The Best Running Shoes for Men Review

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Close-up profile view showing off the sleek, simple and effective design of the Brooks Ghost 8, our Editors' Choice winner.
Credit: Arrington McCoy
What is the best running shoe for road running? We selected ten top ranked men's road running footwear on the market and subjected them to head-to-head evaluation. Following in the footsteps of Olympic medalists through the high altitude roads in Mammoth Lakes, California, to the scenic river paths in Bend, Oregon, these kicks have seen it all. From perfect sunny conditions to wintry wet ones, each pair was put through our rigorous testing regimen. In this review we analyze each model on six fundamental levels to appropriately rate each version for what it has to offer: weight, responsiveness, durability, landing comfort, upper comfort, and breathability.

There is only one way to decide which road shoe reigns supreme: put each one through the trial of miles. Below we go into detail on how we decided on a score in each of the six metrics as well as the best in each class. For more specifics on what matters when buying footgear for running on roads, reference our Buying Advice article. Also reference our Best Running Shoes for Women Review for models for the ladies.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Running Shoes - Men's

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Brooks Ghost 8
Brooks Ghost 8
Read the Review
Saucony Kinvara 6
Saucony Kinvara 6
Read the Review
Asics Gel-Kayano 21
Asics Gel-Kayano 21
Read the Review
Mizuno Wave Rider 18
Mizuno Wave Rider 18
Read the Review
Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3
Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award     
Street Price $120
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $90 - $110
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $120 - $160
Compare at 7 sellers
Varies $84 - $120
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $120 - $130
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score 
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Editors' Rating
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros The most balanced shoe we tested, extremely comfortable and efficient rideFeather-light, comfortable up to the marathon distance, affordableRidiculous out-of-box comfort, no break-in period, silly upper comfort, high stabilityRidiculously smooth, springy rideInsanely responsive, efficient and durable, fun to run in
Cons Cushioning might feel a little soft for someUnsupportive, low durabilityLow responsiveness, durability, and breathabilityToo stiff for high mileage comfortHeavy, stiff, slippery on wet surfaces, expensive
Best Uses Everyday road runs, light to moderate trail runsRoad running, workouts, racing, transitioning towards minimalismRoad running for over-pronators, standing, walking, everyday wear, heavier runnersShorter, quicker paced road runsRoad running for neutral and possibly moderate over-pronators
Date Reviewed Aug 17, 2015Aug 17, 2015Aug 17, 2015Aug 17, 2015Aug 17, 2015
Weighted Scores Brooks Ghost 8 Saucony Kinvara 6 Asics Gel-Kayano 21 Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3
Weight - 15%
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7
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9
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6
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8
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5
Responsiveness - 15%
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8
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9
Durability - 20%
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6
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9
Landing Comfort - 25%
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6
Upper Comfort - 15%
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Breathability - 10%
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7
Product Specs Brooks Ghost 8 Saucony Kinvara 6 Asics Gel-Kayano 21 Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3
Weight (Oz Per Pair for size 9) 10.3 7.8 10.9 9.2 11.9
Sizes Available 7 through 15 7 through 15 6 through 16 7 through 16 7 through 15
Upper Material Mesh Flexfilm, Stitchless, Seam Welded Mesh, Memory foam Mesh Mesh
Midsole Material DNA BioMogo (biodegradable) PowerGrid Gel Cushioning - Solyte U4ic U4ic
Sole Rubber Blown rubber x900 AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Rubber) X10 - carbon and blown rubber X10 - carbon rubber
Toe to Heel Drop 12mm 4mm 10mm 12mm 14mm
Style (Traditional,minimalist,etc.) Neutral Neutral/Minimal Stability Neutral Neutral

  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product


The variety of running footwear on the market can be quite intimidating when trying to decide which pair will be perfect for you. The ideal road shoe can come in many different forms. Though it's decidedly impossible to say that one running pair is perfect for everyone, we strongly believe our award winning road shoes are steps above the rest in a multitude of ways. Many runners' final decision on a pair will depend on what the runner's needs and preferences are. We find the top road kicks to have a nice balance of comfort, responsiveness, and durability. Choosing a model for the sake of lightness is great if you're looking for the fastest footwear, though also might not always the best idea. A light model is not decisively better since some runners need footgear with greater stability, which tend to be heavier and have a more dense midsole than neutral models. To put it simply, the most significant trait we look for in a quality road shoe is reliable and consistent comfort from mile one till done.

