7 Best Cushioned Running Shoes in 2023

Jovana Subic
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7 Best Cushioned Running Shoes in 2023
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Cushioning is what makes the shoes comfortable, soft, bouncy. Some cushioning units help you feel nice and pampered on those slow recovery days. Others encourage you to speed up, feeling like small trampolines under your feet.

With our independent shoe lab and wear tests, we have reviewed over 100 cushioned running shoes to pick out the cream of the crop.

You can find an all-around workhorse for daily runs, a springy race shoe, or a trail crusher, among others. See our top choices from five different categories below.

And if you’d like to learn more expert tips on finding the best cushioned running shoe for you, scroll down to the guide under the shoe descriptions.

How we test running shoes

We know how to tell shoes with great cushioning apart from “normal” ones. Here is our approach:

  • A team of dedicated runners tests each pair for 30-50 miles on average to provide extensive feedback.
  • Our RunRepeat lab literally tears each shoe apart to measure over 30 different parameters. We even put shoes in the freezer to check how their cushioning changes in cold temperatures.
  • We purchase all running shoes with our own money to avoid brand loyalty and bias.
  • Our system collects reviews from experts and users all over the web to make our reviews more comprehensive.

The verdict on each shoe is presented in a CoreScore. It is a number from 0 to 100 that allows us to compare and rank 1600+ cushioned running shoes.

The best shoes get on this list.

Best cushioned running shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The PUMA Deviate Nitro is back with a significant update that makes an already great shoe even better. It’s really comfortable, which is not always the case for carbon-plated shoes, and it’s extremely versatile. As a result, we have a real do-it-all companion to take on the road for every run, not to mention the quality-price ratio, which basically makes it a no-brainer.


  • Great all-rounder
  • Super-smooth and responsive ride
  • Plush cushioning
  • Comfy upper
  • Grippy outsole
  • Above average durability
  • Fairly priced


  • Heavier than other similar shoes
  • Not many colors available
Full review of PUMA Deviate Nitro 2

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Any color
Azul (37680709)
Orange (37680712)
Black (37756701)
Black (37680701)
Black (37680711)
Sunset Glow (37680703)
Gul (37680705)
Bianco (37680704)

Best cushioned running shoes for race

What makes it the best?

Top-tier race shoe from Adidas gets an update. In 2020 V1 won a ton of praise and world records with its carbon rod (and plate) design and Lightstrike Pro midsole. The super shoe category was once owned but just one brand but in 2021 there’s some serious contenders for best in show.


  • Breathable
  • Responsive
  • Carbon rods
  • Soft midsole
  • Laces stay tight
  • Price


  • Runs narrow
  • Unstable at slow speeds
Full review of Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0

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Any color
Legacy Indigo/Turbo/Sky Rush (GX3117)
Pulse Lime/Real Teal/Flash Orange (GX3124)
Sonic Ink Screaming Green Ftwr White (FY4082)

Best cushioned trail running shoes

Hoka Tecton X

What makes it the best?

The Hoka Tecton X is Hoka's first carbon-plated trail running shoe. To justify the name, it just might have started a tectonic shift - that's how much it is loved by runners. It's positioned as a speed-ready, racing and training companion to the Hoka Speedgoat 5. Thanks to the dual-plated design, it shines at fast paces, especially the ultra ones. On top of this, it's a max-cushioned running shoe that keeps the feet protected without weighing them down.


  • 2 carbon plates: very propulsive ride
  • Insanely stable
  • Looks fast and runs fast
  • Lightweight
  • Very cushioned & responsive
  • Worth the investment
  • Room for feet swelling
  • Grippy
  • No break-in
  • Vegan materials used


  • Not for technical terrains
  • Might accumulate mud
  • Expensive
Full review of Hoka Tecton X

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Any color
Persimmon Orange - Radiant Yellow (1123161PORY)
Thyme/Fiesta (TFST)
Blue (SBDP)

Best speed trainer

ASICS Novablast 3

What makes it the best?

It's a comfy daily running shoe. It can go fast. It can go far. In the words of an expert, the Novablast 3 from ASICS "sets the standard for what a daily trainer should be." What's more, you can race in it in your next marathon too. Talk about versatility! And if you want a light shoe that won't drag you down, the ASICS Novablast 3 is the all-rounder you need.


