ROBBE: Skechers is forever parked in a weird garage space in my heart. Part soccer mom minivan, part concept car, part death-of-a-salesman commuter sedan. The driver? A skateboarder who shops at Zumiez instead of an actual skate shop.
Simply put, the Skechers Performance division (i.e. running shoes) will forever carry a certain burden of uncool thanks to its attachment to the mothership. But throw all those preconceptions away, because the ride and actual performance of the shoes are quite often very cool, as they often rank at the top of our list in terms of overall performance (looks notwithstanding).
I’ve run in almost every version of Skechers currently on the market, and while most people fawn over the Razor and its variations (of which there are about a dozen), my favorite model of the entire Skechers family just might be the Maxroad model.
While I didn’t wear last year’s version, I did put in a lot of winter miles on the Maxroad 4. I say winter miles because the upper was hands-down the hottest upper… ever. While comfortable and form-fitting, it was akin to wearing layers of Siberian sable over the feet, i.e. sweltering as shit in the summertime. In the winter though – hoo boy – you stayed toasty. And the ride on that shoe was absolutely beautiful.
Well here we are with the Skechers GO Run Maxroad 5, which is almost the same thing as the Maxroad 4+ (which had a more breathable upper), except with some carbon stuff in it. We’re living in the days of “put a plate in it,” in which every product line manager says ‘why the hell not’ and does just that.
So in this version, we have a carbon-infused H-shaped plate in the forefoot for smooth, quick, and responsive transitions (it actually does make a difference). Everything else is mostly the same. HYPER ARC rocker (this used to be called M-Strike) geometry for smooth transitions, generous Hyper Burst midsole, Goodyear rubber pod-style outsole. And really, really lightweight. And really, really fun.
Anyway, enough of an intro, let’s get into the shoe, which – spoiler alert – may be my top trainer of 2021 so far.
And before you read any further, know this – we know of someone who put 400 miles over 5 days in this shoe out of the box for the Great Race Across Tennessee, and only had great things to say about it. That’s a lot of miles on one shoe in such a short time. If it holds up through that, you know you have a good one on your hands.
RYAN: Summer is a perfect time for water ice – those mouth-staining, sugar-rush-inducing plastic cups with a foil lid and a wooden scoop perfect for mouth splinters. But like one of Peter Pan’s lost boys, I haven’t had one of those sweet summer treats since I was pounding my light-up Skechers around a playground as a kid.
Skechers is back in my running life once again, and even though the Max Road 5 doesn’t look like a grounded UFO with carnival lights galore, it’s still giving me serious water ice vibes. It could be the colorway, or maybe the sugar-rush energy I get from the Hyper Burst midsole. Either way, this shoe is as sweet as can be.
In its own little way, the Maxroad 5 comes with its very own scoop onboard. This is a max-cushion trainer with a carbon-infused H-plate packed right into the thick-as-custard foam. I liked an awful lot about the Maxroad 5, so let’s get into all its summery goodness below.
AUSTIN: So, I thought I loved the Skechers GO Run Ride 9, a lightweight, efficient, and soft daily trainer. But then the fine folks at Skechers decided to drop the GO Run Maxroad 5 and make me question whether the Ride 9 should ever see another sidewalk again. It might, but the Maxroad 5 has eclipsed the Ride 9 very fast as my favorite 2021 daily trainer, right alongside the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4. In fact, I’ll likely reference the Mach 4 a few more times in the paragraphs that follow as the Maxroad feels similar to the wildly popular HOKA in more ways than one.
ROBBE: I don’t know, pretty much everything? I absolutely love this shoe. I’m not gonna start with the upper, which is actually the only bad thing about this shoe (more on that later), but that may just be a personal thing. The good news about the upper is that it’s way more breathable than past versions, and I had no issues in the super humid July days of Baltimore.
