It’s spring, which means it’s time to update your shoes for the busy months ahead. Our biggest guide ever highlights the updates and new offerings of the industry’s best brands.
New Balance Zante Fresh Foam
Men’s 215 g (7.5 oz.) ,Women’s 182 g (6.4 oz.)
Drop 6 mm, $130
We’ve had an opportunity to extensively test out the other two New Balance offerings that sport their new Fresh Foam midsole throughout 2014. The 980 and the Trail 980 are both neutral shoes with a firm ride. The Zante is a totally different take on this technology. It’s a lightweight trainer/racing flat hybrid with a much softer, foamier feel underfoot. The Zante has a roomy toe box and fits similar to their extremely popular 1400 racing flat, but the Fresh Foam really adds an additional pop. The full rubber outsole tread helps with durability, and the mostly glued upper is both stylish and lightweight. The area where the Zante really excels is in the style department. New Balance are responding to the increasing demand that a running shoe look and feel good. Upon its initial release, there are a collection of aggressive, bright colourways that declares New Balance as a leader in designing both performative and attractive running shoes.
Men’s 303 g (10.7 oz.), Women’s 247 g (8.7 oz.)
Drop 10 mm, $160
The Pursue is a new offering from Asics. Fans of the Nimbus will find this shoe familiar, but the Pursue is a little lower to the ground, giving it a faster feel. This shoe will work for runners who are still looking for some structure, but want to feel the road a bit more. Eyelet construction hugs the foot and extra cushioning on the heel will clutch to all foot shapes.
Men’s 240 g (8.5 oz.), Women’s 225 g (8 oz.)
Drop 8 mm, $110
One of our testers described the Solana’s upper as like a second skin, which is unsurprising, given that Zoot has a solid reputation as a great triathlon-oriented shoemaker. This is also the company’s first big splash with a dedicated running shoe, and its cushioning and durability will be a hit with those looking for a lot of bang for their buck. The seamless internal fit has little contact points so runners won’t have to worry about having their skin blister.
Men’s 295 g (10.4 oz.), Women’s 249 g (8.8 oz.)
Drop 10 mm, $160
You won’t hold back from running through spring’s wet and slippery conditions in the Supernova Glide Boost. Its substantial rubber sole is one the best in terms of providing grip. This model has extra cushioning in the arch and a wrap in the midfoot of the upper to keep feet secure while enhancing its natural movement. The Glide Boost has been subtly updated for an overall better fit.
Editor’s Pick: Best Neutral Shoe
Men’s 217 g (7.7 oz.), Women’s 185 g (6.6 oz.)
Drop 5 mm, $160
Hoka One One, the shoes that started the maximalist movement, are finally available in Canada. The Clifton is Hoka’s road-focused option. Don’t let its bulky look fool you: this shoe feels like a lightweight trainer. The neutral fit and shockingly light load had our wear-testers gushing about how smooth the ride was with the Clifton. The shoe even performed well during tempo work. If you’re curious about the upside to running in such a cushioned shoe, the Clifton is the right first foray into maximalism.
Men’s 240 g (8.4 oz.)
Drop 5 mm, $120
Designed to suit the needs of runners in on the road, trail and gym, this model is a highly
breathable shoe that should feel light and airy. Although it’s a “training” shoe, meaning it can serve double-duty in a crossfit box, the midsole’s midfoot is structured so runners feel some stability, offering cushioning while maintaining its lightweight feel. The quick-dry synthetic and mesh upper makes for sweatfree feet, even at a warm gym.
Men’s 307 g (10.8 oz.), Women’s 258 g (9.1 oz.)
Drop 8 mm, $180
Now in version five, the 1080 is an excellent option for larger runners without pronation control needs. The fully structured mid- and outsole doesn’t have a cumbersome dense feel, but there is a small plastic shank that offers a minor corrective when form gets sloppy late into a run. The 1080 is a strong everyday option that will handle the mileage of runners looking to do longer distances this spring.
Men’s 286 g (10.1 oz.). Women’s 230 g (8.1 oz.)
Drop 6 mm, $130
Puma positions the Faas 500 as mild support shoe, but our wear-testers found it to have many of the attributes of a lightweight neutral trainer. Although white isn’t the wisest choice for an everyday running shoe, the toe box is roomy and the fabric is breathable and comfortable. The same goes for the tongue area, which is padded for a snug fit. The midsole is soft but not sloppy, but the outsole struggles a bit to gain traction in slippery conditions.
Editor’s Pick: Best New Shoe
Men’s 235 g (8.3 oz.), Women’s 210 g (7.4 oz.)
Drop 4 mm, $170
Saucony wades carefully into the maximalist pool with this shoe. Fans of their Cortana model will enjoy the more cushiony, yet lighter, Zealot. And this shoe is featherlight, considering the support it offers. The Isofit sock-like breathable upper allows the foot to meld nicely into the shoe. The Zealot will be a good go-to shoe for the runner that needs support while tackling long runs. It offers cushioning without feeling like clunky maximalist overload.
Men’s 312 g (11 oz.), Women’s 261 g (9.2 oz.)
