10 Best Maximalist Running Shoes Reviewed

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Although barefoot runners have been the focus recently, lately there has been a growing demand for the best maximalist running shoes among many runners.

For some runners, maximum running shoes are everything. Maximum cushioning isn’t for everyone but you should definitely give it a try. Most runners find it difficult while searching for the perfect running shoe that has all the features. Most look for a shoe with support, cushion, and comfortability staying away from the bulky side. It sounds like a running shoe you’ve been looking for here’s a list of our top 10 maximalist running shoes.

Last Updated:
By Francesca Peterson:

In this update, we have made a few changes that include some new products, like the Clifton 4 from Hoka One Ones. Also an update to Altra Olympus. Added some more criteria when evaluating the best maximalist shoe making sure you get the best of the best and more FAQs.

Hoka One One Clifton 4
  • Hoka One One Clifton 4
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Improved upper construction
  • Price: See Here
Hoka One One Vanquish 2
  • Hoka One One Vanquish 2
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Early Stage Meta-Rocker
  • Price: See Here
Merrell All Out Peak
  • Merrell All Out Peak
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • HyperWrap 360 Degree
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Maximalist Running Shoes

 

1. Hoka One One Clifton 4

Although maximalist shoes tend to be bulky due to the amount of cushioning they provide, the Hoka One One Clifton remains fairly lightweight. This 4th update to the Clifton line is quite extreme compared to previous versions. The upper is the most noticeable change to this version, as the material from the last version has been replaced by a more durable yet breathable mesh. This update really moves the Clifton line ahead with improved durability, fit and breathability.
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Comfort / Stability
Comfort is where it's at with the Hoka One One Clifton 4. It has a seamless design that helps prevents irritation, its full EVA Midsole provides great cushioning. and its 10 Degree Heel Bevel provides good heel-to-toe transitions.

Durability / Quality
Although there are some concerns about the construction of the shoes upper and outsole, there have been no reports of durability issues. This is a running shoe that will last a long time and is made with quality materials.

Cost or Value
The price of these running shoes varies from average to expensive in price.
Pros

Newly designed mesh upper

Supreme cusioning, as standard with Hoka's shoes

Improved durability in the upper construction

Early Stage Meta-Rocker provides responsiveness

Cons

They tend to still run a bit narrow

2. Hoka One One Vanquish 2

A highly cushioned, comfortable running shoe that absorbs shock and provides good responsiveness.
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Comfort / Stability
There's no doubt it will be comfortable. It has an enhanced midsole that is layered to provide comfort, it absorbs impact when your feet hit the ground, and its Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry provides good responsiveness. It has a web design that provides support, and its seamless design prevents irritation. The only drawback in comfort seems to come from the lack of breathability.

Durability / Quality
This is a highly durable and quality made running shoe that will last a long time.

Cost or Value
The price of the Hoka One One Vanquish 2 can be on the high end, but well worth it if you seek comfort, cushioning, and support.
Pros

Enhanced midsole layered provides comfort

Absorbs impact

Highly durable

Great traction

Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry provides good responsiveness

Web design provides support

Seamless design prevents irritation

Cons

Sizing may run narrow

Not as breathable as other shoes

3. Merrell All Out Peak

A highly comfortable maximalist trail running shoe that provides a good amount of cushioning and stability while you run.
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Comfort / Stability
Most users of the Merrell All Out Peak were quite satisfied with the comfort and stability of this running shoe. They found it to be highly breathable, they liked its HyperWrap 360 Degree Fit System that provides good stability, and found the Uni-Fly midsole to absorb impact quite well. It also has reflective components that will allow others to see you more easily while you run, and its nylon arch shank provides a good amount of flexibility.

Durability / Quality
There were few to no reports of durability and quality issues of this running shoe. It has a TrailProtect technology that provides great underfoot protection, and a Vibram Megagrip Outsole that provides good traction.

Cost or value
This is a running shoe that can be quite pricey, but well worth the price for the extra protection on trails.
Pros

Highly breathable

Reflective components

HyperWrap 360 Degree Fit System provides good stability

TrailProtect technology provides great underfoot protection

Vibram Megagrip Outsole provides good traction

Uni-Fly midsole absorbs impact

Nylon arch shank provides flexibility

Cons

Sizes may run narrow

Can be seen as expensive

Mizuno Wave Sky

Mizuno Wave Sky
Did somebody say real comfort? Well, if you want to feel like literally running on clouds, then you need to check these Mizuno shoes. They will be great for runners with normal arch and road will be the best place to test them out. Why these shoes are so unique? Check it out!
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Construction/Materials
Like the most shoes in this category, there’s rubber to boost durability. There’s sockliner that is thick enough to provide comfort.

