2022 has a much different feel than the previous few years. Stores are reopening. Mandates are lifting. But still, some habits we learned during lockdowns have proven their staying power. One of those positives is an unmatched enthusiasm for running.

According to World Athletics, the running boom of 2021 has no plans of slowing down. And running brands are taking notice, giving athletes of all skill levels a slew of innovative products and releases, keeping spirits high and the streets, trails and routes filled with excitement.

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If you’re part of this in-step crew, what better way to kick off another year of movement than with a premium pair of running shoes? We’ve been keeping tabs on the latest releases, trying them out to see which kicks live up to the hype. We’ve also connected with field experts to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge you need to lace up your next perfect pair. From classic silhouettes, to green-friendly daily trainers. From cushioned rides to responsive speedsters. No matter how you run, we’ve got you covered.

      What to Look for in Running Shoes

      While your running shoes should cater to your desired discipline, there are a handful of features to be mindful of regardless of whether you take your miles slow and steady, fast-paced or off the beaten path.

      For starters, you should look for an upper that’s breathable enough for a comfortable, cool ride that still has some durability to it. There’s no sense investing in a quality pair of runners if you’re going to tear them up after only a few miles.

      You should also pay attention to your shoes’ midsole. Director of Physical Therapy and Road Runners Club of America Level I and II Certified Running Coach Lauren Wentz says, “I always tell my patients first, you take the shoe, you should not be able to fold it in half. So, if it can actually fold, then there’s not enough support. Even the lowest drop Nikes don’t fold like that, so you shouldn’t be running in shoes that are that flimsy.”

      Lastly, pay attention to your outsole and tread, depending on how you intend to run. Road-specific running shoes can offer great traction on paved surfaces or treadmills, but might not be cut out for trail running. If your jogging is more on the adventurous side, look for trail running shoes that feature deeper, more durable lugs that provide grip through the mud and muck.

      When Should You Buy a New Pair of Running Shoes?

      The lifespan of running shoes varies and can be greatly impacted by how many miles you’re running in them. Wentz states, however, that it’s important to realize that running shoes do, in fact, have a lifespan, and it may be shorter than you think. “An orthopedic specialist I work with told me that shoes expire every eight months,” Wentz says. This is due to the fact that the materials in the sole can start to break down over time, regardless of use.

      “Even if it’s a pair of shoes that you’ve only run in a couple of times, but you’ve owned them [for example] five years. The cushion, the foam, is already deteriorating. So, I think that’s something that I try to make sure people understand; that even if you’re not running a ton of miles, you should consider getting a new pair of shoes every six to eight months.”

      A good comparison to this notion would be to look at your car’s tires. The rubber can break down and dry rot over time, regardless of how many miles you’ve driven on them. You wouldn’t drive on tires that aren’t up to speed, so why would you run with shoes that are past their expiration date, too?

      If you’re more distance-focused than time-focused, you can also view your running shoes’ lifespan in miles. A few brands will list a shoe's predicted mileage on its product page, but most don't. Consider 400 miles a ballpark figure — that's five months of running 20 miles a week. Some can take more, some less.

      It can also be good practice to rotate your running shoes. According to Wentz, the cushioning foam in a shoe’s sole takes at least 24 hours to return to its proper stack height, and constantly trudging along can wear out this foam, leading to discomfort and a drop in performance. To keep your kicks in tip-top shape for months to come, consider training in different shoes for different workouts. “Even if it’s a new runner who’s not doing specific workouts, they’re just running to run every day,” Wentz says, “They could have the same exact pair of shoes but just two different pairs.”

      How Do I Know Which Running Shoe Is Right for Me?

      If you’re new to running, or just want a running shoe that’s intune with your step, the best way to confidently determine which running shoe is right for you is with a gait analysis. Many reputable sporting goods stores offer such service, with some even taking analysis into the digital realm with 3D foot scanners.

