The Shape 2023 Sneaker Awards

We walked, ran, trained, and lifted in hundreds of pairs of sneakers — and these were the best of the best.

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Sneaker shopping has come a long way since the days of picking out the freshest, whitest pair of Keds you could find. Today, browsing the virtual shoe aisle comes with a dizzying array of options and technical terms that tend to jumble together. Are you an overpronator? Do you have high arches or flat feet? What’s a heel-to-toe drop, anyway? And not unimportantly, do the colors available match your personal vibe?

At Shape, we’re constantly trialing the hottest shoes on the market and passionately debating the pros and cons of our favorite pairs. For the 2023 Shape Sneaker Awards, we’ve done the hard work of testing hundreds (yes, hundreds) of pairs of sneakers to help you find the perfect, Cinderella-esque pair for your individual needs. From the cushiest running shoes to the best new kicks on the market, we spent hours running, walking, lifting, and living in these sneakers — and our insights proved these popular pairs to be the best of the best.

Sneaker Awards Stats Graphic

Shape / Joy Kim

Plus, you can read more about how we sprinted, strolled, and squatted our way to these selections here.

The Winners

Best Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis: Hoka Bondi 8

best gym shoes


Why It’s A Winner: The plush cushioning and supportive midsoles are oh-so-comfy on your arches.

It’s Worth Noting: Although lighter than the Bondi 7, these shoes are still heavier than the other options we tested.

It’s safe to say that the Hoka Bondi 8 has a cult following — and for good reason. The ultra-supportive shoe makes any hot girl walk feel like you’re gliding on clouds, and the lightweight, mesh upper keeps your socks from getting swampy. For those struggling with plantar fasciitis (a chronic overuse injury that results in arch pain), the thick midsole provides plenty of support so you can run pain-free. We’re particularly obsessed with the heel padding, which is made from a memory foam collar that molds to your foot (read: no blisters). 

Of course, all that cushioning weighs more than other minimalist shoes, and we found the Bondi 8 to be heavier than expected. The toe box is also narrow, so if your feet verge on the wider side, consider ordering up a half-size. 

Price at time of publish: $165

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 17 | Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm | Widths: Regular, wide | Weight: 8.9 oz | Best for: Mid- to long-distance running, walking, neutral support, plush cushioning

Sneaker Awards Hoka Bondi

Shape / Joy Kim

Runner-Up, Best Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis: New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13


The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13 is a bit lighter than the Bondi 8 and has a 10 mm drop to better encourage a heel strike (and avoid more impact on your arches).

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 2 | Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, extra-wide  | Weight: 8.4 oz | Best for: Mid- to long-distance running, walking

Best Shoes for Walking: Hoka Clifton 9

Hoka Clifton 9


Why It’s A Winner: The foam in the underfoot provides a plushy surface for long walks. 

It’s Worth Noting: The Clifton 9 seems to fit wider than previous iterations. 

If you’re ready to take your walking workouts up a notch this summer, you’ll want to trade in your current “any pair will do” mentality for a shoe designed to go the distance. The Hoka Clifton 9 is known for its high stack height, a shock-absorbing feature that makes it ideal for walks and daily runs. With the extra oomph in the heel, you’ll feel like you’re bouncing along the pavement. Plus, the knit upper is breathable to keep your feet from overheating. Striking color combinations, such as violet and lilac or cloud blue with orange accents, are an added bonus. 

While this latest generation of Clifton made improvements to performance, it seems the fit may have been adjusted as well. Clifton 9 runs wider in the midfoot than the Clifton 8 and has a wider toe box. The toe box allows your toes to splay naturally, but too much space may cause your feet to slide. 

