BEST UPDATE: New Balance 1063
Widths: B—4E (M) 2A—D (W)
Weight: 11.7 oz (M) 9.6 oz (W)
We Say: The wide fit and firm feel that characterized New Balance shoes are things of the past, as this update makes abundantly clear. As with the 769, the 1063 is built around a new last that has less volume in the forefoot and is snug through the arch. Our testers loved how well the upper hugged their feet, and several liked the shoe's cushioning, even though lab tests show it to have one of the firmest heels in the neutral-cushioned category. Chalk it up to the new cushy sockliner. Recommended for normal- to high-arched runners looking for a durable trainer.
Wear-Testers Say: "The cushioning is the best I've felt in a long time." —Christina Nell, 32, Allentown
"They felt lightweight and soft." —Christina Gettins, 34, Allentown
Nike Zoom Start+
Weight: 10.5 oz (M) 9.2 oz (W)
We Say: This new shoe feels fast and supple underfoot. It's built on the same last as the Pegasus, so it doesn't have a particularly snug fit. Nike uses thin bands of wire to connect the laces to the midsole, however, and they do a nice job of cinching the upper around the midfoot, while leaving plenty of room around the ball of the foot. At 10.5 ounces, it straddles the line between performance and a neutral-cushioned trainer. Recommended for lighter runners with high arches looking for a soft, lightweight, and flexible shoe.
Wear-Testers Say: "This is a good lightweight and flexible shoe for tempo runs and speedwork." —Nick Krus, 23, East Lansing
"A great cushioned trainer." —Grant Woodman, 34, East Lansing
Pearl Izumi SyncroFloat III
Weight: 12.2 oz (M) 10.2 oz (W)
We Say: The latest heavy-duty trainer from Pearl arrives with more durable cushioning and a $20 price increase. It has an extra layer of foam under the sockliner for a better try-on feel, but our lab tests show that the forefoot is still pretty firm. While the shoe weighs 12.2 ounces, it still feels fast underfoot because it's built lower to the ground. In fact, some testers equated its feel to a performance trainer. Recommended for bigger runners with normal to high arches looking for a fast feel.
Wear-Testers Say: "I liked the snug fit of the shoe's upper." —Doug Cedrone, 21, Allentown
"For me, at 195 pounds, the heel cushioning was great." —Jose Brown, 52, East Lansing
BEST DEBUT: Saucony Progrid Echelon
Weight: 12.8 oz (M) 11 oz (W)
We Say: This new shoe is built to cushion the heavy footfalls of larger runners, and RW Shoe Lab tests show that it does a bang-up job. The Echelon is built on a new last that's roomier in the forefoot and flat in the heel to better accommodate an orthotic. It features the same outstanding arch wrap as the Triumph, which uses welded foam to snug the upper over the midfoot. Recommended for runners with high arches or those who wear orthotics and need a durable everyday trainer.
Wear-Testers Say: "The shoe had good cushioning but felt a bit clunky." —Gina Terhune, 24, East Lansing
"They were comfortable, and my orthotics fit perfectly" —Suanne Ricker, 52, Allentown