When it comes to finding the best running shoes for you, it's all about the fit. Like your favorite pair of jeans, some shoe brands will fit your foot better and give you that extra boost to get out the door in the morning when you really don't want to go for a run. But whether you're shopping for shoes online, or heading to your local running store, the choice can be a little overwhelming.
Do you need a neutral or a support shoe? Should you go for a Brooks running shoe for your first half-marathon, or opt for the Nike shoes your running partner has? To alleviate the confusion and help you find the best running shoe for your needs, we’ve hand-picked the best men’s and women’s running shoes to buy right now. All of these running shoes have been tested on the run and each pair has covered at least 30 miles on the road, trails and treadmill. Confused? We've also explained the jargon behind how to buy running shoes here.
What are the best running shoes?
If you’re after a pair of the best Nike running shoes, the Nike Pegasus 39 is our best running shoe in 2022. Containing Nike's React foam and two Zoom Air units, the Pegasus 39 is an excellent everyday running shoe for beginners and more experienced runners alike. It replaces the Pegasus 38, which was also a great running shoe, so now is a good time to invest in the last-season model if you're looking for a cheaper shoe.
If you're not a fan of the Swoosh, the New Balance 1080v12 saw New Balance upgrade the fit of its most popular cushioned running shoe. The annoying heel counter is gone, and despite being slightly long in the foot, the shoe is as comfortable and bouncy as ever.
The best women's running shoe on the market right now is the Adidas Ultraboost 22. It was designed by an all-female team, who analyzed scans of 1.2 million female feet to re-design it's Ultraboost 21, giving the Ultraboost 22 a narrower heel, a lower instep, and an S-curve heel to allow the Achilles tendon to move more freely. It's comfortable enough for slow, easy miles, but has enough snap to help you pick up the pace when you need to.
If you're just getting started running, check out our beginner's guide to running — top tips from a running coach and don't forget to consider one of the best running hats to keep you cool and protected on sunny runs. Read on for all our picks for the best running shoes.
The best running shoes you can buy today
If you’re a fan of the Swoosh, choosing a pair of the best Nike running shoes can be a tricky choice. While we’re a huge fan of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% for race day, we know not every runner wants to race, which is why the Pegasus 39 sneaked into the top spot here.
It was a close call between this and the Nike Invincible Run, which is also a brilliant everyday shoe, but when it comes down to it, the Pegasus was just more versatile during testing. It's got a good amount of React foam in the midsole for a lightweight, snappy feel underfoot, without being overly springy and leaving you feeling unstable on the run. The Pegasus is a workhorse - you can wear it for a marathon, your first 5K, and pretty much everything in between.
For a shoe to be on its 39th iteration, it must be doing something right and with the Pegasus, you're buying reliability. The Nike Pegasus 39 is a huge improvement on the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 — fit-wise, it's more true to size, and Nike has also added an extra Zoom Air unit in the heel of the foot for a more responsive feel. Whether it's the fact the shoe is lighter than the Pegasus 38, or the fact it has a second Zoom Air unit we're not sure, but the result is a shoe that definitely feels snappier on the run.
Read our full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 review here.
Not sure which to buy? Check out the Nike Pegasus 39 vs Nike Pegasus 38 face-to-face here.
It goes without saying, you don’t have to own multiple pairs of running shoes to be a runner. While some people might invest in multiple pairs for different sessions, if you’re new to running or are on a budget, you’ll still be able to build fitness and train for races with only one pair in your closet. Plus, if you’re looking for that one pair, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is a brilliant shoe to invest in.
A seriously versatile shoe, the New Balance 1080v12 is soft and plush enough to keep you comfy on your long runs, but can also pick up the pace when you need it for faster tempo sessions. Fit-wise, we found during testing it was a huge improvement on the 1080v11, as New Balance has scrapped the molded heel, which was wildly controversial with fans of the shoe.
The downside here is that the shoe runs big — in fact, we'd recommend going down half a size in these shoes as they are extremely roomy. While this won't bother you when you get the correct size, it's frustrating for runners, especially if shopping online.
Read our full New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review.
Known as being Brooks’ ‘softest shoe’, the Glycerin is one of the most popular running shoes around, and for good reason. The Glycerin 20 is our favorite version of the shoe yet — Brooks has replaced the DNA Loft midsole foam with the DNA Loft V3, a lighter, poppier, nitrogen-infused midsole foam that Brooks first brought to market last year in the Aurora-BL.
