Sunday, December 20, 2020

The RoadTrailRun Team's 2020 Road Run Shoes of the Year


The RoadTrailRun's Team Best in Road Run 2020 Survey Results and Commentary

2020 was an unusual and trying year with much tragedy and uncertainty worldwide. Runners saw most races canceled and often ran solo away from run pals and “raced” virtual and solo as well. 

Yet running was a solace, a way to breathe and get outside and away from it all more than ever. 

Run companies went virtual with offices closed yet somehow were able to get a magnificent crop of new and innovative models, first into our hands to test and review and then out to the rest of the running public. Trade shows that RTR often attends were canceled with virtual presentations, the new way to see and hear about the latest.

The top most read articles of the last 12 months at RoadTrailRun are below. Note the Hoka Mach 4 which is in the survey will release in March 2021. It is covered below as we have reviewed it.

Our test team of 20 plus of all abilities, ages, and run interests is worldwide and on 5 continents from the US to Europe by way of Africa, Singapore, Mexico and Australia reviewed in English, German, Danish, and Spanish most often in multi tester review format.  

The team wrote 275 reviews covering road shoes, trail shoes, and Apparel/Tech/Gear with many also covered on our growing YouTube channel. Thus, our Best of 2020 comes from a broad perspective not only of models tested but also from a highly diverse group of testers. 

Not every tester reviewed every shoe and in some cases we had far more pairs than for others but clear favorites emerged. 

Our international testers in some cases were later to the party with more limited access to late 2020 models. And to keep it interesting and fresh we are including in our best of articles here shoes we ran and reviewed in 2020 that will be released in early 2021.

The 17 testers in the survey collectively ran just over 40,000 miles / 27359 km in total so far this year or an average of 2352 miles / 3785km each so plenty to reach solid conclusions although we all missed real racing!

To prepare the survey we developed a questionnaire covering key categories which 17 testers in the road category responded to. Testers could not see others' responses. We will also be posting a separate Trail and Apparel/Gear Best of articles as well as individual tester year in running articles. 

Full Multi Tester Reviews of all shoes can be found at our master review index HERE

Full Run Bios of all our testers can be found HERE

And the RTR team’s best of Road Running Shoes 2020 winners are! 

Editor’s Note: In the first category we list the tester’s location and year to date distance and vertical


Peter Stuart (Austin, Texas, 2628 miles / 4221 km, 103k vertical feet)

New Balance Beacon 3 (RTR Review). Perfect combination of smooth, fun and comfortable ride . Grabbed them more than any other shoe. Great for everything from recovery to tempo work. 

Michael Ellenberger (Chicago, 2405 miles /3870 km, 18K feet vertical)

Atreyu Base Model (RTR Review) . There's no trainer I've put more miles on in 2020 (well, trainers - I've gone through 3 colorways of the base model this year!) than Atreyu's subscription-based offering. It's light, devilishly fun, and the best value in running shoes right now - making it the absolute best daily trainer available. 

Derek Li (Singapore, 6062km / 3766 miles, 18K meters vertical )  

Nike Zoom Tempo Next  (RTR Review). Most versatile and cushioned all-round trainer for me. 

Ryan Eiler (Boston area, 2700 miles / 4345 km, 86K vertical feet):

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review) Extreme versatility handles nearly any run, exceptional cushion/weight ratio, and sublime comfort from the upper. It's a no-BS, performance-focused design that's hard to knock.

Nils Scharff (Germany, Run: 3462km with 64796m vertical (2151 miles / 212585 ft) Hike: 375km / 30604m vertical (233miles / 100406ft)

New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review) As the 1080 is a 2020 model for us in Germany I can't help but place it here. It has been my bread and butter shoe through all pf my spring marathon block and performed just outstanding. From recovery to longruns (even higher paced ones) the 1080 can do everything besides the fastest workouts and will do it in style, comfort and with an outstanding energetic ride! The Saucony Ride 13 is a more stable and lower priced runner up.

Joost de Raeymaeker (Angola, Africa: 6456 km / 4011 miles, 22670m vertical): 

Hoka One One Mach 4  (RTR Review) A joy to run in, perfect cushioning, a nice ride, good upper, just a millimeter or 2 on the narrow side.

Jamie Hershfang (Chicago: 4075 miles / 6558 km, 58K feet vertical  ): 

HOKA Rincon 2  (RTR Review) Light enough for speedwork, soft enough for easy runs, and feels good throughout a long run. The versatility of this shoe is amazing!

