Tuesday, December 14, 2021

RoadTrailRun's Best of 2021 Road Running: Multiple Categories, Best Overall, Brand of the Year, Surprises, Apparel, Tech, and Accessories

 Article by Road Trail Run Team

20 plus RoadTrailRun contributors on 5 continents ran thousands of miles (or kilometers) in dozens of road shoes each.  Collectively the entire RTR team wrote approximately 155 road shoe review articles and 60 trail shoe review articles as well as dozens of apparel, accessories and electronics articles in multiple languages including English, Spanish, German, French, Danish, and Polish.


We surveyed the team via an online form where the respondents could not see others’ answers. 


So which shoes came out on top in each of several categories, what was the top shoe overall, top brands, what were our favorite apparel, tech, and accessories, and what were the big surprises of 2021. Please read on to find out.


Contributors are of all paces from sub 2:30 marathoners ( 2 breaking that barrier for the first time in 2021) to around 4 hours with of course many half marathons, 10K, and ultras in the race mix. Many contributors also run both road and trail with our Best of Trail Running 2022 coming soon. Also coming soon each contributor’s personal year in review article.


Clear preferences and trends emerged as supercritical foams became more common in both racers and trainers for the weight and ride feel characteristics which trended softer, shoes pushed up to or started to exceed the IAAF height limit and new approaches to plates emerged. Brands, most notably Puma and adidas, and following Saucony’s 2020 lead, came out with complete and fresh remodels of their performance lines from trainers to racers while previously little known (for road running) brands such as Craft and Scott emerged. 


Not every contributor ran in every shoe and for some models below we had more brand provided samples than for others while some shoes were personal purchases. 


Reviews of all the shoes in the survey can be found at our index page HERE. Our reviews are also linked at the first mention of each shoe,




What is your Favorite Daily Trainer of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart 

(Texas)


New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel V2 . There’s no daily trainer that has come close for me. The Rebel V2 is my favorite daily shoe. Ever. It’s fun, light, and just works for me. I sized up half size and have had 3 pair this year—at least 1k of my miles this year have been in theRebel V2!

Matt Kolat (Scotland/Poland)


adidas adizero Boston 10. Reason being it is a very firm and stable trainer, despite being neutral. This allows a wide variety of runners to enjoy it. What is more it is very easy to pick up the pace in them and most of all they look so cool!!

Renee Krusemark (Nebraska)


The New Balance Rebel v2 is a great shoe that provides a lightweight, comfortable shoe capable of easy to fast paces. It's hard not to choose the Rebel 2 for all categories. Honorable Mention to the Brooks Revel 5, which is a budget shoe capable of a variety of speeds on a variety of surfaces.

Derek Li 

(Singapore)


Xtep RC260. I had to think long and hard about this because there were a couple of trainers that I used extensively this year. The RC260 came into the fray quite late, and I only bought it in mid-Nov 2021. I’ll do a short summary because most people will not have heard of this model. 37/27mm stack. 8.75oz for US9.5. Nylon-plated. Polyurethane Block Copolymer midsole. Feels a lot like the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit but with a more flexible forefoot. It’s not the most cushioned maximalist trainer like a Endorphin Shift or Boston 10, but it has a very good blend of cushioning, responsiveness and just enough snap through the plate to keep things assisted. To cap it off, the fit is good enough that it doesn’t sabotage itself like the Puma Deviate Nitro. For me, it does a lot of what the Nike Tempo Next% did for me in 2020, but with a slightly lower stack making it feel more stable though less cushioned.

Michael Ellenberger (Chicago)


New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v2. What can I say? It's an immensely fun, bouncy, and just overall enjoyable trainer - and a 180° turn from its predecessor in terms of feel. Both are good, but the v2 is great!

Jeremy Marie (France)


Adidas Adios 6: Nice for endurance runs, nice for tempo runs, nice for interval work...comfy, smooth ride, nice cushioning neither too firm nor too soft. And it's a bargain given the rise in prices with all the new "superfoams"

Adam Glueck 

(New Hampshire)


NB Rebel 2:  Fantastic everyday shoe, the same super foam as the RC Elite 2 in an affordable, bouncy package.  It’s a joy to run in, light, stable, comfortable, and is flexible enough to nicely balance out my other runs in plated races.

Beto Hughes

(Mexico)


New Balance Fresh Foam More V3 is perfect for daily training, easy runs, long runs. Works amazing, taking care of the legs and absorbing impact during  longer runs.

Nils Scharff

(Germany)


adidas Boston 10 - A great fitting upper together with a well polished ride and plenty of cushioning make this shoe a great choice for everything from recovery over tempo work up to the longrun. The shoe really shines on long, consistent uptempo efforts but can do it all in my book.

Ryan Eiler

(Boston area)


New Balance Rebel v2 - This grade of FuelCell is one of the best at injury prevention for neutral runners. It's a joyful, low-inertia design that proves that a daily trainer need not be boring.

Shannon Payne

(Northern California)


The Hoka Rincon 3 is  a fabulous upgrade to an already fabulous shoe.

Ivan Luca Corda

(Denmark)


Craft CTM Ultra. Well balanced and very smooth ride. 

Zack Dunn

(Indiana)


Nike Zoom Vomero 16: I really enjoyed this shoe. It had a soft midsole with a fun forefoot responsiveness, as well as a perfect upper and multi-terrain outsole which worked great on a variety of terrain.

Jacob Brady

(Maine)


New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2. It is lightweight, comfortable, smooth, bouncy, and flexible—it makes running easy and enjoyable at a variety of paces. Honorable mention to the Brooks Revel 5. I was on the fence between the Rebel v2 and the Brooks Revel 5 for daily trainer of the year over the course of the year—they were my two most run shoes. The Revel is firmer and less dramatic in feel while being almost as performant. It is better off road than the Rebel v2 as well. However, the dramatically lighter weight and higher rebound of the Rebel v2 as well as it's softer feel in cold temperatures makes it overall an easier to run and more enjoyable shoe.

Joost de Raeymaeker

(Angola)


Atreyu Running Base Model v2. I thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of this improved model of the base model. Critical foam and a much better upper, while still staying true to the original philosophy. A nice riding shoe without any bells and whistles.

Marcel Krebs

(Germany)


Scott Pursuit. Low weight and drop, comfortable toe box in combination with a propelling rocker construction make this shoe a versatile allrounder as a daily trainer and also as up-tempo shoe which also offers good traction (Scott is a very well established trail running brand in Europe which started to expand into road running in 2021).

Honorable mention: Saucony Shift 2 – excellent shoe but slightly heavier (but also offers more cushioning) and narrower in the toe box (really looking forward to the wide version of Shift 3 in 2022!)