During testing, we found that while it's definitely best suited for long, easy miles, the Glycerin 20 can still pick up the pace when you need it to. Available in a number of different sizes, the shoe also comes in the three different widths — medium (which is the standard), wide, and narrow, and a support version, which Brooks has named 'GTS'.
The main downside we found is that the Glycerin isn’t the cheapest everyday running shoe on this list, especially when it's not the most versatile. That said, if your goal is to get going, or get around the course, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable shoe to do this in.
Read our full Brooks Glycerin 20 review.
It’s a long-running myth in the shoe world that men’s and women’s running shoes are just different colors. The differences might not be obvious to the naked eye, but women’s shoes are designed for a woman’s foot, which is often smaller and narrower than a man’s. If we look at Brooks as an example, the standard size for women is a B width, whereas the standard for men is a D.
The Ghost 14 is a brilliant shoe for all genders, but we’ve given it the top spot for women here because of tweaks in the fitting to make it extremely comfortable, even on testers with higher arches. Brooks running shoes are known for being plush and comfortable, and the Ghost 14 ticks those boxes, especially on long runs. The Ghost 14 is also available in narrow, regular, wide, and extra-wide widths, which makes finding the perfect fit even easier.
Like the Glycerin 19, the Ghost 14 uses Brooks’ ‘DNA LOFT’ cushioning for a plush underfoot experience, but the Ghost is slightly firmer, making it better suited for shorter, faster running than the Glycerin. The Ghost is also $20 cheaper than the Glycerin, making it slightly more affordable.
If you’re looking for a classic stability shoe, you absolutely can’t go wrong with the Asics Gel Kayano. Designed for overpronators (runners whose feet collapse inwards when they run), the Gel Kayano has a stiff medial post that runs along the inside of the shoe to provide stability, as well as extra cushioning in the midsole to provide more arch support.
The 28th version of the Kayano is just as reliable as ever, but Asics has added gender-specific structural differences for more personalized support, as well as their FF blast mid foam for a smoother, snappier toe-off. Where previous versions of the Kayano felt heavy and cumbersome, this is a brilliantly responsive shoe that suits all distances.
It goes without saying not every runner will need this structured support in their shoe, so it’s a good idea to get your gait checked professionally at a running shop before investing. Asics also make a ‘lite’ version of the Kayano, for runners who only pronate slightly, or just need a little extra stability in the final miles of a race.
When Adidas released its first Ultraboost in February 2015, the running world went mad for the bouncy ‘Boost’ foam, which really did feel exciting underfoot. Seven years later, the Ultraboost is still one of Adidas’ most popular running shoes and it’s easy to see why: it’s a wonderfully comfortable shoe, that looks great and feels great underfoot.
The Ultraboost 22 has been designed by an all-female design team, for female runners. Adidas used scans from 1.2 million female feet to re-design its Ultraboost 21, giving the Ultraboost 22 a narrower heel, a lower instep, and an S-curve heel to allow the Achilles tendon to move more freely. For the men's version, there's not too much difference between the Ultraboost 21 and 22, however, it's still brilliantly bouncy, with a good amount of energy return underfoot.
The downside here is the weight: these are definitely one of the heavier shoes on this list, but unless you’re really trying to make the podium, this is unlikely to bother most runners.
Read our full Adidas Ultraboost 22 review here.
It doesn't get better than the Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 on race day. There's a reason why you'll see this shoe a LOT at every major road marathon — they are one of the most popular racing shoes around, and it's easy to see why. The ZoomX foam — the lightest and most responsive midsole Nike makes, plus there’s a full-length carbon fibre plate which helps for a faster toe-off. The shoe feels fast, it’s incredibly lightweight and fits true to size.
The drawback here, of course, is the price — these shoes are definitely an investment and one that might not actually last you for too many miles. While Nike doesn't give an exact figure, as a race day shoe, it's often thought that you won't get all that many miles out of these, so we wouldn't recommend them for your training miles. That said, if you can afford them and you're looking for a PR, you won't be disappointed.
Read our full Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 review.
The Saucony Peregrine is a classic when it comes to trail running. It's been around for years, and it's favored by many for it's reliability when running on uneven ground. The Peregrine 12 is no different, and the brand has made some changes to make the shoe more comfortable over longer distances.
