Once again we’ve gathered some of the best runners from across Canada to review the top brands to help you have the best experience pounding the pavement this year.
They’ve put in hundreds of miles to bring you this in-depth review that has everything you’ll need to find the best shoes for your needs and budget.
Consider the ‘Drop’
This is the difference between the heel and the forefoot measurements, or in other words, how much your toes ‘drop’ below your heel.Why is this important? Because a higher drop can lead to more heel striking and also transfers some strain away from the lower leg and up towards the knee. A lower drop will shift the load further down to your calf. Check with an expert, choose what feels comfortable to you and take into account your running mechanics and history of injuries.
4/5 Stars | Women | 11.7 oz | 10 mm Drop | $250
These shoes are comfortable out of the box because of the stretchy knit upper and max-cushioned sole, but they’re not great for wide feet. After a short run, the narrow toe box left me with sore baby toes, plus the plastic midfoot panel rubbed and caused a blister on the inside of my foot. I also found them quite slow and clunky. If you have narrow feet, I’d recommend for recovery runs or as a lifestyle shoe for everyday wear. Fit is true to size.
JULIE HAMULECKI, Toronto, ON – Ultrarunner coached by husband Adam Takacs, runs on the national 100K team and currently holds the Canadian Women’s 100 km road record.
3/5 Stars | Men | 10.7 oz | 10 mm Drop | $250
A good looking shoe that will be with you for the long haul. Sitting on a thick bed of Boost foam, the shoe has a soft, yet springy feel, with a good responsive ride despite being one of the heavier shoes I’ve run in in a while. The single piece, knit upper made from recycled materials was incredibly comfortable and it held my foot in place well. A good shoe for easy miles and that you can wear for walking around town.
ADAM CAMPBELL, Squamish, B.C. – Lawyer, endurance athlete happy in the mountains on foot, bike, rock and skis.
5/5 Stars | Women | 8.8 oz | 13 mm Drop | $210
A comfortable shoe with cushioning and support under foot—good for long runs. The upper is soft without seams and very comfortable. The tongue is stretchy and sits perfectly in place without bunching up or moving around. It is light and offers lots of cushion. Great for neutral or under-pronating feet with nice cushioning; no clunky feel and has a nice snappy toe-off. This is a go-to running shoe for longer runs and happier feet!
GRACE HIOM, Kamloops, B.C. – Ultrarunner, trail race host with a passion for health and fitness hoping to run the Western State 100-Mile Endurance Run.
3.5/5 Stars | Men | 10.2 oz | 10 mm Drop | $210
The Gel Nimbus 24 has new FF Blast+ foam in the midsole, which makes it a super soft trainer with a versatile ride. The upper has also improved this year with thin mesh sock-like fit, which also lightens the shoe. This is a great everyday trainer, but I personally felt it was too soft and negatively impacted the stability. If you like a plush, soft, maximal cushy shoe, you’ll love the new version.
BLAINE PENNY, Calgary, AB – Competitive master’s runner with notable accomplishments including 3 x Canadian Ultramarathon Champion, 6 x Guinness World Record holder and winner of the 2015 Wings for Life, North America.
4.5/5 Stars | Women | 9 oz | 10 mm Drop | $170
This has always been a reliable and comfortable training shoe, and this version did not disappoint, feeling smoother and more comfortable than previous versions. This neutral shoe provides the perfect amount of cushion for longer training runs, but also has great feedback when running and no extra bulk in the shoe. The smooth transition while running was great and the fit around the heel and toe box felt just right. And the bonus; Brooks has produced a shoe using recycled material in the upper.
CATRIN JONES, Victoria, B.C. – 50 km, 50 mile and 6-hour Canadian record holder.
5/5 Stars | Men | 8.2 oz | 10 mm Drop | $170
This is a shoe you want to wear. The Launch 9 is light, responsive, and versatile. It is well ventilated yet provides solid protection from the elements when needed. Brooks has created a shoe with race performance that offers a surprising amount of comfort and support at a reasonable price. Oh yeah and it looks great, which if we are being honest, is super important. Go get it.
NATHAN BODEWITZ, Calgary, AB – Founder and head strength coach at Peak Fitness YYC. He is an OCR athlete, all around mountain guy, and proud dad.
Kiprun Ks 500
3/5 Stars | Women | 8.4 oz | 8 mm Drop | $95
The KS500 is a neutral entry level running shoe, with a price point that makes it accessible to everyone. This shoe runs narrow with a close fit around the heel and ankle, which would suit someone with narrow feet or who likes a snug feel. The shoe is on the stiffer side, which made for a slightly firm feel when running, and for the price point, this is a basic and well-intentioned shoe to get people up and running.
