Best running shoes: top trainers to get you road fit in 2017

The best runners need the best running shoes… and so do average to middling ones. These are the best trainers for road and trail running, from lightweight barefoot styles to shoes that are more padded than this intro

You can have all the tech and all the aptitude, but without the best running shoes for you, eating up miles is going to be a chore, not a mildly masochistic pleasure.

Whether you're tackling a road marathon or a just a normal run, the first thing you need to do is find a decent pair of running shoes.

From Nike and Saucony, to Salomon and Asics, with so many brands and styles to choose from, finding the perfect pair for your running style can be a challenge. T3.com is here to help.

How to buy the right running shoes

Here are three tips from T3's resident ultra-runner to help you whittle down your options:

1. Get your gait tested

Drop into a shop like Sweatshop, Runner's Needs or Vivobarefoot stores and you can get a full gait analysis test done. This will help you identify the type of running shoes and support that's best for your running style. You'll also get some handy hints on how to improve your technique along the way.

The difficulty in recommending running shoes is that, while some are better than others, the 'best' shoe for you also has to suit how you run. In particular, if your gait shows an excess of pronation or supination (inward and outward rolling of the foot as it strikes and pushes off from the ground), you will need a shoe or insole that addresses this.

2. Think about your terrain

Where you plan to run is important. Road, trail, or a mixture of both. In general, trail running requires more support and road requires more impact protection, but again this can also be affected by how you run, and what you find comfortable.

3. Racing versus training

In a lot of cases you might want to choose a training shoe for longer mileage and a race shoe that's lighter but better used for shorter periods of time, like a four-hour race. Either way, it's important that you've worn your shoes in before you hit race day, or put in the longer runs.

Now that you know your style, it's time to choose. Every pair of shoes on our list has been worn, tested and put through its paces. Leaf through the list of the latest tech-filled trainers for your perfect running shoes.

Unfortunately we can't provide the motivation to hit those wintery pavements, but a good shoe is a step in the right direction.

How we selected the best running shoes

Every pair of shoes on our list has been worn, tested and put through its paces. 

As noted, recommending a running shoe is not like picking out a running watch or toaster, because running depends on the physiology of the wearer. In extreme cases, a shoe that's perfect for us might lead to you getting shin splints.

With that in mind, although we've picked out our favourite shoe for road running  – New Balance Vazee Pace v2 – and for trail running – Adidas Terrex Agravic GTX – we're also recommending shoes specifically for comfort – Nike's barely-there Air Zoom Pegasus 33 – and cushioning – Brooks Ghost 9.

The remainder of the shoes on our list are all top quality performers. We've indicated what we feel each is best for. 

1. New Balance Vazee Pace v2

Best for road running. A real runner's running shoe and our top pick

Comfort and speed, mile after mile
Requires - and rewards - technique

If you want to go fast and keep that up for a long time then these are the shoes for you. 

The Vazee Pace is an ideal marathon shoe with plenty of road-running support geared to midfoot striking, great responsiveness and the ability to just keep giving over long distances. 

This is also a light shoe, which will be appreciated as the miles clock up. As such some might call the foam a little thin but if your technique is correct it won’t be an issue. This trainer, in effect, encourages you to run right… And rewards you for doing so.

2. Adidas Terrex Agravic

Best for trail running at speed

Light, supportive, great grip
Again, demands decent technique

Buy Adidas Terrex Agravic 2016 edition

Venturing off the beaten path? Strap these to your feet and you won't go far wrong. 

The Adidas Terrex range contains everything from high-tops for 'fast hiking' to the hybrid Trailmaker GTX. 

The Agravic, however, is purely for runners. Come rocks, ice or wet you’ll be confident powering through, thanks to Continental rubber soles – yup, from the tyre manufacturer – retaining grip on all surfaces

There's a waterproof but breathable Gore-Tex lining to stay dry without the stink, plus Adidas' running-specific Boost sole (the one that looks like polystyrene packing material) for energy return. 

Light yet supportive, they're also unusually stylish for trail running shoes.

3. Brooks Ghost 9

Best for cushioning. As joyous to wear as they're painful to look at

Ultra-comfortable, cushioned ride
Totally hideous

Buy Brooks Ghost 9 

These Brooks are by absolutely no means stylish, but when it comes to comfortable running, the Ghost 9's smart cushioning is in a league of its own.

These trainers offer 30 percent more cushion than typical thanks to the BioMoGo midsole which Brooks claims 'adapts to your stride'. 

The upper mesh provides support but stretches for comfort while the sole features a segmented crash pad and flexed grooves for a smoother run.

4. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33

Best for comfort: Super-light, slipper-like shoes from Nike

Incredibly comfortable
For obvious reasons, not the most supportive

Nike running shoes tend to be very comfortable, and these take that to an extreme, being almost like slippers. Despite that, they’re very proficient running trainers. 

The Pegasus 33 uses an engineered upper mesh for stretchy comfort and breathability while the Zoom-Air cushioning absorbs mid-sole impact, making it the ideal all-rounder. 

Get these in the right colour and they're very good-looking, too; as in, better than-most-other-shoes-level good-looking. 