Comfort/Fit
If you were wondering why it’s called Wave Sky, then we know the answer. This is because these shoes are so comfortable- there’s new maximum special cloud wave technology that will make you feel like running on clouds. There’s special midfoot sock-like panel and it makes these shoes really lightweight. These shoes might not be the best option for people with narrow toe-box.

Cost or Value
Mizuno is the bend that offers high quality shoes but the price isn’t very low. You need to be ready to spend on these shoes more than 130 dollars. The investment in comfort and support is worth it, isn’t it?

Design/ Look
Maximalist shoes can sometimes be very bulky but we can’t tell it about Mizuno. These shoes have great design, they look very good on the feet. Runners also adored the colors of the shoes.
Pros

Many runners say that it’s very easy to find the appropriate size

Many runners appreciated Wave sky technology

Cons

The price is quiet high

Hoka One One Constant 2

Hoka One One Constant 2
Great maximalist shoes for those who want to run off-road. They will be great no matter if you run in the forest or on the rocky/ muddy terrain. Let us show you Hoka One One Constant 2.
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Construction/Materials
Many runners appreciated breathable mesh upper that will be great for those who need a big amount of breathability. The outsole is made of rubber and it’s said to last a long time and it’s also great improvement for better traction. There’s 4 mm heel to toe drop.

Comfort/Fit
Debris or small rocks aren’t your biggest friends while running so that’s why Hoka offers shoes with padded tongue for more protection against these little things. These shoes also have asymmetric lacing so there isn’t too big pressure on the foot. These shoes may be very comfortable for runners with wide feet. The midsole is really well padded.

Cost or Value
These shoes aren’t the cheapest on the list, they may seem expensive but for this quality, support and comfort, they’re really worth the price.

Design/ Look
We can’t say that these shoes are the most stylish on our list. They will be great for running and you will feel comfortable however the design of these shoes is quiet bulky. Also not everybody likes this kind of platform. Maybe they don’t have the sleek silhouette like the other shoes but they’re definitely worth buying.
Pros

Special Late Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry provides more stability while running

The shoes are well-ventilated

Good for runners with wide feet

Cons

The shoes may be too bulky for some runners, they’re a little bit heavier

Skechers GOrun Ultra R

Skechers GOrun Ultra R
If you look for maximalist shoes with great grip, Skechers come with help. These are adored by runners not only for the comfort but the design is also extraordinary.
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Construction/Materials
There’s mesh in the upper for more breathability and a special drainage system in the water-resistant upper to keep you dry on long runs. Users generally found the construction firm and durable.

Comfort/Fit
These shoes provide comfort and good stability with 5Gen cushioning. They have great stability and multi-surface traction with a lightweight durable parametric web outsole. They are very soft inside and the toe box is quite roomy.

Cost or Value
Good value at a moderate price

Design/ Look
Many runners really liked the design of these shoes. Despite being a little bit bulky, they are also stylish. They look good with the rest of your outfit and there are some interesting color options.
Pros

Reflective details make you more visible on the road

These shoes are really flexible

Nice look

Cons

Some buyers encountered problems with sizing

Hoka One One Mens Bondi 5

Hoka One One Mens Bondi 5
As you can see, Hoka has many good maximalist running shoes so that’s why this is Hoka’s 4th appearance on our list. Let’s have a look at the newest version of One Bondi.
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Comfort/ Stability
Cushioning is very soft, applied for full length of the feet. The upper is seamless and runners found out that it’s also much more flexible than in the previous versions. Despite the fact that shoes look bulky, the don’t weight very much.

Quality/ Durability
Even though, this is road running shoe, it’s really durable. High abrasion rubber provides great traction and increases the durability. Very thick cushioning also provides more durable ride with better shock absorption.

Cost or value
The price of the shoes is relatively high, they cost around 150 dollars. It’s not a small amount of money but on the other side, it’s good to invest in good running shoes. You can also look for them on sale.
Pros

Very plush cushioning

The outsole is durable

Unique design

 

Cons

The mesh could be more durable

8. New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Boracay

8. New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Boracay
Boracay is a bit of an excotic name and its fitting for these trainers. If there ever were a pair of moon boots these are them. Flashy color scheme/design aside, the Boracay’s pack an impressive performance punch. Here you’ve got a form-fit, breathable mesh upper, with no-sew overlays wrapping your foot in all the right places. The result is a seamless fit.
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Comfort / Stability
A fresh foam midsole laid atop a blown-rubber outsole combine to give your foot a soft and well cushioned ride. Once you’ve adapted these shoes feel incredibly natural on your feet.


