Shoe Review

By Kelly Frossard – January 31, 2019


Each year, members of the running industry head to Austin for The Running Event — a conference and trade show for running specialty stores and brands to share practices and showcase their latest in shoe and apparel technology. 

In November,  AFM attended the event to check out the new gear for 2019. We gathered information, tested out shoes, talked to the experts and rounded up a list of the shoes we think you should check out this season.

Before selecting our favorites, we evaluated each shoe using the following criteria:


Many runners consider weight to be a very important factor when buying running shoes. Lighter shoes are usually used for speed work and racing, while heavier, more cushioned shoes are recommended for long runs. The weight of a shoe ultimately depends on a runner’s experience level, preference and running style.  


A shoe’s drop is the measurement of the difference between the heel and the forefoot. A higher drop is supposed to encourage heel striking, while a lower drop encourages a midfoot strike. Most shoes have a drop between 8 and 12 millimeters, while some minimalist designs are between 0 and 4 millimeters.  


The upper is the fabric at the top of the shoe that holds the foot in place and protects it from outside irritants such as rocks and dirt. It’s made from a synthetic material that is built for both durability and breathability.  


The cushion of a shoe provides impact absorption, which is important for both comfort and injury prevention. Shoes with more cushion are recommended for daily running, high mileage runs and new runners.


Best Overall

HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6
Since its first model, the Clifton has become a staple of the Hoka brand. The Clifton is typically used as do-it-all trainer for many different types of runners (similar to a Nike Pegasus.) The Clifton 6 features a variety of upgrades in the materials from previous models including a softer, responsive foam with more bounce back and a more durable rubber to increase its lifespan. There is also a slight increase of outsole rubber and slight decrease of heel rubber in order to create a softer landing. This new model will be 0.4 ounces lighter than the Clifton 5, making it a great fit for any level of runner.  

Weight: 9 ounces
Drop: 5 millimeters


Best Versatility 

ON Running Cloudswift
The Cloudswift is a great option for many urban runners. The shoe provides support and cushion for long runs while being light enough for speed work and strong enough for tough surfaces. This new model uses a new “super foam” called Helion which is said to be lighter, softer and more agile than the brand’s previous foams. The Helion foam is built to be more consistent across temperatures, while also offering extreme cushion and road protection. This foam is protected by durable rubber reinforcements in order to enhance traction on wet roads and increase the lifespan of the shoe. The upper contains mechanical side bands for added support without adding too much weight. Additionally, the outsole features the Swiss brand’s signature cloud cushioning cells which absorb impact from the ground to help propel the runner forward.  

Weight: 10.2 ounces
Drop: 7 millimeters


Best Racing

The Rincon will make its debut in 2019 as a lighter and cheaper version of Hoka’s Clifton. This model is 1.3 ounces lighter than the Clifton 6, making it a great option for a speed workout or race day. The Rincon uses a firmer midsole in order to make it lighter and more responsive, while still using the same Clifton stack height of 29 millimeters in the heel and 24 millimeters in the forefoot in order to make it fit like an everyday trainer.  

Weight: 7.7 ounces
Drop: 5 millimeters


Best Trail Running

Brooks Cascadia 14
This trail running shoe has been completely remodeled for 2019, making it 1.2 ounces lighter than the previous model. Brooks added a new trail rubber on the bottom of the shoe that is more conductive to running on wet surfaces, and provides more stability with each step. This new material will help the foot grip to rocks on a trail for a more secure footing, rather than rebounding and bouncing off. The company also has redesigned the upper mesh, giving the shoe a lighter and more agile feel while creating a more sleek look. 

Weight: 10.7 ounces
Drop: 8 millimeters


Best Cushion and Support

Saucony Liberty ISO 2
The Liberty is a great combination of both light cushion and stability. Saucony designed this model to offer the greatest amount of stability at the lightest possible weight. The new knit mesh upper adds comfort and breathability, while also improving the fit to the foot. The new model reinforces support by bulking up the plastic under the heel and arch, as well as adding a heel counter inside the shoe to lock the back of the foot in place. Even with the increased stability, the shoe still has full-length layer of Everun foam for the midsole — encouraging a bouncy and cushioned ride.

Weight: 9.9 ounces
Drop: 4 millimeters


Best Neutral

Asics Gel Nimbus 21
The Nimbus has been a running staple for many years. This model is designed for runners with a neutral gait and a higher arch. The Gel Nimbus 21 features updates in almost every part of the shoe while still maintaining its soft, signature feel. For comfort, upper material has been redesigned to provide more breathability and support for the foot, and the toe-box in the front of the shoe has been widened to create more room for the toes. Additionally, the new outsole design adds more full-ground contact in order to make for a smoother heel-toe transition with each stride.  

Weight: 10.9 ounces
Drop: 10 millimeters


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