The Running Shoes That Almost Made Our 2022 Winter Buyer’s Guide
We only have space for seven shoes in our print magazine, but there are a few others you should know about, too
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
To select the best road- and trail-running shoes for our annual Winter Buyer’s Guide, we spend months putting miles on new and updated models from all the major brands. The competition for those limited print slots is fierce—only the very best new kicks make the cut. But every year there are a few shoes that miss out on the limelight because of very small details or because they’re a minor update to an older shoe. Here are the runners up from this year’s test.
Best for Easy Daily Miles
Asics Novablast 2 ($130)
We looked forward to every run in this super-comfortable shoe. The Novablast 2 delivers an ultra-plush ride that stops just short of feeling mushy. The segmented outsole design—there’s an independent pod of rubber in the forefoot—gives the thick EVA midsole a smooth and snappy flex during toe-off. Most shoes that run this soft will sacrifice stability. Not the Novablast 2. A flared sole and a TPU overlay at the rearfoot work together to stabilize the heel, counterbalancing the wobbly nature of such a soft midsole foam. The two-ply woven mesh upper and heavily padded heel counter adds yet more comfort. The only reason it didn’t make the cut: we chose a different Asics shoe for Gear of the Year. 9.7oz (men) / 8.3oz (women); 8mm drop —Cory Smith and Lisa Jhung, running-shoe test directors
Best for Up-Tempo Runs
Craft CTM Ultra ($175)
This shoe made us pick up the pace even if we weren’t planning on running fast. We chalk that up to the rockered profile, which provides a rolling effect that seemed to catapult us forward with every stride. Despite a thick slab (40 millimeters under the heel) of soft and bouncy dual-density EVA foam, the shoe still feels surprisingly stable—not bulky or tipsy as some high-stack shoes can be. The one-piece seamless upper made of thin polyester mesh is so minimal that we barely noticed it on our feet. But those who require a supportive hold, especially in the heel, may find this unstructured upper too flimsy. 8.8oz (unisex); 10mm drop —C.S. and L.J.
Best for Support
Asics Kayano-Lite 2 ($160)
Look here if you need a stable shoe but are tired of traditional dual-density foams with a firm medial post. The Kayano Lite 2 provides a stable ride by way of a wide midsole that flares out through the outsole, creating a stable platform to keep pronation in check. The result is a smooth-riding shoe that’s both lighter and more flexible than other stability shoes, like the Asics Kayano 28. The men’s and women’s versions have different heel-toe offsets to account for gait variations between genders. Bonus: Much of this shoe is made from recycled materials. 10.2oz (men’s) / 8.6 ounces (women’s), 10mm offset (men’s), 13mm offset (women’s) —C.S. and L.J.
Best for Technical Terrain
Altra Superior 5 ($120)
Like previous versions of this shoe, the Superior 5 is lightweight, flexible, and provides great ground feel, with a minimal 21 millimeters of cushioning under both the heel and forefoot. What’s new is a wraparound tongue, which testers found improved security across the top of the foot. A padded heel cup bolsters fit even more. “Best heel cup fit ever!” said one tester. An interesting feature of this shoe is the removable stoneguard—keep it in for underfoot protection and remove it for increased flexibility on smooth trails. Like all Altras, the Superiro 5 has a generous toe box and a zero drop. We simply didn’t include it in print because it’s more tried-and-true than new or ground breaking. 8.8 ounces (men’s), 7.5 ounces (women’s); 0mm drop. —C.S. and L.J.
Best for Trail-to-Town
Columbia Escape Pursuit ($100)
At 100 bucks, the Escape Pursuit might be the perfect mountain-town kicks. They look cool enough for backyard barbecues and maybe even the office—the seamless upper has a casual, comfortable fit and vibe, and the four-millimeter outsole lugs don’t scream “Gear Geek!” But they still perform when you feel like busting up the local hill for a midday trail run, with a secure midfoot hold, flexible forefoot, and great ground feel that boosts control at speed. The cushioning is a proprietary compound that the brand claims compresses less than standard EVAs, for increased energy return. It proved just enough to buffer rocky scrambles. Overall, the Escape Pursuit is a seemingly simple shoe that checks all the boxes for short- to mid-distance runs on hilly terrain. (Longer runs might call for more cushioning.) 9.8 ounces (men’s), 8.3 ounces (women’s); 8mm drop —C.S. and L.J.