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

Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3

68

2014

Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3

The Salomon S-Lab Fellcross 3 is a 10-ounce shoe designed for aggressive running on loose, sloppy terrain. Although the Fellcross is described as a specialty shoe, it is actually tantalizingly close to being one of the premier technical trail shoes on the market.

Nike Free Flyknit 4.0

88

2014

Nike Free Flyknit 4.0

The Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 is more flexible than Nike’s Free 5.0 and more cushioned than the Flyknit 3.0—it falls into the sweet spot where natural biomechanics intersect with high performance. 

Saucony Cortana 4

83

2014

Saucony Cortana 4

The Saucony Cortana 4 is a low-ramp lightweight shoe with a heaping helping of cushion from heel to toe. The Cortana 4 could be a great marathon training shoe.

Hoka One One Mafate Speed

73

2014

Hoka One One Mafate Speed

The Hoka One One Mafate Speed claimed to be a bombproof trail shoe sporting maximal cushioning, 4mm off set, and huge 30+mm stack heights, while also reducing weight. This shoe is best suited for mid to ultra trail running on primary non-technical straightforward trails. 

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 16

80

2014

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 16

The Gel-Nimbus is a luxurious cushioning shoe that delivered superb impact protection but also performed fairly well in speed and responsiveness considering all that energy sapping foam. It’s best suited for high mileage training for those who value soft landings over efficiency, but don’t want to get stuck with a heavy, clunky shoe. The rebound had more pop than both the Brooks Ghost or Brooks Glycerin, and a softer road feel than any Mizuno shoe.

Asics Gel Pursue

80

2014

Asics Gel Pursue

The SpEVA55 midsole in the Asics Gel Pursue provided excellent cushioning and a firm ride. The impact absorption was not as cloud like as the Ghost 7, it’s turn over felt more rapid.

Asics Gel Cumulus 16

74

2014

Asics Gel Cumulus 16

The Asics Gel Cumulus 16 delivered plenty of impact protection for heel striking with extreme durability as with the entire Asics line.  This shoe is best as an average high mileage trainer for the budget conscious runner who is happy with moderate pacing. 

Spy Cutter

86

2014

Spy Cutter

The frame of the Spy Cutter sunglasses marries lightweight performance and pure style, a refreshing change from the norm in the performance sunglass arena. 

Rudy Project Proflow

88

2014

Rudy Project Proflow

Packed with performance-enhancing features, including defining optics, a lightweight carbon chassis, and full adjustability, the Rudy Project Proflow is the most performance-minded shade I tested. 

POC DO Flow

87

2014

POC DO Flow

Engineered with lightweight performance and pure style in mind, the POC DO Flow was a strong contender in this test. I liked that these shades are a simple multi-sport sunglass that works well for running, cycling, or hiking. 

Oakley Radarlock Path

86

2014

Oakley Radarlock Path

Oakley Radarlock Path offers excellent optics in a lightweight package. With an aggressive wrapped profile, interchangeable lens system, and a lightweight design, the multi-sport Radarlock Path was one of the most performance-minded shades in this test.

Costa del Mar Harpoon

85

2014

Costa del Mar Harpoon

The Costa del Mar Harpoon is a comfortable sunglass offers excellent optics in a lightweight performance package. 

Adidas Tycane Pro

86

2014

Adidas Tycane Pro

With hydrophobic lenses, a lightweight design, and a head strap with a float, this sunglass offers solid performance on the water. 

New Balance MT 110v2

86

2014

New Balance MT 110v2

The New Balance MT 110v2 proved to best suited for midfoot runners seeking protection and comfort for technical conditions, and just enough cushioning and heel support to bomb down long descents. 

Mizuno Wave Kazan

67

2014

Mizuno Wave Kazan

The Mizuno Wave Kazan is a credible general-purpose trail shoe that should appeal to Mizuno brand loyalists and/or recreational runners who are just starting out on trails.   

