Mizuno Wave Ascend 8, $110
Category: Cushioned Cruisers/Rugged Mountain Runners
Weights: 11.4 oz. (men’s), 9.6 oz. (women’s)
Heights: 29mm (heel), 18mm (forefoot)
Fit: These have a medium fit from heel to toe and run true to size. The firm heel counter and pronounced heel cup keep your foot locked in place.
Feel: The Ascend 8 feels soft and cushioned underfoot with a secure, enveloping upper. Mizuno has continued to refine this shoe, and the revamped upper and improved foot-to-ground connectivity mean a more agile sensation with every stride.
Ride: These delivered an easy ride with enough cushion and flexibility to deliver a slick experience on both the road and trails. They also had the lateral stability and multi-directional lugs needed to maintain secure footing when routes presented off-camber surprises. This shoe straddles the line between being a cushy cruiser and a shoe more adept for mountain running. It definitely has the cushion for all types of surfaces (and is high enough off the ground to protect from obstacles under your feet), and its outsole lugs are both grippy and low-profile. Most wear-testers felt it could use more toe box and sidewall protection against bumps and abrasions.