The Best Running Shoes [2024]

This year's best road running shoes in a clear and concise roundup, designed to make choosing easier - All running shoes have been tested by Trail & Kale Editors.


All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links, we may earn a commission.

If you’re looking for a concise roundup of the best running shoes, where you leave our site clear on what you want, rather than more confused than when you got here, then you’ve come to the right place.

We live and breathe running, outdoor adventure, and the lifestyle that comes with it. As a result, we’ve run countless miles in all the best running shoe brands – yes, this includes the best trail running shoes too.

Choosing the best running shoes can be confusing nowadays as there’s just so much choice available, and every review site will tell you something different when it comes to their favorite pair of running shoes whether that’s influenced by a brand, or the people themselves.

We stand behind every review we write, as it’s our reputation on the line if we tell you anything other than the truth about our experiences with the gear we test and review, and because all our reviews are done in-house by myself or Helen, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting a consistent voice from people you can trust.

This running shoe roundup includes the best shoes for running based on the results of our running shoe reviews over the last year, and to make choosing the best ones for you, even easier, I’ve created sections relating to the type of running that the shoes are best for like ‘beginner runners’, ‘long runs’, ‘recovery runs’, ‘marathon training’, ‘half marathon training’, ‘marathon racing’, and ‘tempo running’ for example.

You won’t find budget running shoes on this list because we believe you should be buying comfortable and durable running shoes that last longer than the average, support your feet during training, and shoes that will help you fly to the finish line.

Don’t forget your running shoes should also bring you joy when you lace them up! Because when you’re loving what you’re doing, you’ll find it much easier to stay motivated to run, whenever your training plan requires it.

By the time you’ve read this best running shoes buyer’s guide you’ll have a much better sense of the right running shoes for you (whether you’re looking for men’s or women’s running shoes), and under no circumstances will you ever feel overwhelmed, or more confused than when you got here – I promise!

Best for everyday running, including daily jogs, recovery runs, and long runs

Brooks Ghost Max review 29

1. Brooks Ghost Max ($150)

To learn more, read my in-depth Brooks Ghost Max review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium (‘wide’ and ‘extra wide’ also available)
  • Weight: 10.2 oz (289g)
  • Drop: 6mm

Brooks seems to have hit another home run with the Ghost Max, tailoring it for those of us who desire a cushioned and supportive daily training experience. It carries the iconic “Ghost” name, hinting at its high-quality lineage, although it’s a very different shoe to the Ghost 15.

These shoes truly shine in everything from daily training runs, recovery runs to long mileage days, providing superior comfort without compromising on stability. Though they face stiff competition from shoes like the On Cloudeclipse and HOKA Clifton 9, their features, such as maximum cushioning, great stability, and a versatile design suitable for both running and walking, help them stand out, and beyond, in my opinion.

It’s designed with a breathable air-mesh upper which conforms comfortably to your feet. The design beautifully merges modern aesthetics with functionality, making it suitable for those seeking cushioning and support; these are my current go-to daily trainer, and one of the best Brooks running shoes right now.

On Cloudsurfer Review Cloudsurfer 7 Trail and Kale for web 34

2. On Cloudsurfer 7 ($160)

For more detail about the Cloudsurfer 7 read my detailed review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 8.20 oz (232g)
  • Drop: 10mm

My first pair of On Running shoes back in 2012 was the original On Cloudsurfer – and these were the shoes that best demonstrated how it feels to run on clouds. The Cloudsurfer was so innovative that the On Running brand immediately caught my attention.

I’m pleased to say that after a few generations of not-so-great innovation, the On Cloudsurfer 7 has regained that bouncy, fun feeling that I fell in love with all those years ago – but now there’s even more cushioning, comfort, and improved durability – and I’m even more in love!

They’ll have you running faster than your current cardio may be used to, because of the new CloudTec Phase midsole and comfortable fit that makes you feel like going much faster.

The On Cloudsurfer’s engineered mesh delivers the perfect balance of breathability and hold. The upper supports the forefoot nicely as you transition from soft landing into explosive take-off.

