Read what some of the top runners from across Canada had to say about nineteen of the top brands on the market. This in-depth review has everything you’ll need to find the best shoes for your needs and budget. 

What does ‘drop’ mean?

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. Above all – run!

adidas

adidas
SolarBoost 3

4/5 Stars | Women | 9.5 oz | 10 mm Drop | $200
www.adidas.ca

Out of the box these shoes felt heavy and overbuilt. However, once I put them on my feet the weight seemed to disappear. These are highly cushioned, responsive shoes which instantly resulted in a faster easy run pace for the same effort level. I’d recommend them for the high-mileage marathon runner as a daily trainer and for tempo workouts, not for faster paces due to the high cushion. The upper is very comfortable with no rubbing or slipping issues. Sizing is a bit large. 

Joanna Ford, Calgary, AB – An ultramarathon runner with a passion for running long distances in the mountains.

adidas

adidas
SolarBoost 3

4.5/5 Stars | Men | 11 oz | 10 mm Drop | $200
www.adidas.ca

I found these to have a nice fit, snug mid-foot wrap, good roomy toe-box shape without being excessive, and appreciated the extra durability built into the upper without compromising comfort or weight. The heel cup shape was perfect. While I am a forefoot striker, I experimented with some heel striking and found them to have a lovely heel to toe transition feel, although they still have that responsiveness I like as a forefoot striker. Overall, the fit was excellent.

Shelby Drope, Nanaimo, B.C. – 2018 Vancouver Island Road and Trail Series Champion, track and field endurance coach, and trail running clinic coach.

Altra

Altra
Rivera

3.5/5 Stars | Women | 6.9 oz | 0 mm Drop | $175

An incredibly versatile and comfortable shoe for everyday training runs and speed work. The shoe fits snugly around the heel but provides plenty of room in the toe box. The shoe fits true to size, but if someone is between sizes, sizing up is better. Good for runners who are sticking exclusively to pavement. It’s packed with lightweight, responsive foam making it an excellent choice for all types of road adventures but less ideal for urban trails. A great shoe overall.

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 km one day.

Altra

Altra
Rivera

4/5 Stars | Men | 9.1 oz | 0 mm Drop | $175

A neutral, mid-cushioned, comfortable, and lightweight everyday road trainer. They are a blend between the Escalante and Torin with a medium-wide fit and roomy toe box, which allows your toes to splay naturally. They fit true to size if not slightly short. The soft, breathable, engineered-mesh upper hugs your foot well and the balanced Ego midsole foam feels fairly responsive and firm.

Matt Setlack, Trenton, ON – Canadian mountain runner and Royal Canadian Air Force pilot.

ASICS

ASICS
GEL-NIMBUS® LITE 2

5/5 Stars | Women | 7.8 oz | 13 mm Drop | $200
www.asics.com

A super versatile road trainer with an extremely soft, comfortable upper.  This neutral shoe has a wide, cushioned midsole with FlyteFoam underfoot for a responsive but not too bouncy stride. It did take a few runs to break in the sole, but from there it was smooth running that left my legs feeling fresh post-run.

Karen Holland, Kimberley, ON – Avid trail runner and ultrarunner whose goal is to compete in the 2022 Western States 100-mile Endurance Run.

ASICS

ASICS
GEL-CUMULUS® 23

4/5 Stars | Men | 9.3 oz | 10 mm Drop | $160
www.asics.com

Excellent, dependable shoe to rack up the miles. A comfortable upper paired with the infamous GEL-cushioning of Asics provide a pleasing ride. An updated outsole compound (AHAR LITE) trims some weight while not compromising durability. Put through the paces the shoe felt best at marathon pace. A workhorse to add to the collection of any runner.

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.

