(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Road Running Shoes of 2020

Kicks to sustain your toughest blacktop efforts


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Altra Provision 4 ($130)

(Courtesy Altra)

The best stability shoes shed weight and run smooth without a lot of extra foam and plastic, but they’re usually clunkier than their neutral counterparts. Altra’s new Provision 4 changes that. What’s unique: a panel of laminated, perforated (read: breathable) foam that runs underneath the entire footbed and connects to a trio of TPU straps that wrap around the arch to the laces on the medial side. When your foot rolls inward, the straps catch and support it. When you’re not pronating, they’re barely noticeable and the shoe runs neutral. Testers said the Provision feels “remarkably smooth,” with an impressive balance of cushion and flex. That engage-as-needed support system makes for an exceptionally comfortable ride. It’s a great choice for neutral runners whose feet collapse inward when they’re tired and for chronic pronators who’ve had their fill of bulky shoes. 10.2 oz (men’s) / 8.3 oz (women’s); zero drop

Men's Women's

Hoka One One Mach 3 ($140)

Road running shoes
(Courtesy Hoka)

Best for Up-Tempo Days

The original Mach wowed us with its ­peppy but forgiving ride, winning our 2018 Gear of the Year award. Two iterations later, it’s better than ever. Just don’t expect the ultra-plush midsole that Hoka is famous for. This mid-fat, ­low-stack-height speedster is perhaps Hoka’s firmest-riding shoe­­­—not necessarily a bad thing. “It’s got pop and bounce to it, ideal for higher-paced runs,” a tester said. The improved knit upper, now engineered for increased support without bulk, is simple and unobtrusive, and it ­securely locks in the foot. Testers’ biggest complaint? The forefoot can feel a little restrictive. 8.6 oz (men’s) / 7.1 oz (­women’s); 5 mm drop

Men's Women's

Nike React Infinity Run ($160)

Road running shoes
(Courtesy Nike)

Best Light Stability Shoe

With its uncharacteristically cushioned feel, stable shape, and subtle support, the React Infinity appeals equally to neutral- and stability-shoe lovers, and it quickly became our go-to trainer for everything but speed runs. Underfoot, it features Nike’s most durable foam in an hourglass footprint that flares out at the forefoot and heel, offering exceptional comfort and stability that’s not over­bearing. That’s bolstered by a thin TPU strip ­encompassing the rear foot and a semi-firm heel counter to keep everything in place. Be forewarned: despite appear­ances, the React infinity isn’t a particularly fast shoe. 10.3 oz (men’s) / 8 oz (women’s); 9 mm drop

Men's Women's

Under Armour Hovr Machina ($150)

Road running shoes
(Courtesy Under Armour)

Best for Data Hounds

From the propulsive forefoot plate, made of a carbon-filled ­thermoplastic polymer, to the Bluetooth-enabled chip, which allows UA’s app to send you ­real-time coaching feedback based on stride mechanics, the all-new Hovr Machina had our tech-minded testers head over heels in love. Under Armour’s premium midsole uses a proprietary foam infused with a synthetic material called olefin; the result is so energetic that we felt like we were indeed above the concrete. Despite the slightly stiff mesh upper, the Machina is a top-performing everyday training shoe with a techy twist. 10.4 oz (men’s) / 8.7 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

Salomon Sonic 3 Balance ($130)

Road running shoes
(Courtesy Salomon)

Best for Variable Training

Long distance, tempo, even dirt—this shoe can do it all. Its new midsole, made up of a high-rebound foam atop a more cushioned layer, is meant to reduce vibration and increase shock absorption. The combination runs a little firm, which we actually liked. “You don’t worry about sinking in and losing energy,” one tester said. Runners with feet of all shapes raved about the streamlined mesh upper’s fit and comfort. Those factors, plus a full-rubber outsole, means that the Sonic 3 can handle mild trails, too. 8.9 oz (men’s) / 7.6 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

Skechers Gorun Maxroad 4 Hyper ($130)

(Courtesy Skechers)

Most Comfortable

Skechers’ Hyper Burst cushioning, which is resilient and durable, thanks to a special CO2-heating process, helped the brand win Gear of the Year in 2019. Now it’s back, this time in a distance shoe that offers an amazing cush-to-weight ratio. We marveled at how the Maxroad seemed to render pavement and concrete less jarring. “Bouncy!” “Springy!” testers exclaimed. It’s also flexible, with durable outsole rubber only on parts of the shoe that make contact with the ground, like the heel and toe, while the rest is recessed, exposed midsole. The stretchy knit upper and socklike heel collar proved comfy, if a bit loose on narrow feet, so we’d limit these to straightforward road runs. 8.4 oz (men’s) / 6.3 oz (women’s); 6 mm drop

Men's Women's

New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo ($110)

(Courtesy New Balance)

Best for Speed Runs

The Tempo features one of our favorite New Balance midsoles, Fresh Foam, which uses small convex and concave hexagons to offer a soft, shock-absorbing, yet springy ride. Testers raved that it ran “super fast but didn’t feel like a racing flat, because of the great cushioning.” (The Tempo offers more flexibility and affords better ground-feel than the also speedy Hoka.) Bootie construction and embroidered stitching on the breathable upper around the midfoot lock you in for further fleet-footedness. This will be our go-to summer speed trainer. 9.6 oz (men’s) / 8.4 oz (women’s); 6 mm drop

Men's Women's

From Summer 2020 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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