Choosing the right shoes is really important if you are to enjoy your running, feel confident and comfortable and reduce the risk of injury! Here at shoeguide.run, we’ve been reviewing running shoes since 2007 so we’re quite used to putting together the ‘Best Shoes’ guides.
Choosing the best shoes is easier than finding the right shoes for you as everyone is individual – we just narrow the field to bring you the very best running shoes available right now.
So, what is the best running shoe on the market? Well, when it comes to finding the perfect shoe for you, as you might imagine, we have a great tool for that. Our shoeguide.run ‘shoefinder’ tool will help you hone-in on the right selection of suitable shoes for you by asking you just 4 easy questions. Check it out.
What brand makes the best running shoes?
Wouldn’t it be easy if one brand was simply the best and we could all just buy the same shoe but we’re all different that is what makes us interesting! When choosing the right shoe for you, there are a lot of variables to consider. We have tried to do a lot of this legwork for you but there are certain factors you need to consider: where do you run, what surfaces do you require the shoe for; do you consider yourself a light weight, regular weight or a heavier weight runner; what shape of foot do you have and do you consider yourself to have a high arch or a lower arch; and what type of runner are you – do you think you will need a neutral running shoe, need some support or really need a motion control shoe - in other words, you need to consider your biomechanics. Sounds mind-blowing but we are here to help – check out our expert information A Guide To Buying Your Running Shoes.
Running shoes have changed greatly in the past decade. Not so much in terms of running shoe function, but in running shoe innovation. All of the shoes listed in our review of the Best Running Shoes 2020, feature innovative advances and directly benefit the runner. Most notable to the runner, the major advances have been in the use of lightweight technical materials, mainly in the upper and in the midsole. Shoes can now be extremely lightweight whilst being good for high mileage or still offer great motion control; something that a decade ago was unthinkable. Uppers are engineered for strength, flexibility and durability whilst remaining incredibly light weight and more attractive than ever. These are all advances that us runners can directly benefit from.
How We Choose the Best Running Shoes 2020
As you know from our reviews, we give each shoe a score. We base this rating on an overall criteria based on a number of different categories but with one overriding question in mind – does the shoe do a great job at doing what it is designed to do? Simple.
The key considerations within this are:
Fit – the most important element when choosing your perfect running shoe. How does it fit? If it doesn’t fit right, it won’t be comfortable, and it may well cause you other more serious issues ranging from simple but painful blisters to a costly injury.
Weight – in the past, less midsole was lighter, but this equaled less cushioning and less miles you could put on the shoe. New advances here mean that uppers are light but strong, outsoles are thinner but still durable and the midsoles can not only be extremely lightweight, but you can run for miles in them. ALL good news!
Cushioning – when we run in the shoes, we’re really focussed in on how they feel underfoot. Is the foam and tech within it absorbing the shock in a comfortable way, is it ‘squishy’ and unstable, responsive, firm but impactful? Cushioning is delivered in so many different ways by each brand. We analyse what works and what does not.
Flexibility – shoes need the right about of flexibility in some areas and they need to be firm in others. Some types of shoes need to be a lot more rigid than others. We analyse their performance based on this design criteria.
Heel drop – this is the difference in height, sometimes called ‘stack height’ between the heel and the forefoot. You see from our guides and reviews that we list the heel drop for each shoe - they are measured in millimeters. Shoes have traditionally had a heel drop of between 8-12mm but over the last few years, new brands have entered the market and had great success with lower drop shoes – around 5/6mm. Zero drop shoes have exactly that, they are dead flat and provide what’s known as a natural feel to them.
BROOKS GHOST 12
Offering a beautifully luxurious ride, the Brooks Ghost 12 is simply one of the very best neutral running shoes on the market.
The Ghost 12 offers a great engineered mesh upper. It fits exceptionally well and when you slide them on, it’s easy to see why the shoe is so popular.
Whilst the cushioning comes from a mixture of the brand’s DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA materials, it is perhaps more easily described as being a well-rounded mix that simple soaks up impact without you even noticing. Flex-grooves and a multi-piece outsole keep the shoe flexible and add to a feeling of hardly noticing the shoe, leaving you free to run.
