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After researching dozens of the best running shoes over the last decade, we bought and tested 12 of today's top models that will suit every running style. We tested each of these models extensively, maintaining an equal playing field by running the same test loop for each shoe. After that, we took each model on various long runs and dropped the pace in some uptempo efforts. We've made it easy for you to find the right product by analyzing five of the most crucial performance metrics, helping you narrow down the fit and feel for your running style and budget.
Weight Per Shoe (Size 9.5): 8.3 oz | Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm
REASONS TO BUY
Thin snug upper
REASONS TO AVOID
Minimal outsole rubber
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is our overall winner for its lightweight, responsive design that we love for all kinds of running and workouts. Saucony has done a great job combining ample cushioning with a responsive midsole that feels fresh and almost spring-like. We kept coming back to this shoe for our long runs and tempo efforts, as its overall comfort and speed stand above the rest. A great rocker design kept us on our toes and applying force to the ground. Our stride with this model felt smooth and explosive. The upper material feels made for performance, and we appreciated the rubber outsole design, which was light but added more confidence in wet conditions.
The long-term durability of this model may not be up to your standards if you are regularly running on rough surfaces. While we experienced no issues during our testing, this is a lightweight design, and the lightweight rubber outsole will likely wear faster than those with heavier, thicker outsoles. This model also does not score as highly in the support and stability category, due to there being less rigidity in the heel and its higher stack height. The Endorphin Speed is best for those seeking a lightweight trainer with the best blend of cushioning and responsiveness that we've seen.
Weight Per Shoe (Size 9.5): 7.3 oz | Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm
REASONS TO BUY
Stiff & responsive
REASONS TO AVOID
Exposed foam outsole
Created for speed, the lightweight, responsive design of the Saucony Kinvara 13 tells you just that. From its lower overall stack height to its 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop, this model is best for shorter distances where speed truly matters. We were impressed with its subtle cushioning, which works great for aggressive runners with efficient form who are light on their feet. The thin upper is a performance fit, holding the toes and midfoot snug while keeping the heel locked in place. It is also very breathable, which we loved when the runs got hotter during the day.
Some runners may find this model overly harsh if you are not light on your feet. The 4-millimeter heel-to-toe drop can beat your calves up if you are not well-conditioned. Although we wish it had a more durable outsole, we can't complain, given the minimal weight. We think this shoe is for experienced runners who know their form and try to run as midfoot to the forefoot as possible. We would not recommend this to beginners or those who need more cushion or rigidity in their everyday trainer. If you already have a well-cushioned model, we would recommend adding this to your quiver of options.
Weight Per Shoe (Size 9.5): 8.1 oz | Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5 mm
REASONS TO BUY
Plush responsive cushioning
REASONS TO AVOID
Exposed foam outsole
The Hoka One One Mach 5 impressed us with its ability to provide lots of cushioning while still being responsive. With its low weight, long runs felt awesome and left us with much less fatigue than with some other competitors. The Profly compound is nicely responsive, and the cushioning never felt like it bottomed out or created a dull or unenergetic sensation. A wider platform and ground feel due to a 5-millimeter heel-to-toe drop make this shoe feel lively and confident. A thin upper still fits snugly even with the wider platform design. While your foot is not hugged as tightly as some other models, this has a great fit without needing to over-tighten the laces. Even in temperatures reaching 100 degrees, we felt cool and experienced less sweating than other models in this weight range. We love how relaxed this model makes our foot feel, it makes running comfortable and enjoyable.
We did not experience any durability issues with this model, but the outsole has zero rubber and only exposed foam. This exposed foam did not degrade during our testing, but we do not expect this to last as long as a more rugged rubber outsole. This would not be the first model we would suggest to those looking for maximum support and stability, but we don't think the low drop and weight should deter you. This shoe is for those looking for additional comfort in a responsive shoe. If you want to give the Hoka cushioning a try but feel concerned about it being overkill, we recommend starting with this model because we also found it extremely fast and light.
Weight (per shoe, size 9.5): 9.38 | Heel to Toe Drop: 8 mm
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 continues to have one of the best heel-to-toe rocker designs which, when paired with its great cushioning and responsiveness, is one of our all-around favorites. The cushioning is supple but never felt overkill or too compressive. This model is great for long runs where all-day comfort truly matters, and the thin knit upper worked great at keeping our feet snug and we experienced no blisters or hotspots. The latest version of this upper features an improved heel cup that fixes heel slippage concerns we've had in the past.
Some users looking for high responsiveness could find this model a bit bouncy at times, but we appreciated this on longer runs where the ending miles could cause fatigue and harshness when landing. While we loved the thin knit upper, it may not last as long as some of the more durable shoes which. We think this shoe would be great for any user that's looking for all-day comfort.
