Best In Gear Awards: Best Road Running Shoes of 2022
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What You Need To Know
Our list of top road running shoes of the year
From race day to recovery day, we cover it all
Only shoes released in this calendar year were considered
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below
This roundup is sponsored by Bombas socks, the sock we’ve been using for this fall’s training cycle. You buy one, they give one to someone in need. Use code BITR20 to save 20% off your first order!
We made it another year and we’re back again with one of our favorite perennial posts. Over the course of the last twelve months, we’ve tested over a hundred shoes, from race day options to easy day and everything in between.
It was quite a year that saw the release of some very innovative options (the ultra max-cushion, carbon-plated New Balance SC Trainer), some fantastic updates to classics (the ever-reliable Saucony Ride 15), and of course, some letdowns (the not-as-magical Nike Alphafly Next% 2). One thing is clear– we are still smack dab in the middle of the golden age of running shoes. The super shoes are getting more super, finally closing the gap that the Vaporfly created several years ago. Daily trainers (and even stability shoes!) are getting the race day foam treatment. That’s not to mention shoes that are pushing against the outer limits of stack height, and doing it exceptionally well– like the Adidas Prime X Strung. There are also some really great shoes (like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 and Hoka Mach 5) that didn’t make this list only because we couldn’t shoehorn them in exactly where we wanted, but are still fantastic.
Of course, all that technology paired with an unhealthy dose of inflation means we’re paying more and more to get those miles in. Most of us don’t have the luxury of cart-adding whatever tickles our run fancy, so that means we want to know which is the best of the best. And that’s where this list comes in.
While most running shoes will get the job done (after all, it’s 2022), these are the ones that stand out from the rest of the pack. The ones that kept us company through the spring thaw, the swamp-ass summer, the crisp fall mornings, and the frozen dark days of January. Of course, these are our subjective picks, so while we hope they’ll work for you, we don’t know your exact running style and preference, so do what feels right for you.
How did we select? We sat down as a team and went back through all the shoes this year, ranking our individual preferences than coming to an overall consensus. So while each of us may have favorite shoes that didn’t even land on here, as a whole, we feel that these are the best. Hopefully this helps you start 2023 off on the right foot.
And stay tuned for our upcoming 2023 preview as we head down to The Running Event in Austin next week to get the full scoop on what lies ahead. Thanks for following us, hope to see you on a run in 2023!
NOTE: Believe in the Run does make a small percentage of affiliate revenue from some of the shop links below, but not all of them. Thanks for your support!
BEST RACE DAY SHOE
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
A true update | Softer than the previous version | Ultra-breathable upper
Well, you already know we love Saucony, and they really turned some heads with a pink, glittery, mermaid-ish upper in the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. But it’s so much more than glitz and glamor. This version of the shoe has been overhauled. What used to be a fairly firm, super snappy race day shoe that we loved, just not for the marathon, has now become one of the best marathon shoes out there.
A 40 mm stack of softer PWRRUN PB gives you plenty of cushion on the run, but the carbon fiber plate and Speedroll geometry of the shoe keeps you moving through your stride and on your toes (something we found lacking in other shoes like the New Balance SC Elite v3). The airy open mesh upper keeps the feet cool, while the weight is lighter than expected. And it’s also $25 less than almost every other super shoe on the market. All of it comes together in the Endorphin Pro 3, and we can guarantee it’ll get you through 26.2 in speed and comfort.
Disclaimer: This is a 2022 list, so while we’ll still take the Nike Alphafly (first version) or Vaporfly Next%2 on race day, the Endorphin Pro 3 is the best race day shoe of 2022.
The original Asics Metaspeed Sky ($250) won our race day shoe of the year last year, and the new versions only improved upon that. For those not in the know, the Edge+ ($250) is meant for cadence runners while the Metaspeed Sky+ is for stride-based runners (we explain more of that here), but we actually found the Edge+ to be more similar to last year’s sky. The Sky+ is somewhat softer, while the Edge+ is snappier with a quick turnover. Either way, they’re both great, as Robbe can attest to as he ran both a 6-minute PR in the half marathon and a 5K PR this year in the Edge+.