Marcel Krebs (Germany: 2892km / 1797miles,  52K meter vertical): 

Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review) Highly cushioned but not too soft with a nice bounce (Speedroll geometry)

Beto Hughes (Mexico: 4222.4km / 2764 miles , 72,599m vertical

Saucony Freedom 3 (RTR Review) because it’s soft and bouncy

Jeff Beck (Colorado: 1005 miles / 1617 km, 42K feet vertical ): 

Saucony Endorphin Shift. Great cushioning, awesome geometry, comfortable upper. This shoe was on my feet when we moved, and there's no higher compliment I can give. Lots of firm cushioning, I'm surprised I liked it that much.

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska: 2362 miles / 3801km, 136K feet vertical): 

New Balance 880v10 (RTR Review) For long distances of 20 miles or so, I found myself reaching for the 880v10 more than I thought I might. With a traditional ride, a decent stack height, and a balanced midsole, I ran several 20-22 mile runs at 30 seconds per mile from my marathon pace in the 880, most of which were on dirt and gravel. 

Mac Jeffries (Alabama:  1587 miles / 2554 km, 34 vertical feet): 

Skechers Razor 3+ (RTR Review) Crazy cushion to weight ratio, great explosiveness 

Bryan Lim (Australia, 2613km / 1623 miles, 21,062m / 69,101 ft vert)  

Reebok Floatride Panthea (RTR Review)

Jacob Brady (Portland, Maine:2598 miles / 4181 km, 146K feet vertical):  

New Balance FuelCell TC(RTR Review) Really fun to run, versatile, fast, comfortable, durable. The TC was one of my favorite shoes of all time only a few months after receiving it in the beginning of the year. I put a lot of mileage in it immediately as I was training for Boston at that point (pre-COVID) including four or five 20+ mile upper endurance runs. I felt like I had a great one every time.

Sally Reiley (Boston area: 1885 miles / 3033km, 60K vertical feet ) 

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 3

SMOOTH is the best way to describe this shoe! Possibly the biggest surprise for me of the year: An inexpensive unassuming shoe that blew me away. It is light, well-cushioned, and rides SOOO smoothly.

Honorable mention: New Balance Fuel Cell TC.  Contender for HM: Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2

Adam Glueck (New Hampshire: 1460 miles / 2350km, 289K vertical feet + hiking and roller skiing)

Salomon Sonic 3 Accelerate (RTR Review) Smooth, stable, excellent vibration damping and good cushioning for descents, this is a really great, dependable trainer without too much heel to toe drop for me.  

Sam Winebaum (New Hampshire: 1509 miles / 2429km 94K feet vertical, 130 miles hiking+nordic) 

Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review) 

A daily trainer should provide sufficient cushion, stability, and response to handle most every kind of run from fast to slow with a focus on the middle miles of training (for me around 9:00 minute mile pace) and not the extremes. I had 3 shoes in contention: Nike women’s Pegasus 37, New Balance FuelCell TC and Saucony Ride 13. 

After taking all of them for back to back runs on the same day it was clear the Ride 13 was the winner for me. Not for being the fastest of the three but for being the most versatile, consistent and protective. Flexible and well cushioned, it has a special responsive feel from its thick front bars of rubber over a flexible platform for some get up and go when you want to and its upper while not the lightest has a superb lockdown. Durability, always a factor in daily trainers, is excellent.. 

The winner for daily trainer of the year… It’s a three way tie with two votes each for the Ride 13 (RTR Review), Endorphin Shift (RTR Review), and Fresh Foam Beacon 3 (RTR Review)

In the battle of the brands in the daily trainer category it’s a tie for first by the two Boston area brands with Saucony and New Balance each getting 5 votes, with Hoka reaching the podium with 2 votes.


Peter: Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review) Also a favorite daily trainer, but soft and cushioned enough to make it edge out the NB 1080 on those recovery days. 

Michael: Saucony Endorphin Shift. The only "twist" on this pick is that the Shift is a recovery day trainer that begs you to go faster. But if you can withstand the temptation (or, heck, give in from time-to-time), what Saucony has built here is really impressive - and part of a terrific 2020 lineup from the brand. 

Derek:  Skechers MaxRoad 4+ Hyper(RTR Review) Cushioned and bouncy with a new comfortable upper. Adds spring to easy runs!

Ryan: Hoka Mach 4 (RTR Review) So inviting and plush underfoot, thanks in part to a rubberized foam outsole. A wide stance provides tons of stability, and the highly complementary midsole and outsole produce a seamless, enjoyable ride.

