10 Best Ultra Running Shoes Rated & Tested
Ultramarathons include any race that’s more than the 26.2 miles. For these long distance races, runners need high performance, lightweight, and durable ultra running shoes to perform at their best. Often, a basic pair of running shoes won’t hold up, so ultra running shoes are needed.
The key to choosing the best shoes for ultra and challenging distance running is to select a brand which has researched and designed the shoe for the purpose. With this thought in mind, runners will get a shoe which they know will meet the required conditions for performance, comfort, lightness, and durability. For example, if you want a very fast car you buy a sports car because it is purpose designed, this is the same logic to apply when selecting a pair of running shoes for ultra distance performance.
There are many different running shoes available for ultra marathon runners. To decide which pair of ultra running shoes would best fit your needs, we have put together this list of the best ultra running shoes you can buy.
- BROOKS PUREFLOW 6
- Perfect for Ultra Marathons
- On CloudFlyer
- Purpose designed Ultra distance shoes
- Hoka One One Clayton
- High-Rebound Cushioning & Traction
10 Best Ultra Running Shoes
Brooks Pureflow 6
A responsive level which gives support to speed in combination with impressive and comfortable designed in supportive strategic cushioning support.
These shoes are in our top selection because of the performance and the buyer-friendly price tag.
The response is above moderate and consistent, this factor may well not be as high as some other brands but it's all about the response level in this shoe working very well in conjunction with other additional built-in shoe techs. The Midsole is DNA Lite so you will feel the bounce factor which works together with the shoes ability to give the right level of structural support for a long challenging ride.
Your comfort results from the mid-sole area which also serves up support combined with flexibility. Though the shoe feels firm when you need it the bounce factor is also there and reliably consistent.
The needed padding is nicely placed in strategic areas and an innovative ventilation system keeps dryness and comfort consistent.
Durability is not sacrificed while you get a light shoe, the outsole is tough blown carbon which gives good protection while holding back wear and tear. The upper mesh system is constructed from durable materials which mean the shoes gives longevity combined with noticeable structural support.
When you think about the high performance, durability, comfort and nicely designed in shoe tech the price is surprisingly friendly for buyers.
The outsole is designed for the purpose, durable, the right amount of flexibility and a bounce return which is good.
The shoe is light yet durable and structurally supportive and the lace system is designed for secure fastening to work in conjunction towards supporting shoe stability.
These are among our top shoes because the brand maker has researched what runners need for tough distance running and designed the needed features and performance into the shoe. If you're looking for a ride which is all about being built for the purpose, these are your option.
Purpose built midsole for long runs, light so your energy is not fed into dealing with weight, bounce feedback is reliably consistent and the cushioning designed into the shoe is a result of the makers looking closely at where runners need the cushion for long distance comfort.
The Midsole is Eva-Foam and this gives that wanted bounce which works nicely with the structural support designed into the shoe.
Very good shock absorbing capability from a cushioning network which soaks up shock. The entire lower interior of the shoe is cushioned and the EVA shoe tech deals with impact comfortably while you focus on running comfortably. The level of needed flexibility is evident in the combination of a shoe design which avoids restricting your foot.
The sole like other features in this shoe is designed to be durable so that tough long distance running on all types of surfaces will not impact on the durability, comfort and shoe performance. The overall shoe construction/materials are light and durable, the upper is constructed to serve towards stability and comfort, ventilation for air and the dispersal of moisture is good. Overall this shoe is a very good choice and will meet the personal requirements set by runners who enjoy ultra distances.
Given the built-in shoe tech, the materials, the performance and the nice functional design, the price sits comfortably as affordable.
Specific design for purpose
Secure/quick lace system
Pay attention to FIT/width when you choose your shoe.
Hoka One One Clayton
The Hoka CLAYTON is known for comfort. With a firmer front and a softer heel, joints are better protected and runners experience better propulsion. The extra cushioning promotes comfort during long endurance races.
Many marathon runners report that they are able to wear these shoes through the training and race day for many races. The mix of synthetic and mesh materials on the exterior increase durability. The rubber sole better protects runner's feet against the elements.
These shoes are among the most expensive shoes featured on this list. However, many serious runners say these are their favorite shoes to run in and how they last a long time. For this, these shoes are worth the price.
ASICS GEL-Venture 5
The innovative Rearfood GEL Cushioning System promotes great comfort for runners. This is great for everyday training sessions or long endurance races. A removable liner allows space for custom orthotic inserts.
Several components of this shoe promote durability. First, a trail-specific outsole means runners can travel on any terrain. High abrasion rubber means rough surfaces won't damage the shoes. Last, a rugged exterior ensure longevity.
