Runner’s World Shoe Guide: Autumn/Winter 2014

Helly Hansen Nimble R2

This is Helly Hansen’s first attempt at a road- running shoe and it’s not bad. In keeping with the trend for lighter shoes the Nimble R2 is low-slung, extremely flexible and weighs about the same as a racing flat – it was the lightest shoe on test. Neutral testers loved the responsiveness and fast transition, but heavier runners would have liked more heft and support. There was a lack of attention to detail elsewhere, with the fit coming up half a size too big, and the tongue had a tendency to slip down the side of the foot after a while. Nevertheless, a solid debut.

Bottom line: This shoe is perfect for speed training or races up to 10K.

Heel cushioning: Fairly firm                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Quite firm

Flexibility: Mid/High

Weight:  219g (men's), 172g (women's) 

Saucony Kinvara 5


The Kinvara has been a hit since its launch, so Saucony has not messed with this version too much – although a slightly snugger fit around the heel, the lighter midfoot wraps and a more efficient lacing system are welcome upgrades. Aside from that, both the lab and our testers noted the flexible forefoot and super-cushioned midsole foam, which worked in tandem to help runners pick up their feet quicker. This model’s 4mm heel drop makes it an ideal midway option for those transitioning to a less built-up shoe. And it’s a surprisingly supportive speedster.

Bottom line: Fast, responsive and perfect for runs of up to 10 miles.

Heel cushioning: Fairly soft                                             

Forefoot cushioning: Fairly soft

Flexibility: Mid/High

Weight:  220g (men's), 179g (women's) 

Nike Air Zoom Elite 7


Almost a very good shoe, but let down by a few irritating issues, the first of which is the variable fit around the heel. It pinched a little near the Achilles but was looser further down. Also, the laces had a tendency to come undone and the midfoot section was a little stiff in transition. But faster runners loved the bouncy toe spring and soft forefoot cushioning. The wrap around the midfoot, with Nike’s super-thin flywire overlays, was superb and kept the foot locked in place even when cornering sharply, and the mesh upper was remarkably breathable.

Bottom line: A good speed- and tempo-running option for heavier runners.

Heel cushioning: Fairly firm                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Quite soft

Flexibility: Mid

Weight: 266g (men's), 201g (women's) 

Saucony ProGrid Triumph 11

This is Saucony’s top-of-the-line cushioning shoe, so when setting out to modify it, the company focused on improving that very comfortable feel – and it has succeeded.

Testers certainly loved the plush feel, which 
was achieved even with a drop in weight from the previous version. A new memory-foam sockliner is designed to return to shape after your feet have pounded it and there’s hard carbon rubber on the outsole for increased durability. Finally, the toebox has been widened – something forefoot strikers appreciated.


Bottom line: This is a solid, multipurpose marathon-training option.

Heel cushioning: Fairly soft                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Low

Weight: 316g (men's), 261g (women's) 

Hoka One One Conquest

Five years ago, 349g would have placed this shoe in the middle of the pack, weight-wise,
but today that figure means the Hoka is the heaviest shoe in this guide. It’s still light for a maximal shoe with very high midsole cushioning. However, the heel drop is only 6mm. Some testers felt self-conscious bouncing around in such stacked trainers, but there was no denying the effect: they’re supportive, they wrap snugly around all but the narrowest of feet and, despite being road shoes, they also perform impressively on parkland and forest paths. Well worth a try.

Bottom line: Unparalleled comfort for longer training and offroad runs.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Low

Weight:  349g (men's), 298g (women's) 

Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2

Tester Chris Smith loved this shoe. Here’s part of his review: ‘Low profile, fast and support all the way along the sole gave decent pronation control with less material.’ The Sayonara is designed as a low-slung performance shoe, but Chris wasn’t the only tester who found it catered for their pronation needs. It’s a little stiff in the forefoot for lighter runners, but it got top marks for fit, comfort and grip. The upper is snugger and more breathable, so you’ll find little to quibble about here if you liked the earlier version.

Bottom line: An agile ride for tempo runs or races up to half marathon.

