There is a great divide among runners: those who pick their shoes for speed and those who choose for comfort. The firmer and thinner the midsole, the faster and more efficient a shoe will be, but the harder it will be on your feet. The softer the midsole and the more supportive the shoe, the better your legs will feel—at great cost to your pace. Or so we thought. Today’s most innovative footwear has been developed at the intersection of these conflicting design principles. Every shoe our team selected this year found a new, refreshing balance in the yin and yang of rush and plush. And no shoe traversed that divide better than Nike’s Pegasus, now in its 33rd year, with equal doses of speed and comfort that no other contender could match.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Running Shoe
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Running Shoe (Nike)

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32

Gear of the Year

It’s hard to decide if this is a speed shoe for the masses or a training shoe for the fleet of foot. That’s a great sign. Pliant, light, and soft, it immediately wooed faster runners looking for a responsive, tempo-ready shoe, as well as our cruise-minded testers, who appreciated the soft foam and moderately heel-strike-oriented midsole. But it was the new, customizable fit of the mesh upper that sold us. The Pegasus uses a lattice of overlapping cables that independently apply tension to keep almost any foot shape locked in place. Where this shoe hit its limits was on longer outings and under heavier loads—the flexy forefoot and thin midsole can feel under-structured for tired feet or bigger runners. But on most days, this is as good as a lightweight trainer gets. 10.8 oz; 10 mm drop

Price $110 Comfort 5  Speed 4.5

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(New Balance)

New Balance Vazee Pace

Best For: Going fast and long. 
The Test: “These shoes are absolutely amazing,” said one tester after several long runs. “Lightweight, and incredible fit.” Equal parts feathery racing shoe and stable, midfoot-striking trainer, the Vazee was one of the more impressive new entries of the year—an extremely responsive ride that still feels steady and supportive on longer hauls. We loved the second-skin fit, nicely padded tongue, and flexy heel counter. Heavier landers and less-efficient runners might find the foam a bit thin, but most of our team thought there was enough squish to sap road sting. 
The Verdict: A great-fitting shoe for faster and efficiency-minded runners. 7.5 oz; 6 mm drop

Price $110 Comfort 4.5  Speed 5

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Mizuno Wave Enigma 5

Best For: A bit of pop in your long-haul truckers. 
The Test: The Enigma is a workhorse—a durable, high-mileage comfort shoe with a heel-strike-oriented midsole, good structure, and a forgiving feel. “Plush and just plain easy to wear,” one tester said. A shoe-length plastic plate gives the narrow-fitting Enigma considerably more responsiveness than its foamy cousins (although it loses some smoothness in the transition from heel strike to midstance). We loved the snug fit, thick tongue, and stretchy laces. While it’s by no means a slow shoe, you’ll want something else for sprint days. 
The Verdict: Our favorite high-mileage trainer this year. 10.9 oz; 12 mm drop

Price $150 Comfort 4  Speed 3.5

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Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8

Best For: Cruising in comfort. 
The Test: Like a good summer blockbuster, the Sequence Boost is going for mass appeal. It has what most runners look for in a traditional trainer: a secure and structured upper, generous padding around the tongue and heel, and a roomy toe box. The midsole is half EVA foam and half Adidas’s soft, springy Boost material, creating a damp, almost sluggish ride. A few plastic structural pieces in the midfoot and medial heel add stability. While the Sequence Boost pays a bit of a weight penalty, we still loved it for going long. 
The Verdict: A dependable, confidence-inspiring shoe if you’re happy taking it easy. 11.9 oz; 10 mm drop

Price $130 Comfort 4  Speed 3.5

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(The North Face)

The North Face Ultra MT 

Best For: Technical running. 
The Test: This shoe has the DNA of a mountain goat. With five-millimeter lugs for bite in loose turf, a sticky Vibram outsole, and an exceptionally secure fit, the Ultra MT was born to motor over gnarly trails. The heel is firm and thick enough to blunt the pain of hard landings and long outings, while the forefoot is thin, fast, and responsive on variable terrain. Chief quibbles: the slender laces quickly go from loose to too tight, and the thin tongue can rub on high insteps. Wide and weird feet beware, the fit is not all that forgiving. 
The Verdict: A true top-caliber mountain runner without much of a lazy streak. 10.4 oz; 8 mm drop

