(Charles Dustin Sammann)

The Best Running Shoes of 2019


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Planning to pound out winter miles? Turn to these.

(Courtesy Brooks)

Brooks Bedlam ($150)

Supportive road shoes can feel stiff and bullying, lacking that peppy, cushioned ride neutral runners with good form get from their footwear. Now there’s the Bedlam, the perfect marriage of a stable platform with soft, energetic cushioning. What struck a chord with testers was the shoe’s ability to guide overpronators (and neutral runners who pronate when tired) softly into correction without the need for a medial post or other stifling structural features. Heel to toe, the support feels natural, never overbearing. The secret is a thin film of thermoplastic that encapsulates the polyurethane midsole to keep it from squishing too much and bottoming out. That simple ingredient gives the Bedlam a surprising amount of energy with every step. We love how the one-piece knit upper tightened evenly around all types of feet, with firm anchoring provided by the asymmetrical tongue. Bottom line: runners who crave support no longer need to be envious of all the cushioned fun their neutral-footed counterparts enjoy. The Bedlam made us feel secure without suffocating, and it inspired forward momentum, as any good partner should. 11.2 oz (men’s) / 9.9 oz (women’s, pictured); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy New Balance)

New Balance FuelCell Impulse ($120)

Best Featherweight

We expected the FuelCell Impulse to in-spire speed, given that it was the lightest shoe in our test and comes fitted with New Balance’s fast-rebounding nitrogen-injected foam under the forefoot. And it delivered. Toeing off felt particularly propulsive; the foam worked as advertised, providing a hyper-responsive ride. The minimal knit upper and bootie add to the racy vibe—the shoe feels almost like a sock fused with a springy platform. But we had to adjust the laces just right for a suitable fit, otherwise the ride got sloppy. 8.1 oz (men’s) / 6.7 oz (women’s, pictured); 6 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy Nike)

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 ($120)

Best for Cruising

The Pegasus proves age ain’t nothing but a number. Now 35 years in, Nike’s eldest running shoe is sweeter than ever. That’s due in large part to design elements taken from Nike’s illustrious Zoom Vaporfly 4 Percent and its curved carbon-fiber plate. The midsole of the Pegasus is snappy, aided by an eye-catching beveled heel and slight rocker—transitions were easygoing and effortless. Cushion junkies should approach with caution. One tester found the firm midsole reminiscent of a racing flat. Still, there was across-the-board praise for its silky ride at any speed. The women’s version packs slightly softer foam than the men’s. 9.9 oz (men’s, pictured) / 8.2 oz (women’s); 10 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy Under Armour)

Under Armour Hovr Coldgear Reactor Mid ($140)

Best Insulated

Let’s face it—wet, frigid feet are a total drag. Suffer no more with this high-tech cold killer. The water-resistant outer layer is tough as nails and shrugs off foul weather. And the high-top, elastic-knit collar traps heat for toaster-like warmth while ensuring moisture stays out. Any downside to all that weatherizing? A tight fit—enough that you might want to consider sizing up. Underfoot it’s smooth sailing. UA’s Hovr midsole is one of the most responsive we’ve tried, and the sticky rubber outsole, courtesy of Michelin (yep, the tire manufacturer), provided a sense of security on icy patches. 10.9 oz (men’s, pictured) / 8.8 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy Adidas)

Adidas Terrex Agravic XT GTX ($170)

Best Protection

Mate one of the most responsive midsoles on the market (the Adidas Boost’s) with outsole rubber designed for auto-racing tires, wrap the whole thing in Gore-Tex, and what do you get? One badass, versatile, all-weather trail shoe. The Terrex Agravic is low profile (15.5 millimeters at the heel and nine at the forefoot), so your foot stays close to the ground, enabling precise maneuvering through rocky fall lines where a misstep can lead to a rolled ankle. The aggressively patterned Continental rubber outsole sticks like duct tape on wet or dry terrain and rides smoothly on mellow ground. An abrasion-resistant, bombproof welded upper contributes hiking-boot protection and durability. 13.6 oz (men’s) / 11.5 oz (women’s, pictured); 6.5 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy Hoka One One)

Hoka One One Evo Mafate ($170)

Best for Max Cushioning

Toothy five-millimeter lugs of grippy Vibram rubber ensured our test team felt surefooted in all conditions on both road and trail. Despite the trademark Hoka cush—the men’s version sits 33 millimeters off the ground at the heel and 29 at the forefoot—the shoe is exceptionally agile. “I was able to deftly maneuver around rocks and branches,” said one tester. We chalk that acuity up to the Kevlar wires integrated into the shoe’s hydrophobic upper, which kept our feet secure, like an ultra­lightweight cradle. The drawback? The Evo Mafate felt a tad tippy on fast, rocky descents. Still, it’s one of the nimblest Hokas to date. 9.6 oz (men’s) / 8.5 oz (women’s, pictured); 4 mm drop

Men's Women's

(Courtesy Salomon)

Salomon Ultra Pro ($150)

Best All Mountain

Made for distance fiends whose shortest runs are in the double digits, the Ultra Pro is a long-haul trail crusher. But its versatility and light-footed attitude earned it all-mountain accolades, too. As one tester put it, “This is a quick, comfortable, lightweight trail shoe for any type of terrain.” The upper’s midsection offers impressive give—a bonus should your foot swell—yet it glues down with an easy cinch of the quick lace, instilling the kind of confidence that will have you ripping down technical descents. Just don’t get cocky. As one tester learned the hard way, rock protection tapers off near the forefoot. 10.3 oz (men’s, pictured) / 8.8 oz (women’s); 8 mm drop

Men's Women's

From Winter 2019 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Charles Dustin Sammann

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