Brooks Running

Brooks Running
Glycerin 19

4/5 Stars | Women | 9.0 oz | 10 mm Drop | $200
www.brooksrunning.com

The moment I put on the shoe I noticed the comfort of the plush internal fit. The shoe hugged my foot comfortably while maintaining a flexible fit. As an avid Brooks Ghost fan, what stood out to me while running in the Glycerin was that while the heel assured stability, it didn’t provide the energy return I’m used to. I’ll continue to run in this shoe for 10 km distances.

Mandy Gill, Vancouver, B.C. – Ultramarathon runner (road and trail), health expert and international keynote speaker, and IMPACT Top Vegan Athlete.

Brooks Running

Brooks Running
Launch 8

4/5 Stars | Men | 8.6 oz | 10 mm Drop | $140
www.brooksrunning.com

This is a lightweight, form-fitting, well-cushioned shoe. Bottom up, the outsole is durable and flexible. Brooks forefoot technology allows for toe splay, and the heel cup held my foot snugly in place. The neutral running midsole is cushioned enough for midfoot or forefoot strikers while maintaining the responsiveness necessary for faster runs. The light, airy upper is perfect for dissipating the heat-generating speed these shoes are capable of.

Pete Estabrooks, Calgary, AB – One of Canada’s foremost fitness experts, ultrarunner and coach is happiest when running in the mountains.

HOKA

HOKA
CARBON X 2

4.5/5 Stars | Women | 7.0 oz | 5 mm Drop | $225
www.hokaoneone.com

My first thought putting these on was that I needed to go down a half size – the toe box is very roomy, with an almost “baggy” feel to the breathable, minimalist, non-stretch upper. However, the heel was hugged securely so that the shoe didn’t feel sloppy when running. The shoes hold true to the soft, light cushion that Hoka fans know and love, while still providing a stable, bouncy, fun ride, and would be great for longer road distances.

Arden Young, Calgary, AB – Dentist by day, road, trail, ultrarunner all other times with a love for competition and long adventures in the mountains.

HOKA

HOKA
Men’s ROCKET X

5/5 Stars | Men | 7.4 oz | 5 mm Drop | $225
www.hokaoneone.com

This is the fastest-feeling shoe I have ever worn. Period. It is super light and has a smooth heel to toe transition. I was noticeably less sore after hard efforts. The upper is comfortable and breathable and runs true to size. If you want to PR in your next marathon, this is the shoe for you.

Adam Campbell, Canmore, AB – Lawyer, endurance athlete happy in the mountains on foot, bike, rock and skis.

MBT

MBT
Huracan-3000

4/5 Stars | 11.0 oz | 11 mm Drop | $218
us.mbt.com

This shoe is Swiss engineering at its best. The dramatic rocker propels you onto your toes and keeps you moving forward. There’s a lot going on with this shoe, and they’re a bit heavy, but if you’re a heel-striker, or you have a sore back, or you want a cushy, stable shoe for recovery runs I recommend trying this one out.

Nicki Rehn, is a Calgary-based ultra-marathon runner, orienteer, and adventurer who loves to travel the world doing crazy races, disappear deep into the mountains, and rip up the local single-track.

MBT

MBT
Huracan-3000

4/5 Stars | Men | 13.0 oz | 8 mm Drop | $218
us.mbt.com

This comfortable shoe has a patented, curved sole featuring the PivotAxis technology, ideal for the high-volume runner. There is tons of cushioning with a snug heel cup. Slightly heavier than most shoes, the M.I.D.S outsole helps distribute the ground forces and adds to the stability. Along with this pronounced rocker, the large stack creates the sensation of rolling forward while sinking downward. If you are struggling with body issues from running or walking, this shoe could be your solution.

Cal Zaryski, Calgary, AB – Professional active lifestyle coach, 9 x World XTERRA Triathlon Champion, 3 x Triathlon Canada Coach of the Year, and 3 x Alberta Triathlon Coach of the Year.