LUCY SMITH, Victoria, B.C. – Elite athlete in distance running, duathlon and triathlon for over 30 years, coach and motivational speaker.
Kiprun Ks 500
4.5/5 Stars | Men | 9.9 oz | 8 mm Drop | $95
Putting on the Kiprun KS500’s I knew I was ready for the road. The fit is excellent with solid ankle support. A wide toe box eliminated any pinch point and during the sessions there were no hot spots. This is the shoe that will allow you to build your confidence as you train for your next marathon. The promotional material says that they are good for 1000 kilometres which is a huge plus. Stability, grip and comfort are key for me and this shoe has them in spades.
MARTIN PARNELL, Cochrane, AB – Endurance runner, fundraiser, adventurer and author, six Guinness World Records in endurance events, summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours.
4.5/5 Stars | Women | 8.4 oz | 5 mm Drop | $155
HOKA offers a smooth ride every time. While these shoes out of the box look ’thicker’ than traditional shoes they do not run like that. They feel smooth and light underfoot. This is a recovery shoe and it’s been helping my legs recover on easier runs between hard efforts. The only reason for the slight decrease in score is the fit. I’m traditionally a 10 but these shoes fit big; I would size down a half to a full size in the future.
SASHA GOLLISH, Toronto, ON – 2015 bronze medallist, Pan Am Games; running roads to the trails and recently breaking World Masters Record in the Indoor Mile – now a Masters World Record holder.
4.5/5 Stars | Men | 10 oz | 5 mm Drop | $155
The Kawana are incredibly comfortable and look fly. They’re a new design by Hoka, offering a moderate stack height perfect for day-to-day road training. They features HOKA’s unilateral SwallowTail design with a relatively firmer midsole. They are incredibly responsive, with a neutral footfall. The shoes helped me run smoothly and easily into the start of my high-mileage spring base build-up. These will be an excellent choice for racking up miles on the road.
IAN MACNAIRN, Calgary, AB – Trail runner; guy with a doctorate in ultrarunning community.
Wave Inspire 18
4/5 Stars | Women | 9.1 oz | 12 mm Drop | $180
The Mizuno Wave Rider 18s was a pleasant surprise! They felt a bit tight at first but that only lasted a few minutes. Great cushioning but enough stability and I’ve used them on both road and trail. Lots of room in the toe box, and snug fit for narrow heels. It felt like there could have been a little more cushioning under the toes and forefoot, but that is my only complaint!
AMY PUZEY, Invermere, B.C. – 2 x Team Canada member at the World Mountain Running championships, mother of six.
Wave Inspire 18
4/5 Stars | Men | 10.6 oz | 12 mm Drop | $180
This cushioned, high drop, moderate stability, daily trainer is one of few available in the market. Full-length ENERZY foam returns a firm responsive ride while an updated seamless upper provides exceptional fit. The double wave-pattern heel plate delivers subtle stability that after one run is unnoticeable. A great shoe for longer runs on tired legs.
ANDREW RUSSELL, Saanichton, B.C. – 2019 Vancouver Island Race Series Champion, 2019 Finlayson Arm 50k Champion and course record holder, 2018 Finlayson Arm 28K Champion and course record holder.
Fresh Foam X 1080v12
5/5 Stars | Women | 8.3 oz | 8 mm Drop | $199
These shoes are like a pillow for your feet! Incredibly comfortable out of the box, the soft Fresh Foam has a nice bounce and slight rocker, so they are still surprisingly responsive. The hyperknit upper is stretchy, and the toe box is roomy, and yet my feet feel hugged in place without any pinching or slippage. These new 1080s are definitely going into frequent rotation for my long easy runs and recovery days.
ARDEN YOUNG, Calgary, AB – Dentist and elite ultrarunner with multiple podium finishes on both the road and trail.
Fresh Foam X 1080v12
4.5/5 Stars | Men | 10.3 oz | 8 mm Drop | $199
These are the perfect shoes for the post-pandemic supply chain blues. The flexible upper made of recycled material and responsive Fresh Foam outsole, provides a plush, cushioned ride right out of the box. The fact that they are made in North America will hopefully mean that they are easier to find in your local retail run shop or online.
JACOB PUZEY, Invermere, B.C. – Winner of the Calgary Marathon 50K Ultra, 4x (consecutive) Canadian Ultramarathon Champion, and run coach with numerous national championship titles.
4.5/5 Stars | Women | 7.2 oz | 3 mm Drop | $185
This minimal drop shoe fits like a glove with a very flexible upper offering both performance and comfort. The underfoot plate allows for fluid loading to make it a great lightweight training shoe for both workouts and racing. The bonus is it biodegrades 75 per cent faster in a landfill due to its eco-friendly materials.
