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Spring 2011 Shoe Review

Find your perfect fit this spring! Check out our 16 wear-tested winners, now with bonus tester comments available exclusively online!

Reader’s Choice

Saucony ProGrid Mirage
Price: $100

Saucony’s ProGrid Mirage was a hands-down favorite for fit, comfort and style. Tipping the scales at only 7.9 ounces, the Mirage feels like a lightweight trainer, but is supportive enough to work as an everyday shoe. A slightly raised heel allows for a smooth transition, and runners reported that that this model helped to improve turnover during speedy workouts. Touted as a “minimalist” shoe, the Mirage bridged the gap between barefoot-loving runners and the stability-obsessed. One tester summed it up: “I love these shoes!

saucony.com

WR testers say:

  • “These shoes fit perfectly and are very cute.”
  • “I would definitely recommend these shoes to a friend.”
  • “These shoes are really light and flexible, but also provided a lot of support while I was running.”
  • “The shoes had absolutely no hotspots and I had no blisters after wearing for the first time.”
Asics Gel-DS Trainer 16
Price: $110

The testers have spoken! It’s no surprise that a running shoe that has seen over a dozen updates was one of our testers’top choices. With the release of the Gel-DS Trainer 16, Asics has continued to improve on its ever-popular model, creating a sleeker look and adding a clutching system to the heel that prevents slippage. “These shoes are exceptionally shock-absorbent,” raved one tester, who noted “a very low-impact landing.” An anatomically correct lacing design and a supportive mid-sole are great for runners with high arches.

8.5 ounces, asicsamerica.com

WR testers say:

  • “I like the style of the shoes. Very basic and simple looking.”
  • “I usually wear a size 7, but these felt a little tight, so they may run a bit small.”
  • “When I wore these outside, I could feel the breeze in my feet. The shoes are very breathable.”
  • “I have extremely high arches, so the “hourglass” design of this shoe hugs the curves of my foot to give me much-appreciated support in the center of my feet. Each shoe fits like a glove.”

Editor’s Choice

Nike LunarElite+2
Price: $100

If your legs have the tendency to feel sluggish, the LunarElite+2 is just what the doctor ordered. The raised heel and flat sole allows you to run more efficiently, picking up the pace while exerting less effort. The updated LunarElite+2 features a more flexible sole than the previous version, and lightweight mesh increases the shoe’s breathability. One runner asserted, “I think Nike has switched me from my normal running shoes to the Lunar line.” This shoe is a great choice for racing or faster running and can be used as an everyday shoe for women who enjoy minimal structure.

8.2 ounces, nike.com

WR testers say:

  • “I really liked how lightweight the shoe is.”
  • “I don’t love the style of the shoe, but they felt great on my foot while running.”
  • “The support was good and provided comfort on a variety of surfaces.”
  • “Loved this shoe, even though it was a bit wide for my very narrow foot.”
Brooks Ravenna 2
Price: $100

Aside from crossing a marathon finish line, one of the most rewarding feelings a runner can have is slipping on a brand new pair of shoes that just feel right. The Brooks Ravenna 2 is sure to make you say, “Ahh.” Delivering mild stability in a racing-weight package, these shoes provide an optimal blend of speed and support. Testers agreed: “These shoes are very comfortable and great in terms of freedom of movement and speed.” Updates from the previous version of the Ravenna include increased flexibility in the sole and added cushioning in the forefoot—great for mid- and forefoot strikers.

9.0 ounces, brooksrunning.com

WR testers say:

  • “These shoes feel lighter than the running shoes I typically wear, but they were still very stable and supportive.”
  • “I liked the adjustable elastic over the arch.”
  • “My stride felt straighter and stronger when I put these shoes on.”
  • “I could easily see these becoming my everyday go-to shoe. They feel great.”

Best Neutral

New Balance NB890
Price: $100

A great choice for sole sisters whose strides don’t require correction, the NB890 was built specifically to deliver the highest level of support in the lowest weight shoe possible. This model is surprisingly responsive and durable due to patented Revlite foam technology. The designers also removed the standard arch to assist with forefoot striking. While the flat bottom of the shoe and the airy feel took some getting used to, many agreed that they felt the benefit of this style in their turnover after a few trial runs. “They have a nice, light, fast feel and looked very cute!” said one marathoner.

