As training starts to increase for spring races, make sure you have the right footwear to reach your goals
HOKA ONE ONE Mach 3
£130 | Tester: Laura
The newest HOKA shoe delivers everything you could hope for in a running shoe, especially if you’ll be logging some heavy mileage. The Mach 3 is highly cushioned but not excessively so, just enough to offer the comfort and support needed on longer runs and without compromising space within the shoe, especially the toe box. The sole offers plenty of durability and grip on the road and a firm but responsive performance for versatile speed. Profly Technology makes for a softer landing and more absorbent heel strike. You’ll be impressed by the weightless feel; a real benefit when running long and regular miles. The upper shoe is breathable, lightweight and offers good flexibility and comfort, including an inner cufffor a little extra support. This is a fun and attractive shoe.
MERRELL Bare Access XTR Sweeper
£100 | Tester: Caroline
There is a lot to love about these shoes, particularly if you like to run ‘barefoot’. The overall fit is exceptional; these hug your feet around the arch inspiring confidence on trails. Their performance is brilliant. They easily drain offafter wading through water, then keep your footing secure when you take on excessively muddy pathways, all the while retaining incredible agility and flexibility when toe striking up tough inclines. The breathability really impresses – you won’t have annoying stinky trainers. All that said, these minimal shoes are a question of taste; if you like to feel the ground beneath you, then these are the ones for you. They are lightweight and ethical too, predominantly made from recycled materials so your footprint really will have less impact on the environment.
£150 | Tester: Geri
These shoes feel comfortable straight out of the box, which is what we’ve come to expect from On. The overall feel of the shoe is all about the exceptional cushioning and stability it offers, due to the new double-layered Helion CloudTec midsole. The Cloud Stratus feels heavier than a normal On shoe, which is due to the much deeper insole. If you’re looking for a shoe for half marathons or marathons, this could be the one for you. It offers stability, cushioning and it’s also very supportive with a heel cage that locks your foot into the shoe and although it carries more weight than traditional Ons this adds to its durability. The ride still feels good with this level of drop. If you are a heavier runner, these shoes could be your best friends for many, many miles.
BROOKS Levitate 3
£140 | Tester: Tina
This is a stylish and speedy road shoe that’s been a pleasure to run in, much like the Levitate 2. The updated colours are beautiful – not that the 2 wasn’t striking – but the silver or black on offer are definitely more sleek and attractive, making them much easier to match up with casual outfits too. The knitted upper feels like it’s more hugging, making the shoe feel secure and uber comfy, especially with the integrated collar. The midsole is brilliant, giving a smooth and energised ride and making every run feel easy. There’s also great arch support, plenty of breathability in the upper and the heel tab is a nice touch, feeling soft against the back of your foot. Short socks did get eaten by the shoe, so make sure you wear longer ones that go above your ankle to prevent rubbing.
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4
£125 | Tester: Tina
This bestseller just got better. If you want maximum cushioning for the trails, you really can’t beat Speedgoats. The 4 is so comfortable, almost ridiculously so, which means whatever your run entails you choose them over other shoes you are rotating, over and over. They don’t need breaking in either. The shoe feels a little roomier in the front without being excessively so. The midsole is tall but stable, and the overall feel is slightly firm so your feet feel they have solid protection, especially over rocky terrain. The outer lugs have a multidirectional patterning for extra traction in mud, reducing sideways slippage. These are definitely your bread and butter shoes for any kind of terrain and they make running on tricky trails feel so easy.