      Wentz also notes that determining the right running shoes can be as easy as looking at the soles of your favorite sneakers. “That’s what I do in evaluations with patients. Like, are they a heel striker? Are they wearing out more on the medial side, meaning they pronate? Or, are they [wearing] more on the outside, meaning they supinate?” These hints and signs can be a great roadmap to help you get into the right pair for your step.

      How We Tested

      collage of running shoes
      Gear Patrol

      Throughout the year, our crew tests and reviews some of the most buzzed-about running shoes. We work with a variety of brands to make sure we’re on top of what you’ll see when you walk into your local running specialty store.

      We take to the roads in 90-degree weather and 0-degree weather, noting how the temperature affects the foam and gel. We also wear the shoes to walk around all day, as well as on long travel weekends to get an overarching picture of what each shoe can actually do. Beyond pure fit, we evaluate shoes from a durability, comfort and reliability perspective. We note if the shoes make us feel zippy, help us slog through training miles or fall a little flat.

      Now, let’s lace up and get into our list of the year’s best picks.

      The Best Cushioned Running Shoes

      Running should be a comfortable activity. You want everything, from the hat on your head to the socks on your feet, to create a cozy aesthetic that’s enjoyable at any distance. Well-cushioned running shoes can boost that comfort to unthinkable levels. Here are five picks we think really push the plush in 2022.

      Hoka Bondi 8

      Courtesy
      BEST OVERALL CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE
      Hoka Bondi 8
      hoka.com
      $165.00

      • Redesigned heel geometry promotes a smoother ride than previous Bondi iterations

      • Tighter fit in the midfoot, which can lead to rubbing for some

          When taking to the streets in this updated silhouette from Hoka, you can definitely feel the improvements underfoot. We enjoyed the redesigned heel geometry, which promoted a smooth transition without feeling too clunky or forced. As with any Hoka running shoe, the colorways provide plenty of flair, and the cushioned yet energetic ride was simply enjoyable at any mileage. While the tighter midfoot might prove to be a blister’s paradise for some, Hoka thankfully offers the Bondi 8 in wide sizing, so finding that premier fit shouldn’t be an issue.

          • Weight: 10.8 oz.
          • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm

            Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2

            Courtesy
            BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR ALL-DAY WEAR
            Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2
            nike.com
            $180.00

            • Super plush midsole makes this a great silhouette for training and daily wear alike

            • Upper can begin to heat up and induce sweat, especially during long-distance training

            If you really want to feel like you’re running on clouds, this is the silhouette for you. We can’t hype the Nike ZoomX foam enough, as it provides plenty of cushioning that’s great for recovery days and walking paces, while still housing enough energy return to complement quicker paces. The Flyknit upper cloaks the foot comfortably as well, lending to this shoe’s prevalence as a daily wear option, but as breathable as it claims to be, we did experience some excess sweat at longer distances.

            • Weight: 9.7 oz.
            • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9 mm

              Brooks Glycerin 20

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              BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR RECOVERY TRAINING
              Brooks Glycerin 20
              brooksrunning.com
              $160.00

              • Lightweight profile picks up easy, allowing for minimal effort to keep your desired pace

              • Thicker outsole can prove to be clunky at longer distances

              Running doesn’t always need to be about breaking personal bests. Sometimes, a recovery day is the best plan of attack, and when those activities appeared on our schedule, we gladly laced up this latest iteration from Brooks. The revamped DNA Loft v3 midsole is light as a feather, making transitions and pickups a breeze. We also enjoyed the traction provided by the thick rubber outsole. With that said, though, this silhouette did start to feel cumbersome on longer runs, so maybe save this sneaker for days when speed or mileage is not the most important.