Price at time of publish: $145

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 14 | Heel-to-toe drop: 5 mm | Widths: Regular, wide | Weight: 7.3 oz | Best for: Short-distance running, walking, neutral stability, balanced cushioning

Runner-Up, Best Shoes for Walking: Brooks Glycerin 20

Brooks Glycerin 20


The Glycerin is another cushioned yet lightweight shoe that is perfect for walkers. The Glycerin Guiderails technology acts like training wheels for your body — keeping your feet, knees, and hips in a healthy position during exercise.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 19 | Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, narrow | Weight: 9.1 oz | Best for: Walking, track, road running, neutral support, plush cushioning

Best Everyday Sneakers: Allbirds The Risers

Allbirds The Riser


Why It’s A Winner: The geometric design helps this pair stand out in a crowd. 

It’s Worth Noting: These shoes are available in whole sizes only. 

Allbirds are known as the go-to brand for daily wear-with-everything shoes and their latest release takes that to new heights — literally. The Allbirds The Riser features an extended platform, exaggerated edges, and sharp angles. A foam midsole and Merino wool-lined heel support your feet for comfortable all-day wear. Plus, the sustainability factor you have grown to expect from Allbirds is also a consideration: Eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, Tencel lyocell ripstop (aka a wood pulp fiber), natural rubber, and merino wool come together to form this shoe. 

This shoe runs true to size, but it’s sold in whole sizes only. If you are between sizes, size up for the most comfortable fit. 

Price at time of publish: $135

Sizes: 5 to 11 | Colors: 4 | Widths: Regular | Best for: Everyday wear

Sneaker Awards Allbirds the Riser

Shape / Joy Kim

Runner-Up, Best Everyday Sneakers: UnderArmour Slipspeed Training Shoe

UnderArmor Slipspeed Training Shoe


Think of this UnderArmour pair as the shoe version of tearaway pants — it allows you to quickly transition from training to rest days. Step down on the heel to convert it from a sneaker to a slide and better yet: The whole shoe is machine washable. 

Price at time of publish: $150

Sizes: 5 to 19.5 | Colors: 4 | Heel-to-toe drop: 2 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 10.8 oz | Best for: Weight lifting, everyday

Best Cushioned Running Shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080 V12 Running Shoe


Why It’s A Winner: Yes, it's super-cushioned — but it's also responsive and lightweight.

It’s Worth Noting: These shoes run big, so order a half-size down for the best fit.

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 has a marshmallow-like look that screams “plush,” but what really makes this pair stand out is that it’s cushioned without being bulky or making you feel like you’re sinking. In fact, we found this pair to be incredibly responsive, giving us the bounce-back energy return we’re looking for to make runs feel light and easy. We tested this pair for weeks, running at least 12 to 25 miles in them weekly, and it proved to be durable, even in the stretchy, knit upper (which is prone to tearing on other shoes). 

Pro tip: Order at least a half-size down from your usual running shoe size. These shoes run large, and wearing your usual size might result in blisters. Also, while the upper is ultra-flexible and breathable, our feet got cold during winter runs — so break out the Merino wool socks if you’re running in cooler weather.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 13 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular, wide  | Weight: 8.3 oz | Best for: Mid- or long-distance running, walking, heel-first strikers

Runner-Up, Best Cushioned Running Shoes: Puma ForeverRUN NITRO

Puma ForeverRUN NITRO


For the ultimate in cushioning, we also loved the Puma ForeverRUN NITRO, a new release running shoe with nitrogen-injected foam that offers softness without compromising stability.

Price at time of publish: $150

Sizes: 5.5 to 11 | Colors: 5 | Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 7.9 oz | Best for: Mid-distance running, overpronators, medium cushioning

Best Running Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoes


Why It’s A Winner: The support helps you maintain a good running stride. 

It’s Worth Noting: The laces are super short. 

The Adrenaline has been a legacy shoe in the Brooks arena for decades and remains a runner favorite. It even has the American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance thanks to its supportive, motion-control design. The unique GuideRails support technology helps to keep knees aligned and prevents shin and heel rotation. This shoe is standing the test of time, too. “I buy a new pair every six months and have only worn Adrenaline for running and walking in the past five years,” says Carly Totten, senior commerce writer. You can take training in stride knowing this pair is moving you forward wrapped in cushion and support. 

