Competitor’s Fall Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide
Check out these 22 running shoes available in stores this fall!
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Check out these 22 running shoes available in stores this fall! This review originally appeared in Competitor magazine and on Competitor.com.
Running shoes are continuing to evolve, thanks to new materials and manufacturing techniques, innovative designs and the notion that shoes should enhance (and not detract from) a runner’s stride. Although minimalism has cooled, the trend is still influencing new shoes with lighter models that offer responsive cushioning, natural flex patterns and less invasive support systems. Here are 22 of the best new models available at stores this fall.
RELATED – Sneak Peek: 2014 Running Shoes
Adidas Adizero Adios Boost, $140
weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s); 6.4 oz. (women’s)
heights: 19.5mm (heel), 10.5mm (forefoot)
Fit: Built like a racing flat, the Adizero Adios Boost has a traditionally secure fit in the heel and midfoot but a more modern fit in the forefoot with a bit of room for the toes to wiggle.
Feel: Spry, light, low to the ground and mildly springy (in a good way), this shoe feels so energetic you might think it’s highly caffeinated. It features Adidas’ responsive new Boost foam, which offers amazing resilience and energy return, and a low-profile geometry similar to previous Adios models.
Ride: More than any other model in this review, this shoe exudes and inspires speed. There’s not much under the foot, but the heightened responsiveness of the foam makes it feel like plenty, especially for faster workouts and short-distance races. “The new foam puts quite a spring in your step,” remarked one of our wear-testers.
Altra Provision/Provisioness 1.5, $105
weights: 9.5 oz. (men’s); 8.5 oz. (women’s)
heights: 24mm (heel), 24mm (forefoot)
Fit: The men’s Provision and women’s Provisioness continue the tradition of Altra’s footshape-designed shoes that have a snug heel and midfoot fit and an extra roomy toe box.
Feel: Light, low and luscious. A “zero-drop” everyday training shoe with a sensible amount of cushioning and protection, it offers plenty of feel for the ground while allowing a runner’s foot to sit level at the mid-stance stage of a stride. (An added bonus is a removable stability wedge that offers additional medial support with 5mm of added foam.)
Ride: One of the consummate modern minimal shoes, the Provision/Provisioness serves up a smooth, low-to-the-ground ride without the pounding common to most “barely there” shoes. The more efficient your stride, the more you’ll reap the benefits of this shoe’s unique design features and low-profile construction.
Altra 3-Sum, $130
weights: 8.2 oz. (men’s); 6.4 oz. (women’s)
heights: 13mm (heel), 13mm (forefoot)
Fit: It sports Altra’s foot-shaped forefoot and fits snug in the heel and midfoot, but very roomy in the toe box. The one-pull, elastic quick laces do a good job of securing the shoe, but some wear-testers felt the forefoot was a bit too swimmy.
Feel: It’s built with a “zero-drop” profile (meaning a runner’s foot sits level in the shoe), but it offers a happy medium between feel for the ground and protection against the impact of every footstrike.
Ride: Lightweight and luscious, this race-day triathlon shoe has been designed with minimalist traits while still offering a reasonable amount of cushioning and protection. It serves up a smooth, low-to-the-ground ride without the pounding common to most “barely-there” shoes. The more efficient your stride, the more you’ll reap the benefits of this shoe’s unique design features and low-profile construction. (An added bonus is a removable stability wedge that offers additional medial support with 5mm of additional foam.)
ASICS Gel-Cumulus 15, $115
weights: 11.4 oz. (men’s); 9.7 oz. (women’s)
heights: 31mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Fit: True to ASICS shoes, the latest edition of the Cumulus is snug throughout with only a twinge of space to let your toes breathe a bit.
Feel: There is no getting around how cushy the Cumulus feels underfoot. But given all of the new foams out there, the Cumulus doesn’t feel quite as soft relative to other shoes as it used to, but that’s a good thing. A new mesh upper offers a personalized fit and greater connectivity for dynamic flexibility.
