The 15 Best Running Shoes For Fall 2016

2016 Triathlete Fall Running Shoe Guide

New materials! New construction techniques! New colors! Running shoes keep getting better and better, and with road and trail seasons in full swing, there’s no better time to upgrade. Presenting 15 fresh pairs ready to crush your fall races.

New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Trail

$95, Newbalance.com

The new model is a legit lightweight trail shoe, but it also gained some buzz for its lifestyle appeal. Consider it a Fresh Foam Zante 2 with a little bit more traction from a low-profile knobby outsole tread. While it works semi-technical singletrack trails, it’s most at home running smooth dirt trails, gravel roads and runs mixing trail and roads. Like the Zante, it has a snug, performance-oriented fit and a cushioning profile that feels low to the ground, but in reality there’s a decent amount of foam underfoot.

Weights: 8.7 oz (men’s), 7.0 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 6 mm; 24 mm (heel), 18 mm (forefoot)

Brooks Mazama

$140, Brooksrunning.com

For years, Brooks offered a couple of trail shoes aimed at training, but it didn’t have a true speed merchant intended for fast racing. That all changes with the Mazama, which is part trail shoe, part badass rally car. It’s a stable-riding shoe that serves up amazing proprioceptive “feel” for the trail while still having enough foam and protection (including a forefoot plate) against roots, rocks and other obstacles. It’s light and agile, yet it’s willing to be a true mountain mauler in short doses. The sticky rubber bi-directional outsole offers great traction and allows this shoe to be versatile enough to tackle just about any kind of terrain from roads to gnarly technical routes.

Weights: 9.2 oz (men’s), 7.7 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 6 mm; 23 mm (heel), 17 mm (forefoot)

Salomon SpeedCross 4

$130, Salomonrunning.com

If you mostly run on surfaces other than smooth hard-packed trails—sloppy wet mud, slippery and unstable gravel and rock, loose dirt, slick grass, marshy singletrack, fire roads or anything else—consider the SpeedCross 4. The classic array of knobby outsole lugs offers reliable traction on a surprising number of surfaces, wet or dry. The only place it won’t seem great is on the roads, but that’s OK because you have plenty of shoes for pavement running. The SpeedCross 4 is nimble and fast enough that it could be an ideal XTERRA racer, but sturdy and cushioned enough to be the tool of choice for easy long runs too. The speed lace system is a top-notch feature, but it takes some getting used to. Weights: 10.5 oz (men’s), 9.0 oz (women’s) Heel-toe offset: 11 mm; 33 mm (heel), 22 mm (forefoot)

Nike LunarGlide 8

$120, Nike.com

The latest edition of the LunarGlide has a noticeably thicker and chunkier outsole cushion, a new upper and less dramatic heel counter. It’s still smooth, cushy and moderately fast, but it now has a tad more of a bouncy ride. A neutral shoe with a hint of support from the dynamic foam midsole layer, it feels cushy and resilient for just about any type of running. A newly engineered mesh upper improves the consistency of the fit, lacing and connective feeling with the midsole, making longer runs feel like a dream. We also liked the new outsole, designed to grip better on wet surfaces.

Weights: 9.1 oz (men’s), 7.5 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 10 mm; 29 mm (heel), 19 mm (forefoot)

Skechers Performance GoRun 4–2016

$105, Skechers.com

The original GoRun 4 got an overhaul with a new soft, seamless, one-piece knit mesh upper that puts this shoe in the upper echelon of performance trainers. It’s more breathable, flexible and supportive, with a sock-like feeling through the middle and back of the foot and a more spacious fit up front. The GoRun 4 remains an agile, low-riding neutral trainer geared for quick-cadence running. The ride is soft, smooth and a bit springy. It has a slightly rockered profile, which adds to its poppy and efficient demeanor. Like all minimally constructed shoes, this one might be too little for multi-hour runs for some runners. The Quick Fit Portal finger loop on the back of the heel allows for quick entry, which comes in handy for T2.