KAREN HOLLAND, Kimberley, ON – Avid trail runner and ultrarunner who holds the Bruce Trail FKT with her next focus on racing the 2022 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.
4.5/5 Stars | Men | 8.6 oz | 3 mm Drop | $185
The stand-out feature of the Gravity 11 is the sole, which incorporates lugs under the forefoot to provide a bouncy and cushioned stride while maintaining ground feel. This is a lightweight trainer although it is more expensive than other comparable shoes and does not feel as quick. I found it to perform best on tempo or steady runs on the road or smooth gravel trails. The upper fit true to size and was comfortable and breathable.
LOGAN ROOTS, Courtenay, B.C. – Road, trail, and mountain running enthusiast who enjoys crushing big mileage, ego-altering workouts and running just fast enough to qualify for elite entry.
3.5/5 Stars | Women | 9.9 oz | 7 mm Drop | $169
The Cloudmonster is a happy medium for easier, longer runs where a balance of cushioning and responsiveness is required. The shoe features large CloudTec elements, the largest of any in On’s line-up, that provide the ultimate amount of cushioning and bounce with every stride. Fit-wise, the shoe runs small so it’s recommended to size up. They kept my legs feeling fresh, and I enjoyed the sensation of the rocker, especially in the final miles of longer training runs.
LISSA ZIMMER, Vancouver, B.C. – An elite marathoner with a 2:42 PB set in 2016 and trail runner with a goal of racing a 50 kilometre one day.
4/5 Stars | Men | 8.1 oz | 6 mm Drop | $199
The latest addition to the On Cloud line has a big name, but the ride is not as beefy as you might expect. With a double layer of CloudTec support underfoot, it feels lighter, smoother and more agile than your average maximum cushioning shoe. Due to the unique technology, you get firm comfort rather than soft and squishy support. The tread is barely there, so it eats up harder surfaces with a minimum of fuss.
KEITH BRADFORD, Calgary, AB – Elite masters runner, coach and crisis communications consultant who has worked with athletes at multiple World Cups, World Championships and Olympic Games.
Velocity Nitro 2
5/5 Stars | Women | 8.7 oz | 10 mm Drop | $150
I logged over 1000 kilometres on the roads (and treadmill) this winter in this shoe. The Nitro foam midsole felt plush and flexible underfoot. It was a game changer for me providing a soft and comfortable landing on the roads. It had a really nice balance of comfort, flexibility, lightness and cushioning. The upper was durable and flexible with good breathability and the tread had good grip over snow and fine gravel paths. I plan to keep it in my next rotation of shoes.
EMILY SETLACK, Trenton, ON – Canadian marathoner & mountain runner
Velocity Nitro 2
5/5 Stars | Men | 7.2 oz | 10 mm Drop | $150
Out of the box I loved this shoe! The velocity Nitro 2 felt lively, fast, cushy and lightweight. The Nitro infused midsole on EVA really hits the mark, and whilst the ride is not quite comparable to many carbon offerings, it’s not far off, and won’t break the bank! The upper is plush, with an adequate toe box and the outer provides great grip on wet pavement and smooth trail. A really fun and lively shoe, ideal as a daily trainer that provides outstanding value. Perhaps fits a little large.
ANDY REED, Canmore, AB – Sport medicine physician, mountain ultra trail runner, numerous podium finishes in mountain ultras throughout North America.
5/5 Stars | Women | 7.8 oz | 8 mm Drop | $169
These shoes were a dream come true for a runner with plenty of foot issues. I have arthritic feet and a Haglunds deformity on my heel, and when I put these on, I had no pain at all. I could wear them all day! Lots of support and room for my toes, but a supportive heel cup. I found them light and cushioned, an incredibly smooth ride!
AMY PUZEY, Invermere, B.C. – 2 x Team Canada member at the World Mountain Running Championships, mother of six.
5/5 Stars | Men | 9.5 oz | 8 mm Drop | $169
These shoes were a dream This shoe is light, comfortable and stable. It has a relatively high heel stack that provides good cushioning. My favourite training shoe has been the Saucony Triumph, so the fit seems familiar to me although the toe-box feels slightly bigger. The tongue and upper are soft and comfy. I wore these for a speed workout and they were smooth, agile and responsive. I’ll definitely be buying more of these shoes.
MYRON TETREAULT, Calgary, AB – Former national water polo champion, and a national age group champion in swimming, running and triathlon.
