Six Great Road Running Shoes for 2023

Here are six great road running shoes in which almost everyone can enjoy running.

By on October 11, 2022 | Comments

Sometimes trail runners and ultrarunners run on the roads. Well, a lot of times we run on the roads — by choice and because we love it!

For training runs on paved surfaces, we need to ensure that we are doing right by our feet. And high-quality road running shoes will protect us from injuries that could come from pounding out miles on the pavement.

Our team of iRunFar reviewers tested various road shoes throughout the summer. We had men and women test a variety of shoes and provide feedback that we compiled into this review.

One important item to note is that we did not test any carbon-plated shoes because we consider them in a whole different class of shoes. And if that’s what you are looking for, Eliud Kipchoge, check back with us later. We’re planning a “best of” carbon-plated shoes down the proverbial road.

But for now, here are a half-dozen road shoes that our testers agreed were the best of the bunch.

Best Road Running Shoes - road running in Altra and Brooks shoes

iRunFar’s Bryon Powell (left) and Ben Kilbourne test Brooks and Altra road running shoes on a chilly spring day in Colorado. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 ($160)

The Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 put a spring in our testers’ steps. The comfortable shoe gives runners an extra boost and dose of confidence when pushing the pace thanks to its responsive nature.

With an actual weight of 10.2 ounces in a men’s size 9, the 24th edition of this shoe is at least 10 grams lighter than its predecessor, making it a great option for speedwork and racing. The upper, midsole, and outsole were all updated for this version.

The redesigned, sock-like mesh upper keeps the shoes breathable and quick-drying. Just be sure to stay on paved areas, as one tester noted the shoes started to get a little dinged up during brief off-road excursions.

The outsole, made of Asics LITE rubber, is lighter and more durable than other types of rubber typically used in an outsole.

For exceptional comfort, the midsole is made of FF BLAST+ foam. The material upgrade provides a really smooth, soft ride while keeping the shoe highly responsive throughout all parts of the gait.

“Stability is great as well,” one tester noted, summarizing our testers’ feelings by saying, “The midfoot just makes the run so pleasant!”

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 10.2 ounces (288g)
  • Drop: 10 millimeters
  • Pros: Springy, comfortable, and built for speed
  • Cons: Durability issues are a concern
  • Other Versions: Wide/D (men’s & women’s); Extra Wide/4E (men’s)

Shop the Men's Asics Gel-Nimbus 24Shop the Women's Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

The Asics Gel-Nimbus 24. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Brooks Ghost 14 ($140)

The Brooks Ghost 14 is the latest edition of this much-loved everyday road running shoe, and there are several reasons for its popularity.

Known for its durability, comfort, and smoothness, this shoe is also known for its reliability. “I just love this shoe — you put it on and just go. Nothing draws your attention away from the run,” summarizes one tester.

The upper is very comfortable with enough room for toes to fan out, yet it still allows for a decent toe-off. The tongue’s padding protects the top of the foot and additional cushioning keeps the ankle and Achilles safe.

The very durable outsole shines, even when snowmelt leaves behind wet pavement, silt, and debris. The heel-toe roll-through is smooth and works with the runner’s natural gait. The insole is well padded, but some testers would have preferred a bit more arch support like previous Ghost models offered. The midsole is made of Brooks DNA LOFT, a foam that provides a soft landing, regardless of your stride.

There are more flashy options available for running on the road, but it’s hard to beat the overall comfort, cushioning, and responsiveness of this shoe.

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 9.8 ounces (278g)
  • Drop: 12 millimeters
  • Pros: A responsive, comfortable, everyday road trainer
  • Cons: Lack of arch support
  • Other Versions: Gore-Tex (men’s & women’s)

Shop the Men's Brooks Ghost 14Shop the Women's Brooks Ghost 14

Brooks Ghost 14

The Brooks Ghost 14. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 ($130)

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 is the newest of a line of shoes that has a long history of success in creating happy runners. This version carries on the traditions of the line while being an ounce lighter than its predecessor.

Testers found a lot to like, raving about its ability to go fast, comfort, and speedy responsiveness. One reviewer summarized, “The cushioning is excellent and just how I like it — firm but comfortable, it takes the impact out of the pavement and crushed gravel well.”

The extreme versatility of this shoe makes it ideal for anything from recovery runs to speed drills to tempo routines.

The 39th version of this shoe has a new upper, midsole, and outsole. The upper is thick yet comfortable, and the tongue and collar of the shoe has extra padding. Some of our testers had issues with this extra padding and higher-than-normal collar, finding that it created issues with their anterior tibial tendon and their lateral malleolus bone.

The midsole is firm and designed to handle turns and corners exceptionally well. It can prevent runners from favoring one side, keeping their stride aligned better and taking some burden off the bottom of the foot.