Drop 12 mm, $160
The single biggest improvement in this significant update is the addition of a diagonal rollbar that pulls the foot back into place when it slips out of alignment at the strike point. The new Adrenaline also comes in a bolder colourways, proving that stability shoes can look amazing. The moisture-wicking front of the upper will help runners stay dry this spring. The outsoles have solid lugs able to tackle varied terrain and the crash pad makes for smoother heel-to-toe transitions.
Men’s 315 g (11.1 oz.), Women’s 266 g (9.4 oz.)
Drop 8 mm, $180
This update has a cage built into the upper able to accommodate different foot shapes while in motion. Saucony rolled out its Isofit technology with this model, and wear-testers noticed the increased comfort. The upper is flexible and more breathable than previous versions. The lining also is notable in the Hurricane, as it dried remarkably fast. For runners that need a stable shoe and don’t mind a bit of weight as a trade-off for durability, this is a great pick.
Men’s 298 g (10.5 oz.), Women’s 266 g (9.4 oz.)
Drop 0 mm, $160
Altra lives and dies by its zero drop philosophy. If you’re a fan, Altra is developing groundbreaking running shoes. This new Provision delivers moderate stability with its smart pod system in the mid- and outsole. It’s designed to stabilize the tripod of the foot, the network of the three major bones that can get roughed up by improper shoes and triggers injuries. The foot-shaped toe box has become a trademark of Altra, allowing for lots of toe splay. A wise option for those that like to log big mileage, require some support and enjoy a zero drop profile.
Men’s 309 g (10.9 oz.), Women’s 252 g (8.9 oz.)
Drop 10 mm, $200
After 21 iterations, the Kayano is still a category leader. This year’s model is updated with the next generation of FluidRide and a ComforDry X40 sock lining. The upper feels strong and secure and has new heel construction which goes well with its heel-clutching system. This shoe is the definition of stability that will work very well for most over-pronators. The Kayano continues its legacy as the Cadillac of everyday trainers. Ideal for the mild to moderate over pronator, it’s the luxury sedan for your foot.
Men’s 272 g (9.6 oz.), Women’s 241 g (8.5 oz.)
Drop: 4 mm, $155
Engineered to stabilize mid-foot pronation. The M3 provides support, but still embraces Pearl Izumi’s unique approach to constructing lower profile shoes. It’s built with a broad midsole platform to ensure a smooth ride. Considering this shoe is built for stability, it manages to stay unbulky and nimble feeling, due in part to its very low heel-to-toe ratio. The Pearl Izumi system lets you move up and down the drop ratio scale with their various offerings, depending on your needs.
Men’s 300 g (10.6 oz.), Women’s 261 g (9.2 oz.)
Drop: 10 mm, $160
One of our wear-testers said that she felt like she was cheating when she ran in the Sequence Boost. Runs felt effortless. That’s a big compliment for Adidas’s Boost midsole technology, which we feel is the real deal. The Continental rubber sole will ensure no slips during wet conditions and hundreds of K’s of strong performance before any significant breakdown. Nighttime runners will appreciate the 360-degree reflectivity on the heel.
Men’s 290 g (10.2 oz.), Women’s 248 g (8.8 oz.)
Drop: 12 mm, $160
New Balance have made their reputation as a go-to shoe for everyday structure and support. The 860v5 shows that the company is also able to deliver a nice looking stability shoe. This sizable update manages to shave about half an ounce off of version four, but it’s still on the heavy side. That said, it has a nice fluid feel during long runs and even during tempo workouts. Great for medium pronation.
Editor’s Pick: Best Update Shoe
Men’s 275 g (9.7 oz.), Women’s 244 g (8.6 oz.)
Drop 12 mm, $160
Mizuno’s f lagship stability shoe wisely takes a step back to the Inspire 9 in order to improve upon the upper. The midsole goes unchanged from version 10, however, using a rigid plastic plate running from the heel to the midfoot for control and support. Our testers liked the simple grey and green upper and were surprised by how light and nimble the Wave Inspire 11 was for a stability shoe. Long-time fans of this model are going to appreciate that Mizuno corrected some missteps from version 10.
Men’s 235 g (8.5 oz.), Women’s 235 g (8.5 oz.)
Drop 0 mm, $140
This new shoe was designed by Innov-8 for functional fitness. The barely-there upper and low-to-the-ground sole are ideal for those who enjoy a minimalist shoe and want a zero drop ratio. There’s a nice toe splay in the sample forefoot, and the microfibre toe box is super soft. Pressure venting stretch mesh makes for friction-free workouts so you can count on no blisters. The outsole is incredibly flexible and sticky.
Men’s 221 g (7.8 oz.), Women’s 147 g (5.2 oz.)
Drop 4 mm, $120
Skechers’ proprietary method of constructing incredibly light shoes allows the GoRun 4 to fit into the lightweight category when it’s otherwise a great neutral trainer. It features a cushiony padded heel and an upper that almost feels like a water shoe with the synthetic mesh upper. The GoRun 4 was described as feeling bouncy underfoot by our weartesters. Best for the midfoot strikers who enjoy a marshallowy soft ride and don’t mind a shoe that will wear slightly quicker, but has an unbeatable price tag.
