2015 Road Shoe Review

Running Shoes That Will Have You Burning Up the Pavement

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IMPACT put its elite test team to work for you, running the top shoe brands through Ontario’s harsh winter and the unusual tropical conditions in Alberta and B.C. We have 14 women’s shoes that were put through their paces by runners with elite race pedigree. Here’s key data on every pair and our team’s independent assessments. There’s a pair here for you. Which shoe will you be taking to the startline?

Women’s Review Team: Syl Corbett, Dana Ferguson, Katherine Gaulin, Shauna Gersbach, Rachael McIntosh, Katherine Moore, Lucy Smith

Men’s Review Team: Adam Campbell, Graham Cocksedge, Jeremy Deere, Simon Donato, Justin Duncan, Pete Estabrooks, Paul Karchut, Ian MacNairn, Blaine Penny, Bruce Raymer, Calvin Zaryski


Women’s Shoes

adidas Ultra Boost

Support: Neutral | Drop: 10mm | Weight: 9.4oz /268g | $210

Adidas Ultra Boost is … springy! With a super responsive midsole, this neutral lightweight trainer has the cush of a plush trainer without feeling compression on landing. Little difference in give was felt from mile 30 to 300, attesting to impressive durability. Midfoot runners will love how this cushion extends throughout the footbed. While the stretchable mesh upper and nicely flexible mid- and outsole give the shoe great comfort, the snug heel and functional Adidas overlays provide a confident fit for snappier runs.

Reviewer: Syl Corbett

adidas Ultra Boost

Altra Provision 2.0

Support: Stability | Drop: 0mm | Weight: 9.4oz / 266.5g | $160

Altra’s Provision 2.0 is a stability shoe that feels like a cushioned lightweight trainer and will appeal to the runner looking for support with a less structured feel. The fairly open toe box relieves cramped toes, but too much sliding around and friction is something to watch for when fitting. This shoe has ample cushioning for a zero drop shoe and makes for a comfortable and lower-impact, midfoot-stride run style for your base runs.

Reviewer: Lucy Smith

Altra Provision 2.0

ASICS Gel-ds Trainer 20

Support: Moderate | Drop: 10mm | Weight: 6.8oz / 193g | $170

The ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 20 is a sturdy, well-cushioned shoe that can certainly take some heat. This shoe would be ideal for tempo runs or everyday training and practice in any sport. I wouldn’t push this shoe for miles and miles, but for all your short 1K-8K runs it is certainly ideal. Relatively lightweight and fitting true to size, the GEL-DS Trainer 20 is on the narrow side and requires a few days to break in.

Reviewer: Rachael McIntosh

ASICS Gel-ds Trainer 20

Brooks Transcend 2

Support: Stability | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 9.9oz / 280g | $190

Brooks’ Transcend 2 is a great shoe for a runner looking for a very soft, yet stable ride. Guide rails around the perimeter of the shoe ensure an unwavering foot from initial strike to toe-off without the feeling of being restricted. Shallow heels enhance this freedom of movement. The contour of the Transcend 2 provides steadiness with ample ground contact. Surprising for the stability it provides, the shoe doesn’t feel bulky. Heavier runners will rejoice with this lush-feeling, well-designed trainer.

Reviewer: Syl Corbett

Brooks Transcend 2

Merrell Allout Flash

Support: Neutral | Drop: 6mm | Weight: 4.9oz 139g | $130

The Merrell Allout Flash is comfortable, lightweight and minimalist. It fits like a glove with stability in the heel and midfoot, but is roomy in the forefoot. I enjoyed this shoe for its versatility. It is lightweight for quick tempo runs, comfortable and sturdy for steady runs. It’s also bright, colourful and stylish enough to throw on for a walk to yoga. This is a performance neutral shoe, so if you have high arches or like to train fast, this is a shoe for you. Lace up and enjoy the ride.

Reviewer: Katherine Moore

Merrell Allout Flash

Mizuno Wave Inspire

Support: Stability | Drop: 12mm | Weight: 8.6oz / 244g | $160

The Mizuno Wave Inspire fits great, has superior construction and awesome details like a tongue and lacing system that does not slip. This shoe feels like it is made with a real runner in mind. It would be great for a runner looking for a neutral, but firm and stable shoe. It is heavier and feels less nimble than the lightweight Wave Rider, a shoe that works well with my smaller frame and efficient style.

