The ACTIVE Spring 2019 Running Shoe Guide

With spring training and road racing season just around the corner, now is the time to invest in a new pair of shoes. That’s where this guide comes in handy. We brought testers in from all over the country, including veteran runners here at ACTIVE, to try the shoes in this guide. All of our testers put their shoes through a minimum of 15 running miles while paying attention to comfort, fit, weight, breathability, flexibility and ride.

What did we find? Updates of old favorites had our feet singing. Plus, new releases from will ensure you'll find something to motivate your miles well into summer.

What kind of shoe are you looking for?

Snappy | CushyTrail

Snappy

Snappy shoes provide the perfect combination of cushion and responsiveness for runners logging miles on the road or track.

running shoe

Brooks Launch 6

The Brooks Launch 6 is an excellent all-around shoe for any runner looking for a reliable pair to grab for any workout. It’s quick enough for speed work but cushioned enough to provide support during a long run or race. While some quicker shoes may be better for short races or sprints, the Launch 6 would never be a bad choice.

These are also great shoes for a runner looking to add a mid- or long-distance race shoe to their arsenal or a beginning runner looking for a single shoe that can do it all. The drop in particular was a favorite feature of one tester, coming in at just the right amount to provide the forward motion she wanted without feeling like too much.

“It’s not often you find a shoe that’s perfect for a beginner and an experienced runner.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $100
Weight: 9 oz. (men); 8 oz. (women)
Drop: 10 mm

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running shoe

361 Strata 3

These stability shoes are a great investment for mid-to-long distances. One tester put them on as soon as she received them and immediately liked the fit. They are snug, bordering on a narrow fit and lightweight with a sleek design for a shoe of this caliber. In fact, the first thought that came to mind when our tester laced them up was, “These feel fast."

The mesh surrounding the upper is very flexible and has excellent ventilation. The midsole is made of a lightweight foam that provides cushion yet is also supportive. The outsole is flexible and seems to promote acceleration. Plus, for one tester, the laces were a big plus, gripping the mid-section of his foot better than other shoes and models.

“The Strata 3s are everything you need yet nothing you don’t.”

Nuts & Bolts

Stability
Price: $155
Weight: 11 oz. (men); 9.3 oz. (women)
Drop: 8 mm

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running shoe

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Pursuit

The Zante Pursuit is a big upgrade from last iterations in the Zante lineup. One of our testers has experience with both the v3 and v4 and noted a vast improvement. The sock-like knit upper felt super comfortable, and the mid sole was cushioned yet lightweight. She also really liked the lack of a bulky collar around heel—an area that always seems to rub and cause blisters with other shoes. The Pursuit's minimalist design felt—and looked!—great.

“Function over fashion of course, but this shoe is very stylish! Not only was it a great to run in, but it was great to wear around during the day as well.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $110
Weight: 7.3 oz. (men); 6.1 oz. (women)
Drop: 6 mm

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running shoe

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2

It seems like overnight Nike has taken over the running scene like a storm. The technology and reputation gained by supporting elite runners is now trickling down, and it is super exciting for the everyday athlete. While he tries not to sidetracked by anything too trendy, our tester noted he is starting to see what the buzz is about. The Nike React offered him both cushion and responsiveness right out of the box, and even after some intense speed sets and tempo runs, the shoes felt consistent and seemed to resist breaking down too quickly—unlike other high-cushion shoes. The minimal sole was a little unnerving to one of our testers, but he was pleasantly surprised and didn’t experience any significant breakdown with its structure. That being said, this shoe is perfect for speed days and fast races.

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral/Stabilizing
Price: $150
Weight: 8.4 oz. (men)
Drop: 10 mm

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running shoe

Mizuno Wave Inspire 15

The latest version of a shoe Mizuno has been making for over 15 years, the Wave Inspire 15, has a more streamlined look and feel than ever before. For being supportive and springy, the cushion is light as a feather. These shoes certainly won’t weigh you down. One of our testers noted how the shoe seemed to be a great choice for arch support and keeping feet from rolling inwards too much. The mesh upper is breathable for comfort no matter how long you’re wearing them. These shoes are great for anyone needing a little extra support, especially runners typically pounding asphalt or pavement day after day.

“I’ve run in Mizuno’s Wave Rider shoe for almost 10 years, but testing the Wave Inspire showed me I may need a change, or at least a variation in my options.”

Nuts & Bolts

Stability
Price: $130
Weight: 10.3 oz. (men); 8.3 oz. (women)
Drop: 12 mm

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running shoe

Brooks Glycerin 17

Brooks is at it again with an updated release of its flagship model, the Glycerin. The 17th iteration continues its legacy as a luxurious option for heavier runners or those who are looking for a softer ride for training and recovery runs. The DNA Loft midsole is the foundation of this trainer, and despite the extra weight, it makes for a plush ride that's surprisingly efficient. The engineered mesh upper makes for a highly-customizable, bootie-like feel that paired well with the comfort of the sole and the OrthoLite sockliner. The outsole hasn't changed, according to one tester—it still features a flat design with ample traction and durability.

“For an everyday trainer designed to minimize impact during base miles and long-distance running, look no further.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $150
Weight: 10.6 oz. (men); 9.2 oz. (women)
Drop: 10 mm

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running shoe

Altra Kayenta

The Altra Kayenta is a very light, very low drop speed shoe. The shoes aren’t bogged down by a lot going on in the upper or sole, and despite the large toe box, they hug your upper foot well. This is a great shoe for speed work or to push you on race day, but if you're looking for cushioning, look elsewhere.