              • Weight: 10.1 oz.
              • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10 mm

                Adidas Ultraboost 22

                Adidas
                MOST STYLISH CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOES
                Adidas Ultraboost 22
                adidas.com
                $190.00

                • BOOST capsules in the midsole easily retain their shape and bounciness mile after mile

                • Heavier profile can makes these more accommodating for slower or walking paces

                    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. The latest version of the popular silhouette is 0.3 ounces lighter than the Ultraboost 21 and features a revised strobel lasting underneath the insole. This thinner lasting with large, oval cutouts in the heel and ball of the foot can help the sole expand more for a squisher, more comfortable ride than previous models. While this Adidas silhouette is heavy, we enjoyed the underfoot feel at slower paces, and really admire how well the BOOST capsules retain their responsiveness through extended use, whether that be in the gym, on the road or on the town.

                    • Weight: 11.7 oz. (size 9)
                    • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10 mm

                      New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

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                      BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR DAILY TRAINING
                      New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12
                      newbalance.com
                      $159.99

                      • Natural flex zones allow you to easily connect with the road for a better sense of control in every step

                      • Sizing is off, meaning you should order a half size down to achieve that ultimate fit

                          With a Hypoknit upper that offers up a streamlined, sock-like fit, this cushioned runner is primed for daily training needs. The Fresh Foam X midsole foam delivers excellent cushioning and we really enjoyed how connected you felt to the pavement thanks to the natural flex zones built into the profile. It never felt like you were elevated from the road, which made controlling your footprint and stride much easier. As long as you pay attention to the sizing — this silhouette runs big — you should be more than happy with this runner built for daily sessions.

                          • Weight: 10.9 oz.
                          • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

                            The Most Responsive Running Shoes

                            Another perk to the wide variety of running shoes is there’s a fit for every running style. Want kicks that really let you kick it into high gear? Want that rush of speed? Take a lap with these five picks, offering support and performance where you need it most.

                            Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2

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                            BEST OVERALL RESPONSIVE RUNNING SHOES
                            Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2
                            nike.com
                            $275.00

                            • Wider forefoot creates a stable platform that’s great for toe-offs and security

                            • Race-day features aren’t the most forgiving when used in daily training

                            Built off the silhouette that gave the world its first sub-two hour marathon, the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 delivers exceptional energy return in a sleek profile ready for race day. The lightweight, breathable Atomknit upper practically disappears on your foot, promoting that weight-cutting, record-breaking aura associated with this sneaker. While it’s not the best for daily training, you’ll certainly enjoy the effects of this speedster that was meant for the marathon circuit.

                            • Weight: 8 oz.
                            • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

                              Altra Rivera 2

                              Altra
                              BEST ZERO-DROP RUNNING SHOES
                              Altra Rivera 2
                              altrarunning.com
                              $130.00

                              • FootShape profile allows your toes to splay more naturally for a balanced stride and step

                              • Tongue has been know to jostle during runs, which can become annoying after multiple readjustments

                                  Made to move, however you want. The Rivera 2 from Altra offers its Balanced Cushioning platform, meaning your heel and forefoot are equally distant from the ground for better alignment and form. Speaking of your stride, the segmented outsole is designed to help promote natural movement, too. Combine this with the responsive and energy-filled Altra Ego foam, and you have a lightweight, fast-paced running shoe that’s simple in design but grandiose in performance.

                                  • Weight: 8.8 oz.
                                  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0 mm

                                    Hoka Carbon X 3

                                    Hoka
                                    BEST CARBON-PLATED RUNNING SHOES
                                    Hoka Carbon X 3
                                    hoka.com
                                    $200.00

                                    • Carbon plate engages easily for propulsive pacing

                                    • Some might find the sockliner construction a bit too roomy

                                        Highly supportive and with much-appreciated improvements over previous iterations, the Carbon X 3s from Hoka provide a solid mix of stability and springiness. A performance knit upper cloaks your foot for race-day comfort, but we often found ourselves choosing these for daily tempo training and other, longer jogs. Plus, the Super Critical Foam midsole marries nicely to the carbon fiber plate for a ride that’s well-cushioned, responsive and just plain fun.