5. ASICS MetaRun

Best for pure tech innovation (well, this is T3)

Excellent fit, stability, weight and cushioning
Pricey and limited edition

Buy ASICS Metarun direct from ASICS

Punted as Asics' best shoe yet with four new patents and five new technologies, the MetaRun is made for anyone that takes running seriously. This shoe is aimed at long distance runners and performs brilliantly for fit, stability, weight and cushioning.

Three years in the lab has produced a FlyteFoam light midsole, AdaptTruss carbon reinforced stability, Sloped Duomax for adaptive motion, an optimised glove-like upper, MetaClutch exoskeleton heel and X-Gel comfort. 

They're made in relatively small batches, so snap up a pair when ASICS makes them available.

6. Nike Flyknit Air Max

Comfortable, responsive and stylish

Comfortable yet durable
Not cheap

Buy Nike Flyknit Air Max

These weren't cheap at launch, but with all of Nike’s years of experience and tech crammed into one set of shoes, that's no surprise. The price is now coming down, too.

A rhapsody in comfort and speed, the Flyknit Air Max boasts road-friendly cushioning that will support the joints during even ultra-running distances, yet the shoe is very light and supportive, thanks to the Flyknit upper

Finally, the Max Air sole features a sculpted midsole and flexed grooves, adding a smooth ride with ultimate impact protection. 

They look pretty badass too, and you can use NikeID to further customise them, and get away from Nike's own, rather acidic colour choices.

7. Saucony Kinvara 7

Superb road-running shoe

Stable, durable, superb
The usual, excruciating colours

Buy Saucony Kinvara 7

Saucony somehow manages to keep adding new tricks to the already near perfect Kinvara range.

Now, in the seventh version, there's an Everun heel insert to centre the foot, a new Tri-Flex outsole for better ground contact and a smoother run, plus a temperature regulating upper to offer greater stability and comfort.

8. Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged

Adidas' answer to the Flyknit Air Max

Great grip, energy return and comfort
Quite pricey


Buy Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged

These latest generation Adidas runners feature its trademark Boost sole to offer plenty of energy return to road runners while also feeling better underfoot. In this case, a Stretchweb outer sole that's rubberised and flexible works with the Boost tech for 'ultimate' power return. 

As with the Nike Air Max, the extruded, Primeknit upper looks good, which is nice, but also means improved freedom of movement, breathability and fit, compared to traditional materials. Just what you need while putting in the long distances.  

A fitted heel and midfoot system offer plenty of support, before a Continental rubber sole adds grip in the wet.

9. Adidas Pure Boost ZG Heat Shoes

Best for those who feel the cold

Keeps your feet warm
It's a one- or two-season product only

Buy Adidas Pure Boost ZG Heat Shoes

If you’re lacing up to run in the winter and you're someone who really doesn't like the cold, you’ll need every advantage tech can offer. 

Enter Adidas Climaheat. Used in these Pure Boost ZG Heat shoes, it insulates the feet using hollow-core fibre not unlike a polar bear's fur, so you avoid numb toes. 

The unusually high, Heat Seal adaptive collar also helps to keep the cold out and heat in, while Adidas' usual Boost sole offers energy return and the ATR provides 'grip like a tyre'.

10. ASICS FuzeX

Best for beginners with plenty of cushioning

Loads of shock absorption
On the heavy side

Buy ASICS FuzeX

ASICS is a huge specialist name in running, but it offers the FuzeX as an entry-level offering for new runners. Thanks to its neutral running build it should help to ease in most pavement-pounding wannabes.

The FuzeX has a lightweight construction and plenty of shock absorption to make pavement running less impactful on the joints. The affordable price is a bonus.

11. Adidas Ultra Boost ST

Best for pronation, perfect for day-to-day running

Durable, stable, with a springy midsole
A tad heavy

Buy Adidas Ultra Boost ST

Built primarily for over-pronators, the Adidas Ultra Boost is an excellent running shoe. The comfortable, grippy Primeknit upper and advanced, energy-returning Boost soles mean they pound out the miles whilst keeping your foot stable.

This is a classic running shoe but unlike many of its ilk, the styling and colour choices are pleasing enough for day-to-day wear. 

There's even an old-school, all-white model, although we'd debate the practicality of that for winter running. Better have your Cif and Tippex at the ready.


12. APL Windchill Energy

Best for bounce and style

Advanced energy return system
Decidedly gimmicky

Buy APL Windchill Energy

The Advanced Propulsion Labs Windchill Energy have soles so advanced that they were banned from the NBA.

With an advanced energy return system, and an open-air mesh for channeling out heat to keep feet cool and dry, these feature a solid rubber outsole for stability and claim to let you use less energy to achieve more.

APL's shoes are arguably more for the fashion/tech crowd than 10k sloggers, but they are undeniably a talking point.

13. Inov-8 Roadclaw 275

Built for any road condition

Good energy return, grip and stability
Over-engineered for many runners' purposes

Buy Inov-8 Roadclaw 275

The clue to what these runners are about is in the name. They weigh in at, you guessed it, 275g which is light considering they're built for any road conditions.

The other name give-away is the claw-cleat lug design that offers super grip and stability. The Powerflow midsole offers 15 per cent better energy return compared to standard midsoles, meaning plenty more energy for running.