(Inga Hendrickson)
2019 Summer Buyer's Guide

The Best Road Running Shoes of 2019

Seven supremely capable shoes for the pavement


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Skechers Performance GoRun 7 Hyper ($130)

(Courtesy Skechers)

Here’s a true zero-to-hero story. Last year the Skechers GoRun barely got our attention. One model later, our testers won’t take them off their feet. What changed? It’s a more versatile shoe, balancing soft cushioning for recovery days with plenty of pop and energy for tempo runs. Skechers hit a gold mine with its new midsole compound, called Hyper Burst. Using a proprietary, mechanically blown process, the brand lightened up the foam by 15 percent while increasing durability over its previous midsole. As one tester put it, “Whatever deal with the devil Skechers had to strike was worth it. This midsole has a ton of energy and zing. The Hyper Burst foam is soft to the touch but doesn’t feel mushy.” Underfoot, severe rocker slings mid- or forefoot strikers with each stride. The knit upper is so cozy that one tester said, “If my slippers were running shoes, this is what they would feel like.” Don’t let the bland aesthetics fool you: Skechers is the undis­puted champion with this GoRun. 7.8 oz (men’s) / 6.1 oz (women’s); 4 mm drop

Men's Women's

On Running Cloudsurfer ($150)

(Courtesy On Running)

Best Racer

From the Swiss company that patented the CloudTec system—funky rubber pods that compress when you step and release on toe-off—comes the fast-feeling Cloudsurfer. This shoe runs lighter than it is. Testers loved that it was “responsive yet cushioned,” with a “snappy feel.” Smooth transitions, a secure fit around the heel, and traction on wet surfaces (the new zigzag pattern on each outsole pod is a winner) inspired us to pick up the pace. Long-haul comfort comes from the pliable engineered-mesh upper and two layers of EVA foam. Note: small rocks tend to get lodged between the pods, so keep this shoe on the road. 11.6 oz (men’s) / 9.3 oz (women’s); 6 mm drop

Men's Women's

Brooks Glycerin 17 ($150)

(Courtesy Brooks)

Most Cushioned

We’ll admit, words like cushy, responsive, and smooth have become a bit cliché. (We’ll also cop to overusing them.) But the Glycerin 17 raises the standard by which all other maximalist shoes should be judged. As one tester put it, this shoe is “cushioned to perfection.” The magic is in the midsole—a mixture of EVA, rubber, and air called DNA Loft. Rubber boosts the EVA’s longevity, while air reduces weight, giving “a soft ride and a light bounce that keep you comfortable,” as one tester put it. From recovery runs to long outings, this high-mileage workhorse’s pillowy landings and efficient transitions left us grinning. 10.6 oz (men’s) / 9.2 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop

Men's Women's

ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 24 ($130)

(Courtesy Asics)

Best Speedster for Large Runners

The Gel-DS Trainer has long been a go-to for those who like to run fast but need some stability. It’s always been lightweight, sleek, and semi-firm, but this year the fit gets amazing: it’s the first ASICS shoe to join the knit-upper revolution. And we dig it. Testers said it was breathable and accommodating, though it took a couple of runs to break in. The firm midsole and solid traction—thanks to small lugs made with ASICS’s high-abrasion rubber—add to the agile ride, most noticeably in tight turns and while accelerating. A low-volume shoe with a secure heel, the Gel-DS Trainer makes you feel locked, loaded, and ready to fly. 8.7 oz (men’s) / 7.1 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

Hoka One One Arahi 3 ($130)

(Courtesy Hoka One One)

Most Supportive

Running shoes used to have to sacrifice weight and cushion for stability. When it debuted in 2017, the Arahi challenged that status quo. The third iteration continues the original’s trend-bucking ways—weighing eight ounces for women and under ten for men, it’s one of the lightest stability shoes on the market. Hoka gave the upper new life by removing the overlays and softening the mesh, resulting in a much airier, more comfortable feel. On the road, the Arahi’s thick stack and wide waist produce a steady ride. The downside, as one neutral-footed tester noted, is that the extreme girth felt somewhat clunky and blocky. 9.6 oz (men’s) / 8 oz (women’s); 5 mm drop

Men's Women's

Salomon Sonic RA 2 ($130)

(Courtesy Salomon)

Best for Lightweight Stability

Some shoes need a little love to reveal their true colors. The Sonic RA is one of them. Testers found it stiff out of the box, with a firm ride. But after a few outings, the Energycell Plus midsole came alive; testers able to produce enough force to flex the forefoot during toe-off were rewarded with a propulsive spring forward. Slimmer runners may struggle to get the same result. The new upper—seamless engineered mesh—is a welcome change. Overall, this is a scrappy lightweight that can take a beating, and one of the most durable of our test. “A good midrange shoe with comfort, support, and stability,” said one tester. 9.2 oz (men’s) / 7.8 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

New Balance 1080v9 ($150)

(Courtesy New Balance)

Best for All-Day Comfort

Yes, this is a supremely cushioned neutral shoe, but the lack of medial post or targeted structure would usually scare off anyone needing stability. So we were pleasantly surprised by the 1080v9’s steadiness. We chalk it up to the shoe’s new 3-D-molded heel collar, an engineered-mesh upper that wraps securely around the arch for a supportive fit, and a broad midsole and outsole base under the forefoot. And the cush? The ninth iteration of this shoe boasts full-length New Balance Fresh Foam, a midsole testers called “springy” and “speed inspiring.” The 1080v9 was so comfy that we found excuses to wear it just walking around. 10.4 oz (men’s) / 8.9 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

From Summer 2019 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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