What a great year for running shoes. It seems like the extreme positions on barefoot running vs shod running have loosened up and a wide selection of shoes are available to runners with different needs and preferences. My personal preference is light, low to zero drop, cushioned shoes. These picks are based on my preference, duh right? Anyhow, let’s get started and I will let you know why I chose the shoes and products I deem Best In Gear.
The Saucony Kinvara 3 fixed the only issue I had with the previous models of this shoe. With improved rubber coverage on the sole of the shoe I was able to get many more miles out of the shoe. This is the go to shoe I would recommend over and over throughout the year. It is a perfect shoe to start your journey to lighter, faster, lower drop running shoes. The Kinvara 4 will be out soon and it looks like the improvement this time will be in the upper. The only complaint I ever heard regarding the Kinvara 3 was that the colar of the shoe would rub some peoples Achilles too much. See our previous reviews: Initial Kinvara 3 review, Kinvara 3 after 300 miles
This was a tough category. I loved running in the Newton Distance and the Skechers GOrun 2. The reason they are not top dog is that they are not a shoe that has the mass adoptability that the Kinvara has. The GOrun 2 is very similar to the Kinvara but with the M-Strike it may not be for everyone. The Newton Distance also has a strike training/reward with the shoes lugs. The fit and feel of the Kinvara is slightly more refined.
The Merrell Bare Access 2 was a real surprise. I was not expecting to enjoy these shoes as much as I do. These might have been my favorite shoes to run in this year. They are light, just the right amount of cushion, grip the road, and mold to your feet. This is a fun shoe to run in.
The GObionic would have been my pick if I didn’t get the chance to run in the Bare Access 2. The GObionic lost out to a better upper and the grip of the sole on the Bare Access 2. The GObionic is more flexible and has an edge when it comes to road feel. The Altra Instinct (Altra Instinct 1.5 pictured above) is a excellent choice and has a legion of fans. Our reviewer purchased another pair right after the review. That is always a good sign. The Altra felt a little “clunky” compared to the Bare Access 2.
Check out RunBlogger’s pics for top zero drop shoes
The New Balance MT1010 is an almost perfect combo of light weight, low profile, flexible, with tenacious traction, and a real rock plate. Most of the trails I run are technical and MT100 handles them really well, and are quite nimble. I was surprised by how they cruised over the paved sections of road during my runs. I did an initial review when I first tried them. The things I liked about them I still like. This is a solid shoe.
I only chose one runner up for this category. It is a solid trail shoe that I ran many miles in, including a 50k and a 50 miler. The traction on the Inov-8 Roclite 285 is tremendous. The reason the MT1010 surpasses the Inov-8 is that the MT1010 feels lighter on the foot, the 285 lacks the protection that the MT1010’s rock plate provides. I liked my 285’s I don’t recall ever falling in love with them. To be fair maybe after the 50 miler it would be hard to love any shoe.
Check out RunBlogger’s pics for top trail shoes
A friend and contributor to Believe in the Run has got me hooked on Lock Laces. The way they make every shoe fit slightly better makes it nearly impossible to leave in the stock laces. I curse Stein’s name every time I get a new pair of shoes because of this new addiction. I now buy multiple packs of the Lock Laces with anticipation of new shoes coming in.
Tailwind Endurance Fuel
My running coach Caleb Masland sent me a sample of Tailwind. I liked it, so I ordered a large 50 serving bag and have used it almost exclusively for my calories during long runs this training cycle. I find myself almost craving it in the morning when I am getting ready to run. The flavor is subtle enough that you don’t get sick of it over multiple hours. Getting the mix right for you will take some trial and error, so give yourself some time to get used to it.
I used to like a plush sock, along with less shoe I like less sock. I don’t know how people run with no socks, besides the comfort of a sock, they keep your shoes from wreaking. The Swiftwick socks come in multiple heights. I like the socks that barely stick out of the shoe collar. I do where the compression sock, but I prefer to have a separate calf sleeve to the all-in-one sock calf sleeve.
CW-X Pro Short
The CW-X Pro short has gotten me through a lot of long runs. The compression is unbeatable. They feel like you are strapping springs onto your legs. I wore these for the 50 miler and would recommend them to anyone doing any distance. The one draw back for these is that they are too hot for temps over 75 degrees F. The do sell a “ventilator” short for warmer temps but I have not tried those. They also have a seem right in the crotch that makes it beneficial to run with an under garment like Ruez or another compression underpant. I use both the Ruez and Under Armour Compression Boxers with them to avoid getting chaffed by the seam.