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Max Cushion • December 21, 2023

Most Exciting Running Shoes of 2024: Our Picks

most exciting running shoes of 2024

We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

What You Need To Know

Our Picks

What we’re most excited about for road running in 2024

How We Picked

Some models we’ve tried, every other we’ve seen in person and are judging off past experiences with prior models

Use Range

Everything from daily trainer to race day (in alphabetical order, by brand)

Intro

Each year, we attend The Running Event in Austin, Texas, to get the lowdown of what’s coming in the running shoe world over the next twelve flips of the calendar. And each year, we get super excited for the advancements in shoe technology, the updated designs and colorways, and the emerging trends advancing the evolution of running. It’s an endless pursuit of performance, both for elites and everyday runners alike. We’re honored to be part of it and we do our best to bring you our in-depth thoughts, so you can get excited about it as well. Also, so you can set the line items in your monthly shoe budget.

If you haven’t, you should first check out our 2024 Running Shoe Preview, which details our overall experience at The Running Event and breaks down the trends for 2024, as well as what’s hot and what’s not for most of the brands on the show floor (we were bound to miss a few, since we only had 14 hours of time during the two days we were there).

But for this list, we singled out the shoes that stood out the most to us when we saw them in person. Shoes that we think you’ll be excited about as well. Of course, this list isn’t definitive, but it’s something to start with. There are also a handful of shoes that are still under wraps (and will be until their launch), that will likely be some real cherry bombs in the fireworks display of 2024. We can’t talk about them now, but trust us when we say we’ll be the first to let you know our thoughts.

Just a heads up, this is for road running shoes only, we’ll have a trail version coming out shortly.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out all our video previews on YouTube to get an even closer look at all of the models below. Enjoy those miles in the new year!

The Most Exciting Running Shoes of 2024

altra escalante racer 2 - the running event

Altra Escalante Racer 2

May 1, $140

Watch The Preview
Use

Race day, zero-drop

Weight

8.8 oz. (249 g) for a US M10.5, 6.4 oz. (181 g) for a US W8.5

Stack/Drop

22 mm in heel, 22 mm in forefoot (0 mm drop)

Okay, so this may not be our personal hottest pick of 2024, but we’re putting this on there because the OG version of this shoe is something that Altra super fans really love. And its never seen a proper production run… until now. It also bucks the trend of “everything bigger,” giving those old school fans something to get excited about.

So yes, the Escalante Racer 2 is a pure, zero-drop racing flat with a wide-open knit upper and a 22 mm stack height of Altra Ego midsole. That’s about it, which is sometimes all that you want.

Shop Altra Running
brooks ghost max 2 white

Brooks Ghost Max 2

August 1, $150

Watch The Preview
Use

Max cushion daily training, recovery shoe

Weight

10.8 oz (306 g) for a US M9, 9.5 oz. (269 g) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

39 mm in heel, 33 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a radio signal from the far reaches of the running space, and it’s showing signs of life. That’s right, Brooks is alive and coming back to earth. We probably could have put a few Brooks shoes on this list, but we’re going to stick to the two most exciting ones for us. 

The original Ghost Max was one of our favorite max cushion trainers of 2023 — while it had a high stack of foam, it was just enough to provide comfort without sacrificing performance. It also looked pretty great. But Brooks isn’t waiting around for y’all to catch up; they’re moving full steam ahead with the Ghost Max 2, which will feature an updated midsole made of nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3. That means more bounce and resiliency over the long run.

Shop Brooks Running
brooks hyperion max 2 - the running event

Brooks Hyperion Max 2

July 1, $180

Watch The Preview
Use

Uptempo daily trainer

Weight

9.1 oz (258 g) for a US M9, 8.1 oz. (230 g) for a US W8

Stack/Drop

36 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Another Brooks shoe that hit the mark for us last year, the Hyperion Max 2 gets a few changes that should fine-tune its predecessor into an uptempo monster. It starts with an all-new DNA Flash 2 midsole that “delivers nearly 10% more energy return and is lighter” than its predecessor. Also new is a SpeedVault plate to provide extra stability and propulsion through the stride. Lastly, the stack increases to 6 mm in the heel and 4 mm in the forefoot for extra protection and comfort.

Shop Brooks Running
craft explore hybrid - grey

Craft Xplor Hybrid

Spring 2024, $135

Watch The Preview
Use

Daily trainer, long run, marathon

Weight

10.4 oz (300 g) for a US M9

Stack/Drop

38 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Craft is really honing in on the gravel segment of running, and the Xplor Hybrid is the epitome of that. Literally, the shoe was designed to be the run version of a gravel bike. The type of terrain determines the type of tire, and Craft went with an outsole rubber made in partnership with Vittoria, known for their excellence in touring and gravel tires. Comfort comes in the form of a STEAM TPE midsole and a dual-layer engineered mesh upper. A wider base provides an extra layer of stability, meaning you can roll with this thing for miles and miles on varied terrain.