Ride: Like previous versions of the Cumulus, the 15th edition serves up a smooth, comfy and reliably stable ride. The relatively high stack heights and 11mm heel-toe drop don’t allow it to be very agile, light or fast, but testers were appreciative of the resilient energy return it provides on long, slow training runs.
Brooks Ghost 6, $110
weights: 10.7 oz. (men’s); 9.0 oz. (women’s)
heights: 31mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Fit: The plush Ghost is secure and snug in the heel and midfoot with a hint of roominess in the toe box.
Feel: Soft and sublime. The Ghost 6 continues on the soft and luxurious trend of its previous models, only now in a lighter and more flexible package. Our testers praised the step-in feel and long-wearing comfort.
Ride: This luxe high-mileage trainer is soft (but not mushy) and secure from heel to toe. While it has a more traditional design (both in terms of height off the ground and heel-toe slope), the foam and gel midsole components give it an energetic feel. It’s best for longer and slower training efforts, but a hint of liveliness makes it versatile enough for speedier efforts like tempo runs.
Brooks Glycerin 11, $150
weights: 11.7 oz. (men’s); 9.6 oz. (women’s)
heights: 29mm (heel), 19mm (forefoot)
Fit: The cushy medium to narrow-volume interior keeps feet snugly contained from heel to toe.
Feel: The Glycerin offers up a soft, cloudlike sensation that remains from the first mile to the last of a long run. It doesn’t feel light or even very agile, but the soft, smooth cushy feeling under foot doesn’t make it feel heavy or bulky either.
Ride: The Glycerin is heaping with enough buttery soft materials under foot to give off a “floaty” sensation out on the roads. The significant updates to this model include a lighter, more flexible and more agile makeup, which is partially due to the removal of a plastic midfoot shank. Most of our testers tabbed the Glycerin as a long-distance trainer or a post-race recovery run shoe, but all agreed there’s just too much shoe to make it versatile for any kind of fast running.
Inov-8 Road X-Treme 208, $100
(X-Treme 188 for women), $100
weights: 8.3 oz. (men’s); 6.9 oz. (women’s)
heights: 20mm (heel), 14mm (forefoot)
Fit: The newest version of the Road X-Treme has a secure fit in the heel and a near-custom fit in the midfoot, but a decidedly roomy feel in the forefoot.
Feel: This low-to-the-ground trainer feels light and fast from the moment you lace it up. It has an easy-flexing demeanor that moves with the natural motion of the foot. In other words, it doesn’t get in the way of how you run.
Ride: Giddy up! The low-profile design and modest-but-effective undercarriage evoke speed, good form and confidence. Testers praised the cushioning for blending soft comfort and responsive firmness. It’s a versatile shoe that can be used as an everyday trainer (for dynamically strong, nimble runners) or for faster workouts and progression runs.
Mizuno Wave Evo Cursoris, $120
weights: 6.8 oz. (men’s); 5.0 oz. (women’s)
heights: 15mm (heel), 15mm (forefoot)
Fit: A modern racing flat that takes cues from minimalist design, this shoe wraps a foot snugly in the heel and midfoot but remains fairly roomy in the toebox.
Feel: The Evo Cursoris is a curious and surprising shoe, one that combines an innovative design (the EVA midsole/outsole undercarriage wraps up along the medial side of the foot and the heel) with a low-to-the-ground feeling of a minimalist shoe and the flex and energy of a racing flat. The lightweight construction, wrap-like fit and airy mesh upper give this shoe a featherweight sensation, especially at faster paces.
Ride: Despite the unique feel, the ride is ultra-smooth and hitch-free. It rolls from heel-to-toe very well at slower speeds and is equally effective with a forefoot strike at higher speeds (during intervals or tempo-paced runs). Even though the shoe has a zero-drop (flat profile), there is enough foam in the combined midsole/outsole to provide cushioning and protection.