This review focuses solely on sneakers designed for running on pavement. If you want to run off-road, take a look at our Best Trail Running Shoe For Men Review.

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The Author on an afternoon cruise in Salt Lake City wearing the well-balanced Editors' Choice winner, the Brooks Ghost 8.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

Types of Road Running Shoes


This is a brief run-down of the different types of road footwear. Some of these descriptors can overlap and more than one can apply to one shoe. For instance, a pair can be neutral and maximalist at the same time. Check out our Buying Advice article for a much more detailed explanation of these different styles.

Minimal


As the name implies, minimalist shoes are a much lighter and less supportive style than traditional road footgear. This also means they tend to be less responsive and lack the cushioning that traditional road models provide. Many runners are attracted to the idea of using a minimalist shoe to obtain a more natural gait cycle, where your heel does not strike the ground first. Most minimalist kicks offer a 0 mm to 4 mm heel to toe discrepancy, which results in a more natural and efficient foot strike. This review includes more traditional models, but if you prefer minimalism, refer to our Barefoot Shoe Review.

Standard or Traditional


The average road shoe has approximately a 10mm heel to toe discrepancy. This is the style you are most likely to think of when you imagine running footwear, and is also the most commonly used style of shoe.

Maximalist


Maximalist models, in a pendulum swing response to minimal shoes, emphasize a large amount of cushioning. These shoes often have relatively low heel-toe drop, but very high stack heights. This style of running footwear is popular with people who want to try and reduce the jarring impact that running can inflict on the body.

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Zero heel-to-toe drop on the midsole of the Altra Torin 2.0 provides a more natural ride which also adds stress to your lower legs and achilles tendon. Note the high stack height and plentiful cushion.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

Neutral


Neutral shoes are for those who have an average pronation in their stride, medium to high arches, and are looking for a cushioned and flexible ride. The vast majority of runners both train and race in neutral pairs. Neutral road sneakers generally weigh between 9 and 10 ounces. The neutral models in our test group are the Brooks Ghost 8, Mizuno Wave Rider 18, Mizuno Wave Prophesy 3, Altra Torin, Sketchers Go Run Ultra 2, and Saucony Kinvara 6.

Our Editors' Choice winner, the Brooks Ghost 8 is a traditionally cushioned neutral shoe. This is a widely appealing and well-balanced model that will suit many runners.

Stability


Stability running shoes are designed specifically for those runners who over-pronate. If you're unaware of this, the best way to find out is to get a gait analysis at the closest specialty running store or look at the sole of your current running footwear and see if you have uneven wear on the rubber. Stability models are typically heavier and less flexible compared to neutral models because of the extra dense posting used to correct over-pronation. The stability models in our review are the Asics Gel-Kayano 21, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15, and Asics GT 2000 2.

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Baby got back: the wide landing platform from the forefoot all the way to the heel on the Books Adrenaline GTS 15 provides added stability during landing.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

Racing Flats


Racing flats fall in a category between neutral and minimalist footgear. A racing flat is a more minimal version of the typical neutral road shoe, though not necessarily considered "minimalist" given the decent amount of cushioning they often have. The idea of using a racing flat is to have a lightweight, cushioned, and extremely responsive shoe to use for speed workouts and races up to the marathon length or for some, even further. Being the lightest model we tested at 7.8 ounces, the Saucony Kinvara 6 is considered in the racing flat category.

Criteria For Evaluation



Responsiveness


Deciding which model has the highest responsiveness is fairly simple to grade. We posed the question, "which kicks give us the most propulsive feedback through the landing to toe-off phase in our gait cycle?" A more responsive design will often have a more stiff and minimally cushioned outsole which facilitates a propulsive "pop" feeling. The most responsive models on the market are racing flats with an integrated stiff midsole system.