Price $130 Comfort 4  Speed 4.5

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Vasque Pendulum II

Best For: All-condition cruising.
The Test: The Pendulum settles halfway between the minimalist and maximalist camps. It has the moderately toothy outsole, protective rock plate, and fairly thick and firm midsole of a muscular trail shoe, but a pared-back upper and six millimeters of drop keep the stride natural. Multiple testers noted the secure, locked-in midfoot. “Sticks to you with no tight spots or sloshing,” one said. Still, the Pendulum is rather roomy, so it’s best for wide feet or thick socks. Bonus: the midsize lugs make muck runs a breeze. 
The Verdict: A highly versatile, protective winter runner that doesn’t overdo anything. 10.2 oz; 6 mm drop

Price $120 Comfort 4.5  Speed 3.5

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Hoka Speedgoat 

Best For: Soft. Soft. Soft. 
The Test: Imagine running on Wonder Bread. With 33 millimeters of foam in the heel and 28 in the forefoot, each step sinks into virtually bottomless mush. It’s billed as a race shoe for technical routes, but we found the midsole too high off the trail and the light upper too unstructured to speed over rocky terrain. While the flat-tire feel saps forward energy, it’s a lifesaver on epic days and punishing downhills, and the turnover is still pretty quick. Said one tester, “The most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn on-trail. Period.” 
The Verdict: The leg-saving float of your dreams, but steer clear of turbulence. 9.7 oz; 5 mm drop

Price $140 Comfort 5  Speed 4

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Altra Lone Peak Neoshell 

Best For: Staying dry. 
The Test: The Lone Peak’s coolest feature is its upper, a highly breathable Polartec Neoshell waterproof barrier (instead of the usual Gore-Tex insert) that prevents snowmelt from soaking the body and weighing it down. Beyond that our team was split. Some testers praised the minimalist ride—the soft, zero-drop midsole has a natural “house-slipper feel,” as one tester put it. Others lampooned the ultra-high-volume forefoot and zero-structure upper. 
The Verdict: A minimalist, waterproof cruiser without the road slap, but the design feels a bit undercooked. 11.5 oz; zero drop

Price $150 Comfort 3  Speed 3.5

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Merrell All Out Terra Ice Waterproof

Best For: Frozen trails and roads. 
The Test: The nine carbide-tipped spikes in the sole of the All Out Terra Ice offer amazingly confident purchase even on glare ice, and the waterproof upper made this shoe a standout on packed snow. The nicely padded tongue and comfortable midsole make for a warm ride, although its nearly 13 ounces of heft slows the turnover a bit. One obvious quirk: the loose heel gave an unusually insecure rear-foot fit—a strange feeling but not a deal breaker. 
The Verdict: A winter warrior that will rescue much of your cold-weather running. 12.8 oz; 6 mm drop

Price $180 Comfort 4.5  Speed 4

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Brooks Adrenaline ASR 12 GTX

Best For: Easy winter days. 
The Test: The Adrenaline is an emphatic traditionalist. With thick overlays and a plush upper, it was a go-to for our heavier runners and moderate pronators who crave stability, comfort, and high-mileage support without the weight penalty. On inclement days, the Gore-Tex upper and tightly packed lugs made it an excellent crossover shoe. While the thick, moderately firm midsole is responsive, the shoe is a bit slow. Note the 12-millimeter drop, which steers the Adrenaline toward heel strikers. 
The Verdict: A steady, versatile workhorse for nasty conditions. 11.8 oz; 12 mm drop

Price $150 Comfort 4.5  Speed 3

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The Best Fat Bikes of 2016

Once a novelty built just for snow and sand, fatties are diversifying and growing up. This year, we tested a crop of impressive newcomers so capable and versatile that the idea of investing in a one-quiver fat bike doesn't seem so far-fetched after all. (Specialized) Specialized S-Works Fatboy Carbon Best For: Fat Bikers in Skin Suits The Fatboy feels as if it came straight from Specialized’s road-racing department. It’s made from snappy molded carbon, and the cables are all routed internally. At just 23 pounds, it’s lighter than most hardtails with tires less than half the size of its 4.6-inch-wide treads. The