Shop Craft Running
diadora frequenza

Diadora Frequenza

February 15, $180

Watch The Preview
Use

Tempo

Weight

8.1 oz (230 g) for a US M9

Stack/Drop

N/A (8 mm drop)

We’ll say this: While we’ve always loved the aesthetic and vibe around Diadora running, the performance side of things has been good but never great. Will that change in 2024? We can’t say for sure, but we’re super intrigued. Diadora is coming with a carbon-plated racer (the $200 Gara Carbon), but what piqued our interest the most was the Frequenza — a lightweight tempo shoe that looks like it was made to go fast on the roads. It’s super lightweight and features a nitrogen-infused DD Anima N2 midsole in a racer upper should make this an exciting one.

Shop Diadora Running
hoka mach x 2

Hoka Mach X 2

September 2024, $190

Watch The Preview
Use

Daily trainer, uptempo

Weight

N/A

Stack/Drop

Men: 44 mm in heel, 39 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop), Women: 38 mm in heel, 33 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

We’re never gonna not say no to more Peba, so we’re pretty excited that the Mach X 2 is getting even more of it in the forefoot in the newest version of this plated super trainer. Speaking of plates, the geometry of the bio-based Pebax plate in this shoe has been updated as well, featuring a lateral wing to keep the foot in place in order to harness all that energy on landing and takeoff. Coming in with an over-40 stack height, it will also provide a ton of comfort without sacrificing performance. This was a shoe that really grew on us in 2023, so we can’t wait to try the updated version of it.

Shop Hoka Running
hoka rincon 4 - pink and blue

Hoka Rincon 4

July 15, $125

Watch The Preview
Use

Lightweight daily trainer

Weight

N/A

Stack/Drop

Men: 36 mm in heel, 31 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop), Women: 35 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot

By the time the Rincon 4 comes out, it’ll be three years since the previous version. Some of you reading this probably started your running journey in that time span. Since then, Hoka has expanded its horizons, moved into supercritical and Peba foams, and lowered the weights in many of its models. So do we really need a Rincon 4, a lightweight, budget, daily trainer? Of course we do. 

The shoe features a top-to-bottom update with a dual-layer EVA midsole/outsole with the bottom layer upgraded with an injection molded rubberized EVA for increased durability. It differentiates itself from the Mach 6 in that the Mach is meant for more speed and performance, while the Rincon is meant to give you that classic Hoka feel in a lightweight trainer.

Shop Hoka Running
mizuno wave rebellion pro 2 - austin city

Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro 2

Spring/Summer 2024, $240

Watch The Preview
Use

Race day

Weight

7.9 oz. (223 g) for a US M9

Stack/Drop

N/A

If you thought last year’s version of the Rebellion Pro was aggressive, well, Mizuno sees your bet and raises it. We loved the feel of that shoe but thought it could use some improvements; Mizuno listened and implemented some key changes to the Rebellion Pro 2.

An even more aggressive cut-out in the midfoot to heel makes an even more obvious fulcrum on which to land and propel through the stride. Of course, this is also a way for Mizuno to circumvent the World Athletics stack height ruling — WA measures the stack height at about an inch in from the back of the shoe; if you lop that part off, you can take the stack as high as you want in the midfoot. Which is why the Rebellion Pro 2 has a midfoot stack of more than 52 mm (they’re not the only ones to get around the WA rules like this, by the way.)

The debut version of this shoe had a low ceiling and severe taper in the toe box, meaning our toes got wrecked during workouts. They fixed it in this version, offering a bit more space to accommodate the forefoot.

Shop Mizuno Running
mount to coast - S1 lateral

Mount to Coast S1

April 18, $160

Use

Long distance training

Weight

9 oz. (255 g) for a US M9,

7.5 oz. (213 g) for a US W7

Stack/Drop

26 mm in heel, 16 mm in forefoot (10 mm drop), midsole only

For all we know, this shoe (and its race-day counterpart in the R1) could be a total miss– but we tend to think it’ll be the opposite. Mainly because we tried them on at The Running Event and our first impressions are, yes– they’re the real deal. Maybe that’s because the brand pulled industry talent from Brooks, Nike, and New Balance to develop the shoes. Maybe it’s because they developed it using ergonomic research and data from ultramarathon runners. 

Who, by the way, are the target runners for Mount to Coast– long-distance road runners and road ultramarathoners. How does this shoe cater to that audience? It provides a natural fit, slight stability strikes in each step, and “just-when-you-need-it support” in the form of a polyurethane insert adapted from high-speed rail padding. The midsole itself is made of TunedCell, a supercritical foam with solid rebound and durability. 

