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Our Favorite Maximalist Running Shoes Reviewed

last updated Mar 02, 2019
Although barefoot runners have been the focus recently, lately there has been a growing demand for the best maximalist running shoes among many runners. Some people think the maximalist running shoe could be responsible for faster marathon times and less injuries.

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 favorite maximalist running shoes.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research

icon
Hoka One One Clifton 4
98.3/100 our score
Comfort
99
Support
97
Durability
98
Breathability
99
Hoka One One Clifton 4
Why is it better?

Newly designed mesh upper

Supreme cusioning, as standard with Hoka's shoes

Improved durability in the upper construction

Early Stage Meta-Rocker provides responsiveness

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Hoka One One Clifton 4
Test Winner: Hoka One One Clifton 4
Researched Sources
6
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1.5k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
13
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
14
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Sarah Coryell:

Have a look through our list of top 10 maximalist running shoes. For this current update, we added in some more useful information in our FAQ section, our experts offered some more insight, and we expanded out criteria review section as well. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at you convenience and we would be happy to help you find the answers you need!

Sorting Options
Comfort Support Durability Breathability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.3
Comfort
99%
Support
97%
Durability
98%
Breathability
99%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.5
Comfort
97%
Support
96%
Durability
99%
Breathability
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$103.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
Comfort
95%
Support
94%
Durability
95%
Breathability
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$158.00
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Comfort
93%
Support
94%
Durability
91%
Breathability
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.3
Comfort
91%
Support
80%
Durability
89%
Breathability
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$104.96
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.3
Comfort
87%
Support
88%
Durability
85%
Breathability
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$56.69
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.5
Comfort
85%
Support
83%
Durability
82%
Breathability
80%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$85.10
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
Comfort
79%
Support
80%
Durability
78%
Breathability
79%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$76.97
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.8
Comfort
79%
Support
78%
Durability
77%
Breathability
81%
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.05.19)
$179.95
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Hoka One One Clifton 4
  • Hoka One One Vanquish 2
  • Merrell All Out Peak
  • Mizuno Wave Sky
  • Hoka One One Constant 2
  • Skechers GOrun Ultra R
  • Hoka One One Bondi 4
  • New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Boracay
  • Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Our Favorite Maximalist Running Shoes

1. Hoka One One Clifton 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.3
Hoka One One Clifton 4
Comfort
99
Support
97
Durability
98
Breathability
99
best offer for today
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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

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.

Read more

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.

2. Hoka One One Vanquish 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.5
Hoka One One Vanquish 2
Comfort
97
Support
96
Durability
99
Breathability
98
best offer for today
$103.99
Pros:

Enhanced midsole layered provides comfort

Absorbs impactHighly 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

A highly cushioned, comfortable running shoe that absorbs shock and provides good responsiveness.

Read more

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.

3. Merrell All Out Peak

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
Merrell All Out Peak
Comfort
95
Support
94
Durability
95
Breathability
93
best offer for today
$158.00
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

A highly comfortable maximalist trail running shoe that provides a good amount of cushioning and stability while you run.

Read more

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.

4. Mizuno Wave Sky

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.5
Mizuno Wave Sky
Comfort
93
Support
94
Durability
91
Breathability
92
best offer for today
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Pros:

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

Many runners appreciated Wave sky technology

Cons:

The price is quite high

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!

Read more

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.

5. Hoka One One Constant 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.3
Hoka One One Constant 2
Comfort
91
Support
80
Durability
89
Breathability
89
best offer for today
$104.96
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

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.

Read more

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.

6. Skechers GOrun Ultra R

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.3
Skechers GOrun Ultra R
Comfort
87
Support
88
Durability
85
Breathability
85
best offer for today
$56.69
Pros:

Reflective details make you more visible on the road

These shoes are really flexible

Nice look

Cons:

Some buyers encountered problems with sizing

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.

Read more

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.

7. Hoka One One Bondi 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.5
Hoka One One Bondi 4
Comfort
85
Support
83
Durability
82
Breathability
80
best offer for today
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$85.10
Pros:

Blow rubber sole, with integrated grip system

A neutral running shoe, highly versatile 

Lycra comfort frame upper, with synthetic overlays

Sharp and sleek design

Oversized midsole, 2.5 times the volume of typical running shoes

TPU External Heel Counter provides support

10 Deg Heel Bevel provides good transitions

Flat-waisted geometry provides good stability

Cons:

The price is slightly higher than similar shoesTongue may cause frictionSizes may run narrow

The Bondi is layered with the company’s classic cushy midsole foam for a firmer, more structured (comfortable) ride. On the upper you’ve got a paper-thin, no-sew layer that offers excellent airflow and a seamless fit. This is a great starter with Hoka for runners who want to reap the benefits of added cushion, but are not ready to face up to the insane soft/bouncing feel of some of the earliest versions.

Read more

Comfort / Stability

There simply is no question the comfort level of Hoka shoes. This soft cushy feel is what made them popular in the first place and led to so many others emulating them.If sized properly these should be one of the most comfortable shoes that you’ve ever put on your feet.

Durability / Quality

As a market standard Hoka has a pretty good reputation when it comes to quality. Depending on usage you can expect these shoes to last a good while without noticeable degradation of their condition.

