2016 fall shoe guide

We placed 27 of the hottest new shoes on a spectrum so that you can find what truly works for you.

August 30th, 2016 by | Posted in Running Gear Video | Tags: , , , , , , ,

NB 1400v4New Balance 1400v4
Men’s 206 g (7.2 oz.);
Women’s 177 g (6.2 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$130

One of our favourite trainer-racers, the 1400 gets a modest upgrade in its fourth incarnation. Instead of switching the 1400 to their new Fresh Foam, New Balance sticks with the slightly denser RevLite midsole material for a firmer, faster feel underfoot. The 10 mm drop means there is some heel protection, making the 1400 a great crossover shoe for either doing faster workouts or races up to the marathon. The upper has been slightly improved to streamline the design, making the V4 the most comfortable 1400 yet. Our testers have always raved about the premium materials and no-sew construction used to piece together the 1400, and this version continues this excellent approach to making a fast, comfortable shoe. It’s for just about anyone wanting to run a fast 5k, or a lighter more efficient marathoner.

Brooks AsteriaBrooks Asteria
Men’s 235 g (8.3 oz.);
Women’s 193 g (6.8 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$140

Brooks has overhauled their lightweight category with the super-light racer, the HyperIon, and the more versatile Asteria. Similar to Saucony’s Fastwitch or New Balance’s 1500, the Asteria is firm and poppy at the forefoot, but with a bit of posting built into the medial arch and heel. The idea is that even more efficient runners tend to get sloppy and fall back on their heel in the latter stages of a long race. The upper is constructed primarily with mesh and lots of glued-on, overlaid synthetic material for breathability and a locked-in fit. The Asteria is an excellent option for many different kinds of marathoners looking to push hard during a tempo run or for a new PB on race day.

Under Armour Bandit 2Under Armour Bandit 2
Men’s 278 g (9.8 oz.);
Women’s 230 g (8.1 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$120

In 2016, Under Armour pressed the reset button on its approach to running shoes. Their revamped lineup is remarkable. The Bandit 2 could be considered one of the finest updates we’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s better categorized as a reinvention, or, in our testers’ experiences, a revelation. This neutral trainer is poppy and really comfortable. The stretchy upper flexes and moves with the foot and is irritation-free. It’s a bold yet simplistic design with subtle flourishes, such as the wisely devised heel cup, that show how serious UA are about running. The midsole delivers a supersnappy return on the toe-off and a satisfying amount of cushioning under the midfoot and heel. Our testers gave this shoe high praise for its ability to keep up during tempo runs and comfort during a long haul. Brilliant shoe.

Hoka_One_One_fall_shoe1

Hoka One One Clifton 3
Men’s: 235 g ( 8.3 oz.);
Women’s: 203 g (7.2 oz.)
Drop ratio: 5 mm
$170

Hoka’s signature training shoe, the Clifton, features plush cushioning in an extremely lightweight package. The Clifton 2 was already a fan favourite but has been updated in subtle but significant ways. The Clifton 3 offers a slightly widened forefoot which should be an immediate hit for those with wider feet. The upper was also reconstructed with softer, more compliant materials that improves comfort, breathability and make the shoe even lighter. While not designed to offer extra support, the wider base and plush cushioning naturally provide a supportive and responsive feel. Now available in multiple colourways both for men and women, the Clifton is more appealing than ever. At $165, the Clifton is a bit of an investment but given its durability and dependability as a training and performance shoe, we think its well worth the extra cost.

Zoot Coronado
Men’s: 312 g (11 oz.),
Women’s: 278 g (9.8 oz.)
Drop Ratio: 12 mm
$150

As with Zoot’s more neutral focused shoe, the Del Mar, the Coronado is a reliable and well constructed everyday trainer for those looking for a stable shoe with that Goldilocks amount of cushioning – not too firm, but not too soft; just right. This run-specific model from the triathlon brand for mild heelstrikers who want a shoe that can handle a lot of abuse over a long season. The Coronado isn’t an overly flashy model, and it’s not trying to reinvent how the cushioned trainer is meant to look or feel, but that’s to its credit. It just works well. The eva foam is resilient and reactive, which will appeal to most runners looking for a fully supportive shoe.