These shoes cost less than most comparable versions, from ASICS and other manufacturers. Depending on the size and color, these shoes may cost roughly half of what shoes with similar features cost.
Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 2
These shoes promote stability and comfort for high performance runners who rely on their mid to forefoot. They carefully balance weight against efficiency and speed. Advanced cushioning promotes added comfort.
Its full length EVA frame promotes both stability and durability. A rubber sole protects the shoes from the elements.
For runners who need more stability from their running shoe, the Adidas Adizero Adios 2 is a solid bet. The full frame and added cushioning are a great value, given the average price.
- Offers tremendous stability and cushioning
- Great breathability
- Limited arch support
- Thin fabric material upper
Inov-8 X-Talon 200
The X-Talon 200 has been designed with a 3mm heel-to-toe drop and injected EVA midsole in order to increase performance and comfort by bringing the foot closer to the ground. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for performance with this shoe. They are very light and highly flexible, encouraging the natural moment of your foot. The rubber studs on the bottom have been designed to prevent slipping even on wet ground. The tough, thick rubber tow dump will help protect your feet from obstacles like rocks.
You may need to take some time to break these shoes in before a truly long run, though many runners have found they work great right out of the box. Like many other extremely lightweight ultra-shoes, they run small and close to your foot. The sizes are all for men, so women should figure out men’s sizes work for them. These shoes can fit people with wider feet very well. If you need inserts or orthotics, you can fit these inside the X-Talon 200s without making the shoes impossible to get on.
The forefoot mesh allows the shoes to drain out faster in order to keep feet drier. They shed mud really well and will look like new after a wash. All the pieces are attached very well and the rubber studs on the bottom are very durable. You don’t need to worry about wearing them down very quickly or finding some of them tearing loose.
These are pretty budget friendly ultra running shoes. Price varies a bit based on sizes, but they’re easy to find online.
Mud doesn't clump in treads
Very light weight
Invest in gaiters, as debris gets in easily.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 12
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 features a synthetic sole and a breathable upper, so runners don't have to worry about becoming sweaty during long runs. A U4icX stroble board improves underfoot comfort. It's also available in wide widths.
Mizuno, as a company, has made shoes since 1906. Part of their longevity is from building high quality athletic gear. The firmer sole found in these shoes helps to promote durability.
For overpronators or those with flat feet, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 is one of the most affordable choices on the market. If you compare its price to competitor versions, it's consistently around 30% or so less in price than the others.
- Solid pair of motion control running shoes
- Perfect for runners with overpronation or flat feet
- Affordable price
- May be tight around upper
- Firmer sole
Saucony Peregrine 6
The Peregrine 6 was designed to both protect and stabilize your feet. It’s not so rigid that your foot can’t flex like it should, but the shoe’s EBO rock plate will help prevent injuries from rough terrain. The sticky rubber sole has an incredible amount of traction, which is what makes this shoe so versatile. You can wear it when running on rock, dirt, snow, and more with ease. Every landing is very well cushioned thanks to the structural board, heel pad, and midsole cushioning. The balance between stability and lightness found in this shoe is hard to beat.
These shoes do fit very true to size and many runners find that they run pretty small. The toe box might be small for some with wider feet. The added stability of the structural board can cause problems for those with flat feet. You will likely have to take some time to break them in before you really use them for run.
After a year of use, you may notice that some of the rubber around the toe will start to show signs of peeling. The upper mesh can get holes worn into it if it rubs up against anything while you run. Snags, in general, can cause durability issues.
These shoes can get expensive. Their versatility makes them worth it, especially if you are running year-round, but their durability can be issue.
Solid traction over various types of off-road terrain
Sizing runs a bit small
Brooks Ghost 9
The Brooks Ghost was designed to meet the needs of neutral runners and underpronators, so most people can benefit from using this shoe. Its advanced cushioning means that even those with high arches can find the support that they need. Plus, the removable foam insole means that runners can customize their level of support.
The removable insole means runners can replace the existing insole when it wears out. An Element upper design protects the shoe from natural elements so it lasts longer. Many customers report having their Brooks Ghost shoes for many years.
This pair of shoes balances affordability with high performance. Depending upon the color and size, this shoe can cost runners more or less than average. For a shoe that's available in half and wide sizes, it's considerably affordable.
- Available in wide and half sizes
- Design and cushioning reduces foot discomfort
- Soft fabric and mesh components may fray
- Can rub feet and cause blisters if worn without socks, due to design
Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3
You will barely notice the weight of these shoes when you run. Support is provided by the Zoom Air cushioning system, which uses pressurized air pocket. There is a heel crash pad to help mitigate shock. The traction is excellent. You can use these shoes to run on snow and ice without issues. They're very comfortable for various foot sizes. A lot of people say that they fit like a glove. Flat-footed runners will like them, as well.