Jeff Beck

(Colorado)


Skechers Performance Go Run Ride 9. For the last few years SP has been on the brink of getting this shoe right, and this is the year they finally did. The upper has virtually zero faults (frequently the Achilles Heel of SP shoes), the Hyperburst midsole is the perfect blend of cushioned and bouncy, and it's improbably light and when you compare costs to the rest of the field - it's hard to beat on dollars per mile or dollars per smile. Way to go Skechers Performance.


Honorable Mentions: Saucony Triumph 19 and Brooks Glycerin 19, both a little more traditional big mileage trainers that both got virtually everything right.

Sally Reiley

(Boston area)


Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 (and Runshield version) - Yes, really a tempo shoe, but my favorite go-to daily trainer (I don't have a knack yet for slow and easy runs). It is smooth, comfortable on foot, easy on the legs, and quick with its forward "speed roll technology." Simply put, I grab them whenever I feel like an enjoyable run. Probably put more miles on this shoe than any other this year!

Bryan Lim

(Australia)


Asics Novablast 2. Lack of stability in the generally good v1 was addressed. Ultra responsive and protective. Makes every day runs a little more fun, and also versatile enough for quicker ones too.

Sam Winebaum

(New Hampshire)


Diadora Equipe Atomo: a late 2021 arrival but a great one. Consistent riding, with enough stable pep for any run, light for stack, well cushioned, durable (incredible outsole durability)  and elegant. 100% Made in Italy and the quality shows. Well worth its "artisan" crafted quality materials and design pricing. Honorable mentions for sure to the completely remodeled Mizuno Wave Rider 25 as well as Skechers Ride 9,  Scott Pursuit and Craft CTM Ultra.

The clear winner for the RTR team in the daily trainer category was the New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v2 (RTR Review) with 6 votes. The only other shoe receiving more than one vote was the adizero Boston 10 (RTR Review


Tempo Shoe


Username

What is your Favorite Tempo Shoe of 2021  and why?

Peter Stuart

It’s a tie. For fast short stuff the Skechers Razor Elite and Speed Freek rock. For races and longer speed work I love the NB RC Elite V2. Tons of bounce on a stable platform.

Matt Kolat

Hoka Carbon X2. The most incredible opportunity rocker. You really feel propelled forward. Extremely stable and therefore a gateway to carbon plated shoes for runners for whom Vaporfly like shoes are too wobbly.

Renee Krusemark

Repeat: The New Balance Rebel 2. The shoe is so great I have two pairs, and I'm still running with my first pair that have about 350 miles. Lightweight, comfortable, cushioned, yet responsive, the Rebel 2 is now one of my all-time favorite running shoes.

Derek Li

ASICS Metaspeed Sky. The Sky has the most propulsive and dynamic forefoot of the super shoes for me. For tempo workouts where I can maintain a good forward lean for the whole run, there really is no better shoe. ASICS once again reminds us that when it comes to performance fits, they have the upper nailed. The MetaRacer upper was one of the best ever. The Metaspeed upper is even thinner and no less secure. I’ve done multiple tempo runs in Vaporfly 4%, Next% and Sky this year. Sky is the easiest really hammer home that last half mile when you want to.

Michael Ellenberger

Saucony Endorphin Pro+. It's perhaps a shortcut to select a top-tier racer for my favorite "tempo" shoe, but the Endorphin Pro+ has slotted in for me just so - it's a little firmer than I'd want for a marathon, but it's a joy to run in, and remains one of my favorite treadmill shoes.

Jeremy Marie

Nike Zoom Tempo Next.  Not a shoe that I find really enjoyable, fun, or easy to run in - but tempo sessions are neither fun nor easy. But boy once you put the gas on. What.a.shoe. You get a tremendous front propulsion, and incredible spring effect from both the Zoom Air pods and the plate, and the tempo pace seems so much easy to maintain.

Adam Glueck

NB Rebel v2:  Lets me work on my intrinsic foot muscles as it’s unplated, but has a fun and bouncy foam.  It’s a perfect hybrid between an traditional racing flat, with the bounce and innovation of a modern super shoe.

Beto Hughes

New Balance Rebel V2, The shoe is well cushioned, very responsive and perfect for Tempo runs and even race day!!!

Nils Scharff

Saucony Endorphin Speed  RUNSHIELD - Saucony's RUNSHIELD version is just the better version of the Speed 2. A more structured upper, lower weight and a softer, more grippy and flexible outsole make the shoe better for uptempo stuff and more versatile for everything else (compared to the Speed 1 and 2).


Honorable mention: ASICS Noosa Tri 13 - If you like rockered and firmer rides try the Noosa. You can even run barefoot in it because of the Tri-Upper and get a pair of Speedlaces with it if you like those.

Ryan Eiler

Saucony Endorphin Pro - While not as forgiving as other high-end speedsters, I love the stability and refinement that the upper provides. The shoe's transition is very deliberate, and reminds you not to get sloppy with your stride. This is probably my most frequented workout shoe for hard runs anywhere up to 13 miles.

Shannon Payne

Saucony Kinvara 12. I have loved all previous versions, some more than others, but this one was a terrific improvement over its predecessor.

Ivan Luca Corda

Adidas Adizero Prime X. Unbelievable smooth, efficient and fun ride. Keeps HR and Power numbers lower than usual. 

Zack Dunn

Hoka Carbon X 2: This shoe had a really amazing upper with a midsole that had a real smooth ride, especially at tempo paces.

Jacob Brady

Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%. Not a 2021 release but a continued favorite of mine for longer, faster pace training such as threshold workout and long run workouts. The Tempo NEXT% is remarkably easy to run fast in. At pace the rebound is strong and directed and keeps me inspired and cruising along with fresh legs and without any harshness.

Joost de Raeymaeker

Puma Running Deviate Nitro. The Nitro hit the spot for me at a moment when I had a painful second metatarsal and let me do uptempo work without too much pain. The ride is easy and picking up the pace is second nature with the Nitro foam.

Marcel Krebs

Saucony Runshield Speed. The Endorphin Speed 1 was already my favorite tempo shoe of the year 2020 and as a Runshield version of the Speed 2 the shoe became even lighter, offers a little more room in the toe box and is much more versatile now as it is water repellant and has a better grip because of a softer and stickier outsole.


Honorable mention: Puma Velocity Nitro. Very bouncy even though it does not have a plate, very light and an awesome outsole (PUMAGRIP).