Mizuno

Mizuno
Wave Shadow 4

4/5 Stars | Women | 7.8 oz | 8 mm Drop | $150
www.mizunousa.com

These are great for days when you want to have a lightweight responsive shoe. As a midfoot striker, I love the way this shoe feels fast and dynamic without compromising cushioning and a good outsole. The one-piece elastic upper gives a tighter and more hugged feel than a traditionally structured shoe and I found it felt a bit tight as my foot warmed up.

Lucy Smith, Victoria, B.C. – Elite athlete in distance running, duathlon and triathlon for over 30 years, coach and motivational speaker.

Mizuno
Wave Shadow 4

4/5 Stars | Men | 9.2 oz | 8 mm Drop | $150
www.mizunousa.com

This is not your classic Mizuno. The standard wave plate is nowhere to be seen and the star of the show with this shoe is the super soft Enerzy foam. The midsole has a minimal feel, and the upper, although odd looking, is very comfortable, almost sock-like. The ride is smooth, and I loved the feeling of the foam. I’d run in this shoe any day.

Rob Watson, Vancouver, B.C. – Avid runner and head coach of the Mile2Marathon group in Vancouver.

New Balance

New Balance
Fresh Foam 1080v11

4/5 Stars | Women | 9.3 oz | 8 mm Drop | $200
www.newbalance.ca

Standing a little taller on Fresh Foam you’ll feel ultra-comfortable cruising down your favourite road this spring. Despite ample cushioning, the shoe feels surprisingly responsive for off-day or longer runs. The mesh upper feels light and fresh, although the material may compromise the durability of the toe box. I like the sleek rearfoot design that keeps my heel secure, and of course the fun spring colors are always a bonus.

Sabrina Wilkie, Surrey, B.C. – Physiotherapist, Mom of three and winner of the 2016 Victoria Marathon.

New Balance

New Balance
Fresh Foam 1080v11

5/5 Stars | Men | 8.1 oz | 8 mm Drop | $200
www.newbalance.ca

These are the most comfortable road shoes I have run fast in. They look phenomenal and fit like a dream. An ideal road shoe: they cruised on my 50 km long-run; zipped through a 34-minute 10 km workout; and held-out during 3:00 km repeats. If you’re looking for one pair that just as easily hauls down the road as eats up distance, it’s these.

Ian MacNairn, Canmore, AB – Professional trail and ultrarunner; two-time ultrarunning National Champion and anthropologist studying the global ultrarunning community.

Newton Running Company

Newton Running Company
Gravity 10

5/5 Stars | Women | 7.2 oz | 3 mm Drop | $212
www.newtonrunning.com

From the moment I put this shoe on I loved it. It was the Goldilocks fit, snug in all the right places and loose in the others. If you flip the shoe over there are five ’posts’ that sit under your metatarsals, the bones in your feet. While it does not look traditional, it runs beautifully. I felt really connected to the ground in these shoes. Bonus: this shoe is “Made from durable recycled & biodegradable materials.”

Sasha Gollish, Toronto, ON – 2015 bronze medallist, Pan Am Games — she runs anything from the roads to the trails at a variety of distances.

Newton Running Company

Newton Running Company
Gravity 10

4.5/5 Stars | Men | 8.6 oz | 3 mm Drop | $212
www.newtonrunning.com

At 8.6 oz these neutral shoes have a 3 mm heel drop. I loved the fit and secure upper lacing system. The sole is created to flex perfectly for mid to forefoot striking. The five lugs underfoot create a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back, losing less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe. For faster road and track running, Newton is a great option. 

Cal Zaryski, Calgary, AB – Professional active lifestyle coach, 9 x World XTERRA Triathlon Champion, 3 x Triathlon Canada Coach of the Year, and 3 x Alberta Triathlon Coach of the Year.