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The Saucony Kinvara 6 is a highly flexible and super lightweight road shoe that feels fast enough for your local road races, though this flexibility reduces responsiveness.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

For the most part we prefer running in road footwear with higher responsiveness. But the stiff soles of responsive models like the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 do a lot of work for your feet, ankles, and lower legs that other highly cushioned models don't. This type is on the opposite end of the spectrum than a minimalist or barefoot model, and we believe can potentially create weaknesses in those areas if used for too long. How long we can't say, and it really depends on the individual. If you're looking to improve your lower leg and foot strength, then a model with less responsiveness will likely be more ideal for you.

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A moderately flexible forefoot and rigid midfoot to heel is what gives the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 such high responsiveness.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

We rate the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 as the most responsive in the group. The responsive feedback from landing to push-off in the Wave Prophecy 3 as well as the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 is far beyond what we feel from any of the other road running shoes we tested. From our first stride to the last, the Wave Prophecy 3 provided us with a propulsive assistance. This propulsive feel has to do with the rigid Wave Plate technology Mizuno uses for the midsole. Even though we get this efficient roll and pop feeling while running in the Prophecy 3, we don't feel it's the "fastest" shoe in the group given its heavy weight. It's the second heaviest model we tested and has quite a hefty build and stiff plastic sole unit. Though, we do feel like it runs much lighter than its 12.9 ounces, given its incomparably high responsiveness.

Landing Comfort


To the majority of runners testing out new shoes, landing comfort is the most important factor. To decide which design has the best landing comfort, we take into account comfort while running from the first mile through the last (at least ten miles at a time). Out-of-box comfort is always nice, but it's not a deciding factor for the best landing comfort. Unsurprisingly, a design with more cushioning typically scores higher in landing comfort. We find that the formula for the best landing comfort is a balanced design that is not too cushy and not too firm. You need balanced cushioning to find consistent comfort.

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The Caterpillar Crash Pad in its full glory on the Brooks Ghost 8. This plays a huge role in the success of the Ghost series.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

When we finished our first run using the Brooks Ghost 8 we knew it would be hard for another model to top its landing comfort. The Brooks Ghost 8 decidedly comes away with our Editors' Choice award and earns the highest rating in landing comfort as well. In fact, we feel the Brooks Ghost 8 is the most reliably comfortable and well-balanced road shoe we have ever used. For the midsole cushioning, Brooks uses what they call Anatomical DNA which responds to and conforms to everyone's feet independently depending on their landing pattern. When the DNA cushioning receives pressure from your foot during landing, it spreads through the midsole in reaction the pressure. As for the outsole of the Ghost 8, Brooks uses their innovative Caterpillar Crash Pad system. This unique outsole, now without the midfoot shank found in the previous versions of the Brooks Ghost, allows you to have full outsole ground contact that produces an extremely smooth ride. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 also integrates a similar Caterpillar Crash Pad.

Upper Comfort


The first thing we notice when trying on a new pair of road running shoes, is the fit and comfort of the upper. There are an array of components that together create a perfectly comfortable upper. When deciding on a score for this metric, we take into consideration if the overall fit is snug or roomy, toe box fit, seam and stitch design, lace eyelets, and heel counter rigidity and fit.

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A plush, well designed inner liner contributes to the high upper comfort score we give the Asics Gel-Kayano 21.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

The Asics Gel-Kayano 21 grabs the spot for a top rating in this category with its plush and luxurious upper. Two layers of memory foam coat the heel counter, which Asics calls their Personalized Heel Fit. We feel the Gel-Kayano 21 has a well-balanced upper fit that's not too snug or too roomy, and provides just enough wiggle room in the toe box. The heel support isn't as stiff as other stability models in the group, and we like that as well. The Mizuno Wave Rider 18 comes in a close second with a wonderfully fitting upper. The heel on the Wave Rider 18 is a bit stiff for our liking but hugs the foot nicely and adds to the propulsive ride.

Breathability


Running in a shoe that regulates the temperature of your feet during a run is important not just for comfort, but for the overall health of your feet. Uppers that breathe poorly can trap in moisture which could cause chafing, blisters, foot fungus, and other foot problems. Most models currently on the market have pretty decent breathability. Commonly, a sneaker with higher breathability comes with a more minimally designed upper and thin, light mesh materials. If your feet regularly sweat during runs, we recommend looking into our picks for higher breathability. If you live in an area that rains often or are constantly running through creeks, you might want to consider a waterproof Gore-Tex version if it's available. The models that provide this waterproof Gore-Tex are not as breathable as ones without, but they will keep your feet much drier during very wet runs. Because of their lack of breathability, We don't recommend Gore-Tex footwear unless you'll be running through creeks or heavy storms.