Weights: 7.8 oz (men’s), 5.5 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 4 mm; 23 mm (heel), 19 mm (forefoot)

Topo Tribute

$100, Topoathletic.com

This small, upstart brand from Newton, Mass., develops shoes based on three principles aimed at creating a more natural-feeling ride: lightweight construction, a roomy toe box and a low heel-to-toe offset (or a flat profile). Specifically made for faster workouts and racing, the Tribute is one of Topo’s most minimally designed shoes yet; it feels super light, but it doesn’t feel like a fragile “barely there” shoe thanks to a sleek design that has just enough foam and rubber underfoot to offer protection from the ground without reducing the feel for it, plus an amazingly light and lithe upper. Needless to say, it’s flexible and energetic. (Narrow feet take note: the toe box is uncannily wide.) We like the Tribute for shorter runs, drills and cross-training.

Weights: 7.2 oz (men’s), 6.1 oz (women’s)

 Heel-toe offset: 0 mm; 16 mm (heel), 16 mm (forefoot)

ASICS DynaFlyte

$140, Asicsamerica.com

This new, highly responsive neutral training shoe is built on a super lightweight midsole material dubbed FlyteFoam that’s 55 percent lighter than similar EVA foam midsoles. Made from proprietary foam and organic fibers that help limit the amount of deformation in each foot strike, the midsole serves up a superlative ride with a mix of cushiness, stability and responsiveness. (Note: While adequate for neutral runners, it may not be supportive enough for moderate overpronators.) The shoe feels low to the ground and is a true cushioned high-mileage trainer with a speedy demeanor more akin to that of a racing flat—thank the midsole and strategically placed forefoot flex grooves for that. A section of high-abrasion carbon rubber in the heel provides long-lasting durability.

Weights: 9.5 oz (men’s), 7.8 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 8 mm; 25 mm (heel), 17 mm (forefoot)

Newton Fate II

$135, Newtonrunning.com

This second edition of the Fate has a new breathable upper with stretchy panels to give your big and little toes more wiggle room. Light and responsive yet well-cushioned, the neutral shoe has a balanced fit from back to front with a snug heel cinch and secure mid-foot wrap. While visibly prominent, Newton’s characteristic forefoot propulsion lugs maintain a subtle profile when they spring into action, encouraging forefoot running without feeling particularly invasive or awkward. The Fate II’s increased underfoot pop makes it ideal for faster tempo runs and longer races without sacrificing cushioning and protection.

Weights: 9.4 oz (men’s), 7.9 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 5 mm; 27 mm (heel), 22 mm (forefoot)

Under Armour Charged Bandit 2

$100, Underarmour.com

One of the most uniquely constructed shoes we’ve ever seen. The upper is made from a combination of two different woven fabrics—one soft and stretchy, the other more firm and supportive—connected by an ultrasonic welded seam tape. Combined with a soft gusseted tongue and a foot bed that molds to the shape of your foot, it makes the shoe feel like an extension of your anatomy. The foam and rubber midsole/outsole chassis offer both impact-dampening, mild support and an incredible amount of energetic pop. It’s a good choice for slower long runs but has the speed for quick, short runs too. We liked the fit and feel of this shoe, with or without socks, which could make it a great shoe for brick workouts and short-course racing.

Weights: 9.8 oz (men’s), 8.1 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 10 mm; 29 mm (heel), 19 mm (forefoot)

Adidas Supernova Sequence 9

$130, Adidas.com

The latest version of this stability trainer has a new two-layer midsole and a new soft and flexible engineered mesh upper that’s wrapped with a thin webbing of soft plastic overlays to enhance comfort, fit and support. The ankle collar and tongue are padded with plenty of plushness, and the ride feels soft and noticeably springy on foot strike and toe-off. While our testers weren’t keen about running fast in this shoe, they liked it for slow- to moderate-paced long runs and suggested it would be ideal for larger runners. The new Continental rubber outsole is supremely tacky on all surfaces, wet or dry. But that premium rubber adds more weight, and this shoe is already on the heavier side of everyday stability trainers.