Reviewer: Lucy Smith

Mizuno Wave Inspire

Montrail Fluid Feel ST

Support: Stability | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 8.6oz / 246g | $130

The Montrail Fluidfeel ST is a great shoe for anyone who loves to run on the road and detour onto the trails. Montrail’s Fluidfoam midsole combined with the Gryptonite blown rubber sole provides cushioning for longer runs and traction over challenging terrain for a smooth ride. For runners needing additional support, the small, medial support under the arch helps keep pronation to a minimum. The mesh upper allows for great breathability and dries quickly when wet.

Reviewer: Katherine Gaulin

Montrail Fluid Feel ST

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

Support: Neutral | Drop: 6mm | Weight: 6.42oz / 182g | $130

The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante is a lightweight trainer built for speed. The sole is soft, responsive and a bit stiff. I love the snug fit of the upper, which locks in the foot nicely. Although there is not much in the way of arch support, any runner looking for a light training shoe would be happy with this. The Zante will be my go-to everyday trainer (replacing my previous go-to, the Saucony Kinvara 4) for the upcoming marathon season.

Reviewer: Dana Ferguson

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Support: Neutral | Drop: 1mm | Weight: 7.4oz / 209g | $140

Pearl Izumi’s EM Road N1 is a bit of a paradox — it’s a comfortable racing flat. The first thing I noticed when running was how responsive it felt, while maintaining enough cushioning to reduce impact. These shoes are equipped with “energy foam” in the body of the shoe and heel, which propels you forward. Although slightly heavier than some racing flats, the Road N1 felt suitable for racing 5K up to a marathon.

Reviewer: Shauna Gersbach

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

PUMA IGNITE

Support: Neutral | Drop: 12mm | Weight: 8.1oz / 229.6g | $130 

Puma’s Ignite is a lightweight road runner, incredibly soft and flexible, especially through the forefoot. The arch support is minimal, as is the heel-to-toe drop. It is not as light as other lightweight trainers but still feels fast on the roads. The shoe fits a bit large and has quite a roomy toe box, giving lots of room to spread out. Overall, I liked the shoe and would recommend it to anyone looking to start running in a more minimal trainer.

Reviewer: Dana Ferguson

PUMA IGNITE

Saucony Triumph ISO

Support: Neutral | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 9oz / 255g | $180

Saucony’s Triumph ISO has a beautiful balance between comfy cushion and a lightweight feel. The shoe has a high tech look with cool vibrant bright colours. I enjoy wearing these shoes for my long runs. It has tons of cushion and support but without a heavyweight feeling. It is an amazing shoe for a road or seawall run with lots of traction for the trails. It is designed for a neutral runner looking for an extremely cushioned ride. This shoe makes you want to get out for a run!

Reviewer: Katherine Moore

Saucony Triumph ISO

Skechers GOrun 4

Support: Neutral | Drop: 4mm | Weight: 6oz / 170g | $120

Skechers’ GOrun 4 is a lightweight shoe ideal for runners accustomed to minimal support and stability. The shoe fits slightly small, but allows for customization with the optional insoles. Without the insole, the shoe is quite minimalist. With the insole, you benefit from extra cushioning. A great feature is the quick-fit hole, which allows you to slip them on. These shoes would be best for runners looking for a softer ride.

Reviewer: Shauna Gersbach

Skechers GOrun 4

Skora Fit

Support: Supported | Drop: 0mm | Weight: 6.6oz / 187g | $120

The Skora Fit is a very comfortable casual trainer. It is a great shoe for indoor workouts and the gym, however it isn’t for those putting in lots of mileage. The Fit fits true to size and has a very comfortable wide build allowing the foot to move and expand properly to help prevent injuries. With almost no breaking in required, this shoe is ready to wear as soon as you take it out of the box.

Reviewer: Rachael McIntosh

Skora Fit

Zoot Solana ACR

Support: Neutral | Drop: 8mm | Weight: | 8.3oz 235g | $120

The Zoot Solana ACR is a great everyday shoe, ready to handle the elements (such as torrential downpour in North Vancouver) and the miles. The shoe is a bit more stable than a standard neutral shoe and has a healthy amount of impact reduction. It works great for recovery days. It also feels quite durable, particularly given its light weight. The Solana ACR would be suitable for neutral runners of most abilities.