The Ghost remains a beautifully riding and well cushioned shoe. They are both light and flexible and if you are a neutral runner, put them on your short list.
ASICS GEL NIMBUS 22
The Asics Gel Nimbus is now in its 22nd guise and this is the best Nimbus yet.
The shoe is still the same stable neutral high mileage model it always has been now delivering the culmination of over 20 years of development.
It’s a stable, capable, long-distance cruiser. It is more comfortable than its predecessor offering a softer, smooth ride. It is also wonderfully responsive and lightweight.
The upper is constructed of a really well engineered mesh that holds the foot in place while maintaining lightweight breathability. Increased GEL in the rearfoot combines with FLYTEFOAM midsole cushioning to provide a lighter and yet more durable ride. The shoe feels slightly sleeker and a little more flexible now.
We think that the Nimbus 22 is a great shoe. It is very comfortable and offers a smooth slightly softer ride than before. The only negative point might be the price point.
SAUCONY RIDE ISO 2
This beauty offers a dependable, smooth ride is now lighter than ever before. Now better fitting and more durable, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 provides the perfect balance of softness and responsiveness needed for tackling long miles. The original Ride had real issues with a poor upper and this has been addressed – this shoe shouts excellence in a very busy neutral category!
Straight out the box these shoes feel soft, fast and fun to wear! Don’t even think about buying the old model as it is not a patch on this new version! The Saucony ISO Ride 2 is great for everyday runs but avoid if you want to go for a slow recover run – you’ll just want to pick the pace up in these!
NEW BALANCE 1080 v10
The New Balance 1080 is now in its 10th version and it delivers even more responsive cushioning than its predecessors. This is the brand’s range-topping neutral flagship and features their new Fresh Foam X material taking the cushioning to new levels.
Unlike some maximal type shoes this shoe manages to remain neat and sculpted and does not feel at all bulky or cumbersome. It will give you a plush, stable, premium cushioned shoe that delivers the X factor at a fair price.
HOKA ONE ONE CLIFTON 6
For maximal cushioning fans, you need to check out the Hoka One One Clifton 6.
Designed for everyday road running, the Clifton 6 offers a silky-smooth ride and a high level of maximum protection. The Clifton 6 has also been on a diet and shed a little weight with a newly designed midsole and outsole that carries less rubber now and less rubber always means less weight. This is possibly the most radical update for the Clifton so far and the changes will not disappoint traditional Clifton lovers. It may well bring in more fans for this ever more dependable brand in the oversized shoe market.
Choose the Clifton 6 for updated speed, cushioning and comfort. As updates go, this is great, and the overall shoe is far superior to previous versions without losing too much of its DNA.
Whilst the GTS 19 was a very different shoe to previous versions of the model, it offered big improvements and it became a very popular model. The new ‘GuideRails’ in the Adrenaline GTS 20 have proved excellent at offering a balanced and smooth riding support whilst offering all the same benefits as before.
The upper is revised and more streamlined.
The actual midsole cushioning remains unchanged and feels beautifully smooth and soft, but Brooks have made improvements by integrating the GuideRails into the midsole for an even more supportive ride.
The Adrenaline GTS 20 is a soft, stable high-mileage cruiser. If you want a protective shoe to log some significant miles in, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 is your go-to shoe.
ASICS GT 2000-8
In a market of so many new models it could be easy to forget the Asics GT 2000. It has been around for a long time, but it still remains one of the best all-round performers on the roads.
The ASICS GT 2000-8 has had an overhaul with many features tweaked. This new version is not only lighter but also offers a softer ride. The midsole materials are softer but more responsive than the previous model.
The upper has also been completely remodeled while the midsole has been updated and combines Asics Gel with FLYTEFOAM for a softer cushioned feel. Support is delivered in the form of the DUOMAX medial posting combined with the midfoot shank – tried, tested and works.
One of the brand’s best-selling models, the ASICS GT2000-8 uses familiar technologies and foams, re-configured for a smoother ride. Simply solid and dependable.
SAUCONY OMNI ISO 2
For higher mileage runners or perhaps those training for a marathon, The Saucony Omni ISO 2 provides a great combination of cushioning and control.