BEST TEMPO SHOE
Lower stack of ZoomX (by 2022 standards) | Pebax shank | Lightweight and fast
When we first got this shoe, we weren’t exactly sure what to think. Whenever we hear “ZoomX and race day”, we automatically think Vaporfly, but the Streakfly has a markedly different feel. Not that that’s a bad thing– at all. It also makes sense, because this is a pure 5K/10K speed shoe and is tuned for those exact purposes. On the run, the shoe provides a bouncy-yet-snappy feel thanks to the combination of ZoomX and Pebax shank. It’s incredibly lightweight with a breathable-yet-secure upper, so it disappears on the foot. So while some of Nike’s standard daily trainers are middle-of-the-road these days, one thing’s for sure– across the board they still have a lock on race day.
Regarding the Takumi Sen 8 ($180), this probably would’ve been the top shoe except it technically came out in 2021, dropping in late December of last year. But most people didn’t get it on their feet ’til 2022, so we’re throwing it an honorable mention because it really is that good. In fact, it may be our favorite Adidas shoe of the last five years, Prime X Strung notwithstanding (though the Takumi Sen is only $180 and often on sale). It’s a fantastic shoe for anything fast, so for speed days and 10K and under races, it’s hard to recommend a better shoe.
BEST DAILY TRAINER
ASICS Novablast 3
Dropped nearly an ounce of weight | Flytefoam Blast+ midsole is bouncy as ever | We put more miles on this than any other shoe
If you follow us at all, this one should come as no surprise. We loved the last version of this shoe (taking home the same award in 2021), so when we saw that this one would be getting all the right changes in all the right places, we couldn’t wait to try it out. It did not disappoint.
We put in hundreds of miles on this shoe over the summer, and still keep it by the front door. The Flytefoam Blast+ treatment in the midsole makes it a bouncy and effortless ride. It’s very lightweight on the foot, and gains a touch of stability with a bit wider platform. All to say, the Novablast 3 is everything we want in a daily trainer– a shoe that can do everything you need it to, when you want it to, without breaking the bank.
The only shoe better than this? The Asics Superblast, but in our opinion, it’s not enough to justify an extra $80 from the savings account.
We may have actually filed this under honorable mention for most surprising shoe in our video review, but for the purpose of the written review, we’re putting it in the daily trainer category. Kind of the Honda Accord of the daily trainer world, the Saucony Ride 15 ($140)managed to surprise us by offering a very responsive ride in a lightweight package (only 8.8 oz. for a US M9). Throw in a comfortable upper and a 35 mm stack of PWRRUN foam, and you have everything you need in a reliable shoe that will last hundreds of miles.
BEST MAX CUSHION SHOE
New Balance Fresh Foam More V4
Soft and ultra comfortable ride | 34 mm stack of Fresh Foam X midsole | And it got a price cut!
Talk about mudflaps, my girl’s got ‘em. No one loves big bottoms more than Spinal Tap (with the exception of Freddie Mercury and Sir Mixalot). And our own Meaghan Murray, the max cush queen. Well, she’s in hog heaven as it seems max cushion shoes just keep getting more mad, more max. So there was quite a selection to choose from this year, but there was one that topped all the mattresses– the New Balance More v4.
This version of the shoe is huge, at least from the sides. In reality, the stack height is 34 mm in the heel and 30 mm in the forefoot, but with what seems like the softest and bounciest version of Fresh Foam yet. It all comes together for a very moon bounce experience, meaning we can rack up huge miles in this shoe without feeling the effects of those long marathon training weeks. The New Balance More v4 is everything we want in a max cushion shoe, and everything other max cushion shoes should strive for.
Who knew that making an upper from a bunch of spider webs could totally transform a shoe? Apparently, Adidas did. The original Prime X was an ankle breaker disguised as shoe; the instability of the 47 mm of Lightstrike Pro made it sketchy as hell. But in the Prime X Strung ($300), Adidas used a textile innovation that transforms athlete data into a dynamic material tuned to the athlete’s needs. According to them, it “makes it possible to map and program different fiber properties thread by thread.” Whatever it is, it works. Bouncy and fun in all the best ways, this was one of our favorite shoes of the year. And while it’s illegal for pros on race day, you can use it for exactly that purpose. Also, it may be the best looking running shoe of 2022.
BEST STABILITY SHOE
» Saucony Tempus
Stability shoes have had a slower evolution than Carrot Top’s comedy career. For far too long, it’s been a bunch of weird stabilizing pieces overbuilt into a monstrosity that no real runner wants to wear. Luckily, Saucony has reinvented the stability game with the Tempus.