Durability / Quality
A few users found some issues with the durability of the outsole, but most likely this is a durable and quality made running shoe that will last about average time.

Cost or value
These shoes are a great value, and it often doesn’t take very much searching around to find your size and preferred color choice at well under or at a hundred dollars.
Pros
  • Blown rubber sole, buoyant and reactive
  • Sleek and fresh New Balance aesthetic
  • No-sew stripes along with reflective logo overlays
  • Multi-stretch air mesh upper, allows air to circulate freely
  • Fresh foam in the midsole, provides firm and comfortable platform
  • OrthoLite footbed to an additional layer of padding
Cons
  • Not ideal for runners needing a lot of arch support
  • Seem to have a few issues regarding the longevity of the outsole

Brooks Men's Transcend 4

Brooks Men's Transcend 4
If you want fully cushioned shoes that are also supportive and provide a lot of stability, this is your happy day. Brooks Transcend is the newest version of one of the best cushioned shoes from Brooks
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Comfort/ Stability
This shoe is not only well- cushioned shoe but it also provides a lot of stability.The Pebax External Heel Counter makes your feet stay in place. The Guide Rails corrects the pronation and it will be best for overpronators. The 3D Print technology provides snug fit. Flextra rubber and blow rubber minimize the impact. The shock absorption is better and there’s also better protection for your joints and tendons. However, it’s a road running shoe so it doesn’t provide enough protection on trails. Shoes allow some flexibility thanks to Double Omega Flex Grooves and you can move your feet in more natural way. Runners adored The Super DNA midsole. It adapts to your feet and provides very comfortable ride. The tongue and collar are also very comfortable and they don’t cause skin irritation.

Quality/ Durability
Flextra rubber and other materials used in these shoes are very durable. The upper mesh with synthetic overlays let your feet breath.

Cost or value
Brooks Transcend don’t have one price. This is because some color options are more expensive than the others. The average price for these shoes is 100 dollars.

Pros

The lining works great while wicking moisture

Rommy toe box

Very comfortable cushioning

Cons

 Runners said that the shoes are unresponsive

Altra Paradigm 3.0

Altra Paradigm 3.0
This neutral running shoe with maximum of cushioning may become your favorite maximalist running shoe. This is zero drop running shoe with big amount of cushioning so it can be very interesting experience.
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Comfort/ Stability
Even when talking about maximalist running shoes, you will be surprised how soft is the cushioning in Paradigm 3.0. And despite very thick cushioning, the shoes are quiet lightweight.The EVA is extremely light. There’s also a little bit more cushioning in the heel are compared to the previous version. To give your feet more natural stride, Altra implied The Natural Ride System. The wide toe box make you more comfortable and there’s no problems with sliding. This is the next shoe that will be great for overpronators.
Reviewers said that there’s no need to break in the shoes.

Durability/ Quality
The rubber is very sturdy and you can hit the road. These shoes won’t be good option for trail. The mesh is made of high quality material and will last for a long time. Some users questioned the durability of the outsole, they said that it wears out too fast.

Cost or value
These shoes are the newest version of Paradigm, so it’s not a surprise that they’re little bit more expensive. However, it’s still good price for great cushioned, comfortable running shoes.
Pros

Great for people with wide feet

Very breathable upper and soft cushioning

Cons

Poor durability of the outsole

As we all know most products become know to the public eye through idols and major icons. Back in 2011 when a notable number of elite runners started winning races in the original maximalist shoe know as the Hoka One Ones they started popularizing. Dave Mackey, an ultramarathoner from Boulder, Colorado, Also know as the ultrarunner of the year in 2011. Had the help of the Hoka One Ones winning the title of the year. Thanks to Dave and other elite runners this is how this trend started.


The Criteria We Used For Our Evaluation Of the Best Maximalist Running Shoes

We searched high and low among hundreds of reviews by runners to find which ones would be the best for maximalists. These are the key points we used when determining which ones would make our top 10 list:

lady-jogging

 Cushioning

When evaluating the best Maximalist running shoes cushioning is a big part. We want to make sure there is ample cushioning that will provide great comfort while you run. As runners, we all know the pain that comes along with running having proper running gear is a big part of minimalizing some major running pains.

