If 2012 was all about the minimalist sneaker and 2013 turned that trend around with increased cushioning, then let 2014 be dubbed the year of the versatile shoe. Sure, the market still offers a variety of different sneaker styles—minimal, trail, sprint, maximal, distance—but it seems that more and more brands are aiming to design multi-purpose shoes that are adaptable for all different types of runners.
The biggest trend: lightweight shoes that work across all terrains and provide a barely-there feel without skimping on support and stability. You want your feet to feel light, but unless you’ve trained your way up to running with a truly minimal shoe, chances are you’ll need some sort of cushioning.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all sneaker that works for every runner. We each have a unique gait, which is why shoe companies continue to produce a very wide range of sneakers for us to choose from. From designs created specifically for over-pronators to models made for withstanding the wear and tear of triathlon transitions, no matter how often, how far, or which way you run there’s a sneaker out there that was constructed with all of your unique runner needs in mind.
The hard part, though, is figuring out which shoe is The One for you. While veteran runners might have a better idea of what to look for in a shoe that will work well for their form and training habits, beginners should take a test drive with a few different pairs in order to find the best fit.
Some say you shouldn’t stress too much about finding the perfect pair. If you take them out for a test run and you like the way they feel, you’re probably good to go. However, it can’t hurt to ask the advice of an employee at your local running shop. Some stores might even be able to scan your feet or analyze your gait and recommend a shoe based on the results.
Just like last year, we scoped the sneaker scene for the newest and most innovative releases from all the best brands to present a spectrum of shoes that includes something for every type of runner. Our picks—chosen with help from special contributor Mackenzie Lobby—are based on a combination of consumer reviews, personal tests, and expert picks. Use this list as a buyer’s guide and never forget the two most important rules for purchasing running shoes: always take them for a test run and never make the purchase just because they look pretty.
The Top 10 Trail Running Shoes of 2014
Best Running Shoes for Wide Feet 2014
Best Running Shoes for Narrow Feet 2014
Best Barefoot Running Shoes 2014
Best Neutral Running Shoes 2014
Best Stability Running Shoes 2014
How to Choose the Right Running Shoes