Asics DynaFlyte
Men’s 264 g (9.3 oz.);
Women’s 221 g (7.8 oz.)
Drop ratio: 8 mm
$180

After over 30 years of reliance on Asics Gel, the Japanese running shoe giant has unveiled an entirely new midsole technology: FlyteFoam. This material is slightly denser and much more impact resistant than conventional eva, using what we suspect is a Kevlar-like synthetic fibre to deliver a ride that feels just as crisp at kilometre 500 as it did on the first run. The DynaFlyte is the first shoe to roll out this new midsole, and it’s a fitting release. This everyday lightweight trainer was in development for more than two years. It feels similar to previous midsized Asics trainers, but has a bit of a performance attitude to it. Our testers felt it was soft but explosive on the toe-off, and they loved the subtle but handsome upper design. A fantastic everyday neutral trainer.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N0
170 g (6 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4.5 mm
$100

The N0 is Pearl Izumi’s lightest, firmest shoe. The “N” stands for neutral, and the “0” is a convention (from 0–3) rating their lineup’s cushioning level. Unsurprisingly, the N0 is incredibly thin underfoot, and very firm. The most amount of cushioning actually comes right at the midfoot, where these shoes will place you if you’re running fast. The N0 is an extremely simple shoe. It’s actually all you really want for a blazing-fast 5k, but it’s also a very focused design. The one caveat is that it’s also quite f lexible, which will appeal to those with strong feet looking to get up on their forefoot or midfoot and crank out a PB. Our testers found the upper to be just as light and breathable as you’d expect out of a f lat, and the N0 compliments the N2 or N3 well for everyday training.

Pearl Izumi EM Road N2Pearl Izumi EM Road N2 v3
Men’s 273 g (9.6 oz.);
Women’s 235 g (8.3 oz.)
Drop ratio: 7.5 mm
$160

The N2 is right in the middle of Pearl Izumi’s sweet spot of cushioning for a neutral runner. The company has developed a cohesive line of trail and road shoes that work really nicely together. Transitioning from, say, their trail N2 to the road version is about as effortless as you’d imagine. Pearl Izumi has a pretty specific fit and feel. The 3D printed upper is one piece of material fused together, so there aren’t any hot spots and the material is quite light and breathable. The shoe fits to size and has a decent amount of room in the toe box. All of Pearl Izumi’s shoes are a touch firm, which produces a performance-oriented feel even in this cushiony trainer. If you like your shoes slightly on the firm side, the N2 is a great everyday option.

NB Fresh Foam VongoNew Balance Fresh Foam Vongo
Men’s 300 g (10.6 oz.);
Women’s 249 g (8.8 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4 mm
$170

The Vongo is New Balance’s first true lightweight stability shoe. It essentially takes over for the 870 (which has been discontinued). That model used their older RevLite material in various grades of density, all glued together with posting to provide support and cushioning. The Vongo is built on top of a single piece of their Fresh Foam midsole. It’s light and it’s super responsive. But what’s brilliant about it is that it can be made at different grades of density and firmness, meaning that New Balance can dial in areas of stability and softness, all in one piece of cleverly contoured and cut material. The upper is in line with the edgy designs that New Balance has come out with lately. If you’re looking for a supportive shoe that’s remarkably light, the Vongo should be a nice fit.

Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7Asics Gel-Hyper Speed 7
Men’s 170 g (6 oz.),
Women’s 130 g (4.6 oz.)
Drop: 6 mm
$120

It seems like each version of the Gel-Hyper Speed develops an almost cult-like following. Many (including American marathon legend Ryan Hall) were nervous when Asics decided to revamp the super-light racing flat for a seventh iteration. The Gel-Hyper Speed 7 is a big step up for the brand, and ushered in a whole new approach to making a lighter, smoother upper. The shoe’s midsole is quite flexible and a touch softer than many racing flats, making it a tempting option for a marathon, and a perfect companion for 5ks all the way up to the half. Asics managed to reinvent an already great shoe and in the process do a bit of research and development that we’re now also starting to see in their trainers. A soft, fast ride for race day.

Asics Gel KayanoAsics Gel-Kayano 23
Men’s: 326 g (11.5 oz.),
Women’s: 261 g (9.2 oz.)
Drop Ratio: 10 mm
$220

If you’ve purchased a pair of running shoes in your life, chances are you’ve at least tested out the Gel-Kayano at your local running shop. It’s one of the most popular shoes ever created – enough support for a mild pronator, and built for lots of comfortable Ks. We really liked version 22. It saw a much needed update to the upper, adding their FluidFit technology, which consists of lighter mesh and virtually no stitching. This new Kayano rounds out the evolution of this Asics staple shoe with their new midsole material called FlyteFoam. Asics hasn’t entirely abandoned the Gel cushioning, but instead has it blend with FlyteFoam for a much more responsive ride. Our testers found that the Kayano is a little snappier at toe off. The Kayano 23 might be the single best update yet for this well-loved everyday cushioning trainer.

