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As fall approaches, so too does marathon season. It’s a blessed time of year for first-timers and seasoned vets alike, where runners everywhere rediscover the joy of pounding the pavement when it’s not 100 degrees outside. It’s a time for testing out new gear and new training plans — and perhaps most thrilling of all, it’s time for a shiny new pair of cushioned running shoes for the many miles ahead.
What Are Cushioned Running Shoes and Who Are They For?
Cushioned running shoes are just that: sneakers with an emphasis on a smooth, comfortable ride via shock absorption and a comfortable step, often at the expense of lightness and speed. The typical culprit for identifying a cushioned running shoe is the amount of foam in the mid-sole of the shoe — more foam equates to more comfort. Best for logging easier miles, a cushioned shoe is perfect for the vast majority of runners, especially those who aren’t expressly training for speed, or those who are acutely aware of the paces and specific runs they might be encountering on a weekly basis (and what shoes to wear for each). They’re also the perfect shoe for longer distances, on account of their leg-saving properties.
How We Tested:
Our process for testing running shoes was simple: we ran. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve procured and tested a variety of styles over hundreds of miles, judging for durability, comfort, responsiveness and, of course, cushioning. Below, we’ve rounded up our findings and highlighted what we feel are some of the best cushioned running shoes on the market. From Hoka to Nike to Newton, and for every shape, stride style, and foot strike, there’s a cushioned shoe out there for you. Find yours below.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoes for Men:
- Best Overall: On Cloudmonster
- Best Ultra-Plush Option: Hoka Bondi 8
- Best Affordable Option: Adidas Supernova
- Best for Stability: Brooks Glycerin 20
- Best for Wide Feet: Saucony Triumph 19
- Best for Injury-Prone Runners: Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3
- Best for Marathons: ASICS MetaSpeed Sky+
- Best Sustainable Option: Nike Pegasus Turbo Next Nature
- Best for Purists: Newton Fate 8
- Best for Everyday Life: Adidas Ultraboost 22
The Best Overall Cushioned Running Shoe: On Cloudmonster
Weight: 9.70 oz
We’re crazy about the Cloudmonster. On Running’s hulking release hasn’t just worked its way into our weekly running shoe rotation — it’s become our go-to choice for almost any run, from recovery jogs to 14-mile slogs. Featuring a massive speedboard midsole stacked high with stable CloudTec, the Cloudmonster’s rebound and energy return is unparalleled, making it as capable of surviving dig-deep miles up and down hills as crushing repeats on the track.
The Best Ultra-Plush Running Shoe: Hoka Bondi 8
Weight: 10.80 oz
Hoka is virtually synonymous with plush comfort at this point, and the newest version of the brand’s hugely popular Bondi has one thing in mind: total cushion. With a whopping 33mm of pillowy foam and a rear crash pad for a smooth heel-strike transition, the Bondi 8 is like running on clouds. While it’s more or less an easy/recovery run shoe — the sheer amount of cushion means it lacks the responsiveness for anything beyond a conversational pace — the shoe is an absolute godsend for tired legs deep into a training block.
The Best Affordable Cushioned Running Shoe: Adidas Supernova
Weight: 11.30 oz
The Adidas Supernova is not the plushest, nor the lightest, nor the fastest trainer on this list, but for a mere $50, it might as well be a record-breaking super shoe. Packed with Adidas’ Boost and Bounce technology, it proves the perfect sneaker for anyone testing the waters when it comes to serious training. An added bonus, 50% of the Primegreen upper is recycled content.
The Best Cushioned Stability Running Shoe: Brooks Glycerin 20
Weight: 10.10 oz
By nature, stability and cushioning are typically on opposite ends of a continuum; the thought is that the more flexible foam there is, the less firm base the shoe will ultimately have. While the Brooks Glycerin 20 is billed as a neutral cushion runner, we found it to be one of the most stable, lock-down fits of any ultra-plush shoe we tested, thanks in part to the responsive nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 foam and snug upper fit.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Wide Feet: Saucony Triumph 19
Weight: 10.20 oz
Available in both the standard (D) fit and a wide fit, the Saucony FORMFIT 3D technology offered a noticeably comfortable fit, with a stretchy toe box and optimal width through the midfoot, where, with other cushioned shoes, things can get a little snug. That’s not to say that the Triumph 19 doesn’t have a cushy ride — PWRRUN+ cushioning makes sure that every step is your most comfortable yet.
Weight: 10.20 oz
Drop: 8 mm
The React Infinity Run 3 owns the mantle of “most tested shoe ever” at Nike, with a calculated breathable flyknit upper stacked on a block of stiff, rocker-shaped react foam that moves in tandem with your stride during all three phases of foot strike. Unlike the Hoka Bondi 8, the cushion in the React Infinity acts against your foot rather than billowing around it, making this the perfect easy run style for those who still want the acute feel of your foot hitting a surface.
Weight: 7.20 oz
ASICS’ recent introduction of the MetaSpeed has taken the marathoning community by storm, providing another full-length carbon-plated option to compete with the likes of the Nike Alphafly and Adidas Adios Pro. Clocking in only 7.20 oz, it manages to squeeze a huge stack of FF Blast foam into the forefoot of the super shoe, making it ideal for stide-focused runners.
Weight: 9.0 oz
When Nike discontinued the Pegasus Turbo in 2019, runners were upset. There were reports of elite marathoners stockpiling the style, allegations that the Beaverton-based brand nixed the shoe because it was simply too good, and there was a general sorrow around losing what many considered the optimal combination of cushioning and responsiveness. All of which to say, we couldn’t be more stoked about the re-release of the model, now a part of the eco-foward Next Nature line that prioritizes recycled materials and sustainable practices. While slight changes in foam stacking and tech has left the Pegasus Turbo Next Nature with less kick than it once had, it’s still a devastating cushion-performance hybrid, and can more than deliver on tough tempo runs and the occasion fartlek.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Purists: Newton Fate 8
Weight: 8.8 oz
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Boulder-based Newton, and if you have, you might associate the running company with the clunky, cumbersome behemoths it was known for, a footwear choice pioneered by select few (old-school-inclined) runners. That’s no longer the Newton’s M.O. — their cushioned silo, the Fate 8, is shockingly lightweight, clocking in at a feather-light 8.8 oz, second only to the MetaSpeed. It’s an interesting ride, utilizing fine-tuned ergonomic design for a natural fit that you’ll have to try to believe. If you’re a seasoned runner looking for something unique, this might be it.
The Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Everyday Life: Adidas Ultraboost 22
Weight: 11.70 oz
Conversely, not everyone needs a performance-forward sneaker. While you should absolutely wear running shoes if you plan on serious training, for the average joe whose runs are more sporadic, a lifestyle sneaker like the Boosted Adidas Ultraboost 22 will keep you cushioned and happy when you do decide to hit the pavement.
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