Every runner’s biochemistry is unique, which means certain shoes will be perfect for some and terrible for others.
That said, there are three key things everyone needs to consider when trainer shopping.
Firstly, the shoe should fit your foot snugly, without having to do the laces up tight.
Secondly, the shoe should naturally flow with your stride (and make you want to run faster).
Finally, the shoe should fit your running mechanics, meaning if you start to feel irritation in areas that have bothered you in the past, that’s a sign you’re not wearing the right pair.
To help you put your best foot forward, we put a selection of the latest running shoes through their paces – here are the ten that came out on top.
MF BEST BUY:
- Double down: The Cloudultra is the first outdoor trail shoe to feature On’s Helion superfoam, with two layers of Clouds for boosted impact absorption and cushioning.
- Speedy boarding: The Cloudultra’s Speedboard plate is wider in the middle of the shoe to improve efficiency and comfort over longer trail miles.
- Wrap star: The upper features a two-layer, durable and breathable sandwich mesh made from 100 per cent recycled Polyester, with a wrap-fit construction and integrated tongue for sock-like fit.
The Cloudultra is a max-versatility shoe built for long days and high miles on the trails and mixed terrain. It’s just as happy on the road as it is the riverside, gravel paths, quick bursts through forest glades, or rocky routes on steeper mountain slopes.
A double layer of On’s clouds work with a trail-tuned Speedboard – and 4mm lugs – for a comfortable and responsive ride that’s just the right side of firm. A closed outsole also fixes the annoying stone-catching habit that’s plagued past iterations of On shoes.
A shoe well worthy of your attention.
Puma Velocity Nitro
- Soft centred: Nitrogen-infused EVA foam cushions every step, with just enough bounce to maintain energy return.
- Budget buy: OK, £100 is hardly cheap as chips, but it is significantly more affordable than most new-release runners.
- One for all: The Velocity Nitro is light enough for speed play, but durable and cushioned enough for going slow and steady.
A true all-rounder, Puma’s Velocity Nitro is as at home flying around a track as it is plodding out slow Sunday long runs, and if the brand hasn’t quite set the road-running world alight to date, this shoe lays down a real marker.
The Nitro Foam cushioning provides a nice amount of spring for picking up the pace, with enough cushioning to maintain comfort when the distance increases. A TPU heel piece wraps around the heel to add a touch of stability, too.
All in all, this is a seriously impressive shoe suitable for all manner of distances and running styles – and for significantly less money that most other new-releases on the market.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
- Wide boy: The Infinity’s sole is wider under the mid-forefoot to provide a more stable ride.
- Rocker fellas: The Hoka-like curved rocker midsole is designed to help improve the efficiency in your foot strike cycle.
- Easy going: At 300g, the Infinity is on the heavier side and is definitely better for easy recovery than up-tempo training miles.
Great for casual runs and easy recovery efforts, this second-gen update of Nike’s popular everyday training shoe comes with the same soft and responsive React midsole foam and a wide base that gives stable and cushioned landings.
A new Flyknit mesh upper – and a padded tongue and heel – also improves the all-round comfort and lockdown fit.
This shoe is plush, roomy and flexible, though at a heavier 302g the Flyknit 2 is best laced up for slower miles and those exploratory ambles where you’re running without much time-focused intent.
- Fast and light: This is a shoe that feels even lighter than its sub-200g weight.
- Weld done: The stitch-free upper melts around your foot for a barely-there feel.
- Above the curve: A curved midsole lends itself to a natural running style, allowing you to touch down and toe-off in one fluid movement.
As light as a 199g feather, this is a shoe built with fast times in mind. Salomon is best known as a rugged trail brand, but in recent years it’s stepped onto the road and the Phantasm represents its most stripped-back, speed-first product to date.
If you’re a seasoned runner, with sound biomechanics and a well-tuned running style, chances are you’ll love the barely-there feel of this shoe – including the Energy Surge proprietary foam, proving a touch of bounce for next to no weight.
Here’s the but…if you’re either new to running, tend to heel strike, or are simply heavy set, you’re likely to want something with a little more protection.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
- Joy of socks: The one-piece mesh upper with integrated tongue hugs your foot for sock-like comfort, but without limiting your foot’s freedom to flex.
- Running up that heel: The 1080 V11’s cupped ultra-heel design keeps the foot nicely cradled without blister-inducing slippage or movement.
- Flex appeal: The V11’s outsole has carefully placed grooves that allow the sole to flex, helping the shoe to move with your foot for a softer, smoother feel.
With excellent step-in comfort and a disappearing feel on the foot, this 263g, midweight, daily trainer screams reliable comfort and performance for those easy to mid-intensity miles.
The big midsole stack of FreshFoam X is slightly firmer than some heavily-cushioned shoes, but strikes a good balance between soft landings and energy-saving response.
