Finding the right pair of shoes is a highly subjective exercise, but we’ve simplified the task by reviewing top new models. The three models below are award winners. For more reviews, purchase a copy of Runner’s World July 2013 today!
EDITOR’S CHOICE: Asics Gel-Cumulus 15
This little brother to the ultra-plush Gel-Nimbus measures up in nearly every way. It sits almost as high off the ground, boasting plenty of foam underfoot to protect you from the road. “The cushioning is good, but not overboard,” says Melissa Congleton, a wear-tester who admits to being an extreme heel-striker. The forefoot features a two-piece Gel unit, bigger than the one in previous models. Even so, the shoe remains fairly flexible. This is due in part to a new outsole configuration; better segmentation of the rubber patches allows for deeper flex grooves. The shoe’s upper received subtle tweaks, like lighter, welded-on overlays that now extend back through the midfoot. “My feet feel secure, but not restrained,” says tester Betsy Daly.
Bottom line: A durable trainer that softens footfalls kilometre after kilometre.
Weight: 329g (M); 270g (W)
Height: 36.8mm (heel); 25.9mm (forefoot)
BEST UPDATE: Saucony Kinvara 4
“Don’t mess it up!” That’s generally the plea of runners who have fallen in love with a particular shoe. Kinvara faithful, rejoice. The fourth version of this lightweight, cushioned trainer remains mostly unchanged, though subtle tweaks make this already solid shoe even stronger. First, the shoe gets an upgrade in midsole foam; lighter and higher-quality material results in slightly softer cushioning. Wear-testers report that the shoe remains firm enough for faster-paced workouts. The most apparent change is on the upper. The visually prominent overlays that wrapped from side-to-side have been replaced with just a few strips radiating out from the end of the eye row (near the base of your toes), giving the shoe a cleaner look while still providing enough structure.
Bottom line: A responsive ride for efficient, medium-arched runners.
Weight: 224g (M); 182g (W)
Height: 30.1mm (heel); 22.3mm (forefoot)
AUS & NZ saucony.com.au
BEST BUY: Brooks PureConnect 2
Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too. Case in point: The PureConnect 2, a minimal-inspired shoe that’s light on your foot – and wallet – while still providing a soft ride comparable to that found on more substantial footwear. Credit this to a high-quality midsole foam that seriously dampens the impact of the road, even though your foot is positioned close to the roadway. Wear-testers commented on the puzzling lace pattern, which curves across the top of your foot. It proved to be sufficient, however, and securely locks the foot down.
Bottom line: Want to transition to minimal footwear? Start here.
Weight: 205g (M); 173g (W)
Height: 27.3mm (heel); 21.6mm (forefoot)