New Balance Fresh Foam 980 from Best Running Shoes 2014

Best Running Shoes 2014

New Balance Fresh Foam 980

New Balance

Most recently making headlines in the running space is New Balance’s Fresh Foam technology. An innovative approach in the super-plush category, the midsole is comprised of a single piece of lightweight foam that provides both cushioning and stability. A more maximal approach, New Balance utilized cutting-edge 3D printing technology to create a cushioning system that supports the natural geometries of the foot, all while providing soft and stable crash pads in the places you need them most. With a 4mm heel-to-toe drop and a simple breathable wrap mesh with no-sew overlays, your foot will be one with the shoe. These feel great the second you get them laced up, but more importantly, they remain soft and responsive over many miles.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$109.99; newbalance.com


Zoot TT Trainer

Zoot Sports

Touted as an essential for the everyday runner, Zoot’s TT Trainer boasts unparalleled cushioning featuring CarbonSpan+ for high-performance support. Durable enough for workouts of any distance—even those long marathon training runs that reach 20+ miles—the TT trainer makes for a perfect day-to-day sneaker that works well for all types of training.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$110; zootsports.com

SKORA Fit

Skora

Also relying on a 3-D printed design, the FIT highlights Skora’s signature minimalist attributes, including a zero-drop platform and lightweight construction. Considered a lightweight performance trainer, it features 16mm of EVA midsole cushioning and high abrasion rubber in the outsole, making it versatile enough to go from road to gym with ease. Marked by a stretchy, seamless upper, a supportive arch band, and asymmetrical lacing, this shoe promises a natural ride while still protecting your feet and insuring some support. For those looking to adopt a more minimalist approach to running, these are one of the more economical options on the market.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$95; skorarunning.com


Mizuno Wave Paradox

Mizuno USA

A control shoe designed for over-pronators, the Wave Paradox features a U4ic midsole to provide a springy cushion, an articulated forefoot Wave Plate for guidance and shock absorption, and a Dynamotion Fit upper that offers a compliant and cozy fit. With its 3D print pattern, which appears to have curves but actually features only straight lines, the paradox is not only unique in style but also delivers stable support without weighing you down.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$134.99; mizunousa.com

Under Armour Speedform Apollo

Under Armour

As part of Under Armour’s burgeoning line, the Speedform Apollo is perhaps the brand’s greatest push to rise to the top of the running shoe market. Weighing in at just 6.5 ounces, this model’s light, meshy upper makes it both breathable and form fitting. Along with the medial TPU stability bar, a molded seamless heel cup that wraps around the back of the foot creates a supportive ride without adding excess weight. An ultra-light, well-cushioned Micro G midsole with flex grooves built into the outsole makes the Speedform Apollo responsive enough for speed demons, but versatile enough for runners of all paces and experience levels.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$100; underarmour.com

Asics GEL-Electro33

Asics America

As the newest addition to Asics’ Natural33 line the GelElectro33 is flexible and lightweight but still provides enough support for mild to moderate over-pronators with its FluidAxis™ outsole. The shoe’s Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System offers extra protection against shock during impact and the brand’s signature Seamless Construction design promises for reduced irritation and a “slipper-like” feel.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$110; asicsamerica.com 

Saucony Kinvara 5

Saucony

Already an extremely popular model, the Kinvara 5 is a longer-lasting iteration of previous models. Making the switch from mono-filament mesh to an equally lightweight, but more durable mesh, the upper on the latest generation will stand up to plenty of wear and tear. The updated midsole is comprised of an enhanced EVA foam, making it more abrasion resistant than ever, but still retaining its feather light 7.7 ounces. Additionally, triangular rubber pods were strategically placed on the outsole in the heaviest wear zones to avoid premature breakdown and provide better traction. The last major upgrade is the addition of a RunDry sockliner, replacing HydraMax technology, which helps better protect the feet from blisters and hot spots.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$110; saucony.com


The North Face Ultra Smooth

The North Face

Designed for runners with a neutral stride, this new sneaker from The North Face is a versatile trainer that boasts the ability to handle multiple terrains. Proper foot positioning and a smooth stride are encouraged by the shoe’s CRADLE™ technology and as part of the Ultra Protection series the Ultra Smooth implements plenty of protection against impact and the elements while remaining supple and lightweight.
—Katie Rosenbrock
thenorthface.com; $110

Scott T2 Palani

Scott Sports

A high-performance, lightweight neutral model appropriate for both road running and triathlon, the T2 Palani utilizes a specially designed outsole to guide the foot through each stride. Paired with Scott’s eRide technology, which is characterized by a rocker shape of the midsole/outsole, these shoes are built for efficiency. Instead of the EVA foam used in most running shoes, the T2 Palani touts Aero Foam, which is lighter and more durable. Of interest to triathletes, this model’s drainage system includes three continuous channels through six ports to insure the shoe drains and keeps you light on your feet.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$130; scott-sports.com

Saucony Guide 7

Saucony

Lighter than any other shoe in its class, the Guide 7 complements a wide range of distance runners with its durable and stable (but not stiff) design. Built for both neutral runners and mild over-pronators, the shoe’s full length PowerGrid cushion covers the entire surface area of the foot providing all around protection and quick spring back.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$120; saucony.com

