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Real women—including moms, teachers, firefighters and our own editors—tested dozens of shoes to bring you our best-of list for spring 2019.
Numbers To Know
Weight: All shoe weights listed (except when noted) are for a size 7.
Heel-toe Drop: The drop of a shoe, measured in millimeters, refers to the change in slope from the heel to the toe. Most heel-toe drops in athletic shoes aren’t too noticeable—not like wearing a pair of high heels. “Zero drop” means there’s no change in slope between the heel and toe.
Spring 2019 Shoe Review
Asics Gel-Nimbus 21
$150 | 9 oz. | 13mm drop
The latest Gel-Nimbus weighs 0.2 oz. more than the previous iteration and features updated technology to improve fit and feel. With three midsole components at work and the brand’s gel technology peeking out beneath the supporting heel counter for extra shock absorption, the shoe feels springy. Testers liked that the cushioning felt comfortable but firm and appreciated the mesh upper’s breathability, making these neutral shoes great for longer distances.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9
$150 | 9 oz. | 8mm drop
Testers liked the bouncy feel of this shoe’s Fresh Foam midsole, noting it’s ideal for runs up to 10 miles. The most popular feature was the tight, sock-like fit of the heel collar, which prevented heel slippage. For runners who tend to develop blisters on the balls of their feet, break these shoes in slowly, as one tester reported hot spots during early rounds of testing.
Saucony Guide ISO 2
$120 | 9 oz. | 8mm drop
Our testers found this new Saucony shoe perfect for long runs, with just the right amount of cushioning and support that injury-prone runners need. Though the mesh upper wasn’t as breathable as testers expected, they enjoyed the outsole’s grip on wet surfaces and raved over the wide, comfy toebox and the locked-in feel of the heel cup. These shoes run stiff for the first few miles, so expect to break them in once or twice before increasing mileage.
361 Degrees 361-Meraki 2
$130 | 8 oz. | 9mm drop
Available March 2019
Intended for moderate to long distances, this trainer features a carbon-fiber plate built directly into the midsole for added stability and has a lighter feel than last year’s Spire 3s. The thin tongue keeps unnecessary weight off the top of the foot, enabling 361 Degrees to reallocate cushioning elsewhere (most of which wound up in the midsole). Testers agreed that the light feel and cushioning make these a solid option for maintaining dependable energy return during distance training, whether logging 5 miles or 15.
Skechers Go Run 7 Hyper
$125 | 6.1 oz. | 4mm drop
Like Skechers’ Maxtrail 5 Ultras, this shoe features a knitted heel collar that our testers found comfortable. The Go Run 7 Hypers are notable for the new, energetic foam built into the midsole, created to increase durability and responsiveness. Like Nike’s Odyssey React 2s, this shoe also features an uncommon lacing system that takes the tongue out of the equation (a favorite feature for one of our testers) and adds a lace “lockdown” to the upper for added midfoot support. Despite the extra support in the upper, testers with narrow feet found that the shoes run wide and roomy, so be sure to check the fit before taking these for a test run.
Salomon Predict RA
$160 | 7.7 oz. | 8mm drop
The deep grooves carved into the Predict RA’s outsole and midsole are meant to mimic the major joints in the foot to improve flexibility while wearing—a feature our testers noticed quickly. Though the high heel collar and puffy cushioning make them look bulky, testers found that these shoes provide moderate energy return ideal for moderate distances—and they loved the design choices once the shoes hit the pavement. “The back goes especially high and is thin and smooth—it didn’t rub the wrong way against my ankle like a lot of shoes do and kept my sock firmly in place,” one tester commented.
Brooks Running Ravenna 10
$110 | 8.3 oz. | 10mm drop
This sleek trainer offers a smooth, cushioned ride with help from new GuideRails technology, a stability system built into the heel above the midsole that’s intended to limit unnecessary foot movement and prevent common running injuries (including knee pain). Testers complimented the light, springy feel of the shoe and agreed it’s well-suited for longer distances. If you like Brooks but prefer the cushioning in shoes like the Levitates or Ghosts, the Ravenna 10 might not be your best match. But if you’re a fan of the Launch, this may become your favorite road shoe for spring.
Under Armour UA Hovr Infinite
$120 | 8.75 oz. | 8mm drop
Hovr, the foam midsole in some of the brand’s most popular run shoes, pops up again for UA’s first release of 2019, named for the “infinite” number of miles it claims runners can log while wearing the shoes. Though testers found these bland in terms of energy return, they raved over the shoe’s built-in app connectivity, which enables wearers to access coaching tips once they connect their shoes to the MapMyRun app.
Puma Speed 500
$130 | 7.7 oz. | 8mm drop
This trainer features a special knitted upper for extra breathability and a customizable lacing system—both of which are its strongest selling points. “The strategic positioning of the laces created a more custom fit,” one tester said, adding that its light weight worked best for short runs and athleisure activities. Note: The sock-like heel collar, intended to adapt to runners’ foot shapes, proved divisive; some loved it, while it caused blisters for others.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 15
$130 | 8.7 oz. | 12mm drop
Mizuno fans will enjoy the latest version of this shoe. Built with a breathable mesh upper that fits narrow feet like a glove, it also features outsoles that provide fair traction for running on wet or slippery roads and the durability that heel strikers need. While most testers reported that the shoes ran small (we recommend trying them in a half or full size larger than your normal running shoe size), those with narrow feet enjoyed its cozy fit and the agile way it made their feet feel on longer runs.