Nils: Saucony Triumph 18 (RTR Review)- The Triumph is not the most versatile shoe but it will shine on everything you do in a slow and steady manner. It's soft (but not mushy), stable, protective, long lasting and even brings some liveliness because of its PWRRUN+ midsole. My runner up is the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23 for its  protective but also flexible ride.

Joost: Hoka One One Mach 4 - Same reasons as for daily training, perfect cushioning. Luxury car feeling.

Jamie: HOKA Clifton 7(RTR Review) light but soft or the days when you don’t want too much impact and don’t want to feel weighed down when your legs are heavy.

Marcel: Saucony Triumph 17/18 (17 for guys with a wider forefoot like me, otherwise 18). Very comfortable and highly cushioned, but not too soft.

Beto: New Balance 1080v10 well cushioned, not too mushy and not to heavy.

Jeff Beck: Mizuno Wave Sky Neo (RTR Review) Most comfortable upper/midsole combination, and plenty of bounce despite the weight.

Renee: The ASICS Novablast (RTR Review) was a surprise for me. The shoe is comfortable with a soft (but not too soft) midsole that, with a high stack, allows for an easy, bouncy slow ride. The roll forward is smooth and feels more like a traditional ride to me than other recovery options with pronounced rockers. 

Bryan Lim: Adidas Ultraboost PB (RTR Review)

Jacob Brady: Saucony Freedom 3. The Freedom nearly overtook the TC for favorite daily trainer. I have been running and walking in the Freedom 3 since I tested it last winter. It is very comfortable above and below the foot—smooth and soft. It has a lively, flexible foam (PWRRUN+) which moves along nicely. The stack is low enough to give some response but is still well protected. Grip is fantastic.

Sally: Saucony Triumph 18  For the easy days when pace doesn't matter, but foot comfort does

Sam: Hoka Mach 4. At barely 8 oz, a weight not usually associated with "recovery" shoes, the Mach 4 has a unique combination of soft bouncy cushion and plenty of it, stability, decent flexibility plus an effective new rocker to easily toe off even at slow paces and even some inherent stability from its broad platform. Every run, every pace welcome here and it is especially pleasing to have a light light shoe to do those easy miles in.

A strong honorable mention goes to the Endorphin Shift. It has massive amounts of denser responsive cushion and lively forward roll to toe off. While not a stability shoe, it is exceptionally stable at the rear due to its clever extended medial side heel cup. Out slow and easy, out fast and long it doesn’t care and just rolls you along smoothly and evenly.

Adam: Topo Rekovr 2: I'd wear recovery sandals all the time for the soft foam and ease of slip-on, but in the winter, I get very cold toes, and when the ground is wet sandals have very slippery outsoles. The Topo Rekovr 2 fixes both of those shortcomings with a cozy wool upper that still slips on but is comfortable sockless, and a trail shoe outsole that while frankly overkill for a recovery shoe, is appreciated in all conditions. 

The Hoka One One Mach 4 (RTR Review) releasing March 2021 is the winner in Recovery Run category with 4 votes with the Saucony Triumph 18 (RTR Review) receiving 3 votes.



Peter: Skechers Razor 3 and Saucony Endorphin Speed. Both fun and fast. 

Michael Skechers Razor+. Atreyu’s base model, along with Saucony's Endorphin Speed, Skechers Razor Elite, and the Hoka Rocket X, too, ended up being terrific temponoptions. But I’m not going to admit when I’m wrong here, and after a good-not-great review of the Razor+, I continued to put dozens of miles on them, and ended up absolutely loving the R+ for faster runs and tempos. The drop is still too low, but the Hyperburst is too legitimate to ignore. 

Derek: Saucony Endorphin Speed. SpeedRoll meets PEBA meets curved plate at a great price. 

Ryan: New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon 3 - A lively and stable midsole with a low inertia make this a great choice for tempo runs. The upper is simple and drama-free, yet strong enough to handle 5k pace. Also happens to be talented enough to handle the cooldown/recovery on the way home.

Nils: Saucony Kinvara 11 - The Kinvara has been my 1-2-punch together with the 1080 during all my spring marathon block. I did each and every of the faster workouts in it but some of the long- and recovery runs as well. If you are looking for one shoe to do it all - don't look any further! Oh and did I mention that I ran my Marathon PR in the Kinvara? My runner up here is the Saucony Endorphin Speed and I believe for many it will win this category. But it's a lot more expensive and not quite as stable as the Kinvara which makes it a great but for me an inferior choice.

