This fall’s running road shoe lineup is about as consistent as a pile of autumn leaves: varied with something for everyone. You can find anything from flyweight supple racers to sturdy and waterproof trail stompers. Some are bare-bones with zero drop. Others are thick and pillow-like. Here’s our take on the best of the season’s offerings.
$100, roadrunnersports.com Weight: 10.3 oz. (men’s), 8.7 oz. (women’s pictured) Drop: 12mm
The Revel could easily be called the “Millennial Shoe,” given that it is versatile, affordable and transitions easily to casual settings—read: pairs well with jeans. The knit upper that uses a computer-generated pattern (which allows for different densities of weave in particular zones of the upper) not only gives it some hipster cred, but also makes the fit conforming. More so with the internal bootie construction and a flexible material that Brooks added to the arch area for a more secure foot hold. The upper splay and mobility accommodate bunions, hammertoes and overlapping toes. Testers enjoyed the “just right” cushioning, forefoot responsiveness and plush heel that made it an easy pick for everyday training.
Under Armour Charged Bandit 3
$100, underarmour.com Weight: 9.1 oz. (men’s pictured), 7.5 oz. (women’s) Drop: 8mm
Tagged as the “performance fashionista” by our testers, the Charged Bandit 3 and its anatomically fitting SpeedForm knit upper is finely tuned for security, a precise fit and a locked-in rear-foot—courtesy of the external heel counter. The two layers of compression-molded midsole foam up the Bandit’s durability and rebound, while the flex grooves make for a responsive, smooth transition and easy toe-off. The antimicrobial Ortholite sockliner is an added odor-fighting bonus. Try before you buy, because the sizing was on the small side.
$130, altrarunning.com Weight: 8.2 oz. (men’s), 6.5 oz. (women’s pictured)Drop: 0mm
With a stretchy engineered knit upper and the wide toe box that is a signature of a company that emphasizes the importance of toe splay, the Escalante is a “big foot” runner’s dream—nice and roomy without looking too blocky. And, thanks to Altra’s new high-rebound “squishy” midsole material, the Escalante served up a low-to-the ground ride with plenty of underfoot feeling.
$130, on-running.com Weight: 7.8 oz. (men’s pictured), 6.8 oz. (women’s) Drop: 5mm
With the Cloudrush, On connects the dots between the Cloudflash and Cloudflow. If the Cloudflash is a 5K-to-half-marathon racer, the Cloudrush is a half-marathon-to-marathon racer, and the Cloudflow is more of a lightweight trainer and could go the distance in an ultra. The flexible, lightweight Cloudrush uses 18 independent “Cloud” cushioning EVA cells that compress when weighted, for a flowing, roll-through performance. The clean skeletal upper applies the concept of foot taping, as you may have received from a trainer for a secure foot hold—though a little long in the toes. The eye-catching white, black and silver reflective elements make it one of the sharpest looking of the season.
Adidas UltraBoost All Terrain
$220, adidas.com Weight: 11.7 oz. (men’s pictured), 9.6 oz. (women’s) Drop: 10mm
The UltraBoost is a shoe-in for when the days get shorter. It offers comfortable, ankle-warming, water-repelling seamless knit uppers. The aggressive tread with rubber from tire-maker Continental is specially designed to provide traction in icy conditions. Our testers called the shoe “classy," “well-made” and “stable” and appreciated that the encapsulated polyurethane midsole compound provided energy-returning qualities in hot and cold conditions. The knit upper envelopes the foot so nicely that the laces are almost superfluous.
Mizuno Wave Sonic
$100, roadrunnersports.com Weight: 7.8 oz. (men’s), 6.5 oz. (women’s pictured) Drop: 4mm
Some days you just want to run at a fast clip. When those days hit, it helps to have the equipment that will facilitate a rapid pace. The Wave Sonic is just such a vehicle. With its svelte lack of weight, form-fitting upper and Mizuno’s signature springy structure, known as the “Wave plate” (a plastic piece that runs through the midsole of the shoe), the Sonic offers quick turnover for tempo training or racing unless you are light on your feet and can use this as a training shoe too. The one-piece, seamless upper blends with the minimalist bottom unit, leaving testers with an irritation-free design experience.
$110, amazon.com Weight: 9.8 oz. (men’s), 8.2 oz. (women’s pictured) Drop: 8mm
The Spinject is 361°’s best all-around shoe to date and ran as one of the better all-around shoes on the market, making it an excellent everyday trainer. The responsive neutral cushioning was “wonderfully greater than average,” especially in the forefoot—but it didn’t overdo it to the point of making the shoe rigid or otherwise impeding the flexibility enjoyed by our test team. The seamless knit upper and supple, unobtrusive tongue were the biggest call-outs of the Spinject, especially with the added midfoot security of a soft internal webbing incorporated into the upper package.
Icebug DTS3 RB9X GTX
$180, amazon.com Weight: 11.6 oz. (men’s), 10.2 oz. (women’s pictured) Drop: 12mm
Icebug, as the name indicates, knows tough running conditions. Although the DTS3 RB9X GTX—say that quickly three times—doesn’t sport the company’s signature metal spikes, the shoe does boast a Gore-Tex upper and the outsole is made to grip wet surfaces while providing the durability necessary to tolerate asphalt running. Testers found the Boa lacing quite secure and enjoyed the cushioned tongue, observing that the shoes could “float you over the toughest crags in the worst of lightning-ridden downpours.” The all-weather distance trainers are admirably cushioned and offer a hint of motion control while retaining impressive forefoot flex.
$160, amazon.com Weight: 9.9 oz. (men’s pictured), 7.9 oz. (women’s) Drop: 8mm
“Dialed-in sock” is the best way to describe the Dynamis and its upper. It combines a tube sock–like upper—that is comfortable and adapted well to testers’ different foot shapes—while securing them with a Boa lacing system. More commonly seen in other footwear such as snowboard boots, cycling cleats and golf shoes, it was easy to adjust on the fly. The bottom unit of the Dynamis was well cushioned, but not over the top, making them well suited for a comfortable marathon shoe.
Hoka One One Clayton 2
$150, roadrunnersports.com Weight: 8.3 oz. (men’s pictured), 7 oz. (women’s) Drop: 4mm
Hoka made some needed changes to the Clayton, adding a bit of weight to the incredibly light original while successfully addressing customer concerns. The addition of Ortholite insoles solved problems with blistering that had plagued the first Clayton. Hoka also expanded the fit and base in the midfoot to increase comfort and stability. Although testers found the midsole stiff from toe to heel, the Clayton’s rocker engineering, with a well-cushioned midfoot, serves up a dynamic roll-through with protection and propulsion.