Mizuno Wave Sayonara, $120
weights: 7.9 oz. (men’s); 6.3 oz. (women’s)
heights: 24mm (heel), 14mm (forefoot)
Fit: The new Sayonara offers a comfortable, glove-like fit from heel to toe. It’s reliably snug in the heel and midfoot, and close-fitting but adaptable in the forefoot.
Feel: This shoe exudes up-tempo performance and versatility. With a lightweight, low-to-the-ground design and extreme flexibility, it just feels fast, not to mention semi-firm and very agile too. Said one tester: “Nothing gets in the way of your stride.”
Ride: Fast and firm. Picking up where Mizuno’s successful Precision shoe left off, the Sayonara offers an awe-inspiring combination of speed, comfort and protection. It has just enough foam to feel like a cushioned shoe, but just enough structure to offer guidance on longer runs.
New Balance 870 v3, $110
weights: 9.0 oz. (men’s); 7.8 oz. women’s
heights: 23mm (heel), 15mm (forefoot)
Fit: The 870v3 fits snug in the heel and midfoot, but is roomy in the forefoot. The entire fit is enhanced by stitch-free, flexible and supportive overlay pieces that are welded to a flexible fabric that molds to a foot’s shape.
Feel: Soft and subtle. A shining star among modern stability shoes, the 870v3 offers great medial support without being overbearing or inhibiting flex. The best part is that it’s lighter than many neutral trainers and considerably lighter (and more nimble) than typical stability shoes.
Ride: The 870sv3 handles so smoothly it’s hard to believe this is even a stability shoe. The lightweight construction and easy-flexing demeanor of this shoe give it versatility for both longer and faster types of running. The slightly lower heel-toe drop contributes to a neutral-esque subtle guidance.
New Balance 1260 v3, $145
weights: 10.9 oz. (men’s); 8.4 oz. (women’s)
heights: 29mm (heel), 21mm (forefoot)
Fit: The cozy, low-volume interior of the 1260 snuggly secures the foot from heel to toe.
Feel: This version is lighter, more flexible and less firm than the second version, the result being an agile feeling instead of a bulky disposition out on the run. It’s a shoe designed for larger runners or those who need significant support to combat overpronation. Several wear-testers commented on the luxurious forefoot cushioning, something that many stability shoes fail to deliver.
Ride: A premium stability shoe that has gone through significant changes from previous versions, the 1260 v3 offers a plush ride, great support and long-wearing comfort. The best aspect is the comfort factor.
Newton Energy NR, $120
weights: 9.0 oz. (men’s); 7.4 oz. (women’s)
heights: 25mm (heel), 23mm (forefoot)
Fit: Like most Newton shoes, the Energy NR offers up performance-oriented snugness in the heel and midfoot with a bit of extra wiggle room in the forefoot.
Feel: The step-in feel is comfortable with a soft-but-firm feel underfoot. If you’ve run in any other pair of Newtons, you’ll notice a decidedly different sensation in the forefoot from the reduced lugs, which stick out less than previous models.
Ride: The Energy NR is meant to be a transition shoe between more traditionally designed shoes and other Newton models with higher forefoot lugs aimed at forefoot-striking gaits. But even our testers who have never run in Newtons felt the Energy NR served up a smooth and agile ride that has plenty of cushioning for long runs and plenty of pep for speedier efforts too.
Nike LunarGlide 5+, $110
weights: 9.6 oz. (men’s); 8.3 oz. (women’s)
M heights: 28mm (heel), 18mm (forefoot)
W heights: 31mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Fit: This shoe has a snug and comfy fit throughout, thanks to the stretchy mesh that wraps over the foot.
Feel: This shoe is cushy but not smooshy, thanks to the dynamic support devices (offsetting beveled wedges of softer and firmer foams) built into the midsole. Moderately light and flexible, this is a do-everything shoe for the runner who wants to invest in one shoe per season.
Ride: There’s no getting around the fact this shoe is fairly high off the ground compared to other models, but the slightly lower heel-toe drop, good flex, soft cushion and exceptional fit give it a very agile ride for a shoe with so much girth in the undercarriage. Our wear-testers considered this one of the comfortable shoes in our review.
