This guide to the best running shoes of 2019 provides picks for the best running shoes for each type of runner and also offers tips and advice to know before you buy.

Table of Contents
Introduction
How We Tested Them

The Best Running Shoes of 2019

The Best Running Shoes for Speed

  • Editor’s Pick: New Balance FuelCell Rebel
  • Nike ZoomX VaporFly Next%
  • Reebok Floatride Run Fast
  • Skechers GoRun Razor 3 Hyper
  • Hoka One One Carbon X

The Best Running Shoes for Easy Days

  • Editor’s Pick: Saucony Kinvara 9
  • Mizuno Waveknit R2
  • Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2
  • Altra Torin 4
  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36
  • Salomon Sonic RA

The Best Running Shoes for Long Run Days

  • Editor’s Pick: Hoka One One Rincon
  • Asics Gel-Cumulus 20
  • Adidas Ultraboost 19
  • Brooks Ghost 12
  • New Balance 1080 V9
  • On Cloud X

Introduction

This year brought an influx of sneakers to the marketplace — starting in January and sprinting toward the start of fall. It seems like each brand kept trying to one-up itself with new versions of favorites, upgrades to classics and more brand-new foams and lasts than we could possibly keep up with. While finding the right pair of sneakers for you is incredibly personal, we put a huge group of them to the test to narrow down the field. We logged over 500 miles to bring you this list of sneakers. You might have your go-to pair, but this is the complete list of all the latest and greatest so you can find the perfect pair of shoes no matter what type of runner you are.

How We Tested Them

Throughout the year, our fitness team tests and reviews some of the most buzzed-about running shoes. All shoes have been released in the past 365 days, whether that was a new version of a shoe or a brand-new shoe. We worked with a variety of brands to make sure we included all of the pairs you’ll see when you walk into your local running specialty store.

We took to the roads in 90-degree weather and 0-degree weather, noting how that temperature affected the foam and gel, plus wore the shoes to walk around all day, on long travel weekends and to fitness classes so we could get an overarching picture of what each shoe can actually do and what its limitations are. Beyond pure fit, we evaluated the shoes from a durability, comfort and reliability perspective. We noted if the shoes made us feel zippy, helped us slog through training miles or fell a little flat.

Once the testing period ended, we categorized our results into three distinct pillars: speed, easy runs and long runs. Our speed shoes are, at their core, race-day shoes. They’re the ones you’ll pull on for track practices and 200-meter repeats. They are the ones you want to wear to win your local 5K.

Our long run shoes are cushioned to the max. Some offer a rocker to propel you forward over the hundreds of miles you plan to put on them, and others let you still feel the ground while the foam underfoot might look like it’s not going to let you.

Finally, our easy run shoes are the ones that we’d pick up to run on tempo days as well as days when we’re just headed out for a five-miler or need to escape the house during the holidays for a quickie.

We separated them into these categories because we know that in order to prevent injuries, it’s best to rotate sneakers. While it can seem pricey, it helps your sneakers last longer and will keep your feet in better shape.


The Best Running Shoes for Speed

New Balance FuelCell Rebel


These speedy sneakers use the same foam, FuelCell, as the New Balance 5280 spike-like track shoes, the ones Jenny Simpson wore the past two years to win the Fifth Avenue Mile. While they feel a bit funky when you first step in — “it took a minute for my heel to settle and my toes to have some room,” one tester said — the shoes are surprisingly stable. Testers liked the feel, calling it “incredibly aggressive and bouncy,” which makes it ideal for fast speeds, even, as one tester put it, “when I’m not feeling fast in any other way.” If you’re looking to add a boost to your track workouts, these add a shotgun blast.

Weight: 7.3 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 6 mm

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%


This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include the next iteration of the shoe that The New York Times heralds as the shoe that can help you run three to four percent faster — and now maybe more. These are the shoes that elite marathoners reach for on race day and during tempo runs. Compared to the 4%s, Nike updated the midsole with more foam, yet added no weight. The offset is slightly lower (down from 11 mm to 8 mm) so you feel more stable. The upper is made of Vaporweave, a material inspired by sailcloth, which means it’s water-resistant. If the flyknit upper of the 4% sneakers bothered you, these are made for you. The price tag is still $250, and keep in mind that the life of these shoes is only around 100 miles, so about four marathons. Our testers felt it wasn’t worth wearing these shoes (and wasting miles) for anything less than a 10K or 15K race; just pick traditional racing flats for shorter distances.

Weight: 6.6 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 8 mm

Reebok Floatride Fast

With Reebok’s dive into running back in 2017, the brand has only expanded its running shoe picks to include a race-day speed shoe that’s practically lighter than your kit. The FloatRide Run Fast Pro is at the same price point as the Nike 4%, but much easier to find. However, a $250 price tag certainly isn’t friendly. So while we love these shoes, we’d recommend the FloatRide Run Fast for just $140 instead. The shoe fits to size, with “less lockdown than normal racing flats, lending the shoe a bit more approachability on weekly tempos and track workouts,” said one tester. “The shoe is super light, and it feels that way. I’d place it at the halfway point between a racing flat and an everyday trainer.” The mesh upper is breathable and perfect for a speedy mile through a marathon. These shoes feel extra springy on the track and turf so when you bust out 100-meter repeats (in a workout or during a few key moments of your marathon) you get a boost of energy.

