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What’s in vogue for running shoes has seen some pretty extreme shifts over the last few seasons. First there was the barefoot movement (Remember when everyone was striding around in toe shoes?), then there was the maximalist trend (the kicks with soles thicker than two slices of Texas toast).
What we’re seeing now is the market settling back on a new normal. Brands are taking the best from past trends to create hybrid models—supportive stability shoes that look like lightweight trainers or racing flats with loads of pillowy cushioning. With so many available combos, you are able to find a kick that fits your foot, your stride and your style. We tested dozens of models before narrowing our selection to these winners and have no doubt this crop includes your Cind-run-ella slipper.
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The LBD of running shoes, these down-the-middle models work as a go-to shoe for the majority of striders.
WINNER: New Balance 880v4
$115, 8.1 oz.
An ideal mix of lightweight cushion with just a touch of support and a traditional 12mm drop (pitching the foot slightly downward) is a winning combination for new-age traditionalists. Bonuses: a breathable mesh, no-sew lining (ideal for going sock-free) and a supportive heel counter.
Adidas Energy Boost 2.0
$160, 7.9 oz.
With a midsole of “boost foam” and larger landing and toe-off zones, you can count on feeling bouncy, even when striding on concrete. The upper combines stretch fabric and a roomy toe box for comfort, all paired with a soft plastic exoskeleton that extends around the heel for support.
Related: New Shoe- Adidas Ultra Boost
Saucony Triumph 12
$150, 8.7 oz.
Say hello to plush running—from the pillowy heel collar to step-in comfort and smooth striding thanks to a sole that bends with you. They also feature Saucony’s new dynamic fit system that adapts to your foot as you run. Stretch laces and a padded tongue are icing on the cake.
Minimal models are great for races, speed sessions or for runners who like to feel the ground under their feet.
WINNER: Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2
$120, 6.6 oz.
This sleek runner has just enough cushion while still delivering the firmest sole in the category. The fit is slim and locked in (partly due to the secure heel) for a more traditional feel with racing ﬂ at responsiveness. Version two is more breathable than the original to keep your feet cool.
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Scott Race Rocker 2.0
$125, 6.3 oz.
Charge on race day in these low-slung speedsters, with a slightly rockered foam midsole for snappy heel-to-toe transfer. Feet stay fresh with airy mesh uppers, and the slim fit makes you want to ﬂ y. One tester’s take: “I felt like these almost propelled me into my next step!”
$100, 5.4 oz.
You might get some curious looks at the starting line, but you’ll be bounding by the competition. The natural foot shape allows toes to splay while holding your heel and midfoot securely. The springy yet cushioned sole proves performance doesn’t need to equal bare bones.
These reliable runners are best for those who crave supportive shoes or need help correcting kinks in their stride.
WINNER: ASICS GT-2000 3
$120, 8.4 oz.
Support and comfort are disguised in a sleek design. With more structure at a lighter weight than its predecessor, this third version gives you just the stride-guidance you need. The cushioned heel collar and seamless upper make for a comfortably secure fit for long runs.
Nike Air Zoom Structure 18
$115, 9.1 oz.
In the 18th iteration, the Structure’s midsole now combines three unique densities of cushion for a more stable and cushioned ride. The addition of a proprietary Nike foam in the forefoot promises a responsive push-off with every step, and lightweight mesh fabric cradles your feet.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15
$120, 9.2 oz.
In this update with more width options, the addition of blended foam in the midsole (meaning some areas are more forgiving) results in an even smoother feel. Plus, now that the tread is even more flexible, the shoe dishes a generous side of responsiveness. A no-sew overlay keeps the package feeling sleek.
Eat mountains for breakfast in the hottest shoes for dirty girls.
WINNER: The North Face Ultra Equity
$115, 9.3 oz.
Multi-directional lugs hold tight on variable terrain while the design keeps your heel and foot securely in place. The result is a smooth ride with just enough cushion to protect from trail debris. Testers lauded them for the “cinched-down fit and secure footing on slick rocks and loose terrain.”
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Topo Athletic MT
$100, 6.8 oz.
These let you feel the changing terrain while providing enough structure to protect your soles. A roomy ﬁ t allows feet to stretch and move. One tester said: “These gripped well on rocks and roots, and I love how light they feel while still making my feet feel protected.”
Under Armour SpeedForm XC
$100, 6 oz.
With a low profile and small tread lugs, these trail slippers are versatile—tackle soft sand, smooth rocks and wet grass with ease. Made in a clothing factory, with extra attention paid to reducing bulk, welding and taping seams to lessen hot spots, and adding a sticky grip for a secure fit.
Cutting-edge innovations, new designs and exciting updates make every run an adventure.
WINNER: Hoka One One Clifton
$130, 6.6 oz.
Feet nestle in for a secure ride atop the lofty curved midsole, helping you feel faster. Take it from one of our testers: “They cushion everywhere underfoot at once—I don’t want to run in anything else!” A solid choice if you crave stability but don’t want to compromise speed.
$129, 7.9 oz.
Newtons are known for being peppy, thanks to spring-like lugs at the balls of your feet, but they are subtle for a smooth ride, especially for those trying out forefoot running. One tester said, “The design and weight make my legs feel snappy!” A top pick if you love neutral trainers.
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Merrell Barefoot Run Bare Access Ultra
$100, 5.4 oz.
These sport a completely flat style with no drop from heel to toe—mimicking a shoe-less foot. A generously cushioned sole and roomy fit suit longer distances. Great for runners who enjoy a barefoot feel.