We give the highest breathability rating to the Saucony Kinvara 6. Our feet return from runs much drier in the Kinvara 6 when compared to all the other road shoes we tested, and they dry noticeably faster when wet. This speedy drying has to do with the fully seamless and lightweight minimal upper. Given this extremely minimal upper, the Saucony Kinvara 6 does a poor job at keeping moisture out and is not a great choice for intense winter conditions. Though, we believe the Kinvara 6 is the best option to keep your feet dry in most typical conditions. The least breathable models are the Asics Gel-Kayano 21 and the New Balance 990 with an air-trapping pigskin covered upper.

Weight


No runner wants to feel like they are lugging bricks on the ends of their legs, making shoe weight a very important factor when choosing the best road running shoe. Typically, we feel like a lighter shoe facilitates a natural foot strike, though we do find that some heavier models can still run better overall. Take note though, there is often a relation between lighter designs and less durability since many models will sacrifice durability for weight.

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The extreme flexibility of the lightweight Saucony Kinvara 6. This shoe weighs in at only 7.8 ounces per pair.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

The Saucony Kinvara 6 takes the cake for the lightest model in our review by about 1.5 ounces. At just 7.8 ounces per pair in a men's size 9, the Kinvara 6 is in a weight class of its own. This shoe falls on a fine line between road trainer and racing flat. We feel that the Saucony Kinvara 6 is a versatile sneaker that can be used as either type of shoe interchangeably. It offers plenty of cushioning and protection to use as a daily trainer, while also being lightweight and responsive enough to break out for workouts and road races all the way up to the marathon distance. We also really love how grippy the Saucony Kinvara 6 outsole feels to us on the road. We feel this is due to the segmented, triangular lugs on the outsole.

Durability


When you fork out over $100 bones on a new pair of road footgear, you want to make sure they last for a certain number of miles. We use a few different factors when rating the durability of the models in our test group. Ideally, a few hundred miles should be logged in each pair for an accurate sense of the rate of wear. Taking note of the wear we observed through logging fifty plus miles in each pair, we were able to get a good idea of the life of each model. We also researched hundreds of user reviews looking for personal feedback regarding the durability and last of the shoes. When rating the durability, we also take into account the design, outsole rubber density, mesh upper thickness, and upper design.

We give the highest durability rating to the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3. Every test model besides the Wave Prophecy 3 and Mizuno Wave Rider 18 uses some type of foam cushioning system. Mizuno uses their Wave Plate Technology on the Wave Prophecy which produces a stiff, rigid, and durable midsole unit. Due to its rigidity, we feel the "breakdown" of this midsole will occur at a much later stage when compared to the other models we evaluated. On top of having a supremely resilient midsole, our gait cycle feels so efficient in the Prophecy 3 that we believe this adds to the overall durability as well. The upper is also extremely well designed and proves to be very durable.

The Bottom Line


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Our two favorite neutral shoes together. The Saucony Kinvara 6 on the left is the lightest and fastest shoe we tested and earns our Top Pick award. The Brooks Ghost 8 on the right is our Editor's Choice winner and the most well-rounded road shoe we've ever worn.
Credit: Jimmy Elam

We have logged over 50 miles in each of our test models, which has given us a solid base for evaluating running shoes. Additionally, for each of our award winners we have analyzed the most current version as well as two previous versions of each of these shoes, which has kept us up-to-date on the changes and advancements made with each iteration. We know how each pair feels compared to the previous model as well as compared to many other models of footwear on the market. After this extensive comparison, we have found some favorites, but this is still fairly subjective. Keep in mind that everyone's feet are different, so if our favorite doesn't fit your foot, you many want to explore some of the other models that we tested to find the proper model for your feet and running style. All-in-all, each model that we tested is worthy and we are sure there is something for everyone in our test field.

Make sure and find the appropriate fit and style of running shoe for your feet and running style. This will enhance your performance and reduce the chance of injury.