Nike Free FlyKnit+, $160
weights: 6.8 oz. (men’s); 5.4 oz. (women’s)
heights: 23mm (heel), 14mm (forefoot)
Fit: It fits like a traditional Free 5.0 with a comfortable snug feeling throughout, but the socklike upper gives it a secure, low-volume wrap sensation.
Feel: Like all Free shoes, it feels very light and super flexible as if it was an extension of your foot. Also like other Free shoes, it gives off an uninhibited, natural motion vibe, only this one gives the impression of having slightly more supportive feeling in the upper.
Ride: features the soft and uber-flexible undercarriage of the standard Free 5.0 with a seamless knit upper that feels like a snug-fitting sock and wears like a dreamy extension of your foot. It has a modern 9mm heel-toe drop without enough cushion for longer runs, but it feels low to the ground and is agile enough to be a triathlon race shoe.
Pearl Izumi EM Road N2, $120
weights: 9.1 oz. (men’s); 8.1 oz. (women’s)
heights: 27mm (heel), 16mm (forefoot)
Fit: The N2 fits snug in the secure in the heel and midfoot with just a bit of extra room in the forefoot.
Feel: The EM Road N2 is an energetic lightweight neutral with ample cushioning and enough protection for long, slow training runs. The midsole foam is very responsive and aids in a runner’s forward propulsion, which gives it a peppy feel for faster workouts or races.
Ride: A mid-range 9mm heel-toe drop and a seamless upper that conforms to and moves with a runner’s foot ad to the N2’s smooth-riding demeanor at any pace. Summed up one tester: “I really liked the light feel, the flexibility in the N2, yet I still felt protected.”
Puma Faas 500 S, $100
weights: 8.6 oz. (men’s); 7.0 oz. (women’s)
heights: 28mm (heel), 22mm (forefoot)
Fit: The Faas 500 S fits snug throughout, including in the toe box, which a few wear-testers thought was a bit too cramped.
Feel: This feels a lot more like a semi-firm neutral shoe than it does a stability model. That’s largely because instead of traditional posts, shanks and higher-density chunks of foam, this shoe’s guidance qualities are derived from a midsole with increased medial flare and sidewall heights, along with a segmented rubber outsole inlaid into the midsole.
Ride: As with previous Faas shoes, this model serves up a consistent, soft ride with an easy flex. Our testers felt this shoe offered a very mild amount of stability and would be best for slight overpronators or neutral runners who want an extra bit of support on longer runs.
Reebok One Cushion, $110
weights: 9.2 oz. (men’s); 7.9 oz. (women’s)
heights: 32mm (heel), 21mm (forefoot)
Fit: The fit on this shoe is straight-up snug in the heel and midfoot, but with a more generous cut in the forefoot.
Feel: It feels light and flexible like many neutral shoes, but that’s also a tribute to a blended three-zone construction that addresses three phases of a footstrike. Welded overlays offer a bit of structure to the fit without adding weight or inhibiting the easy flex of this shoe.
Ride: Soft and smooth. The unique three-density foam midsole offers graduated cushioning that seamlessly helps a runner’s foot transition as it rolls from the heel-strike to toe-off phase of a stride. Although this concept is hidden in plain sight, it’s one of the primary reasons our testers raved about this shoe’s easy-rolling ride.
Saucony Cortana 3, $150
weights: 9.4 oz. (men’s); 7.9 oz. (women’s)
heights: 28mm (heel), 24mm (forefoot)
Fit: A soft, seamless interior and lighter yet more supportive upper contribute to a locked-down feeling from heel to forefoot.
Feel: The moment you step into the updated Cortana, you sense how nimble it is for a stability shoe. The shoe’s inherent stability and lighter weight are easily recognized, but so is the soft, cushy feeling under foot.