Joost: Endorphin Pro - It's a fun shoe to run in, with the aggressive rocker and a great foam and plate combination, and it's a lot more durable than I initially thought.

Jamie: Saucony Endorphin Speed, soft yet super responsive, can handle all kinds of miles and speeds.

John Tribbia (Colorado) Asics EvoRide 2: The EvoRide2 is a comfortably fitting shoe with the versatility for slow and up to threshold paces. It is my favorite because it comes ready to go fast out of the box and has great energy return.

Marcel: Saucony Endorphin Speed (perfect combination of bounce, weight & upper)

Beto: Saucony Endorphin Speed it is  light, very versatile at low and high speed, with not as hard  a  plastic plate as carbon and soft enough to go the distance.

Jeff Beck: Saucony Endorphin Pro. PWRRUN PB is awesome, and the upper is super light too.

Renee: The Skechers Razor+ is a shoe I wore for a solo 50k right from the box. As a light shoe with a responsive, yet still soft, midsole, the Razor+ is both a tempo and long distance shoe for me. I still wear my Nike Turbo 2, my old pair of Nike Vaporfly Next %, and my Reebok Run Fast (OG) for tempo runs too, and regretfully have not yet tried the Saucony Speed. 

Mac: HOKA Rocket X. This is the shoe that the Carbon X was supposed to be. 

Bryan: Saucony Endorphin Speed

Jacob: adidas Adizero Adios Pro. I haven't raced in this shoe yet, but have had some great workouts and fartleks in it. It feels more substantial and less flimsy than lighter carbon-plated racers. This shoe gets into a groove for me and just cruised along at a good pace, making running fast feel like it is easy.

Sam: Nike Tempo Next % is truly bionic. Massively cushioned, very stable from upper to midsole with an incredible zonally Flyknit upper they are super fast and rock solid. No sense of the road here, no shock, no mushy softness either but lots of noise from the outsole. The giant front Zoom Air Pods have a distinct snappy pneumatic rebound and as you go forward off and compress the pods they tip you into the soft forefoot and off you go. Not only a great tempo long run option but many should consideri  for long racing as they tone down the softness of Alphafly and should keep you tracking better late in a race. Yes there is some weight at 8.9 oz / 252g but there is also an effective giant stack of 46mm heel / 36mm forefoot all super well controlled and tracking fast and forward. It clearly can also serve as a daily trainer for faster runners.

A strong honorable mention must go to the New Balance RC Elite which is much lighter than Tempo Next % but still has a substantial bouncy FuelCell midsole. Its ride is more traditional in feel with its carbon plate not noticed at all. The lightest of the super shoes (but for the Next %, not a shoe I would train in much), it is also of course a great racer.

Sally: Saucony Endorphin Speed I have put more miles on this shoe in this race-deprived year than any others in my collection! It is a quick, fun, ego-boosting shoe that I have really enjoyed.

Adam: Saucony Endorphin Pro. The light weight, high energy return of the Pebax foam, and the stability + rocker from the carbon plate make these a joy to run in at speed. Feeling less sore afterward is an amazing bonus as well. 

The Saucony Endorphin Speed (RTR Review) dominates the category with 7 votes followed by the Endorphin Pro (3 votes)  (RTR Review) and Skechers Razor + (2 votes) RTR Review


Peter: Skechers Razor Elite. Just a blast to go out for fast runs, turns over super fast and couldn't be more fun to run in. 

Michael: ASICS MetaRacer. There are a lot of good options here - the Adios Pro, the AlphaFly or VaporFly, the Skechers Speed Elite, heck, even the New Balance RC Elite - but I think the MetaRacer blends comfort (with an absolutely awesome upper!) and speed (with a smooth carbon-facilitated toe-off), and looks the part, to boot.

Derek: Skechers Speed Elite. Very aggressive rocker and incredibly light for its stack. 

Ryan: Saucony Endorphin Pro - A stiff and propulsive carbon plate paired with the PWRRUN PB midsole provide an explosive underfoot sensation. While a hair too firm for marathon-distance racing, the responsiveness of the foam is ideal for shorter efforts. I happily use this shoe for track workouts on a regular basis.

