The word ‘comfort’ means different things to different people. Some runners equate a soft midsole with comfort. Others don’t care about how cushioned or soft the ride is, and instead find a plush upper the definition of comfort.
What is solereview’s definition of a comfortable running shoe? After all, we’ve reviewed hundreds of shoes and clocked thousands of miles over the last decade.
In our opinion, it’s all about finding a fine balance between different characteristics. To begin with, the midsole should be cushioned with a level of step-in comfort that is immediately accessible upon wearing the shoe.
At the same time, the upper should be made of soft-touch materials for a plush over-the-foot experience. The fit shouldn’t be overly snug or have hot spots.
It’s easier to filter shoes when you apply these selection criteria. For instance, we have excluded models like the Nike Pegasus 36 due to its firm-ish ride and minimal upper.
Even the otherwise brilliant Reebok Forever Floatride Energy does not make it to the list. Though it has plenty of high-quality cushioning, it’s not the same thing as step-in comfort. With the Reebok shoe, the upper is more business-like than plush.
So which shoes are on this list? Good you asked. There you go – the 10 most comfortable running shoes in the order of our preference.
1) Nike Air Zoom Vomero 5
Some may argue that the Vomero 5 is a retro release. But hey, if one can run in the UltraBoost, why not in the Vomero?
The Zoom Vomero 5 first saw the light of the day in 2008. More than a decade later, its premium material package and the plush ride still gives the other shoes a run for their money. The meld of soft upper materials makes the upper a plush place to be in; underneath, the Cushlon EVA + Zoom Air + blown rubber layering makes the ride extremely comfortable.
2) adidas UltraBoost S&L
This Ultraboost model trades the regular (and elastic) knit upper for a closed mesh with suede and leather overlays. The plastic midfoot cage isn’t there either.
As a result, there’s more room inside the forefoot without the constricting feel of the midfoot cage. The S&L version uses a leather midfoot panel which feels a lot better than the plastic vice. The collar and the tongue use the same soft lining as the regular UltraBoost, thus giving the interiors a plush feel.
The full-length Boost midsole doesn’t need introducing; the cushioned and bouncy e-TPU foam is excellent for both step-in and all-day comfort.
3) Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 3
This is a very un-Mizuno shoe. The Wave Sky 3 Waveknit midsole replaces the rigid TPE ‘Wave’ plate with a soft top-layer made of PU foam. Underneath that is another thick stack of EVA foam. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a thick sockliner placed on top.
Together, they create a very cushioned and comfortable base. On the upper, a traditional construction meets a modern design language. A spacious knit upper is mated with a conventional tongue and heel, both of which are foam-packed and use soft-touch textiles.
4) Brooks Glycerin 17
The Brooks Glycerin doesn’t have the soft ride of the UltraBoost or the Vomero. But the G-17 is a complete package in the sense that it brings together a plush and spacious upper with a smooth-riding insole and midsole.
In short, the Glycerin has a great balance of different shoe traits which contribute to the overall comfort level.
5) New Balance FuelCell Propel
To be honest, the FuelCell Propel has been overshadowed by its popular peers like the Rebel, Beacon, 1080, and doesn’t get the love it deserves. The FuelCell Propel is one of the most comfortable shoes in New Balance’s line; the midsole is softly cushioned without the instability-inducing mushiness.
The upper has plenty of room and uses soft textile lining and foam padding for interior plushness.
6) New Balance 1080V10
The introduction of the softer ‘Fresh Foam X’ midsole earns the 1080V10 a spot on this guide. And it’s not just the uber-thick midsole that makes the ride comfortable.
Even the outsole is softer as the V10 leaves the large rubber outsole behind and adopts an articulated/split layout. This dials up the midsole cushioning – and that directly co-relates to the ride comfort.
Be it daily runs or high-mileage workouts, the 1080V10 delivers gobs of comfort whenever you need it.
The upper fit is snug due to the Hypoknit mesh, so it’s a good idea to try first.
7) Saucony Kinvara 10
If you raised your eyebrows on finding the Kinvara here, fret not – we explain why. Even though it’s a low-profile and a lightweight low-drop trainer, the Kinvara 10 scores well on the areas of all-around comfort.
The breezy upper uses soft materials everywhere, thus making the interiors very comfortable. The soft heel lining uses raised foam pods, and the plump tongue insulates the top-down lacing pressure.
If you look past the 4 mm drop, the midsole is easy on the feet regardless of the running distance. The Everun Topsole and the molded sockliner work together with the EVA midsole to produce a superior, distraction-free cushioning quality.
8) Asics Gel-Cumulus 21
The Gel Cumulus 21 is a popular neutral trainer from Asics that has an optimal balance of cushioning softness and smoothness. This also means that one doesn’t have to spend Nimbus money for a pair of comfortable Asics running shoes.
The upper is traditionally constructed without a sleeve and uses soft lining materials to cocoon your feet in comfort.
9) Mizuno Wave Horizon 3
This is a stability running shoe with a difference. The engineered mesh upper has lots of room for splay while the premium materials hug the foot in luxurious comfort.
On one hand, the dual-stack of soft foam delivers a cushioned ride. Then there’s the signature Wave plate adding stability and a bit of a snap to the ride character.
10) Reebok Floatride Run 2.0
This model succeeds the original Floatride Ultraknit – a shoe that was more of a lifestyle shoe than a performance runner.
For whatever it’s worth, the Floatride 2.0 is an improvement. To begin with, the slip-on Ultraknit upper gets an additional pair of eyelets that help lock down the foot better. The urethane midfoot cage is slimmer and no longer feels overbearing.
That said, the Floatride 2.0 still has a very leisurely fit so use this Reebok shoe only for low-intensity athletic activities. That’s why this shoe features at the bottom of this buyer’s guide.
If you’re looking for a soft yet ultra-lightweight ride, you’ll find it on the Floatride. The 10 mm drop midsole uses the namesake foam – a cushy and responsive Pebax foam that makes run extremely comfortable.
The firmer EVA rim has been toned down for a softer Floatride foam experience.
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