12 Best Road Running Shoes for 2018

12 Best Road Running Shoes for 2018

The great thing about running is its simplicity. Compared to the swimmers who do endless laps for hours a day, we have it easy. Compared to the cyclists who can spend thousands for every carbon fiber fixture ever invented, so do our pocketbooks. All we have to do is throw on some comfortable clothes, lace up our running shoes, step out the front door, and put one foot in front of the other. If the foam in your current pair is getting compressed or your toes are starting to stick out, or if you just want to move up to something a little lighter, faster, or more comfortable, keep reading for the list of best road running shoes as determined by a survey of over 11,000 runners like you.

Number 12

Nike Air Zoom Structure 21

Nike Air Zoom Structure 21

If you need some stability in your life, the Structure 21 is ready to support you. Of the models on this list, the Structures are the best road running shoes for men or women who are looking for a support trainer for daily use. Generations of runners have found the Structure to be highly stable and reliable, and the current model features Nike’s engineered mesh upper with Flywire cables for a snug and comfortable fit.

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Number 11

Brooks PureCadence 7

Brooks PureCadence 7

The PureCadence is also classified as a support shoe, but it offers a more moderate level of stability in order to retain the flexibility, ground feel, and natural ride of the Brooks Pure line. The PureCadence sports a heel stack of just 22 mm, keeping you close to the ground and raising your heels just 4 mm above your toes. Saving weight under your heels will help you feel light on your feet as you put in miles on the road.

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Number 10

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2

When it comes to road running shoes, Nike knows a thing or two. Like keep it light—at just 8.8 ounces in a men’s size 9, the LunarEpic is light enough for interval workouts or tempo runs. Or put cushion where it’s needed—under your heel. With 28 mm of Lunarlon and Phylon to cushion your footstrike, the LunarEpic will give you a smooth ride with as much cushion as a trainer like the Structure 21, but with an ounce less weight.

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Number 9

Brooks Ghost 11

Brooks Ghost 11

With three models in the top 12, Brooks takes first place as the best brand for road running shoes. What sets the Ghost above other models is its dependability. Although it’s a neutral trainer, it offers a highly stable ride, and the soles—a full 29 mm at the heel—will cushion your feet as effectively after 20 miles as they did when you started your long run. Runners also love the Ghosts for their durability. You won’t find yourself thinking, “They felt so comfortable when I first bought them. What happened?” With the Ghosts, that new running shoe feel is still with you hundreds of miles later.

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Number 8

Adidas Ultra Boost 4

Adidas Ultra Boost 4

Boost is the miracle midsole foam that has left all other shoe companies playing catch-up since 2013. It’s luxuriously soft when your foot lands, and it has a firm snap on toe-off. For the Adidas shoe engineers charged with designing the best road running shoes, 2018 is still under the sign of Boost. For their flagship neutral trainer, they’ve added Boost. Lots and lots of Boost. Which adds up to highly responsive cushioning and amazing comfort (admittedly, at a price that might raise your heartbeat to levels usually seen at the end of a 5K).

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Number 7

Newton Gravity 7

Newton Gravity 7

The running shoe industry has long been dominated by a handful of companies, but the last decade has seen a handful of upstarts rise to the top. Five of the top seven models on this list are from companies founded in 2007 or later. Newton’s primary innovation consists of forefoot mechanical lugs that store energy for a soft landing and release it for a snappy toe-off. The Gravity 7 achieves high energy return by combining its Action-Reaction lugs with a springy midsole foam, while keeping the weight of the Gravity 7 low enough for faster road workouts.

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Number 6

Hoka One One Tracer 2

Hoka One One Tracer 2

If you think that you can recognize Hoka shoes on sight by the inches they add to people’s height, think again: The Tracer 2 is thoroughly mid-pack when it comes to stack height. Where the Tracer excels is how little it weighs. At just 7.6 ounces, it’s the lightest model on this list. If you love the Hoka combination of generous cushioning and low heel-toe offset, but are looking for something a little faster for your workouts or road racing, put the Tracer 2 on the top of your list of shoes to try on.

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Number 5

On Cloudflow

On Cloudflow

On, like Hoka and Newton, is another recent entrant on the running shoe scene. Like Newton, it takes a mechanical approach to building the perfect sole. The Cloudtec elements lining the outsole are designed to cushion your landing by storing the energy of impact and then releasing it to power your stride. In the Cloudflow, this approach yields a shoe that is firm and flexible with a low-profile, low-weight sole. At just 8.2 ounces, the Cloudflow is ready for your fast days.

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Number 4

Altra One V3

Altra One V3

Altra is the fourth startup shoe company to land a model near the top of the list. Or make that two models. Both the One and the Escalante are lightweight, performance-minded shoes that exemplify the Altra approach to running shoes. They’re both under 8 ounces (and within a hair of the Tracer 2 in weight) with a roomy toe box, and they both have perfectly flat, zero-drop heel-toe offsets. So what’s the difference? The One is firmer and more flexible, so it might be your first choice if you’re looking for race day performance in a zero-drop package.

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Number 3

Altra Escalante

Altra Escalante

As for the Escalante, its ride is softer than the One but just as responsive, thanks to a sole that offers as much energy return as the Ultra Boost. The balance of responsiveness and cushioning in the Escalante has quickly earned it numerous fans sins its introduction in 2017, and a Runner’s World Editor’s Choice award. The Escalante also does particularly well on the list of best road running shoes for women.

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Number 2

Brooks Levitate 2

Brooks Levitate 2

Will the running shoe start-ups out-innovate the cumbersome shoe giants? Brooks isn’t just sitting around watching its market be disrupted. The Levitate 2 is a neutral daily trainer, but Brooks has dropped the heel-toe offset from the usual 12 or 10 mm toward a more aggressive 8 mm, and with its DNA AMP midsole material, it can go head to head with the bounciest Boost soles from Adidas. Combine all that with a soft forefoot and heel, and you have a phenomenally smooth ride with cushioned landings and extra spring in every step.

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Number 1

Freedom ISO 2

Freedom ISO 2

Running may be simple, but the itch for a competitive edge or simple curiosity often ends up filling our closets with shoes for every occasion. We have our daily trainers, and uptempo shoes for workouts, plus two different pairs of shoes for shorter or longer races, and those trail shoes we picked up for snowy days or bad weather. Can’t we just get one pair of shoes that does it all? Saucony is bringing freedom—to your overflowing closet, at least—in the Freedom ISO 2. They have enough cushion for daily running, but a low 4 mm heel-toe offset and a full-length Everun sole for high energy return and extra bounce in your step. Can one shoe really do it all? A lot of runners who voted the Freedom ISO 2 to the top of the list think so.

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