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The Best Fuel of 2016

Fuel up for the slopes and the trails with these six tasty, healthy snacks. (Munk Pack) Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze Squeeze packs are hot right now. But while most taste like a smoothie gone awry, this one blends fruit and oats into a satisfying treat. It didn’t freeze during a winter camping trip at 12,000 feet, though 100 calories per pack meant we had to eat four at a time.  Price $2.50 (Ally's Bar) Ally’s Bar  Made from sweet potatoes and dates, Ally’s Bars provide both immediate juice and a long-lasting IV drip of mojo. Our only complaint: just one

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The Best Winter Hikers of 2016

This year, boots get lighter, stronger, warmer, and more versatile. The following kicks are ready for everything from a fast-and-light summit bid to hitting the streets of Aspen at night. (Hoka) Hoka Tor Ultra Hi WP Best For: Moving Fast The rockered Tor Ultra looks like a midcut waterproof hiker but feels like a running shoe with ankle support. Hoka balanced the plush cushioning with a deep, stable heel pocket. The leather and nylon-mesh upper isn’t insulated, but the boot’s waterproof eVent liner did a good job keeping out snow.  Price $230 (Keen) Keen Durand Polar Best For: Big

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The Indoor Training Essentials of 2016

Enter the pain cave with the right gear, and the subsequent sufferfest can actually be fun. We promise. Here's what you need to get through the winter in shape and ready to crush come spring race season. (Bkool) Bkool Smart Pro trainer The cyclist’s answer to the Wii, the Bkool lets you ride more than 500,000 routes, in video view or with computer-generated 3-D graphics, while your home computer adjusts the resistance to match the visuals. The $15 monthly subscription includes a virtual competition option for real-time racing against up to 100 other Bkool users worldwide.  Price $700 (CycleOps) CycleOps

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The Best Snowshoes of 2016

This year's best snowshoes offer more float and less weight to make it easier than ever to head for the hills. (Fimbulvetr) Fimbulvetr Rangr Best For: Deep Powder Designed in Norway, the Rangr has about 50 percent more float than any other shoe we tested. Credit the 11-inch-wide molded-plastic deck, which is reminiscent of the wood and gut snowshoes trappers used to wear. “On mellow grades in deep snow, they’re the best shoe you can buy,” said one tester. The simple webbing-and-plastic binding is easy to use and extremely durable, but on steep inclines we wanted a heel crampon for better purchase.

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The Home Gym Essentials of 2016

Train your way through the dark months with these nine pain-cave essentials.  (Outdoor Voices) Outdoor Voices Runningman sweatpants The spandex blend and sharp tailoring make the Runningman perfect for yoga, the climbing gym, or brunch.  Price $100 (STI) STI RumbleRoller foam roller The RumbleRoller looks like a medieval torture device, and it’s indeed about as aggressive as foam rollers come. Use it to improve blood flow on recovery days.  Price $70 (Beastmaker) Beastmaker 1000 Series hang board A hang board is the perfect tool to get world-destroying fingers. The Beastmaker’s two huge jugs are placed for pull-ups, knee raises,

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The Best Women’s Winter Workout Gear of 2016

Sure, we want workout wear that moves and breathes well. But it should also look good, feel even better, and transition smoothly from the gym to the office. The following nine pieces check all those boxes.   (The North Face) The North Face Dyvinity jacket  Finding the perfect winter training layer is tough: too heavy and you’ll overheat, too light and you’ll freeze. The Dyvinity nails the middle ground. Soft-shell material in the body and hood blocks wind, while knit fabric in the sleeves and along the sides allows for mobility.  Price $160 (Terramar) Terramar ATP Crew Hiker socks  Mesh vent panels and

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The Best Women's Running Shoes of 2016

The verdict is in: We don't care about the minimalist craze. Or the maximalist craze. Companies are wising up and the result is more good shoes, with just the right amount of cushioning, to pick from than ever before. Here are six of our favorites. (Saucony) Saucony Nomad TR  Trail The standout feature of this flexible road-trail hybrid is the array of low, coffin-shaped lugs on the outsole, which roll smoothly on pavement or packed earth. Supple and smooth, the Nomad felt most at home on drier surfaces but was secure in most conditions despite the roomy last. 8.1 oz; 4 mm drop Price

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