Men’s 238 g (8.4 oz.), Women’s 193 g (6.8 oz.)
Drop 11 mm, $190
The third generation of Nike’s gorgeous neutral trainer adds some thoughtful improvements. The knit upper has a tighter weave around the heel for a more structured, secure fit. The toe box area isn’t as stretchy as Nike’s sock-like Free, but has been made more breathable. The Lunarlon midsole remains the same, firm and responsive ride as previous iterations of the Flyknit Lunar 3. Esthetically and in terms of lightweight performance, this neutral everyday runner is a solid pick.
Men’s 286 g (10.1 oz.), Women’s 230 g (8.1 oz.)
Drop 12 mm, $130
Perfect for the runner who needs little-to-no support. The Ignite is very style-conscious, with two aggressive colourways. The midsole is very responsive, light and flexible. It’s a very quick feeling shoe underfoot and will be popular with lightweight runners that like to feel the road and look good doing so.
Men’s 227 g (8 oz.), Women’s 187 g (6.6 oz.)
Drop 5 mm, $130
Brooks has updated its popular and forefoot striker friendly lightweight trainer. The soft upper has padding around the heel and tongue for a snug fit. A midfoot wrap band from the arch to the upper adds stability without going overboard. A rounded heel aids in smoother running motion and toes have room to splay upon touchdown. This is a durable shoe that should take quite the beating and last up to 500k for those craving more mileage in a lightweight option.
Men’s 255 g (9 oz.), Women’s 240 g (8.5 oz.)
Drop 10 mm, $140
Zoot is going for an everyday trainer in a lightweight package here. But for some the Tempo 6.0 will also be a great race day option. The triathlon-oriented drain holes in the sole are actually a smart detail that works well for everyday runners battling Canadian weather conditions. The asymmetrical no-tie laces support all different types of foot shapes. There is some stability in the mid-sole. No-sew construction lessens the chance of blistering and discomfort.
Men’s 215 g (7.6 oz.), Women’s 179 g (6.3 oz.)
Drop 9 mm, $140
The Hitogami is a nice low-profile distance racing flat/lightweight trainer hybrid. Unsurprisingly, Mizuno use their Wave plate technology to create firm, responsive midsole underfoot, which is great for tempo runs or races. The upper has stylish flourishes, but does have a few hotspots, particularly with the stitching where the tongue joins the top of the toe box. If you like a firm, speedy shoe, the Hitogami is a great workout option or marathon racing flat.
Editor’s Pick: Best Lightweight Shoe
Men’s 201 g (7.1 oz.), Women’s 175 g (6.2 oz.)
Drop 6 mm, $140
This entirely new offering from New Balance is similar to the incredibly poplar 1400, but with a touch of stability for those who may over-pronate late into a long run or race. The responsive REVLite midsole has an architectural sensibility, just as the 1400 and the even lighter 1600, both of which were past hits with our wear-testers. New Balance also have upped their game in terms of design with the 1500, continuing a bold new direction for the brand.
Men’s 198 g (7 oz.), Women’s 164 g (5.8 oz.)
Drop 4 mm, $140
The Fastwitch has been a popular marathon racing flat for years. This new version has Saucony offering a more durable version of this model, which will be welcome news for those that wish to do tempo workouts in the shoe without destroying it before race day. Water drainage added to this shoe’s midsole makes it the perfect choice for wet spring racing conditions. There’s even some pronation support built into the shoe, which is an added plus for those who need it but long for a racing flat.
Men’s 162 g (5.7 oz.), Women’s 130 g (4.6 oz.)
Drop 6 mm, $120
In this updated version, Asics adds a new colourway and continues to produce a soft, extremely light distance racing flat. The Hyper Speed is a great half- or full marathoning shoe, with a seamless upper, Gel sole and some support for the long haul.
Weight: 170 g (6 oz.), Women’s 154 g (5.4 oz.)
Drop 0 mm, $130
The Road N0 is Pearl Izumi’s zero drop distance racer. The mesh upper is airy and dry, and it also allows the shoe to be extremely lightweight. The sole is as you would expect from Pearl Izumi: somewhat dense but not rough. One tester said they felt like they were racing in a pair of slippers – they are thin, light and fast. Just enough underfoot for the race.
Men’s 201 g (7.1 oz.), Women’s 173 g (6.1 oz.)
Drop 4 mm, $120
Boston 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi’s signature shoe leverages everything that Skechers does right to make it a very light and quick feeling racer. The tongue of this shoe is incredibly thin so it’s going to be quick dry and is even conducive to sockless running. This updated version is more roomy with a wider toe box and comes with an improved GOimpulse sole and increased stability.
Editor’s Pick: Best Racing Flat
Unisex 244 g (8.6 oz.)
Drop: 12 mm, $120
This update incorporates the more resilient BioMoGo cushioning in the midsole. Great for tempo and interval runs as they feel light, yet sturdy. Solid support in the arch and good grip on the forefoot. This is a pair that’s great for mild or moderate pronators. Keep in mind that this is a unisex shoe, so select a size accordingly.