8 Best Shoes You Can Buy Right Now!

From training to racing, from road to trail, here's the cream of the crop of this year's running shoes - right at this moment.


RW Editors |

1. Under Armour Hovr Infinite

running shoes

Price: R2069
Weight: 306g (M)
Drop: 10.1mm (M), 8.7mm (W)
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Under Armour looked to dial up the underfoot cush of this plush neutral trainer. Targeting pillowy soft trainers like the Asics Gel-Nimbus and Brooks Glycerin, the shoe uses UA’s latest midsole foam, Hovr, a compound the company claims is more cushioned and returns more energy than previous versions. This extremely soft material is surrounded by an ‘energy web’, a net-like container that helps boost the foam’s responsiveness.

The shoe doesn’t necessarily feel plush underfoot – tests at the RW Shoe Lab show it to be fairly firm – but we liked the way it felt comfortably protective on longer road runs and recovery days. Where this shoe diverges from the Cadillac-type trainers mentioned above is in the upper. The Nimbus and Glycerin utilise insanely soft memory-foam collars and satiny linings. This shoe has a more basic, workhorse-like build. The ankle lining is a little scratchy, the heel counter a bit hard. – Jeff Dengate

2. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R2 399
Weight: 280g (M)
Drop: 9.0mm (M), 8.2mm (W)
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Maybe you had to look twice, but, yes, this shoe is the Vomero, not the Pegasus. Nike’s long-time plush trainer got a sporty overhaul, and the changes are more than cosmetic. The Vomero is still all about maximum cushioning for high mileage; but now that plush ride comes in a responsive shoe that feels alive underfoot, thanks to a redesigned midsole. That change bothered some testers, who said they missed the soft Vomero they knew and loved. But quicker runners appreciated the change.

The shoe now uses React foam to deliver more pep than Lunarlon, and rather than burying separate forefoot and heel Zoom Air units (as Nike did in the Vomero 13), the company layered a single, full-length unit just beneath the footbed. (We cut one in half to check – it’s there.) The design makes the air cushioning more evident, and provides a firm underfoot feeling. The upper is also new: Foam pods line the heel collar to cradle the foot, and the bottom half of the padded tongue is sewn to the upper for a secure, 360-degree fit. – Dan Roe

3. Mizuno Wave Inspire 15

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R1 999
Weight: 290g (M)
Drop: 12.6mm (M), 10.3mm (W)
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The Wave Inspire 15 debuts a new upper, although the midsole and outsole remain unchanged from version 14. Underfoot, Mizuno still use a combination of highly responsive U4ic foam and its softer U4icX midsole compound, which it places below the heel’s Wave plate to soften up the back half of the shoe. Indeed, the shoe’s heel registered extremely soft scores in tests at the Runner’s World Shoe Lab, and testers lauded its plush feel.

The outsole is grippy on roads, and we enjoyed its durability over months of pavement pounding. The shoe’s new engineered mesh is designed for a softer fit, while its toned-down aesthetic isn’t too aggressive for casual wear. The new upper aids breathability, although its lightness means you’ll want to wear thicker socks for cold-weather runs. Thankfully, the toebox is roomy enough to accommodate wide feet and wool socks. – Dan Roe

4. Asics Gel-DS Trainer 24

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R1 999
Weight: 246g (M)
Drop: 6.3mm (M), 6.4mm (W)
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There are times when shoemakers update a model seemingly for the sake of change alone. The appeal of newness might, at times, blind designers and manufacturers to the good they could have maintained by leaving it alone altogether. But not so with the DS Trainer – the new features improve the shoe, and worthy holdovers from previous models remain high-performing. The all-new knit upper – a first for any Asics shoe – is breathable, lightweight, and comfortable, enabling you to focus on your run, not the fit of your shoes.

This is a model you’ll want to run fast in, thanks to its overall light weight and its FlyteFoam Lyte midsole, which offers a solid ground feel and nice pop. “The energy return I felt each time my foot hit the ground was empowering,” one wear-tester said. “It’s been great for fun group runs and speedwork.” Beware that while this shoe is great for faster, shorter efforts, it may not be the best choice for runners who throw down big mileage each week. Here, the benefits of a light shoe come at the cost of cushioning suitable for multi-hour runs. – Gabriel Lodge

5. Asics Gel-Nimbus 21

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R2 799
Weight: 335g (M)
Drop: 8.1mm (M), 12.2mm (W)
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The Nimbus is now old enough to get the key to the door. A long-time favourite for its soft cushioning and long-distance durability, the Nimbus doesn’t undergo much of a model-year makeover, but it does maintain the elements that have made it such a perennial go-to. For starters, it has an ultra-smooth and supportive ride, thanks to loads of padding via three different kinds of midsole materials. At the top, the Nimbus has what Asics calls FlyteFoam Lyte, a lower-density foam designed to feel great under the foot.

