | Weight: 209g/7.4oz | Drop: 5mm

The Metaspeed Sky+ is another shoe from 2022 that remains one of the top racers available in 2023, with its lightweight, cushioned design being great for races of any distance. The FF Turbo foam doesn’t have as much squish as some super-shoes but delivers a bouncy ride that never bottoms out.

Asics also has the Edge+ with a higher drop that’s meant to suit shuffly runners better than the Sky+, which is built for bounders, but the TRT team all tend to prefer the springier Sky+ regardless of running style.

Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

Price: £200 / $250 | Weight: 233g / 8.2 oz | Drop: 6mm

The Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro is one of the most interesting new shoes thanks to the geometry of its midsole, which has a large heel cut out and a very aggressive forefoot rocker.

The PEBA midsole foam is also bouncy, and the Wave Rebellion Pro is very comfortable for long events, while still being light enough for short ones. The design will work best for mid-foot strikers, though the heel-strikers on the TRT team have also enjoyed using the shoe.

Hoka Rocket X2

Price: £220 / $250 | Weight: 225g / 7.9 oz | Drop: 5mm

The Rocket X2 is a giant leap forward from the carbon shoes we’ve seen from Hoka in the past, with a new PEBA foam in the midsole delivering the kind of springy bounce you expect from a super-shoe.

It’s a great all-distance racing shoe and the 5mm offset is a little different to the norm with super-shoes and will suit runners who prefer a lower drop.

Best daily shoes

1. Hoka Mach 5

Price: £130 / $140 | Weight: 212g/7.5oz | Drop: 5mm

We loved the Mach 4 and with the Mach 5, Hoka has taken a truly great daily trainer that you can go slow, quick and even race in and made it even better. A big part of that is down to the new ProFly+ midsole foam that gives the Mach 5 a lighter, and more responsive ride than the Mach 4.

The jacquard mesh upper offers a strong, locked-down feel and helps keep the overall weight of the shoe down to make it a better fit for racing. The outsole remains similar to the one included on the 4, which may not be the most durable outsole, but offers strong traction on roads and pavements where you’ll get the best out of it.

If you’re looking for a shoe that can handle quicker sessions and is also at home when you need to coast, there are few better shoes to grab than the Mach 5.

2. 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.

3. On Cloudsurfer 7

Price: £150 / $160 | Weight: 246g/8.7oz | Drop: 10mm

The Cloudsurfer 7 has been one of the most pleasant surprises of 2023 so far, with its impressive CloudTecPhase midsole design offering one of the smoothest, most cushioned rides out there. The holes in the midsole are placed to compress like dominos, rolling you onto your forefoot with each stride.

It’s a departure from the stiff and firm ride On shoes are known for, and the Cloudsurfer 7 is a joy to pull on for your easy everyday training runs, while also being a bit of a looker you can wear when not training as well.

Despite being well cushioned and comfortable, the Cloudsurfer 7 is still lightweight and it’s a fairly versatile shoe that you can use for speedwork, though we enjoyed it most for relaxed cruising.

The only concern we have with the Cloudsurfer 7 is whether the unique midsole design will hold up in the long-term, but so far so good on that front in our testing, and it’s one to consider if you like a daily trainer with a soft, smooth ride that makes putting one foot in front of the other feel almost effortless on easy runs.

Daily Shoes Also Worth Looking At

Puma Velocity Nitro 2

Price: £100 / $120 | Weight: 271g / 9.55oz | Drop: 10mm

There aren’t many shoes we’ve talked about as much as the Velocity Nitro 2. Despite being pleasingly affordable, its quality and versatility mean it’s often compared with shoes far above its price range.

The moderate stack of Nitro foam offers a nice balance of cushioning and responsiveness, meaning it works well for comfortable daily runs as well as harder efforts when you want to pick up the pace.

There’s also a formidable layer of Puma’s always impressive Pumagrip outsole rubber, enabling the shoe to handle any road surface or conditions, and even tackle the occasional lighter trail.