When you push the pace, the re-engineered Cloudsurfer shoe definitely keeps up. Prepare to spend more time on the road because you’re going to have a lot of fun running in these On brand shoes, there’s no doubt about it, they are a classic On shoe for good reason! SO MUCH LOVE for the Cloudsurfer 7!

HOKA Clifton 9 Review by Trail and Kale for web 16

3. Hoka Clifton 9 ($145)

“Best for beginners, recovery runs, easy miles, and plush feel marathons”

To learn more, read my in-depth HOKA Clifton 9 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium (Wide is also available)
  • Weight: 8.7oz / 247g
  • Drop: 5mm

The latest in the award-winning Clifton franchise, the Hoka Clifton 9 continues to deliver the perfect combination of soft cushioning underfoot, while remaining remarkably lightweight and stable.

Crafted with an even lighter, more responsive midsole foam and the same ride characteristics as its predecessor, these relatively low-drop shoes have a streamlined silhouette and updated breathable 1-piece engineered mesh knit upper.

That wing-like articulated heal support at the rear that was introduced in the Clifton is still there and I love them for it, especially when combined with that relatively low 5mm heel-to-toe drop which encourages a good running form! This heel shape works particularly well in HOKA trail shoes too when running down hills.

If you ever have issues with Achilles tendinitis flair-ups, this is the road shoe for you – it will help you recover and still be able to run at the same time.

Hoka also makes extremely good trail running shoes – read our trail running shoes buyer’s guide next to learn more about our top picks in that category including the best trail shoe right now which happens to be a HOKA trail shoe.

HOKA Clifton 9 Review by Trail and Kale for web 16

4. Nike Pegasus 41 ($140)

“Very reliable daily trainer with response and cushioning”

To learn more, read my in-depth Nike Pegasus 41 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium (Wide is also available)
  • Weight: 10oz / 283g
  • Drop: 10mm

The Nike Pegasus 41 is an excellent daily trainer built to handle various running needs. Weighing 10 ounces for a US men’s size 9, it features a ReactX foam midsole with two Air Zoom units, providing a balanced mix of cushioning and responsiveness for runs up to 10 km and even some tempo runs. The durable waffle-pattern outsole enhances traction and flexibility, making it suitable for multiple surfaces.

The Pegasus 41 fits true to size with a medium width, offering a snug yet comfortable feel right out of the box. The breathable, stretchy upper and well-padded tongue and collar ensure comfort and a secure fit, reducing the risk of blisters during longer runs. Reflective detailing around the heel and front enhances visibility in low-light conditions, adding a safety feature for evening runs.

While its 10mm drop and neutral support may not suit those needing additional stability, and its weight is not the lightest, the Pegasus 41 remains a versatile choice for many. Priced at $140, it offers great value for a reliable, cushioned, and comfortable daily trainer that performs well across various runs and even as a lifestyle shoe.

On Cloudeclipse review 22

5. On Cloudeclipse ($180)

To learn more, read my in-depth On Cloudeclipse review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium to Wide
  • Weight: 9.8 oz (278g)
  • Drop: 6mm

Every year On seems to release a a few new models of running shoes that shuffle up the top 3 rankings in my ‘Best On Running Shoes leaderboard‘, and the Cloudeclipse is the latest to do it. It’s also one of my top recommended On Cloud shoes for walking.

The On Cloudeclipse was an instant hit for me, for the way it blended the best parts of 3 of my favorite On running shoes, the Cloudsurfer 7, Cloudrunner, and Cloudmonster (more on that in my full review linked above).

One of their standout features is the double layer of CloudTec Phase cushioning, which provides a plush and comfortable experience, especially for those longer runs, and thanks to the X-shaped speedboard under the midsole, this shoe is also very stable and responsive.

The dual-layer upper material manages to balance fit and breathability very well, ensuring your feet remain secure and ventilated. Those with a larger build will particularly love the high stack full of cushioning, and the fit lends itself to those with medium or wide feet, so we highly recommended these running shoes for wide feet too.

The On Cloudeclipse is an excellent daily training shoe (and long run shoe) for runners who value comfort, stability, sustainability, a broader fit, and joy on their runs.