                                        • Weight: 7.8 oz.
                                        • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5 mm

                                          Brooks Hyperion Elite 3

                                          Courtesy
                                          BEST RESPONSIVE RUNNING SHOES FOR DAILY TRAINING
                                          Brooks Hyperion Elite 3
                                          brooksrunning.com
                                          $250.00

                                          • QuickKnit upper is exceptional in terms of comfort and breathability

                                          • The performance doesn’t warrant the price, meaning this is more of a tempo trainer and less of a marathon shoe

                                              The Hyperion Elite 3s from Brooks are the brand’s latest addition to the “super shoe” market. While we don’t think it absolutely lives up to that title, there’s plenty to love about this fast, enjoyable runner. A redesigned QuickKnit upper is lightweight, comfortable and colorful — we can’t deny how good these HE3s look. The nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole and carbon plate give you a nice, responsive ride, too, but we’d recommend saving these runners for tempo days as opposed to race day. Other options on this list can give you a little more zip and energy return when crossing the finish line in record time is at the forefront of your running list.

                                              • Weight: 8.1 oz.
                                              • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8 mm

                                                Asics Metaspeed Sky+

                                                Courtesy
                                                BEST RESPONSIVE RUNNING SHOE FOR STABILITY
                                                Asics Metaspeed Sky+
                                                asics.com
                                                $250.00

                                                • Pronounced outward role can be great for pronators, creating a more natural gait

                                                • Thicker sole can lead to balancing issues

                                                    This marathon-ready runner is definitely catered to a specific athlete: stride runners, or those who lengthen their stride when quickening the pace. The energetic midsole and higher carbon plate were very present during testing, allowing for responsive toe-offs in every step which allowed us to conserve energy and focus on pacing down the stretch. The geometry favors pronators, rolling each footprint outward to correct any inward motion, but supinators can also reap the benefits of this impressive sneaker after getting used to the profile as well.

                                                    • Weight: 7.2 oz.
                                                    • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5 mm

                                                      The Best Running Shoes for Trails

                                                      Trail running shoes are designed for variable terrain — they typically feature bigger lugs on their grippy, rugged outsoles that can efficiently maneuver through muddy, rocky trails without losing traction. Trail runners are also known for their stiffer midsoles, which offer more support on uneven surfaces. When you want to walk – or run – on the wild side, this is the footwear you want.

                                                      Hoka Speedgoat 5

                                                      Hoka
                                                      BEST OVERALL TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
                                                      Hoka Speedgoat 5
                                                      hoka.com
                                                      $155.00

                                                      • Redesigned outsole improves grip and traction across varying terrain

                                                      • Some may find the tongue to be short, which can be uncomfortable at times

                                                          When Hoka released this latest iteration of the trail running icon, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. An updated outsole features Vibram Megagrip with Traction Lug that’s great for tackling loose trails and soil. The lighter midsole compound provides ample room for your feet and pairs perfectly with the supportive upper to give the Speedgoat 5 that cushioned feel Hoka is known for. With little to no break-in required, these workhorses are ready right out of the box for whatever challenge you plan to conquer.

                                                          • Weight: 10.3 oz.
                                                          • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm

                                                            Norda 001-M

                                                            Courtesy
                                                            MOST INNOVATIVE TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
                                                            Norda 001-M
                                                            nordarun.com
                                                            $285.00

                                                            • Quite possibly the most durable trail running shoe to date

                                                            • Dyneema definitely sacrifices breathability for durability in this trail-ready sneaker

                                                                From the untamed wilderness of Montreal, Norda has been on our radar for quite some time, but don’t feel bad if you’re not privy to these trail-running newcomers, yet. Pairing an innovative Dyneema upper with a grippy Vibram outsole, the Norda 001 is designed to provide the highest energy return possible without compromising on durability. Dyneema is traditionally hard to work with, so seeing a trail runner boast this stronger-than-steel material is noteworthy enough. But outside of the groundbreaking design, these unknown Canadian cruisers are a top-notch kick wherever your trail leads.

