Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Running Shoes & Gear Reviews

At the Gear Institute, we believe you deserve better running gear reviews. We believe in credible, thorough, expert gear testing designed to give you results you can trust. Our team is made up of serious, experienced runners who know running gear technology and trends inside and out. We test running shoes, apparel, accessories and technology against similar products using the same objective criteria so you compare how they will perform on the road or trail. And we never give any brands favorable treatment—not advertisers, not our personal favorites, not the brands with the flashiest marketing. New to our running gear tests? Start with our running shoe reviews

Berghaus Women’s VapourLight Hyper Smock 2.0

82

2015

Berghaus Women’s VapourLight Hyper Smock 2.0

When Berghaus announced it had designed a sub-three-ounce, fully waterproof jacket geared toward trail runners, testers were skeptical. It proved its worthiness as a contender, however—first nabbing a prestigious 2014/2015 ISPO Award, then winning testers over on soggy summer runs in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0

94

2015

Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0

Named for ultrarunner and mountain multi-sport adventurer Peter Bakwin, the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.0 earns our 2015 Best in Class Award for its comfortable fit, lightweight materials, unbelievable storage capacity and overall versatility in hydration-system options, as well as overall end use.

Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L

83

2015

Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L

The simple Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L keeps loads streamlined, with a cavernous, top-loading storage compartment, 2-liter reservoir, and a few small, front-access pockets for essentials.

Osprey Rev 12

93

2015

Osprey Rev 12

The Osprey Rev 12 is an excellently designed pack—one of a series from Ospery, ranging in size from 1.5L to 24L—and is also one of the most comfortable we’ve ever tested.

Nathan VaporAiress

81

2015

Nathan VaporAiress

The Nathan VaporAiress is about as light as they come—a slimmed down version of Nathan’s popular Vapor series of ultrarunning packs.

CamelBak Ultra 10

79

2015

CamelBak Ultra 10

The Camelback Ultra 10 is a touch bulkier than the other packs in this test, but it rides comfortably and features tons of organizational pockets for keeping your gear dialed.

Montrail FluidFlex ST

80

2015

Montrail FluidFlex ST

The Montrail Fluid Flex ST is a lightweight and supremely comfortable shoe. Although it struggles somewhat on technical terrain, it shines at more up-tempo paces on runnable surfaces.

The North Face Ultra MT

83

2015

The North Face Ultra MT

The North Face Ultra MT is an aggressive, mid-weight trail shoe designed for difficult trail conditions

Brooks PureGrit 4

89

2015

Brooks PureGrit 4

The Brooks PureGrit 4 is amid-weight, 4mm drop all-purpose trail shoe with excellent traction, handling, and speed.

Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte

85

2015

Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte

The Fli-Lyte is a lightweight, low profile neutral road shoe from Topo Athletic that has the best natural foot mechanics of any lightweight trainer we’ve tested this spring.

Black Diamond Sprinter

81

2015

Black Diamond Sprinter

Bright and easy to use, the Black Diamond Sprinter works perfectly for daily pre-dawn or post-sunset runs, especially in urban and suburban environments. 

GoMotion Fusion

77

2015

GoMotion Fusion

The GoMotion Fusion is a light that attaches to the straps of a backpack or running vest. While somewhat of a niche product, it will appeal to those who need a second light source for running at night or run-commuting with a pack. 

The North Face Ultra Cardiac

76

2015

The North Face Ultra Cardiac

The North Face Ultra Cardiac is a comfortable and versatile mid-weight mileage workhorse that can handle a variety of terrain and running speeds.

ASICS Gel Fuji Attack 4

77

2015

ASICS Gel Fuji Attack 4

The ASICS Gel Fuji Attack 4 is a cushioned and comfortable trail shoe that excels on groomed trail. 