Reviewer: Shauna Gersbach

Zoot Solana

Men’s Shoes

adidas Ultra Boost

Support: Neutral | Drop: 10mm | Weight: 10.9oz / 310g | $210

Ultra Boost is a high-mileage trainer incorporating Adidas’ Boost midsole with new technology designed to prevent injury and make you run up to 20 per cent faster or farther. This road warrior has a snug fitting knitted upper that adapted to the shape of my foot without being restrictive. The 30.5/20.5 mm stack height seemed high, but was stable and provided plush cushioning. I’m not sure my performance was boosted by 20 per cent, but the shoes were extremely comfortable. I’d definitely consider this shoe a staple for my base kilometres.

Reviewer: Simon Donato

adidas Ultra Boost

Altra Provision 2

Support: Stability | Drop: 0mm | Weight: 10.5oz / 298g | $160

The Altra Provision 2.0 is a moderate cushioned, zero drop, stability shoe with a 25mm stack. It is not particularly light, but I found it to be surprisingly flexible. I wore the shoe on easier, flat runs in the city and found while it did not roll well through the transition, it was an incredibly supportive shoe that offered a very stable platform to push off. The Provision 2.0 has a roomy toe box and feels quite cushy, characteristics that would make it a great choice for Clydesdales out there.

Reviewer: Adam Campbell

Altra Provision 2

ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 20

Support: Moderate | Drop: 10mm | Weight: 8.7oz / 247g | $170

ASICS’ newest addition is the much-anticipated 20th anniversary edition of the DS Trainer. Trust me, it was worth the wait. The first thing you notice is the slick retro styling with a throwback to earlier DS models. The seamless upper conforms to the shape of the foot better than its predecessor, providing a snug fit. Built for the mild to moderate pronator this lightweight everyday trainer could even be used as a racing flat. The firmer mid-sole and light weight, provides a much more responsive and improved ride over the DS 19. This is by far and away the best DS Trainer.

Reviewer: Bruce Raymer

ASICS GEL-DS Trainer 20

Brooks Launch 2

Support: Neutral | Drop: 10mm | Weight: 9.8oz / 278g | $130

The Brooks Launch 2 is a great everyday shoe for the neutral runner looking to get a good mix of cushion and performance. The Launch 2 has a very soft and comfortable feel but is not overly cushioned like some other premium shoes. It’s also considerably light, weighing in at approximately 9.8 oz. With a 10 mm drop, nice breathability, excellent durability and a very attractive price point, the Launch 2 could easily become your go-to shoe!

Reviewer: Justin Duncan

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

Support: Stability | Drop: 5mm | Weight: 7.7oz / 218g | $135

Hoka One One is a rebuttal to the minimalist fad. I have tried Hoka’s Stinson ATR and Clifton, shoes that seem laughable when you see the thick soles. The laughing stops when you run in them. Hoka pulls off a very supportive (and light) feel, yet the cushioning is so forgiving your foot is allowed to land, roll and plantar flex is unrestricted. Combined with the cushioning, a flatter base reduces impact fatigue enough to leave happier legs following road intervals.

Reviewer: Graham Cocksedge

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

Merrell Allout Flash

Support: Neutral | Drop: 6mm | Weight: 6.3oz / 179g | $130

Merrell’s superlight 6mm drop road shoe is perfect for faster running, track sessions and road races under the half-marathon distance. There is tons of room in the toe box while the heel and midfoot is snug and feels great. The shoe is flexible with a mesh upper for breathability and water drainage. There is good cushioning for light heel striking, no motion control and it rocks you forward nicely with moderate mid- and forefoot cushioning. The arch is well supported considering its light weight. The lacing system keeps the foot snug with no pressure points. This shoe feels fast.

Reviewer: Calvin Zaryski

Merrell Allout Flash

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

Support: Neutral | Drop: 12mm | Weight: 9.2oz / 261g | $160

Pulling the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 out of the box is like backing a Ferrari out of your garage. This sleek, super-light and neutral shoe begs to be put on the road. Just slip into the cradled heel, tighten the minimally designed upper that fits like a second skin and go. Its firm, low-to-the-ground midsole makes the shoe responsive, durable and excellently suited to distance training.