Be warned: The shoelaces are incredibly short — a double knot is tricky. You may want to swap for longer laces. 

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 35 | Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, narrow, extra-wid  | Weight: 9 oz | Best for: All-distance running, walking, medium cushioning, added support

Runner-Up, Best Running Shoes: Reebok Floatride Energy 5

Reebok Floatride Energy 5


We’re also fans of the Reebok Floatride Energy 5 because the wider and taller base allows for enhanced stability and comfort. A firm torsion plate supports the arches and controls foot motion for a safer stride. “I’m prone to toe numbness, but the Reebok Floatride Energy 5 shoes have never failed me,” says Kristen Geil, senior commerce editor. “The toe box is exactly the right width, and the heel is narrowed just a touch to hug my foot perfectly.”

Price at time of publish: $110

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 3 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 9.4 oz for men's size 9 (women's shoe weight unavailable) | Best for: Short- and mid-distance running, added support, medium cushioning

Best Sneakers for the Gym: Nike Metcon 8

Nike Metcon 8


Why It’s A Winner: The wide, flat heel offers a stable base for lifting weights, and there’s extra traction on the soles to keep you grounded.

It’s Worth Noting: These shoes are best for strength training, not walking or running.

From the start, the Nike Metcon has been a reliable gym shoe, with a low heel-to-toe drop and stable heel that helps you distribute weight evenly (read: you’ll balance better during single-leg deadlifts). The latest iteration won us over with a mesh overlay on the already-breathable upper, which makes the shoes more durable (even in high-wear areas). We also love the practical details on this shoe: the lace lock to prevent floppy laces, the heel clip to keep your feet locked in place, and a grippy sole that adds needed traction when transitioning quickly between exercises. Bonus: You can now customize your own Metcon 8s on Nike’s website using their By You design program.

While the foam cushioning offers enough comfort for short treadmill sprints and quick cardio bursts, we don’t recommend wearing this shoe for any longer running or walking. Since these shoes have a low 4 mm drop, you’ll need flexible calves and mobile ankles to bend your knees while maintaining a tall chest and flat back. (Good form comes first, after all.)

Price at time of publish: $130

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 12.4 oz | Best for: Strength training, CrossFit

Sneaker Awards Nike Metcon 8

Shape / Joy Kim

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for the Gym: Reebok Nano X3

Reebok Nano X3


The Reebok Nano X3 is comparable to the Metcon in terms of stability and traction, but with a 7 mm heel drop, it feels more cushioned for running in workout classes or during intervals. “I’ve worn the Nano X3, and the wide, stable base goes a long way in helping my squat depth,” adds Geil. Be careful — it runs big.

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 6 | Heel-to-toe drop: 7 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 8.3 oz | Best for: Strength training, CrossFit

Best Sneakers for Standing All Day: Nike Structure 24

Nike Structure 24


Why It’s A Winner: Every area of the shoe is designed with arch support in mind to prevent soreness. 

It’s Worth Noting: These are best for standing or short, easy runs. 

One of the most important factors when considering a sneaker for standing all day is arch support, and the Nike Structure 24 has support in spades. The thicker pad under the arch of your foot creates a stable base to stand on and a wider toe box lets your digits spread and move normally to prevent that cramped or numb foot feeling. The mesh upper and cushioned tongue come in clutch if your feet start to swell, too. 

Surprisingly, the heel also affects arch support. This pair has a moderate stack height of 25.6 mm, but the cushioning and molded heel hug your feet and act as a soft landing pad for every step. Nike even solved another common annoyance: sock sliding. The laces cinch down for a super secure fit and the lining was designed to prevent socks from shifting or bunching.  

While the Nike Structure can go the distance in terms of hours on your feet for walking or working, it lacks the necessary structure to be a long-run shoe. Save these in the everyday wear or short, easy run pile. 

