Best Cushioned Running Shoes – 2023 Buyers Guide
We reviewed dozens of cushioned running shoes. The brand Hoka and their One One Bondi 7 outperformed others for cushioning and many other performance categories. They became our first choice due to combining performance, quality, and value.
Read our full reviews below.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to comfort, it’s all about the cushion.
Will your feet feel like they are on clouds when you run in them? Do you want a triple layer of foam, or do you prefer gel cushioning? The amount of cushioning preference typically varies by user. A cushion is kind of a general term when it comes to running shoes, as their many different types of cushioned designs out there.
Even more so than just a few years ago, thanks to new developments in materials and technology, we are seeing a lot more interest in cushioning when it comes to running shoes for the heavier people out there. One thing to keep in mind these days is that a shoe design doesn’t necessarily need to be giant or bulky to provide more than adequate amounts of the cushion.
Take the footwear company On as an example. Their Cloud series isn’t what most would call a maximalist design, although they have figured out a way to offer decent cushioning within a pretty average mass. On the other hand, we have companies like Hoka and Altra. Both tend to produce models that mostly sport bulkier soles, which usually scream “comfortable ride” just at the sight of them.
The bulky sole isn’t for everyone and may take some time to get used to if switching from a lower profile model. For different tastes, running styles, and general personal preferences, we chose selections for our list which cover both ranges. If you are in the market for a runner that offers to cushion, well then you aren’t going to want a minimalist model of running shoes.
The idea is to find a shoe that is well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily.
This is typically provided by the upper materials of the shoe with holes in the fabric. This is obvious to most. More holes mean more airflow. But, with new advances in materials, we are starting to see uppers constructed of textiles and fabrics which don’t always have to look like a fishing net to allow plenty of air to move through.
With new styles such as knit construction and breathable membrane-type fabric, a shoe’s upper might not always appear as breathable as it is when used. Breathability is something important for a few different reasons. The first is overall comfort. It is horrible when you get halfway through your run and start to feel your sweaty feet move around.
This is because of the moisture that has built up from not having enough airflow to escape or evaporate. The second is the bacteria. With moisture building up and nowhere to go, the sweat will soak into the interior of your shoes. This will eventually start to stink quite a bit. The odor is coming from the bacteria which forms from old sweat that wasn’t able to escape during your run.
This could even result in foot fungus or other nasty foot issues. Another reason why breathability is so important, besides hygiene and comfort, is the fact that in some footwear moisture will eventually affect the structure of the shoe. And, we already mentioned that smell.
When you get a running shoe it’s imperative that it flexes properly when you run.
There’s nothing worse than a stiff shoe that won’t move to your every movement. Really, who wants to go on a long run with something that feels like a stiff board strapped to the bottom of your feet. Along with comfort, the model’s flexibility can affect your stride if your feet are kept from functioning correctly.
This, of course, means that your efficiency could be negatively affected. Taking into account the different styles we have gathered in our list, flexibility becomes something that differs some per model. The thicker soled models will have, in most cases, slightly less or a different range of flexibility. Then looking at the models which are of lower profile design, the flexibility will usually be a bit freer, as the soles are not as thick.
However, with newer technologies in rubber and foam materials, the flexibility found in those thicker shoes is still much more giving than earlier models.
There’s nothing worse than having toes that are all squished together.
Having adequate room in a toe box is essential. If your toes are cramped it could cause unnecessary foot pain or blisters. We’ve gone through these cushioned shoes to determine which shoes have a roomy toe box and which ones run a bit narrow.
If you are looking for a regular fit, but want a wider toe box, we added two choices from Altra. This brand is known for its “FootShape” design, which offers an anatomical fit around the toes to allow the more natural function of the forefoot.
Pointy toe running shoes is not exactly a feature that many want with their running shoes. However, those models with wide toe boxes aren’t for everyone either. At the end of the day, you need to understand your foot type and what your comfort needs are.
Depending on how much you run, you’ll need to buy new running shoes.
Typically, male runners need to buy a new pair of running shoes every few months. A good pair of shoes should last between 400 and 600 miles. We want you to know if these shoes meet those criteria as far as durability goes, or if they will likely wear earlier or last even longer.
