Spring Forward: The 6 Best Road Runners

Put some bounce in your step with the season's best road running shoes.

May 6, 2015
Outside Magazine

No matter what the road ahead holds, you can find the right shoe to fit your needs in this season's collection.    Photo: Inga Hendrickson

These six shoes—designed for everything from quick sprints to long miles—will help you kick start your season this spring. 

Best For: Going Fast

  Photo: Skechers

Skechers GoRun 4 ($100) 

A flexible minimalist with a thin slate of foam protection, the GoRun 4 is a radically light (7.8 ounces) trainer catering to efficient, soft-landing midfoot strikers. The foam isn’t especially responsive on push-off, but the shoe is still animated enough to move quickly on speed days. The extremely roomy forefoot makes it a great pick for wider feet. One odd design quirk: the sock liner is narrower than the midsole, so your forefoot feels like it’s hanging over the sides, but it’s hardly noticeable after a few miles. 7.8 oz; 4 mm drop; skechers.com

Best For: Logging Miles

  Photo: Nike

Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 ($150)

No question—the updated Flyknit Lunar is the best shoe of the year, especially for putting in long days. Dropping a full ounce since the last iteration, it delivers a dynamic, heel-oriented ride with a lot more zip, blending the deep cushioning of a comfort shoe with the efficient push-off and quick turnover of a light trainer. And there’s no mistaking the incredible feel of the stretchy mesh upper, which is knit as a single piece of fabric and fits like a compression sock. 7.9 oz; 10 mm drop; nike.com

Best For: Speed Work

  Photo: Under Armour

Under Armour Speedform Gemini ($130) 

If you still associate Under Armour with gym shoes, that needs to change. The Gemini surprised our testers with its liveliness and secure fit. It’s a firm and energetic trainer with a mild heel strike that can get you to your marathon pr and keep you moving quickly on shorter training days. Snug and narrow, the upper is built with a mesh material that molds to your foot for superior comfort. Our main hang-up: the toe box is unusually thin. 8.5 oz; 8mm drop; underarmour.com

Best For: Easy Cruising

  Photo: ASICS

ASICS GT-2000 3 ($120)

If all you crave is comfort, look no further. The GT-2000 reminds us of the things we loved about shoes before the minimalist storm—deep cushioning, a stable and stoutly supportive upper (with classic stitched overlays), a thickly padded heel collar, full-coverage rubber for enhanced durability, and a nice relaxed feel. This is assuredly the slowest shoe in our test, but it’s one that welcomes wider feet, moderate heel strikers, and light pronators. Flashy? trendy? neither. But it’s a nice antidote to the insubstantial feel of many lightweight trainers. 10.7 oz; 10 mm drop; asicsamerica.com

Best For: Extra Comfort

  Photo: New Balance

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante ($100)

Yes, the Zante’s midsole still boasts a significant slab of soft, spongy foam, but New Balance ditched all non-critical components in the upper, shaving weight while keeping only a full-coverage, blown-rubber outsole for durability. That means the shoe whips quickly through strides and soaks up a ton of energy on impact, making it plush and protective, if a bit sluggish. With its flexy lack of structure, the Zante performs best during shorter efforts and definitely caters to narrow feet and moderate heel strikers. 7.6 oz; 6 mm drop; newbalance.com

Best For: Maximum Pop

  Photo: Adidas

Adidas Ultra Boost ($180) 

Adidas has finally gone big with its bouncy Ultra Boost. The midsole has 20 percent more foam than any other Boost shoe the company makes. And the feel? Like riding on rubbery marshmallows—slow and blissfully smooth (albeit a wee bit wobbly on all that foam). The stretch-bootie upper eliminates pressure points around the forefoot, and a set of floating overlays clamp down securely around the midsole for a snug, locked-in fit. Great for heavier landers and comfort junkies. 10.9 oz; 10 mm drop; adidas.com

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