Price at time of publish: $130

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 7.6 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 9 oz | Best for: Standing, walking, working

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for Standing All Day: Asics GT-2000 11

Asics GT-2000 11


If you’re prone to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or other foot maladies (especially after all day on your feet), then your shoe selection is key. The Asics GT-2000 11 was designed for versatility with lightweight cushioning that softens each step and remains comfortable from clock in to clock out. It even made our list of the best sneakers for standing all day based on a podiatrist's recommendation. 

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 9 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 8.3 oz | Best for: Overpronation, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, all-distance running, walking

Best Slip-On Sneakers: Kizik Women’s Athens Sneaker

Kizik Women’s Athens Sneaker


Why It’s A Winner: The spring-back heel allows you to easily slip your foot in, hands-free.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s not machine washable, and you’ll likely need to wear socks.

These truly may be the easiest shoes you’ll ever put on. Slip-on sneaks offer ease and comfort, even after 9-hour days running errands and around the office. The incredible hands-free Kizik sneakers feature F.A.S.T. (Foot Activated Shoe Technology) engineering that allows the heel to fold down to accommodate your foot, and then snap back up, thanks to a handy titanium spring inside. The design features ‘fake laces’ to make them look more like normal sneakers, but once you wear these, you’ll never tie a shoe again.

These are especially a hit for pregnant people and those with young children. “I am currently eight months pregnant, and these are the only sneakers I can put on comfortably,” says Jessica  Mahgerefteh, director of commerce. “They slip on easily so I don't have to bend down and fuss with laces.” 

Plus, the lightweight, bouncy foam keeps you supported, even after hours at the playground or during long travel days. “They are also incredibly comfortable!” adds Mahgerefteh. “I have terrible hip and back pain right now, and I find that these sneakers make it easy to stand for longer periods of time in my current pregnant state. They offer a good amount of support and a wide option for wider feet.”

Price at time of publish: $129

Sizes: 6 to 13 | Colors: 17 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular, extra-wide  | Weight: 13.4 oz | Best for: On-the-go, travel, everyday, adaptive needs

Runner-Up, Best Slip-On Sneakers: OluKai Pehuea Women’s Slip-On Sneakers

OluKai Pehuea Women’s Slip-On Sneakers


These lightweight slip-on sneakers are super breathable and offer plenty of arch support. The versatile shoes were easy to slip on and off as we tested, and carried us through our days, in the office or out and about.

Price at time of publish: $100

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 13 | Widths: Regular | Weight: 13 oz | Best for: Travel, everyday

Best New Release Sneakers: Lululemon Blissfeel 2

Lululemon Blissfeel 2


Why It’s A Winner: The seamless upper hugs your foot, and there’s enough stability to transition from road to gym. 

It’s Worth Noting: This is a neutral running shoe, meaning it won’t feel as plush as other options (such as the Hoka Bondi 8). 

Lululemon’s latest Blissfeel model is a definite upgrade over the first, thanks to a design that hugs your entire foot and moves with it for a unified sensation. The brand has also refined the midfoot panel to add more support, taking their insights from thousands of scans of women’s feet to engineer a running shoe that’s made specifically for females. “I used this shoe for short to mid-distance everyday runs (think: 3 to 6 miles) and felt it performed especially well on pavement, thanks to a rugged outsole that adds traction,” says Geil. On non-running days, the sensational new release is also stable enough to use for a cross-training gym sesh.