Asics Superblast

Price: £210 / $220 | Weight: 248g / 8.8oz | Drop: 8mm

The Superblast is a training shoe for runners that like a bit more cushioning for their daily miles. The midsole combines FFBlast Plus, the same foam found in the Novablast 3 and Magic Speed 2, and FF Blast Turbo, Asics’ speed-focussed cushioning used in the Metaspeed Sky +. The result is a versatile cushioned shoe that has a nice level of bounce for picking up the pace over longer sessions.

There’s a thing asymmetric mesh upper for breathability and comfort, a heel stabilizer for a secure ride and an AHARPLUS outsole rubber for grip. If you’re looking for a daily shoe that doubles as a cushioned long run option, the Superblast is a great shout.

New Balance Rebel v3

Price: £130 / $130 | Weight: 216g / 6.7oz | Drop: 6mm

The Rebel is a very light and fun shoe that excels during fast training sessions, but also has the versatility to be used as an all-rounder running shoe. The FuelCell midsole stack is relatively low by modern standards, but it’s still a comfortable and springy shoe that works well for short runs of any type.

Over longer distances, the shoe can start to feel a little firm, and the lack of a plate will tell if using the Rebel on race day, but if you prefer to go plate-free in your daily training the Rebel is one of the top options available.

Best Cushioned Shoes

1. Saucony Triumph 20

Price: £155 / $150 | Weight: 264g / 9.3oz | Drop: 8mm

The Saucony Triumph 20 is one of many new standout shoes launched by Saucony and is now a much better fit for those easy-paced and longer weekend runs. A big part of that is down to a generous amount of Saucony’s soft, plush PWRRUN+ foam that’s now lighter than the foam used in previous Triumph shoes and along with an improved silhouette delivers a smooth and nicely cushioned ride.

The upper hugs in all the right places and packs an outsole rubber that’s fit to last regular run outs. Saucony also offers a Runshield edition, which adds some extra protection in colder running conditions, but go for the standard Triumph 20 if all you care about is a running shoe you really can coast in a really satisfying way.

2. Asics Gel-Nimbus 25

Price: £175 / $160 | Weight: 315g / 11.1oz | Drop: 8mm

The 25th edition of the popular Gel-Nimbus line is a very different shoe from its predecessor, with a maxed-out stack of FF Blast Plus cushioning, plus a new PureGEL material, creating a comfortable and protective ride for easy and long runs.

No matter how far you run the Gel-Nimbus 25 feels cushioned and the midsole foam never bottoms out, and the mild rocker geometry helps create a smooth feel to the ride.

It’s an expensive shoe and some might never feel that they need quite so much cushioning underfoot, but if you are in the market for a max-stack shoe the Gel-Nimbus 25 is certainly one of the top options available, offering as comfortable a ride as anything else available.

3. New Balance Fresh Foam More V4

Price: £140 / $149.99 | Weight: 298g / 10.5oz | Drop: 4mm

The More V4 has seen a lot of love on the channel since it was launched. Although it’s a max cushioned shoe, the thick wedge of Fresh Foam X offers a balanced ride that doesn’t feel overly soft like some alternatives. The resultant experience is one that feels surprisingly stable, and works alongside the rocker profile to produce a smooth and efficient turnover, making it a good choice for longer sessions.

The V4 features even more midsole foam than the previous version, although that has made the shoe slightly taller, New Balance has also extended the width of the shoe to ensure there’s no loss of stability.

The brand has also added new cushion zones across the length of the shoe to improve the comfort even more, as well as flex zones to allow a more natural feel than its predecessors.

Cushioned Shoes Also Worth Looking At

Nike Invincible 3

Price: £169.96 / $180 | Weight: 310g/10.9oz | Drop: 9mm

The Invincible 3 is of course the third iteration of Nike’s shoe that wants to bring big comfort to your long, slow, easy runs. Changes from the previous Invincible shoes include more of Nike’s plush and bouncy ZoomX foam, which is spread across a more spacious and supportive upper.

