11 Most Exciting Running Shoes of 2023: Our Top Picks
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The most exciting shoes of 2023 (from what we know so far)
Things are getting pricier… and spicier
One of these shoes will change the running shoe game– again
This year is already starting out with an absolute bang. We’ve seen the early release of the Adidas Takumi Sen 9 (hands down the best tempo shoe right now), as well as the surprise drop of the Saucony Endorphin Elite, the brand’s most advanced running shoe to date. Throw in the Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro and Asics Gel-Nimbus 25, and well… what else is there to be excited about? Well — plenty.
To help you get amped for 2023 (and give you a bit of that crystal ball action for where your money will go over the next 11 months), we’ve put together this list of the running shoe’s we’re most excited about for 2023. Of course, this list is fully subjective, and beauties like Skechers may lie in the eye of the beholder, but we’re pretty sure you’ll get stoked on some of these too. It’s not inclusive of everything (namely trail shoes), and we may have stashed a couple in the pocket that we can’t talk about or that we’re on the fence about (i.e. Hoka Mach X, Nike Invincible 3, Saucony Kinvara Pro).
Still, it’s enough to get you started. We also drop a little Easter egg at the end for y’all, so stick around to get a tip on the shoe that will change everything.
Best Race Day Shoe
7.4 oz (211 g) for a US M9
40 mm/32 mm (8 mm drop)
After a barn-burner of a year in 2022, Saucony continues to pull fresh-baked cookies out of the oven. Warning: they’re hot AF so don’t burn the roof of your mouth, unless it’s already scarred from eating late-night Elio’s as a kid.
Out of nowhere comes the Endorphin Elite, a shoe to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Saucony. It’s the brand’s most advanced shoe to date. The midsole features PWRRUN HG cushioning, which Saucony says returns 95% of your energy, though that kind of sounds like a Ron Burgundy stat, tbh.
The shoe also features a heel-to-toe forked carbon plate, an ultralight upper with midfoot mesh webbing, and a PWRRUN PB sockliner. All of this in an incredibly light package, just over 7 ounces. Of course, the most premium of Saucony shoes is going to cost ya — it’s now the priciest race day shoe in running, tied with the Nike Alphafly Next% 2. Can it stand with the legend? We will see.Read The Review
7.9 oz. (223 g) for a US M9
39.5 mm heel, 35 mm forefoot (4.5 mm drop)
A few months ago, we’d never imagined that a Mizuno shoe would be on this list, but here we are with quite possibly one of the best race day shoes… period. The Rebellion Pro flips the script on the stale Mizuno story, offering what will certainly be one of the true gems of 2023.
The construction and design are absolutely wild, with a drastic heel bevel serving as a backdoor bypass of the World Athletics race-day rules (despite a true 50+ mm midsole stack, the shoe is still race legal by World Athletics standards thanks to the heel angle). The result of this double layer of Enerzy Lite on the bottom, Enerzy Lite+ on the top, and a carbon-infused nylon plate in between is a level of comfort and propulsion that we’re not sure anyone else has replicated.
It’s not perfect — the toe box is far too cramped and it’s a bit unstable — but it’s pretty damn close, and it’s a sure sign that Mizuno is starting to take running innovation seriously again.
The limited-edition Kakizome PB colorway (based on traditional Japanese ceremony where people write their first calligraphy of the year) releases in March 2023.Read The Review
9.8 oz. (278 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W7
39 mm heel, 33 mm forefoot (10 mm drop)
One of our favorite shoes overall for 2022 gets a major facelift in only its second version. While we didn’t love the weight of last year’s model, all was forgiven on the run when the combination of an EnergyArc carbon plate and FuelCell midsole proved to be the perfect formula for cruising long miles.
The SC Trainer 2 loses over an ounce of weight, but things get tricky when the stack height drops by 8 mm, putting this in a weird spot. Part of what we loved about last year’s version was that huge bed of comfort situated around a carbon plate, so we’re interested to see how much this one changes with a lower stack height.
Now, New Balance says the FuelCell formulation in the midsole is updated and will be significantly less dense and much lighter while retaining similar hardness and energy return. We’ll take their word for it since they’ve hit the mark on most of the FuelCell line in the past, but we’ll only know for sure once we have it on our feet.