Featuring the same PWRRUN PB midsole foam found in their elite racing shoes, the Tempus gives back the energy you put in, all without sacrificing comfort or feel. A horseshoe-like stabilizing piece wraps the foot from midfoot around the heel, so pronators need not worry. Oh, and did we mentioned this is one of the most lightweight shoes you can buy at only 8.8 ounces for a men’s size 9? Meaning, this shoe can do pretty much everything. And while it’s a stability shoe, this one could really work for any runner who’s looking for a solid daily trainer. It also looks pretty great too, so that’s just the icing on the cake for one of the best overall shoes of 2022.
Note that our one stability reviewer did have some delamination issues inside the toe box, but hopefully Saucony has fixed that in the interim.
Until recently, the Gel-Kayano succumbed to the tragedy of overbuilt running shoes– so many stability pieces, so much weight, and no excitement. The Gel-Kayano 29 ($160) throws out the trash and sticks to some core pieces, namely a touch of stability and the quintessential Gel in the heel. The result is a daily trainer whose weight isn’t overbearing, despite a comfortable and secure upper that keeps the foot locked in and a ride that’s enjoyable for daily training to long miles. We’ve seen next year’s version of this shoe and it gets even better. Stability runners, rejoice.
BEST WIDE FOOT RUNNING SHOE
New Balance SC Trainer
Ultra-high FuelCell midsole stack (47 mm) | New Balance always gives the love to the #widefootfam
This one is going to take up the next two sections, so I guess we’ll cover the meat of it here. The SC Trainer is a shoe that eats up miles, keeps the legs fresh, and gives you the right sensation every step of the way. While we would pretty much reserve this shoe for daily training or easy/long runs, that’s still enough miles on the weekly schedule to justify the $180 price tag. And for the wide foot fam, the shoe follows the legacy of New Balance in accommodating us differently footed folks, meaning they actually think about us as a forethought, not an afterthought. Wide Foot Jarrett racked up nearly 300 miles in this shoe training for the New York City Marathon, and it felt as good as ever that deep into its life cycle.
Like the regular reviewers, Wide Foot Jarrett found the More v4 to offer that extensive cushioning in a lightweight package, making this shoe feel like a dream for those longer distances or daily training. The best version of the shoe yet, and probably the best max cushion shoe available now.
MOST INNOVATIVE SHOE
New Balance SC Trainer
Race day feel in a slow day shoe | Energy Arc rolls you through your stride | Weighs 11.4 oz. (332 g.) for a US M10.5
Let us be real– we thought we were going to hate this shoe when we first got it. On paper, it sounds like a disaster. Heavy AF, a huge stack of cushion (goodbye ankles), and does an easy day shoe really need a carbon fiber plate? Turns out, there’s a reason we’re reviewers and not shoe designers. Because this shoe rules.
The combination of all those things makes the SC Trainer feel unlike any other shoe we’ve tried this year. The feeling is hard to describe, but in short, it has a race day feel in a slow day shoe. The huge stack of FuelCell (47 mm in the heel) gives the SC Trainer a big bounce when it hits the ground, but it’s stabilized by the EnergyArc carbon fiber plate, which helps return the energy into a forward motion. When you get going in this thing, it rolls. And oddly enough, for a shoe with that kind of stack height, it’s supremely stable. We logged some huge miles in this one and it keeps the legs fresh for the next day. Unfortunately, the excellence doesn’t really translate into its race day counterpart (the New Balance SC Elite v3), which really just feels like a lightweight version of this shoe, but without the race day magic we get from other super shoes.
The weight may make you hesitant to click ‘buy,’ but we guarantee that once you’re on their feet, you’ll float too.
At last, a shoe that actually made a big change in the stability world. Saucony managed to take the same PWRRUN PB foam used in the Endorphin Speed and put it in a stability shoe of all places. A horseshoe-like hardened foam wraps the shoe from the midfoot back around the heel, providing the stability needed for pronators. And it all comes together in a very lightweight package, making the Tempus a shoe that can be used from anything from daily training to race day. At the moment, no other stability shoe comes close to what the Tempus has done, and that is a feat to be admired.
Softer Helion foam | Rolls through the stride | Is On a legit running brand now?
It was bound to happen sooner or later. On was going to get their shit together and make a decent running shoe. And it couldn’t have happened to a better shoe than the On Cloudmonster, their take on a max cushion daily trainer. Now, we will say that it’s certainly not max cushion in the way that shoes like the New Balance More v4 or Adidas Prime X are max cushion. Meaning, it’s not super soft or plush. But it is bouncy, and it is comfortable, and it does look good as hell both on and off the run.
