Running shoes can be an investment, so you’ll want to make sure they’ll suit your needs before opening up your wallet. Are you a trail runner or do you prefer to pound the pavement? Are you a sprinter or a runner who alternates between walking and running? Do you have wide feet, flat feet, or need shoes for supination? Are you a runner that has plantar fasciitis or suffers from shin splints? Everyone's idea of comfort is different but, no matter your situation or running style, there’s a running shoe for you. We spoke with an expert and rounded up eight of the most comfortable running shoes on the market today to help you get one stride closer to your perfect pair.
- Meaghan Praznik, Meaghan Praznik is the head of communications at hiking app AllTrails.
Most Comfortable Running Shoes, at a Glance:
- Best overall: On Running, Cloudmonsters, $170
- Best for beginners: Hoka, Bondi 8, $165
- Best trail running shoes: AllBirds, Trail Runners SWT, $140
- Best women’s running shoes: Brooks, Glycerin GTS 20, $160
- Best cushioned running shoes: Brooks, Ghost 15, $140
- Best comfortable walking shoes: Altra, Women’s LP Alpine, $160
- Best shoes for supination: Brooks, Adrenaline GTS 22, $140
- Best shoes for heavy runners: Saucony, Ride 16, $140
What to Consider While Shopping for Comfortable Running Shoes
It goes without saying, but everyone has different feet, so what feels comfortable to one person may not feel comfortable to another. Meaghan Praznik, a triathlete and Head of Communications at AllTrails, says that just because one athlete loves a shoe doesn’t guarantee that the shoe will be liked by others. In fact, even highly-acclaimed shoes may not work well for your particular foot shape and size. Whether you have high arches, no arches, bunions, or need shoes for plantar fasciitis, there are certain shoe designs that will work better for you. Not sure where to start? You may want to speak with your doctor or podiatrist to gather more data on what your feet need in a running shoe.
Your Gait and Stride
Praznik says that what may be even more important than your foot type is to try and find the shoe that best fits your gait and stride. If you have really high arches, you aren’t going to want a shoe with a flatter sole. If you have a wider foot, consider a shoe like Altra that lets your toes splay out more. And if you are in need of extra cushion, check out a shoe like the Hoka Bondi or the On Running Cloudmonster.
What Type of Runner You Are
Before buying a running shoe, consider what kind of runner you are. Do you like to hit the trails outdoors? Perhaps you’re a gym rat and love a quick jog on the treadmill. Or, maybe you like to walk or sprint at your local park or track. Consider where and how you like to run before making a purchase, as some shoes have traction that's geared toward specific activities.
We spent some time talking to Praznik to find out which running shoes are the most comfortable, and what to look for when buying a running shoe. Let’s get into some of our favorites.
Shop the Most Comfortable Running Shoes
While Praznik doesn’t claim to be an expert in On Cloud shoes, she did note that Cloudmonsters have been getting a lot of attention from runners lately, and have become one of the more popular running shoes. She says that Cloudmonsters have a larger cushion than the rest of the On Running line, giving them maximum energy return and a smooth run. This checks out, as Cloudmonsters are made with their proprietary Speedboard®, which the brand says offers super soft landings and maximized rebounds. These shoes have a rocker shape and utilize technology to help propel you forward on a run. On the con side, some people say they felt a bit narrow, which may not be ideal if you have wide feet. Others felt they didn’t have a ton of traction. But, if you’re a heavy runner or just need some extra cushioning, these running shoes might be right for you.
Sizes available: 5 – 11, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 6 mm
- More cushioning than other running shoes
- Forward rolling
- Outsole may have a slower lifespan than some other shoes
- Sizing runs about half a size too large
The Hoka Bondi 8 shoes are some of the best running sneakers for beginners. They’re made with ultra-light foam for a soft, balanced landing. Running can be hard on the feet, which is why it’s notable that the American Podiatric Medical Association gives these shoes a seal of approval. Their mesh material makes them breathable, while the memory foam collar is comfy on the ankle. The stacked height makes these shoes great for walking and running, but sprinters may find it difficult to balance. Also, some say that the shoe is quite narrow, so if you have wide feet, you may want to buy the wide model.
Sizes available: 5 to 12, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm
- Approved by American Podiatric Medical Association
- Cushion ankle support
- Narrow upper
- Larger profile
The incredible traction and grip on rough and tough terrain make the AllBirds Trail Runners perfect for—you guessed it—hitting the trails. These shoes are wide and sturdy, so you’ll have plenty of stability when tackling unpredictable trail conditions. The upper is made of wool to keep you comfortable, but the shoes are water-resistant, perfect for muddy or damp conditions. The midsole works to stabilize, while the sock-like collar helps keep debris out of the shoes.