If they can pull off the same feeling with a lighter weight and lower stack, then we’ll have a top contender for trainer of the year.
8.3 oz. (235 g) for a US M10
40 mm heel, 35 mm forefoot (5 mm drop)
It’s about damn time, that’s all we have to say. Hoka was one of the first to the game with the Carbon Rocket, but it seemed like a rushed attempt at a carbon shoe and was honestly kind of garbage. And then there was the original Rocket X with a carbon plate and EVA midsole, which we liked at the time, but quickly disappeared into the background as everyone else leapfrogged ahead. That was two-and-a-half years ago.
Finally, finally, we have a legit race day shoe from Hoka. Seen on the feet of athletes like Steph Bruce and Aliphine Tuliamuk, the Rocket X 2 features a dual-layer Peba midsole with a full-length carbon fiber plate. Weight-wise, it falls into the mid-range of racing shoes at 8.3 oz. for a US M10. Not as heavy as the Alphafly, but not as light as the Endorphin Elite.
Either way, it’s good to see a legitimate race day option for Hoka. Will it outperform the others coming this year? Hard to say, but we should find out soon.
Daily training/long run
10.9 oz. (309 g) for a US M9, 8.5 oz. (241 g) for a USW7
41 mm heel, 35 mm forefoot (6 mm drop)
One of Robbe’s favorite shoes of 2021, the Maxroad, is back and bigger than ever. Now coming in at a whopping 41 mm in the heel with an all-new Hyper Burst Ice midsole, the shoe seeks to replicate that rolling comfort of v5, while improving on the durability and quality of the upper.
That said, we’re a bit concerned that the shoe picked up a whole ounce and a half — one of our favorite things about v5 was its phenomenal weight-to-comfort-to-performance ratio. It was a near-perfect balance of all three. This still has the carbon-infused forefoot plate, and a more generous layer of Goodyear rubber (which was much needed).
With everything we’ve seen, the new version of the Maxroad 6 may sort of fill that space that the SC Trainer had last year, while the GoRun Ride 11 may be the new Maxroad. In fact, Skechers has said as much in talking to them. So maybe the Ride 11 is the most exciting Skechers shoe of 2023? Sure, why not.
One thing is for sure — Skechers is legit, whether people want to admit it or not.
Daily trainer/long run
10.2 oz. (289 g) for a US M9 / 8 oz. (227 g) for a US W7.5
41 mm heel, 33.5 mm forefoot (8 mm drop)
Comfort is the name of the game for the Gel-Nimbus 25. It’s everywhere in this one, from the supremely plush ankle collar to the stretch tongue to the almost 42 mm stack of Flytefoam Blast+ midsole underneath. I mean, it’s a max cushion shoe at this point, no doubt about it.
It stays the same weight as last year but gets more cushion in the forefoot and an Ahar+ rubber segment on the outsole of the heel. This is a Gel shoe of course, so while Asics has finally hidden it away like an unruly stepchild that refuses to grow up and leave the house, it’s still there — just in the form of PureGel, a segment of shock absorption in the heel.
In any case, some of us already have close to 100 miles in the shoe, and while we’re just as shocked as you are to have the name “Nimbus” on a most exciting shoes list, it deserves to be on here.Read The Review
Spring/Summer 2023 (probably)
40 mm heel
It’s the freakin’ Vaporfly, of course we’re excited for it. The shoe that changed it all is back for the third version, which appears to be more stable with a more breathable lightweight mesh upper. Handling it at The Running Event, we could see that an angular heel counter and new midsole structure add some new dimension to the shoe, and while the ZoomX felt slightly firmer, we don’t trust our own “hand test,” so we can’t say for sure until it’s on our feet.
Nike is notoriously hush-hush on their shoes, and getting info from them harder than asking a mime for his social security number, so we don’t have any of the technical aspects of the shoe yet.
But we can assume it’s a 40 mm stack height of ZoomX, that it weight somewhere in the low-to-mid-7 oz. range, that it has a carbon fiber plate, and that it costs at least $250.
It could come out tomorrow, or in July, just keep your Nike app close by to get the bat signal.
Oh, also, the Nike Vomero 17 is probably going to be the best Nike running shoe this year, because, on paper, it appears to be the second coming of the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2. Fingers crossed on that one. Of course, there’s also the Invincible 3, which we should be getting in any day now, so we’re looking forward to trying out that update as well.
