10 Most Comfortable Running Shoes: Feel Like You're Running on Air

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Whether you're a casual runner or a 5K pro, functional—and comfortable—footwear is an important aspect of training endurance and overall foot health. Your shoes can mean the difference between completing your running goals or limping home in pain. In fact, you're more likely to complete your run when you're moving forward comfortably and not putting any unnecessary strain on your knees and feet, enabling you to run faster for longer.

So, with so many shoes to choose from—like a reverse Cinderella—how do you get started finding the most comfortable running shoe to fit your unique foot and running style? Don't sweat it, the ACTIVE Reviews Team has got your back, and feet. We put in the mileage to collect the best-cushioned running shoes in a variety of brands and categories so you can easily find what you're looking for in comfort.

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ACTIVE.com's editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

The Most Comfortable Running Shoes - Our Top Picks

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Most Comfortable Running Shoe Overall - Brooks Ghost 14

Most Comfortable Running Shoe Overall - Brooks Ghost 14

SPECS

  • Midsole: DNA Loft
  • Upper material: 3D print (recycled, synthetic), engineered mesh
  • Sole: Rubber, Omega Flex Grooves, Segmented crash pad
  • Toebox: Narrow
  • Weight: 10 oz. (men) 8.8 oz. (women)
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Maximum
  • Heel/forefoot height: 32mm, 20mm

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The Ghost 14 running shoes are our overall top pick because they are one of the first 100 percent carbon-neutral shoes that include plenty of cushion along with a high ventilation system and taller heel drop. These features work together to produce a smoother, stabler, and faster ride that comfortably fits most foot types.

We especially like this shoe’s level of arch support which is helpful for those who struggle with plantar fasciitis, bunions, or those who have high arches. The Ghost 14's hold up on long hours on the road or trail, providing a nimble and agile experience. Lastly, the sturdy outsole grip complements its cushioned support and lasts as long as you do.

What We Like

  • Environmentally friendly and lightweight
  • DNA Loft midsole for optimal cushion without being too soft
  • Padded insole cups to secure and fit your foot better
  • 11.5mm drop for heal heavy runners
  • Excellent arch support

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended for those with wider feet
  • Outer shoe material is less durable than previous versions
  • Less cushioning in the area around the ball of the foot

BUY: Brooks Ghost 14

Most Comfortable adidas Running Shoe – adidas Ultraboost 22

Most Comfortable adidas Running Shoe – adidas Ultraboost 22

SPECS

  • Midsole: BOOST
  • Upper material: Yarn made of 50% Parley Ocean Plastic and 50% recycled polyester
  • Sole: Stretchweb and Continental ™ Better Rubber
  • Toebox: Narrow
  • Weight: 11.7 oz.
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Maximum
  • Heel/forefoot height: 10mm, 33.9mm

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We chose the Ultraboost 22 shoes by adidas because of their trademarked Continental rubber outsole and upper shoe area that’s made from 50-percent Parley Ocean Plastic, which is plastic waste that’s been removed from the ocean and repurposed. Additionally, the Ultraboost 22's make you feel like you’re walking on clouds with their cushioned support, specifically in the midsole area.

These comfortable running shoes work well for a long morning run that can then transition into your afternoon errands. Its breathable knit fabric is almost sock-like and snug yet allows your foot to air out pre- and post-athletic activities. The Ultraboost 22's run true-to-size and help soften the impact on your runs, protecting your joints with their comfortable, cushioned design.

What We Like

  • Extremely comfortable and lightweight eco-friendly material
  • Soft, high fabric heel fit to help prevent blisters
  • Linear Energy Push system with Continental outer sole grips that work well on wet or dry surfaces
  • Molds well to your feet without break in time needed
  • Best for long distance, relaxed runs

What We Don't Like

  • Narrow toe box
  • Quality of material less durable considering the price
  • Foam outer soles scuff easily

BUY: adidas Ultraboost 22

Most Comfortable Nike Running Shoe – Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Most Comfortable Nike Running Shoe – Air Zoom Pegasus 38

SPECS

  • Midsole: React foam, Zoom Air
  • Upper material: Synthetic mesh
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Toebox: Wide
  • Weight: 10.2 oz.
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Medium/moderate
  • Heel/forefoot height: 33mm, 23mm

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These Nike running shoes will not leave you disappointed. With their Nike React foam, they provide comfort and cushioning for plenty of runs. The Zoom Air Bag under the forefoot increases your energy return and its laces give you a tight fit to lock in your midfoot.

The Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is the ideal shoe when your goal is speed. Their wide toe box allows your toes to help you push your pace and gives you nonstop go with cushioning that helps absorb impact well.

What We Like

  • Breathable mesh upper with sock like fit
  • Thick tongue to reduce pressure from laces
  • Nike React foam that will last long runs on and off roads
  • Deep heel cup help prevent slippage
  • Wide forefoot area allows for more spacious toe splay

What We Don't Like

  • Early signs of creasing in the soles
  • Thick tongue can trap heat on top of foot
  • Need to be broken in

BUY: Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Most Comfortable ASICS Running Shoe – ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24

Most Comfortable ASICS Running Shoe – ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24

SPECS

  • Midsole: Flytefoam, FF BLAST, GEL Technology
  • Upper material: Synthetic mesh (20% recycled material)
  • Sole: OrthoLite X-30
  • Toebox: Narrow
  • Weight: 10.1 oz.
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Moderate
  • Heel drop: 9mm

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These comfortable ASIC running shoes have increased technology to keep you moving with their Flytefoam midsoles for enhanced support during longer runs. ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24's built with a breathable mesh to keep you cool and help you perform at your highest level. With their multiple gel and foam technologies, these cushioned running shoes are hard to resist when both walking and running.

Although they run narrow, ASIC does offer a wide version of their Gel-Cumulus 24's so everyone can enjoy a marshmallow-like experience. They also have an outer midsole that includes plenty of rubber coverage for reliable traction and support that is best for dryer surfaces, but they can hold their own over wet surfaces as well.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and comfortable, like walking on clouds
  • Run true to size and are best used during easy to medium runs
  • FLYTEFOAM for shock absorption and added joint support
  • FF Blast cushioning for softness throughout and arch support
  • No break-in period needed
  • Tongue stays in place due to shoe sleeve and plush interior

What We Don't Like

  • Not for speed runs
  • Not a lot of upper ventilation
  • Best for narrow feet

BUY: ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Women – Brooks Glycerin 20

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Women – Brooks Glycerin 20

SPECS

  • Midsole: nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3
  • Upper material: Engineered mesh
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Toebox: Medium to wide
  • Weight: 9.1 oz.
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Maximum
  • Heel drop: 10mm

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We chose the Brooks Glycerin 20's as our top pick for women's most comfortable running shoes for daily road running because of their lightweight foam soles that aid in shock absorption. The breathable upper mesh engineering combined with a rubber sole has the right balance of traction and durability.

The 3D-Fit Print technology gives the right amount of structure within the shoe without decreasing flexibility. And, the padding along the inside of these shoes provides a soft ride. The wide shoe base will help you feel stable and more grounded as you navigate various terrains and the nitrogen-infused Loft v3 midsole gives the shoes a bouncy feel.

What We Like

  • DNA Loft foam insoles
  • Spacious toe box
  • Great for runs or walks
  • Cushioned for comfort without neglecting support
  • Lots of upper airy mesh ventilation
  • No need to break in

What We Don't Like

  • Not for long runs; outer sole can feel heavy and blocky after several miles

BUY: Brooks Glycerin 20

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Men – adidas SUPERNOVA 2

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Men– adidas SUPERNOVA 2

SPECS

  • Midsole: Ultra Boost and Bounce
  • Upper material: Recycled fabric
  • Sole: TPU injected beads
  • Toebox: Narrow
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Medium
  • Heel drop: 9mm

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We chose the adidas SUPERNOVA 2's as our top choice for the most comfortable men's running shoes because of their balance of the patented Bounce and Boost cushioned midsole area. Constructed to support you over any terrain, the TPU-injected outsole rubber gripping technology gives you an energetic return with lots of cushioned support.

The built-in heel lock lacing system helps keep your feet feeling secure. But, be aware that the upper fabric is not very moisture-wicking so you may want to use these shoes during cooler seasons. They work well when running, walking, or even for cross-training.