7.7 ounces, newbalance.com

WR testers say:

  • “I really like the overall look of the shoe. This is a trivial factor, but I really love the laces!”
  • “I’ve never run in such a flat shoe, so it was a much different feel running at first. But by the end of my first run, I got used to it and found this allowed ‘me’ to run.”
  • “Based on support, I feel these are best for shorter distances.”
  • “These sneakers were a bit light for me, but definitely easy to run in.”
Adidas Supernova Glide 3
Price: $110

The Supernova Glide 3’s are the shoe equivalent of your favorite pair of jeans—they’re not the sexiest item you have in your closet, but they’re the first things you reach for when you want to feel comfortable and confident. Perfect for runners with a neutral stride who still appreciate a high level of cushioning, these shoes are soft and durable with medium arch support. “These shoes felt great right out of the box,” said one tester, while another agreed, “I would definitely not be afraid to use them on a long run right from the outset.”

10.6 ounces, adidas.com

WR testers say:

  • “It felt as though these Adidas shoes were made for my feet!”
  • “I felt zero discomfort while wearing these shoes.”
  • “The shoes were pretty heavily cushioned, which made them a bit heavier, but not so much that it slowed me down.”
  • “I would definitely recommend these shoes for someone training for a longer (6-mile+) race.”

 


Best Racer

Karhu Fast 2 Ride
Price: $130

Put some zip in your step with a shoe that lives up to its name. The Fast 2 Ride will help you to pick up your speed during shorter races, but provides enough cushioning and support to withstand a 26.2-mile pounding. Karhu, a Finnish brand, builds all of its shoes with propulsion in mind. The Fast 2 Ride modifies the company’s fulcrum technology to create a shoe designed specifically for racing or fast training. One tester currently training for her first half marathon reported, “These shoes allowed me to take off much faster than I was used to—I surprised even myself!”

8.1 ounces, karhu.com

WR testers say:

  • “These are hands down the cutest shoes I own. I love them!”
  • “I really loved the bright orange color. They make you feel like a hardcore runner even when standing still.”
  • “These shoes were less supportive, but they caused me to be more aware of my foot movements. I think that over time my foot would grow stronger in this shoe.”
  • “These are great shoes if you are interested in an intermediate strep between padded shoes and barefoot running.”
Pearl Izumi isoTransition
Price: $90

The mesh detailing and slick design of these Pearl Izumi racers will make you feel like a track star even before you take your first stride. The isoTransition boasts a stiff toe and featherweight design to maximize turnover. “These shoes are a great option for someone looking to improve their time,” commented one tester, “they really allowed my foot to breathe.” The quick-pull bungee laces and self-draining midsole are perfect for those who mix triathlons into their training—or for any runner who doesn’t like to contend with loose laces and soggy shoes.

6.7 ounces, pearlizumi.com

WR testers say:

  • “I love the innovative lacing system.”
  • “The seamless upper insole is very comfortable.”
  • “The toe box is a little more narrow than I’m used to.”
  • “These shoes are lightweight and comfortable with some stability in the heel, but not enough to hinder sprinting.”

 


Best Stability

Mizuno Wave Nirvana 7
Price: $140

In it’s seventh year on the market, the Wave Nirvana is a great go-to shoe for moderate overpronators (i.e. women whose feet roll inward when they run). Despite the strong structure, these kicks earned high marks for comfort. One tester noted, “My feet felt very supported, and they allowed me to run blister-free for seven miles.” Those with high arches will appreciate Mizuno’s wave plate design, built to provide midfoot support where you need it most. The unique tethered tongue prevents the shoe from chaffing during long runs.

9.9 ounces, mizuno.com

WR testers say:

  • “The shoe provides plenty of stability and support and is a great shoe for those who prefer less padding in the sole.”
  • “A comfortable shoe with a very firm ride.”
  • “The shoe was beautiful and would look nice with most of my running gear.”
  • “I would recommend this to those who are heel-strikers and need sturdy support in the back of the shoe.”
Avia Avi-Quest
Price: $130

The Avi-Quest was designed for mild overpronators who desire both cushioning and stability. “For as lightweight as they are,” remarked one tester, “they had a surprising amount of support.” What sets these stability shoes apart is the removable OrthoLite sock-liner which molds to your foot for increased injury protection. Our narrow foot testers longed for a slimmer fit, but others enjoyed the combination of flexibility in the mid-sole and durability in the heel. The bright color and reflective stripes make this a good pair to lace up during a nighttime run.

10.4 ounces, aviadirect.com

WR testers say:

  • “These are solid running shoes. I will continue to log miles in them.”
  • “The upper material is thicker than most running shoes I wear, which is good for staying warm in the winter, but not great for rainy days.”
  • “I felt the shoes provided the flexibility to assist my feel to move with my body when accelerating.”
  • “The shoes are very quiet. No squeaks or thudding.”