Brooks Ghost 15 review 2

6. Brooks Ghost 15 ($140)

“Great bang for your buck!”

To learn more, read my in-depth Brooks Ghost 15 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium – also available in ‘narrow’, ‘wide’ and ‘extra wide’
  • Weight: 10.1oz / 286.3g
  • Drop: 12mm
  • GTX waterproof version is also available.

The Brooks Ghost 15 offers a balance of snug fit and breathable comfort with its engineered air mesh upper and 3D Fit Print technology making it perfect for those who seek a cloud-like experience underfoot.

The DNA LOFT v2 cushioning delivers a plush ride that will make your runs feel joyous, and I still can’t believe you can get all that for just $140. Notably, the Ghost 15 aligns with ethical considerations through its use of recycled materials, adding a feel-good dimension to your runs.

The availability of 4 different widths adds a layer of customization to the fit, ensuring it caters to a wide range of foot shapes. Additionally, for those who often find themselves running in wet conditions, the shoe is also available in a GTX waterproof version.

The Ghost 15’s 12mm drop may not be universally appealing, however, particularly for those used to a lower drop or planning to tackle longer distances such as half-marathons or more. This feature, however, may not be a drawback for runners accustomed to a higher drop.

Saucony Triumph 21 review 11

7. Saucony Triumph 21 ($160)

Reliable, cushioned running shoe for easy miles”

To learn more, read my in-depth Saucony Triumph 21 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium – available in wide also
  • Weight: 9.7 oz / 275g
  • Drop: 10mm

The Saucony Triumph 21, designed with a focus on comfort and sustainability, offers runners an option that marries performance with conscientious design. It’s ideal for those looking for cushioning in their runs, the shoe uses Saucony’s proprietary PWRRUN+ technology to create a plush underfoot feel that effectively cradles the feet, which I love.

Emphasizing a sustainable lifestyle, the Triumph 21 boasts a vegan construction and is made with recycled materials. This aligns well with the eco-conscious ethos prevalent in today’s running community.

The shoe’s new flat-knit upper, soft collar, and redesigned lacing system together ensure a snug and secure fit, adapting to various running needs while its sleek, modern appearance adds a stylish flair that doesn’t sacrifice functionality.

At $160, the Triumph 21’s price point is pretty well placed for such a fan favorite that’s reliability to everyday running.

The Saucony Triumph 21 offers a well-rounded package for the everyday runner, especially those prioritizing comfort, sustainability, and an attractive design.

While it may not cater to more specialized needs, its versatile design and cushioning technology make it a solid choice for many road runners from beginner to intermediate.

Brooks Launch 10 review 19

8. Brooks Launch 10 ($110)

“Best value for money, hands down!”

To learn more, read my in-depth Brooks Launch 10 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 8.2oz (232g)
  • Drop: 10mm

The Brooks Launch 10 is a game-changer in the “best value for money” category, offering top-notch features for just $110. They come with a feather-light weight of 8.2 oz and a 10mm drop, delivering a responsive yet adequately cushioned ride thanks to their DNA LOFT foam.

The breathable stretch-knit upper not only feels like a hug for your feet but is also crafted from 59.1% recycled materials, making it a win for eco-conscious runners like ourselves.

Fit-wise, they’re true to size with a medium-width toe box and a neutral arch, making them versatile for a range of foot shapes, and they shine for both everyday jogs and tempo runs, serving up a supportive, snug feel without extra bulk.

However, the shoe offers limited support, so if you need more in that department, consider the Launch GTS 10 variant.

Durability is also a strong point, with the outsole providing excellent traction and showing no signs of wear and tear so far.

The Brooks Launch 10 nails it in offering premium features at an affordable price. It’s a versatile, eco-friendly, and reliable option for runners looking to get the most bang for their buck. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, these shoes are a bargain you won’t want to pass up.