Nils: adidas Adizero Pro - This is a toss up between the Adizero Pro and the ASICS Metaracer. Both have class leading uppers and a more subtle integration of their carbon fiber plate. The Metaracer has probably the slight edge under optimal conditions but the Adizero Pro wins because of its outstanding outsole which leads to much better versatility.

Joost: Skechers Razor Elite - The fantastic Hyperburst foam, combined with a small forefoot plate to add stability is just perfect. Just remember you might need to size up. They are very narrow.

Marcel: Saucony Endorphin Pro leveraging the above stated advantages of the Speed just a little more

Beto: On Cloudboom, Responsive yet soft enough for 5 to10k

Jeff Beck: New Balance Fuel Cell RC, nice blend of cushioning, weight, and pop.

Renee: For this category I am choosing pre-2020 released shoes, including my old pair of Next%s and the Reebok Run Fast (OG). 

Bryan:: New Balance Fuelcell TC

Jacob Skechers GOrun Razor Elite Hyper. Another pick without having raced the shoe. I think my fastest mile in a workout was in this shoe. It has really clean, powerful pop—it feels like all my energy is transferred to moving me forward. I will use it for my next 5k or 1mi TT or race.

Sam: The elegant, super well fitting snappy ASICS Metaracer at max10K for me (two virtual 10K in them) but better shorter.

The adios Pro is clearly also a fine option in this category for me.

Sally: New Balance RC Elite One of my favorite shoes of 2020 (and dare I say the best looking?) because of his light peppy get-up-and-go quickness. I so wish there had been some in-person races to test this shoe's speed in competition!  Honorable mention: Saucony Endorphin Pro.


Adam: Saucony Endorphin Pro: Even for distances as short as 3km on the track, I've run my PRs in these shoes, and they feel miles more comfortable than racing flats. The carbon plate+foam combo feels amazing as I increase pace and they encourage me to try even harder. 

In the shorter race category it's a tie between the Skechers Razor Elite (RTR Review) and Saucony Endorphin Pro (RTR Review) with 3 votes each with ASICS Metaracer (RTR Review) and New Balance RC Elite (RTR Review) following with two votes each.


Peter: Didn't run a full marathon this year, probably would have been in the New Balance RC Elite. Stellar shoe, bouncy and stays fresh for miles and miles and miles. 

Michael: Adidas Adios Pro. It's a big deal. The real deal! You can read our review, or look at the world records, or just take my word - this is the absolute fastest non-Nike shoe out there and (spoiler alert!) might be better than anything from Beaverton, too.

Derek: Adidas Adios Pro. The highest stack long distance racer on the market apart from the Alphafly, but with more stability and a rocker that engages well at many paces. 

Ryan: Adidas Adios Pro - This shoe's performances on the world stage speak for themselves, but even for us mere mortals, this is my go-to when I want to pull out all the stops. The cushioning is deep, yet finely tuned to return maximum energy, and the propulsion from the energy rods in the forefoot is the best I've ever experienced. The Celermesh upper is nearly perfect, providing exceptional lockdown and ventilation.

Nils: Saucony Endorphin Pro - I haven't run in many of this year's super shoes. But know the Next% well which I believe is kind of the benchmark. Compared to that the Endorphin Pro is more stable and a smoother - not as aggressive - ride. This makes it the better choice for me! Additionally the Endorphin Pro and Speed (my runner up) are to my knowledge the only shoes beside Vaporfly and Alphafly where a carbon fiber plate is paired with actual Pebax foam or expanded pellets. 

Joost: Adidas Adios Pro - This shoe currently has the edge over the Vaporfly Next% for me, because it lets your foot move a little more naturally, in spite of being slightly heavier.

Jamie: Nike Vaporfly Next% just hard to compare to anything else, really feels good from beginning to the end, saves the legs from the pounding and really feels like you’re cheating

Marcel: Saucony Endorphin Pro leveraging the above stated advantages of the Speed just a little more

Beto: Nike Vaporfly Next% still has that aggressive propulsion and softness to keep going the entire Marathon distance.


Jeff Beck: Nike Alphafly, long live the king. The geometry of the Tempo Next didn't work for me, but the air pods here work really well.

Renee: Nike Vaporfly Next% I did wear the Skechers Razor+ for a 50k on crushed rock, but for speed and a consistent race pace, I still prefer the Nike Vaporfly Next%. I ran two virtual marathons in 2020 in the Next%, one on dirt/gravel and the other on crushed rock. I haven't tried the Saucony Endorphin Pro or the NB carbon plated shoes yet. 