Firstly, the Peregrine 12 is lighter than previous iterations of the shoe, "stripped down for blistering speeds", says Saucony. Despite being so lightweight underfoot, the shoe still has a good amount of Saucony's PWRRUN cushioning which is comfortable, although still harder than other trail shoes on the market, such as the Nike Pegasus Trail 3.
When it comes to trail running, the grip is the most important element, and the Peregrine 12 copes well on wet, slippery surfaces, as well as on mud. Saucony has added a protective rock plate to the Peregrine 12, and the shoe definitely feels more flexible than previous versions.
The downside here is that the narrow fit might not be suitable for all runners, although the shoe does come in a 'wide' version. We also found, during testing, that the tighter heel cup, designed to prevent the heel from slipping and to offer support on uneven ground, rubbed a little. It's worth wearing long socks with these shoes.
Read our best trail running shoes guide here.
The Cloudmonster sounds, and looks, a little silly, with its thick wedge of CloudTec. Monster by name and monster by nature, this shoe is huge, but it doesn’t feel it underfoot. Designed for easy runs and long training miles, On has gone for big energy return in its maximalist shoe.
The Cloudmonster is designed to feel cushioned underfoot with On’s latest cushioning material, called Helion. Made from a mix of two different foams (EVA and OBC), which still has a good amount of energy return. The midsole contains On’s CloudTech pods and On’s Speedboard, which is a thin, snappy, thermoplastic layer, designed to help for a faster toe-off. It's definitely more of a long-run shoe than a speed shoe, however.
Fit-wise, the shoe does come up pretty short in the foot, so if you're between sizes, you might want to size up to ensure you don't get any uncomfortable pinching at the toes. We also found during testing that the high stack height led to slight overpronation at the end of long runs, on tired legs, so we wouldn't recommend these for runners who usually wear a support shoe.
All in all, a brilliant easy run shoe for those ploddy miles when you want to get lost in the run.
Read our full On Cloudmonster review here.
Another reliable running shoe, the Saucony Ride 15 is similar in feel and price to the Brooks Ghost 14. It’s got a relatively hefty layer of Saucony’s PWRRUN cushioning, a breathable mesh upper and a tweaked fit to ensure it cradles the foot on the run. It’s a comfortable, reliable workhorse, that will get you from A to B comfortably, whatever speed you decide to travel.
Compared to previous iterations of the shoe, the Ride 15 has a lighter, more breathable upper, which stops your feet from feeling too hot and sweaty as the temperature rises. It’s also lighter than previous versions of the shoe, which is always a good thing, as Saucony has made some tweaks to the PWRRUN cushioning, making it lighter, while still being as responsive.
Sure, it’s not the most exciting-looking shoe on the planet, but if you’re looking for a reliable shoe that offers a good amount of comfort on long runs and snap during faster sessions, the Ride 15 is a good choice.
What to look for in the best running shoes
When it comes to finding the best pair of running shoes for you, there are a few different things to consider. Firstly, how you run. Before investing in a pair of shoes, it's a good idea to head to a running store and have your gait checked. If you overpronate dramatically, you might be better off in a stability shoe to prevent injury.
Secondly, where you plan on running. If you're planning on doing most of your miles on the pavements around your neighbourhood, you'll want a road shoe that's designed to help cope with the impact. If you're hoping to go off exploring in the trails, you'll want a trail shoe with an outsole designed to be grippy on rocky, muddy and wet terrains. If it's a PB you're after, you're likely to want a racing shoe, which will have various features designed to get you a fast finish, for example carbon fibre plates and snappy, reactive midsoles.
Lastly, how often you run. A marathon runner will have different requirements when shopping for running shoes than a runner who clocks the odd 5K. If running isn't really your thing, it's just something you do in the gym now and again, you'll probably want a more affordable shoe.
How we test the best running shoes
Quite simply, we run in them! While finding the best running shoes for your feet and running style is a personal choice, we've been testing the market's most popular shoes for the past few years, so we know what we're looking for.
When we test shoes, we'll typically run at least 20 miles in them before making our minds up. We're looking at how the shoe performs on different running surfaces, as well as how well it copes with different sessions - some shoes will be great on a long run, but feel heavy during a speed session. We also look at the size and fit of each shoe and anything that makes the shoe particularly impressive, such as carbon fibre plates, or ultra-lightweight midsole foams.