Spring 2014 Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide

Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Saucony Virrata 2, $90

6.6 oz. (men’s); 5.9 oz. (women’s)

18mm (heel), 18mm (forefoot)

Fit: An improved fit—enhanced by a new upper with thin, stretchy inner and outer layers and a touch more heel-cup support—offers security in the heel and midfoot but room for toes to wiggle and splay.

Feel: Is it possible to have maximal cushioning in a minimalist-inspired shoe? That’s what the Virrata 2 is all about. Crazy light, softly cushioned and with a zero-drop profile (meaning it’s flat from heel to toe), the Virrata 2 continues to be in a rare category.

Ride: It’s not a “barely there” minimalist model, but it sure runs like one. There’s plenty of cushioning and protection underfoot, but the easy flex (aided by deep outsole grooves) and lithesome effect make it feel like part of your foot. Our testers universally liked this shoe, even though a few admitted the zero-drop profile was too little for their running needs. “I like this shoe a lot, but I would love it if it came in a 4mm heel-toe offset,” one-wear tester said. (The Saucony Kinvara 5 has a 4mm offset, but it’s not quite as light or nimble.)

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