The best road running shoes 2023: lace up and hit the tarmac
Hit the ground running with a pair of the best road running shoes, put to the test by our expert team
The best road running shoes have come a long way in recent years, to the point where the shoes you choose could end up giving you a competitive advantage. Innovations in tech have seen PBs topple for both casual runners and elite athletes alike.
Not all of the best road running shoes are created equal. Some are designed to be featherlight race day pairs that are super fast but not overly durable. Meanwhile, others are designed to last for longer and provide cushioned comfort for your training runs. However, these training pairs won't be quite as rapid when it comes to race day.
This is why it's important to think about the kind of road running shoe you're after. However, generally speaking, if you're a tarmac pounding road runner, you've come to the right place. Those who enjoy running up hills or along coastal paths will be better served by our selection of the best trail running shoes.
So, let's get back to the best road running shoes. We adore Hoka's Solimar and Mach 5 for all-round running comfort, while the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 gets our vote for race day. All of the pairs below are included on merit and have received at least a 4-star rating from our reviewers.
1. Hoka Solimar
The best everyday road running shoe
Weight: 6.7oz / 190g (average women's) | Drop: 6mm | Colors: black/white, festival fuchsia/butterfly, blanc de blanc/blue glass and more
We found the Hoka Solimar to be a great all-rounder with its toned-down Metarocker shape and modest cushioning that make it ideal for mid and long-distance races and training sessions. It also works well for gym work (provided you're not hitting the weights) and for long days of walking. If you're only going to buy one pair of sports shoes, it's an excellent affordable option.
The Solimar is a neutral, lightweight road running shoe for everyday training, and is essentially a toned-down version of Hoka's usual heavily-cushioned designs. It certainly isn't lacking padding, but it's less exaggerated than some of the company's designs. If you're not used to thick foam, or feel unbalanced running on inches of padding, we think it's a good compromise.
Similarly, the midsole isn't bulky, but is extended just to create a larger 'crash pad' to absorb heavy heel strikes and provide extra stability, and there's a modest 6mm heel drop.
Read our full Hoka Solimar review
2. Hoka Mach 5
The best cushioned shoe for training
Weight: 8.1oz / 229g (UK women's 9) | Drop: 5mm | Colors: yellow, blue, white and more
If you're looking for a dependable road running shoe that will serve you well for everyday training and mid-distance races, the Hoka Mach 5 is the one for you. During testing we were particularly impressed by its upper, which provides a fit that's snug and secure without sacrificing breathability, and includes a well engineered collar that minimizes ingress of dirt and stones on loose surfaces.
Like most Hoka shoes, the Mach 5 is built with heel strikers in mind. Although it doesn't have the outsized sole of some of the brand's shoes, it does have a slight swallowtail encouraging your foot to roll in a controlled manner through to toe-off.
The outsole provides plenty of grip in wet conditions, even on slick surfaces, and after putting in plenty of miles there were no signs of premature wear. If you're only planning to pick up one pair of road shoes, this is our top recommendation.
Read our full Hoka Mach 5 review
3. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
The best road running shoe for fun and speed on race days
Weight: 7.4oz / 210g (US women's 11) | Drop: 8mm | Colors: pink, black, white
The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is enormous fun to run in, and if you want to shave a few seconds off your 5km or 10km personal best, this could be the shoe to help you do it. The magic is in the S-shaped carbon plate hidden away in that thick midsole foam, which makes the Endorphin Pro 3 stiff and springy, with great energy return. In tests we particularly enjoyed wearing it for powering up hills.
It's easily one of the lightest road running shoes we've ever tested, and its upper is made from two layers of fine mesh, but it still feels secure and comfortable. It's extremely breathable too; you'll feel the breeze blowing straight through your socks.
Like most Saucony road shoes, we found that the Endorphin Pro 3 came up a little small, so we'd recommend going up half a size. We wouldn't recommend it for everyday use, either; there's a lot of exposed foam, which could be susceptible to damage if you're regularly putting in long miles. One to keep for speed sessions and race days.