Like many of the brand's shoes this season, the upper is well padded and instantly feels plush around the foot. The EVERUN midsole is essentially Saucony's version of adidas BOOST and it’s embedded within the core of the shoe making for an all-together a more stable overall feel. Add a medial post and it does a great job of controlling over-pronation.
It is a shoe that gets the job done, simply as that.
NEW BALANCE 860 v10
The New Balance 860 v10 has been a brilliant shoe for some time. The changes to this new 10th version are largely all in the new upper.
The shoe features a new designed mesh design that offers flexible support and a seamless fit. The most noticeable change to the shoe is perhaps around the heel design which is now more contoured and anatomically engineered.
The ride of the shoe is largely unchanged. New Balance use their TruFuse foam compound in this model. The material is long-lasting, reliable, consistently good. The support in the shoe is in the form of a medial post made from a much denser foam. It feels natural and as all motion-control wearers will know, this is not always the case.
The 860 v10 is highly capable. It’s highly accomplished and comfortable. It is also extremely durable.
MIZUNO INSPIRE 16
The Mizuno Inspire 16 is the brand’s most popular motion control model and it is poplar for a good reason.
A new, improved upper with lacing that integrates into the rearfoot, holding the heel securely within the shoe for added control adds to the stability to make the shoe a serious contender in this category. The wave in the midsole is thicker on the medial (inside) side of the shoe to resist the inward roll.
It offers a firm ride, but we think that will suit a lot of people requiring motion control in a shoe. But despite the technology, the shoe is really not heavy at all and offers an almost ‘race-like’ feel.
The Mizuno Inspire 16 is a great shoe and a popular model for those needing more control. It’s so well built; we also think it is a good choice also for the runner who might be slightly bigger and heavier than average.
Engineered to meet the demands of marathons and training runs alike, the FuelCell TC running shoe combines a fast and fierce feel with impressive durability.
The upper has been designed to help keep feet cool and dry from 5K to 26.2m, but carbon shoes are all about the midsole. The FuelCell features a high-rebound foam combined with an internal carbon fibre plate which adds unparalleled responsiveness to each step - but beware – it is strictly for the neutral runner. If you have any instability, you'll find lots of wobble!
The New Balance FuelCell TC is a serious contender to the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, which is the shoe by which all carbon plated shoes are now measured. This model is a little heavier - but not enough to be concerned about unless you are a sub 2:30 marathoner. The ride is smooth, engaging and certainly feel fast.
They are perfect for faster paced training runs and even races (yes, we think it is light enough for all but the very serious runner) this shoe is a more competitively priced carbon plated shoe and a great option.
Watch our YouTube video review here FuelCell TC - speed test
NIKE PEGASUS TURBO 2
Right, we’d better fess-up. We have added the Pegasus Turbo 2 into our top lightweight trainer list because it’s brilliant. Simple as that, but we question if it is a shoe you should buy - let’s start from the beginning…
WOW these are light!! The Turbo 2 looks like a Pegasus & feels like a Pegasus, but they are so light it’s unreal - then you see the price tag...
Pebax foam (nike brand it Zoom X) is more expensive at source (like adidas Boost is expensive from BASF), but considering the line-up of amazing lightweight shoes Nike has in its roster right now, we ask what is the point of this shoe? It’s not as quick as a Zoom Fly and it’s not as durable as a Pegasus - so why would you buy it?
Well, probably because it’s great. This shoe feels good on the foot – it’s soft, really responsive and incredibly light. The outsole is thinner and more cored out than the inline Pegasus so there is a compromise on the durability but it’s like that for a reason as its all helps deliver a fantastically light running shoe.
The Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 is a quality bit of engineering. If you’re not bothered about the price tag and when all is said and done, it’s just a wonderful shoe to run in!
HOKA ONE ONE RINCON
The Rincon was an instant hit with HOKA fans. Ever since the original Clifton was updated, many felt it got too heavy and moved away from its original ‘light but very well cushioned’ design. This version of the Rincon takes us back to that original feel with the same CM-EVA foam (just lots of it) to create a soft and lightweight shoe.
The 5mm heel drop, combined with the low weight is what gives the shoe its fast feel. It promotes a more midfoot gait and with the brand’s cleverly marketed ‘rocker’ helps provide a swift feeling transition.