Best for tempo training

On Cloudflow 4 review 3 2

1. On Cloudflow 4 ($160)

“Best On Running Shoes for tempo runs”

To learn more, read my On Cloudflow 4 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium with plenty of room in the toe box
  • Weight: 8.7oz / 247g
  • Drop: 8mm

The On Cloudflow 4 brings a fresh design and improved cushioning to the table, directly addressing feedback and setting a new standard for comfort on long runs. Its engineered woven upper, inspired by the elite race day super shoe, the Cloudboom Echo 3, combines durability with breathability, making it perfect for those warm California runs. The addition of a dual-density Helion midsole and a unique speedboard design enhances energy return and promotes efficient running mechanics, making every stride feel more powerful.

Moreover, On’s commitment to sustainability shines through in the Cloudflow 4, utilizing recycled materials without compromising performance. After incorporating it into my routine for tempo runs, I’ve noticed a significant difference in how my runs feel – more enjoyable and less taxing. If you’re looking to upgrade your running experience while supporting eco-friendly practices, the Cloudflow 4 might just be the shoe you’re looking for.

HOKA Mach X Review for web 21

2. HOKA Mach X ($180)

“Best HOKA shoes for tempo runs”

Read my in-depth HOKA Mach X review to learn more.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 9oz (255g)
  • Drop: 5mm

The HOKA Mach X running shoes are a worthy addition to any runner’s arsenal, especially those who love to push the distance and pace.

The ProFlyX midsole is the star of the show, striking an excellent balance between energy return and cushioning thanks to the Pebax plate and PEBA foam. You’ll likely find your running economy improved over long distances, making those miles just that bit easier, and faster overall.

These shoes are lightweight, too, tipping the scales at just 9oz, ensuring your stride stays nimble and quick, although it’s not quite as light as the Mach 5 below.

The upper delivers lightweight breathability and a soft interior, while also being very durable. When it comes to the outsole, the Mach X has improved grip even in wet conditions and holds up better in terms of durability, marking an upgrade from the Mach 5.

As always however, there are a few points to keep in mind, the Mach X shoes are more expensive than their predecessor, the Mach 5, coming in at $180. However, considering the noticeable enhancements in energy return, durability, and cushioning, especially for long-distance tempo running, the investment is worth it.

The HOKA Mach X running shoes demonstrate how smart design and innovative technology can enhance a runner’s experience. With their superior PEBA dual density cushioning, lightweight design, early stage metarocker, and durable construction, they’re a prime pick for those ready to conquer longer distances with speed and comfort.

On Cloudmonster Hyper Review 20

3. On Cloudmonster Hyper ($220)

To learn more, read my in-depth On Cloudmonster Hyper review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium with plenty of room in the toe box
  • Weight: 9.1oz / 258g
  • Drop: 6mm

The On Cloudmonster Hyper is On’s first super trainer, designed to seamlessly transition from easy miles to fast, long training sessions. Its innovation lies in the blend of PEBAX hyper foam and CloudTec technology, delivering unmatched responsiveness and durability without the need for a carbon fiber plate. This makes it ideal for daily training with a plush, yet responsive feel underfoot, ensuring each run is both comfortable and effective.

Despite its $220 price tag, the versatility and performance it offers make it a valuable addition to your running shoe collection, capable of handling most runs except interval training. The true-to-size fit and effective lacing system enhance comfort, while the strategic outsole design improves traction and control. However, areas for improvement include shorter laces and a longer, loop-equipped tongue for optimal fit adjustments.

For those looking to streamline their shoe rotation without sacrificing performance, the On Cloudmonster Hyper stands out as a compelling choice, offering a perfect balance of comfort, responsiveness, and versatility in training. Pair it with the On Cloudboom Echo 3 for race day.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo review 18

4. Brooks Hyperion Tempo ($150)

To learn more, read my in-depth Brooks Hyperion Tempo review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 7.3oz (207.0g)
  • Drop: 8mm

The Brooks Hyperion Tempo, priced at $150 (now discounted to $90), emerges as a top choice for runners keen on tempo training and speed workouts. Weighing just 7.3oz for a size US(M)9, these shoes are among the lightest in the market, ensuring a less cumbersome run whether it’s a short sprint or a long tempo run.

The heart of the Hyperion Tempo lies in its DNA FLASH foam cushioning, a nitrogen-infused concoction, delivering a firm yet responsive underfoot feel. This feature shines especially during fast-paced runs, offering a balance between soft landing and energetic toe-off, reminiscent of the cushioning systems in HOKA and On running shoes.