Since the Blissfeel 2 is a neutral running shoe, there’s not an excessive amount of foam to provide extra support. FYI, a neutral running shoe (like the Blissfeel 2) doesn’t have any stabilizing features, so your foot moves and flexes naturally; these shoes are best for people without any gait issues. A stability shoe, meanwhile, has strategic cushioning to help correct overpronation or supination. #themoreyouknow

Price at time of publish: $148

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 8 | Heel-to-toe drop: 9.5 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 9.7 oz | Best for: Short- or mid-distance running, cross-training, neutral support

Runner-Up, Best New Release Sneakers: Adidas Ultraboost Light

adidas Ultraboost Light


The new Adidas Ultraboost Light lives up to its name, weighing in at 9.2 ounces. It’s soft and cushiony in the heel and a little firmer in the forefoot, so you get the feeling of pushing off from your toes. We felt confident that we could wear these shoes to the gym and leave them on for the rest of the day.

We also noticed that these are well-suited to wider feet, and we were delighted to realize that the plastic elements on the sides — the stripes — can be tightened by pulling on the laces for a secure, locked-in feel. There is some serious cushioning in the heel around your Achilles tendon, which may cause future blisters, but if you like extra padding around your ankles, we'd recommend the Ultraboost.

Price at time of publish: $190

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 15 | Heel-to-toe drop: 10 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 9.2 oz | Best for: Mid-distance running, cross-training

Best Sneakers for Wide Feet: Asics Gel Cumulus 25

Asics Gel Cumulus 25


Why It’s A Winner: The firm, yet cushiony shoes come in a variety of widths so you can find your perfect fit.

It’s Worth Noting: It may be a bit heavy for speed work, but the cushion provides comfort on longer and mid-distance runs.

When you have wide feet, it’s common to have trouble finding a toe box big enough to avoid bunions, calluses, and other toe problems (here's how to find the best shoes for wide feet, FYI). Choosing a neutral, cushioned, and responsive shoe like the new Asics Gel Cumulus 25 may help to mitigate potential injuries. The updated PureGEL® technology and cushioning make these trainers the perfect everyday choice for any running distance. “I’ve worn different iterations of Gel-Cumulus shoes for over 20 years,” states associate editorial director, commerce, Eliza Savage. “The 25s offer even more support and cushioning to keep my wide-ish feet comfy on long and short runs.”

How do you know if you need a wide running shoe? Let comfort guide you! If typical running shoes feel constricting, particularly in the toe box or through the arch, opt for a wider shoe. If you have wide feet, you may be more susceptible to bunions and toe troubles, such as frequently losing your pinky toenail or numbness.

Price at time of publish: $140

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, extra-wide | Weight: 8.08 oz | Best for: Mid and long-distance running, road running, high arches, under pronation, plantar fasciitis, shin splints 

Sneaker Awards Asics Gel Cumulus

Shape / Joy Kim

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for Wide Feet: Puma Deviate NITRO 2

Puma Deviate NITRO 2


For ultimate responsiveness and cushioning for wide feet, Puma Deviate NITRO 2 is an excellent shoe choice. While it’s a bit more expensive (and heavier) than the winner, this durable and uber-supportive pair of sneakers provides traction on all surfaces.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5.5 to 11 | Colors: 6 | Heel-to-toe drop: 6 mm | Widths: Regular, wide | Weight: 9.2 oz | Best for: Neutral pronators, daily training, plush cushioning

Best Sneakers for Flat Feet: New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4

New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4

New Balance

Why It’s A Winner: These super-cushy neutral shoes offer a 4mm heel drop to encourage a natural gait for those with flat feet.

It’s Worth Noting: You may need to pull the laces super tight to get a secure-feeling fit.

If you’ve ever dreamt of running on clouds, look no further. These deliciously cushioned foam runners from New Balance provide the ultimate support and stability for flat feet. The result? You get a soft, smooth ride that hugs your feet and provides support to keep your gait on point. Engineered to be literally the plushest ride, the shoes offer strategic placement of cushion zones to support your feet and promote natural stride via super flexy soles. We manually flexed and twisted these kicks and were impressed with the combination of flexibility and cushion.

These super soft sneaks offer a 34 mm heel stack, creating a steeper angle to encourage a heel strike and optimize gait for those with flat feet. Even the pickiest among us (someone who has literally worn the same type of shoes for 10+ years) was surprised by these shoes, which look much heavier and softer than they are. 

