Finding the right pair of shoes is a highly subjective exercise, but we’ve simplified the task by reviewing 18 top new models. Here are our top five award-winners.
To find the best pair for you, check out the flowchart in our November 2013 issue of Runner’s World. Answer the questions, and your choices will lead to a set of options tailored to meet your needs and preferences.
>> EDITOR’S CHOICE: Brooks Ghost 6
We might have to change this award to Editors’ (plural) Choice. One editor here at the magazine pleaded for a second pair of this model, saying she was wearing hers down to little rubbery nubs. What makes it such a favourite? A sweet balance of weight, cushioning, and everyday durability. This version is the lightest Ghost we’ve ever seen (the Ghost 2, in 2009, also weighed in at 295g), down 25 grams from last year. Longtime wearers of the Ghost took notice: “The Brooks Ghost, once again, is a favourite,” says Janice Trudgeon, a wear-tester. Under the foot, Brooks removed the plastic shank from the arch and filled it in with foam and rubber. It also segmented the inner edge under the heel. Both tweaks help improve how fluidly the shoe rolls from heel-strike to toe-off.
Bottom line: The lightest Ghost we’ve seen leaves nothing out.
Price: A$199.95; NZ$269.95
Weight: 295g (M); 244g (W)
Height: 34.6mm (heel); 24.1mm (forefoot)
W: brooksrunning.com.au; brooksrunning.co.nz
>> BEST UPDATE: New Balance 1260 v3
The 1260 has slowly but steadily rounded into fine form. A year ago, we lauded the v2 for dropping 28 grams, but noted that it was still too firm. On this go-round, the 1260 lost another 28 grams, but the cushioning is just right. Some of that weight savings likely comes from the use of a different material in the post – the dense wedge that supports your foot when it rolls inward. Another big improvement is in forefoot flexibility, due in part to rounded patches of rubber used on the outsole rather than the broad, square pieces found on the v2. The result worked well for our wear-testers. “As a heavier runner, I really appreciate supportive and stable shoes,” says wear-tester Keith Carnes. “This shoe supported me well through my longer runs.”
Bottom line: A solid shoe for big runners that doesn’t feel clunky.
Price: A$220; NZ$260
Weight: 293g (M); 239g (W)
Height: 37.5mm (heel); 25.1mm (forefoot)
W: newbalance.com.au; newbalance.co.nz
>> EDITOR’S CHOICE: Saucony Omni 12
The top-rated shoe in this guide by our wear-testers, the Omni 12 scored high for comfort and ride. Bigger runners, in particular, initially questioned whether a shoe that felt so light could stand up to the pounding they dish out. “I need a shoe that provides support,” says Vincent Miller, a 97kg runner. “This shoe has good support and solid cushioning – not too much, not too thin.” Even though it weighs only 298g (for a men’s size 9), the Omni has a slew of stability features and foam underfoot – its forefoot, about 2.5cm thick, was the softest of any shoe in this guide. Of course, when you have so much underfoot, flexibility can be an issue. This shoe is an improvement over the 11, but it’s still a bit on the stiff side.
Bottom line: Even runners needing a lot of stability can run fast.
Price: A$199.95; NZ$249.90
Weight: 298g (M); 239g (W)
Height: 34.7mm (heel); 25.6mm (forefoot)
>> BEST BUY: Nike Air Pegasus+ 30
For 30 years running, the Pegasus has delivered a soft, cushioned ride at a good value. “A tried-and-true classic,” says Helen Dole, a competitive age-group runner. “It was comfortable from day one.” Of course, the shoe has grown along with the times – it was a whopping 366 grams as recently as 2006. Today, the Pegasus is back to a simplified, cushioned shoe. The midsole and outsole were left untouched from the previous version. The upper, however, got a redo, with Nike swapping out the one-piece engineered mesh for three distinct panels. Underneath the midfoot mesh, a reflective saddle wraps around your foot, holding you in place and keeping you visible in the dark.
Bottom line: Excellent for long distances and recovery runs.
Price: A$160; NZ$180
Weight: 290g (M); 236g (W)
Height: 37.6mm (heel); 23.8mm (forefoot)
>> BEST DEBUT: Mizuno Wave Sayonara
A few tears may have been shed when we learned that Mizuno was discontinuing the Wave Precision, an Editor’s Choice winner just one year ago. But the Sayonara has taken over the valuable shelf space once reserved for that shoe. Wear-testers, too, took a strong liking to it. “They’re lightweight but have enough support to be awesome on long runs!” said Martha McGonegal. The Sayonara features a new midsole compound Mizuno calls “U4ic,” which is lighter than the foam used on the Precision but has similar cushioning properties. That said, the Sayonara delivers a firmer ride, mostly because there’s less foam being used. This debut model sits lower to the ground – especially at the heel. The result is a shoe that weighs 34 grams less.
Bottom line: A sound choice for up-tempo workouts or race day.
Price: A$180; NZ$219.95
Weight: 241g (M); 190g (W)
Height: 28.4mm (heel); 19.7mm (forefoot)