Saucony Triumph 5
For runners with a neutral gait looking for maximum cushioning, the Triumph 5 provides just that. It also has a moisture-wicking sock liner and arch lock system, ensuring a super solid fit.
"This shoe has less stability than most of the shoes I've run in, but is just as comfortable light as any and has more cushioning than most.
I was surprised by the added arch support, narrower heel to prevent sliding, and wider toe box, which was perfect for my wider foot. All in all, the Triumph 5 is easily one of the more comfortable shoes I've ever tried," says Fineberg.
$120 @ saucony.com
Avia Avi-Lite II
A lightweight performance running shoe, the Avi-Lite II is designed to meet the comfort and support demands of an everyday runner, in a shoe that feels light enough to make you want to race.
"The lightest shoe I've ever used by a long shot. This one has a perfect balance between support and flexibility, but the greatest asset has to be its weight. It felt like there was nothing on my feet. I could have used a little more compensation on the initial impact, but it's a nice shoe with good support," says Smith. "And the reflective shiny bits made me look like a 1980s disco legend—always a bonus."
$100 @ aviadirect.com
This is a lightweight trainer designed to provide exceptional support and stability to runners who overpronate (their feet roll inward) or have low arches. Our testers found they fit great, and, after a little breaking in, ran great too.
"I liked the secure feeling of the shoe immediately upon lacing it up. The cushioning felt firmer than other shoes but wasn't unpleasant. This level of cushioning was fine for the relatively low miles I'm currently running—nothing longer than seven miles. And they got progressively more comfortable with each run," says Antonucci.
$110 @ etonic.com
Asics Gel-Kinsei 2
Asics goes beyond the norm with this super-high-end performance shoe, designed to enhance fit, comfort, and feel for the road.
"From the moment I put these shoes on to the moment I took them off, I couldn't have been more pleased," says Grieco.
"It's probably one of the more unusual-looking shoes I've ever worn—my girlfriend called them space shoes. I was afraid the shoe would feel hard and rigid, but it rode fairly low to the ground and definitely felt faster than I expected it to. I put at least 100 miles on them since I got them and I didn't notice any wear, so it seems like they will last for quite a long time," says Grotewold.
$180 @ asicsamerica.com
Mizuno Wave Inspire 4
For runners needing extra stability because they either overpronate or have flat feet that need more arch support, the Inspire 4 is the ideal shoe. But runners who were simply looking for superlightweight cushioned shoes weren't as impressed.
"The shoe was a bit on the heavy side, and the stiffness made them less than desirable. If I needed the support and stability I'd probably like them more," says Calderwood.
$95 @ mizunousa.com
- Tester: Jeff Fineberg, 21, is an avid runner and a college senior who averages 35 miles a week and competes in 5Ks and sprints.
- Tester: Luke Smith, 23, runs primarily for fitness and to improve his soccer game, but hopes to do marathons in the future.
- Tester: Russell Antonucci, 39, has run in 10 NYC marathons, three Ironman triathlons, and too many shorter races to count.
- Tester: Andrew Grieco, 32, works in event management for NYRR. He runs to lose weight and to stay in snowboarding shape.
- Tester: Sam Grotewold, 29, ran track and crosscountry in college, has been in hundreds of races.
- Tester: Stuart Calderwood, 49, won a Bronze Medal at the 2003 World Master Games Marathon in the 45-49 age group.