Jeff Beck

Puma Liberate Nitro. This shoe got so much good press early on in the year, I had to try it out, and I'm really glad I did. As a toebox connoisseur I wasn't sure if this shoe could accommodate my foot, but I had zero complaints with the upper and the fit, and the midsole/outsole combination is world class. I gravitated toward the Deviate Nitro and it's higher stack for my larger frame, but was truly surprised by how incredible the Liberate felt at all paces, but especially at faster speeds. And that outsole? Puma Grip is real, and it's spectacular. 


Honorable Mention: Puma Velocity Nitro. The Puma love in continues, and while I figured the Velocity's extra stack height would be great for me, and it was/is, but that just shows how incredible the Liberate is.

Sally Reiley

New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel V2. This shoe and the above Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 really are interchangeable as fav daily trainer/fav tempo shoe. The Rebel is light, comfortable, quick, affordable, fun... it checks every box in my opinion. Running in the Rebel started my  2021 year off with an optimistic bang.

Bryan Lim

New Balance Rebel 2. The perfect balance between being lightweight, having flexibility and responsiveness. NB has taken the best out of a traditional racing flat and made it into an ultra versatile tempo shoe capable of racing.

Sam Winebaum

Not as many tempo runs as usual this year but the Nike Tempo Next % still reigns supreme, with the Endorphin Speed 2 with its improved upper that keeps me better aligned and stable than v1's not far behind. If it was more stable the adidas Prime X would carry the category for me.

The FuelCell Rebel v2 (RTR Review) also carries the Tempo category with 4 votes with the Nike Tempo Next % (RTR Review) and Saucony Endorphin Speed Runshield (RTR Review) not far behind at 3 votes.


Long Run Shoe


Username

What is your Favorite Long Run Shoe 2021  and why?

Peter Stuart

NB rebel V2. Nothing is as comfortable for me

Renee Krusemark

Can I choose the Rebel 2 again? Honorable Mention to the Saucony Shift 2 for having a smooth roll forward and to the ASICS Novablast 2 for having a lightweight, cushioned ride.

Derek Li

Xtep 160x Pro. I got this shoe for the purpose of replacing my Nike Tempo Next% and it really did the job well. Again, it’s a shoe we never put out a review for RTR but I think it’s popped up on my IG feed often enough that people know I like it.  Measured stack at 40/34, 271g /9.56oz for US9.5 (exact same weight as the Adidas Prime X). The 160x Pro is stiff, very stiff, but the foam is soft enough that with the low-ish drop, you can get a really big spring off the forefoot when you pick up the pace. The underfoot feel is a little firmer but more uniform than the Tempo Next%, and the overall vibration dampening is comparable to the Adios Pro v1 and Tempo Next%. It’s heavy enough that I would not pick it for racing, but I’ve also used it for some 1-2km intervals to know it has some wheels if you want to push the pace.

Michael Ellenberger

Diadora Equipe Atomo. One of my first run in them was 19 miles, and for good reason - this shoe perfectly blends speed and cushion. Don't overlook Diadora this year!

Jeremy Marie

Craft CTM Ultra: The barely there upper, with the slightest of foot hold - a trait that I like in a shoe, and a more than necessary amount of protection underfoot, while staying natural thank to a welcome flex makes the day for me. The Saucony Triumph 19 is a very close second.

Adam Glueck

NB RC Elite 2:  This is a shoe with a ton of cushion that moves well at a variety of paces.  Although it’s technically a racing shoe, I’ve found that it feels good at slower paces as well, and the cushion really saves your legs during long runs and reduces soreness the next day.  Comfortable, lightweight, and fast.

Beto Hughes

Saucony Triumph 19, Lockdown is perfect for daily runs. The T19  is soft, bouncy, responsive and very durable and  It is perfect for easy to moderate pace and especially long runs.

Nils Scharff

adidas Boston 10 - The long run is the biggest strength of the Boston 10. The firmer Lightstrike layer of the midsole together with the Energy Rods offer a peppy ride and great stability for those later miles. But the Lightstrike Pro layer keeps feet and legs comfy and happy as well.

Ryan Eiler

New Balance RC Elite v2 - Exceptionally pillowy, muscle-saving midsole in the midfoot and heel, plus a snappy and lightweight feel to help with those last few miles. Much more approachable than most other super shoes.

Shannon Payne

Brooks Glycerin 19. It provides ample cushioning without feeling like much shoe. The toe box is wonderfully wide and accommodating, and I felt the fit and feel only got better with more miles.

Ivan Luca Corda

Saucony Endorphin Speed. Light on foot and enough cushion for even the longest runs including a 100k earlier this year.

Zack Dunn

Asics Metaspeed Sky: This shoe is one of the best marathon racing shoes designed, which is also what makes it a great long run shoe. It has a great amount of cushioning in a very fast, lightweight package. 

Jacob Brady

Hoka One One Mach 4: The Mach 4 is one of my top three trainers of the year alongside the Brooks Revel 5 and New Balance Rebel v2. These three shoes have remained on my top shelf for several months. The Mach 4 has the highest stability and cushion of the three, thus making it my pick for longer or slower runs and easy days. The Mach 4 is very light for how wide and cushioned the platform is which makes it not a burden to run. Honorable mention: for faster long run or long run workouts I would choose the Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% or New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2.

Joost de Raeymaeker

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2. This is a forgiving, soft shoe that can take you far and fast at the Sam Winebaume time. Great fit for my wide feet and incredibly comfortable.

Marcel Krebs

Saucony Triumph 19. It is a very comfortable shoe with lots of cushioning while the midsole hits the sweet spot regarding density as it is neither to soft nor too hard while being lively at the Sam Winebaume time offering a nice pop and toe of. 

Honorable mention: Altra Provision 6. Very stable and comfortable shoes which comes at a very competitive weight and a roomy toe-box even for wider fore foots like mine.

Jeff Beck

Skechers Performance Max Road 5. Th third time was the charm for me, as the MR4 and MR4+ just didn't work (midsole would collapse at midfoot contact and give pinch blisters before 3 miles 100% of the time) but the H-plate gave the midsole just enough stability to let me run in them without blister guarantee. And the shoe is so lightweight, and so bouncy, I found myself logging miles in the MR5 as often as I could. One of those shoes that's truly a joy to run in.


Honorable Mention: Brooks Aurora-BL. Virtually everything I wrote about the Max Road 5 applies to the Brooks, with the difference being the price tag. Fun to run in with good support and incredible bounce, the Aurora-BL is a special shoe.

Sally Reiley

New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite 2. One of my top shoes of the year, this OG purple beauty is so well cushioned and yet so fast and fun that it is a no-brainer to lace it up for long runs.Your legs will thank you. I would wear this shoe all the time if could!