We jumped, ran, and squatted, and honestly, almost walked away from the test wearing these shoes. This pair is so comfortable, responsive, and form-fitting that you almost forget you’re wearing running shoes. If you’re looking for plush and bouncy, these New Balances are the name of the game.

Price at time of publish: $159.99

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 4 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, extra-wide | Weight: 8.4 oz | Best for: Long distance running, road running, marathon training, plush cushioning

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for Flat Feet: UnderArmour Surge 3 Running Shoes

UnderArmour Surge 3 Running Shoes


If comfort and cushioning are your goals (in addition to great arch support), UnderArmour’s Surge 3 Running Shoes may be a perfect fit. Similar to the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4s, these shoes are lightweight and breathable; however, the UnderArmour pair weighs in at 7.2 ounces and are about $100 less expensive.

Price at time of publish: $54.99

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 17 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular, wide, extra-wide | Weight: 7.2 oz | Best for: Cardio workouts, arch support, cross-training

Best Sneakers for Arch Support: Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 Running Shoes

adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 Running Shoes


Why It’s A Winner: The midsole is ultra-cushioned, and extra foam in the forefoot makes you ready for lift-off (and… arch support).

It’s Worth Noting: These shoes are pricey, making them a better investment for regular endurance runners than casual joggers.

Runners with high arches know the pain of unsupportive shoes, but no worries, the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 running shoes are there for you every step of the way. There’s plenty of support and cushion under your arches (so you don’t have to rely on orthotics), and the forefoot boasts extra foam so you feel like you’re bounding, not plodding. We also appreciated the maxed-out ventilation and slim tongue, which makes this streamlined shoe feel even more aerodynamic. And even though the cushioning is *chef’s kiss*, the shoe is lightweight. “I’ve been using this shoe almost exclusively for my long marathon training runs, and it’s going to be my race day shoe,” says Geil. “It’s helped me feel light on my feet, even during 20-mile runs.”

At $250, though, the Adizero Adios Pro 3 isn’t cheap. We’d recommend this for runners who regularly log miles in the double-digits or those training for a marathon since they’ll get the most benefits from the responsive cushioning. Beginners or casual runners will be just fine with a more budget-friendly option, such as the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22. This shoe is also available in unisex sizing, so double-check that you’re ordering correctly before hitting purchase.

Price at time of publish: $250

Sizes: 5 to 15 | Colors: 3 | Heel-to-toe drop: 6.5 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 8.4 oz | Best for: Long-distance running, marathon training, arch support

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for Arch Support: Asics Gel Nimbus 25

Asics Gel-Nimbus 25


The Asics Gel Nimbus 25 shoe is designed for under pronators with high arches — meaning it’ll support runners who typically deal with plantar fasciitis or shin splints, thanks to the maxed-out cushioning (the most-ever in a Gel Nimbus shoe, BTW). True to its name, the gel technology makes this shoe feel like you’re running on air and landing on a cloud. “As someone who has previously struggled with shin splints and stress fractures, a good distance shoe is really important. The Nimbus is one of my go-tos for half and full marathon training runs,” says Shannon Bauer, senior commerce editor. 

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5 to 13 | Colors: 9 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular, wide | Weight: 9.2 oz | Best for: Mid- and long-distance running, walking, neutral support, plush cushioning, plantar fasciitis, shin splints

Best Waterproof Sneakers: Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GORE-TEX

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GORE-TEX


Why It’s A Winner: The waterproof GORE-TEX layer, plus a higher ankle collar, keeps your feet dry, even in the toughest conditions. 

It’s Worth Noting: This is a trail running shoe, but it’s also a solid choice for road running (especially in poor weather).