The breathable stretch-woven upper encapsulates a performance-oriented fit, ensuring a snug hold while allowing ample breathability. It adapts well to the foot’s natural shape and movement, making every stride comfortable.

However, this shoe might not cater to everyone. Its firm and responsive ride may turn off runners who prefer a plushier cushioning. Additionally, its neutral design lacks the extra stability support that some runners might need, making it less ideal for those battling overpronation issues.

The Brooks Hyperion Tempo is a compelling choice for speed enthusiasts seeking a lightweight, responsive shoe for their tempo runs and interval training. While it may lack in plush cushioning and extra stability, it compensates with its performance-centric design aimed at aiding runners in clocking faster times.

HOKA Mach 6 review tempo running shoes 22

5. HOKA Mach 6 ($140)

“Best Overall Running Shoes At A Great Price”

To learn more, read my in-depth HOKA Mach 6 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium – available in wide (EE) also
  • Weight: 7.8oz (221g)
  • Drop: 5mm

The HOKA Mach 6 is for you if you’re looking for a relatively affordable, high-performance daily running shoe designed for speed, responsiveness, and that can be used for racing, not just training runs.

This is great for serious runners who don’t want to bother with multiple pairs of running shoes (a daily trainer and a racing shoe) because the Mach 5 has you covered for both instances.

They are great running shoes for anything up to marathon distance if you’re someone who doesn’t need that super plush feel when running long distances.

It’s a fairly stripped-down running shoe in terms of how plush it feels underfoot but the benefit of this is that you feel complete control and get a much more responsive and balanced ride during speed workouts, which does help you run faster in my experience.

Best for half and full marathon training

Nike InfinityRN 4 Review 37

1. Nike InfinityRN 4 ($160)

To learn more, read my in-depth Nike InfinityRN 4 review.

  • Fit: Go a half size up (they run small)
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 11.4oz / 323g
  • Drop: 9mm

Offering a balanced blend of energy return and stability, the Nike InfinityRN 4 running shoes are engineered for long-distance road warriors, especially half and full marathoners.

The new ReactX foam not only promises a lively feel underfoot but also aligns well with eco-conscious values, reducing carbon footprint by 43% compared to traditional Nike React foam.

The Flyknit upper and padded tongue offer sock-like comfort that honestly feels like it’s hugging your feet, while the wide midsole ensures a stable ride, minimizing lateral roll.

While there are plenty of colorways to keep you looking stylish, the customization option is a sweet bonus. At $160, the shoe represents a solid investment for those seeking quality and durability, as both the upper and the waffle rubber outsole have proven to be hard-wearing.

Sizing runs small, requiring most (myself included) to go up half a size for an optimal fit. In summary then, the Infinity Run 4 offers a great mix of energy return, comfort, and sustainability. They may be a bit on the heavier side and run small, but they make for a robust training companion that will likely pay dividends on race day.

On Cloudgo Review Trail and Kale 6

2. On Cloudgo ($150)

Shop Men’s   Shop Women’s

For more of my thoughts on this shoe, read my On Cloudgo review next.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium with average toe box width
  • Weight: 7.8oz / 220g
  • Drop: 11mm

The On Cloudgo is a surprisingly high-performing running shoe and one I believe all sorts of runners from beginner to advanced, will enjoy because it’s such a reliable running shoe. They are the best jogging shoes on this list for sure, I literally feel like I can run forever at a steady pace with them.

It’s a very unassuming running shoe when you look at it, but the stats on paper, and performance while actually running, tell a very different story.

If a new runner were to ask me for advice on which shoes to run with, I’d tell them the On Cloudgo are the best running shoes for beginners due to their overall comfort, cushioning, support, and reasonable price point.

The Cloudgo is one of those reliable, stability shoe options that I find myself gravitating toward when choosing a shoe to run with right now.

These traditional running shoes do the job of helping me achieve the goal of ‘getting miles in’ so well, that I find myself not even thinking about the shoes when I’m running.