We love the clean look and design as well (is Helvetica making a comeback?). The question is this: is a shoe for road ultramarathoning too niche? Or will it have crossover success? We’ll find out soon enough.

new balance sc pacer v2

New Balance SC Pacer v2

Fall 2024, $200

Watch The Preview
Use

Race day, under half marathon

Weight

7.6 ounces (209 g) for a US M9,

6.2 ounces for a US W7.5

Stack/Drop

32.8 mm in heel, 24.8 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

There have been a few major overhauls between early versions of New Balance shoes over the past few years. We’re thinking about the changes between Rebel v2 and v3, Propel v3 and v4, and now the Pacer v1 and v2. 

If you wore the Pacer v1, you know that was a flat in the truest sense of the word (in 2021 terms, anyway). It had a FuelCell midsole and carbon fiber plate, but it felt like you were just slapping concrete the whole time. Great, for those who loved the 1400 in the past; not so great if you were looking to move into the future.

New Balance knew it needed to see some improvements, so they worked directly with Emily Sisson to develop the v2, using data from her races to help inform their decisions during the development process. The end result is a shoe with a 100% Peba midsole, a lightweight carbon fiber plate, and a stack of 32.8 mm stack height (yes, for some reason we’re doing tenths of millimeters now). And it still stays plenty light. 

So is it a super trainer, tempo shoe, or race day? Maybe all of the above, but we’ll find out just in time for fall racing.

Shop New Balance Running
nike alphafly 3 - feature

Nike Alphafly 3

January 4, $285

Use

Race day, marathon (or anything)

Weight

7.8 oz. (221 g) for a US M10.5,

5.8 oz. (164 g) for a US W7.5

Stack/Drop

40 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

Despite many attempts to dethrone its supremacy, the original Alphafly stood the test of time as our favorite race day shoe ever. There was a certain magic and sweetness to the pop-and-go of the ZoomX midsole working perfectly with the carbon fiber plate and twin Air Zoom Units. Then there was the Alphafly v2, which was a bit clunky and lacked the magic of v1. We were sad. That is, until, a couple of weeks ago when we finally got our feet into the Alphafly 3, a shoe that returns to the greatness of the original and elevates it even more. The final result is the finest race day shoe in which we ever did try (which is exactly what Meg did at the California International Marathon in December).

The continuous ZoomX midsole provides a smooth transition, while the Air Zoom units have more space around them to compress and expand. So yes, the bounce we craved is back in spades. The Atomknit 3.0 upper is secure and ultra-breathable and provides a solid lockdown, while the upgraded Fast Shot rubber beneath the pods gives puncture protection and extra grip. 

The best part of all? This is the lightest Alphafly yet.

St. Alphafly, confirm me in the faith, strengthen me in virtue, defend me in the battle of life, for you are the patron saint of going fast and long. 

Shop Alphafly 3 - Men Shop Alphafly 3 - Women

 

 

reebok floatzig - the running event

Reebok Floatzig 1

April, $130

Watch The Preview
Use

Daily training, lifestyle

Weight

9.4 oz for a US M9

Stack/Drop

31 mm in heel, 25 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop), midsole only

This wasn’t going to make our list originally because we honestly had low expectations for it. But we just did our first run in the shoe, and we gotta say– it’s pretty freakin’ sweet. Not only did Reebok bring back some heritage branding in a clean and modern way, but they also brought the usually-yawn Zig tech into a running shoe and it’s… not bad. In fact, it actually feels pretty wonderful, which has always been the case with Floatride Energy foam. But this time there’s more of it in a wide platform, providing a soft-yet-stable ride.

The upper on the shoe is one of those that just fits exactly right, providing a perfectly snug and secure fit. Now, there have been some durability issues with Floatride Energy in the past, but the good news is that if it deadens out on the run, you can always rock it as a casual shoe in its afterlife. Trust us when we say there are many worse ways to spend $130.

Shop Reebok Running
Salomon S Lab Spectur

Salomon S/Lab Spectur

May, $250

Watch The Preview
Use

Race day, marathon

Weight

8.3 oz. (232 g) for a US M9 (unisex)

Stack/Drop

38 mm in heel, 30 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)

When Salomon came out with the S/Lab Phantasm 2 last year, it was clear they were ready to be serious about road running. So serious, it turns out, that they doubled down on race day with the S/Lab Spectur, a shoe made for the rest of us. By that, I mean that it’s a shoe meant for those running 3:30 marathons and slower. 

With a top layer of EnergyFoam+ (Salomon’s bounciest Peba-based foam), a bottom layer of EnergySurge, and a carbon-infused EnergyBlade in between the two, the shoe is designed to give a propulsive-yet-stable ride. We’ve run in this shoe a lot the past month and all agree it’s the best Salomon road shoe yet. Something about the winged plate working with the Peba foam makes it a fast and fun shoe that we keep coming back to. 