The one-piece mesh upper, meanwhile, adds a touch of sock-like snugness that feels supportive but also leaves plenty of wiggle room for your toes.
This is one of those versatile shoes you’re always happy to lace up.
Veja Marlin V-Knit
- Post-petroleum: The Marlin is made from 62 per cent bio-based or recycled materials.
- Comfort king: It may be named after the fastest fish in the ocean, but the Marlin’s main perk is its next-level comfort. Stick it on and you won’t want to take it off.
- All-rounder: Lightweight, breathable and dynamic, but complete with stylish good looks, this is a shoe equally suited to Sunday strolls as jogs round the park.
A wardrobe staple among fashion aficionados for some time, eco-conscious trainer brand Veja has branched out into the crowded world of running shoes – with impressive results.
Following the award-winning Condor, the Marlin is made from recycled and sustainable materials, but how does it perform? In a word: well.
Though probably a little heavy for anything too quick, the shoe’s ample cushioning, breathability and foot-hugging comfort make it perfect for lower-intensity outings.
As you’d expect from Veja, it also looks the part, and if running isn’t your thing it makes for a comfy, fine-looking gym trainer.
Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind
- Smart choice: Sensors embedded in the midsole track your runs and running form, and fire data via Bluetooth to MapMyRun, unlocking real-time coaching and post-run tips.
- Go with the flow: The new 8mm drop of Flow midsole foam provides cushioning, durability and traction.
- Warp speed: Zonally structured uppers provide support in the right places, while saving weight elsewhere in the shoe.
Bucking the Under Armour trend for bulkier shoes, the 241g Velociti Wind is by far the brand’s lightest and best to date.
The first to feature a new lighter and springier Flow midsole foam, it’s agile and nimble, albeit with a firmer feel that makes it ideally suited to shorter, faster training miles or racing half marathons.
There are bonus tracking and coaching skills, too, with built-in sensors that sync easily with the MapMyRun app to track distance, pace, cadence and stride length, as well as offering coaching feedback during and after your runs.
HOKA Carbon X2
- Plate it safe: The full-length carbon plate is less highly sprung than some carbon inserts, which makes for a more subtle response that’s good for longer runs.
- Metarocker and roll: The Carbon X’s curved sole helps improve efficiency and smooth your transition from foot down to toe.
- Get your kicks: The extended heel kick-back is designed to spread the impact if you strike more on your medial or lateral side.
At 234g, Hoka’s second-generation endurance racer is lighter than the original but oddly feels more clunky underfoot. That’s largely down to the ‘swallow tale’ protruding heel that adds more heft to the shoe.
There is a punch to the Carbon X2 at faster paces – just don’t expect a Nike Vaporfly kick. The high stack of bouncy, responsive midsole foam runs slightly softer than the original Carbon X, while the more subtle-running carbon plate works with Hoka’s trademark rocker, to roll your foot through to a springy toe-off.
A fun, lively ride with ample room in the toe box – good for going long.
Allbirds Dasher Mizzle
- Sweet sensation: The carbon-negative SweetFoam EVA midsole has a 7mm drop and a Nike Infinite-style wide base for good stability.
- Lighter footprint: The Mizzle’s carbon footprint comes stamped inside the shoe – starting at 10.4kg CO2e, which is as much as 30 per cent less than a regular running trainer.
- Rinse and repeat: Unlike most running shoes, the Mizzle is designed to survive a spin in the washing machine.
Most high-performance running shoes are made from nasty petro-chemical-based materials. That makes them great for setting parkrun PBs, but less good for the planet.
Allbird’s water-repelling, eco-friendly Dasher Mizzle is different. It looks and runs like a firmer version of the popular Nike React Infinity Run, but swaps plastics for more sustainable alternatives, like sugarcane-derived midsoles.
All in all, a good option if you run shorter distances a few times a week for fitness, and you care more about Planet Earth than chasing Strava segments.
Saucony Ride 14
- Feel the PWR: Saucony’s trademark PWRRUN cushioning provides a super-soft ride.
- On FORM: Engineered mesh in the FORMFIT upper provides breathability and a comfortable fit.
- Gain traction: The rubber outsole is durable and grippy on the wet, while providing just enough resilience over rocky terrain.
The latest addition to Saucony’s line of super-soft, distance-oriented running shoes, the Ride 14 offers plush cushioning with a surprising amount of snappy responsiveness.
It’s not a stability shoe, per se, but that soft yet firm cushioning does offer a sense of security for anyone who tends to over or underpronate.
There are plenty of high-performance specs – including the engineered mesh upper for lightweight breathability – but the sense is this is a shoe tailor-made for beginners or anyone who wants to prioritise comfort over picking up the pace.