Apart from thinking “hey, these shoes are performing really well, I’m not even thinking about how they feel”, haha! This allows me to think about other things like focusing on my breathing and good running form.

More specifically they are for fast-paced 5km training runs (or races), and also for anyone looking to increase their mileage up to the marathon distance and want to feel comfortable while doing so.

Nike Invincible 3 Review Trail and Kale web wm 29

3. Nike Invincible 3 ($180)

To learn more, read my in-depth Nike Invincible 3 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium (slim in the midfoot area)
  • Weight: 9.9oz / 280g
  • Drop: 9mm

The Nike Invincible 3 is for you if you’re looking for an insanely cushioned running shoe with great stability and comfort for putting in easy miles.

Yes, this is an excellent (albeit quite expensive) running shoe for beginners looking to increase mileage (with a greatly reduced risk of picking up injuries like plantar fasciitis, for example.

You’ll also love these for marathon training because bagging those essential miles is such an easy game with the Invincible 3 on your feet.

They feel so comfortable that you’ll find the “zone” much quicker than you may be used to, and as a result, time will fly by quickly and you’ll likely feel a lot less tired after your runs with more energy going into your next ones.

They’re fast shoes too, thanks to the great energy return that you get from ZoomX foam in the midsole – this also makes them a great choice for 5km, 10km, and even half marathon racing and training.

Craft CTM Ultra 2 review Trail and Kale web wm 3

4. Craft CTM Ultra 2 ($165)

For more of my thoughts on this shoe, read my Craft CTM Ultra 2 review next.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 9.1oz / 258g
  • Drop: 10mm

The CTM Ultra 2 is a special shoe because it appeals to so many different types of runners.

If you simply want a fast, lightweight, breathable road running shoe then I recommend you give these a try.

Additionally, if you enjoy running light trails, or you just love to run anything and everything including roads and trails, then these hybrid road / trail shoes will allow you to do it all.

Being the ‘gravel bike’ of running shoes means the CTM Ultra 2 moves effortlessly over roads, gravel, light trail, forest trails, and even over LONG distances.

The CTM Ultra 2 turns heads too as Craft hasn’t exploded in popularity in the USA… YET… but it won’t be long before they do.

Craft running apparel is also a thing! Go check out the stylish Swedish designed Craft clothing at their online store – I think you’ll like their clothing.

Best for marathon racing

HOKA Cielo X1 review 7

1. HOKA Cielo X1 ($275)

“Top Running Shoes For Half, Full Marathons, 10Ks – Winner”

To learn more, read my in-depth HOKA Cielo X1 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 8.9oz (252g) for a size US(M)9 (my pair).
  • Drop: 7mm

The HOKA Cielo X1 is a game-changer for runners chasing their next race PB or shaving seconds off their splits. At a weight of 8.9oz for a US size 9 (men’s), it’s not the lightest super shoe but you wouldn’t know it when running in them. The Cielo X1 strikes an ideal balance between high speed performance, efficiency, and comfort, setting it apart as a go-to shoe for race day and vigorous speedwork sessions.

The dual-layer PEBA foam midsole, aggressive rocker geometry, and a winged carbon plate work together in harmony that really has to be experienced to understand what makes it so special.

This midsole design not only propels you forward with each stride but does so with a level of comfort and responsiveness that’s hard to find anywhere else in the racing shoe category right now. It almost feels like cheating they’re so good haha.

HOKA has a knack for integrating such dynamic features while ensuring a snug, breathable fit and this is evident in Cielo X1’s design. The knit breathable upper and the minimal collar design, complete with Achilles-supporting cushions, ensure that your feet stay comfortable, cool, and well-supported throughout your runs.

TOPICAL: If you’re torn between HOKA and On, this HOKA VS On Cloud running shoes guide will help you choose which brand is best for you.

Opting for the HOKA Cielo X1 means choosing a shoe that’s built for speed, designed for comfort, and destined to accompany you across many finish lines. At $275, it’s a steep investment in your running journey, one that promises to elevate your performance.