The North Face Ultra Equity

77

2014

The North Face Ultra Equity

The North Face Ultra Equity is fairly typical example of the cushioned stability shoe. There’s nothing really remarkable about it—either good or bad.

Inov-8 Race Ultra 290

72

2014

Inov-8 Race Ultra 290

The Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 is a mid-weight long-distance shoe with a firm feel that will appeal to runners with wide and/or high volume feet. 

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail

76

2014

New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail

The New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Trail might just have one of the best mid-soles out there. If it weren’t for the narrow forefoot, it would be a nearly perfect shoe for long runs on groomed trails and dirt roads.

Asics Gel Fuji Trabuco 3

75

2014

Asics Gel Fuji Trabuco 3

The Asics Gel Fuji Trabuco 3 is a classic pre-minimalist trail running shoe designed for comfort, protection, and support. What really stoods out about the Trabuco was the balanced feel.

Saucony Xodus 5

85

2014

Saucony Xodus 5

The Saucony Exodus 5 is a rugged, cushioned trail shoe built for protection and comfort on demanding terrain. 

Brooks Pure Grit 3

84

2014

Brooks Pure Grit 3

The improved traction and stability combined with a near perfect balance between cushioning and responsiveness make the Pure Grit 3 a compelling long distance shoe for the performance-oriented runner.

Altra Lone Peak 2

79

2014

Altra Lone Peak 2

Although marketed as a zero-drop natural running platform, the Altra Lone Peak 2 is a decent all-around trail runner that can handle technical trail with the best of them. 

Merrell Bare Access Trail

93

2014

Merrell Bare Access Trail

The Merrell Bare Access Trail worked best for minimalist runners looking for a small amount of comfort and protection for long trail days, or trail runners seeking a low and lightweight race shoe for distances up to 50K. 

Newton Gravity III

83

2014

Newton Gravity III

The Newton Gravity III is considerably more cushioned than the racing-oriented Distance III. 

Newton Distance III

86

2014

Newton Distance III

The Newton Distance III features the 5-lug forefoot, a terrific improvement in comfort that make little or no compromise in Newton’s mission of guiding your foot to the vaunted mid-foot strike.

Brooks Glycerin 12

74

2014

Brooks Glycerin 12

The Brooks Glycerin 12 is a dependable, high-mileage trainer—best for runners who want some feedback from the road, struggle with chronic knee or IT issues, and who crave accommodation more than achieving optimal running form. 

Mizuno Wave Paradox

82

2014

Mizuno Wave Paradox

The Mizuno Wave Paradox is a welcomed replacement of its predecessor the Wave Alchemy, boosting a lighter platform with continued guidance and stability. 

Nike Pegasus 31

71

2014

Nike Pegasus 31

The Nike Pegasus 31 utilizes air cushioning that provided a lighter feeling than Mizuno’s wave rider 17 or paradox. 

Hoka One One Huaka

86

2014

Hoka One One Huaka

The Hoka One One Huaka provided an unsurpassed cushion to weight ratio that maintains Hoka One One’s position as the brand I recommend for runners with poor form or those with chronic injuries who cannot stay away from the road. 

Hoka One One Clifton

78

2014

Hoka One One Clifton

The Hoka One One Clifton’s geometry and lightweight will instantly improve your running efficiency and make you feel fast.

Brooks PureGrit 3

84

2014

Brooks PureGrit 3

Runners looking for a solid but not overbuilt trail shoe with protection and comfort for technical conditions will appreciate the Brooks PureGrit 3. 

Mizuno Hitogami

94

2014

Mizuno Hitogami

In the running shoe world where the design pendulum has swung from barefoot to “how much sole can we glue on the bottom,” the Mizuno Hitogami find that sweet spot in the arc–a lightweight shoe that is still protective enough to wear through long runs. 

