Every shoe on our list received good marks for fit, cushioning, and, of course, comfort.
Most Comfortable Running Shoes In fact, some studies suggests that choosing a shoe just for its comfort may reduce your risk of injury. So, to assist you in your solo quest, we’ve selected the models that provide a “made-for-me” feeling. Each shoe we propose here was rated on overall performance as well as by our testers in three key categories: fit, cushioning, and, of course, comfort.
Our Top Picks: Most Comfortable Running Shoes
|BEST FOR UPTEMPOS Hoka Mach 4||Check Price|
|BEST TRULY ZERO-DROP Altra Paradigm 6||Check Price|
|BEST DAILY TRAINER Brooks Glycerin 19||Check Price|
|MOST VERSATILE New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11||Check Price|
|BEST FOR STABILITY Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21||Check Price|
|BEST FOR RECOVERY RUNS Hoka Clifton 8||Check Price|
|BEST FOR TRAIL Hoka Challenger ATR 6||Check Price|
|MOST RESILIENT Adidas UltraBoost 22||Check Price|
|BEST FOR LONG RUNS Saucony Triumph 19||Check Price|
Reviews: Most Comfortable Running Shoes
I relied on my expertise as a 14-time marathoner and lifelong running shoe critic, as well as that of adm shoes deputy editor, Jeff Dengate, who is a top expert in the running business. I also spoke with test editor Amanda Furrer, who is an expert in running shoes and equipment. Dengate and Furrer both test hundreds of new running shoes each year and have access to Runner’s World shoe test data, which is a collection of input from dozens of thoughtful local athletes eager to test-run new running shoes. More information on the approach we used to analyze these shoes may be found below.
What to Look for in a Comfortable Running Shoe Thick Foam Midsole
More foam doesn’t automatically imply a marshmallowy ride, but several of the shoes on our list have a big midsole that gives plenty of cushion between your foot and the ground. Most of these types will also have a pillowy landing thanks to the abundance of lightweight, durable EVA foam. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11, for example, nearly assures a comfortable footstrike because of its large, soft heel.
Even for runners with narrow feet, a roomier forefoot allows toes to splay freely and helps minimize blisters and congestion. One of the greatest examples of the increased comfort benefits of a more roomy forefoot is Altra’s characteristic foot-shaped toebox; we also noticed the current Saucony Triumph had a more spacious fit.
Plush, More Breathable Uppers
We appreciate the little nuances that make an upper more Most Comfortable Running Shoes over time. The Saucony Triumph boasts additional padding around the tongue and heel for real comfort, while Brooks’ Glycerin has a bootie-like fit with a mesh top and plush internal lining. Shoes constructed of engineered mesh and open-weave knits offer more stretch and airflow, keeping sweaty feet cool and airy.
How We Evaluated and Selected These Comfortable Running Shoes
For real-world wear-testing on paved roads, gravel walks, and rugged singletrack trails, Runner’s World collaborates with over 350 local runners of varying skills, ages, and sizes. After running more than 100 miles in their shoes for a month, our testers report back on factors such as fit, comfort, performance, and ride. While our testers are out on the trail, the same models are put through a battery of mechanical testing in our shoe lab to objectively quantify their cushioning, flexibility, sole thickness, and weight. To develop trustworthy, helpful assessments of every shoe we test, our test editors blend their personal experience with data from the lab and input from our wear-testers. We took great care in compiling this list of the most comfortable running shoes for every type of runner.
—BEST FOR UPTEMPO—
Hoka Mach 4
The Mach 4 is exceedingly light, and it has dethroned the comfortable, race-ready Rincon. “It’s the greatest Mach yet, and maybe the best contemporary Hoka,” commented Jeff Dengate, the RW assistant editor. The new look is inspired by the brand’s fastest sneakers, the Carbon X and Rocket X. The ProFly foam supports strong rebound, while the early-stage Meta-Rocker (a slightly curved sole) pushes you forward. The improved upper cling your foot more tightly, ensuring that you don’t run out of these powerful Machs.
