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Sole Mate Awards

Our favorite shoes of the season deserve to be displayed under glass—but it’s so much more fun to take them out for a run!

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The latest crop of running shoes shines bright even in the dark days of winter. Inventive materials and thoughtful designs allow runners of all types and abilities to log more miles in exceptional shoes. From pavement princesses to dirt divas, we have the new models you need to run strong until springtime. Whether you prefer the road, trail or gym, there is a pair (or two!) to match your stride. We sifted through dozens of styles, sussing out the top models—all featured here—to ensure you don nothing but the very best.

Best Lightweight

Lightweight shoes are best for runners of two persuasions: those who prefer minimalist kicks with a bare-bones structure and those who want a pair of feather-weight shoes to use for speed sessions and race days.

WINNER: Adidas Adizero Adios Boost
Add energy-return cushioning to traditional racing-flat design, then mix in airy mesh fabric with an electric color palette, and you’ll be saying ”Adios!” to the competition. If you’re ready to add some speed to your workouts, the Boost delivers a responsive platform with enough under-foot comfort to keep your tootsies happy. 7.8 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Ryka Excel
A big-box tread gives these fast flyers maximum flexibility for everyday training—or for setting a PR at your next 5K. With a snug fit in the heel, roomy toe box, moderate cushioning, low weight and a very sweet price point, the Excel is an ideal shoe for runners with a desire to dip their toes into the minimalist pool. 7.5 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Under Armour SpeedForm
Whittle those race times! Not only is this one of the lightest and sprightliest shoes we reviewed, it has a seamless upper that feels great when worn without socks. If the way the shoe hugs your foot reminds you of a different type of supportive gear, that’s because Under Armour used sports-bra technology to create the heel! 6.0 oz.

Best Stability

Stability shoes are best for runners who overpronate—meaning their feet roll inward as they stride. Wearing these corrective models wards off potential injury.

WINNER: Saucony Guide 7
Settle in for some long miles in the latest update of these buttery-soft cruisers. Lighter foam gives the cushion we love with less weight, while a decoupled sole (the former version was a one-piece) improves flexibility. A slightly wider forefoot makes for a stable ride, even if your legs grow weary. 9.5 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Pearl Izumi EM Road H3
With welded seams, the EM Road H3 upper looks streamlined but feels roomy—and it has enough space in the toe box for wider feet to spread as needed. The firm sole boasts a sweet design for pleasantly energetic striding in a stability shoe. 9.9 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Asics Gel Nimbus 15
Heel strikers, rejoice! A fully cushioned and super stable ride, with a firm yet flexible sole makes this shoe a perfect fit for those who hit the ground heel-first. This much-loved model has been around for 15 iterations, but modern innovations lend this pair the pillowy benefits of a foam and gel sole at a lower weight. 10.9 oz.

Best Innovator

Innovative shoes are best for runners who sport the freshest kicks on the block—and aren’t afraid to try out-of-the-box styles.

WINNER: Nike Free Hyperfeel
Sink into these barely there, sock-like runners for a truly unique experience. Designed to work with the way your foot moves, the narrow fit and targeted under-foot gel makes for a low-weight and highly responsive ride. They run small, so size up for the best fit and, given the minimalist nature, take some time to get used to the feel. 6.0 oz.*

RUNNER-UP: On Cloudrunner
Fifteen underfoot air pillows offer a cushioned ride and energetic return that make striding from the road to trail paths a true treat. With a more traditional road-shoe fit and grippy tread, these hybrid cruisers are handy training partners for your weekend running and exploring adventures—plus the unique design is an instant conversation starter! 10.6 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Skechers GoRun 2 Nite Owl
Nothing adds levity to a run like luminescence! These shoes are ideal for rocking early-morning miles in high visibility or being the brightest glow bug at an after-dark jaunt. The smooth and responsive ride of the minimalist GoRun 2 rules the night with its glow-in-the-dark (yup!) fabric. 6.3 oz.

Best Trail

Trail Shoes are best for dirt-loving runners obsessed with the off-road life.

WINNER: Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10
These trail beasts will take you anywhere you want to go in fully loaded, SUV-style comfort—while ensuring you have some four-wheeling fun in the process. A weather-resistant upper combined with generous and responsive heel-to-toe cushioning protect from everything from rough roots to rock pops. 10.2 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Hoka One One Kailua Trail
Traditionally, Hoka shoes include a super-thick sole for comfort—but the Kailuas dial back the foam quotient with a lower (but still dreamy) amount of cushion. These deliver a bounding-through-the-daisies running sensation, making them a favorite for cruising on mellow trails and fire roads. 9.8 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Newton Boco
AT The first-ever trail shoe from Newton means the brand’s devotees can finally wear their favorite shoe while kicking rocks. Newton’s signature lug technology is incorporated into a grippy tread, which means you can tackle your favorite trail with confidence. The smokin’ pink upper is made of closed mesh to keep your pedicure intact no matter how nasty the trails. 9.8 oz.

Best Neutral

Neutral shoes are best for runners who enjoy basic trainers with a cushy feel. These kicks work for women with a normal arch and no abnormal running-form issues.

“These just make me want to keep running,” raved one tester who couldn’t get enough of the comfortable fit, smooth stride guidance and Goldilocks-perfect (“just right!”) cushioning. These give a surprisingly stable ride for such a lightweight shoe and do double duty as both normal trainers and race-day ringers. 7.5 oz.

RUNNER-UP: Karhu Flow 3
Enjoy uninhibited running in a moderately cushioned, full-contact shoe that can take you from the road to a treadmill without missing a step. Karhu’s fulcrum technology rocks your foot through a smooth heel-to-toe transition—and the stretchy upper is slipper-soft! 9.7 oz.

RUNNER-UP: New Balance 870v3
Testers called the slim-fitting 870v3 a “joyful ride” with just the right amount of softness to protect from the road without inhibiting ground contact. It’s categorized as a stability shoe and provides light medial support, but because of its impressive flexibility and silky carriage, it is a perfect fit for neutral runners. 8.6 oz.

These Runners Were Not Prepared to Love Non-Alcoholic Beer

L. Renee Blount and Outside TV host Pat Parnell posted up at a popular trailhead, handed out free Athletic Brewing craft non-alcoholic beer, and then recorded runners’ live reactions. Want to find out what all the hype’s about? Click here to discover a world without compromise.


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