Sizes available: 5 to 11, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 7 mm
- Traction for hiking and trail running
- Lightweight for a hiking shoe
- Machine washable
- May feel heavy to some people
- Not fully waterproof
- Lacks ankle support
These support-cushioned women’s running shoes are best for hitting the pavement—in fact, W+G contributing writer, Jamey Powell, recently ran the New York City Marathon in them. “They’re wide-toed, supportive for pronators like me, and well cushioned. They kept my feet feeling great for all 26.2 miles, and I certainly wasn’t the only runner out there rocking them” she says. The mesh upper keeps things breathing, making these running shoes a good fit for hot weather. The outsole and midsole are wide, helping with smooth and easy transitions. The Glycerin 20s are sturdy enough, but some reviewers felt a bit uneasy on rougher terrain.
Sizes available: 5 to 12, in half sizes and two widths
Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm
- Breathable mesh upper
- Stabilized for smooth transitions
- Comfortable and marathon runner-approved!
- Lacks some of the high-tech features of other shoes
According to Praznik, these shoes are hands down the most comfortable running shoes. The toe-box is quite roomy too. She says that they’re comfortable in all distances – from a 5k to a marathon. Praznik has made many people convert to this great cushioned shoe. The comfort and cushioning make these shoes perfect for long-distance runs, as they feel super stable and have a comfortable upper, making them wearable for long periods of time. Sure, there are more exciting running shoes out there, but the Brooks Ghost are consistent and dependable.
Size: 5 to 12, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
- Solid stability shoe
- Smooth transitions
- Generous cushioning
- Can feel heavy
- Some reviewers said the outsole worn down easily
If you’d rather walk than run, Altra Women’s LP Alpine are a solid bet. According to Praznik, this is a terrific walking shoe for long days on your feet. Altra’s “Foot Shaped” Fit means your feet have lots of space in the shoe, so there are no pinching or pain points after long days of standing. They’re super light and great for all sorts of terrain, so you can walk your neighborhood or trek a nature trail, no problem. Fans of these shoes say that they feel cushy and have a roomy toe-box shape. If you’re on the go and want to run errands, walk the dog, then hit a moderate hiking trail, this pair for the win! Just note that, like all Altra models, these shoes have zero drop, which mimics the feeling of being barefoot and can be an adjustment for some folks.
Sizes available: 5.5 to 12, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 0 mm
- Traction makes them versatile for different activities
- Spacious toe box
- Lightweight design
- Not waterproof
- Zero drop isn’t for everyone
We asked Praznik her thoughts on the Brooks Adrenaline, and she said it offers great stability to help keep runners aligned and stable on both sides of the feet. They’re great for everyday runs and provide a soft landing for most people. Fans of the Adrenaline say they’re supportive shoes, and keep feet feeling comfortable, even after long runs. However, durability is sometimes an issue with the Adrenaline line, and some folks have commented on shorter laces in the past.
Size: 5 to 13, in half sizes
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
- Offers stability for supinators
- Well cushioned
- Plenty of color options
- May show wear and tear quickly
The best shoes for heavy runners will have the same features that any type of runner will love. The Saucony Ride 16s are a perfect fit because they have plenty of cushion and support. The foam midsole helps runners ease into every stride. They’re stable and true to size, but if you have narrow feet, you might find them a bit too roomy.
Size: 5 to 12, in half sizes and two widths
Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
- Stable midsole for support
- Cushioned from heel to forefoot
- May be too roomy for narrow feet
What is the most cushioned On Cloud shoe?
Cloudmonsters are one of the most cushioned pairs of On Cloud shoes. They have more cushion than many other brands and are more plush than the other shoes they sell.
What brand has the best running shoes?
There are many brands that make great running shoes, it just depends on your feet and personal preferences. However, Brooks, Hoka, NewBalance, and Saucony make some of the best running shoes out there.
Are loose or tight shoes better for running?
Neither. The shoe needs to fit somewhere in the middle. You don’t want a shoe that’s too tight because you don’t want your feet to be cramped. Loose shoes aren’t ideal either as they may rub up against your skin, causing you blisters, or they may lack the support you need. If you've never been properly fit for running shoes, consider visiting your local run store to get a gait analysis. That way you can try on a variety of styles and brands to find the fit that feels best for you!
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