Let’s talk about the weight: 8.3 oz for a US M9.0 with a 38 mm stack height in a non-racing shoe? Beautiful. It’s a masterclass in simplicity, providing everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
Skipping to the midsole, it’s classic Skechers Hyper Burst – supercritical, nitrogen-infused foam. Skechers debuted it way back when and now all the cool kids are catching up (Puma, Brooks, etc.). It’s still legit and this 38 mm/32 mm stack height feels absolutely wonderful. To me, this is the pinnacle of max cushion, responsiveness, and energy return. For the most part, I loathe soft shoes, which is what a majority of max cushion shoes seem to be (lookin’ at you Nike Invincible). The Hyper Burst just has fantastic comfort that gives all the energy right back to you (at least it feels like it). It’s also going to last forever. The supercritical foam just does not break down the way that EVA does (ahem, HOKA).
Oh yeah, right, this has a carbon-infused plate. It matters too, because the supercritical midsole combined with the light weight of the shoe and the H plate gives this everything you need to pick up the pace. Toe-off was surprisingly springy, so it was easy to get up to quicker paces. And when this thing rolls, it rolls. I felt comfortable taking this out at any pace. The HYPER ARC geometry sends you straight into the next stride with zero effort. Turnover is perfect and the shoe is surprisingly stable for such a high stack height.
Let’s put a cherry on top with the outsole grip, which is unchanged from the past couple versions. Pac-Man pods with Goodyear rubber provide exceptional grip. No issues here.
Did I mention I freaking love this shoe? Oh, okay. Well I’ll say it again – I love this shoe.
RYAN: Where better to start than with the Hyper Burst? I put plenty of miles on the Maxroad 5 in my testing (thanks, Summer Grit), and they feel as fresh now as when I pulled them out of the box. The max-cushion design lends well to longer runs, but I had no problem picking up the pace for striders to end the day. Even the segmented HYPER ARC midsole is shaped to keep you rolling right through your stride.
I’m also a big fan of the breathable engineered mesh upper. I didn’t run in the Max Road 4, but Robbe informed me that it was a bit like a sweater, so I can only say that this new upper is a great improvement. It offers plenty of room in the toe box, but I can still tighten the laces for a secure fit.
The 6 mm drop in the Max Road 5 works just right for me. After a few recent encounters with high-drop shoes, I’ll take this height all day long. A few of those high-drop shoes fell on the heavier side, too, but not the Max Road 5. With its light weight, you can genuinely forget that it’s on your feet. You’d never imagine there was a carbon-infused plate hiding in this lightweight package.
The Goodyear outsole segments are holding up very well, but I can’t help feeling that they should be a bit bigger. They’re plenty tough, but the segments are recessed a bit far into the Hyper Burst foam, which isn’t quite so durable. It’s soft and comfortable, but probably not meant for much contact with the pavement.
AUSTIN: I thought I would compare the Maxroad 5 more with the Ride 9, but I think drawing distinctions with the HOKA ONE ONE Mach 4 are equally appropriate. For instance, the Mach 4 weighs 8.2 ounces in a US M9. You’d be inclined to think a shoe with the phrase “max” in the name would suggest weight on par with the HOKA Bondi 7 (10.7 ounces in a men’s nine), but the Maxroad 5 is 8.3 oz in a men’s nine. Essentially the same as the Mach.
I was surprised when I saw the specs, but the ride reflects the lightweight package. Hyper Burst, the midsole compound also in the Ride 9, provides a soft but responsive feel along the roads. Again, I expected more of a marshmallow, but the Maxroad brings the cush without bottoming out or feeling mushy.
Along with being light and swift, the Maxroad features an engineered mesh upper, HYPER ARC rocker geometry, and a carbon-infused H-Plate for some rigidity. Word salad translation? The shoe encourages a midfoot strike, much like the metarocker in HOKA models. The outsole, while strange in appearance, provides solid traction courtesy of Goodyear rubber. I like the “pod” formation in the middle section of the outsole, complemented by a horseshoe pattern in the rear and a few more pods at the top for excellent toe off.