The ride is still enjoyably bouncy now with a more stable feel thanks to a longer heel clip and a wider base. There’s more Flyknit in the upper to boost that support and keep things breathable while the outsole remains unchanged and is well-equipped to handle roads, pavements and even some light trail time.

Brooks Glycerin 20

Price: £150 / $160 | Weight: 298g/9.8oz | Drop: 10mm

A standout option in a growing collection of impressive Brooks shoes, the Glycerin 20 aims to offer a good balance of comfort, cushioning and durability that makes it suitable to eat up a lot of running time.

Along with giving you the pick of medium or wide-fit options, it packs Brooks’ latest nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3 foam to provide soft cushioning to protect your legs when you up the distance, an engineered mesh upper that offers ample snugness and that’s matched up with an outsole that offers grip that’s fit to last for a good while.

On Cloudsurfer 7

Price: £150 / $160 | Weight: 246g/8.7oz | Drop: 10mm

The Cloudsurfer 7 has been one of the most pleasant surprises of 2023 so far, with its impressive CloudTecPhase midsole design offering one of the smoothest, most cushioned rides out there. The holes in the midsole are placed to compress like dominos, rolling you onto your forefoot with each stride.

It’s a departure from the stiff and firm ride On shoes are known for, and the Cloudsurfer 7 is a joy to pull on for your easy everyday training runs, while also being a bit of a looker you can wear when not training as well.

Despite being well cushioned and comfortable, the Cloudsurfer 7 is still lightweight and it’s a fairly versatile shoe that you can use for speedwork, though we enjoyed it most for relaxed cruising.

The only concern we have with the Cloudsurfer 7 is whether the unique midsole design will hold up in the long-term, but so far so good on that front in our testing, and it’s one to consider if you like a daily trainer with a soft, smooth ride that makes putting one foot in front of the other feel almost effortless on easy runs.

Best All-Rounder Running Shoes

1) Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

Price: £155 / $160 | Weight: 232g / 8.2oz | Drop: 8mm

The all-rounder category has seen an increasing number of great shoes that can tackle anything from training sessions all the way up to race day. Our first pick is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Endorphin Speed 3.

Like its predecessors, the shoe can do it all, with many people picking it up as their one choice for all of their training and racing. The reason for that is a perfect balance of responsive PWRRUNPB midsole foam, a propulsive nylon plate and Saucony’s Speedroll design that turns the foot over with an enjoyably efficient heel-to-toe transition.

Modifications to the Speed 3 include a touch more cushioning in the midsole that spreads across to form a wider platform and a slightly wider fit in the forefoot. Those changes have a minimal impact on the performance of the shoe but do mean that earlier versions can feel better for some runners.

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) Asics Magic Speed 2

Price: £170 / $150 | Weight: 238g / 8.4oz | Drop: 7mm

The Magic Speed 2 is a lightweight shoe that works well for both training and racing, with the dual-density midsole and plate creating a fast and efficient ride while being more comfortable and a little more stable than a full super-shoe.

The top layer of the midsole is made from FF Blast+, which has a lively ride and is softer than the bottom layer of Flytefoam, which is a less exciting foam but firmer and more durable. The plate is made from a mix of carbon and TPU to be a little softer and more flexible than a full carbon plate, which again makes the Magic Speed 2 well-suited to doing a lot of training.

Come race day it’s not quite as speedy as a proper super-shoe, but it’s not far off, and the Magic Speed 2 could be a good plated alternative to those who find carbon shoes a little too squishy to use.

The Magic Speed 3 is on its way soon with a full FF Blast+ midsole, and we’re excited to test that out, but one major benefit of the new shoe might well be that the Magic Speed 2 pops up more often in sales for a lot less than its RRP, which is a little high.

All-Rounders Also Worth Looking At

Puma Deviate Nitro 2

Price: £145 / $160 | Weight: 260g / 9.2oz | Drop: 6mm

The original Puma Deviate Nitro was a great shoe that many runners were unable to use because the heel collar rubbed and caused blisters.

The Deviate Nitro 2 fixes this issue with a more padded heel collar, but Puma went well beyond that with its updates to the shoe, which include replacing the midsole material with its PEBA-based Nitro Elite foam, previously only seen on the brand’s top racing shoes.