What We Like

  • Lower carbon footprint (10% less)
  • Padded tongue and heel for a secure fit that protects your ankles well
  • Durable
  • Grippy outsole works well over dry and wet surfaces
  • Great for short to medium runs
  • Affordable

What We Don't Like

  • Break-in time needed
  • Sizing runs small
  • Loose upper midfoot fabric

BUY: adidas SUPERNOVA 2

Most Comfortable Trail Running Shoes – Salomon Sense Ride 4

Most Comfortable Trail Running Shoes – Salomon Sense Ride 4

SPECS

  • Midsole: Optivibe TM
  • Upper material: Anti-debris mesh
  • Sole: All Terrain Contagrip and Profeel film grip
  • Toebox: Spacious
  • Weight: 10.02 oz. (men) 8.3 oz. (women)
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Medium
  • Heel drop: 8mm

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When you want to get away and head to the trails, the Salomon Sense Ride 4's are made with trail running in mind. Its combination of Contagrip and Profeel film creates a better grip and a more secure fit. The built-in comfort comes from its Optivibe™ cushioning that helps absorb shock over various terrains, helping decrease muscle fatigue. The appropriate balance of support around the heel and upper foothold will allow you to feel confident with each stride you take.

The Quicklace, SensiFit lacing system provides you with a customizable, all-around snug feel joined with its EndoFit TM inner sleeve that is designed to hug your feet in the exact places you need to provide a precise, secure fit.

What We Like

  • Best for wide feet
  • Lightweight and well-ventilated structure
  • Comfortable and supportive traction
  • High-quality outer grip for stability and protection over various types of terrain
  • No break in time needed
  • Durable over all types of terrain

What We Don't Like

  • Laces often loosen during runs
  • Run large with a spacious heel area
  • Tongue is quite stiff

BUY: Salomon Sense Ride 4

Most Comfortable Running Shoes under $100 – Reebok Floatride Energy 3.0

Most Comfortable Running Shoes under $100 – Reebok Floatride Energy 3.0

SPECS

  • Midsole: Floatride Energy foam
  • Upper material: Square knit
  • Sole: Carbon rubber
  • Toebox: Wide
  • Weight: 8.5 oz. (men) 7.1 oz. (women)
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Moderate
  • Heel drop: 9mm

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Don't want to break the bank on your next comfortable running shoes? We recommend the Reebok Floatride Energy 3.0 running shoes for those trying to stick to a tight budget. The Floatride Energy foam provides a soft yet bouncy feel you will enjoy over long runs and during cross-training workout sessions.

The outsole crash pads provide a stable landing during heel strike that give you a transition that is particularly soft, working well to absorb harsh impacts. We also like the heel tab that helps you slip the shoes on while also providing support to the heel area.

What We Like

  • Lightweight, breathable, square knit upper
  • Flared heel collar for optimum comfort
  • Made for all types of terrain and mid-distance running
  • Padded tongue for additional support under laces
  • Very durable and affordable yet feels like a more expensive shoe

What We Don't Like

  • Could do with a bit more stability by filling in the midfoot area
  • Shoe laces feel flimsy
  • Run slightly long, may need a half-size down
  • Heel pocket fairly deep

BUY: Reebok Floatride Energy 3

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Long Runs – Hoka Clifton 8

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Long Runs – Hoka Clifton 8

SPECS

  • Midsole: Ultralight EVO foam
  • Upper material: Vegan engineered mesh
  • Outsole: Rubber
  • Toebox: Wide
  • Weight: 8.8 oz. (men) 7.2 oz. (women)
  • Support type: Neutral
  • Cushion: Maximum
  • Heel drop: 5mm

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Do you crave long hours on the tarmac? In that case, we recommend the Hoka Clifton 8's. These shoes are 15% lighter than their previous versions but still incorporate their meta-rocker platform technology, making your runs that much smoother. Your foot will roll through each stride with ease with the Hoka signature cushioning experience. The upper mesh section is very breathability and the ultra plush tongue gives you enhanced comfort. The extended pull tabs help you slide them on effortlessly, almost like a slipper.

The built-in crash pads at the heel, increase the rubber coverage and provide more durability. The EVO, marshmallow softness foam cushioning is supportive enough for those who often deal with bouts of plantar fasciitis or other foot pain. These comfortable running shoes feel like a big hug around your arch that allows you to spend additional hours on your feet.

