The OnCloud X is fantastic right out of the box. The heel and overall feel of the shoe is a bit stiff when it comes to first impressions, and while that firmness never went away, it never ended up being a bad thing. The Cloud X never broke down—no matter what kind of workout our testers threw at it on consecutive days. The improved lacing system made getting out of the house at 4 a.m. quick and effortless, and those early morning runs followed by cross training were an absolute delight. The Cloud X retain their structure and cushioning during countless mid-distance runs, burpees and sprints. While the ankle padding was a bit toned back compared to a non-cross-training shoe, our testers never found stability to be an issue. Having worn previous iterations, the toe box was an improvement, making the shoe one we'll be coming back to again and again.
One Favorite Thing: "It's light but doesn't sacrifice cushion or comfortability. I'm able to run for long distances without being bothered by lack of cushion or additional weight."
One Area for Improvement: "They were incredibly slick the first time I ran in the rain but were fine after some breaking in."
Style: Neutral Cross-Trainer
Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 2
The first thing that stands out about Reebok's Forever Floatride Energy 2 is the price point. At just $100, it's a super affordable option for the everyday athlete who wants one pair of shoes for running, cross training and everything in between. While the responsiveness of the midsole may not be quite up to par with the shoe's slightly pricier siblings, it makes up for it in comfort and weight. The second iteration is also an improvement on its first version thanks to the high-density foam in the heel that supports your foot well—but not so much as to create friction and unwanted blisters (something our testers ran into with the first attempt at the design). But there were no blisters this time! And instead our testers experienced not only more comfort but a better fit, ride and overall experience, whether they were pounding the pavement or heading to their local box for a high-intensity CrossFit workout. The best part is the shoe doesn't feel cheap compared to its counterparts, making it a budget-friendly option for any level of runner.
One Favorite Thing: "I have a larger frame and make quite a bit of impact when I run, so the cushion—and support—in the heel is a godsend."
One Area for Improvement: "I might make the toe box just a tad wider to better promote a natural foot splay when running and cross training."
Style: Neutral Road
Salomon Sense Ride 3
The Salomon Sense Ride 3 has not just one layer of cushioning to protect runners from rocks, sticks and stones along the trail but two, making it great for longer distance runs on technical trails. In fact, Salomon took a hint from its road shoe playbook, incorporating a midsole foam with that second shock-absorbing layer. But perhaps even better than the cushioning is the traction, one tester noted, saying it was great on dry surfaces and wet, and dealt with a build-up of mud and debris well.
It might sound cliché, but the Sense Ride 3 is somewhat of a Goldilocks shoe, working well for the experienced ultramarathoners or the amateur just starting to head off road. That's because of the protective rock plate, internal fit sleeve and drawcord lacing system that even tucks excess material into an easy-to-access pouch on the tongue—all elements of trail runners designed more for the veteran off-road runner.
One Favorite Thing: "The traction is unmatched. I did a lot of testing in wet conditions, and I was never once concerned about slipping or falling."
One Area for Improvement: "The long laces are annoying, and despite having a little pouch to tuck the excess, I wish they were just a little shorter to begin with."
Style: Neutral Trail
Salomon Sonic 3 Balance
Most well-known for its trail shoes, Salomon's Sonic 3 Balance is a nice road trainer that fans of the brand can be happy with. Best for speed and tempo runs thanks to its two-layer cushioning system that is both shock-absorbing and responsive, this shoe can work for moderate long runs as well. But let's talk more about that two-layer cushioning system. The top layer is more of a memory foam design in the heel that absorbs shock from repetitive pavement pounding while the bottom layer is lighter and more responsive, allowing runners to change speeds and turn corners with ease. However, despite these elements being called cushioning, our tester said they wouldn't necessarily describe it as being plush; don't expect to want to use the Sonic 3 Balance for a slow-paced recovery run where you're looking to give your limbs a much-needed break. The outsole incorporated elements of Salomon's more well-known trail shoes, incorporating elements for better traction and durability than some of its counterparts.
One Favorite Thing: "It rains a lot where I live, so the ContraGrip outsole is a life saver on slick city sidewalks."
One Area for Improvement: "I have narrow feet, so while I can imagine the spacious design would be appreciated by most, I had to wear thicker socks for my foot to feel secure."
Style: Neutral Road
Skechers GORUN 7+ HYPER
This is a great shoe by Skechers that feels natural on your feet as soon as you slip them on and tie the laces. The shoe has a springy sole that makes picking up the pace feel easier than when wearing other brands or models. The GORUN 7+ HYPER has enough cushion to be used as a daily trainer, but is also light enough for speed workouts and even race situations. The upper provides a good amount of support while still encouraging breathability.
One Favorite Thing: "The light weight of the shoe is almost unmatched; it feels very natural on my foot."
One Area for Improvement: "The durability—after only 20 miles, the sole began to see some wear."
Style: Neutral Road
Skechers GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPERThe Skechers GO RUN SPEED TRL HYPER is made for speed is made for speed. Thanks to its lightweight design (only 8oz for a trail runner? Insane!), our tester found the shoe to be quick, speedy and itching for a PR. It just makes you want to run fast, which can be good or bad depending on the type of run you're going for on any given day. The upper is also extremely breathable and handles moisture well. Now because of its lightweight stature, you might be concerned about protection from rocks, roots and other things that might pop up on the trail. It's a valid concern, but the Speed TRL Hyper covered all its bases. The Injected Nylon forefoot plate adds protection while the Dynamic Heel-lock System connects the laces to a small rope around the heel and collar, meaning when you tighten the laces, the top of the collar becomes more cinched and secure as well, if desired. However, do be cautious of the Goodyear M-Strike rubber on wet surfaces, as things can get slippery quickly. Overall, if you're looking for a lighter trail shoe for short efforts and big PRs, look no further than this shoe from Skechers.
One Favorite Thing: "I loved the innovative lacing system that had my foot feeling secure even on technical trails."
One Area for Improvement: "The asymmetrical tongue takes a little bit of getting used to, and I spent more time than I normally would messing with the laces to get everything just right."
Style: Neutral Trail
Under Armour HOVR Machina
The Under Armour HOVR Machina is an excellent shoe for long runs. It is comfortable, cushioned and surprisingly lightweight for its substantial appearance. Its heel is cushy and snug, and the toe box is wide enough to allow for natural foot spread and movement.
Additionally, the built-in Map My Run Coaching technology provides an interesting and helpful dynamic for runners who choose to utilize it. It pairs easily with the app and gives periodic and accurate data about the runner's stride length and cadence. This built-in technology helps the UA HOVR stand out from other shoes, especially for runners who don't have a smart watch with cadence data or for those who want that data in real time.
One Favorite Thing: "I really love the cushioned, supported feeling around the heel. Every time I put them on, it is like a glove hugging my heel, and the cushioning gives me great confidence in going long without concern of experiencing fatigue in my legs and feet."
One Area for Improvement: "If there were anything I would change, it might be to decrease the heel drop slightly."
Style: Neutral Road
Note: Under Armour suggests sizing up half a size as this shoe runs small.
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