Mac: New Balance RC Elite. The only shoes I have tested to approach Saucony’s Endorphin Pro and Nike’s Next %

Bryan: Nike Alphafly Next%

Jacob: Nike Vaporfly NEXT%. I have not run the Alphafly, but I have most of the high-stack carbon-plated racers from the other major companies. If I were going for speed for the marathon distance, I would still choose the NEXT%. It is a super-light speed-focused shoe. The design feels more radical in effect on the ride than any of the competitors.

Sam: adidas Adios Pro Not many real races this year at all just a virtual half (adios Pro) and three virtual10K (two in Metaracer and one in Alphafly). Clearly if I lined up for a half or below the adios Pro would be on my feet and maybe for a marathon too although the Alphafly intrigues me with its soft bouncy ride, maybe to soft and bouncy for late miles?  

The adios Pro is the first racer of the new era that I find truly “different” in ride from the original Vaporfly, Alphafly excepted. The 5 Energy Rods up front deliver a more exciting dynamic and natural feel and a fast one than any other contender. Just delightful. The upper is perfect in its super ventilated comfortable and secure fit. The super thin exotic outsole is durable and blends well with the soft enough Lightstrike Pro midsole.

Sally: Nike Vaporfly Next % It was my (successful) race shoe of 2019, and I still would choose it over the other super shoes for a marathon. I ran a virtual Boston Marathon in September and surprised myself by achieving a reasonable and steady 26.2 miles, even though laughingly under-trained; I attribute that to the "magic slippers" on my feet! (Okay, mind games at work here, but the power of positive thinking and believing in something - shoes that have been fast in the past - helps a runner in competition).

Honorable mention: Adidas Adios Pro, which I have purchased and continue to look at longingly, eager to test! The other RTR reviewers rave about this shoe - sounds like my kind of fun . The carrot on the stick...

Adam: Saucony Endorphin Pro: There's enough cushion in these for a marathon, despite their light weight. POWRUN PB is amazing.

Long Racer Category Winners

The very new kid on the block and for our team mostly not yet live raced adidas Adios Pro (RTR Review) is edged out by one vote by the “venerable” much raced Nike Vaporfly Next% which receives 6 votes. with Saucony Endorphin Pro  (RTR Review) receiving three votes and the FuelCell RC Elite (RTR Review) two votes.


Peter: Most miles in the Beacon 3, Most laughs in the Razor Elite. Don't make me choose.

Michael: The Atreyu base model. The shoe and the brand are brand new, but the concept is timeless: take what works in a running shoe, and remove everything else. Stripped of extraneous weight, overlays, and rubber, the base model is a shoe that can handle long runs (I've taken mine for 25 miles) and all-out workouts. It's durable, it's poppy, and it's the best shoe I've worn all year.

Derek: Adidas Adios Pro. Overall the most fun and cushioned shoe for me. Very close tie with the Tempo Next%, but the Adios Pro is lighter at the same price. 

Ryan: New Balance RC Elite - This is the most approachable of all the super shoes, providing world-class performance in an understated fashion. While there is a full-length carbon plate sandwiched in the midsole, it is integrated so well into the FuelCell foam around it that any harshness is completely mitigated. A very clever Dynaride outsole reduces weight without any trade offs. Self-indulgence is the feeling I get every time I lace these up.

Nils: Saucony Endorphin Shift - The Endorphin Shift is in my opinion the best mid distance to long run shoe (to train in) I've ever ran. It has an outstanding protection, one of the best (not overdone) uppers in any shoe in it's class and Saucony's Speedroll technology is just something else. And while I wouldn't run to much in the carbon plated Pro (reserve this for race day) or the far less stable Speed (reserve this for faster runs) the Shift will eat up 90% of your training miles with ease. And believe it or not - it even can go fast up to a certain extent (~marathon pace).

Joost: Hoka One One Mach 4 - Of all the shoes I tested and ran in this year, this is the one I think of first when I am going for a run.

Jamie: Vaporfly Next% After trying many different carbon plated shoes, it made me realize how much I love the Vaporfly Next%. The feeling just doesn’t compare to anything else. I ran a 100k in it without any issues and wore them for hard efforts that saved my legs some recovery time. The one shoe that keeps me coming back for more! 

Marcel: Saucony Endorphin Speed (perfect combination of bounce, weight & upper); during the course of the year, i extended its usage from long tempo runs to almost every pace and distance beside mere recovery runs.