Read our full Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 review
4. Hoka Bondi 8
The best highly cushioned road running shoes
Weight: 311g / 10.9oz (US men's 9) | Drop: 4mm | Colors: amber, gray, blue
The Hoka Bondi 8 is big, bouncy, and great for soaking up shocks during longer runs. It's heavier than most, but if you're looking for a maximalist shoe then it's a great option.
The Bondi 8's upper feels slightly roomier than that of the Bondi 7, which we found eliminated the problem of rubbing, and the foam is softer and lighter than that of earlier models. During tests, we were also particularly impressed by the grip provided by the Durabrasion rubber outsoles, which give you extra purchase on wet surfaces.
Some may find the thick, soft midsole foam feels unstable, particular when running at lower speeds, so it's worth taking a pair for a test run at your local running shop if possible, but if you like your shoes with bounce then we think you'll be pleased.
Read our full Hoka Bondi 8 review
5. Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
The best affordable race day road running shoe
Weight: 8.11oz / 230g (US women's 11) | Drop: 8mm | Colors: pink, black, blue and more
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 gives you most of the benefits of a carbon plate running shoe, without the price tag. Rather than carbon, this shoe has a slice of stiff nylon inside the midsole. The result is a shoe that's not quite as feather-light as the Endorphin Pro 3, but nearly as springy.
Overall, we found it a very likeable shoe that performs well in most situations, and will serve you well for training sessions and race days alike (provided there's no off-roading involved - there's a lot of exposed foam here). The upper is minimalist, but there's just enough padding in the collar and tongue to keep things comfortable and prevent the laces digging into your metatarsals.
If you've fallen out of love with running lately, this could be the shoe that rekindles your love for the sport. Just beware Saucony's slightly small fitting and be prepared to go up half a size for comfort.
Read our full Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 review
6. Adidas Solarglide 5
The best road running shoe for midfoot strikers
Weight: 12.6oz / 357gm | Drop: 10mm | Colors: black, white, gray and more
Like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, the Adidas Solarglide 5 has a plastic plate embedded in the midsole to put a spring in your step (in fact, turn the shoe over and you can see it through a gap in the outsole). It's less flashy than the Speed 3, and more of an everyday training shoe with a little extra kick.
The plate doesn't run through the whole foot, instead extending from the midfoot to the heel, so the shoe isn't as springy on toe-off, but it still feels great. If you don't like the rigidity of a full plate, it's a good halfway house.
During our test runs, we appreciated the slightly outsized midsole profile, which gives extra stability, plus the generous layer of Continental rubber on the outsole. Adidas has chosen to spend a few extra grams for improved grip and durability, and the result is a shoe that can withstand heavy use, and is a practical option for everyday training sessions.
Read our full Adidas Solarglide 5 review
7. Reebok Nano X3
The best for short runs
Weight: 12oz / 340g (UK size 9) | Drop: 7mm | Colors: Future White, Core Black, Hunter Green and more
A super versatile training shoe with roots in Crossfit, the Reebok Nano X3 is ideal for strength and agility workouts indoors and out, plus runs up to about 5k.
The Nano X3 is the latest instalment in Reebok's series of all-purpose workout shoes, designed to handle HIIT sessions in the gym and pavement alike – and Crossfit in particular. It's not a road running shoe per se, but will also serve you well for shuttle runs and training sessions of around 5km of so thanks to its versatile shape.
It's a tricky balance to strike, providing enough cushioning to handle the impact of running and jumping, while remaining stable enough for weight training. but this third-generation shoe handles it well. While it does pack some of Reebok's Floatride Energy foam in the midsole, it's used sparingly.
The upper has a two-layer construction, with breathable mesh on top of a soft, smooth sockliner for comfort and protection. The tongue is lightly cushioned, and the collar is particularly well-padded. which helps avoid rubbing or sliding when exerting lateral forces. The shoe also has a particularly rigid heel counter to ensure it's not going anywhere during jumps and quick changes of direction.