Heel cushioning: Medium                                                                    

Forefoot cushioning: Quite firm

Flexibility: Medium

Weight:  238g (men's), 192g (women's) 

Brooks Aduro 2


Exclusive to the European market, this is an entry-level version of the immensely popular Brooks Ghost. This updated Aduro has retained much of the make-up of the original, including
a segmented crash pad in the heel to better distribute impact forces, Brooks’ DNA cushioning material, and flex grooves in the midsole and forefoot to improve flexibility. Brooks has improved the fit around the heel and updated the overlays, which lock the foot in place while reducing weight. One quibble was that some testers found the toebox too wide.

Bottom line: A long-run staple for those who value comfort over speed.

Heel cushioning: Quite soft                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Quite firm

Flexibility: Medium

Weight:  321g (men's), 269g (women's) 

Puma Faas 300v3


The third edition of the Faas 300 does a good job of getting you up on your toes: responsiveness was excellent and testers appreciated the quick heel-to-toe transition, thanks to a new one-piece midsole and deeper flex grooves in the forefoot. Puma has also improved forefoot cushioning and the upper features a new seamless wrap with sturdy but flexible overlays. The low weight is
to be applauded, but it jarred with an 8mm heel drop, which some felt was too high. The forefoot was a little snug for wide-footed runners, too, but this is a very decent shoe for the price.

Bottom line: Speed training for weekend warriors, everyday use for the fleet of foot.

Heel cushioning: Quite firm                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Quite firm

Flexibility: Very soft

Weight:  219g (men's), 179g (women's) 

Brooks Ghost 7

New Ghost, almost the same as the old Ghost. Brooks has put a little more cushioning in the midfoot section to give a smoother ride and improved the overlays that wrap the midsection over the foot, but other than that, this shoe is similar to the previous version – a good thing,
 as it was a popular model. As always, the 
DNA cushioning came in for praise, as did the reliability, durability and outsole traction, but lighter runners reported the shoe feeling heavy, especially in the rear section, and our lab rated it as having only average flexibility.


Bottom line: A no-hassle, high-mileage neutral shoe for heavier runners.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Quite soft

Flexibility: Medium

Weight: 291g (men's), 242g (women's) 

Adidas Adistar Boost

Unlike the other two Adidas shoes in our guide this model did not bag an award, but it still performed impressively. A gripe about the brand is that the fit can be variable, but not so here – it was found to be uniformly snug and comfortable. The new plush sockliner was a joy to slip your foot into and the ride was bouncy without being overly cushioned. One of the best features was the outsole grip: the Continental rubber used was terrific in the wet, with one tester remarking, ‘I was cornering like a lunatic while doing speed training in the rain and these didn’t let me down.’

Bottom line: Equally at ease on long Sunday morning runs and race days.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Quite soft

Flexibility: Medium

Weight: 334g (men's), 272g (women's) 

Nike Air Zoom Structure 18

In these days of stripped-down, no-nonsense running shoes it’s rare to find a model that plants its flag firmly and confidently in the overpronation camp, but that’s exactly what Nike has done here. The medial post on the Zoom Structure 18 is hefty, inflexible and – if you are in need of solid overpronation control – very effective. Testers who were mild overpronators found the support was rather too much for them, but everyone loved the low weight and the midfoot flex, which allowed for a quicker transition onto the toes.

Bottom line: Moderate-to-heavy overpronators will love the support this shoe offers.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Quite soft

Flexibility: High

Weight:  294g (men's), 243g (women's) 

Brooks Glycerin 12

A contender for Editor’s Choice, this is an expensive shoe that goes a considerable way towards justifying its price tag. It pulls off the trick of impressing light runners, heavy runners, those doing speed sessions and those on long, slow runs. Brooks has increased the bounce
and plush feel by including its best cushioning material, Super BioMogo DNA, and improved the fit. In particular, the fit across the arch is snugger and the toebox allows for more toe splay on landing. Those who found the Glycerin 11 a little tight should have no problem with this update.

Bottom line: Premium cushioning with above-average responsiveness.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Low

Weight:  311g (men's), 248g (women's) 

Nike LunarGlide 6

You’ll struggle to find a more supportive shoe at such a light weight, but that’s always been one of the USPs of the LunarGlide series. The pronation support consists of a slanted wedge in the heel that you only feel if you need the support. The effect is that the more tired you get, the more support the shoe gives you. For this version Nike has provided a beefed-up external heel counter to keep the rear of the foot locked in place, the midsole cushioning has been softened, while the outsole has carbonised rubber in key landing zones to make it more durable.