We think it’s a very good choice; perhaps perfect for the heavier runner looking for a lighter shoe without compromising on cushioning.
ASICS GEL-DS TRAINER 25
The DS trainer is perhaps the original racer/trainer and thankfully it stays true to the philosophy; light enough for racing but cushioned enough for training.
The DS is essentially a striped down Kayano or 2000. Lower profile cushioning but retaining the medial post for support. In such a low profile and light shoe that support is less effective at control over-pronation, but more about keeping such a light shoe stable.
The ride is firm by the standard of many of today’s shoes, but many like that more raw, aggressive feel that really gives a drive off as you pick up the pace.
The outsole is a standout feature on this model as it’ll grip on wet grass, moss covered pavements and gravel paths so you can push on with confidence.
The best racing shoe last year is the best this year and for many, it’s the best running shoe ever. This is the much-hyped sub 2-hour marathon shoe and as the tech says, it makes the wearer ‘4% more efficient’ or as most of us understand it as, ‘faster’! This shoe has gained a massive following and sells out as soon as it becomes available.
It’s all about a combination of PEBAX foam and a carbon-fibre plate. The foam is super-soft and super-resilient meaning it provides comfort (to keep the muscles feeling fresh) and returns to its original form very quickly. The full-length carbon fibre plate stiffens up the MTP joint (the ball of the foot) and basically creates a larger lever by which to push off. The combination of the plate and foam give a feel like nothing else.
We could waffle on about them forever or you can just watch the video!
If you can afford them, buy them, you won’t be disappointed.
NEW BALANCE 1500v6
Built in the mould of an old-school road racing shoe, this model provides lightweight cushioning, a great fit and a touch of support, all at a great value price.
The upper is almost sock-like in its design and fit. The REVLight midsole offers a relatively firm ride but it feels perfect for shorter races on the road. Nothing is lost in terms of energy as you plant your foot. A small medial post helps to keep things stable too, so even mild over-pronators can use this model.
At this price, this is an accomplished shoe and even makes sense for those wanting to add a lightweight racer to their shoe collection. The added addition of the stability element will also help many of us.
ADIDAS ADIZERO ADIOS 5
The racing shoe aims to give the athlete the fit and feel of a track spike for the road. Built for the faster runner and those more biomechanically gifted, it fits and feels great – especially if you are moving quickly.
The upper is super lightweight. In the midsole, Adidas Boost is combined with Lightstrike, a responsive cushioning foam, to deliver a light but connected ride.
If you are seeking the more traditional feel of a racing shoe in a world filled with deep foam and carbon plates, then this is the shoe for you. With the fit of a track spike and it being lower to the ground, it delivers an aggressive toe-off making you feel fast from the word go.
HOKA ONE ONE CARBON X
Not the first shoe from HOKA to feature a carbon plate, the Carbon Rocket was a pure out-and-out racer, but the Carbon X has been designed for the more mainstream buyer.
Featuring the familiar maximal cushioning and rocker shape to the midsole, the addition of a carbon fibre plate is used here not to specifically add ‘spring’, but to maintain the shape of the rocker over time as usually this is lost as the foam compresses.
The exaggerated rocker that results is what takes a little time to get used to, but fans of the brand love what it brings to the party.
The Carbon X will be especially good for ultra-distance athletes and it offers fans of the brand something a little different.
Check out our YouTube video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQw5xxjDRJk&list=PLJ84CaLMCCmit8AG5CB_2dhgIPY3BdglH&index=3&t=258s
BROOKS HYPERION ELITE
The Brooks Hyperion Elite looks a little like an old school racing shoe but comes with the added benefits of a Carbon plate offering a firmer and more aggressive ride than many.
The Hyperion Elite has an attractive super-light mesh engineered upper, but again, this shoe is all about the midsole. The carbon plate is sandwiched between two layers of DNA ZERO, Brooks’ newest and lightest foam. The shoe is surprisingly stable (a big problem with some shoes carrying carbon plates) and you should be able to run through your usual gait.
The Brooks Hyperion Elite is a super-fast racing shoe with a lovely old-school racing shoe feel. Firm and fast. Brooks state they are only good for 100 miles – we’ve race in them for over double that and they still feel great.
Check out our full review here and also our video review on our YouTube channel here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHP-