The 6 Best Road Running Shoes of 2013

(Lucas Zarebinski)

Saucony Kinvara 4

BEST FOR: Midfooters seeking cushioning

The Kinvara has the natural, flat-footed feel of an aggressive minimalist shoe, but when you land it’s pillowy soft. That’s because a thin but effective belt of padding runs along the midfoot. Combine that with its nearly structureless upper and you get a shoe that’s race-flat light but still hardy enough to handle long training-day runs. 7.7 oz

Brooks Ghost 6

Brooks Ghost 6
Brooks Ghost 6 (Lucas Zarebinski)

BEST FOR: Heel strikers

There’s a reason runners have traditionally preferred high-heeled kicks to minimalist shoes—they feel better. The Ghost features a veritable mountain of foam in the heel (24 millimeters worth), lugs that soften the blow by splaying outward on each landing, and couchlike padding around the tongue. That mix makes it the most shock-absorbing shoe here. The trade-off is that it has the least natural feel. 10.7 oz

Merrell Road Glove

Merrell Road Glove
Merrell Road Glove (Lucas Zarebinski)

BEST FOR: Barefooters

The Road Glove is a moccasin with a Vibram sole. The foam is only four millimeters thick, and the ground feels slap-you-back hard, which all but forces you to run gingerly, and with perfect form: you don’t want to jump to this shoe straight from a traditional one, but ease into it and you’ll develop freakish foot strength. 7 oz

Asics Gel Nimbus 15

Asics Gel Nimbus 15
Asics Gel Nimbus 15 (Lucas Zarebinski)

BEST FOR: Seekers of a more natural stride

This is a traditional running shoe—stable, stoutly supportive, and a bit heavy—but with a heel that’s flatter than the Brooks by just a few millimeters. That gently pushes runners to land on their midfoot. But if your form starts to slip, don’t worry too much. ASICS added ample foam beneath the heel to buffer the impact of strikes. 11.5 oz

New Balance 870V3

New Balance 870V3
New Balance 870V3 (Lucas Zarebinski)

BEST FOR: Minimalist rookies

The 870v3 retains the comfort and mild stability of a traditional running shoe—thick tongue, soft foam, plastic arch support—but its heel is two millimeters lower than the ASICS. The result is a shoe that makes both midfoot and heel running not only possible but impressively comfortable. 9.8 oz

Newton Distance S

Newton Distance S
Newton Distance S (Lucas Zarebinski)

BEST FOR: Light-and-fasters

The Distance S was the fastest shoe in our test by a long shot. There’s just enough foam to take the sting out of cement without adding weight or stealing from its natural-striding feel. It’s nearly flat underfoot (the heel is just two millimeters higher than the forefoot), so ease into it—and expect extra strain on your Achilles tendon while you’re breaking yourself in. 8.4 oz

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