The upper on the shoe is extremely comfortable as well, providing a great lockdown with plenty of comfort around the ankle.

Now, when push comes to shove, you’re going to have to trust Salomon’s lab research and marketing when they say this is the best shoe for you. After all, its $250 price tag puts it in the range of most premium race day shoes. Can you believe it?

Shop Salomon Running
topo athletic specter 2 - the running event

Topo Athletic Specter 2

August, $165

Watch The Preview
Use

Do-everything super trainer

Weight

7.6 oz. (215 g) for a US M9

Stack/Drop

37 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (5 mm drop)

As brands get bigger and expand their offerings, it’s easy for them to lose their way, often forgetting that sometimes simpler is better. That’s not the case with Topo Athletic, which has taken the slow and steady approach to gaining trust with its customers. Very intentional and methodical, providing the best without sacrificing the rest. 

The Specter 2 may be the best example of that to date. Following in the footsteps of last year’s sleeper hit in the Cyclone 2, the Specter 2 gets much of the same treatment, just more of it. That means a full Pebax midsole (the actual, brand-name Pebax, not a generic version of it) with a stack height sure to provide both cushion and bounce. It’s crazy lightweight for what it is, coming in at the same weight (7.6 ounces) as most premium race day shoes.

You’re getting a lot of that same feeling in a plateless shoe at $165. Plus, you have that natural toe box and a lower drop for those who want something less aggressive and something that balances the line between an Altra and a Mizuno in the drop department.

Shop Topo Athletic Running

Things We’re Not Allowed to Review or Show But You Should Still Be Excited About

Of course, there are plenty of shoes that we’ve seen but we’re not allowed to talk about because they’re under embargo for some time to come. Some of the things may not even come out in 2024. They’re also typically the most exciting things. So that’s unfortunate. That said, Reddit is your friend, so if you really want to see what we’re talking about, well… you can probably figure it out. Also, some of the more exciting models will be unveiled at the Olympic Marathon Trials at the beginning of February, so keep your eyes peeled that weekend.

In any case, here’s our very veiled language about what we’re most excited about in 2024.

Adidas – Takumi Sen 10 and other Adizero line updates, new Ultraboost

AsicsMetaspeed Edge+ 2 and Sky+ 2, Superblast 2

New BalanceRebel v4 (hoping it returns the excitement we found in the Rebel v2)

NikePegasus Turbo 3 (finally, and please promise this will redeem the abomination that was the Pegasus Turbo Nature), Pegasus 41 (will we get some real updates this time?)

On – Cloudboom Echo 4, Cloudmonster 2, and another bigger max cushion shoe

PumaDeviate Nitro Elite 3, Deviate Nitro 3, Velocity Nitro 3

SauconyEndorphin Speed 4 (great shoe, dials back the Speed 3 and revives the soul of the Speed 2), Endorphin Pro 4 (great shoe, brings back that pure speed feeling on race day)

VejaCan’t believe they’re on here, but the Condor 3 looks to be a legit running shoe

 

 

7
Comments

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Ernst Koetsier says:

    The takumi sen 10 I already saw on sale in Brazil
    .

  2. Bwise says:

    Really looking forward to the Adidas Adizero SL 2 (looks great and seems to have more lightstrike pro).
    The Adidas Adizero SL is a good (average?) shoe dont get me wrong (and also on sale for $45 – Crazy), but its a little firm at first and lacks pop. The geometry is great (love the puck under the fat pads (thomas fav saying) ) and feels fast but like everyone who loves adidas light strike pro – We ALWAYS want more lightstrike pro in a shoe…Always… You can never have enough lighstrike pro.

    love the Boston 12 but i want an adidas shoe with Lightstrike pro and lightstrike 2.0 for an daily/easy long run shoe. The Boston 12 is amazing but it wants to go fast – IMO.

  3. Bwise says:

    edit – love the Boston 12 but i want an adidas shoe with JUST Lightstrike pro and lightstrike 2.0 (no rods) for an daily/easy long run shoe. The Boston 12 is amazing but it wants to go fast – those glass fiber rods are amazing BUT they really spring you along and kick up the tempo- not a bad thing at all but sometimes you need a shoe that doesnt make you want to drop the hammer.

  4. Michael says:

    Isn’t this just the Adios 8 you’re describing?

  5. Jorge says:

    looking forward to the new sc elite from NB. I am a bit leery of it as the sc trainer v2 has been a bit disappointing. the foamy spongy feeling is gone and the upper knit that i just loved is gone.

    I am actually going to try the new Nike’s and i cant believe I’m saying that but the knit upper looks plush and comfy.

  6. Htsf says:

    With maybe some exceptions, it looks like another year of ridiculous high stack height, over-priced, trendy garbage. How about some running shoes that are actually fun to run in, like they were years ago?

  7. John says:

    We used to run in shoes made of wood and we liked it that way.

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