Beto: Saucony Endorphin Speed. Because it’s so versatile at low and high speeds. Great comfortable and breathable upper also soft and responsive and durable and can go the short and long distance.

Jeff Beck: Mizuno Wave Sky Neo. Every time I run in them I can't help but smile. Outside of cost and availability, there's nothing I can fault the shoe for.

Renee: I hardly run on paved roads, and when I do, it's for a speed workout. Of the 2020 released shoes, my favorite was the Skechers Razor+ because of the light weight and responsive midsole. 

Mac: Razor 3+. Nearly as good as the carbon plated catapults at half the price. 

Bryan: Saucony Endorphin Speed

Jacob: New Balance FuelCell TC. I don't think I ever had a bad run in the TC. It was also the highest mileage I got to (low 300mi) on a shoe this year and is still in my rotation (though less frequent these days). Durable, fun and easy to run and cruise along. Great implementation of a high-stack plated shoe.

Sam: Adios Pro, hands down the biggest smiles of the year shoe for me.. I am old. I am not that fast anymore (or never was) but there is something special in lacing up these beauties, winding them up, and activating the Energy Rods. The upper is magnificent, the midsole just right in balancing cushion and stability, and the super thin outsole groundbreaking in its feel and grip, durability, and light weight. In the training category the Mach 4 is clearly the winner and biggest smiles shoe for me.

Sally: New Balance RC Elite & Saucony Endorphin Speed. It is a tie! 

Different shoes, but both incredible running shoes for a multitude of reasons.

(Note: I am seeing a pattern here in my Favorites selections: New Balance and Saucony have owned 2020 in my opinion!)

Adam: Saucony Endorphin Pro, what more can I say. 


Saucony’s Endorphin Speed gets the most votes from the team and was especially favored by our international testers ! A wallet friendly (compared to many super shoes) fast, light do just about everything shoe it found a sweet spot in a crowded field of superb training and racing options. Out earlier and more broadly than some of the other top options, it is also a tribute to Saucony’s hustle in a very difficult year for everyone.

It was chased in the Shoe of the Year race by great shoes from New Balance  including the Beacon 3, TC and RC Elite and from adidas the Adios Pro, Skechers Razor +, Hoka with their 2021 releasing  Mach 4 also clearly already also winning our hearts along with newcomer Atreyu.


Peter: Skechers Razor Elite

Derek: Adidas Adios Pro. They threw out a shoe that really surprised many in just how good it is and really challenges Nike for best marathon shoe on the market. This coming from a brand that stalled somewhat over the past few years in terms of tech development. 

Ryan: Skechers have continued to surprise with creative and exciting products. Their Hyper Burst foam has garnered many fans, with its minimalist, highly-caffeinated personality. Kudos to the fearlessness they've shown in not following the footsteps of the larger running brands.


Joost: For me, unfortunately, a negative. I didn't like the Alphafly at all. 

Jamie:  The Saucony Endorphin line really stepped up to compete with some of the top Nike shoes. 

Marcel: Saucony Endorphin line and their new trail shoes coming up both look very promising. Can't wait to get my hands on the Endorphin Speed 2 and the Endorphin Trail.

Beto: Saucony Endorphin Speed

Jeff Beck: Saucony Ride 13. Saucony nailed it with an incredible daily trainer.

Mac: Saucony Ride 13 or New Balance 890. Both seemed like “regular” shoes that ended up being consistent go-to kicks for a variety of paces. Neither super light, but both a blast to run in. 

Bryan: The reawakening of Adidas in the running shoe scene with the introduction of two quality plated racing shoes.

Sally: Saucony and New Balance - kudos to those two companies for making unexpected waves with fabulous footwear!

Sam: the adios Pro was clearly my biggest surprise of the year coming from a company which only a month or two before released the quite frankly very conventional rough riding carbon adizero Pro then to then suddenly emerge with the most innovative long racer since the original Vaporfly and one that delighted slow old me and set world records. Quite a range of paces there…


Clearly for me the shoe tech of the year were the two key elements in the adidas adios Pro: Energy Rods for a more natural feeling dynamic ride working with your toes instead of the toes driven down and directed by a plate and the thin seemingly wear proof outsole which clearly is a ground breaking approach to outsole compounds. 

In the foam wars FuelCell as implemented in the TC and especially the flavor in the very light RC Elite delivered a wonderfully pleasant new option to compete with Zoom X and Hyper Burst


Peter: New Balance for a big stable of great shoes, Skechers for athlete support and great fast shoes and Tracksmith for great socks and tights. 