HOKA Rocket X 2 Review by Trail and Kale for web 37

2. HOKA Rocket X 2 ($250)

“Top Running Shoes For Half and Full Marathons, 10Ks – Runner Up”

To learn more, read my in-depth HOKA Rocket X 2 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 7.6oz / 215g for size US(M)9
  • Drop: 5mm

The HOKA Rocket X 2 is an exceptional choice for runners seeking a fast, lightweight, and responsive shoe that’s perfect for achieving personal bests across various distances.

With an impressive weight of just 7.6oz for a US size 9 (men’s), this shoe allows for nimble and swift movements, and it’s the shoe you’ll want to hit your best half marathon and marathon race times.

One of the key features contributing to the Rocket X 2’s speed is the combination of a ProFly midsole, rocker geometry, and a carbon fiber plate. I love it when HOKA running shoes integrate this trio of features in their shoes – it’s a recipe for ultimate speed while maintaining comfort.

This unique blend ensures exceptional responsiveness, making it ideal for races ranging from 5K to marathons.

In addition to its performance capabilities, the Rocket X 2 also boasts a very breathable upper, ensuring comfort during intense runs. The shoe’s aesthetic design is also noteworthy, appealing to runners who appreciate both form and function – and of course, want to stand out, I mean they’re HOKAs right?! 🙂

A lot of the time, we tend to recommend going for either HOKA or On running shoes due to their large range of shoes that offer support, cushioning, and performance; and if you’re torn between the two, this HOKA VS On Cloud running shoes guide will help you choose which brand is best for you.

The HOKA Rocket X 2 is a top choice if you’re looking to push your limits and achieve new personal bests.

On Cloudboom Echo 3 review 26

3. On Cloudboom Echo 3 ($290)

To learn more, read my in-depth On Cloudboom Echo 3 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 7.7oz / 218g for size US(M)9
  • Drop: 9.5mm

The On Cloudboom Echo 3 running shoes have a hefty price tag that’s for sure, but they are certainly one of the best On running shoes for road runners who are on the racing scene.

When you take these out of their box, you won’t believe how lightweight they feel – I mean there’s really not that many other running shoes (except for the other super shoes on this list and from other brands not on here) that weigh 7.7 ounces or less; you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing them.

The shoes incorporate a carbon Speedboard paired with an extreme rocker shape, creating a unique combination that enhances your running dynamics, and with silicone inserts strategically placed on the laces and insole, these shoes ensure a secure and comfortable fit that helps you stay focused on your performance.

The upper is made with a breathable microfiber material that offers excellent breathability, and there’s a 9.5mm drop from heel to toe which gives you an aggressive forward leaning position to encourage relentless forward motion.

Whether you’re aiming to set a new personal best or striving for a podium finish, these shoes are geared to support you all the way with features like the ultra-soft Helion™ HF midsole made from Pebax, and On’s signature CloudTec technology, the shoes provide crazy speed, impact protection, and energy return; oh they looks pretty awesome too! 😉

Nike vaporfly 3

4. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly 3 ($250)

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 6.5 oz (184 g)
  • Drop: 8mm

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly 3 is a top-tier running shoe that shines in marathons and long-distance running. It offers enhanced cushioning, stability, and breathability over the previous model (ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2), making it a comfortable choice for a broad range of foot shapes.

The shoe earns high marks for its comfort, build quality, and upper design, but slightly lower ratings for its toe-off power and durability. Weighing in at 6.5oz with an 8mm heel-to-toe drop, it’s a lightweight option that won’t weigh you down over long distances.

It’s an ideal running shoe for marathon races, and speedwork but may not be the best choice for those who prioritize durability over race performances.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly 3 lives up to its legacy as a premier choice for marathoners. If you’re seeking a comfortable, stable, and lightweight shoe for long-distance races, this could be the perfect fit for you.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 review 20

5. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 ($225)

Most lightweight tempo and racing shoes”

To learn more, read my in-depth Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 review.

  • Fit: True to size
  • Width: Medium
  • Weight: 7.3 oz (207g)
  • Drop: 8mm

Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3 is a lightweight powerhouse for serious runners. Weighing in at just 7.3oz for a size US(M)9 it features cutting-edge technology like the S-curve Carbon Fiber Plate, SPEEDROLL geometry, and PWRRUNPB Foam which provide incredible energy return and efficient running mechanics that’ll make you feel unstoppable, whether you’re sprinting 5Ks or targeting a new marathon PB.