Skechers_GOMeb_Speed_3_1

Skechers GOmeb Speed 3
Men’s 193 g (6.8 oz.);
Women’s 145 g (5.1 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4 mm
$160

A steady cult of fandom has formed around the GOmeb model amongst our testers over the last couple of years. The initial version of this very particular shoe was shockingly soft and flexible. It was decidedly for the lightweight, fleet-of-foot runner. That distinction more or less remains, but the GOmeb has evolved its durability and fit to be slightly more well-rounded. The 2016 update to the third version incorporates a knit upper which is really comfy and stretchy, allowing for wider feet and fewer hot spots. We also really like the look of the patterns and colourways of what Skechers is calling “GOknit” material. A softer ride for a racing shoe and useful for tempo runs and speed sessions. The upper is a strong step forward for Skechers, although it does come at a price increase.

Skechers GOrun Ride 5
Men’s: 238 g (8.4 oz.),
Women’s: 190 g (6.7 oz.)
Drop Ratio: 4 mm
$125

Skechers’s fifth GOrun Ride has a fantastic knit upper and loud colourways that will be sure to draw attention on the roads. This shoe is right smack-dab in the middle of Skechers’s lineup from lightest (see our GOmeb Speed 3 review for a slipper-light racing flat) to their plushest ride. The brand has come to be known for producing affordable, super soft, flexible shoes, and the GOrun Ride 5 is no exception. Our testers who were familiar with Skechers’s lineup going back to the first offerings from the shoe giant felt that the GOrun Ride 5 is a mature shoe that has figured out what it does best: soft cushioning and a minimal feel. Although this lightness and softness means the GOrun Ride 5 isn’t the most durable trainer, it’s still priced well and extremely comfortable.

Brooks Hyperion
Men’s 179 g (6.3 oz.);
Women’s 150 g (5.3 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$150

Along with the Asteria, the Hyperion sees Brooks reinventing their roster of shoes at the leaner, meaner end of the spectrum. The Hyperion is their full-on racing flat, replacing the well-regarded T7 Racer. The Hyperion is built with a straighter last (gone is the curvy, asymetrical design of the T7), which should appeal to a broader audience looking for a race-day shoe. The big advancement with the Hyperion is in the upper. It’s a stretchy knitted single piece of material that’s quite sock-like. The one drawback of this shoe is in the heel counter. It’s unusually high, which could agitate certain runners (but it did not bother any of our testers). If the fits works for you and you’re looking for a a firm ride for a 5K to half-marathon, the Hyperion is a solid option.

Hoka One One Instinct
Men’s 235 g (8.4 oz.);
Women’s 210 g (7.5 oz.)
Drop ratio: 3 mm
$170

The brand that invented “maximalism” does an about-face and has created, well, a regular looking shoe. But the trailultra- oriented shoemaker hasn’t abandoned its approach to making light, cushioned, forward-thinking designs. The Instinct is an unusual hybrid. It looks like a lightweight road trainer, but has just enough tread to work under all sorts of conditions. This is a good thing for Canadian runners who need a shoe that can crossover from the roads to the trail, and even through some snow in winter. The midsole is built from two distinct layers of foam: a firmer feel in the forefoot and a much softer heel area. It’s great for aggressive trail running and longer efforts on a country road. The upper Hoka’s most durable and esthetically pleasing yet. The Instinct is an exciting new direction for a smart brand.

Zoot MakaiZoot Makai
Men’s: 255 g (9 oz.),
Women’s: 232 g (8.2 oz.)
Drop Ratio: 8
$155

Zoot is a decidedly triathlon oriented brand, but in the last year or so they’ve released a lineup of running-focused shoes that we found to be no-fuss and quite a good value. The Makai is their most triathlon-focused shoe, but we really liked it as an everyday trainer for efficient neutral runners. It’s firm and fast, but has some support. Because it’s meant for tris, the Makai is quite breathable, and really easy to dial in for that perfect sock-like fit. It also has a slightly different esthetic than most running shoes, with a lock-lace system and big “Zoot” printed across the mesh upper. Our testers raved about the comfort around the foot, and in particular the cushioning around the heel collar. A surprisingly appealing neutral trainer for pretty much any runner.