Sam Winebaum

Super light for stack and super critical in foam the Brooks Aurora-BL was a big surprise from stodgy Brooks with its lively ride and superb highly breathable upper. I can't wait to run the same Loft v3 foam in the upcoming Glycerin 20.


Honorable Mentions: 

The soft and easy (finally from Nike) Zoom Vomero 16.  It stands in sharp contrast to the last Vomero I ran, the 14 which was a firmer long uptempo shoe-and my 2018 shoe of the year now replaced for me by the Tempo Next % in the tempo category.


If I plan on going somewhat faster the Scott Speed Carbon RC with its dense protective and stable cushion, differentially (pace sensitive) flexing Cabitex plate is a reliable and steady partner. 


Finally for faster yet at long or really any runs the New Balance RC Elite 2


The New Balance RC Elite v2 (RTR Review) carries the Long Run category with 4 votes. The only other shoes receiving more than one vote were the Saucony Triumph 19 (RTR Review) and Fuel Cell Rebel v2 (RTR Review). 



What is your Favorite Short and Fast Shoe (Race or Intervals) of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart

Skechers Razor Elite. Fast and comfortable

Matt Kolat

Hoka Carbon X2, as above.

Renee Krusemark

I would race a 5K or 10K with the Vaporfly Next% and still use my first pair of Next% for speed work. The Rebel 2 works well here too (yes, I think it IS that awesome).

Derek Li

ASICS Metaspeed Edge. The shoe has grown on me over the course of the year, and while it is a little lacking in cushioning for longer intervals for me, I really like how it performs for short intervals up to 1km. The low stack, good lockdown, and the decently grippy upper all combine to make it a really good short interval shoe. Full disclosure: I ran a 5000m PB in the Metaspeed Sky (by nearly a minute) this year, so even at 5000m I’m likely to still go with the Sky.

Michael Ellenberger

ASICS Magic Speed. While the Magic Speed was arguably overshadowed by its older brothers, the Metaspeed Sky and Edge, I found it a terrific option for short and medium-length workouts. The Magic Speed is snappy, fun, and cheap - the combination of which makes this a no brainer if you’re looking for your first - or next - carbon plated option. 

Jeremy Marie

Salomon S/Lab Phantasm. The lightest shoe I have, a racing flat feel but with sufficient protection up to a 1/2 marathon, lots of pop underfoot, great traction on the road.

Adam Glueck

ASICS Metaspeed Sky:  I tend to run with a slower tempo regardless of pace (usually about 155spm), so when I heard ASICS was designing a shoe around runners who tend to go faster by increasing stride length rather than turnover, I was intrigued. The main drawback, is that it really wants to go fast and is optimized to do so.  This shoe fits precisely and has the most impressive super foam I’ve ever tested.  It’s responsive without being harsh.

Beto Hughes

Skechers Speed Freek.The extra cushion works pretty good for longer runs, but for 5k to 10k this shoe is fast, light weight, responsive, has great traction and a very nice toe off.

Nils Scharff

Puma Liberate Nitro - Puma surprised me with a great lineup this year. The Liberty Nitro was in my book the best of the bunch with a nice energetic ride, a flexible midsole, great lockdown, very low weight, a best in class outsole and all of that for a very low price. Well done!

Ryan Eiler

Adidas Takumi Sen 7 - Tenacious grip and unbelievable lockdown. Slightly more forgiving than a traditional racing flat thanks to some Lightstrike foam, yet only 6.5 oz.

Shannon Payne

I could repeat myself and say the Rincon 3 and Kinvara 12, and they work wonderfully for this purpose, but here I would throw in the Hoka Mach 4. It’s cushioned, the sole is just so slightly rockered to feel fast and make running feel more effortless and efficient, it’s light, it’s fast, and it’s responsive.

Jeff Valliere

Asics Metaspeed Sky - For short and fast, long and fast or medium and fast, the Metaspeed Sky begs you to just open up the throttle.

Ivan Luca Corda

Asics Metaspeed Edge. So light and responsive and great for keeping a high cadence. 

Zack Dunn

An older shoe but I ran in the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2 this year and it was great for short, fast sessions. It was very lightweight with a very fun and lively midsole that was shorter in stack height which made it great for fast, short sessions.

Jacob Brady

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%. Despite testing many new potential contenders such as the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2, ASICS Metaspeed Sky, and Saucony Endorphin Pro 2, the original VF NEXT% has remained on top for me for shorter (10k and below) distance racing. It is the lightest shoe amongst its competition and is silky smooth with powerful but not obtrusive rebound. I can really lock in to a pace with the VF NEXT% and it helps keeps my legs turning over and driving me forward without slowing down. I felt the Metaspeed Sky and Endorphin Pro were a bit snappier feeling but in a race were more harsh and were not as smooth or easy to run. The Adios Pro 2 has the smoothness, but I gave it a shot at a 5k and 10k race and felt the weight and slightly more relaxed geometry slowed me down compared to the VF NEXT%.

John Tribbia

Asics Metaspeed Sky. It is light, well cushioned, and has superior snap-back and rebound. PR City!

Joost de Raeymaeker

Puma Running Deviate Nitro Elite. I recently used it in a local 8k (5 mile) race. While still out of shape after a complete running reset in the second half of 2021, I was still able to pick up the pace for what turned out to be a great psychological boost. They felt effortless.

Marcel Krebs

Puma Liberate Nitro

Honorable mention: Adidas Takumi Sen 7. Very light with excellent grip (you can take them to dirt roads because of the excellent outsole without any hesitation).

Jeff Beck

adidas Adios Pro 2. I really enjoyed last year's Adios Pro 1, but the 2 improved under the foot a little, and they improved the upper massively. The result is a well-cushioned and springy shoe that would easily be on my foot if I had a 5K-half marathon scheduled, and would be in consideration if I had an upcoming date with 26.2.


Honorable Mention: Saucony Endorphin Speed Icon. Old school looks, modern day performance, I completely understand why so many runners are enamored with the Endorphin Speed.

Sally Reiley

ASICS Metaspeed Sky. Okay, it is theoretically a marathon shoe, but this is one of my favorite shoes of the year, and I like it for its amazing featherlight speed at short distances as well. You can't help but smile while running in this shoe! You push the pace and it will respond and reward you. 

Bryan Lim

Asics Metaspeed Edge. I much prefer the lower stack in this super shoe as compared to others, including the Metaspeed Sky. The more traditional 8mm drop is also appreciated.