Nike Odyssey React Shield Water-Repellant
$130 | 7.6 oz.* | 10mm drop
Runners looking for a waterproof trainer will be eager to try Nike’s update to the Odyssey React, which features a water-repellant upper and fits right in with some of the brand’s best-looking styles. Though this shoe earned compliments for its sleek look (“It’s the perfect athleisure shoe,” one tester commented), its narrow toebox caused blisters for some testers. Since this shoe runs small, try a half or full size larger than your traditional size. This shoe also features a unique toggle lacing system that makes pulling the shoes on and off even easier. *Size 8
Altra Running Kayenta
$110 | 4.9 oz. | 0mm drop
Weighing in at just 4.9 oz., this is the lightest shoe in this review—and the only one with a double-layer, sock-like fit that’s adaptable to different foot shapes. Testers reported that they felt comfortable to wear, didn’t cause hot spots and provided significant energy return. Those unaccustomed to the zero-drop style reported that they didn’t feel off-balance while wearing these and praised the outsole’s bouncy rubber pods. The Kayenta’s light weight, breathability and durability make it Altra’s top marathon trainer for spring and summer 2019.
Diadora Mythos 3
$140 | 8.8 oz. | 10mm drop
This is Diadora’s most prominent release for early 2019, and it’s one of the most cushioned rides featured in this review. Despite the fluff, it’s still lightweight; testers said that the fit (ideal for narrow feet) and plush feel placed these among their favorite running shoe releases in recent years. “They have great impact absorption but still feel surprisingly stable,” reported one tester, who added that, after a month of testing, it had become her preferred distance shoe.
On Running Cloudsurfer
$150 | 9.3 oz. | 6mm drop
On’s cloud pod technology returns for the latest iteration of the Cloudsurfer, a neutral road shoe that testers said felt light and springy for distance running. Featuring limited cushioning and little traction, these shoes are among the most minimalist in our lineup. “They’re lightweight, breathable, supportive and have just the right amount of cushion,” one tester commented. Testers recommended these for neutral runners looking to run short to middle distances (up to a half marathon).
Salming EnRoute 2
$150 | 6.7 oz.* | 6mm drop
Salming’s new road shoe marries a lightweight “wraparound” upper with a durable rubber outsole to supply runners with a stable, fitted ride. Though the shoe runs small (try a full size larger than your typical running shoe size), once testers identified their true fit, they found the EnRoute 2s to perform well at speed, maintaining consistent airflow to their feet through the double-layered mesh upper without sacrificing flexibility and protection. Some testers found the EnRoute 2’s minimalism—devoid of extra cushioning or arch support—helped promote a natural stride. *Size 6.5
$110 | 8 oz. | 8mm drop
Merrell’s latest venture into running is the Antora, a shoe that’s compatible with road and moderately difficult trail surfaces. These lightly cushioned kicks were designed for a very specific demographic: runners with narrow feet and high arches. As such, they won’t match everyone’s needs and we recommend trying before buying. Note: If you like Merrell’s hiking boots, the Antoras may be for you.
Inov-8 Parkclaw 275 Knit
$140 | 9.6 oz. | 8mm drop
Testers noted these trail-light shoes feel lighter than their weight, keeping the foot breezy while protecting against odor and weather. The small lugs on the outsole offer mild traction and feel smooth on concrete and asphalt. Testers noted the stiff sole, minimalist cushioning and excellent ankle support in the heel cup for trail navigation.
The North Face Ampezzo
$130 | 9 oz. | 6mm drop
The tongue on this shoe features an internal strap for arch support, the double-layer mesh upper offers extra protection for the top of the foot and the midsole supplies the shock absorption needed for technical trails. While some testers experienced moderate heel slippage, most agreed that the subtle lugs enabled them to travel easier with fair energy return over shifting terrain and performed well on wet surfaces.
Hoka One One Speedgoat 3
$140 | 9.1 oz. | 4mm drop
Named after trail-running legend Karl “The Speedgoat” Meltzer, this shoe features weather protection and thick, multidirectional lugs that provide serious traction. “As bulky as they seemed, they were surprisingly light and provided a great spring on my heel strike,” one tester commented. The durable plastic midfoot overlays lock in the foot while the stiff heel gives a sense of stability on slippery or shifting terrain.
Topo Athletic Ultraventure
$130 | 8 oz. | 5mm drop
Of the trail shoes in this review, the Ultraventure performed best for the most testers. With Topo’s signature wide toebox and slim heel-toe drop, this shoe also benefits from elite ultrarunner input. “Gills” built into the upper provide drainage for rainy runs, and medium-sized lugs on the Vibram outsole provide excellent traction for maneuvering technical trails. “I like the way my heel fit in the shoe and was held there during my runs,” one runner commented. Others agreed that the shoe’s fit and performance are ideal when running distance over trails.