Derek: Nike. Between the Alphafly and the Tempo Next%, they are still throwing out category killers. Everything I put on my feet from them in 2020 was at least "very good"! Additionally there colorways were fire this year and they have been the first brand which was able to compete with Nike's Vaporfly! Thank you for that, Saucony!

Ryan: Skechers have continued to surprise with creative and exciting products. Their Hyper Burst foam has garnered many fans, with its minimalist, highly-caffeinated personality. Kudos to the fearlessness they've shown in not following the footsteps of the larger running brands.

Joost: adidas - They leveled the playing field in the super shoes category, which is a good thing for the sport.

Jamie: HOKA got me through a lot of miles this year, love the lightweight versatility of their shoes, soft and durable

Marcel: Saucony. They really killed it with their Endorphin line and the new trail shoes also look very promising.

Beto: Saucony

Jeff Beck: Saucony. The Triumph 17 was my shoe of the year last year, and the 18 is even better - but it's likely their 3rd best trainer of the year (Ride 13 and Endorphin Shift). Killing it, and that's not even mentioning their race shoes.

Jacob: New Balance. The FuelCell TC and RC Elite are two of my favorite shoes of all time. I really like the ride of FuelCell midsole in all the shoes I've tried with it, and the fit and security has been 10/10 as well.

Sally: Saucony!

Sam: Saucony came out in 2020 with not only the all new Endorphin line but updates to literally every single model road and trail during 2020. They simplified midsoles using 3 types of midsole foams across essentially all shoes and also refined all uppers. All proved successful in my testing with special note for me the Endorphin Shift, the Ride 13 and Xodus 10 all more trainers than racers because as the year went on other options for racing emerged from adidas, ASICS, Brooks, New Balance, Nike and Skechers.

Honorable mentions to:

New Balance for providing a wide variety of ride experiences based on FuelCell and improved Fresh Foam X with special note the FuelCell in the TC and RC.

Nike continued to "shock" with the Alphafly and Tempo Next pushing boundaries in new and interesting directions but went to far with their mainstay men's Peg 37 for me by somehow overemphasizing gender "preferences" in ride feel leaving the superb softer lighter and smoother women's Peg ride for smaller men's feet. 

adidas was a one trick pony with their adios Pro but suspect not for long in road as they are on a roll with the lessons learned. Their Terrex division delivered a fantastic Boost and BOA based winter and rough conditions shoe in the Tech Pro 

ASICS which had a lot to remodel delighted with the elegant Metaracer, the Novablast, improved Evoride and Glideride, and in a late in 2020 surprise for 2021, a superb trail shoe in the Trabuco Max.

Saucony is our road brand of the year!

What were your 2020 Favorites for the road? We would love to here from you in comments below.

Thank you very much for reading, following, and subscribing to RoadTrailRun! The team wishes all Happy Holidays and a productive, healthy, and satisfying 2021 wherever your roads and trails take you and in whatever shoes work best for you!

Check out the team's Best of Trail Run Shoes 2020  HERE

The product reviewed was provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!

USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40

Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

Men's & Women's SHOP HERE


Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook:  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun


Chad Payne said...

Fantastic and comprehensive roundup! Looking forward to the trail winners.

Mark said...

Saucony nailed it this year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your great reviews this year, even during the pandemic. Your reviews is the my first stop when checking out running shoes. Thanks for the recommendations - I agree about the Saucony Speeds (amazing shoe), Asics Novablast etc.
Keep safe and well and have a great Christmas.

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks so much Chad!

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for the kind words!
Happy Holidays and Wishing you both a Safe and Fine 2021!


Anonymous said...

Reading through these is fun..until I realize I do not run in any of these shows but am happy with my Brooks Hyperion Tempos and Brooks Revels.

Raises for me the question of is it worth experimenting with Saucony-spending the $s to find out? Or going back to New Balance (many, many years ago) or returning to Hoka (recent) when the Mach 4 comes out?

Thanks for keeping 2020 interesting by offering the excellent reviews- and allowing me to continue to dream of the perfect shoe!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Anonymous,
Revel and Tempo are both great shoes and Revel is such a great value too! The questions asked for "Favorites" by type. Next year we will have a category for favorite "value" shoe! As far as what to try next. Mix it up between brands for the best shoe for you for each type of use. Hopefully after continuing to consider our reviews first! And we thank you for reading and following RTR and wish you Good Holidays and a Fine New Year!
Sam, Editor