Nike

Nike
Air Zoom Pegasus 38

5/5 Stars | Women | 9.4 oz | 10 mm Drop | $160
www.nike.com

Comfort right out of the box. I have worn several previous versions of Pegasus, and the 38 does not disappoint. This shoe has a slightly roomier toe box than previous versions, and its light, flexible upper accommodates a ‘hard to fit’ forefoot. The cushioning through the midsole and forefoot is springy and responsive. A top notch go-to training shoe.

Jen Millar, Victoria B.C. – Competitive distance runner, and BC Athletics Cross Country Masters Runner of the Year. 

Nike

Nike
Air Zoom Pegasus 38

4/5 Stars | Men | 11.0 oz | 10 mm Drop | $160
www.nike.com

The plush cushioning is apparent from the moment you step into the latest update to the long-running and hugely successful Pegasus. A thicker tongue, a mesh upper and a wider toe box feel like a warm, comforting blanket wrapped around this versatile daily trainer. Despite the extra support, it remains light and responsive, making it a go-to shoe for easy runs, long runs and tempos.

Keith Bradford, Calgary, AB – Elite Masters runner with a passion for road racing and a run coach and crisis communications consultant who has worked with athletes at multiple world cups, world championships and Olympic Games.

On
Cloudswift

4/5 Stars | Women | 7.76 oz | 7 mm Drop | $190
www.on-running.com

This shoe is so soft and comfortable with a very nice rocker. Great cushion underfoot on the treadmill or on pavement. Feet with high insteps might be hard to get on with the fully gusseted tongue. But once it’s on it’s like wearing your favourite comfy socks. Ready and waiting to take you for a run.

Grace Hiom, Kamloops, B.C. – Race Director: Dirty Feet Trail Series, running coach and ultramarathoner.

Cloudswift

On
Cloudswift

3.5/5 Stars | Men | 9.95 oz | 7 mm Drop | $190
www.on-running.com

I was really looking forward to trying these shoes with their interesting aesthetics. The outsole will certainly turn heads. Rated as a short-distance, urban running shoe the ride is certainly firm considering the outsole thickness, but for short rips they felt quick and nimble. The upper is a delight. I found these narrow and the fit is small, so size up a half size.

Andy Reed, Canmore, AB – Sport medicine physician, mountain ultra trail runner with numerous podium finishes in mountain ultras throughout North America.

Puma

Puma
Deviate Nitro

5/5 Stars | Women | 7.7 oz | 8 mm Drop | $200
www.sportchek.ca

With the help of an innovative composite-carbon fiber plate and nitrogen-infused midsole this shoe offers a smooth, lightweight and maximally cushioned ride that propels you forward. The snug yet breathable upper, gusseted tongue, flat lacing system and unique side heel pads provide a secure fit throughout. Fantastic for the long miles, and hard to resist donning for the shorter efforts, this shoe definitely runs with the best.

Syl Corbett, Calgary, AB – World Cup and World Championship competitor in triathlon, duathlon, mountain running, snowshoeing and marathons. Private consultant to pro-athletes.

Puma

Puma
Deviate Nitro

4/5 Stars | Men | 9.4 oz | 8 mm Drop | $200
ca.puma.com

A high-performance shoe that feels light and fast. The bright orange upper mesh is breathable and fits snugly. The midsole is made of Puma’s Nitro foam and contains their carbon fiber Innoplate.  The shoe has good traction, feels responsive and provides good propulsion when running fast. Not ideal as a regular training shoe, but perfect for racing or speed work.

Myron Tetreault, Calgary, AB – An elite master’s endurance athlete who was on Team Canada for the 2020 Big’s Backyard Ultra.

Reebok

Reebok
Floatride Energy 3

5/5 Stars | Women | 7.1 oz | 9 mm Drop | $130
www.reebok.ca

I took these straight out of the box and ran 25 kilometers on them without any problems. They were instantly comfortable with just the right amount of cushion for a long pavement run. I appreciated the breathable upper, slight rocker, 9 mm drop, and wide, stable platform.