Sam Winebaum

Puma Liberate Nitro. This incredibly light (6.5 oz /184g) flexible shoe with a pleasing slab of Puma's Nitro Foam can go fast in training and racing and even, as it is more than adequately cushioned and with plenty of outsole, can serve as a daily trainer for those who prefer a light ride. And it is only $110.  


Honorable mentions: adidas Takumi Sen 7, a totally modernized "race flat" with incredible grip and a superb Celermesh upper that even makes it light trails racing worthy and finally adizero Adios Pro 1 as while it won't take me past 10K for anything shorter it was my fastest time trials shoe of 2021.


ASICS dominated the short and fast racer category with 3 votes each for the Metaspeed Edge (RTR Review) and Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review) with the Puma Liberate Nitro (RTR Review) also getting 3 votes so a 3 way tie for first. 

The only other shoe receiving more than one vote was the Puma Liberate Nitro (RTR Review) with, interestingly, the Puma Velocity Nitro and Deviate Nitro also receiving a single vote each in the category. 


Long Race Shoe


 

What is your Favorite Long Race Shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart

NB RC Elite V2

Renee Krusemark

I used the Nike Next% (v1) for my road half marathon, and I would still prefer the Next% for full marathons. Honorable Mention to the ASICS Metaspeed Sky.

Derek Li

Tie between the NB RC Elite 2 and the ASICS Metaspeed Sky. If the race is flat enough and I feel fit enough to lean into the pace for the whole race, I would probably gamble with the Sky. Anything with downhills and the scales tip significantly toward the RC Elite 2 for its superior underfoot cushioning especially at the heel. Sky excels at assistance and propulsion, RC Elite 2 excels at underfoot cushioning.

Michael Ellenberger

New Balance FuellCell Elite v2. I'd be remiss if I didn't select the shoe that brought my PR down from 2:31 to 2:23 - and it's not just the times that I enjoyed. The Elite v2 is soft (maybe even too soft, if you can believe it), but dang if it doesn't keep your shoes feeling fresh!

Jeremy Marie

The Scott Speed Carbon RC. I haven't run a long race this year, but improvised a self-supported marathon in the woods in 2:54:xx fasted and with 250ml of water, wearing the Scotts, with the idea of securing sub 3 hours. And the Scott proved to be incredibly efficient with their dynamic flexing Carbitex plate, easy on the legs thanks to the stack height and supportive until the last kms, as the used foam is dense - not too firm or harsh, just...dense. The fit can be sloppy for the narrowest feet, but using a heel lock lacing did the trick. The toe-box is nicely shaped and has enough room for toe splay during long runs. The late stage rocker profile works great with my stride...all of this makes the shoe really easy to run in.

Adam Glueck

NB RC Elite 2:  For the same  reasons as for long run shoe this is my favorite long distance shoe.  Racing a long distance is hard, and the cushion this shoe provides means I feel  better later on in the marathon.  It doesn’t feel quite as fast as the Metaspeed Sky, but for anything over a half Marathon, the additional cushion and leg saving comfort pushed the RC Elite 2 over the edge.

Beto Hughes

New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite V2 for 2021! This shoe is very soft, very responsive and locks the pace very well while taking care of the legs at longer efforts.

Nils Scharff

ASICS Metaspeed Sky - I can't help it. The Metaspeed Sky led me to both my sub 3 marathons this year, as well as a half and a 10k PR. What else should I tell you?

Ryan Eiler

Adidas Adios Pro 1 - Hard to beat the combination of tall-stacked Lightstrike Pro + forefoot energy rods. Comparing it to the Vaporfly/Metaspeed seems like splitting hairs, and comes down to preference and biomechanics.

Shannon Payne

Kinvara 12

Jeff Valliere

Asics Metaspeed Sky - with deep, yet firmly responsive cushioned midsole, a carbon plate, rockered outsole, secure fit, airy breathability and feathery weight, this is the most magically fast shoe I have ever put on my feet.

Ivan Luca Corda

Nike Vaporfly. Still the most efficient at the marathon distance for my biomechanics. 

Zack Dunn

Being a track and XC runner, I only do a few road races a year and the only shoe I use is the Vaporfly Next% (2019 shoe) because it truly is an amazing shoe. It has amazing cushioning while still being extremely lightweight and incredibly fast.

Jacob Brady

Undecided but leaning towards adidas adizero Adios Pro 2. I have  raced four plated shoes for the marathon: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly 4% Flyknit (twice), Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% (twice), New Balance RC Elite v1 (once), Scott Speed Carbon RC (once). My most recent was in the Vaporfly NEXT% where I had a hard time deciding between it and the Adios Pro 2. The latter felt excellent in training at marathon pace and I had a good 10 mile race in the Adios Pro 1, however I did not like it for 10k and shorter distances. The Adios Pro 2 feels smoother and more relaxed than the VF NEXT% but still easy to run fast which I think would be an asset for the marathon. Out of the shoes available now, I would choose the Adios Pro 2 for my next marathon (or perhaps the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% if I acquire one). I think there are a lot of good options for the marathon depending on the individual's fit, pace, form, and preferences.

Joost de Raeymaeker

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2, for the same reasons as why it's my favorite long run shoe.

Marcel Krebs

Asics Metaspeed Sky. Propels your forward because of the carbon plate, not too soft which I like and this all comes in a very good looking and even more important very light shoe.

Saucony Runshield Speed / Speed 2 for the reasons listed above.

Jeff Beck

New Balance RC Elite v2. Similarly to the Adios Pro 2, the RC Elite v2 built on a great shoe from last year, and made it better. My only partial gripe would be the slight downgrade from the v1's unique and incredibly grippy outsole, but they improved the midsole massively, and the upper was a nice change as well. I'd favor the RCv2 over the AP2 for a full marathon mostly due to fit. The AP2 fits my slightly-wider-than-D foot well, but the RCv2 fits it even better. The first 15-20 miles would be a coin flip, but the closing miles of the race I'd be thanking myself for grabbing the New Balance on race day.


Honorable Mention: adidas Adios Pro 2. See above, it's a great shoe for virtually all distances.

Sally Reiley

Saucony Endorphin Pro +. Congratulate yourself if you were lucky enough to score a pair - this shoe is amazing. So light, so smooth, so quick. I definitely would have worn this in my fall marathons if my pair were half a size larger (my pair are my usual size W8, definitely a shoe to size up in for length at toe). 

I raced Boston and New York City Marathons in Nike Vaporfly Next %2 (ran all-time PR in NYC), so I must admit the Next %2 is really my tried and true favorite marathon shoe.

Sam Winebaum

My fastest 2021 half was in the Nike Vaporfly Next % 2 which for sure improves on the flatter feeling Next % 1 with a more easy to find drop in that is more similar to the OG Vaporfly, and with a still light, light for amount of great Zoom X cushion and with a superb upper. 