Will the outsole wear quicker than expected, or the upper fray more easily? These are the things we consider when choosing our top 10. Durability doesn’t just factor into distance or gender. Where you tend to run matters quite a bit as well. The terrain or particular surface affects the longevity of your footwear’s lifespan.
If a specific model is meant for light or moderate trails, then it most certainly needs to be able to stand up to those expected conditions. If a shoe is meant for long distances over a hard road, well the best choices should be able to perform well there too. In addition to where another factor that needs to be considered with top picks is the climate in which you usually run.
10 Most Cushioned Running Shoes
1. Hoka One One Bondi 7
Offers the highest level of cushioning, support, and performanceRead more
The most notable feature of the Bondi 7 is the construction of the very thick midsole. It is composed of a super thick layer of EVA foam. If you want softness that doesn’t feel rigid and contributes to giving excellent cushioned support, this shoe is an excellent choice.
EVA is soft and pliable and provides a balanced level of bounce and energy feedback. The upper is composed of a blend of thin mesh that helps the foot breathe in key areas. Synthetic overlays are built in for added support, EVA cushioned collars provide even more cushioning on the top of your foot.
The Bondi 7 is a big shoe, but it isn’t overly heavy, weighing in at just over 10 ounces. It’s hard for other brands to match the level of cushioning and support that is offered. It’s a great shoe for heavier runners or running long distances without weighing you down too much.
2. Altra Olympus 4
For runners looking for good supportive cushioning.Read more
The very first thing to notice about this design is that it has a 33 mm stack height. Which really helps to cushion your foot and is ideal for heel-strikers. It boasts an incredibly thick molded EVA midsole for additional comfort.
This is one of the more durable shoes on the market. The thick EVA cushioning and Vibram rubber outsole makes this a perfect choice for long-distance runners. It also boasts a wide toe box, for plenty of room to move your toes. The flexible upper and unique laces boost lockdown and stability.
The combination of the 33 mm stack height, EVA midsole, and Vibram outsole makes this design incredibly cushioned as well as durable. The Olympus 4 has a notable price tag, The impressive durability makes it excellent value.
3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11
The midsole provides smooth and easy transitions.Read more
The latest update to the Fresh Foam series removes the bulky upper and replaces it with a light, breathable, and flexible upper. This is a great option for runners that love light and easy uppers without sacrificing cushioning.
The midsole still packs all of the supportive features found in previous models. TI is composed of New Balance’s Fresh Foam-X. This material is equivalent to EVA foam. The midsole is molded to provide you with extra cushioning in high-impact areas. This shoe is light, quick and easy.
This design from New Balance is a great choice. It provides a ton of supportive features in the midsole while keeping the upper light and easy. You get good cushioning designed into a good-performing shoe that has a buyer-friendly price.
4. Brooks Glycerin 19
It is a great option for short or long runs.Read more
The most notable feature of this design is all of the supportive features found in the midsole. It is composed of Brooks’ DNA LOFT cushioning, which feels lightweight and springy with each and every step. It even hosts extra cushioning in transition zones for an even gait and heightened durability as well.
Users really appreciate the fit of this upper. It is made from a blend of mesh materials and synthetic overlays. The mesh works to lift hot air up and away from the foot to keep your feet cool and dry on long runs. Synthetic overlays help to promote lockdown as well as provide an even and supported ride.
The price tag might jolt you at first. but when you consider the unmatched durability and support. This design is an excellent value. It does provide extra cushioning and support and it doesn’t feel too heavy when worn for long distances.
5. Adidas Ultra Boost Parley 4.0
Our final shoe offers superb cushioning.Read more
Reliable and durable materials are used in the construction of the shoe and many runners have praised the midsole's level of response. You will get maximum comfort right through a run, be it a short or long distance.
For neutral runners, this shoe runs well on all road surfaces while offering very good cushioned comfort, stability, traction, and protection. The midsole boost system gives invigorating underfoot spring while the upper affords a high level of breathability. The shoe is ultra-comfortable.
The upper features a prime knit weave which offers breathability and is designed to aid the upper stability of the shoe. Designed in shoe tech in the form of a high return energy boosting system which means runners get underfoot cushion with a high level of responsiveness.