Nicki Rehn, Calgary, AB – Ultramarathon runner, orienteer, and adventurer who loves to travel the world doing crazy races, disappear deep into the mountains, and rip up the local single-track.

Reebok

Reebok
Floatride Energy 3

5/5 Stars | Men | 8.5 oz | 9 mm Drop | $130
www.reebok.ca

This is a super light shoe that still provides plenty of structure and support. The shoes have a nice wide toe box and fit true to size. Overall if you are looking for a fast, light, good fitting shoe I believe this will become one of your go-to shoes.

Phil Hiom, Kamloops, B.C. – Trail runner who loves the uphills, is always researching ways to improve his running style including getting a curved treadmill to allow more focused form running.

Saucony

Saucony
Endorphin Pro

4/5 Stars | Women | 6.3 oz | 8 mm Drop | $250
www.saucony.com

This is a great shoe for the roads.  Light and airy, the speed roll technology really kept me on my toes without a lot of work, making my runs feel faster without as much effort.  It was great for short speedwork but also comfortable enough to wear on longer runs as it had a nice amount of cushion.  As someone who has dealt with Achilles issues, this also felt like it took some pressure off my calves and Achilles.  I would definitely recommend this shoe.

Amy Puzey, Invermere, B.C. – 2 x Team Canada member at the World Mountain Running championships, and mother of six.

Saucony

Saucony
Endorphin Shift

4/5 Stars | Men | 10.1 oz | 4 mm Drop | $180
www.saucony.com

This generously cushioned shoe with its rocketed base propels you forward and makes you feel springy off the forefoot. It is especially comfortable to wear if you are feeling achy and tired the day after a hard workout or long run. It fits true to size with a snug well-padded heel cup and a toe box a little wider than average. 

Alistair Munro, Toronto, ON – Run coach for the Toronto Harriers with a love of trail and ultra-funning for the adventure, community and competition.

Skechers

Skechers
GOrun Razor+

4/5 Stars | Women | 5.1 oz | 4 mm Drop | $210
www.skechers.ca

A versatile, lightweight everyday road or race trainer good for 5 kms, tempos and steady long runs. The Hyperburst midsole felt soft, springy and bouncy underfoot with good energy return at quicker paces. It has a cushioned feel without the bulk and weight. The upper has good breathability and a narrow fitting toe. I would recommend going up half a size in this shoe.

Emily Setlack, Trenton, ON – Canadian marathoner and avid trail and mountain runner.

Skechers

Skechers
GOrun Razor+

4/5 Stars | Men | 6.5 oz | 4 mm Drop | $210
www.skechers.ca

This shoe felt great right out of the box. A good match for those who prefer a lightweight trainer with plenty of cushioning for daily miles. It would also serve well as a workout or race day shoe. The rocker sole feels snappy and encourages a midfoot strike. This shoe felt very smooth on easy runs but is ready and willing to pick up the pace if called upon.

Matt Cecill, Victoria, B.C. – Trail runner and running coach, represented Canada at the Trail World Championships and holds various trail FKTs.

Topo

Topo
Women’s Magnifly 3

5/5 Stars | Women | 8.3 oz | 0 mm Drop | $170
www.topoathleticcanada.ca

This is a neutral drop running shoe with a comfortable Ortholite® footbed. This was my first time wearing a zero-drop shoe and I loved how propulsive it felt. The shoe has a “slipper like feel” and felt nimble and secure on both gravel trails and roads. What I loved most about the shoe is how natural and responsive it felt. I found myself reaching for this shoe more often than any other shoe in my rotation. Fantastic shoe.

Emily Setlack, Trenton, ON – Canadian marathoner and avid trail and mountain runner.

Topo

Topo
Ultrafly 3

5/5 Stars | Men | 9.6 oz | 5 mm Drop | $200
www.topoathleticcanada.ca

This is a well-cushioned, modestly structured shoe. Up front it is roomy, allowing your forefoot to spread and splay. The snug heel, narrow waist and padded tongue locks you in nicely without feeling restrictive. It is a very comfortable everyday runner and ideal for those looking to transition to a lower drop shoe.