Weight: 6.6 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 8mm

Skechers GoRun Razor 3 Hyper


These shoes felt great right from the start. One tester found there was a little extra room along the toe, but the lateral walls and heel cup provided support and a nice fit. The Hyper Burst midsole is brand new for the brand and feels squishy, yet slightly firm to the touch. “These disappear when running,” one tester says. “I ran in sub-32 degrees and could feel the foam warming up underneath me.” There were no hotspots, and you can really feel the ground beneath you. “I could even feel the little rocks under my feet when racing downhill.” If you have a hilly race, these are the fast shoes for you.

Weight: 6.4 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 4 mm

Hoka One One Carbon X

Following in the carbon-fiber trend, Hoka One One launched the Carbon X, a race-day shoe for the everyman. Right from our first stride, the smooth, bouncy and fun sneaker features a carbon-fiber plate atop compression molded EVA and Injected R-bound as well. Whether you’re a heel striker or midfoot striker, the rocker on this sneaker will propel you forward. We tested under a variety of conditions, including a half marathon, from which we emerged with no hot spots or blisters. The one downside is the lack of stability off the pavement.

Weight: 8.7 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 5 mm

The Best Running Shoes for Easy Days

Saucony Kinvara 9

The Kinvara 8s are extremely popular, so when Saucony debuted the 9s it was a tricky balance to make sure the lightweight fit didn’t disappear as a full-length Everun midsole was added. Nearly a decade after the original one appeared, it’s still a favorite for the Saucony Racing Team — and for ours. “They offer enough support that my feet feel cradled,” said one tester. A minimal upper with two layers of fabric to hold your heel in place do just the trick: “I see these as excellent shoes for quicker workouts and tempo runs. They aren’t true race shoes, but for anything 10k or below, I’d feel very comfortable racing in them.”

Weight: 7.5 ounces
Heel Height: 23 mm
Forefoot Height: 19 mm

Mizuno Waveknit R2

Mizuno has long made shoes for those who need support, but the brand has steered clear of knit uppers in the past, opting for a more secure fabric. That is, until now. “These shoes had everything I liked about the Waverider 21 and 22 but are definitely more comfortable and breathable with the knit upper,” one tester said. “I liked these so much after my first eight miles in them that I decided to save them for the marathon. I felt really good throughout the race in them and didn’t have any issues with not enough foam or support or anything.” Built with the same Cloudwave technology, the shoes are sure to feel peppy as you run. “Mizuno made what I consider to be one of the most comfortable running shoes available even more comfortable. And it did that while leaving the supportive heel structure of the shoe in place — and produced some of its best colorways — too.” Pick these up for tempo runs as well as long easy days — whatever you need.

Weight: 10.2 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 12 mm

Under Armour HOVR Sonic 2

At just $100, these shoes are a steal for the number of times you’ll pull them on for easy runs and for everyday wear. A stretchy tongue and external heel clip made the fit snug, yet easy to slide off without un-tieing the laces. The cushion is right in between rigid and plush, a middle of the road sneaker that’s sure to please neutral runners. A super breathable knit upper made this one of the picks our testers reached for during hot summer days, but don’t let that dissuade you from buying for winter. A good pair of running socks will keep your feet warm. The one caveat is “if you’re a no-wasted-movement elite-ish runner, you probably won’t sweat it, but if you’re more of a pavement-pounding middle-packer, you might feel the same over the final few miles of a longer run,” one tester said.

Weight: 10 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 8 mm

Altra Torin 4

The Torin 4 is a lightweight update to the Torin 3.5, despite the very plush 26 mm of cushion underfoot. A foot-shaped toe box means your toes actually have room to breathe. Testers who wore Altras for the first time were impressed with the comfortable and responsive feel. “Even with a soft mesh upper, the tightness is well balanced so you don’t find yourself moving around too much, or trying to find the right foot position,” one tester said. “I also found that with the zero drop, I was more responsive on the balls of my feet,” another tester observed. “I mentally fought against it at first, thinking that the sell of a ‘natural’ approach to foot strike wasn’t a real thing, but on hills, or even when I started to get tired, I found myself keeping pop in my forefoot and driving forward.”

Weight: 9.1 ounces
Stack Height: 26 mm (Zero Drop)

Nike Zoom Pegasus 36

The 36th version of the uber-popular Pegasus sneaker has a few updates from version 35 including a thinner tongue that allows you to tighten the laces. “I liked the locked-down feeling the laces gave me,” one tester said. “My foot didn’t slip from the heel cup and I felt completely secure.” All the details underfoot stay the same, so if you’re used to running the 35s, this version should feel great. “They fit well, feel light on the foot and keep my feet plenty stable navigating tight turns and sudden accelerations,” noted another tester. “That’s no small feat with a midsole as thick as what this shoe has.”