Editors' Choice Winner: Brooks Ghost 8


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Close-up profile view showing off the sleek, simple and effective design of the Brooks Ghost 8, our Editors' Choice winner.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

The neutral cushioned Brooks Ghost 8 is a remarkably versatile shoe and receives our Editors' Choice award for high metric scores across the board. The deciding factor in our award choice is that this model has the most balanced performance overall. It strikes the perfect balance of comfort, weight, durability, flexibility, and responsiveness to make this a continually unrivaled shoe. We rate the Brooks Ghost 8 as having the most comfort of all the designs we tested, and it remains comfortable from the first mile through the last.

Brooks revamped the newest version by making a few adjustments to the upper. The upgrades now have more synthetic welded overlays, shedding some weight and adding durability. The lack of a midfoot trusstic allows full contact with the ground during landing, creates a more natural heel-to-toe transition, and a smooth ride. This remarkably smooth the ride is the result of the innovative Caterpillar Crash Pad used on the midsole. This segmented landing pad is unique in the way that it distributes the weight and landing pattern of each person independently. This cushy crash pad is polished off by nubs on the outsole that offer plenty of traction in all road conditions and allows for a responsive ride.

Comparatively, the Brooks Ghost 8 is also lightweight, responsive, durable, and breathable when stacked next to the other contenders in our group. It is by far our favorite of the test group, and deserves this high honor.

Best Buy Award: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15


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The upper of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 is flashy at first look, though the fit isn't our favorite. It feels cramped overall and we aren't a fan of the construction and material used on the inside of the upper. However, this stability shoe is still an excellent buy.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

The Best Buy award goes to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15. This model proves to be a reliable stability shoe, scoring highest in stability, durability, and responsiveness. Like you probably know, many stability models can break the bank. The Adrenaline GTS 15 also maintains an affordable $120 retail price, which is the least expensive stability version in our group. This model will provide many comfortable miles for each dollar spent. You can't really go wrong with this shoe if you're an over-pronator on a budget looking for a high stability road running sneaker. As a bonus, this model is also versatile enough to use moderately on trails, which adds to its value and versatility. Additionally, this pair features a biodegradable midsole that Brooks claims degrades twice as fast as other shoes once in a landfill.

Top Pick Award for Lightweight Racing Flat: Saucony Kinvara 6


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A clear view of the highly cushioned midsole on the Saucony Kinvara 6. This lightweight shoe has only a 4 mm heel to toe discrepancy and makes us feel fast on race day.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

We give a Top Pick Award to the Saucony Kinvara 6 for being a lightweight, minimal, and versatile road shoe. Lace up this silly light road sneaker and discover the speed demon inside you. At only 7.8 ounces in a size 9, a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, and with a generous amount of cushioning, it is resilient enough to provide comfort through daily runs, workouts, and even runs up to marathon distances. We feel that runners who want to make a gradual move towards minimalism will find solace in the Kinvara 6. This model is a considerable change for those who have always used a traditional road shoe, most of which have a 10 mm or more heel-to-toe discrepancy. Remember to gradually adjust to footgear like this. The Kinvara 6 puts a lot more stress on your lower legs and achilles tendon in comparison to traditional trainers. Don't be surprised if your lower legs are super sore after the first few runs in these quick racers. In general, we highly recommend this speedster. This is truly a fun pair to run in.

Top Pick Award for Stability Shoe: Asics Gel Kayano 21


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The author going for a Salt Lake City stroll in one of his favorite road shoes, the Top Pick for a stability model, the Asics Gel-Kayano 21.
Credit: Arrington McCoy

Our favorite stability model is the Asics Gel-Kayano 21. Given the newest version's plush ride, upper comfort, high stability, and out-of-box comfort that's off the charts, we rate the Asics Gel-Kayano 21 as a better stability shoe overall when compared to the other road footwear. For the stability class, it's lightweight and comfortable. Often, shoes need a few miles to break-in, but this is by far the most comfortable pavement pounders we tested straight out of the box thanks to the Asics GEL cushioning in the midsole. With this phenomenal out-of-box landing comfort, plush upper, and super solid posting, this one comes highly recommended for all over-pronators.

Jimmy Elam
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