Saucony Omni 15Saucony Omni 15
Men’s 306 g (10.6 oz.);
Women’s 258 g (9.1 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4 mm
$170

Saucony hasn’t abandoned the pronation control category and the Omni is one of the more robust offerings for those who need medial support. The midsole features a big chuck of firm eva wedged in from the heel all the way through to the midfoot to correct and support all the way through touchdown to toe-off. This update also includes better breathable mesh in the toebox, as well as Flexfilm now holds the upper together, which is a laminent overlay in place of lots of glue or sewing. A better reinforced heel The biggest upgrade is in the few millimetres of Everun that completely covers the topsole of the shoe. Unlike pretty much every other brand, Saucony are opting to tuck their new foam tech just underneath the insole, and our testers noticed a bounciness and pop to the new Omni because of it.

Under Armour SpeedformUnder Armour
Speedform Gemini 2
Men’s 295 g (10.4 oz.);
Women’s 255 g (9 oz.)
Drop ratio: 8 mm
$160

Under Armour got ahead of the industry through aggressively integrating tech into their products. The Gemini 2 is the first shoe to have an embedded Bluetooth tracker. That means that this “smart shoe” can communicate all the data from your workout directly to your phone or computer, effectively replacing a running watch. The chip is built into the Gemini’s midsole and won’t ever need a battery. It syncs smoothly to UA’s Healthbox products and app ecosystem. But what about the shoe itself ? Apart from the fancy tech inside, the Gemini is a no-nonsense neutral everyday trainer. One tester said that they didn’t notice the shoe at all during test runs, which is in a sense the highest form of praise for a high-mileage shoe. It’s on the pricey side, but the Gemini is a premium trainer with an exciting tech upgrade.

Under Armour slingrideUnder Armour
SpeedForm Slingride
Men’s 241 g (8.5 oz.);
Women’s 211 g (7.45 oz.)
Drop ratio: 6 mm
$130

Under Armour’s SpeedForm Slingride delivers an extremely lightweight trainer designed for those with speed on their mind. The Slingride is seriously light. It slips on the foot and barely feels like it’s there. The “burrito tongue” is sock-like and wraps around the foot. The upper features a seamless, singlewoven fabric constructed using one of the world’s strongest fibres and creates no unwanted friction or rubbing. You often have to remind yourself that you’re even wearing shoes. You will of course notice the attention you’re getting from wearing a shoe that looks just as good as it feels. The lightweight design and its natural flexibility also helps strengthen the foot while encouraging a more mid to-forefoot strike. It is ideal for distances up to 10–15K.

Saucony_Type_A_1

Saucony Type A
Men’s 147 g (5.2 oz.);
Women’s 4.5 g (127 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4 mm
$140

Saucony’s no-frills racing flat loses the numbering system (the last incarnation was called the Type A6) and keeps things simple. That’s fitting for this style of shoe, which is firm and designed specifically for shorter  road racing efforts. The Type A’s extremely firm out- and midsole are perfect for very fast running, and has not changed from the A6. But the upper sees a significant upgrade. Saucony has completely rethought the fabric construction of the Type A, opting to use their FlexFilm no-sew overlay system in place of all the mesh that held the A6 together. The result is a smoother, more secure fit with zero worry about hot spots or the upper wearing out after only a few races (as can
be the case with such stripped down shoes). One of the lightest and fastest road shoes we’ve ever tested.

Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged
Men’s 284 g (10 oz.);
Women’s 237 g (8.3 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$210

For years, there was always a pretty big divide between style oriented shoes and real-deal performance running footwear. But in the last couple of years, brands like Adidas have drastically improved the look of their shoes by infusing them with fabrics, colourways and street style influences, while keeping at the forefront of performance driven technologies for runners. The Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged is a super stylish trainer. It sports a premium Primeknit sock-fit upper that’s like a fine garment, with very few unclean lines or obtrusive add-ons for structure. The full Boost midsole is what you’d expect: plush and bouncy. Because of this, and the stretchy upper, this is a very soft and flexible shoe. One of our testers said he had a tough time actually running in the shoes because he was tempted to wear them out on the town instead.

Topo Athletic UltraFly
Men’s 286 g (10.1 oz.);
Women’s 244 g (8.6 oz.)
Drop ratio: 5 mm
$180

The newest shoe from the former CEO of Vibram A stiff chunk of EVA material on the medial side for some support. The UltraFly is technically a stability shoe, but it works well for neutral runners as well. Previous Topo shoes have been pretty firm, but the UltraFly’s thick midsole layer offers bounce and cushioning. The upper feels a bit more like a trail shoe than a road trainer, but our testers really liked how resilient it felt. The UltraFly is rugged and made with sturdy materials and should outlast many shoes on the market today. The nicest aspect of the Topo line is the roomy toebox, which allows for wider feet and more toe splay. A tough everyday trainer for those looking for something that’s going to go the extra mile.