One tester enjoyed the Kayenta most for tempo runs and work on the treadmill, as it made her feel light on her feet and protected her from too much impact. The ankle stability was our testers’ favorite thing about the design. The snug fit helps keep your gait even, especially as you start to tire during longer distances.

“As someone who has run competitively and is training for long-distance racing, the Altra Kayenta can definitely hold its own.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $110
Weight: 5.9 oz. (men); 4.9 oz. (women)
Drop: 0 mm

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running shoe

Skechers GORUN 7 Hyper

As might be the case with many readers, our testers had never worn Skechers running shoes before. But after just one run, one tester’s mind was made up, and the news was good. The upper molded to her foot and felt super cozy, and the cushioning was perfect—protective without being too heavy or rigid.

Another tester agreed. Not only did he think they were extremely comfortable, but thought they felt great during long runs. While the larger drop might be something you’ll have to adjust to if you’re not used to wearing more cushioned shoes, we bet you’ll grow to appreciate it on longer-distance runs.

“I loved the minimalist and lightweight feel of these shoes. They made me feel fast!”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $125
Weight: 7.8 oz. (men); 6.1 oz. (women)
Drop: 4 mm

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running shoe

HOKA ONE ONE Cavu 2

The Cavu 2 isn’t your typical pair of HOKAs. They’re made with the neutral runner in mind who doesn’t need too much cushion to go the distance. Our tester found this shoe was perfect for shorter and faster activities. PR-chasers will enjoy the stiffness of the Cavu 2's outsole and 5 mm drop for its promotion of a quick turnover while the shoe's light weight keeps them feeling fresh. The same stiffness that aids in this shoe’s performance also contributes to its lack of impact distribution, so it might not be the best for longer runs.

“As a fangirl of HOKA, I was slightly giddy when I opened the box of my new Cavu 2s and saw a very pretty and unbelievably light weight pair of shoes staring back at me.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $110
Weight: 7.2 oz. (men); 5.8 oz. (women)
Drop: 5 mm

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running shoe

Brooks Ravenna 10

The Ravenna 10 should be the go-to shoe for those wanting a firm, supportive ride. Heel-strikers rejoice! The 10 mm drop plus plenty of firm cushioning means you'll be fresher for longer. Providing ample traction on all road surfaces and on wet and dry roads, any time can be go-time in these Brooks. It’s the perfect shoe for muscular or big-build runners who are training for longer distances.

Both overpronators and neutral-pronators would likely respond well to the stability of the shoe. The comfortable yet bouncy ride of this shoe made it an ideal trainer for tempo runs and long interval repeats for one tester. However, we do suggest trying on your pair before purchasing as the shoe runs a touch small, meaning you might want to go up a half or whole size to minimize any potential hot spots or blisters.

“The Brooks Ravenna 10 is a goldilocks in the realm of stability shoes.”

Nuts & Bolts

Stability
Price: $110
Weight: 9.4 oz. (men); 8.3 oz. (women)
Drop: 10 mm

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running shoe

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy

The Forever Floatride Energy do it all. They’re extremely lightweight, making them perfect for speed work and tempo runs. They’re cushy enough to help combat sore and aching joints from years of running. And, the upper has the perfect amount of ventilation, allowing you to wear them even on the hottest summer days just like our testers are guaranteed to be doing. One of our testers found the slightly larger tread and particularly tacky sole took a bit of getting used to, but those features actually become an asset for speed changes and varied terrain and movements once broken in. Overall, another tester found this shoe to be a surprisingly comfortable and compatible shoe for all the types of activities he does on a regular basis—from running to CrossFit and everything in between.

“This shoe checks off all the boxes: It fits well, it moves well and it’s stylish too.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $100
Weight: 9.3 oz. (men); 7.7 oz. (women)
Drop: 9.6 mm

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running shoe

361 Meraki 2

The 361 Meraki 2 is another promising product in the growing 361 line. While the aesthetic of the shoe leaves something to be desired, the functionality is fully satisfying. This shoe is a good neutral daily trainer for intermediate to advanced runners logging training miles on the track, treadmill, hills or even long days under 15 miles. This neutral shoe is reminiscent of 361's earlier "Spire" or even Asics’ earlier versions of the Cumulus. However, it’s an improvement over both with a smooth marriage of cushion and responsiveness, all while maintaining a rather light, minimal feel.

“This shoe will be a loyal and durable daily trainer during the upcoming long, hot summer months.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral
Price: $130
Weight: 10.2 oz. (men); 8.5 oz. (women)
Drop: 9 mm

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running shoe

Under Armour Hovr Infinite

The Under Armor Hovr Infinite is a sturdy, well-cushioned shoe with great arch support, even for moderate pronators. After a minimal break-in period they loosen up, becoming more flexible and responsive. They're a great base-mileage trainer, well-suited to long runs and recovery days, and they even look great in the gym. The in-shoe Bluetooth technology pairs with the Under Armor Map My Run app to provide detailed feedback on pace, cadence and stride length and can even track these things if you leave your phone at home.

“The technology included in these shoes blew me away.”

Nuts & Bolts

Neutral

Price: $120
Weight: 10.75 oz. (men); 8.8 oz. (women)
Drop: 8 mm

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