Hear that sound? It's the sound of your pace per mile falling like the autumn leaves along your favorite running trail. Yep, fall is here, and those cooler temperatures mean faster times, longer mileage and—better yet—the perfect excuse for a new pair of running shoes.
We know the options are plentiful and your feet are unique, so we assigned a handful of accomplished runners the task of testing (and testing and testing) the newest sneakers on the block, all in an effort to help our readers make the most educated decision when they hit their local running store.
What kind of shoe are you looking for?
HOKA ONE ONE Rincon
The Rincon can be described simply as a HOKA for HOKA newbies. With less cushioning than a typical HOKA shoe, the Rincon is lightweight with plenty of stability and support to get you through your toughest miles. The upper mesh completely forms to your foot, giving you the feeling of wearing a second skin rather than a bulky running shoe. The mesh used, however, does mean it's unlikely to stretch. So if you're someone who buys with the expectation of breaking the shoe in, you aren't going to get much give with the Rincon.
But the Rincon isn't just for runners looking to give HOKA a chance. It's perfect for loyal brand wearers looking for a snappier shoe for speed days that pairs well with the Clifton's they save for their longest miles. Say hello to your new favorite daily trainer.
"Wearing the Rincons is like standing on a memory-foam bed without the slippage." — Danny, everyday runner
Weight: 6.3 oz. (women); 7.7 oz. (men)
Drop: 5 mm
The Fantom is perfect as a neutral trainer and is something our testers say they'll continue to keep in their toolbox. If you're looking for a single solution for a variety of workouts, look no further than the 361 Fantom. The shoe gives you plenty of cushion to withstand miles of pounding the pavement but also fits snugly and securely enough to tackle hills or cross training workouts. We do suggest trying your potential pair on in-store to ensure the width is a comfortable fit for your feet.
There's just enough cushioning that it provides comfort without being bulky, and was supportive enough that it prevented our testers' ankles from sliding around. The heel is also secure. Overall, the Fantom is a great out-of-the box shoe for everyday running, whether you're heading out for a typical 5-miler or getting your cross training on at your local gym.
"Out of all the shoes I've tested and reviewed, I don't believe I've ever complimented the tongue of the shoe...until now. It just spoke the language of my foot." — Jon, 5x Katy Trail 5K finisher
Weight: 8.4 oz. (women); 10.2 oz. (men)
Drop: 8 mm
Adidas PulseBoost HD
Comfort and style is the name of the game when it comes to Adidas' PulseBoost HD. Our testers noted grabbing this shoe for everyday wear—to work, to the gym or even to the grocery store—on top of plain ole running. While the knit upper isn't the best in terms of stability, it did perform well during speed workouts, responding to changes in speed with little effort. That's thanks in part to the Boost HD technology that provides an elevated level of responsiveness compared to other designs in Adidas' arsenal.
We can't leave without mentioning the bonus features. The tongue features a QR code that sends the scanner to a specially curated Spotify playlist perfect for your next run. And those accompanying coordinates? Try typing them into Google and seeing where they take you.
"I didn't feel like I had to break them in thanks to the adaptive knit upper adjusting to my foot from the beginning." —Aaron, Boston Marathon finisher and multi-time IRONMAN
Weight: 12 oz.
Drop: 8 mm
Altra Escalante 2
The Escalante 2 is a minimalist shoe with maximum ROI. Running in the summer heat, like our testers did, can provide a lot of challenges (read: hot and sweaty feet), but the Escalante 2 solved both those problems thanks to the knit upper with even more perforations than the first iteration to maximize breathability. The new long-lasting insole provides a better fit and feel than before, the toe box has plenty of room and the outsole FootPod technology maps the actual bones and tendons of your foot to help you move naturally while you pound the pavement. Don't be surprised if this shoe becomes your go-to for nearly any running situation.
"I'm not even kidding when I say Altra is my new go-to shoe brand." — Emmanuel, marathon finisher
Weight: 7.4 oz. (women); 8.8 oz. (men)
Drop: 0 mm
Mizuno Wave Rider 23
Mizuno's Wave Rider 23 will fulfill expectations of any loyal Mizuno wearer. The shoe maintains the same gentle spring of past iterations but boasts a cleaner, more updated look. The heel cup locks in well and fits as it should, giving your foot a stable feeling. The shoe is preferable for runners with average to wider feet—wider foot runners may be OK with the normal width shoe, although it does come in wide as well. Plus, it seems to hold up well over miles of testing, a promising sign for long-lasting durability. Despite having a pretty significant drop, our testers noted it wasn't all too noticeable, even mentioning that they had tried other shoes with a smaller drop that felt more noticeable.