Ride: This modern stability shoe combines minimalist materials and stylings with a design that offers guidance but doesn’t inhibit the natural motion of a runner’s foot. The primary contributors to the revamped ride are the additional ground contact and deep flex grooves of the new bottom unit, as well as the ample layers of top-tier cushioning. “It’s very stable, very smooth and really light,” one wear-tester remarked. All of that combines to make it an ideal shoe for a runner who wants to transition to a lower drop shoe.
Saucony Ride 6, $110
weights: 9.6 oz. (men’s); 7.1 oz. (women’s)
heights: 28mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Fit: The plush interior of the Ride and secure saddle/lacing system comfortably smother a runner’s foot in the heel and forefoot, but allows room for the toes to wiggle.
Feel: Saucony’s flagship neutral cushioned trainer returns with a few improvements, most notably a plusher midsole and deeper flex grooves for greater flexibility and agility. It has midrange stats for heel-toe drop (8mm), but still offers up decent foot-to-ground connectivity.
Ride: The changes to this edition of the Ride have helped it become smoother and lighter, aspects our testers raved about for long weekend training runs. Overall, the Ride gives off a vibrant feeling with a nimble performance but plenty of support and the comfort you’d want out of a high-mileage cushioned trainer. A few of our wear-testers thought this shoe could double as a long-distance racer, but most said they would prefer to use the Ride as a trainer.
Scott T2C Evo, $115
weights: 8.8 oz. (men’s); 7.5 oz. (women’s)
heights: 21mm (heel), 11mm (forefoot)
Fit: The T2C Evo has a slightly wider heel and forefoot fit than some shoes, but it has a supremely secure fit in the midfoot thanks to a lightweight, supportive upper material.
Feel: It feels light, supple and soft, with a split personality of a racing flat and high-mileage trainer. Mesh materials in the upper offer an ideal combination of flexibility, support and comfort. “It’s almost too good to be true. All shoes should be this versatile,” one tester said.
Ride: The key to this shoe’s fast and smooth ride is its super-light and resilient AeroFoam in the midsole. It offers up enough cushiness and guidance for longer training runs and races, but it’s light and responsive enough for short and fast efforts too. Our wear-testers felt the slightly rockered shape of the undercarriage facilitated a quick cadence and up-tempo running.
Skechers GoRun Ride 2, $80
weights: 7.0 oz. (men’s); 6.6 oz. (women’s)
heights: 26mm (heel), 23mm (forefoot)
Fit: The GoRun Ride 2 is dialed in tight in the heel and midfoot, but the forefoot is noticeably wide with plenty of room for the forefoot to splay and flex on every stride.
Feel: Ultralight and uber-soft. Although it’s not a “barely there” minimalist model, the GoRun Ride 2 has plenty of minimalist-inspired design features and feels crazy light underfoot. But the most striking feature is its uncanny softness.
Ride: The GoRun Ride 2 is the cushiest shoe in our review and one of the cushiest our wear-testers have ever experienced. But that’s a good thing, apparently, as many testers really liked it. The pillowy softness is unique, but it can be supremely smooth once you get into a rhythm. Summed up one tester: “It’s like a cushy slipper that you can run in for hours and hours.”
Under Armour SpeedForm, $120
weights: 6.0 oz. (men’s); 5.1 oz. (women’s)
heights: 26mm (heel), 23mm (forefoot)
Fit: The innovative SpeedForm wraps a runner’s foot like a glove, starting with a snug, seamless heel cup and a secure midfoot saddle connection.
Feel: Perhaps the best example of next-generation minimalism, the SpeedForm lives up to its name: It feels fast, flexible and light the moment you slip it on. Its stitch-free upper – inspired by spacesuits and the material innovation of a bra, of all things – redefines the term “sock-like feel.” The shoe feels like a natural extension of the foot with a smooth interior that is comfortable with or without socks.
Ride: This is one fast and responsive shoe, but one that’s best for strong, agile runners. The lightweight foam midsole provides plenty of cushioning and energy return while still offering a feel-the-ground sensation. There is little inherent support in this shoe but, more than any model in this review, it moves with the precise movements of a runner’s foot.