I wish the Prime X from adidas was more heel stable (and legal) as it would be an easy pick. It has by far the most energetic of super shoe rides topping even the soft (too soft for me) and legal RC Ellte 2. 


No long races in it yet, but suspect the Salomon S/Lab Phantasm CF with its 9mm drop, excellent rocker geometry, stable firmer ride and especially its flexible fiberglass plate which suits me better than most rigid carbon plates for longer races will be a top pick for me in 2022.. 

In the Long Racer category it was a close race with the New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite 2 (RTR Review) (6 votes) edging out the ASICS Metaspeed Sky (4 votes) and Nike Next % (4 votes). 


Absolute Favorite Road Shoe of 2021


 

What is your absolutely favorite road shoe of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart

NB Rebel V2. 

Matt Kolat

Boston 10

Renee Krusemark

I have two pairs of the Rebel 2 for a reason. Even my pair with 350 miles is still fun. While the Rebel 2 will lose some cushion and bounce after 100 miles, the ride then becomes better for me during short, faster efforts and for running on uneven surfaces (easy trails or gravel roads).

Derek Li

ASICS Metaspeed Sky. Unexpected for sure since I am decidedly a cadence runner, but let’s not get caught up with labels. I averaged a cadence of 200spm for my 5000m PB in the Metaspeed Sky. That’s a plenty fast turnover, regardless of the shoe. The Sky has proved to be a really fun and assistive shoe for me for race efforts. When it comes to “experiential running” the Sky has that X factor for me, similar to how people enjoy the Nike Invincible for easy runs.

Michael Ellenberger

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2. It’s hard to think of a more dynamic trainer from New Balance (and yes, I’m including the stellar FuelCell TC) than the new Rebel. Even without a plate, the Rebel is fast enough for workouts and gentle enough for warmups and cooldowns. Don’t skip this. 

Jeremy Marie

Adidas Adios 6. The perfect blend of comfort, pop, cushioning, firmess, the fit is perfect for me, the shoe is durable, works for large spectrum of paces...It may not be the most efficient in every area, but it's clearly my go-to shoe for every run save very specific ones.

Adam Glueck

ASICS MetaSpeed Sky:  This shoe is just so much fun.  I like running with a slow tempo with big powerful strides, and the propulsion works extremely well with my biomechanics.  The plate results in a super snappy toe off, the ASICS Grip rubber maintains great traction, and the foam is just firm enough to feel precise and controlled while delivering explosive rebound.  Every time I go for a fast run, these are the shoes I reach for. 

Beto Hughes

New Balance Fuelcell Rebel V2, this shoe can do it all Easy Runs, Tempo, Fartleks, Long Runs and Race day. Very Responsive, well cushioned and has a pop at faster paces.

Nils Scharff

ASICS Metaspeed Sky - The Sky is one of those shoes to stack up under your bed. I love everything about it and I think it's the only real contender to Nike's offerings in the long distance racing category.

Ryan Eiler

Asics Metaspeed Sky - It feels like a special day every time these are laced up. A perfectly dialed, soft but propellant midsole foam is a treat to run in and begs to go fast.

Shannon Payne

This one is tough…I’d have to say Rincon 3 and Glycerin 19 are tied neck-in-neck despite being quite different shoes.

Jeff Valliere

Asics Metaspeed Sky - It is like a magic carpet ride and leaves the legs feeling surprisingly fresh.

Ivan Luca Corda

Craft CTM Ultra. My go-to shoe for both easy and recovery runs. Especially gentle on calves and achilles days after tough workouts. 

Zack Dunn

In terms of my favorite 2021 shoe, I would have to say the Asics Metaspeed Sky. This shoe is one of the best marathon racing shoes and it has a great amount of cushioning in a very fast, lightweight package.

Jacob Brady

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2. It is versatile, comfortable, fun, and bouncy. It is dramatically lightweight. I can use it for tempo runs as well as easy days. I generally have an enjoyable run every time I choose to wear it regardless of what type of run I am doing.

Mike Postaski

I hardly tested any new road shoes this year, but the Topo ST-4 is one of my favorite shoes overall.  So versatile, helps strengthen my feet and lower legs for trail running.

Joost de Raeymaeker

Puma Running Deviate Nitro. It carried me through a painful period with relative ease and lasted hundreds of miles without ever feeling spent.

Marcel Krebs

Saucony Runshield Speed. 

Broad range of use cases for such a light & bouncy shoe. Runshield upper makes the shoes even more versatile for the winter time and also makes the Endorphine Speed 2 even lighter!

Jeff Beck

Brooks Aurora-BL. This shoe had more miles put on it this year, and I found myself lamenting runs in other shoes (two miles in my mind would wander - "Why aren't I running in the Aurora right now?" if I wasn't putting miles in a shoe for a review). And I never had an answer, so I kept going back.


Honorable Mentions: Skechers Performance Max Road 5 & Go Run Ride 9, two shoes that broke the fun to cost ratio, Skechers Performance has been on the verge of getting things figured out for the last few years, and 2021 is absolutely the year that they broke through. Puma Magnify Nitro. Not nearly as bouncy or fun as the Aurora, and not nearly as fast as it's brethren Liberate or Velocity, the Magnify was the best of the more traditional (but certainly not boring) big mileage trainers. Puma really has something with their Nitro midsole and Puma Grip outsole, now if their uppers could get just a little more refined, they could be a major player.

Sally Reiley

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 - great as a daily trainer, a tempo run shoe, an all around feels comfortable so wear it shoe.

Bryan Lim

Asics Metaspeed Edge. It is essentially a plated racing flat with a super foam. I much prefer it to the Sky variant as it has a lower stack and a more traditional drop of 8mm. The New Balance Rebel v2 comes in a close second but the Edge has finally edged out, pun intended, my favourite shoe of all time, the Adizero Adios 3.

Sam Winebaum

Puma Liberate Nitro: In a world of wildly expensive and high stacked plated shoes, the Liberate has no plate but incorporates Puma’ s supercritical Nitro foam in a super light flexible package at a mere 6.5 oz with plenty of training worthy outsole rubber and cushion It is a joy to run fast and can daily train as well. All for a mere $110. 


Honorable Mentions: 

Diadora Equipe Atomo for to date outstanding durability and a light and versatile ride. All coming at a steep cost but worth it.

Nike Next % 2. Continues to lead the pack in long racers for me.

Adidas Takumi Sen 7: a superb race flat with incredible light trails worthy traction and a spectacular secure upper.