Weight Per Shoe (Size 9.5): 10.4 oz | Heel-to-Toe Drop: 12 mm
REASONS TO BUY
Rigid support and stability
Great upper comfort
REASONS TO AVOID
High heel drop
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 is a classic that provides the best support and stability across all the tested models. Thanks to their GuideRail technology, our feet felt planted and grounded, which translated well up into our ankles and knees. This model maintains the priority of support and stability by using moderate cushioning and a high heel-to-toe drop of 12 millimeters. There is a subtle compression under the forefoot while the heel and midfoot feel solid and stable. We like the moderate arch support that works well with the stretch laces and thicker tongue, which we normally don't prefer, but we quite liked this model.
These shoes often felt a bit slow due to their stable design, and we wished there was more responsiveness. Readers that emphasize support and stability will find this model most suited to your needs. If you have issues with pronation or are a heel striker, these could help compensate for this type of running. People who generally find themselves without needing stability assistance may still prefer this model for its grounded feel and higher drop if they struggle with Achilles or lower leg problems. We know Brooks is popular for its classic designs and are glad they are still offering these models to the people who love them.
Our running experts have tested more than 100 pairs of footwear products, and for this specific category, we've tested more than 70 pairs of men's running shoes over the last 10 years. Before starting this review, we completed extensive market research to determine which competitors are worthy of entering the competition. We then purchase each product, handle unboxing, take measurements, and send each contender through extensive hands-on testing. We utilize tester experience and data from in-house testing to produce detailed reviews for our readers.
To analyze all aspects of a running shoe's performance, we devised a comprehensive testing plan. We created a 7-mile test loop with 450 feet of elevation gain and multiple surface types through Durango, Colorado. Additionally, each contender went through extended long runs to analyze long-distance comfort. As you can see, we put in many miles in our test group, searching for the best shoe for each type of athlete. Since everyone's running needs are different, they should consider the factors most important to them.
Our tests are grouped into five weighted rating metrics:
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
Responsiveness (25% weighting)
Upper Comfort (20% weighting)
Lateral Stability and Support (15% weighting)
Weight (15% weighting)
The Cushioning and Landing Comfort and Responsiveness metrics each hold 25% of the overall score weighting, much higher than the other test metrics. Collectively, that's 50% of a product's overall score. We gave these metrics higher weightings as we believe these qualities greatly influence users' experience and running goals. While testing these metrics, we took notes of fatigue and discomfort during runs of various lengths, covering different gradients and surfaces, plus tempo runs. We also completed side-by-side testing to compare the fastest feel and produce the most rebound for energy input.
Lead tester Matthew Richardson has spent his free time for the last 15 years pursuing running as a sport and hobby. Running track and cross country through middle and high school, Matthew transitioned to higher mountain trails in college. Matthew has also competed in ultra-marathons and long-distance racing. Matthew uses road running to maintain his turnover and speed for fast descents, and heart-rate-pumping climbs.
Analysis and Test Results
We've tested the best men's running shoes by evaluating five key performance metrics that we believe collectively capture a shoe's overall performance. The test metrics include: cushioning and landing comfort, responsiveness, upper comfort, lateral stability and support, and weight. Between our buying advice for running shoe and our detailed review, we believe you'll find the best running shoe for your needs and budget. Read on to see how each contender performs in the different test metrics.
Like any gear, value is a consideration you must make when purchasing. Some users may feel confident buying a less durable, more expensive model, whereas others want to get the most mileage out of their dollars. The Saucony Kinvara 13 is one of our favorite models for its value, blending lightweight performance with a reasonable price. The two Hoka models that we tested also provide excellent all-around performance and come in with lower list prices than most other shoes in our lineup.
Cushioning and Landing Comfort
Comfort underfoot is one of the immediate things we test and look for in a road running shoe. The ability of the shoe to reduce the constant pounding on the harsh asphalt and concrete is essential for a good experience. We've tested various models that claim to have different levels of cushioning to narrow down what we feel is the best cushioning and landing comfort model. We tested this through long mileage days and shorter tempo efforts, landing on our forefoot, midfoot, and heels.
The highest-ranked model in this category was our favorite overall men's running shoe, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3. This contender has a very responsive cushioning that sprung us forward in our tempo runs and absorbed a great amount of the ground impact but was still able to provide an excellent ground feel. We prefer models that are well cushioned but don't have a sinking feeling or dullness when pushing off.
If maximum cushioning is what you desire, two of our favorites are the Hoka One One Mach 5 and Hoka One One Clifton 8. Each of these designs has a luxurious cushion which Hoka is known for. We were impressed with the bottomless cushion that still felt responsive when toeing off and preferred these for our longest of runs to help reduce fatigue.
A great middle-ground design that is responsive and has substantial cushioning is the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12. This contender has one of the best rocker designs we tested, and it helped get us on our forefoot. We found the cushioning on the Fresh Foam 1080v12, the Hoka Mach 5, and the Endorphin Speed 3 to provide similar levels of responsive cushioning.