A large stack of softer Helion foam combined with a softened Speedboard provide a unique sensation– you can actually feel the Cloudpods compressing and releasing and giving you that nice pop through the stride. From what we’ve seen, you can expect more surprised in 2023, but for now, we were pleasantly surprised– and even delighted– in our experience running in the Cloudmonster. With the Cloudmonster and Cloudgo, On looks poised to make some serious waves in the running world in 2023.
Nitro Elite top layer | Fixed the heel issues | Carbon-infused plate
We admit, it’s a weird category. But there’s enough shoes that fit into it that we thought it deserved a chance. Especially because the Puma Deviate Nitro 2 is simply one of the best shoes of 2022, and it fits so many categories that we didn’t really know where to put it. So yes, this one came a little late to us, but we immediately fell in love.
Puma fixed issues we had with the last version of this shoe, specifically in the heel collar. It’s also more lightweight, and the Nitro Elite foam provides enough of a bounce, combined with the snappy carbon fiber plate, that it can be used as a tempo shoe, daily trainer, or even a budget race day shoe. Plus, the always-excellent PumaGrip outsole, which kind of makes this is a viable trail shoe in an emergency. Simply put, the Puma Deviate Nitro 2 may be the best value-to-use ratio out there. For what you get, it’s a lot, and it’ll get you through any kind of training on your schedule.
This is a shoe that is probably in the top 5 shoes of 2022 for most of us, but just didn’t crack into the top spots in any category. For rocker fans, the Glideride 3 ($150) is a dream of a shoe, offering a GuideSole geometry that really rolls you through the stride better than any shoe out there. The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole is super comfortable and just the right amount of softness without sacrificing feel. This is one of those shoes that flew under the radar for a lot of people, but really shouldn’t have. Perfect for daily training and long runs.
BEST RECOVERY SHOE (SUMMER)
Closed-cell foam | Super comfortable | Variety of styles
Oofos claims that its evolutionary OOfoam™ technology absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam materials to reduce the stress on your feet and joints. While we can’t independently confirm that’s the case, we can assure you they feel good as hell after a long run. After our summer runs, we would slip these on and r-e-l-a-x.
Closed-cell foam | Super comfortable | Variety of styles
Look, we realize this is a $200 piece of recovery footwear. But would you be willing to pay that much for the most comfortable winter shoe your foot has ever experienced? Literally, we just came into the office this week and half of us were wearing this shoe. Again. For the second straight winter.
To say we live in the SPSK would not be an over-exaggeration. The premium shearling wool interior and sheepskin suede exterior wrap the foot in such a way that the only descriptor we can think of is the enveloping warmth of a mother’s embrace. The ultralight PU foam midsole and Countora® insole makes this more comfortable than any Hoka shoe out there, and I swear to God you can actually run in this shoe if you need to. I’ve done it, often, because I’m perpetually late walking my kids to school. Whether it’s this or any of the other dozens of amazing wool slippers and boots that Deckers X Lab perpetually pumps out (which also cost less), your feet will thank you.
Side note: this is a great gift for your significant other and basically what we buy all our family members for Christmas.
We’re not even sure if you can buy this thing (at some point it was available, says it’s coming soon on Asics’ site), but much like the innovative feel of the SC Trainer, this fully 3D-printed sandal ($80) is freaking wild. It’s super bouncy and cushion-y and it really does have an “active breeze” that circulates around the foot, keeping it sweat-free. Based purely on feel, we love it, but you may pick up stray things if you wear it around outside. And no, dog shit wasn’t a problem for us, though apparently that’s a huge thing for people because we get that comment all the time whenever we post a picture of these.
BEST BUDGET SHOE
Saucony Axon 2
One of the best deals out there | Like a cross between the Kinvara and Endorphin Shift
If you’re looking to save a bit of money but still want the feel of the higher-priced Saucony daily trainers (like the Shift or Ride 15), then this is gonna get you pretty close to your goal. A PWRRUN midsole isn’t going to blow your mind, but it’ll provide some solid energy return and durability for a long time. Add in a structured upper and nice outsole coverage, and you got yourself a deal at $100.
Reebook is criminally underrated year after year, despite putting out some really solid shoes at a more-than-fair price point. The Floatride Energy 4 ($110) continues that trend. While you probably didn’t hear much about it outside of true running geek circles, this lightweight daily trainer looks good as hell and offers a snappy feel that makes you remember why you enjoyed running in the first place. It’s simple, for sure, but that’s not always a bad thing, and sometimes it’s a great thing. Also, the Adventure version is pretty much the exact same shoe, just with a bit more of an aggressive outsole.