Endorphin Speed 2: Improved in fit and as a result ride it still leads the non carbon but plated ride game for me in 2021 

Brooks Aurora-BL: A wonderful supercritical max cushion ride at very light weight

 

The ASICS Metaspeed Sky (RTR Review) wins the Absolute Best Road Shoe category with 6 votes with the Rebel v2 getting 5 votes. No shoe other than the Endorphin Speed (2 votes) got more than one vote.


 

What is your favorite Brand of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart

NB is crushing it for me this year. 

Renee Krusemark

My love for the Rebel 2 knows no bounds and forces me to choose New Balance. Hey, New Balance, when is the trail version going to be released?

Derek Li

Brand of the year has to go to ASICS. The Metaspeed Sky has really closed the gap on the Nike Vaporfly and we are seeing more and more sub elites and elites seeing success with them. The feather in the cap has to be Kristian Blummenfelt winning Triathlon gold in the Olympic triathlon in the Metaspeed Sky. 

Michael Ellenberger

Tracksmith. Believe the hype! Every item I've purchased from them has been a joy - the standout is the Reggie Half Tight (get lined!).

Jeremy Marie

Puma, for their great line of shoes, affordable, well-built, comprehensive line covering every need, which is quite a comeback - they seem to be fond of come-backs.

Adam Glueck

New Balance, the RC Elite 2 and Rebel 2 might the best two shoe training racing combo I’ve ever seen

Beto Hughes

New Balance, Came strong this 2021 updating their models making them better especially road shoes.

Nils Scharff

ASICS - ASICS is doing great things consistently for quite some time now. What lets them outshine the other brands this year is the near perfect Metaspeed Sky together with some great Trail and apparel products they introduced lately.

Ryan Eiler

Tracksmith - I'm Boston biased here, but I admire both the high-quality products they've released, as well as their passion for the sport. Suddenly, there are tons of Tracksmith sponsored athletes around — and for good reason. It'll be interesting to see if they can continue to innovate in the next couple years.

Shannon Payne

Rabbit

Ivan Luca Corda

ASICS. Very innovative lineup with lots of new technology. Offers a wide variety for all kinds of runners. 

Zack Dunn

For me, as I am primarily a track and cross country runner my favorite brand was most certainly Nike, mainly for their innovation in the track spike game with the Maxfly, Air Zoom Victory, and Dragonfly track spikes. They also came out with pretty great Olympic kits.

Mike Postaski

Topo - very strong brand identity across different shoes - a fit you can count on.  Usually see clear improvements across versions.

Joost de Raeymaeker

Topo Athletic. While they didn't figure as my top shoes, I've been thoroughly enjoying the four pairs of Topo shoes I've reviewed in 2021. Fantastic fit for wide feet, great ride and great running shoe philosophy. Keep them coming!

Marcel Krebs

Asics, as they made a big comeback in the area of super racers (Metaspeed Sky) but also put out the probably most versatile trail shoe on the market in 2021 (Fuji Lite 2)

Honorable mention: Salomon & Saucony established at high level combined with very promising lineups for 2022!

Jeff Beck

Brooks. They got better at the basics, and they showed that they weren't afraid to get a little crazy. The Glycerin 19 followed their blueprint of the last five years, but somehow made it *that* much better. Then came the Cascadia 16, with DNA Loft v2, and it showed up with a really nice toebox and incredible midsole/outsole combination, effectively making a ho-hum trail shoe that checked a lot of boxes (and didn't inspire much joy) into a truly wonderful shoe. Then they brought out the Aurora-BL, which still feels like a fever dream of a shoe, while it is pricy and awkward looking, it's also one of the most fun rides ever created, showing what DNA Loft v3 can do. Beyond the individual shoes they created, more importantly Brooks showed that they aren't afraid to take risks, and let's be real, they've been one of the most risk averse companies of the last few years. In one year Brooks went from the most predictable of the big names to one with the most edge, and based on the glimpses we've seen of 2022, this is the new Brooks. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sally Reiley

New Balance. So many great new innovative models (love the Fuel Cell line) and great looking shoes. Not a dud in the lineup! Love to see this from a local Boston-based brand.

Sam Winebaum

Puma: Out of “nowhere” in performance running, they emerged with a complete line of road shoes from a flat to several trainers to a racer that won Bronze at the Olympics. Nitro supercritical foam, light weights, solid fun rides in every model. 

Honorable Mentions: 

New Balance for their friendly RC Elite 2 racer and super fun Rebel v2 captured the trend for softer bouncier shoes brilliantly.

Adidas in similar fashion to cross town rival Puma “re emerged” with a complete line of well thought out performance shoes from trainers to racers all with incredible Celermesh uppers. 

Saucony perfected its popular Endorphin line with effective upper updates.

Brooks' strength remained in trail and excellent budget road trainers (Revel and Trace) for me yet in terms of sales their “traditional” road trainers continue to lead. The Aurora-BL clearly shows that they are not standing still. 

ASICS struck hard in racing with their Metaspeed Sky and Edge.

Nike focused on racing with Next % 2, still clearly the volume selling super shoe for good reason, the wild and different Alphafly and in a nod to training of the more easy going variety with the Vomero 16. 


In the battle of the brands New Balance comes out on top with 5 votes while ASICS (4 votes) and Puma (3 votes) are not far behind.


 

What were your biggest surprise(s) of 2021 and why? Includes Trail

Peter Stuart

Topo trail shoes. I feel like they hit their stride this year. Diadora. 

Renee Krusemark

The lightweight trail shoes this year were a surprise. I'm a fan of using road shoes for trail running when possible, but that's not always a great idea depending on distance and surface. Several brands released trail shoes that were relatively lightweight AND good for distances past 20 miles. Keep those coming, please.

Derek Li

in terms of overall offerings, I think Adidas impressed me the most. Sure we already saw potential in the Adios Pro 1 last year, but their full lineup this year with the Prime X, Boston 10 and Adios 6 all fulfill different roles and really complement the Adios Pro 2 very well. I think Adidas really came out with a nice complete lineup this year, all of which perform really well at their intended purpose. And just when people wrote them off with their Boost and Lightstrike foams. 

Michael Ellenberger

Lots of terrific options this year. I was pleased with Nike, Atreyu, and ASICS offerings. Saucony had some hits, but also released only aesthetic updates to their flagships. Brooks, in my opinion, had a bit of an off year, as did Skechers. Overall, I most often found myself picking a New Balance off my rack - both for racers and trainers, and I think the brand is making the right choices in terms of performance and design.

Jeremy Marie

Craft CTM. I've been caught off-guard by Craft shoe offerings. And it's probably the shoe I used more in 2021.