Support

Some shoes provide more support than others. Typically, Maximalist shoes will have good arch support, because of the amount of cushioning they provide. We’ve gone through each of them to let you know if they have adequate support or could use more.

Flexibility

Maximalist shoes are for the most part bulky so finding ones that offer flexibility is essential. We want you to have the best maximalist running shoes that will allow your feet to move while you run.

Durability

Most running shoes last between 300-600 miles.  A durable outsole is important for traction and underfoot cushioning.  A durable midsole also is important to provide long-lasting support and shock absorption.  The upper material needs to be durable enough that no holes or tears happen.

Breathability

No one wants sweaty feet that will make your run uncomfortable, so we’ve sifted through these maximalist running shoes to let you know which ones offer a good amount of breathability and which ones could be better.

Grip

The grip or traction of the running shoe depends on what surface and what weather conditions you will be running in/on during a run.  Will there be snow and ice?  Are you running on the road or trails?  Each shoe was designed differently with a specific surface in mind.

Weight

Although maximalist running shoes do tend to run on the heavy or bulky side, we’ve sifted through and found ones that can be considered lightweight as well.

 

Other Important Factors To Consider When Selecting The Best Maximalist Running Shoes

There are many important factors to consider when choosing a maximalist running shoe. We will tell you the difference between maximalist and minimalist shoes, some of the pros and cons of maximalist running shoes, and some of the top reasons runners choose maximalist running shoes so that you can decide if they are right for you.

Pros

  •  Most provide an ample amount of shock absorption while you run
  • Comfort and cushioning is superb
  • Great for long distance running
  • Great for overpronators
  • Help minamlize some running pains

Cons

  • Requires less foot strength
  • Can be Bulky and heavy

 

Maximalist vs Minimalist

Minimalist running shoes provide minimal to no cushioning so you can feel the pavement when your feet hit the ground. These can take a while for your feet to adjust to. You will also benefit from using the muscles in your feet and ankles. Maximalist running shoes, on the other hand, come complete with an ample amount of cushioning which allows for comfort, especially on long runs. Whatever your choice it all comes down to foot type and preference.

Reasons to Wear Maximalist Running Shoes:

  1. You never seem to get enough comfort with lower profile shoes
  2. Perfect for absorbing shock while you run
  3. Studies reveal you will have fewer injuries to your Achilles Tendon
  4. You have sensitive feet
  5. Stack height of them allows you to be taller
  6. You want to run in races that are above your ability
  7. Most offer plenty of room for the toes
  8. You suffer from lower back pain
  9. You have ankle problems
  10. You want to feel like you are running on clouds

 

FAQ

Q. How much more cushioning is there in Maximalist shoes?

A.  The added amount of cushioning to the sole up to 2.5 times the volume of a standard running shoe.

Q. Are maximalist shoes only for ultrarunners?

A. They are used widely in long-distance running such as marathons, and half marathons. However, others that seek a good amount of cushioning in running shoes or those that overpronate can also benefit from a maximalist running shoe.

Q. Are Maximalist shoes heavy?

A. Some are, but not all. They have tried to incorporate the lightest of materials so that they have a good amount of cushioning while remaining lightweight.

Q. Won’t you fall with them so high off the ground?

A. Most runners don’t have an issue with them.  In fact, companies make them 20 to 30 percent wider for stability.

Q. Does it make you a less efficient runner to wear Maximalist shoes?

A. There can be a little bit of sacrifice as far as efficiency goes, but you won’t have issues with muscle fatigue so it seems to be a substantial trade-off.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our Research:

Sources

  1. Athletico Physical Therapy, Minimalist Shoes vs. Maximalist Shoes, Physical therapy site, Jun 18, 2015
  2. fellrnr, Maximalist Shoes, Informational site,
  3. Channel News Asia, Maximalist vs minimalist running shoes: Which are better for you?, News website, Jul 10, 2015
  4. Brooklyn Active Mama, Maximalist vs. Minimalist: Which Running Shoe Are You?, Mom website, Jul 31, 2015
  5. Competitor , Sole Man: 12 Things About Maximalist Shoes , Running site, May 07, 2014
  6. Running Research Junkie, Minimalist vs Maximalist Running Shoes and Achilles Tendon Loads Minimalist vs Maximalist Running Shoes and Achilles Tendon Loads, Running informational site, Nov 10, 2015
  7. SocDoc, Fifteen Reasons to Wear a Maximalist Shoe, natural injury treatment & prevention for the athlete within,
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