Gorun Razor Excess
3.5/5 Stars | Women | 5.9 oz | 4 mm Drop | $200
The Razor Excess is incredibly light for the amount of cushioning it packs. As a non-plated shoe it still provides great bounce and spring while performing all different types of workouts: hard, fast intervals; tempos; and steady longer runs up to 30 kilometres. I suggest double knotting the laces to decrease their tendency to slip, but overall it’s nice to have a shoe that can go fast, and feel stable all at the same time.
MANDY GILL, Vancouver, B.C. – Ultramarathon runner (road and trail), health expert and international keynote speaker, and IMPACT Top Vegan Athlete.
Gorun Razor Excess
3.5/5 Stars | Men | 7.5 oz | 4 mm Drop | $200
This is a legitimate “nothing to it” light, well-built, running shoe for your faster days. Designed with a durable mono-mesh and polyester knit upper that holds its form and fits well and results in having a sleek and not overly broad toe box. To sweeten the mix the Razor’s light carriage rides over a foam midsole that cushions a fast forefoot strike and quick turnover well. This midsole is separated from the road via a coating of Goodyear-produced rubber that provides durability and grip to the shoe.
PETE ESTABROOKS, Calgary, AB – One of Canada’s foremost fitness experts, ultrarunner and coach is happiest when running in the mountains.
4/5 Stars | Women | 6.9 oz | 3 mm Drop | $170
An excellent lightweight and comfortable shoe choice to get in some summer miles. The Fli-lyte 4 has a very wide toe box allowing your foot to move and expand naturally, while the heel fits snug and laces have no problems staying tied. I prefer the 3 mm drop and soft cushion for shorter faster runs, but the outer seems durable for longer runs and different weather conditions as well. Simple, comfortable, affordable, and effective.
RACHAEL MCINTOSH, Calgary, AB – Retired Team Canada Track and Field athlete turned recreational road and trail runner.
5/5 Stars | Men | 9.6 oz | 5 mm Drop | $190
A comfortable shoe, it has everything you expect and want from a minimal drop road shoe (5 mm) but still lots of cushioning. It holds your foot nice and snug, is supportive and solid around the foot and ankle. The sole is light enough to give you a quick response under foot yet sturdy enough to handle some gravel or light trail if you find yourself on a mixed path. Recommended for anyone looking for their next road shoe and like a wide toebox.
PHIL HIOM, Kamloops, B.C. – Lifelong runner with a goal to continue to complete qualifying races for the Western States Endurance Run Lottery. This lottery ticket will be achieved at Lost Soles Ultra Race in Lethbridge, AB.
Primus Lite III
5/5 Stars | Women | 8.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $261
I tested this shoe during a high intensity workout of cardio mixed with some heavy lifting. I instantly found the minimalist sole provided the stability I needed for lifting while my foot did not feel restricted. Being so close to the ground allowed me to grip with my feet so I did not feel off balance. The versatility of the shoe also worked well while doing cardio intense exercises during my workout. This holds up to my level of training and intensity. I highly recommend it.
ISSY WATSON, Victoria, B.C. – Obstacle Course Racer, high-intensity athlete, Guinness World Record Holder (most chest to ground burpees in one hour) who is always looking for the next level challenge.
Primus Lite III
5/5 Stars | Men | 8.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $261
This ‘do it all’ shoe blurs the line between support and freedom of movement. From CrossFit to the half-marathon this shoe has the ability to bring you back to your natural way of moving. My balance and proprioception since wearing these has improved immensely. Never before have I noticed the incredible difference between running on gravel compared to asphalt. This shoe has given me so much feedback it’s completely changed the way I think about footwear and my feet.
KRIS MAHLER, Canmore, AB – Professional ski cross racer currently competing for Team Canada on the World-Cup Circuit; 2 x World Cup Winner and ranked top 15 in the world.
These shoes deliver exactly as promised. They have maximum flexibility, minimum cushion and pure freedom of movement. The rubber outsole provides adequate protection from debris, and I was able to run with a natural stride without concern for bruising my foot on a rock. These shoes have a wide forefoot and secure heel. My only complaint was that I could feel the outer seam on the upper, so I had to wear socks with the shoes instead of going barefoot.
JOANNA FORD, Calgary, AB – Ultramarathon runner with a passion for running long distances in the mountains.
I’m a big fan of minimalist running. I took them out for a light seven kilometres where the shoes felt comfortable, followed by 25 kilometres on varied surfaces and they performed well. On both runs, I had the minimalist sensory feeling in my soles but didn’t have issues on any surface, from pavement, to hardpacked tails, to gravel roads. They are roomy in the toe box but did not hug my feet. Amazing for casual running, walking, or wearing all day but not for speedwork/racing.
JED GRIEVE, Victoria, B.C. – Proud father and husband, and long-time distance runner who is always working to be competitive in his age group.
Photography by Graham McKerrell Photography
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