Soft doesn’t have to be sluggish.
Soft doesn’t have to be sluggish. (Dustin Sammann)

The Best Fat Shoes of 2018

Eight foam hogs that know how to boogie

Soft doesn’t have to be sluggish.
Dustin Sammann

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These eight shoes show soft doesn’t have to be sluggish.

Salomon Sonic RA Max ($130)

(Courtesy Salomon)

This heavily cushioned trainer is the most sophisticated road shoe we’ve seen from the French trail-running juggernaut. Meaty and damp, the Sonic was a hit with heel strikers and a favorite for pleasure cruises and recovery days. It has a few quirks (notably the slightly abrasive heel collar) and a chunkier ride. 9.3 oz (men’s) / 8.3 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop

Men's Women's

Adidas Aerobounce ST ($110)

(Courtesy Adidas)

This baby’s got back! While the Aerobounce has a moderately cushioned forefoot for a responsive toe-off, the heel is a bottomless cradle of bouncy foam. Fun and carefree, it’s billed as a stability shoe, though the medial post has a slight bit of pronation control. Best for unrepentant heel strikers who want to jog, not slog. 11 oz (men’s) / 8.7 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop 

Men's Women's

Brooks Levitate ($150)

(Courtesy Brooks)

Are traditional running shoes more your jam? Brooks’s responsive new DNA Amp foam puts some caffeine into this cruisey, mid-thick trainer. The extra structure allows for blissful, long-range comfort—though the trade-off is a few more ounces and a slower turnover. Still, for everyday support with some spring, the Levitate was a test-team winner. 11.2 oz (men’s) / 9.2 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v8 ($150)

(Courtesy New Balance)

Credit New Balance for creating the most balanced shoe of the lot. With a moderate stack of foam in both the toe and heel, the latest 1080 caters to wide-footed midfoot strikers who are accustomed to classic trainers but want a little more comfort in their step. Testers dinged it for a general lack of energy and pop, though. 11 oz (men’s) / 9.7 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's  Women's

Altra Duo $130

(Courtesy Altra)

Heel pounders, look away. Like all Altras, which have zero drop, this light speedster is decidedly limited to midfoot strikers. The fit is wide and high volume—cavernously so in the forefoot—and the ride is quick, responsive, and single-malt smooth. Think of it as a mid-fattie with race-car genes, though given its sparse padding in the heel and tongue, the interior is decidedly spartan. 8.7 oz (men’s) / 7.4 oz (women’s); zero drop

Men's  Women's

Saucony Triumph ISO 4 ($160)

(Courtesy Saucony)

The Triumph dials up the soft to 11. Without overdoing the thickness of the foam, this flexy, mellow cruiser takes all trace of sting out of the pavement and pampers the ride with a swollen tongue and a set of detached overlays that give the upper a slipper-like feel. If easygoing were an art form, this would be a masterpiece. Best for midfoot strikers who prefer less structure. 10.8 oz (men’s) / 9.4 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's  Women's

Under Armour Hovr Sonic CT ($110)

(Courtesy Under Armour)

The coolest thing about the Hovr Sonic is its ability to pair with the Map My Run app, letting you ditch your phone while still tracking pace, distance, time, and less common metrics like cadence and stride length. The stretchy mesh upper lends a casual comfort to this moderately thick, quick, and firm trainer. That said, it isn’t the smoothest ride here. 9.6 oz (men’s) / 6.7 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's  Women's

Nike Epic React ($150)

Soft doesn’t have to be sluggish. Proof in point: Nike’s new Epic React—one of the best new shoes of the year—has deep cushioning in the heel and a highly energetic, bouncy ride made for fast, low-impact runs. It’s all courtesy of a new springy blend of foam, an extremely low weight, and a snug mesh-bootie upper. The nine-millimeter drop caters slightly to the heel-striking set. 8.5 oz (men’s) / 6.9 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop

Men's  Women's

From Outside Magazine, April 2018 Lead Photo: Dustin Sammann

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