BEST ROAD SHOE THAT’S A TRAIL SHOE
Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GTX
One of the most comfortable shoes out there | Gore-Tex upper provides waterproofing combined with breathability | We actually have a new outsole rubber!!
We just covered all the good parts in the preview above, but yeah, this is just one of our favorite shoes altogether. Lighter and less clunky than last year’s version (which we loved, by the way), the Pegasus Trail Gore-Tex is probably the best usage of React foam since the much-loved, now-deceased Epic React. It’s so comfortable that we just recommend this to anyone who wants a good walking shoe. Because of that, it also transitions unbelievably well to road, making this an acceptable choice as a daily trainer, foul weather or not.
Of course, a waterproof Gore-Tex upper always helps, though be aware water can still get in near the top of the tongue. Best of all? It appears that Nike has finally improved its outsole rubber, as this version is much stickier and grippier than past Nike Trail outsoles. Which isn’t saying much, cause they’ve been straight-up terrible. Either way, this is the best Nike trail shoe yet, and a very solid road shoe, making it one of the most versatile shoes in general. Pick it up, you won’t regret it.
PRICE: $160 (on sale through Black Friday for $111 at Running Warehouse)
If you’re looking for a good travel shoe that can do it all, or just a simple-yet-solid hybrid trainer, look no further than the Altra Outroad ($140). Its simple design, rockered forefoot, and slimmer profile allowed for a seamless transition between terrain. Overall, the Outroad gets the green light for being a comfortable and versatile shoe. It does run small, so be sure to go up a half size when ordering.
BEST SUSTAINABLE SHOE
Allbirds Tree Flyer
For real, it’s a good running shoe | Eucalyptus tree upper blend and recycled heel counter | Carbon footprint of 8.09 kg CO2e
Previous attempts at running for Allbirds were lackluster to say the least. The Tree Dasher was a shoe you could run in, but I’m not sure why anyone would. So I had my doubts when Allbirds sent us the Tree Flyer, a “super springy and wildly comfortable distance running shoe that makes your extra efforts feel effortless.” First off, it’s not a distance running shoe. But it is a legit running shoe, and really the only sustainably-focused shoe that seems to have pulled off a comfortable ride.
They do so with a SwiftFoam midsole, made of 48% bio-based materials and bio-based Pebax (that’s where the bounce comes from). It’s actually a pretty enjoyable ride for anything under 10 miles. Pretty much everything in the shoe has an element of recyclability, and it all manages to come in under 10 ounces for a US M9. They finally tossed those weird Cheerio-looking eyelets for something more performance-based, resulting in a much better foot lockdown than their other models. Also, the midsole sculpting reminds us of a Tesla Cybertruck, so that’s cool too.
Lastly– this is a great travel shoe. Can pack down small and can adapt to a range of activities in your day to day adventures.
It pains us to put this on here, and we’re probably gonna catch hell for it, but the successor to our favorite shoe of all time was just so… meh. Sure, it still has the basic formula that makes the Alphafly such a great shoe– 40mm of ZoomX in the heel, Zoom Air pods in the forefoot, and a carbon-fiber plate. And the new Atomknit 2.0 upper is probably our favorite fit of any race day shoe. But– it now weighs 8.4 oz. (240g) for a US M9.5, which makes it the heaviest premium race day shoe out there. Add to that a wider base for more stability, and a higher drop (8 mm, which means less forefoot foam compared to v1), and it just all makes for a very lackluster experience.
Don’t get us wrong, this is still a solid shoe, but it just lacks the magic and bounce we loved so much about the original. Across the board, the shoe will be more appealing to a wider audience, but we want danger. This one’s safe.
HONORABLE MENTION: Hoka Kawana and Mach Supersonic
Maybe we shouldn’t have put much stock in the Kawana, and maybe it looked too good to be true, but it was a pretty terrible shoe. Somehow, we put in a 16-mile long run in the shoe and it was probably one of the worst runs we’ve ever had. Following up on that, the Mach Supersonic was neither super nor sonic, and a real flop at Hoka’s first crack into the supercritical foam world. Luckily they remedied it with the trail-racing Tecton X, which is a better road shoe than both of these, by the way. And the Mach 5 was an excellent shoe that could’ve easily landed on this list on a good day (for some of us it was our favorite tempo shoe/lightweight daily trainer of 2022), but it just barely missed out in several categories.
Questions? Thoughts? A favorite shoe that we didn’t pick? Let us know about it in the comments, and here’s to another great year of running in 2023.
Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.