The breathable upper adds to the overall comfort and the grippy outsole offers enough traction to venture into light trails, increasing the shoe’s versatility. Also, sizing won’t be an issue if you’re familiar with Saucony’s line, as these fit true to size.

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is a technologically advanced, lightweight, and versatile running shoe that offers impressive energy return and cushioning. It’s a serious contender for any road running enthusiast looking to improve their performance, though the high cost and a few design quirks (explained in my review) may give some potential buyers pause.

WANT TO TRY TRAIL RUNNING? Read our Trail Running Guide for Beginners next and then our best trail running shoes buyer’s guide.

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


  1. I’m sorry to point out the mistake, but the Brooks Ghost are neutral shoes, not support ones. Either way, they are extremely comfortable and easily the best shoes I’ve ran in!

    • Hey Frede,
      You’re absolutely right! What I was meaning to say is that they offer excellent underfoot cushioning support, I’m going to edit the post to make that clearer. Thanks for making the comment and keep running happy in the Ghost 11’s 🙂

  2. For me Saucony brand is the best,Its good for any distance,Ive been using for Saucony from 2014 until 2018,Unfotunately nothing anymore here in Qatar,Im happy to wore that brand since all my race from short to long distance I’m belong to the Top 3,Hopefully Saucony brand will explore again in Qatar.

  3. Hi there and thanks for the recommendations! I just bit the bullet and bought the Vaporfly 4% (I absolutely love my regular Zoom Flys – but finding them is like searching for a unicorn these days!!!) – I chafed at the price but I have to say that my first run in them was MAGIC! All I could think while running was “I am bouncing!”, but as light as they felt, I also felt good support in my forefoot which is critical to me.

    One note – I think you need to check your gram to ounce conversion on that one . . . 195 grams is NOT 10.75 oz.

  4. Why doesnt Mizuno Prophecy make it to any list. I have run in a lot of shoes (asics nimbus, adidas ultraboost, brooks ghost etc.) and these are my by far the most favourites. Is it because of the price? I dont get it!

  5. I am looking for a Waterproof shoe for walking and for short runs that is also breathable during summer heat. Not sure if I have wide feet. Which one do you recommend?

    • Hi Mark,

      By the very nature of how waterproof running shoes keep water out, they’re unfortunately not very breathable.

      With that in mind, I would recommend having a think about which is more important; dry feet on heavy rain days (I wouldn’t worry about getting waterproof GTX shoes in light rain or drizzle), or nicely regulated temperature for your feet during your runs.


      • I understand. Thank you. For long distance walking (also short distance running) in heavy rain on roads, would you recommend Challenger 7 GTX or Nike Pegasus Trail 4, or any other shoe?

        How do Nike Invincible 3, Clifton 9, or Bondi 8 perform in those conditions?

        • If you will be doing things in heavy rain then go for GTX – and yes the Chellenger 7 GTX is a good choice.

          Out of these three shoes: Nike Invincible 3, Clifton 9, or Bondi 8, the Clifton 9 is easily the best choice.

  6. Thank you. At times, I walk in heavy rain occasionally to run errands. Other times, after a heavy rain, I sometimes have to walk in puddles on the sidewalk.

    Can Clifton 9 withstand it, or should I go for GTX? Or any other brand On Running is recommended?

  7. Hi Alastair,

    Which one do you recommend for long walking and occasionally short runs on the road in heavy rains? Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX or Challenger 7 GTX?

    Is Clifton 9 or On Cloudmonster better for long walks and occasional short runs? Which of them can withstand if in the event they are submerged in a puddle on the sidewalk after a heavy rain?

  8. Hoka Rocket X2s are my track trainer for speed work intervals. The sweet spot on the forefoot is incredibly responsive and perfect for masters sprinters who need a bit of protection/ cushioning. I bought them same time with the Nike Vaporfly 3s, sent back the Nikes and kept the Hokas.


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