                                                                • Weight: 8.71 oz.
                                                                • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4 mm

                                                                  Brooks Caldera 6

                                                                  Courtesy
                                                                  BEST TRAIL RUNNING SHOES FOR TRAINING
                                                                  Brooks Caldera 6
                                                                  brooksrunning.com
                                                                  $150.00

                                                                  • Soft underfoot cushioning allows for a comfortable experience from start to finish

                                                                  • Upper can be prone to collecting mud if running through sloppier conditions

                                                                      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or seasoned veteran to understand the goals of the Caldera 6s. Take one look at the gargantuan midsole and you know this kick is designed with cushioning in mind. We enjoyed the plushness offered up by the DNA Loft v3 midsole as it carried us through short and long routes alike. Plus, the TrailTack rubber outsole provided plenty of traction, even through muddy puddles and throughways. But while the outsole got us through the muck, the upper reminded us of our previous steps, as it was susceptible to caking if slogging through a muddy turn.

                                                                      • Weight: 11 oz.
                                                                      • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6 mm

                                                                        Altra Lone Peak 6

                                                                        Courtesy
                                                                        BEST TRAIL RUNNING SHOE FOR ALL-DAY WEAR
                                                                        Altra Lone Peak 6
                                                                        altrarunning.com
                                                                        $140.00

                                                                        • TrailClaw canted lugs provide excellent grip, especially through looser terrain or graveled pathways

                                                                        • Lacing system can take some getting used to

                                                                        If you’re on a long jaunt through the woods or taking on a multi-day excursion, you want your feet to have as natural a step as possible. The zero-drop nature of the Altra Lone Peak 6s promote such balance, all while providing exceptional comfort and grip. Altra AGO foam boasts a soft landing with enough energy return to boost you forward, while the TrailClaw canted lugs give you the confidence to conquer any terrain along the way. We will say, though, that finding that locked-in feel takes some time due to the intricate lacing system. While it takes some fenangling, it’s worth the extra step.

                                                                        • Weight: 10.6 oz.
                                                                        • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0 mm

                                                                          Hoka Tecton X

                                                                          HOKA
                                                                          BEST CARBON-PLATED TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
                                                                          Hoka Tecton X
                                                                          hoka.com
                                                                          $200.00

                                                                          • Dual carbon plates allow for continuous energy return, even when navigating uneven terrain

                                                                          • Top eyelet feels unfinished and could be susceptible to wear over extended use

                                                                              Innovation takes time, and while the trail running scene has been hesitant to adopt carbon plates due to the uneven terrain, the Tecton X is a seismic shift the sport’s been waiting for. Using a split-plate system, the Tecton Xs — named after the Earth’s tectonic plates — move independently as you traverse over roots, rocks and other trail conditions, all while providing that springy responsiveness common in carbon-plated shoes. The Profly X midsole is another welcomed perk, providing a solid cushion that makes us want to take on every trailhead with speed and confidence. While the outsole isn’t the grippiest on this list, especially in muddier conditions, if you want to accomplish breakneck speeds through the hills and valleys, look no further.

                                                                              • Weight: 8.5 oz.
                                                                              • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5 mm

                                                                                Your Run, Your Way

                                                                                As a closing statement, always remember that your running shoes should reflect how you want to run. Especially if you’re just getting started, there’s no need to get caught up in the technical specs and luxury features like zero drop or enhanced footplates. For example, Wentz states she loves racing in shoes featuring a carbon footplate, but this technology is not meant for everyone taking to the streets. “They do make you fly, it does feel good, but I think because those are what elite [runners] are now wearing, people read about it and they get caught up in it.”

                                                                                At the end of the day, your best run starts with shoes that you’re comfortable with and kicks that provides support where you need it. If you do want to experiment with other specs, take a gradual approach rather than drastically changing your shoes – maybe with a pair of insoles or heel cups to start.