Reviewer: Pete Estabrooks

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

Montrail Fluid Feel III

Support: Stability | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 9.9oz / 282g | $120

Montrail isn’t just about trail running shoes anymore. The FluidFeel III is designed to excel both on the road and on moderate trails. This is a very comfortable shoe with plenty of soft cushioning and a bit of inner-foot stability for those who pronate. I found it a little too soft and controlling because my latest runners have been minimalist shoes. The FluidFeel also hugged my narrow heel very well. A great option for those who want cushioned comfort both on road and trail.

Reviewer: Paul Karchut

Montrail Fluid Feel III

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

Support: Neutral | Drop: 6mm | Weight: 7.55oz / 214g | $130

Zante is the third addition to New Balance’s Fresh Foam collection. The shoe fits like a sock and is extremely comfortable out of the box. I really noticed the midfoot bump when I first put the shoe on, which gives the shoe a responsive forefoot and toe spring that makes you want to pick up the pace. This is an impressive lightweight versatile shoe from training to racing 5K to the marathon.

Reviewer: Blaine Penny

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Support: Neutral | Drop: 1mm | Weight: 8.3oz / 235g | $140

The newest iteration of the EM Road N1 follows in Pearl Izumi’s tradition of smooth-riding minimalist neutral shoes. This model is more flexible than previous versions and provides great sensitivity while maintaining considerable cushioning. The upper is 3D printed with mesh and offers stability and comfort in a lightweight package. I used this trainer extensively for tempo runs and it would be a great go-to shoe for road races of any length.

Reviewer: Ian MacNairn

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

PUMA IGNITE

Support: Neutral | Drop: 12mm | Weight: 10.1oz / 286g | $130

Like a big cat, the Ignite has some serious bounce. With Ignite, Puma has delivered a sweet blend of rebound, flexibility and cushioning. I found this particularly true in the first two areas, however, its cushioning was midrange at best. The toe box fits a tad narrow and the upper is heavily structured. Even though the fit wasn’t for my foot, the shoe felt much lighter than its listed 10.1 oz., likely due to its wicked energy return. Overall, Ignite offers a very fast and spirited ride.

Reviewer: Bruce Raymer

PUMA IGNITE

Saucony Guide 8

Support: Supported | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 9.9oz / 281g | $150

The Guide 8 is a fairly stiff shoe that provides considerable stability and cushioning. The shoe has Saucony’s Powergrid technology built into the midfoot, designed to centre the foot and distribute pressure. The Guide 8 may work well for novice runners acclimating to building up in running volume and preferring cushioning during long training sessions. This shoe may be considered by those requiring stability built into their shoe without needing pronation control.

Reviewer: Ian MacNairn

Saucony Guide 8

Skechers GOrun 4

Support: Neutral | Drop: 4mm | Weight: 7.9oz 224g | $120

Skechers’ 7.9 oz. trainer fits great with a unique heel portal to help pull the shoe on quickly. The soft tongue and liner allows for comfortable sockless running. The liner can be removed or left in for a snugger fit. Both felt great. Add elastic laces and this shoe would be ideal for triathlon racing. With a 4mm heel drop and ample midsole cushioning (promotes midfoot striking), I would not hesitate to race in these rockets, even for a marathon. I love soft midsoles so these shoes really worked well for me. This could be my next favourite shoe for road or track.

Reviewer: Calvin Zaryski

Skechers GOrun 4

Skora FIT

Support: Supported | Drop: 0mm | Weight: 8.2oz 232g | $120

The Skora Fit lightweight trainer has a 3D-printed upper that fits and feels like a slipper. The upper is breathable, offers minimal support and is comfortable without socks given the offset asymmetrical lacing design and lack of a tongue. Minimal cushioning and extreme flexibility in the midsole means an intimate ground-feel. The Fit, with zero drop from heel to toe, would work well for speed and track work and for those who prefer minimalist shoes.

Reviewer: Ian MacNairn

Skora FIT

Zoot Ali’i + BOA

Support: Neutral | Drop: 8mm | Weight: 8.5oz / 240g | $150

Right out of the box, it is evident the Zoot Ali’i is a road shoe built for triathletes. From the nearly seamless neoprene upper and quick-adjust BOA lacing system, to the finger holes in the tongue and heel to speed up transition time, the Zoot Ali’i + BOA is a shoe built for speed. I found the midsole was flexible and offered good cushioning for a shoe of its weight. All-in-all, a pretty nice ride.

Reviewer: Jeremy Deere

Zoot Ali'i + BOA

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