Weights: 11.1 oz (men’s), 9.0 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 10 mm; 32 mm (heel), 22 mm (forefoot)

Saucony Guide 10

$120, Saucony.com

This classic stability shoe got some small upgrades that made a big impact. The most notable difference is the soft and flexible engineered mesh upper, which provides a more accommodating and secure fit through the front of the foot. An updated mid-foot saddle combined with a retooled support frame, improved forefoot flexibility and the addition of Saucony’s luxurious foam topsole have made this a lighter, more agile and more comfortable shoe without sacrificing any stability. The synergy between the lacing system, the new upper and the redesigned undercarriage serve up a fit that’s second to none. Our testers loved the soft but energetic ride for long training runs, tempo runs and recovery runs.

Weights: 10.0 oz (men’s), 8.9 oz (women’s) Heel-toe offset: 8 mm; 27 mm (heel), 19 mm (forefoot)

Hoka One One Clayton

$150, Hokaoneone.com

This category-breaking long-distance trainer/racer is wide and stable but also light, responsive and fast. This shoe’s two-part midsole features a slightly softer foam in the rear for impact protection at foot strike and a firmer, responsive foam material in the forefoot that returns more energy on the toe-off than Hoka’s other shoes. The low foot placement and high medial sidewall help reduce overpronation late in a run without using a traditional medial post. The ride feels remarkably firm, edgy and fast for a Hoka. Few shoes—and none with this much cushion—have combined all of those elements so well. The rockered design and energetic foam material on the bottom of the outsole help smooth the heel-to-toe motion. For lighter testers or those expecting the feel of a lightweight traditional racing flat, the midsole will feel overly rigid and incredibly wide. But that’s what this shoe is all about, and those who like it tend to rave about it.

Weights: 7.3 oz (men’s), 6.0 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 4 mm; 28 mm (heel), 24 mm forefoot)

Altra The One 2.5

$100, Altrarunning.com

When is a flyweight racing flat more than just a racing flat? This racer/trainer has a wide forefoot design and the zero-drop—or level—profile on which Altra has built its brand. A natural, easy flexing demeanor and a low-to-the-ground feel will make you want to wear this shoe for everything from tempo runs to intervals to recovery runs to race day. Plenty of cushion to soften your ride and protect your feet and a wider toe box means The One 2.5 feels great all the time, but especially when running fast and your toes have room to splay out.

Weights: 6.3 oz (men’s); 5.6 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 0 mm; 23 mm (heel), 23 mm (forefoot)

Mizuno Wave Sayonara 4

$110, Mizunousa.com

The latest edition of Mizuno’s lightweight neutral performance trainer/racer, the Sayonara 4 is a versatile, low-to-the-ground speed merchant enhanced with a few key upgrades: a new two-layer upper, which has improved the forefoot fit, flex and breathability; and a slice of blown rubber in the forefoot that improves both the cushioning and responsiveness. It’s ideal for faster-paced running, including tempo runs, fartleks and even track sessions. It could also be used for longer races (10K to half-marathon) and long progression runs. The thermoplastic “Wave” embedded in the midsole gives this shoe a distinct energetic pop.

Weights: 9.0 oz (men’s), 7.6 oz (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 10 mm; 28 mm (heel), 18 mm (forefoot)

New Balance Vazee Pace 2

$110, Newbalance.com

Too many companies launch a great shoe only to mess up a good thing by making too many changes on round two. Fortunately, New Balance didn’t do more than tweak the already excellent Vazee Pace, only changing the bootie-constructed upper’s woven mesh with no-sew overlays, partly for cosmetic reasons and partly to increase the support. Version 2 also boasts enhanced durability with added blown rubber to the REVlite midsole. Otherwise, it is still the utilitarian, up-tempo trainer that offers a responsive enough performance, which makes it a good half-marathon/marathon racer too. The bootie construction may be too snug for higher-volume feet, so definitely try these on in the shop.

Weights: 9.6 oz (men’s), 7.9 oz (women’s) Heel-toe offset: 6 mm; 24 mm (heel), 18 mm (forefoot)