Trail runners who wear the off-road version of this shoe for their trail adventures will notice that the toebox of the road version is narrower. With its pedigree of excellence and new improvements, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 will surely please fans of the shoe and welcome new ones.

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 9.3 ounces (264g)
  • Drop: 10 millimeters
  • Pros: Incredible versatility
  • Cons: High ankle collar and highly padded tongue can cause tendon and bone issues
  • Other Versions: Premium (men’s & women’s)

Shop the Men's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39Shop the Women's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Brooks Hyperion Tempo ($150)

The Brooks Hyperion Tempo impressed our testers with its versatility and performance. They agreed the shoe is responsive, whether the runner is quickening their stride during a flat interval or pushing the pace while tackling hills. This shoe is meant to run fast.

Our team agreed that the upper is really comfortable. Brooks uses a strong woven fabric that keeps runners’ feet in place while preventing them from getting too hot, even during the summer. The upper’s double layering boosts structural support to the midfoot, solidifying its shape retention.

The midsole provides enough spring to keep propelling the runner forward, but lacks the cushioning of other road shoes. But when you need a fast road shoe for speedwork, race day, or other times when there is a need for speed, this shoe will deliver.

One tester specifically mentioned the shoe offers a good solution for bike-to-run transition brick workouts. “They slip on nicely and the lightweight cushion aids the muscular transition from one sport to the next. It inspires me to run fast and to keep a strong cadence.”

Another tester noted the exceptional performance while knocking out speedwork on the treadmill. “The underfoot actually felt secure and fresh for all the miles and the higher turnover intervals. In other shoes, I tend to feel a little lower leg and foot fatigue. But I still felt strong underfoot especially on midfoot landings.”

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 7.3 ounces (208g)
  • Drop: 8 millimeters
  • Pros: Light, breathable, and fast
  • Cons: May lack enough structure for non-neutral runners or those doing long speed workouts

Shop the Men's Brooks Hyperion TempoShop the Women's Brooks Hyperion Tempo

Brooks Hyperion Tempo

The Brooks Hyperion Tempo. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 ($160)

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is full of surprises. Responsive, smooth, and comfortable, these shoes are soft and bouncy. The Fresh Foam X midsole provides a high level of cushion throughout the shoe and is thicker in areas that need extra padding.

An expanded toebox helps prevent a cramped foot and can make pain in the foot’s top from the overlay a thing of the past.

One of our testers, who admits they had not previously been a fan of the brand, was impressed by the shoe. “The responsiveness was nice and I felt very smooth while out on my run. My pace was quicker than what I usually run and it felt effortless. I think I have found a new shoe to put in my rotation of road shoes.”

New Balance notes on its website that this model runs large when compared with previous models of the shoe. You may want to order down from your normal size.

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 10.0 ounces (284g)
  • Drop: 8 millimeters
  • Pros: Smooth and cushioned ride
  • Cons: Heavier than past iterations, potential sizing issue
  • Other Versions: Unlaced (men’s & women’s)

Shop the Men's New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12Shop the Women's New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

The Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Asics Gel-Kayano 29 ($160)

The Asics Gel-Kayano 29 makes this list for its comfort, reliable nature, and improvements from past versions. It is specifically designed for people who overpronate when running, a stride that is often associated with low arches.

Our testers had a mix of experience with previous versions of these shoes. Yet they agreed that this version felt comfortable straight out of the box. It’s also about 10 grams lighter than previous models. The shoe is appropriately cushioned with FF BLAST PLUS foam and equipped with LITETRUSS construction, improving its stability throughout the various stages of a gait.

Another runner had this to say about their first experience with the Gel-Kayano 29, “Very comfortable right out of the box. I haven’t always taken to insoles, but they seem to work well with the overall feel/stride of the shoe.”

Overall, testers felt the Asics Gel-Kayano 29 felt supportive, cushioned, and responsive. They did not report rubbing, chafing, or similar issues with the upper.

  • Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 10.8 ounces (305g)
  • Drop: 10 millimeters
  • Pros: Great option for overpronators
  • Cons: For non-pronators, nothing really special about the shoe
  • Other Versions: Wide/D (men’s & women’s); Extra Wide/4E (men’s)

Shop the Men's Asics Gel-Kayano 29Shop the Women's Asics Gel-Kayano 29

Asics Gel-Kayano 29

The Asics Gel-Kayano 29. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Call for Comments

  • What are your favorite road running shoes currently? What makes a good road running shoe to you?
  • Do you have different pairs of road running shoes for harder versus easier training days?
  • Are you putting in the miles in carbon-plated road running shoes these days?
Best Road Running Shoes - road running in Hoka shoes

Hallie Taylor running in Hoka road running shoes. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Best Road Running Shoes - iRunFar team road running in Colorado

Members of the iRunFar team road running. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Henry Howard
Henry Howard finds joy as an ultrarunner, running coach, and writer who has combined those passions into his RunSpirited website.