Read our full Reebok Nano X3 review
Lululemon Blissfeel 2
Best women-specific running shoe
Weight: 9.7oz / 276g (US 9) | Drop: 9.5mm | Colors: Black, white, raw linen, solar orange and more
The Lululemon Blissfeel 2 is the company's second take at building a neutral road running shoe specifically based on female anatomy. Unlike some women's shoes, it comes in an impressive range of sizes, from 5-12 (US) including half sizes.
It's an everyday shoe, built with short to middle-distance runs in mind, and it well suited to distances of 10k or so. At 276g (9.7oz) for a women's US size 8 it's not exceptionally light, but you get plenty of comfort in exchange.
The upper is made from a layered, seamlessly engineered mesh material. It comes in a wide array of tasteful colors, like the white shown here, plus some zesty options like solar orange.
The tongue is minimally padded, and although it's not gusseted, it's wide enough to keep out the majority of grit and dirt. This is a shoe designed with heel strikers firmly in mind. There's a 9.5mm heel drop. and the heel has an oversized crash pad for shock absorption and stability. The outsole rubber has been positioned and patterned to maximize grip in high impact areas. It also extends up a little over the toe, offering some extra protection for the soft upper, which is a nice addition to a road shoe.
Read our full Lululemon Blissfeel 2 review
9. New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5
The best road running shoe for runners on a budget
Weight: 17.9oz / 508g (UK women's 6.5) | Drop: 8mm | Colors: men’s: black, red, white; women’s: black, gray, white
Great quality road running shoes don't have to break the bank, as the New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel 5 demonstrates. Light and flexible, it's a good choice for runners who don't get along with thick, maximalist soles and prefer to stay more in touch with the ground beneath their feet.
The Dynasoft Nitrel 5 is versatile too, with chunky tread on the outsole that provides traction if your training takes you from road to trail, and back again. It's not as robust as the Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure, but will serve you well for a little occasional off-roading.
We found that this shoe came up a little short, so it's worth ordering half a size up to ensure a comfortable fit, but the toebox is nice and wide to allow your foot to spread naturally. It's not the absolute cheapest road running shoe around (check out our guide to the best cheap running shoes for more options) but for a modest budget it's a great pick.
Read our full New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5 review
|Hoka Solimar||$125 (US) / £105 (UK)||6.7oz / 190g (average women's)||6mm||Black/white, festival fuchsia/butterfly, blanc de blanc/blue glass and more|
|Hoka Mach 5||$140 (US) / £130 (UK)||8.1oz / 229g (UK women's 9)||5mm||Yellow, blue, white and more|
|Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure||$120 (US) / £100 (UK)||9.6oz / 272g (US men's 9)||9mm||Orange, gray, black and more|
|Saucony Endorphin Pro 3||$225 (US) / £210 (UK)||7.4oz / 210g (US women's 11)||8mm||Pink, black, white|
|Hoka Bondi 8||$165 (US) / £145 (UK)||311g / 10.9oz (US men's 9)||4mm||Amber, gray, blue|
|Saucony Endorphin Speed 3||$170 (US) / £165 (UK)||8.11oz / 230g (US women's 11)||8mm||Pink, black, blue|
|Adidas Solarglide 5||$45 (US) / £74.40 (UK)||12.6oz / 357gm||10mm||Black, white, gray and more|
|Reebok Nano X3||$140 (US) / £110 (UK)||12oz / 340g (UK size 9)||7mm||Future White, Core Black, Hunter Green and more|
|Lululemon Blissfeel 2||$148 (US) / £138 (UK)||9.7oz / 276g (US 9)||9.5mm||Black, white, raw linen, solar orange and more|
|New Balance Dynasoft Nitrel V5||$74.99 (US) / £90 (UK)||17.9oz / 508g (UK women's 6.5)||8mm||Men’s: black, red, white; Women’s: black, gray, white|
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).