A responsive design allows for a strong, confident running experience, and we are always looking for a model that gives us that edge when the pace drops. Careful blends of foam and features must be dialed to allow spring-like takeoffs without feeling too harsh or squishy. We tested the compression or lack of for each of the 10 models and picked our favorites from our tempo efforts. The heel-to-toe drop of the shoe had to create a strong platform where our achilles and lower legs felt engaged, they had to perform well under fatigue, and we had to feel fast. Out of all the categories we tested, this was the most important to us, greatly impacting our stance on each model.
Having the highest responsiveness was the Saucony Kinvara 13, followed closely by the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39. Both of these models are stiff and fast with the Kinvara 13 feeling a bit faster due to its lighter weight. Regardless, both of these models are great for track workouts and tempo efforts. The stiffness allows for fast confident-feeling turnover and to fully engage your entire lower legs.
The Nike Zoom Fly 5 was a previous favorite in this category but this year the shoe was softened some making it feel similar to the other top all-around trainers. While we prefer the previous Zoom Fly 4 version that was a bit stiffer, we still think this update is worth a look and offers much more extended comfort.
A comfortable upper can make or break a running shoe experience, as hotspots or blisters can quickly cause an abrupt end to your run. We kept our testing standard by using the same pair of running socks during the first test loop. After that, we mixed it up running it in thicker and thinner pairs and tested the wicking abilities in hotter temperatures. Everyone has a different foot size and volume, and some make work better than others for you. High on our personal list of priorities was a snug fit that kept our foot stable and provided confidence through corners and uneven terrain. We wanted an upper that offered good support and locked down our heel without our toes feeling cramped. The tongue had to wrap our midfoot precisely, and the laces had to hold us snugly but not cause pressure or hotspots.
Receiving high marks for its once-piece stretch knit fabric design is the Adidas Ultraboost 22. This fabric felt custom fitted to our feet, and the level of engineering to provide this fit is quite impressive. Slipping your foot into this upper gently expanded the fabric but left you with a firm, snug fit. The toe box at first seemed small, but once the fabric expanded, we experienced minimal movement and no rubbing or irritation.
Also high on the comfort list was Hoka Mach 5 with a thin upper design and awesome tongue, which securely held our foot and had a great heel cup. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 had a more classic durable upper, which felt stable and supportive.
Lateral Stability and Support
It's important to feel stable while running to reduce the chance of pain or injury. Our test lineup has a wide range of offerings with different levels of stability for every type of runner. Some of you may need or want a supportive, grounded feel; others may put less emphasis on this metric for a more lively model. We tested each shoe over various gradients and surfaces to give you our top picks that were both stable and supportive.
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 and Brooks Ghost 14 provide excellent support and stability, which led to a grounded feel where each foot strike felt precise and well planted. Both of these models have a 12-millimeter heel-to-toe drop which keeps your heel engaged with the ground more often to offer stability through the heel, ankle, and knees. The Adrenaline has added Guiderails support features that help keep your foot balanced and stable. Both of these models could help if you experience pronation problems. Remember to seek a professional's help before self-diagnosing pronation problems. Choosing the wrong model could lead to even great problems in the future.
Also high on our list was the Asics Gel-Kayano 29, a classic design that offers a unique gel compound that is not found in other models. There is also substantial underfoot arch support which enhances the sense of stability and support. This shoe felt wide enough to offer a natural foot position which helped maintain stability on uneven surfaces.
Weight is a tricky subject when talking about outdoor products. Often weight determines the price or the durability, and weight reductions may not always offer pure benefits. While testing, we took careful consideration to determine how weight impacted our feelings about the models. We typically prefer a lightweight model for purely less weight on our feet when trying hard or putting in big miles. Weight often differs from the manufacturer listings, and we weighed each size 9.5 per shoe on our own scale to find the comparison.
Coming in at the lowest weight is the Saucony Kinvara 13, which felt like a dream on our feet during high turnover and faster paces. The Hoka One One Mach 5 and the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 were also minimalist designs that we preferred for our faster efforts due to their lightweight upper and fabrics, which felt agile and quick.
During our testing, we found that there is often a tradeoff with lightweight designs when it comes to overall stability and predicted durability. Many lightweight designs use thinner and lighter upper materials or reduce or eliminate the rubber tread on the outsole. More traditionally designed shoes with padded uppers and durable outsold are among the heavier designs we tested.
Finding the best men's running shoes is a difficult task, but we hope we've made it easier for you through our extensive testing. We've tested 10 unique styles and evaluated them across five crucial performance metrics. Don't forget to check out our individual gear reviews linked throughout this article for more detailed information about each design. We hope that this review will help you find the right shoe for your fitness needs and budget, and one that will provide you with an awesome running experience.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.