Cost or value

With Hoka One One’s you will be paying a slight premium in the price. It’s our opinion that this slightly higher price range is fully justified. The value presented by a pair of shoes that cushion your joints and protect your feet from wear and tear to such a high degree are worth their weight in gold.

8. New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Boracay

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
79
New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Boracay
Comfort
79
Support
80
Durability
78
Breathability
79
best offer for today
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$76.97
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 who need a lot of arch support

Seem to have an issue regarding the longevity of the outsole

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.

Read more

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.

9. Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.8
Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX
Comfort
79
Support
78
Durability
77
Breathability
81
best offer for today
$179.95
Pros:

Forefoot plate protects your foot rugged terrain

Advanced Traxion outsole provides great grip

Highly breathable

Molded OrthoLite sockliner  provides comfort

Drawcord-style laces are secure

AdiPrene+ midsole that absorbs shock

Cons:

Sizes may run small

Rim of shoe is hard to some users

A comfortable trail running shoe that is highly breathable and provides a great amount of protection against sharp rocks and other terrain.

Read more

Comfort / Stability

Aside from the rim of the shoe feeling a bit hard due to the plastic material used, this is a fairly comfortable running shoe. It is highly breathable and keeps sweat away, it has a molded OrthoLite sock liner that provides comfort, and its draw cord-style laces are secure, and fast to operate. Additionally, it has a AdiPrene+ midsole that absorbs shock when your feet hit the ground.

Durability / Quality

This is a highly durable and quality made running shoe that will last a long time. THe forefoot plate protects your foot in rugged terrain, and its Advanced Traxion outsole provides a great grip.

Cost or value

The price of the Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX can be quite expensive, but it does come with additional trail running perks.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

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. You want to be comfortable when you are working out or going for a run so it is important to find shoes that offer you the features that keep you comfortable and keep your feet pain free from start to finish.

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. There are several ways we have considered support for these shoes- arch support, upper foot support, sole support, and overall stability support. each of these factors can influence whether or not a shoe is right for you and each one may be important for you and should be carefully considered.

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. No shoe is worth much if it does not last long and won't hold up to the wear and tear of an active runner. You want your investment to pay off so your running shoes must be durable and we took great measures to make sure the shoes on this list are very durable indeed.

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. Shoes that have good breathability will keep your feet cool and comfortable and protected. You will experience less blistering and have less of a battle with sneaker odor when your feet stay cool and dry. These shoes offer good airflow and are made to be breathable so your feet stay cool and comfortable even on the longest of runs.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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#1
Comfort
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#2
Support
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#3
Durability
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#4
Breathability
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Take your time breaking in your body.

While it's true new running shoes generally don't need much of a break in period, your body should be given ample opportunity to get accustomed to your new Maximalist running shoes. The cushioning of the shoe causes your body to adjust differently. You need to let your body learn the shoe for maximum efficiency.

Listen to your body.

If at any point during your run with new maximalsist running shoes you feel any sort of discomfort, you should stop and let your body rest and try again on another day. Sometimes with the additional cushion your body could adjust and put a different strain on your knee joints.

Create a support team.

If you really want to be effective with your workouts and your training and if you want to hit your weight loss and fitness goals you cannot go at it alone. You need a support team to help you stay on track and stay focused when things get difficult. Whether it is family and friends, other runners you know, or your health care provider, there needs to be at least one other person you answer to and who can keep you focused and help you adjust your routine and goals as needed so you stay motivated and avoid burnout.

Other Factors to Consider

Advanced Features

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. This helps to support your feet and protect them by reducing the shock impact your feet absorb with every steep and also helps keep your feet and legs balanced and stable as you run.

q: Are maximalist shoes only for ultrarunners?
a:

They are used widely in long-distance running such as marathons, and half marathons since they are designed to offer the specialized support and custom features these kinds of runners want and need in their shoes. However, other runners and athletes who seek a good amount of cushioning in running shoes or those individuals who struggle with overpronating can also benefit from a maximalist running shoe. They are made to be more supportive and stabilizing, so anyone who needs this from their shos can benefit from maximalist shoes.

q: Are maximalist running 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. They do tend to be a bit heavier than lighter shoes that are designed specifically to be light on the feet. However, if you need the added support and cushioning then the tradeoff for a little extra weight is pretty much guaranteed to be worth it for most runners.

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. You may not get as much oomph and you may b a little slower on the kickoff but you will be able to run longer and over harder terrain thanks to the added support and cushioning so unless you are in a sprint race, it usually is a fair tradeoff that will work in your favor.

Sources

  1. Athletico Physical Therapy, Minimalist Shoes vs. Maximalist Shoes, Physical therapy site
  2. fellrnr, Maximalist Shoes, Informational site
  3. Channel News Asia, Maximalist vs minimalist running shoes: Which are better for you?, News website
  4. Brooklyn Active Mama, Maximalist vs. Minimalist: Which Running Shoe Are You?, Mom website
  5. Competitor , Sole Man: 12 Things About Maximalist Shoes , Running site
  6. SocDoc, Fifteen Reasons to Wear a Maximalist Shoe, natural injury treatment & prevention for the athlete within