"I could feel the cushion like I was running on a cloud; truly a 'wave rider.'" — Erin, Kona IRONMAN World Championship finisher
Weight: 8.3 oz. (women); 9.6 oz. (men)
Drop: 12 mm
The Cloudswift's fit is unique thanks to its stretchable upper, fitting more like a sock than a regular running shoe. In fact, one of our testers went sock-less on a number of runs. The shoe is great right out of the box—the only thing you may want to stretch out a bit before heading out is the material around the toes so your foot has a little more freedom to spread out. True to its name, the cushion of the Cloudswift is a selling point. Our testers felt like they were running on a cloud—shocking, we know. However, we wouldn't relegate the shoe to long runs only like some of its other cushy counterparts; it's useful for shorter, faster workouts, too. Thanks to the inner-sock construction, the fit is snug and cradles the foot. The arch support is great, and you won't experience heel slippage, even on hill work.
"I would highly recommend these shoes to anyone in the market for a new pair of running shoes." — Jared, everyday runner
Weight: 8.47 oz. (women); 10.23 oz. (men)
Drop: 7 mm
Brooks Ghost 12
It's no surprise the Brooks' Ghost line of running shoes has been around for 12 iterations. It's apparent the Ghost 12 is not just another mushy mid-mileage offering. It's versatile, attractive and makes running enjoyable. It toes the line between a neutral and a cushioned shoe, making it a good choice for a long run with a goal pace or days when you just need to get in some miles. The upper on the Ghost continues to improve, with this iteration providing a snug and secure fit without the friction spots that existed on some previous versions. However, the laces could use improvement: They are short and puffy in a way that makes them difficult to lace tightly, causing them to come untied often.
Overall, the Ghost 12 is a good choice for a beginning runner (or someone on a budget) who is looking for a shoe to do it all since it provides cushioning without a lot of extra weight or drag. Advanced runners likely wouldn't look to this shoe for speed work or races but should still find it useful for recovery and long runs.
"They are my go-to shoes for those days when I just have no motivation—because I know they'll feel comfortable and won't be another strike against getting out the door." — Emily M., half marathon finisher
Weight: 9.3 oz. (women); 10.4 oz. (men)
Drop: 12 mm
HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6
If you're looking for a longterm relationship in a shoe, look no further than HOKA's Clifton 6. This shoe's mission is to be with you through thick and thin, sickness and health and, most importantly, fast and slow runs.
Neutral in design, the shoe will allow you to run freely while still supporting every step with the highest amount of cushion and support without sacrificing your cadence or performance. Evolved from previous models, the sixth iteration not only makes your feet happy through nagging injuries or slower base runs but also strives to exceed your expectations on faster runs with its responsiveness and ability to adapt to any pace your training calls for.
"I am coming off of an ankle stability injury, and these shoes made me feel confident and comfortable while running for the first time since then." — Brianna, 5K runner
Weight: 7.3 oz. (women); 8.9 oz. (men)
Drop: 5 mm
New Balance FuelCell Propel
Don't be deceived by the somewhat "bulky" look of the New Balance FuelCell Propel in the box. Our testers ended up absolutely loving the look and feel once they took them out for a test drive. The relatively low drop and cushioned heel are extremely comfortable and will quickly become your go-to shoe for long runs. The toe box is roomy but not too much so, meaning your feet will always feel comfortable, even when they're a little more swollen at the end of a longer effort. And, probably most importantly, the FuelCell Propel magically manages to still feel cushioned and springy despite being lightweight and having a lower drop.
"I felt like I was running on pillows. I would definitely buy these again for marathon training." — Megan, 4x Boston Marathon finisher
Weight: 7.1 oz. (women); 9.2 oz. (men)
Drop: 6 mm
Salomon Predict RA
The Predict RA is for runners looking for more stability in their running shoe. Our testers were impressed with the mesh and textile lining that's super soft, as well as manufacturing of the shoe, recommending it for needing an especially durable shoe. However, it might be a bit roomier than you're used to, so we may suggest sizing down to maximize fit. The sock-like construction is more suited for cooler temps, making it perfect for fall miles rather than summer sweat sessions. Salomon is primarily a trail shoe brand, and some of that flavor definitely carried over into the Predict RA.
Note: This shoe is not sold online. Visit the link below to try them at a store near you.
"This shoe is perfect for runners in more moderate, cold or rainy climates." — Erin, Kona IRONMAN World Championship finisher
Weight: 7.76 oz. (women); 9.17 oz. (men)
Drop: 8 mm
Skechers GOrun Maxroad 4 Hyper
The GOrun Max Road 4 Hyper is the perfect all-around shoe. You can wear it for a short 3-miler, to the gym to get your strength training in or even for your daily commute. The design of the shoe is great, especially the slip-on feature and its ankle stability. However, the stiffness of the sole takes some getting used to, making our testers feel like they were pounding down hard and not getting enough bounce with their steps until broken in.
It really shined with cross training—going from running immediately into weight training or even on trails thanks to the robust ankle support. Overall, this shoe has a lot to offer for a wide range of runners.
"The sock-like design made the shoe feel like it was an extension of my foot." — Brianna, 5K runner
Weight: 6.3 oz. (women); 8.4 oz. (men)
Drop: 6 mm
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