Ecco Biom Ultra Trail

Ecco USA

Providing superior ground feedback, the Biom Ultra is marked by its low-to-the-ground construction. Along with great flexibility, an anatomical fit, and dedicated performance zones, this shoe will work with the natural motion of your feet to insure a responsive ride. Built to take off-road, durable toe caps and mud guards provide added protection and stability in navigating the ruts and rocks of the trail. With an impressive selection of options, the Biom Ultra comes in three upper styles. The Quest is marked by an open mesh for the utmost in versatility, the Quest GTX has a technical 100 percent waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, and the Quest Plus uses a pliable yak leather.
—Mackenzie Lobby
eccousa.com; $160, $180, $180

Newton Motion III Mileage Trainer

Newton Running

Newton’s next-level +ONE forefoot technology, included in the Motion III, now features five lugs instead of four in order to provide a broader, more stable platform that serves all five metatarsals and allows for a more natural flexion of the foot. An extended bridge under the midfoot offers support and stability without interfering with the foot’s natural movements and the newly designed breathable upper works to reinforce the midfoot with a snug-fitting, perforated microsuede overlay.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$175; newtonrunning.com 


Brooks Transcend

Brooks Running

Perhaps the most talked about “maximal” shoe of the year, the Brooks Transcend is being hailed for its pillowy soft ride. In addition to the cushioning story, the beefed up midsole supplies a good amount of stability despite having no medial post. Instead, the support comes from a special heel design where midsole meets upper, helping to guide your foot on its natural path forward. Furthermore, the uniquely shaped outsole works to disperse weight via strategically placed pressure zones. Offering a tailored fit, the no-sew tunnels integrate the laces into the upper for a sock-like fit. Despite being a highly cushioned model, you’ll hardly know you have these on as you float across the pavement.
—Mackenzie Lobby

$160; brooksrunning.com

Reebok ZQUICK

This new running shoe from Reebok is all about swift speed. Ultra-lightweight and inspired by high-performance tires the sneaker’s “Z-Rated” technology provides a unique outsole that allows for optimal control and traction. The edges and underfoot grooves bend and stretch on impact which allows for premium ground contact stability and the geometrical sole makes for a more responsive ride.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$84.98; reebok.com

Altra Olympus

Altra Running

In line with Altra’s other offerings, the Olympus is distinctive for its zero-drop platform and foot-shaped toe box. These attributes allow for a more natural foot strike and toe splay with each step of the run. The Olympus provides a max-cushioned option via a 36mm stack height, reducing your workload on a long day of running. Made with a trail specific sticky rubber, these shoes can truly go from the road to the trail and back again. A quick-dry upper mesh allows for breathability and moisture control, while also contributing to the surprisingly light feel for such a highly cushioned model. Slightly less expensive than some of the other maximalist models, this may serve as a great entry shoe into the category.
—Mackenzie Lobby
altrarunning.com; $130

Topo Mountain Trainer

Topo Athletic

Designed for both trail running and light hiking, Topo’s new Mountain Trainer features a more traditional design, but still includes the same secure fit, near-neutral platform, and lightweight material that makes their split-toe models so popular. A high-traction outsole offers a steady ride over a variety of terrain and a light but supportive midsole protects against rugged earth without compromising ground feedback.
—Katie Rosenbrock
topoathletic.com; $100

Vasque Ultra SST

Vasque

Showcasing Vasque’s new ShapeShifter technology, the Ultra SST offers a unique solution for trail runners. By stitching the upper directly to the midsole, the necessary cement to hold the shoe together was reduced by fifty percent, making for a more streamlined fit and lighter weight construction. EVA geometric sole pods integrated with a high traction outsole provide ample cushioning over rocky trails, while still allowing for plenty of control and reducing fatigue over the miles. A Boa L5 single-pull closure system helps to not only give the shoe a custom fit, but it also allows for easy adjustment out on the trail. While the supreme cushioning and unique design give this shoe an untraditional look, it is an ingenious solution for serious off-road runners.
—Mackenzie Lobby
vasque.com; $170

ZEMgear 360 Ninja Split Toe

ZEMgear

Weighing in at just over 2.5 ounces, this ultra-light minimalist shoe from ZEM’s barefoot collection is armed with a durable plyon outsole that makes it ideal for all types of environments. It also features a slit-toe design that allows for optimal forward propulsion, combining the delights of the barefoot feeling with the protection needed for any type of terrain.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$59.99; zemgear.com

Merrell All Out Flash

Facebook/Merrell

Originally devoted to trail running, the All Out line is set to debut a light and fast road-specific shoe in the Flash. True to the All Out ethos, this model weighs just 5 ounces, featuring a minimalist design with superior agility and ground feel. Most impressive is its Uni-Fly impact protection system in the midsole, which employs firm shock pods against the foot and softer material closer to the ground. In addition to the scant 6mm heel-to-toe drop, this technology allows you to feel the ground, but still cushions each step. A heel lock and close-fitting upper provide extra control for varying strike patterns and pace, while still allowing for natural movement.
—Mackenzie Lobby

merrel.com

NIKE Lunar Eclipse 4

NIKE

Another new shoe promising a durable design that’s also lightweight and flexible, the Lunar Eclipse is equipped with a mesh midfoot panel that offers extra ventilation, a light rubber outsole that provides traction and stability, and uniquely shaped blades with flexible grooves that allow for a more natural range of motion. Snuggly fitting to the form of your foot thanks to Dynamic Fit technology the sneaker makes a perfect fit for any runner in need of strategic support.
—Katie Rosenbrock

$135; nike.com