Bottom line: Great support and lightness for all types of overpronators.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Very soft

Weight: 272g (men's), 221g (women's) 

Saucony Ride 7

‘A smooth ride that would take me a long way with little trouble. It’s basically a Volvo.’ That was the verdict of RW chief sub editor John Carroll, and his sentiments were echoed by other testers, who all loved the reliability, soft cushioning
 (a little too soft for some heavier runners) and quick transition from heel to toe – Saucony has removed the plastic midfoot shank from the previous version to achieve this speed. The shoe also performed exceptionally in wet conditions, with the blown rubber outsole proving bouncy, durable and grippy.


Bottom line: A soft and comfortable ride
 that’s suitable for high-mileage runners.

Heel cushioning: Quite soft                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Very firm

Weight:  269g (men's), 232g (women's) 

Puma Faas 1000

This is an old-school shoe with modern looks. The 12mm heel drop makes it perfect for runners who want no part of the minimalist-shoe trend. The shoe looks rather bulky, but it felt light and responsive, and the cushioning got rave reviews. Heavier runners said the forefoot cushioning
 was too spongy for them (the RW Shoe Lab corroborated this) and they found it hard to push off with any speed. The fit is also a little loose around the heel if you have a narrow foot, but overall this is a good option if you want a dependable, traditional neutral-cushioned shoe. 

Bottom line: A pillowy, cushioned ride for those who prefer a higher heel drop.

Heel cushioning: Quite soft                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Very firm

Weight: 306g (men's), 250g (women's) 

New Balance 880v4

This is New Balance’s biggest-selling neutral-cushioned shoe and the good news for fans of the model is that the company has improved the cushioning with this fourth iteration. The shoe gained praise from lighter runners for responsiveness, while heavier runners found the ride soft, but not too spongy. A subtle torsion-control shank in the midfoot gives an element of stability, while the responsiveness during toe-off has markedly improved, meaning the shoe is suitable for a wider range of training, being equally adept at long, slow runs and shorter, sharper sessions.

Bottom line: Bounce, speed and cushioning for neutral runners.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Quite firm

Flexibility: Very firm

Weight:  277g (men's), 240g (women's) 

Saucony Omni 13

A shoe this expensive needs to give plenty of bang for its buck; the Omni certainly scored very well in some areas, but it fell down in others. Our testers loved the quality feel of the shoe, remarking on the plush, quick-wicking inner, the no-sew seams and the superb fit. But despite the light weight for a shoe of this type, there were a few complaints about the chunky heel and the feeling the shoe felt a little heavy – something that was borne out by our lab tests, which showed the Omni 13 to be a little on the inflexible side.


Bottom line: Good for larger overpronators looking for a reliable workhorse.

Heel cushioning: Medium soft                                                            

Forefoot cushioning: Very soft

Flexibility: Low/medium firm

Weight: 294g (men's), 242g (women's) 

Asics Gel Cumulus 16

Tester Rich Berry summed this shoe up in excellent fashion, so we’ll let him do most of
the talking: ‘This is a good-quality, neutral- cushioned shoe without the multitude of weighty features often found on similar models. It’s suitable for long-distance work but it’s also light enough for the odd speed session. Although
the Cumulus 16 is a neutral shoe it offers enough stability for mild to moderate overpronators. 
In short, this is a solid all-rounder.’ And what
 did our Shoe Lab machines tell us? That the cushioning was indeed excellent.

Bottom line: A reliable and comfortably
 sturdy ride with mass appeal.

Heel cushioning: Very soft                                                                   

Forefoot cushioning: Quite soft

Flexibility: Low firmness

Weight:  338g (men's), 267g (women's) 

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31

The world’s biggest-selling running shoe has largely stayed the same for some time, with Nike contenting itself with mostly cosmetic tweaks. For this version it overhauled the shoe, which risked losing fans, but the changes are all to the good. The shoe is lighter, but the midsole foam is denser, giving a firmer but still cushioned feel. Responsiveness has improved, the forefoot is more flexible and the upper has been redesigned – it’s snugger, breathes better and looks more modern. It was a contender for Best Update, but the mixed reaction to a 10mm heel drop means it just missed out.


Bottom line: A great option for neutral runners.

Heel cushioning: Quite soft                                                                 

Forefoot cushioning: Medium firmness

Flexibility: Low firmness

Weight: 285g (men's), 230g (women's)