  • Super bouncy
  • Cushy feel for miles
  • Breathable
  • Light AF
  • Ready for cornering
  • Locks you in
  • Tongue stays in place
  • Grippy outsole
  • Mad durable
  • Sets the bar for a do-it-all shoe


  • A tad too long
  • More expensive by $10
Full review of ASICS Novablast 3

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Any color
Black/Island Blue (1011B458004)
Black/Amber (1011B458001)
Cream/Fawn (1012B288101)
White/Deep Ocean (1011B458100)
Sheet Rock/Black (1011B458021)
Black/White (1011B458002)
White/Piedmont Grey (1012B288102)
Electric Red/Midnight (1011B458600)
More colors

Best cushioned running shoes with wide toebox

Brooks Revel 5

What makes it the best?

An affordable trainer that's got the makings of advanced running shoes? Hello, Brooks Revel 5! It's a smooth and lively jack-of-all-trades that will keep your feet comfy and bouncing. It can push the pace, eat up half-marathon distances, and breeze through your daily runs!


  • Fits like a dream
  • Accommodating stretchy upper
  • Efficient transitions
  • Surprisingly peppy
  • Laces stay tied tightly
  • Low to the ground
  • Durable construction
  • Great deal
  • Do-it-all shoe
  • Impressive weight
  • Breathable


  • Not for long runs
  • No reflective details
Full review of Brooks Revel 5

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Any color
Black/Grey/Blue (053)
Black/Ebony/Crystal Teal (091)
White/Oyster/India Ink (182)
White/Peacoat/Blue Shadow (153)
titan/peacoat/flame (498)
Pageant Blue/True Blue/White (403)
White/Black (121)
Bluetiful/Navy/Irish Cream (471)
More colors

Best stability cushioned running shoes

What makes it the best?

The Kayano 29 from ASICS is a stability running shoe that goes from brick-like to foot-friendly. Now on its twenty-ninth iteration, the ASICS Gel Kayano offers support that mixes in more comfort. And if you're looking to clock up the miles for your next road run, its impact-eating midsole and tank of an outsole will help you reach new distances.


  • Stable but not harsh
  • Cushy for long miles
  • Awesome impact protection
  • Supportive fit
  • Glides you forward
  • Lighter than it seems
  • Built to last


  • An oven for the feet
  • Expensive
Full review of ASICS Gel Kayano 29

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Any color
White/Nova Orange (1011B661100)
Electric Blue/White (1011B440400)
Deep Ocean/Cherry Tomato (1011B440401)
Black/White (1011B470002)
Sheet Rock/Amber (1011B440020)
Spice Latte/Black (1011B440600)
Metropolis/White (1011B440021)
White/Velvet Pine (1012B272100)
More colors

Best cushioned running shoes for long distance

Brooks Ghost 14

What makes it the best?

The Ghost 14 from Brooks really fits the bill as the shoe for all runners. It's a workhorse that's comfy enough for easy days, responsive for tempo sessions, and is heavy-duty to handle light trails. Overall, a no-fuss daily trainer that will work for all your runs!


  • All about comfort!
  • True to size
  • Lots of padding
  • Smooth ride
  • Really stable, even on light trails
  • Great out of the box
  • Built for longevity (500 miles, easily)
  • Great grip


  • Lacks breathability for hot summer days
  • Not the best for long distances
Full review of Brooks Ghost 14

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Any color
Primer Grey/Black/Alloy (039)
Titan/Teal/Flame (488)
Grey/Alloy/Oyster (067)
Black/Blackened Pearl/Blue (056)
Black/Blue/Nightlife (069)
Grey/Blue/Red (078)
Green Gecko/Blue/Black (310)
Grey/Titan/Maize (029)
More colors

Comparison of the 7 best cushioned running shoes

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# of colorways

3 tips for buying cushioned shoes

If you’re new to running, make sure you go through our expert guide on buying running shoes so you cover all the important (first) steps in the decision-making process.


1. Check cushioning placement

Depending on your footstrike, you should check whether your chosen model has more (or equal amounts of) cushioning in the forefoot or in the heel. You need that pillowy feature exactly where you land on the ground with your feet.

As 94% of runners are heel strikers, most running shoes have more cushioning in the heel.


Example of a shoe with more cushioning in the heel (Nike ZoomX Invincible Run), best for heel strikers

2. Check shoe weight

Cushioned shoes come at a price: they tend to weigh more, simply because they have thicker midsoles. If you feel this extra weight during your runs, you can look for lightweight cushioned shoes.


Saucony Kinvara 12 (7.6 oz / 216 g) vs. Adidas Ultraboost 21 (12.7 oz / 361 g)


3. Check cushioning level

If you’re planning longer runs and need more impact protection, you should look for more cushioning. For an occasional run on non-technical terrain you don’t need to go all maximalist.