GORE-TEX is the gold standard for weather-proof clothes, and the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 shoes incorporate this durable material to offer your tootsies max protection from the elements. The specialty sneaker is incredibly dynamic: The GORE-TEX layer keeps water out, but the shoe still feels extremely comfortable and flexes to the shape of your foot. A high ankle collar extends the shoe to prevent sticks, rocks, or raindrops from sneaking off the trail and into your socks. Plus, a smart rubber traction pattern gives you a solid grip on the ground, whether you’re trekking on pavement covered with slick leaves or a snowy trail. (ICYDK, here's how road running is different than trail running.)

This may be a trail running shoe, but it’s meant to have dual-purpose on the road as well — so you’ll get use out of it no matter where you run. However, this pair doesn’t have as many reflective details as we’d like, especially considering it’s meant to be worn in poor visibility.  

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 9.5 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 8 oz | Best for: Trail running, road running

Runner-Up, Best Waterproof Sneakers: GEOX Spherica

Geox Spherica


For a more fashion-forward waterproof sneaker, we love the Geox Spherica sneaker, with metallic details and a surprisingly durable outer layer. This pair of sneakers is perfect for traveling or running errands on a wet day. Heads up: This European brand carries whole sizes only and runs small, so order up if you’re typically in between.

Price at time of publish: $190

Sizes: 5 to 10 | Colors: 3 | Widths: Regular | Weight: 11 oz | Best for: Everyday wear

Best Sneakers for Knee Pain: On Running Cloudrunner

On Cloudrunner


Why It’s A Winner: The cushioning is designed to absorb impact and reduce strain on the body. 

It’s Worth Noting: This pair has a narrower fit. 

The On Running Cloudrunner scored highest in our test of the best running shoes for bad knees earning top scores across the board for fit, knee protection, comfort, responsiveness, stability, and overall value. From running to HIIT workouts, these sneakers supported our movement and feet. Unlike other sneakers, the Cloudrunner didn’t leave us with any residual aches and pains the next day thanks to its CloudTec cushioning system, which is designed for soft landings without lessening your push-offs. While the tech with these shoes is high, the learning curve is low — the stability and comfort make these a great pick for running newbies as well as seasoned pros. 

It does come in an option for wider widths, but the Cloudrunner is a narrower fit than many styles. Those with wide feet may prefer the Asics Gel Cumulus 25

Price at time of publish: $150

Sizes: 5 to 11 | Colors: 7 | Heel-to-toe drop: 9 mm | Widths: Regular, wide | Weight: 8.8 oz | Best for: Knee pain, road running, short-distance running, plush cushioning

On Running Cloudrunner

Shape / Joy Kim

Runner-Up, Best Sneakers for Knee Pain: Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3

Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3

Dick's Sporting Goods

Nike boasts this running shoe as one of their most tested of all time: The brand has researched and developed every last detail. Two highlights: The rocker sole mimics a runner’s stride to minimize pain and injury, while the unique traction shape helps you grip the road mile after mile. 

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5 to 12 | Colors: 16 | Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm | Widths: Regular | Weight: 9.2 oz | Best for: Knee pain, road running, plush cushioning

Our Testing Process

To fully vet the candidates for the 2023 Shape Sneaker Awards, we relied on insights from hundreds of testers who wore these shoes both in our on-site lab in New York and in the real world for extended periods and a variety of activities. Testing requirements varied depending on the type of shoe; for example, real-world running shoes testing requires that the shoes be worn at least twice a week for distances of one mile (or 10 minutes), while a lab test for walking shoes required walking at a brisk pace at various inclines for several minutes, followed by 20 minutes at a casual pace. In all real world tests, each pair we tested was assessed multiple times over at least several weeks to give the most detailed insights.

After the assessment period, our testers completed an in-depth survey and questionnaire to give the full download on shoe specifics, including fit, comfort, responsiveness, durability, stability, blister protection, and overall value. We compiled these scores to assign a composite score for each shoe, which we used to choose our list of overall winners. 