—BEST TRULY ZERO-DROP—
Altra Paradigm 6
The Altra Paradigm is the company’s most cushy trainer to date, featuring a broad slab of firm cushioning in the midsole that makes it ideal for both simple recovery runs and regular training. It’s a great shoe for runners who appreciate the Hoka Clifton’s maximal cushioning but wants a little more energy return and stability underfoot, as well as a zero-drop platform. Our testers discovered it to be more adaptable than expected for a shoe with a 33mm stack height. “Although I initially thought the Paradigm would be too big, I even used it for speedwork,” one user explained. Kara Goucher, an Altra-sponsored runner, appears to agree, claiming that she wears the comfortable shoe for 70% of her sessions.
—BEST DAILY TRAINER—
Brooks Glycerin 19
Plush cushioning, great energy return, and stability that supports both overpronators and neutral runners are all packed into the Glycerin GTS. Brooks has renamed its “Go-to-Shoe” moniker “Go-to-Support” to match its new naming scheme. The stability equivalents of neutral shoes are now re-dubbed with the neutral shoe’s name and “GTS” added. The shoe formerly known as the Transcend is now called the Glycerin GTS in this example. Its guide rails system, which consists of thick foam on the lateral and medial sides of the heel, prevents irregular knee movement.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
For the 1080 v9, New Balance boosted the Fresh Foam, offering a millimeter of softness underfoot to make the shoe more forgiving. The midsole was changed again in the 10th generation, this time to Fresh Foam X, which felt soft (but not marshmallowy); laser-engraving cut off nearly half an ounce from the prior version, making the shoe seem sportier and lighter. Fortunately, the v11 hasn’t altered much. That thick slab of Fresh Foam X, like the v10, gives great energy return—and comfort. The top was modified to be stretchier in the forefoot for runners with broad feet.
—BEST FOR STABILITY—
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Since its introduction in 1994, the Adrenaline GTS has developed a cult following because of its soft platform and stability characteristics that cater to both overpronators and neutral runners. It’s a versatile shoe that sits in the center of Brooks’ cushioned trainers, between the soft Glycerin GTS and the agile Launch GTS—the genuine Goldilocks of shoe plush. The guide rails system offers bumper support for irregular knee movement caused by overpronation and late-onset overpronation owing to running exhaustion, i.e., the latter stretch of your long run when your form fails.
—BEST FOR RECOVERY RUNS—
Hoka Clifton 8
The Clifton is a favorite of both long-distance runners and casual walkers because of its maximum cushioning and comfort on a lightweight, streamlined foundation. This iteration of the shoe features a redesigned EVA midsole with even more bouncing energy return, as well as a smoother ride and a longer heel to ease your landings. Hoka also updated the mesh top, making it softer and lighter while also increasing breathability. It’s a shoe that performs well as a daily training shoe, long-run shoe, or recovery shoe, but it’s a little slow for race-pace efforts.
—BEST FOR TRAILS—
Hoka Challenger ATR 6
The Challenger ATR is the shoe to choose when you’re not sure where your run will take you. It’s known as a “crossover” shoe because it can handle smooth roads, difficult trails, and variable weather conditions. It has a thick EVA foam midsole that absorbs impact effectively and protects your feet from the pavement or rocks, as well as stubby 4mm lugs for grip on slick conditions. A shoe tester with broader feet commended the upper’s fit and comfort as well. “There was cushioning all over the inner of the shoe,” he remarked. “I applaud Hoka for creating such a comfortable sneaker. This is one set of shoes I would feel confident wearing for extended distances.”
Adidas UltraBoost 22
The UltraBoost provides a comfortable ride that doesn’t lose its bounce in the closing kilometers of a lengthy run. The Boost foam midsole gives a cushioned feel with great shock absorption for long runs, and the outsole is made of durable Continental rubber that grips the road or crushed-gravel path in wet and dry weather. The Primeknit+ fabric upper, which is created from 50% recovered ocean plastics, fits like a glove. Women can anticipate even greater personalization and comfort with our version of the 22, which features a revised last based on a significant study into women’s foot form.
—BEST FOR LONG RUNS—
Saucony Triumph 19
Despite being one of the heaviest shoes on the list, the Triumph rides light and bouncy, thanks in part to a new Pwrrun+ midsole that’s 28% lighter and even more responsive than the previous model’s. It’s Saucony’s softest shoe, as well as one of its most versatile, suitable for both recovery runs and extensive daily miles. The new airier, the more breathable mono-mesh upper provides plenty of room for toes to wriggle in the forefoot, while the pillowy collar and tongue add to the overall warmth of the shoe.