Altra Superior 2.0

74

2015

Altra Superior 2.0

The Altra Superior 2.0 is a mid-weight, zero drop shoe that can easily handle daily training duties and a variety of terrain. The major caveat with the Superior is the short, wide fit. 

inov-8 Race Ultra 270

80

2015

inov-8 Race Ultra 270

The inov-8 Race Ultra 270 is a lighter weight (by 20g) and lower version of inov-8’s Race Ultra 290 released in 2014. The aggressive outsole, flexible anatomic impact plate, and moderate midsole cushioning are all designed to allow all-out effort on the roughest off-road terrain. 

Newton Distance IV

82

2015

Newton Distance IV

The Newton Distance IV is a super-lightweight, neutral road shoe from Newton, with POP1 midsole lugs and an updated minimalist, highly breathable upper. 

Costa del Mar Manta

86

2015

Costa del Mar Manta

The Costa del Mar Manta is a lightweight, full-frame wrap sunglass designed with a slightly smaller size and lens profile than others in this test. It also has high-quality polarized lenses that dial in definition. 

Adidas Evil Eye Half Rim Pro XS

89

2015

Adidas Evil Eye Half Rim Pro XS

The Adidas Evil Eye Half Rim Pro XS is a lightweight performance wrap sunglass that’s designed for medium to smaller faces. It features lenses with premium optics, a wrapped design for coverage and protection, with adjustable temples and nosepads for a customized fit. 

Revo Baseliner

84

2015

Revo Baseliner

The Revo Baseliner is a lightweight, full-frame performance-focused wrap sunglass. It also has high-quality polarized lenses designed to reduce glare. 

Rudy Project Ergomask

89

2015

Rudy Project Ergomask

The Rudy Project Ergomask is an ultra-lightweight, performance wrap sunglass that offers a wide field of vision, excellent optics, and a custom fit. It has an anti-fog venting system and an interchangeable lens system.

Smith Pivlock Asana

88

2015

Smith Pivlock Asana

The Smith Pivlock Asanais a women’s-specific, lightweight performance-focused wrap sunglass. It has an interchangeable lens system and comes with 2 lens colors.

SPY Screw Under

86

2015

SPY Screw Under

The SPY Screw Under is a lightweight wrap sunglass that’s the minimalist version of SPY’s popular Screw sunglass. The Screw Under seamlessly blends performance with style. It has a smaller lens profile that is wrapped for full coverage, plus an interchangeable lens system and SPY’s contrast-enhancing Happy Lens™.

La Sportiva Helios SR

81

2015

La Sportiva Helios SR

The La Sportive Helios SR is a soft yet responsive lightweight trail runner with a unique outsole pattern.

Saucony Hurricane ISO

81

2015

Saucony Hurricane ISO

The Hurricane ISO in an extremely comfortable running shoe.

Saucony Zealot

76

2015

Saucony Zealot

The Saucony Zealot is a fast, comfortable, and well cushioned trainer.

Saucony Guide 8

74

2015

Saucony Guide 8

The Saucony Guide 8 is a durable and stable everyday trainer with minimal updates in the new edition. It is best for runners looking for a highly durable and well cushioned shoe.

Montrail Bajada 2

78

2015

Montrail Bajada 2

Like the original, the Montrail Bajada 2 is a versatile, general purpose trail shoe. It can handle a wide range of applications, with the possible exception of aggressive running on technical terrain.

Hoka One One Challenger ATR

80

2015

Hoka One One Challenger ATR

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR is a sub-9oz highly cushioned trail shoe built for long distance racing.  It offers a smooth ride at an unbelievable weight and could be Hoka’s best trail running shoe to date.

Zoot Solana

84

2015

Zoot Solana

The Solana is a lightweight neutral road trainer from Zoot, a triathlon company making its way into the dedicated running category. The Solana has a thin and highly breathable upper with a wide, firm midsole and an 8mm drop platform.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

89

2015

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

The Fresh Foam Zante is a lightweight road running shoe from New Balance, built on a new last and featuring the company’s Fresh Foam midsole material that provides continual cushioning and smooth heel to toe transition.

New Balance 1500

89

2015

New Balance 1500

The 1500 is an ultra-light road running shoe from New Balance with medial stability elements. It is built with the company’s new REVlite dual-density midsole material with “intelligent design” that provides a highly responsive ride.

Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 (Men's)

74

2015

Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 (Men's)

The Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 is a lightweight, low-profile neutral trainer with a 10mm heel-toe drop that marks a middle ground between minimal racing shoes and bulkier trainers. 

Topo Athletic Runventure

86

2015

Topo Athletic Runventure

The Runventure is a rugged trail runner from Topo Athletic that combes the company’s minimalist construction principles with aggressive features to help you blast through technical or challenging terrain. 

Pearl Izumi Road N2

78

2015

Pearl Izumi Road N2

Pearl Izumi’s Road N2 is durable and comfortable enough to use as a high-mileage everyday trainer, but the ride is not particularly smooth. The shoe’s weight and firmness leave speed and agility lacking.

Mizuno Wave Prophecy 4

76

2015

Mizuno Wave Prophecy 4

The Wave Prophecy 4 is a neutral trainer with full-length wave plate, 12mm off set and carbon rubber sole.

Saucony Triumph ISO

78

2015

Saucony Triumph ISO

The Triumph is a plush neutral cushioned trainer with full sock liner, external caging system and 8mm offset.

Asics GT-2000 3

76

2015

Asics GT-2000 3

The Asics GT-2000 3is a neutral to mild pronation control/comfort trainer with 10mm drop and high durability.

Salomon X-Scream 3D

68

2015

Salomon X-Scream 3D

The X-Scream 3D is a road-trail hybrid trainer with quick lace system, internal sock sleeve and stiff midsole.

New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay

71

2015

New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay

The New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay 980 is a neutral, firmer than average, cushioned trainer with hexagonal 3-D lug design.

New Balance MT 101

93

2015

New Balance MT 101

The New Balance MT 101 is a re-issue of the New Balance MT 101, a sub 8oz lightweight trail shoe with a 10mm drop and unsurpassed technical ability.

Brooks PureConnect 4 Review

92

2015

Brooks PureConnect 4 Review

The Brooks PureConnect 4 is a lightweight, low profile, flexible trainer built for speed but which stands up to high mileage and off-road testing equally well.

Hoka One One Constant Review

74

2015

Hoka One One Constant Review

The Constant is a welcomed edition in the Hoka One One line, establishing a firm, stable ride. The medial mono-wrap tongue hugged the navicular and first cuneiform giving a sock-like feel.

Brooks Launch 2 Review

80

2015

Brooks Launch 2 Review

The Brooks Launch 2 is a true renaissance for any distance runner looking for a touch of speed with Brooks’ trademark cushioning.

 Nike Free 5.0 Flash Review

80

2015

Nike Free 5.0 Flash Review

The Nike Free 5.0 Flash adds some key winterization features to an otherwise solid shoe without compromising weight or performance. 

Altra Paradigm

76

2014

Altra Paradigm

The Altra Paradigm is a cushioned trainer competing with the Hoka One One line and other maximalist cushioned shoes. This shoe is best for the long distance runner who wants a lightweight neutral shoe with ample

Topo Athletic Runduro

77

2014

Topo Athletic Runduro

The Topo Athletic Runduro is a dependable and durable trainer for cranking out high mileage training days, and is particularly suited for alternating from road to trail. 

Merrell Bare Access Ultra

92

2014

Merrell Bare Access Ultra

The Merrell Bare Access Ultra presents a well-constructed combination of barefoot mechanics and durable, high-performance comfort. 

Topo Athletic Oterro

89

2014

Topo Athletic Oterro

The Topo Athletic Oterro fits exceedingly well, and—while not the most responsive shoe—provides a great combination of ground feel and comfort.  It proved best for trail runners or fast packers who want to maintain pure foot biomechanics without compromising traction, mobility, or protection on rugged trails. 

Newton Kismet

83

2014

Newton Kismet

The Newton Kismet is best suited for runners trying to transition to forefoot landing, though it also fits nicely as an entry-level shoe.

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