Weight: 8.9 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 10 mm

Salomon Sonic RA 2

Testers raved at how comfortable the Sonic RA sneakers are. “There’s lots of room in the toe box, more than any other I tested this round,” one tester said. “Fit was right though, and the tongue and cuff integrate perfectly with each other — no pressure points at all.” These sneakers would make even Goldilocks happy: not too minimalist or maximalist, but a good seat right in the middle. “I didn’t really notice them while I ran. No pressure points, weird fit things or anything.”

Weight: 9.17 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 8 mm

The Best Running Shoes for Long Run Days

Hoka One One Rincon


These were one of the lightest, yet most plush sneakers we tested this time around, and we loved them. From the first step, these breathable shoes were speedy and durable. While we finally landed on keeping them in the long run category, we also found ourselves packing these for track practice, thanks to the 7.7-ounce weight. “From toe to heel, these are an ideal fit,” one tester said. These were one of the breakout sneakers of 2019. They would make for great marathon sneakers given the plush cushion, stable fit — and did we mention they’re just $115? What a steal for these shoes.

Weight: 7.7 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 5 mm

Asics Gel-Cumulus 20

The Asics Gel-Cumulus just celebrated its 20th birthday. The Gel-Cumulus is an ideal sneaker for longer, easy runs and heavy-duty mileage. It’s lighter than its predecessor, features the new FlyteFoam midsole and has a more breathable upper — all of which make it the best version yet. The fit in these shoes is described by testers as “snug, but the ankle support is appreciated,” and “like a glove.” For longer days when you need a bit more support, these are your pick. The FlyteFoam midsole paired with rear and forefoot gel cushioning helps to lessen the impact of each footfall while simultaneously helping your foot through its forefoot to midfoot transition, or heel to toe if you’re a heel striker. “Asics are the everyman’s running shoe,” stated one tester. “They aren’t flashy and they don’t need to be. Your dad pairs them with jeans, but will also beat you in the next local 5k in the same pair. These shoes fit right and cover the bases for almost every type of training.” They are the quality you expect from Asics shoes with a slightly more stiff ride that’ll help propel you forward to the finish. “If I want a dependable shoe that won’t give me issues, I’ll turn to these,” concluded another tester.

Weight: 10.5 ounces
Heel Height: 23 mm
Forefoot Height: 13 mm
Pronation: Under-Pronator and Neutral

Brooks Ghost 12

The Ghost has been a part of Brooks running line for seemingly forever — and it’s constantly at the top of the best-selling list for its all-around running prowess. Beginner to experts alike will find this shoe do what they need it to do. The blend of DNA Loft and BioMoGo DNA foam means the shoes are plushly supported, but won’t weigh you down, so you sail through your training long runs. If you’ve run in the Ghost before, don’t worry about too many changes — it’s the engineered mesh upper that’s much sleeker than iterations past, but the responsive and soft feel is the same.

Weight: 10.4 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 12 mm

Adidas Ultraboost 19

When Adidas launched Ultraboost in 2015, it was revolutionary. The foam, fit and feel package was strong, and people loved the crossover value each sneaker carried, from runways to air travel to run commuting. The 19 is the brand’s first variation on the beloved original. Neutral runners will love the new heel-to-toe Primeknit upper that’s woven with colorful thread so you know where the shoe provides a bit more give. We loved these for half-marathon training — and for traveling, too. The 10.9-ounce weight somehow didn’t slow us down, and added much-needed cushion to all the pavement pounding. While $180 might seem a little steep, there are constantly sales on the shoe, so be sure to keep an eye out.

Weight: 10.9 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 10 mm

On Cloud X

This is the shoe you should reach for if you need a stable ride over the course of 100 miles, which is exactly how many miles one tester logged. “It’s very light for a shoe this supportive,” one tester shared. “I had to adjust my running style to accommodate it, but I think this is true when swapping to any shoe. One thing I noticed was that they were super slippery on road paint (like on the yellow or white lines and bike lane lines) when running in the rain, but grippy otherwise.” There’s a lot of structure in this shoe, so you will have to get used to that, but with a dual-density sock liner and adaptive memory foam, soon enough these shoes will fit like a glove.

Weight: 8 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 6 mm

New Balance 1080 V9

New Balance nails the fit on version nine of the well-cushioned and extremely comfortable 1080s. Would we recommend them? “Without question,” said one tester. Pull these on for your weekly long runs to feel supported, yet springy, so your legs are fresh the next day. “These are the most comfortable New Balances I’ve ever worn,” raved another tester. “The layer of Fresh Foam was incredibly responsive and could easily compete with any of the Hoka One One models’ lightweight cushioning.”

Weight: 10.4 ounces
Heel to Toe Height: 8 mm

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