Alistair Munro, Toronto, ON – Run coach for the Toronto Harriers with a love of trail and ultra-funning for the adventure, community and competition.

Under Armour

Under Armour
Flow Velociti Wind

4/5 Stars | Women | 8.0 oz | 8 mm Drop | $190
www.underarmour.ca

The Velociti is lightweight and fits snugly around the toe with its wrapped Warp technology. This shoe performed well, with a great transition and toe-off. It’s fairly minimal and would perform well for tempo training/races. The shoe offered just enough cushioning underfoot, although the sizing fits slightly smaller.

Catrin Jones, Victoria, B.C. – 50 km, 50 mile and 6-hour Canadian record holder.

Under Armour

Under Armour
Flow Velociti Wind

4.5/5 Stars | Men | 8.5 oz | 8 mm Drop | $190
www.underarmour.ca

The new version has an all-in-one cushioning and sole system that is soft with plenty of ‘spring’ that provides excellent energy return. The shoe is incredibly light and snappy, combined with a noticeable rocker that makes this shoe perfect for all around training and 5 or 10 km racing. The upper consists of the UA Warp lattice that gives the shoe a snug form fit, which feels slightly smaller than my normal sizing.

Blaine Penny, Calgary, AB – Masters runner with a marathon PB of 2:28, 3 x Canadian Ultramarathon Champion, 6 x Guinness World Record holder and winner of the 2015 Wings for Life run (North American).

Vibram

Vibram
V-Run

4/5 Stars | Women | 8.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $190
ca.vibram.com

I’ve always wanted to try the Vibram Five Finger shoes. I had that barefoot feeling wearing them with a bit more protection. I’m sure I could build up to running in these for longer distances but it would take time to adapt. The natural feel of the Vibram cannot be beat. I’ll be sure to use these in my local trails where I can trust the footing as I build up my distance in them.

Sasha Gollish, Toronto, ON – 2015 bronze medallist, Pan Am Games, she runs anything from the roads to the trails at a variety of distances. 

Vibram

Vibram
V-Run

5/5 Stars | Men | 8.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $190
ca.vibram.com

A phenomenal minimalist shoe light enough not to be noticed on my longest run and with its combined EVA and rubber midsole also tough enough to run my multitude of terrains from trail to rocks, gravel and pavement. The breathable upper kept my foot remarkably warm at colder temperatures and cool on hot days with the bonus of “air-drying” almost immediately after stream crossings. Terrific shoes. Worthy of the effort of getting used to.

Pete Estabrooks, Calgary, AB – One of Canada’s foremost fitness experts, ultrarunner and coach is happiest when running in the mountains.

Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes
HFS Lightweight

4.5/5 Stars | Women | 5.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $138
xeroshoes.com

I enjoyed the HFS right out of the gate! They’re super comfortable, lightweight and flexible, and the wide toe box is key. The ground feel is nice too, but you still feel protected. Although I train in a shoe with some cushion, I’ve added the HFS into my rotation for recovery runs on both road and groomed trails. They fit small, so I went up a full size larger than my usual size.

Julie Hamulecki, Toronto, ON – Ultrarunner and holder of the Canadian Women’s 100 km road record and 12th in the world.

Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes
HFS Lightweight

4.5/5 Stars | Men | 6.8 oz | 0 mm Drop | $138
xeroshoes.com

This is my first pair of Xero HFS. Out of the box they look great. The fit is how I like them – lots of room in the toe box and solid support around the heel and ankle. Normally I run in shoes with a larger heel drop however these were great out of the gate. These shoes have joined my stable of go-to runners. 

Martin Parnell, Cochrane, AB – Endurance runner, fundraiser, adventurer and author, five Guinness World Records in endurance events, summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours.

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