BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOES
by BRIAN METZLER | APRIL 2019
BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOES
2019 EDITIONS AVAILABLE AT JACKRABBIT
Running shoes with maximal cushioning have become one of the hottest categories at JackRabbit stores and JackRabbit.com, and with good reason—most runners love cushioning!
Although Hoka One One gets credit for helping the category of max cushioned shoes explode in the early 2010s in the wake of the minimialist shoe movement, there have been plenty of thickly cushioned shoes on the market for years. In theory, the original Nike Air Max (1987) might have been the first true max cushioned running shoe, even though the term “maximalism” didn’t get tossed around until Hoka burst on the scene as the minimalist trend started to wane.
Why run in maximally cushioned shoes? Not only does a thick midsole soften the impact of every footstep, but it also serves up a good amount of energy return for your next stride. But careful, not all maximally cushioned shoes are created equal. If you’ve been running in traditionally cushioned shoes, a transition to shoes with thickly cushioned shoes takes some getting used to. The biggest differences are the slightly subdued proprioceptive “feel” for the ground and, in some cases, the rolling sensation from a “rockered” or convex shoe geometry. Studies have shown runners exhibit increased impact forces and loading rate when running in a maximal versus traditionally cushioned running shoe.
We compared four of the top maximally cushioned running shoes available in 2019 to see how they differ. Read on to learn our JackRabbit point of view.
ADIDAS ULTRABOOST 19
Weights: 10.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 9.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: Men: 10mm (29mm heel, 19mm forefoot); Women: 10mm (29mm heel, 10mm forefoot)
The Buzz: Adidas has continued to tweak its Boost foam applications. The latest version of the Adidas UltraBoost serves up 20 percent more energy return and now has a torsion spring embedded in the midsole for additional forefoot support and faster heel-toe transitions.
The updated Continental Stretchweb rubber outsole offers more surface area of adhesive rubber for greater traction on both wet and dry surfaces.
Differentiator: Soft, flexible and very energetic, the UltraBoost 19 is one of the springiest shoes available. Whereas a few previous models were deemed to be too marshmallowy soft, this version is lively and energetic, offering an ideal blend of softness and responsiveness.
Buy the Adidas Ultraboost if: You love the feeling of a soft, bouncy ride!
BROOKS GLYCERIN 17
Weights: 11.0 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 8.6 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: Men: 10mm (36mm heel, 26mm forefoot); Women: 9mm (33mm heel, 24mm forefoot)
Buzz: The softest shoe in Brooks’ line, the neutral-oriented Glycerin has become even more cushy and comfortable in its 17th edition. It’s built on the marshmallowy soft DNA Loft midsole foam—a compound that blends air, rubber and foam—but it also features super plush interior and high aesthetic appeal.
Differentiator: This shoe combines softness, style and comfort like few other shoes on the market. The cushy midsole is soft and bouncy, offering an optimal blend of shock absorption and energy return. The stretchy mess upper and 3D printed overlay offer an comfy and accommodating fit for a variety of foot shapes.
Buy the Brooks Glycerin if: You’re looking for a supremely comfortable fit and feel. Running in the Glycerin is akin to driving in a luxury SUV decked out with high-end creature comforts and stylish appeal.
HOKA BONDI 6
Weights: 10.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 9.1 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: Men: 4mm (37mm heel, 33mm forefoot); Women: 4mm (37 mm heel, 33 mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The Bondi is Hoka’s most thickly cushioned shoe has one of the biggest midsoles on the market. It’s made from a modified EVA compound that is 30 percent softer than traditional EVA foam to keep the shoe light and nimble despite its oversized chassis.
The Differentiator: Like most Hoka shoes, it features a rockered (or convex) geometric profile, which reduces hard heel striking and increases forward proulsion. Key updates to the sixth edition include improved upper for increased comfort and breathability, a better heel collar with more padding and extra security and a new outsole that reduced weight and optimized durability.
Buy the Hoka Bondi if: You appreciate a rolling ride that can help you avoid a heavy heel-striking gait.
NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM MORE
Weights: 10.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 8.1 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: Men: 4mm (30mm heel, 26mm forefoot); Women: 4mm (30mm heel, 26mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The Fresh Foam More is first true maximally cushioned shoe from New Balance, and wow, what exquisite cushioning it is! Only a few road running shoes have ever had this much plush cushioning under foot.
Differentiator: Unlike some high off-the-ground highly cushioned shoes, the Fresh Foam More serves up a secure and stable ride without any side-to-side wobbling. It’s also the firmest and least flexible ride of three shoes in our comparison.
Buy the New Balance Fresh Foam More if: You like soft cushioning in a running shoe but need stability and crave firmness in every step.
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