Daily training on road and light trail
9.5 oz. (272 g) for a USM9
31 mm heel, 23 mm forefoot (8 mm drop)
Craft has always been known for its premium quality apparel and craftsmanship, and it’s been going hard trying to get its burgeoning shoe segment off the ground. It seemed like the air was a bit too thin for the propellers with past shoes (like the CTM Ultra Carbon), but the 2023 roster looks quite promising.
Honestly, it was a bit hard to choose which shoe we were most excited about, because they kind of all look cool as hell, and cover a wide range of use cases. But the Nordlite Speed looks interesting with its full supercritical midsole, carbon plate with a forked toe, and hybrid traction outsole designed for road and light trail. It does weigh 9.5 ounces for a US M9, but Craft contends it’s all part of the durability and longevity of the shoe. The whole “mixed-use” thing seems to be the angle Craft keeps honing, and we’re kind of digging it. All adventures should be on the table when it comes to running.
The only downside is that their shoes are for sure on the high end of the price scale; this one comes in at $235.Shop Craft Running
Daily trainer/long run
9.7 oz. (274 g) for a US M9
40 mm heel, 30 mm forefoot (10 mm drop)
This one may kind of fly under the radar, and it’s true that we didn’t even include it on our YouTube roundup. But in reality, this may be the most exciting Puma shoe of 2023. After all, we’re talking about a full Nitro midsole with the highest stack of any Puma shoe.
An internal and external molded heel keep the foot in place, while the ever-incredible Pumagrip outsole provides durability and grip for miles on end. This could quietly become one of the best max cushion shoes of 2023, or at least in the mix, especially at $140.
9 oz. (255 g) for a US M9
42 mm in heel, 34 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)
By all accounts, the Kinvara is a legend in the Saucony lineup. A decade ago, its light weight and simplicity made it a go-to shoe for everything, from race day to daily training. But its allure has started to fade as shoes have made the move towards more cushion and more energy return in a similar weight range. In short, the core idea of the Kinvara become outdated (though we gotta say– this year’s version is kind of nice with an extra 3 mm of midsole). Enter the Kinvara Pro.
With this shoe, Saucony takes the basis of the Kinvara and attempts to elevate the product to modern shoe making standards. The goal is to “democratize innovation,” and create a shoe that suits both the elite and everyday runner. The midsole design features a layered cushioning system: bottom is a full-length bed of PWRRUN foam, above that is the same tear-drop shaped carbon fiber plate found in the Endorphin Pro, then comes a layer of PWRRUN PB (sandwiched between foot and carbon plate), then it’s all topped off with a 7 mm PWRRUN+ sockliner.
Long story short, you get all three Saucony foams in one shoe, as well as a carbon fiber plate. Madness, but in a good way. Upper is more built up and structured than the Endorphin Pro or Speed, and it still manages to stay lightweight at 9 ounces. Needless to say, we’re very intrigued and excited to see how this shoe fares against others in its range (i.e. New Balance SC Trainer).
Now does this mean that the Kinvara is going away? Of course not. However, we have seen the Kinvara 14 and we can assure you that it appears to be quite an upgrade to the traditional Kinvara. We don’t have a timeline on that release, but since the Kinvara 13 came out early 2022, we’re assuming that we’ll see the 14 by summer.Shop Saucony Kinvara - Men Shop Saucony Kinvara - Women
Late Fall 2023/Early 2024
$300 (at least)
Daily Training/Moon bouncing
Unknown, but at least 47 mm in the heel
The first Prime X Strung was one of our favorite shoes of 2022 and it’s for sure our favorite Adidas shoe right now (you can also pick it up below). But this next version– it’ll change everything.
We’re dying to dish, but we promised our German overlords that we won’t give any of the details of the Adidas Prime X Strung 2. But we’ll say this: we have tried it on, and what the Vaporfly did for race day, the Prime X Strung 2 will do for training day. That’s all.
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Have something to say? Leave a Comment
Any word on the Nike Air Zoom Structure 25? The 24 came out in September 2021.
You have super pumped for the prime x 2. LFG
This is getting silly with this high stack height hype. Soon there won´t be any shoes for us who prefer traditional road shoes.
Is there a mistake where it says the SC Trainer 2 stack height drops by 8mm?
Nope, that is correct.