Mizuno Sayonara 2 (Women's)

86

2014

Mizuno Sayonara 2 (Women's)

While is a lot to like about the Mizuno Sayonara 2–such as its nimbleness and comfort–it also gives runners a stiffer, "slappier" ride than the bouncy Hitogami.

Women's Brooks Ghost 7

85

2014

Women's Brooks Ghost 7

The Brooks Ghost offers a no-fuss, no-frills ride for all but the lightest and speediest runners who might find the Ghost chassis just too much shoe—too much ramp, too much cushion, too much heel. 

Adidas Supernova Sequence 7

82

2014

Adidas Supernova Sequence 7

The Adidas Supernova Sequence 7 is a good choice for who need a lot of motion control or are exceptionally hard on your shoes. The Boost sole makes for a lively ride on what could otherwise be a fairly ordinary stability shoe. 

Men's Brooks Ghost 7

85

2014

Men's Brooks Ghost 7

The Brooks Ghost 7 remains a top choice for the distance runner favoring heel contact, ample cushioning and light for class weight. 

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

81

2014

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0

The Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 is light, fast, and beautiful in its straightforward simplicity. If you can run on a hard-packed dirt surface, the shoe really begins to shine.

Topo Athletic ST

87

2014

Topo Athletic ST

The Topo Athletic ST meets all the key criteria for high-performance minimalist footwear, and is ideally suited for fast running–either in training or on race day.

Skora Fit

88

2014

Skora Fit

The Skora Fit is an attractive choice for athletes who frequent the gym as much as they hit the road or trail, and want one shoe that serves these demands equally well. 

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra

88

2014

Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra

Salomon’s S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra is a racer’s shoe; it’s an attractive option for runners looking to bust a fast trail 10K 50K, or minimalist runners looking for increased protection and support for longer ultra distances. 

Newton Running Motion III

83

2014

Newton Running Motion III

The new five-lug technology on the Newton Running Motion III represents a major upgrade from past models. Runners who have loved Newton trainers in the past will be extremely happy with the updated Motion III.

Brooks PureFlow 3

84

2014

Brooks PureFlow 3

The Brooks Pureflow 3 is well suited to runners looking for a good all-purpose road training shoe that is light enough for speed work.

Garmin Forerunner 10

92

2014

Garmin Forerunner 10

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a simple to use watch targeting the beginning runner or those who do not need the myriad metrics that often accompany GPS units. 

Merrell All Out Rush

87

2014

Merrell All Out Rush

The All Out Rush hits a sweet spot mix of rugged sole, 6mm drop, comfortable fit, and a rugged upper. 

Scarpa TRU

84

2014

Scarpa TRU

The Scarpa TRU are billed as trail race shoes, and certainly have a higher speed, efficient ride overall. 

Puma Faas 100 TR

80

2014

Puma Faas 100 TR

Best for light, fast, efficient runners, the Puma Faas 100 TR are a lot like trail racing flats. Speedsters should be thrilled by the combination of a slipper-like fit upper with a moderate layer of cushioning. 

New Balance Minimus Zero V2 Trail

85

2014

New Balance Minimus Zero V2 Trail

The Minimus Zero V2 Trail is best for those looking for a zero-drop shoe that has cushioning. The midsole is almost beefy. It’s great agility makes it a fine pick for speed in technical trails. 

Vasque Ultra SST

77

2014

Vasque Ultra SST

At $170, the Ultra SST among the priciest out there.  A number of our team found the fit loose but it does offer nice, deep, long distance cushioning for those it fits well.

Scarpa Ignite

78

2014

Scarpa Ignite

The Scarpa Ignite is a reasonably quick, responsive trail runner, with a solid grip that feels at home on a variety of terrains. It didn’t blow us away, but it was a solid performer. 

MIO Alpha

81

2014

MIO Alpha

The MIO Alpha is a very good strapless heart rate device. What it lacks is the ability to record data and given analysis for workouts. 

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