Finally, the fit is superb. Like the first time my feet went into the Mach 4, elation unfolded as I slipped on the Maxroad 5. A generous toe box, simple lacing configuration, pull tab (yay!), and minimal upper overlays provide a superb fit from front to back.Shop Maxroad 5 – Men Shop Maxroad 5 – Women
ROBBE: In terms of fit, I actually liked the knit upper of the Maxroad 4 better than this, but as I mentioned earlier, the warmth of that was just unsustainable. Now, this upper is pretty breathable and fared well in the gross humidity of Baltimore. However – and this is the same issue I had with the Razor+ – the upper just seems to be too roomy, most notably in the toe box. I could not get a good lockdown. During one long run, I stopped probably three times to try and get it tighter because I felt I was getting a hot spot from my foot sliding around. (And no, they’re not too big, it’s less than a thumb’s width between my toes and the front.) If you have a larger volume foot (or even a wide foot?), this probably won’t be an issue for you. Nevertheless, I think it could be improved all around, and I think Skechers really needs to make sure this isn’t an afterthought going forward.
RYAN: This section is short and sweet for me because there’s not much to complain about on the Maxroad 5 at all. If I had to bring up a few issues, the first would be the laces – they’re just too soft and squishy for my liking. They stay nicely tied once I get them under control, but the softness can make them hard to grip well and tie tightly.
My other issue has to do with a few of the midsole gaps. I don’t mind the segmented design, and it works really well going from front to back, but I found that little pebbles liked to nestle themselves between the tighter sections. I never really felt said pebbles, but the repeated sound of a pebble grating on concrete isn’t one of my favorite songs.
AUSTIN: With multiple runs in the Maxroad 5, I figured some issues would emerge. I’ve got nothing, friends.Shop Maxroad 5 – Men Shop Maxroad 5 – Women
ROBBE: What can I say that I didn’t already say? This doesn’t have the same specialty technology in some of my other favorite shoes (e.g. Saucony Endorphin Speed), but for a max cushion shoe that can do it all – holy crap, I don’t think I could ask for anything more.
This will make for an excellent shoe for anyone in marathon training as the cushion will keep your legs fresh but will also let you pick up the pace. With its light weight, I honestly think this would also make for a great marathon shoe for someone who wants to run in comfort and isn’t trying to drop a ton of dough. You get some minimal carbon action, great energy return, and max comfort in a lightweight package.
All that to say, this is one of the most underrated shoes out there. The people who know, know, as almost everyone who’s run in this shoe falls in love with it. With a breathable upper and carbon-infused plate in this newest version, this is the best one yet.
RYAN: If you want a max-cushion shoe that looks like those high-fructose water ice cups you remember from childhood, this is it. If you’re hoping to recapture a little bit of a sugar-rush feeling in your feet, the Max Road 5 has you covered. Someone asked me about the shoe at the Believe in the Run grand opening party, and I couldn’t say enough good things about it.
I have just one more good thing to add, though, and that’s the price. Skechers is asking a reasonable $135 for the Max Road 5, and it’s worth every penny. Sure, you could get a lot of water ice cups for that money, but at that point people would just think you’re weird. At least switch it up and put some Otter Pops in that freezer.
AUSTIN: Barely heavier than the Mach 4 and lighter than the Ride 9, the Skechers GO Run Maxroad 5 demands a closer look considering the classification as a max cushion shoe. What’s more, it’s the same price as the Mach at $130 (on sale at Running Warehouse). I’m nearing 300 miles in the Mach, and I have no qualms about substituting the Maxroad as a comparable replacement. Yes, the Mach is a little more responsive, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed running in this shoe, especially with all the extra comfort, at no cost to the weight. Simply put, this is one of the best shoes of 2021. I hope you find it equally outstanding.
You can pick up the Skechers GO Run Maxroad 5 for $135 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Maxroad 5 – Men Shop Maxroad 5 – Women