The best road running shoes will put a spring in your step, and there's no single pair that will suit everyone. That's why we've put heaps of models from the big brands through their paces to bring you this guide to the finest footwear for hitting the pavements.
Whether you're looking for a snappy carbon plate shoe to help shave a few precious seconds off your time on race day, a durable and dependable shoe for putting in long miles on training sessions, or a shoe that can handle transitions between road and trail, we've got something for you. Each pair has been tested for at least 50 miles in different weather conditions and temperatures, so you know how it will perform in real life.
There are options here for a range of budgets, but if cash is particularly tight, take a look at our roundup of the best cheap running shoes, where you'll find affordable options for both road and trail running.
The best everyday road running shoe
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
The best road-to-trail running shoe for tackling mixed terrain
Weight: 9.6oz / 272g (US men's 9) | Drop: 9mm | Colors: orange, gray, black and more
The Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure is equally happy on roads and non-technical trails, making it an excellent choice for training sessions and races that take you across mixed terrain.
It's much tougher than your typical road shoe, with a ripstop upper and a lugged sole that extends all the way up the toe for protection against roots and rocks. It's not waterproof, but can shrug off splashes from puddles or light rain showers, without sacrificing breathability. Even on hot days, we were surprised how cool and comfortable our feet remained.
It's a versatile design that shares DNA with the Nano X2 TR Adventure – a shoe made with Crossfit and outdoor bootcamps in mind. As a result, the Floatride Energy 4 Adventure would also work well for burpees, planks, and stair reps, cushioning impacts and providing grip on wet grass or asphalt.
Read our full Reebok Floatride Energy 4 Adventure review
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
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
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
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
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: blac, 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
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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).
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