Under Armour Velociti Elite

Price: £225 / $250 | Weight: 207g / 7.3oz | Drop: 8mm

It might be strange to put a carbon super shoe in the mix here but one of the biggest benefits of the Under Armour Velociti Elite’s more subtle ride is that you can use it for almost any run.

It’s not as punchy as the fastest carbon racers and it’s not as cushioned as Speed 3, but it’s pretty lightweight, nicely stable and has a nice balance that makes it a great all-rounder – though an expensive one.

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

The Velocity Nitro 2 is one of our favourite cushioned daily trainers regardless of price, so when you factor in it’s also a pretty cheap shoe that’s almost always available in a sale somewhere for significantly less than RRP, it becomes one of the most attractive options on the market.

The dual-density midsole has a top layer of Nitro foam and a bottom layer of Profoam lite, and it’s comfortable while having enough punch in it for faster training runs, and the Pumagrip outsole is one of the best available for grip and durability. 

You can use the Velocity Nitro 2 as an all-rounder running shoe or in a rotation as your daily trainer or cushioned shoe for easy runs. It’s not a max cushioned shoe and some might want more stack for easy runs, but the Velocity Nitro 2 is more than comfortable enough for easy and long runs in our experience, while being a bit lighter and more versatile than max stack shoes.

2) Reebok Floatride Energy 5

Price: £85/$110 | Weight: 256g/9oz | Drop: 8mm

Although the latest version of the shoe did get a little more expensive in the UK, the Reebok Floatride Energy remains one of the biggest bargains on the market. It’s a versatile daily trainer that holds up to a lot of running, and is often available in sales for less than its already modest RRP.

The updates to the Floatride Energy 5 have increased its stability a little compared with the 4, and also added a little more cushioning to the midsole, but overall the ride feels very similar. It’s not as soft and squishy as many shoes, instead having a balanced ride that makes it suitable for a range of training runs, though it might prove a little firm for some runners over longer distances.

If you can snag a deal on the Floatride Energy 4 that would be worth doing since the new shoe is very similar, but the 5 is still a great value shoe. Just be wary of the fit, we found it comes up a little long.

3) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40

Price: £124.95 / $130 | Weight: 283g / 10oz | Drop: 10mm

The Pegasus is a shoe that’s designed to do a bit of everything. Whether you’re fitting in a quick lunchtime 5k or you need something to handle regular long weekend runs and some more up-tempo sessions, this is where the Pegasus 40 wants to be your best friend. Nike doesn’t bring huge changes here from the 39, sticking with the same 10mm drop, waffle-tread style outsole, Nike React foam and Zoom Air Pods to deliver a smooth and consistent ride.

It added more padding in the heel collar, and redesigned the mid-foot band and lacing system to make it a more comfortable and good-fitting shoe that can handle regular run outs both short and long.

Best Value Running Shoes Worth Looking At

Kiprun KS900

Price: £89.99 / $120 | Weight: 281g / 9.9oz | Drop: 8mm

The KS900 Light from Decathlon is a cushioned daily trainer with a simple but effective design. it’s built to last, with Decathlon promising 1000km of running from it, and the EVA Foam midsole foam is soft and comfortable for easy runs, while the shoe is light enough overall to be reasonably versatile.

The outsole grips well too, and while there’s nothing especially novel or exciting about the KS900 Light, it does deliver as a reliable cushioned shoe at a very good price.

Puma LIberate Nitro 2

Price: £105 / $120 | Weight: 203g / 7.1oz | Drop: 6mm

Puma’s Liberate Nitro 2 takes some of the brand’s best features and packs them into a lean, lightweight shoe for shorter-distance sessions and racing.

The NITRO foam midsole has plenty of cushioning for anything up to 10k, and despite weighing just over 200g in a men’s size 8, there’s still plenty of Pumagrip outsole rubber for tackling any surface or conditions. There’s also a thin mono-mesh upper that manages to be impressively breathable whilst still offering a supportive, locked-down fit.