What We Like

  • Lightweight, breathable, upper knit
  • Great for long-distance running
  • Work well for long hikes
  • Meta-rocker technology that works with your natural gait cycle
  • Very stable feel
  • Durable rubber soles

What We Don't Like

  • Sizing runs large with a wide toe box
  • Not as cushioned as previous versions
  • Not made for speed, low energy return

BUY: Hoka Clifton 8

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Stability – Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Most Comfortable Running Shoes for Stability – Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

SPECS

  • Midsole: DNA Loft (EVA, rubber), GuideRails
  • Upper material: 3D-fit print engineered mesh
  • Outsole: rubber and blown rubber
  • Toebox: Wide
  • Weight: 9.1 oz.
  • Support type: Stability
  • Cushion: Maximum
  • Heel drop: 12mm

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Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 running shoes have stepped up their level of stability with this version, making these comfortable running shoes excellent for those who struggle with joint pain. And the sole cushioning is just the right thickness to provide you with shock absorption without compromising your grip and stability.

The blown rubber provides traction over diverse surfaces, whether wet or dry, rocky or smooth. The rubber midsole with DNA Loft gives you a solid balance of bounce and responsiveness during your ride. We also like how the 12mm heel drop helps push you forward and increase your natural pace during your long runs with less energy expelled.

What We Like

  • Made to support you on long runs or walks
  • Very stable
  • Allows space for natural foot splay
  • Lightweight and breathable upper
  • Heel drop helps increase speed

What We Don't Like

  • Stiff edge around ankles may lead to blisters
  • Break in period needed

BUY: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

What to Look for in a Comfortable Running Shoe


Midsole

The midsole—the cushioned support between your foot and the lower half of the shoe—should definitely be considered when your goal is to choose a shoe that will make your runs more comfortable. Keep in mind that the midsole of your shoes must have sufficient thermal insulation to protect the bottoms of your feet, especially when running on hot roads or treadmills that tend to build up heat from the friction of the rubber belts against the motor. Also, note the amount of foam included in this area. This foam cushioning is needed to help absorb the impact made with each stride you take. Tread carefully, however, because lack of support here can lead to achy ankles and knees, but too much foam can cause you to feel unsteady.

Toebox

When deciding on the most cushioned running shoe for you, it is important to consider a spacious toebox that allows your forefoot to move and your toes to wiggle individually inside your shoe. A roomy toebox will also allow your feet to breathe better, especially if you have a wider foot and need that extra real estate.

Weight

If your running goal is to run faster for longer distances, lightweight and breathable shoes are more suited to your needs. They require less effort to move forward compared to heavier or stylized running shoes. For a running shoe to be considered lightweight, it should weigh less than 11 ounces.

Breathability

Added ventilation in the upper part of your running shoe will make the shoe more comfortable and help increase your running speed. This feature is also best for runners who gravitate towards longer runs as breathable shoes can help release built-up body heat. If you're a runner whose feet tend to run hot, keep an eye out for a shoe that can help prevent the discomfort of a swollen foot.

Pro Tip: Test out your new running shoes in the evenings when your feet are naturally more swollen from the day. This ensures your feet will have enough room during your runs.

FAQs About Comfortable Running Shoes


Is more cushion better for running?

It generally depends on the lengths of your runs. Running veterans who gravitate toward longer runs often prefer a more cushioned running shoe. Those who prefer shorter sprints find that a minimally cushioned midsole is best. Your personal preference is the key factor here as some runners tend to strike the ground harder and others more softly.

How often should I replace my running shoes?

The rule of thumb is to begin shopping for a new pair of running shoes when your current ones have between 300 to 500 miles on them. Be sure to pay attention to the wear and tear on your running shoes to prevent potential injuries due to a lack of support. Be sure to also take note of how your body feels and any new sensations you experience after your runs. It might not be obvious that you need a new pair of shoes by the condition of the tread and rubber soles alone. The inside could be breaking down without you realizing it.

Are memory foam shoes good for standing all day?

Memory foam definitely helps distribute weight more evenly across your foot while standing for long periods. They can also help absorb impact with each stride and add support to your arches. Remember that changing the types of shoes you wear throughout the day can help relieve pressure on your feet.

Is it ok to use running shoes for walking?

Running shoes are great for being active overall whether you’re walking or running. But, it’s important to note that walking shoes tend to be more cushioned than running shoes. Wearing running shoes on walks regularly could lead to stress fractures, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis. Choose a shoe that has a more cushioned inner sole and a flexible outer sole that is on the flatter side to help prevent blisters that can come from a higher toe drop often found in firmer-soled running shoes.

How to Start Running | Running Tips | Hydration for Runners | Best Running Shoes for Beginners | Most Comfortable Running Shoes | Best Sports Bras for Running | Best Running Jackets | Best Budget Treadmills | Best Budget Fitness Trackers

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