To make sure we included the latest and greatest sneakers available, our editors also tested new-to-market shoes that will be released in spring 2023. We wore the shoes for their intended activity (i.e. running, walking, or everyday use) several times during this shortened testing period. As experts in the fitness and activewear worlds, we drew on our previous testing experiences and brand knowledge to share helpful comparisons and first-person insights on the new-release shoes.

Sneaker Awards Lululemon Blissfeel

Shape / Joy Kim

What to Know About Sneakers

The sneaker world is awash with confusing terminology. Here’s what you absolutely need to know about shopping for new shoes.

Running Shoe Terminology Shape Sneaker Awards

Shape / Mehroz Kapadia

Heel-to-Toe Drop

When it comes to running shoes, the heel-to-toe drop is a big deal. This fancy term refers to the height difference (usually measured in millimeters) between the heel and forefoot area of your kicks.

There are four main categories of drop to consider: 

  • zero-drop (0 mm)
  • low-drop (1 to 4 mm)
  • mid-drop (5 to 8 mm)
  • high drop (8 mm and beyond) 

If you're a runner with tight calves, tight Achilles tendons, or tend to land on your heels first, a high heel drop might be your perfect fit. But if you're more of a mid- or forefoot striker, a medium or low heel drop may be better for your foot health. At the end of the day, it's all about finding the heel-to-toe drop that works best for you and your unique running style.

Overpronation vs. Supination

When you overpronate, your ankle rolls too much inward with every step you take. This usually happens to folks with flat feet. If you're not using an orthosis or insert, wearing a stability shoe can help you stabilize your foot and provide better arch support, according to Lauren Schnidman, D.P.T., a physical therapist, and Certified Running Gait Analyst.

Supination is the opposite of overpronation, where your foot rolls to the outside edge when you take a step. This often happens to people with high and rigid arches. Opt for a neutral shoe with good cushioning to absorb shock and let your foot adjust to the ground naturally.

Sneaker Awards Adidas Ultraboost Light

Shape / Joy Kim

Support vs. Cushioning

Stability refers to the support provided by your running shoes. Options for stability shoes range from neutral running shoes (ideal for those who supinate), stability running shoes (often recommended for overpronators), and motion-control running shoes, which offer the highest level of support.

When it comes to cushioning, it's all about the thickness of the foam in the midsole of the shoe. Options range from barefoot to minimal, moderate, and maximum. So, be sure to choose the cushioning level that suits your comfort level and needs.

Sneaker Awards Hoka Bondi

Shape / Joy Kim

Why Trust Shape

At Shape, our mission is to equip you with the comprehensive, unbiased information you need to feel like your best self (whatever that means to you). We take our gear recommendations seriously — which is why Shape has a robust, standardized process (including an on-site lab) for every product we test and ultimately recommend. Whether we're diving deep into the best collagen powders on the market, testing out the latest fitness trackers in our cutting-edge lab, or pounding the pavement in the latest running shoes, our product reviews are grounded in the expertise of our testers, editors, and advisory board. Think of us as the trusted voice you need to make informed purchasing decisions while taking charge of your health and fitness journey. Learn more about our policies and processes surrounding product recommendations here

In addition to testing hundreds of sneakers for the 2023 Sneaker Awards, our editors are health and fitness enthusiasts who have been in the industry for years and bring unique, experience-driven perspectives to our shoe recommendations. 

  • Eliza Savage has run two marathons and over 25 half marathons. When she’s not running, the registered dietitian is typically testing recipes or cross-training with yoga. 
  • Shannon Bauer is a lifetime runner and is gearing up to train for her fifth half marathon and second full marathon. She is regularly giving the latest workout apparel and gear a test run and tried many of the styles on this list. 
  • Kristen Geil is a NASM-certified personal trainer and USATF-certified running coach about to run her fourth marathon. She recently led the 2023 Best in Fitness Awards, where she helped determine nearly 170 of the best fitness products in the market (including the best workout shoes). 
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