Beneath that, Asics adds FlyteFoam Propel, which has a higher energy return for faster toe-off. And under the heel and forefoot, of course, Asics injects its impact-reducing Gel – it’s less visible from the outside of the shoe than in previous models, but it’s still there. The combined effect is a ride that’s soft but not to the extreme – with enough responsiveness that your foot doesn’t feel like it’s being sucked down into a pillow. The shoe can stand up to miles of hard pavement without losing its rebound. – Caitlin Giddings

6. Saucony Triumph ISO 5

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R2 799
Weight: 330g (M)
Drop: 10.3mm (M) 8.4mm (W)
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With even more cushioning than its predecessor, this neutral trainer is a friend to all with tired legs or who are pounding out long runs during marathon training. The midsole is among the thickest you’ll find in this guide. It’s even thicker than the Hoka One One road shoes, and we appreciated the softness it delivers. The full-length Everun midsole looks and feels the same as its predecessor, but Saucony added 2 millimetres of cushioning (the outsole is now 2mm thinner to keep stack heights the same).

All that foam makes the Triumph bulky. Even so, it has a fluid ride that makes the weight disappear. Saucony tweaked the last, giving it a better hold on the heel and more flare in the forefoot. Testers were mixed on the change, with some saying the toebox felt too roomy. Wide-footed testers, on the other hand, loved the extra space. – Jacob Meschke

7. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v9

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R2 799
Weight: 294g (W)
Drop: 8.0mm (M), 8.0mm (W)
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The 1080 v9 is all about max comfort, much like the Brooks Glycerin 17 and the Saucony Triumph ISO 5 in this guide. But somehow this shoe feels sportier than either of those luxurious trainers. Credit that to the moulded upper and the soft-but-not-mushy Fresh Foam midsole. In fact, that midsole has become softer than in previous iterations, and still feels protective and lively underfoot. NB not only made the compound softer, but also added a millimetre underfoot to boost comfort. The result can be felt on the road, as the shoe is a bit more forgiving than the previous model, yet it can still be turned over quickly when you get the itch to cruise.

Our test team appreciated the footprint of the shoe – long a feature of the 1080 – with full ground contact giving you a stable platform, and a forefoot that flares wide for confident footing at any speed. The upper has seen some big changes, too, designed to improve fit and comfort. The most dramatic alteration is the new moulded heel, which received mixed reviews from our wear-testers. Some of us liked the wrap and structure, but others felt that the lack of extra padding inside allowed them to slide a little after transitioning from mid-stance to forefoot. – J.D.

8. Saucony Peregrine ISO

running shoes
Trevor Raab

Price: R2 349
Weight: 298g
Drop: 5.4mm (M), 5.8mm (W)
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The Saucony Peregrine won our Editors’ Choice award in 2016, and this update follows its winning formula: deep lugs cover the outsole for fantastic traction at any speed. Faster trail runners loved the confidence-inspiring grip when running over muddy, snowy, icy, or slippery terrain that can turn into a wipeout event with only a minor misstep. Credit that to the 78 lugs – a ridiculously high number for any model – that cover the sole. The lugs even extend out from the side of the shoe a bit, ensuring steady footing when running laterally along steep terrain.

This latest version features Saucony’s ISOFit upper, which offers a nearly customised fit with the help of wings on each side of the shoe that attach to the laces. We appreciated that fit most on long trail runs, when our feet started to swell and needed an upper that could accommodate their changing shape. Underfoot, the Peregrine ISO features a full Everun topsole. It’s a thin layer of material beneath the sockliner and above the midsole, which is more durable than EVA yet is bouncier and more plush. – G.L.

HOW WE TEST

The shoes in this guide represent the best of what you’ll find this autumn, and can help you achieve your training and racing goals this year. We tested 104 models in our lab and on the feet of more than 250 runners to find the top-performing road and trail models. In the lab, we measure each shoe’s cushioning ability and forefoot flexibility, while in the real world our test team log a month’s worth of mileage to assess how the shoe interacts with their feet and strides. We put in the sweat, so you can buy with confidence.

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