Best Value

Ryka Revive II
Price: $55

If you’re in the market for running shoes that are easy on the wallet, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal than the Revive II. At $55 these shoes are half the price of your average pair, but testers enjoyed them just as much as more expensive options. “Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just exactly what you need,” remarked one tester, “I am hooked on these shoes!” Endorsed by talk show host and runner Kelly Ripa, this light neutral shoe delivers cushioning and shock protection for the everyday runner.

9.0 ounces, ryka.com

WR testers say:

  • “The shoes were very comfortable and lightweight which my foot loved.”
  • “The look of these shoes was appealing—even though I usually steer clear of pink!”
  • “I feel like this shoe might wear out fairly quickly when training for a marathon, but it would be a good shoe to wear during the race!”
  • “These sneakers wrapped around my foot with the perfect level of snugness.”
Puma Ventis II
Price: $100

While the price of the Ventis II is in the triple digit range, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. With a durable heel construction, and an anti-microbial insole, these shoes are built to last. The street-wear-friendly style makes these shoes work on and off the track as well. “When I wear them, everyone comments on how cool they look,” says one cross-country runner. “They had a lot of cushioning, but they still provided me with good stability.”

10.0 ounces, puma.com

WR testers say:

  • “I liked these shoes because they have so much cushion.”
  • “The Ventis provided me with good stability while running.”
  • “I love the electric blue. It stands out and goes with everything at the same time.”
  • “I have a very low arch, so needed to put inserts in them.”

Best Trail

Patagonia Specter
Price: $130

When purchasing a trail shoe, you want to look for a model that’s sturdy, comfortable and provides plenty of traction. The Specter delivers on all fronts. “This sturdy shoe helped to make for a safer run,” praised one off-road enthusiast. While the colors were polarizing—testers either loved or hated the neon blue—all agreed that they felt secure in their stride even on hilly, snowy, icy and uneven terrain. The multi-density rubber outsole ensures your foot sticks where it lands, and the webbing loops attached to the laces will keep your tootsies snug.

8.6 ounces, patagonia.com

WR testers say:

  • “The Specter provided great support and stability, which is important in a trail shoe.”
  • “I have narrow feet and these fit me well.”
  • “They are a little bit heavier than the shoe I usually wear, but I actually felt really comfortable in them.”
  • “I had two people tell me last weekend that they loved the color of my shoes!”
Saucony Progrid Peregrine
Price: $90

Lighter and more breathable than your average trail shoe, the Progrid Peregrine looks like the lovechild of an everyday trainer and a hiking boot. Testers liked the way the streamlined designed hugged feet and ankles, and many were surprised how light they felt while running. The multi-directional lugs make for a solid foot plant. “The grip on the bottom of the shoes was awesome whether I ran on the beach or on trails,” raved one tester. A tough outsole will protect you from errant rocks and roots.

8.2 ounces, saucony.com

WR testers say:

  • “They have a nice, natural fit and felt almost as if they molded to my feet.”
  • “Mentally, these trail shoes made me feel lighter while running.”
  • “Excellent support around the ankles when laced completely.”
  • “I loved how these shoes didn’t feel bulky like other trail shoes can.”

Most Fashionable

K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light
Price: $130

The only shoe to receive top a top rating for style from every tester who tried them on, the Kwicky Blade Light was undoubtedly a fashion favorite. “These are the best-looking running shoes I’ve ever worn,” said one runner, “everyone makes a comment!” True to their name, the Kwicky Blades are a lightweight neutral shoe. While the shoe features a dense foam footbed and heel pad, some runners used to heavier cushioning, preferred to wear this K-Swiss model only for short runs or track workouts.

9.0 ounces, kswiss.com

WR testers say:

  • “These shoes look gooooood.”
  • “The Blades did not appear to have as much cushion on the sole as my normal shoes, so may be best for shorter mileage.”
  • “Loved the light feel of the shoe.”
  • “These shoes are comfortable when running but have extremely little cushioning in the front of the foot.”
Reebok Premier Zigblaze
Price: $105

Shoe design doesn’t come much hotter than the Premier Zigblaze. With cool colors and an eye-catching sole, these kicks provide extra motivation to pound the pavement. This stability shoe is best for fashionistas in need of stride support, but testers noted that the zigzag design prevented the shoes from feeling stiff or heavy. “They felt very comfortable and springy!” said one Boston Marathon finisher. Seamless technology in the interior allows for maximum blister protection, and a medial post prevents pronation.

10.4 ounces, reebok.com

WR testers say:

  • “They had lots of cushion and felt very light on my foot.”
  • “After 10 weeks of wear, they still felt nice and bouncy!”
  • “They sole looks cool—but also like it would be super clunky. Surprisingly, I found the shoe to feel quite light.”

 

Photography by Unionhouse, Jennifer Soos & Salvatore Brancifort
Socks supplied by Thorlos