New Balance Vazee Pace V2
Men’s 270 g (9.6 oz.);
Women’s 223 g (7.9 oz.)
Drop ratio: 6 mm
$140

Last year, the Vazee Pace was introduced as a quick everyday training shoe. It replaced the much-loved 890, but was firmer and even more aggressive. The Vazee Pace V2 is very flexible, retaining that firm, thin forefoot. The redesigned outsole has an even more responsive, grippy feel. The new mesh forefoot and knit-like collar, along with glued on overlays updates the upper of the shoe. New Balance also have a whole new series of colourways that range from conservative to dazzling. Neutral runners looking for a firm shoe that can be worn almost every day should try out the Vazee Pace V2.


Mizuno WaveMizuno Wave Sayonara 3

Men’s 238 g (8.4 oz.);
Women’s 198 g (7 oz.)
Drop ratio: 10 mm
$155

The Sayonara started off as more of a straight-up racing flat for Mizuno. This third iteration sees the Japanese brand overhauling the model and transforming it into more of a lightweight trainer, albeit with some kick. The biggest shift is in the cushioning. Mizuno beefed up the midsole to create a much softer shoe (although it still retains the brand’s trademark firmness). On the outsole, an extra millimetre of more durable rubber is tacked on to make this more of a big mileage shoe. The mesh upper is breathable, but seems like it has quite a few unnecessary overlays. Although, for an everyday shoe, the Sayonara is still quite light. A risky update that will please those looking for a more durable
marathon shoe.

Saucony Zealot ISOSaucony Zealot ISO 2
Men’s 269 g (9.5 oz.);
Women’s 244 g (8.6 oz.)
Drop ratio: 4 mm
$180

If the Ride is Saucony’s simple, bread-and-butter neutral trainer, the Zealot is their more decadent offering in the same category. The Zealot 2 sees the company outfitting the entire top of the midsole with their new Everun material, which is very soft and almost bouncy in its responsiveness. The premium midsole is complemented with a new, more rubber outsole that’s divided into three quadrants for improved flexibility. The upper also sees nice high-end finishing touches, like the namesake iso fit along with Saucony’s FlexFilm, which functions like a series of straps and light mesh wrapping around the foot for an added snugness. The Zealot is a bit chunky, but feels plush and smooth during an easy run or light tempo work and is one of the more durable shoes we’ve tested. A premium everyday neutral trainer.

Nike Zoom All OutNike Zoom All Out Flyknit
Men’s 306 g (10.8 oz.);
Women’s 242 g (8.5 oz.)
Drop ratio: 6 mm
$265

The All Out is another curious and alluring offering from Nike. It looks like a hybrid of an Air Max and the LunarEpic FlyKnit. Like the latter shoe, the All Out reveals that Nike is still game to push the envelope in shoe design. But how does it feel? The All Out’s full (and beautifully visible) Zoom Air midsole is springy, firm and responsive. The upper is a revelation. Just as with the LunarEpic, our testers found that the high collar was remarkably snug and comfortable, without feeling constricting. The toebox is wide and very breathable, and the All Out could almost be worn without laces. This aggressive new offering should attract those that love the look of the LunarEpic but found the midsole too soft. A firm, fast ride.

Nike Zoom OdysseyNike Zoom Odyssey 2
Men’s 320 g (11.3 oz.);
Women’s 264 g (9.3 oz.)
Drop ratio: 12 mm
$200

The Odyssey 1 arrived less than a year ago to little fanfare. It’s Nike’s idea of a premium, fully supportive shoe. Fans of their highly popular Structure model will recognize the gridlocked midsole, but the Odyssey takes it one step further, offering full posting along the medial side. Nike also outfits the Odyssey 2 with a pair of Zoom Air units in the heel and forefoot. The upper is composed of Nike’s snug Flywire wraparound construction with comfy, super-breathable mesh. It’s a wonderfully comfortable shoe in every regard: surprisingly soft for such a structured shoe, and reasonably flexible with a fitted feel around the foot. Although many shoe companies are moving away from motion control shoes (and presumably Nike is as well), this is a durable and sophisticated offering for those that need lots of support.

Many of the featured shoes can be found at local running retailers across the country. Support your local store by visiting one of these shops.