Examples of max-cushioned running shoes


daily trainer from Hoka (left), speed trainer from Saucony (center), elite race shoe from ASICS (right)

If you’re used to running in low-profile shoes, you might need to go through a transition period to allow your feet to adapt to new cushioning levels. 

What to expect from cushioned running shoes

Comfort. And then some more comfort!

You might feel like foamy clouds are the best thing that happened to your feet. Those cushioning layers surely feel comfortable and soft and allow your feet to run without feeling every little terrain detail.

To up the ante, the newest technologies might even help you run faster (like this analysis showed) thanks to their spring-like effects and additions like carbon plates.  

However, scientific circles have examined other effects as well: 

Running speed 

  • Adding weight to your shoes will slow you down, as shown here

Impact forces 

Running economy 

Injury & body mass

  • The injury risk was higher in lighter participants running in the hard shoes compared with those using soft shoes. For details, read this study

Midsole technologies explained

Cushioning is defined by the midsole of the shoe: part of the shoe between the upper and the outsole. The most common midsoles in traditional shoes are made of two types of foam: EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (polyurethane).


There are different types of midsoles and the biggest differences are seen in the padding positioning, softness/firmness, and energy return. For beginners, it’s recommended to find a shoe that’s comfortable, and leave other factors for more advanced runs, when the time comes. 

Brands tend to develop their own signature materials. That’s how new foams have entered the scene. The biggest step was made once the energy return was measured - Nike’s cushioning technology allows for up to 85% energy return. Most of these innovative midsoles not only cushion your feet but also offer a spring-like response.

Nike Zoom

Nike Zoom: more responsiveness, less pronation. Designed for speed and agility. This technology allows tightly stretched fibers to snap back for fast movement and reduced stress on muscles, joints, and tendons.

Zoom Air: Nike’s tightly stretched tensile fibers that are knit inside a pressurized Nike Air unit, all with the purpose of snappy responsiveness. Made for more responsive and energetic runs.

ZoomX: magically energetic and the lightest foam created by Nike. It uses cutting-edge engineering which allows for 85% energy return.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% elite racer uses ZoomX foam combined with Zoom Air pods in the forefoot for maximized performance.

Saucony PWRRUN+

Saucony’s lightest cushioning technology that puts a spring in your step. Highly flexible so it offers powerful take-offs, fluid transitions and softer landings. Durable and made for long distances.

Saucony’s elite race shoe, the Endorphin Pro 2, employs PWRRUN+.


ASICS’s Gel rearfoot technology reduces impact during heel strike, forefoot Gel technology enhances shock reduction during forward movement. Together they allow for maximum comfort. This cushioning was created for longer distances, stability nad natural run style.


ASICS Gel on the Cumulus 23, a popular daily trainer

ASICS FlyteFoam

ASICS has several variations of FlyteFoams to offer:

  • Lyte, which is focused on the heel and retains shape after every run
  • Propel, with the purpose of greater spring and toe-off (high-energy return and less drag)
  • Blast, with even more springiness and softness


FlyteFoam Blast on ASICS Novablast 2

New Balance Fresh Foam X

New Balance’s signature foam: lightweight and soft.


Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a max-cushioned daily trainer from New Balance.

Skechers HyperBurst

Skechers carbonated EVA foam that promises durability and responsiveness. Currently used in the brand’s advanced speed trainers and elite racers.


One of the best-rated speed shoes from Skechers, Razor+ also employs HuperBurst.

Hoka ProFly

Hoka created this cushioning system that combines soft foam in the heel and firmer foam in the forefoot. Plush feel plus quick response.


ProFly midsole on Hoka Mach 4

Cushioning vs. shoe weight 

If you decide to go for more cushioning, there’s a price to pay: it adds more weight. More weight means you’ll run slower and have to work harder to maintain your speed. 

For this analysis, we’ve pulled all cushioned running shoes from our database. Their cushioning level is rated 5-10, 10 being the plushiest. For each grade, we calculated average shoe weight.

To get the sense of what this means, the lightest running shoe in our database is a racing shoe that weighs 76g only (men, for women it’s 69g). The heaviest shoes go as far as 680g (with cushioning level of 7). 


How long does cushioning in running shoes last?

The longevity of running shoes is determined by multiple factors: built-up mileage, shoe materials, your weight, running form, terrain. 

Cushioning doesn’t last forever and you should consider buying new shoes the moment you:

  1. Start feeling muscle fatigue or pain, especially in your knees, after your average run, or
  2. Feel there’s not enough impact-absorption (your feet hurt or start aching on impact).
  3. Your shoes still might look good on the outside, but on the inside, the cushioning layers might be deteriorating. That’s why it’s important not to focus on visual inspection only.
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic

Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.