The exterior side of the tongue is sewn shut. This can be off-putting, but they was a purpose to this design. It keeps out sand, dirt, and other debris as you run, which helps prevent blisters and worse. Don’t worry about breathability, however, because these shoes have been made to keep your feet cool.
The biggest issue with these shoes and a symptom of their lightness is that they offer very little protection. Thorns and rocks can easily poke right through.
Again, because of the ultralight design, these shoes can develop issues under a lot of wear and tear. The lack of protection for your foot is also a lack of protection for the structure of the shoe.
These are priced like many specially designed Nike shoes: pretty expensive. If you're looking for an ultralight shoe with a great traction, however, it's well worth the price. If you're going to be running through rough rock or thorny areas, not so much.
- Extermely lightweight
- Designed to prevent debris from getting in
- Easily pentrated by thorns and rocks
- Design may be off puttign to some
Buying a pair of quality ultra running shoes ensures that runners have the best chance at successfully finishing an endurance race. For runners that love to participate in long races, investing in several pairs of ultra running shoes makes sense for training and actual race day. Just make sure that you don’t wear a new pair you haven’t worn into a race.
Our Criteria For Evaluating 10 Best Ultra Running Shoes
Ability to handle rough terrain
The SpaceRock, Vasquez Natural Park in California
At number one in our choice of five very different and challenging trail runs, there is a choice here for all runners, new runners or those that prefer a shorter distance can try the 5km trail and enjoy the fantastic scenery and character building challenging which naturally occur in this trail. For more experienced or those that want more challenges while also enjoying breathtaking scenery two more choices are on offer, the 10 km run or the famous 13.1-mile run.
Vasquez Natural Park
What scenery can you expect? Think of Planet of the Apes, Star Trek and many other movies which used this park because of its unique features.
You will be running in elevations which vary over 3200 feet and the amazing rock formations may well give you the feeling you are running in a terrain on a faraway world in another galaxy. Don’t forget to bring a GPS.
The Kalalau Trail
Here you will experience every type of surface you would expect in a remote Hawaiian forest and valley location and you will also encounter parts of trails that you had never imagined.
The scenery is spectacular, the wildlife exotic and spellbinding, this trail run is a once in a lifetime experience which will stay in your memory forever. Take with you a good selection of running gear and essential survival kit and of course a camera because you will want to take many snapshots.
Your route will be 11 miles and a combination of running and a lot of trekking due to challenging terrain, you start at Kee beach front and head along the coast to Kalalau beach but to get here you travel through the national park valley inland, you do not directly follow the coastline. In reality, you pass through five valleys within the park system, through lush green awe-inspiring valleys, along cliffs which tower as they face the blue ocean till you eventually descend to sea level.
I suggest you bring a reliable GPS.
Huckleberry Mountain, Montana USA
Try six miles in breathtaking spectacular scenery, you get lowland, medium elevations and higher and the actual trail is not too challenging as you make your way through a Glacier regional national park in Montana.
Take a good solid running kit with you including a GPS and watch out for the wild Bears, not your standard brown bear but the Grizzly types. This type of trail is for runners that want the wilderness and all its natural beauty. The condition of the trail will very much depend on which time of year you visit.
Drakensberg Traverse, South Africa
This trail is tough and its for runners and hikers that want a challenge which they will never forget, we are talking 220 km of amazing landscapes in a South African environment, incredibly steep at times and flat at others, you will do a lot of ascending and descending, at times in conditions you might not have thought possible.
If your up for challenges that will ultimately test your endurance this has to be the one that will work for you, it’s a long way to travel to get to South Africa and then you have the journey to reach the trail run where you can combine running and hiking. This unique challenge is clearly not done in a day so you must go equipped to be there for 3 or possibly 4 days even if it does not take you that long.
Yes, it is actually a trail that has been used in competitions and it is not unknown for people to quit. The actual trail is not clearly established so you will want a good GPS system. Without any doubt, this is one you will find tests you and stays as one of the most challenging experiences in your life. A country in which the animal population is really wild and at times may well regard you as food.
Aonach Eagach Ridge
The trail distances vary in fact you can create your own trail runs, the views in the Scottish Highlands are really memorable, it’s wild and untouched and though very beautiful you will need to take care, the terrain can change very quickly from firm to boggy, you will run ridges where if you slip off you will be severely injured and with no other people around to help you.
Beautiful loch’s, (lakes), valleys full of heather, hills, mountains, bogland, forests, everything is here, be ready to tackle steep elevations, descend into stunning valleys littered with herds of red deer, wild grouse, and fantastic fauna.