Adam Glueck

The Salomon S/Lab Pulsar.  I’ve never seen a trail shoe like this before, it’s revolutionary and incredibly exciting and sets the bar for what trail racing shoes can be.  Hopefully more exciting foams come to true trail market.  

Beto Hughes

My Biggest Surprise is Topo Athletic’s road and trail shoes. They are innovating without sacrificing comfort and their new Model Magnifly 4 is my favorite 0mm drop shoe.

Nils Scharff

Puma - Puma took us all by surprise by their big push into the performance running shoe market. And they really did it right - not just in terms of marketing where they got big names like Molly Seidel and Karsten Warholm - but also with a range of great products. I'm curious what they have to offer for us in the coming year!

Ryan Eiler

If you told me I'd be lining up to race a marathon wearing a mask in October 2021, I would have never believed you.


 

Jeff Valliere

Speedland SL:PDX - the innovation is off the charts and in my opinion, made the biggest splash in 2021

Ivan Luca Corda

Craft. Great innovation and well thought out new products. 

Jacob Brady

A surprise shoe for me was the Puma Voyage Nitro GTX. It's unsurprising considering the direction Puma is heading with their running shoe modernization, however I was surprised at how many miles I've put on Puma's cushioned waterproof trail shoe. It is a daily wear, road and trail run, and hiking shoe for me. Versatile, warm and dry for cold weather, good traction, and performant.

Dom Layfield

Salomon Pulsar.  I didn't think any shoe brands cared about the weight of their trail shoes.  Salomon blew the lid of that preconception, delivering a shoe that is far, far lighter than anything I'd ever seen before outside of the Nike Mayfly concept.

Mike Postaski

VJ Shoes - Spark and Ultra - two great shoes from a brand I'd never heard of. Very excited to see what they come up with in the future - a few tweaks and V2 of those shoes could be amazing.

Joost de Raeymaeker

Puma getting back into the game in a big way on the positive side and an overall abandonment of nice lower stack shoes like the Adios Boston for models that aren't fish nor meat, on the negative side.

Marcel Krebs

The comeback of Puma into the performance running scene. The Nitro lineup was very promising – especially the Liberate! 

Jeff Beck

Puma. Absolutely incredible turnaround they've made, considering a year ago they really weren't thought of as a running shoe company. I ran in four different Pumas, and while I have some notes on improving a few of them, I'm willing to kick back and see what happens next year and the years coming - easily the company most on the rise.

Sam Winebaum

Clearly the strong re-emergence of Puma. 


After about a decade of stagnation and Boost adidas came on strong with a full new performance line in road.  


Craft, more well known for sportswear emerged as a footwear brand with strong and unique offerings in the CTM Ultra shoes and Race Rebel


The most innovative surprises of 2021 were actually in trail with modular dynamically flexing carbon plated Speedland SL:PDX and the incredibly light (lighter than just about any road shoe) S/Lab Pulsar trail racer from Salomon


Somehow brands continued to innovate often remotely with many more shoes featuring super critical foams and do their best to deliver in a pandemic with incredible shoes to come in 2022.


Puma's re emergence was clearly the team’s biggest surprise as were innovative trail shoes from Speedland and Salomon with Topo and Craft also surprising.  

Reviews of all the shoes in the survey can be found at our index page HERE


Favorite Apparel



 

What is your favorite apparel of 2021 and why?

Peter Stuart

Tracksmith. Reggie lined half tights rule. Strata shorts are terrific. Unfortunately their sizing has gotten weird in tops for me. The Janji packable waterproof jacket is pretty excellent too. 

Matt Kolat

Nike Aeroswift shorts. Most breathable and soft shorts I own.

Renee Krusemark

We all know Tracksmith is hard to beat in terms of comfort (that cost though . . . ugh). I wore the Adidas Terrex Core Agravic Trail Pro shorts for a road half marathon and my 30 mile trail race. I can fit my iPhone 12 in the waist line mesh pocket and enough gels for a 50K.

Derek Li

I didn’t get much in terms of new kit this year. The Gore Wear split shorts with their generous rear pocket that easily fits an iPhone continues to be one of my daily staples. Recently, I also bought the Adidas Adizero running tights and I really like them for speed work. They have just the right amount of compression to give a fast feeling fit. It comes with an in-built liner and is incredibly thin and light. It’s really nicely compares to offerings from Nike and Tracksmith. The only downside is lack of storage options with this tight.

Michael Ellenberger

Brooks Carbonite Jacket. I wear it nearly every outdoor run, because it's winter and it's ALWAYS dark! The Carbonite Jacket stands out in the dark, but also blends in when it's light, and is just a joy to run in!

Jeremy Marie

Compressport Seamless pants. A late buy, but these are great. The cut and fit is perfect, loose on the thighs, more fitted on the calves, light, warm, breathable.

Adam Glueck

Odlo Zeroweight Pro Warm Reflect Jacket:  This jacket is extremely comfortable, and features a ton of reflectivity for those dark and cold runs.  It’s warmer than a shell and more breathable than a highly insulated jacket, and feels great for running, cycling, hiking, and XC skiing. 

Beto Hughes

Tracksmith, very high quality materials and the retro designs look so clean and classy.

Nils Scharff

ASICS FUJITRAIL Jacket - This windbreaker is hands down the best running jacket I've ever worn. Great fit and design, amazing hood, light, packable, water repellent and first and foremost amazingly breathable. The only downside is the prize of 170€.


ASICS FUJITRAIL Shorts - I usually don't like dual layer shorts, but the Fujitrail Shorts really got me over that stereotype I had in mind. It's made out of a very light and breathable fabric and sits safe and comfy (no shafing!). But it's best feature are the pockets - stretchy ones for gels, gloves etc. on both sides and a close to the body (no wobbling) phone pocket in the back.


adidas Saturday Warm Running Tight - Strange name, great piece! I've never had a tights that fitted this well. It's again a no-nonsense product with just the right amount of features: comfortable fabric, lower leg zippers, big reflective details and a nice pocket on the right thigh which is able to hold my phone safely.

Ryan Eiler

Tracksmith Reggie Half Tights (Lined) - I wasn't a half-tights guy until I met the Reggie. With a liner inside, this is simply the most comfortable running bottom I've ever worn.

Shannon Payne

All things Rabbit! Their fit, their material used, and their quality and longevity all make for unbeatable running-specific apparel in my opinion.

Jeff Valliere

Odlo Zeroweight Dual Dry Running Jacket - I carry this on a high percentage of runs in the summer as a just in case it rains jacket, as it is super light, protects from wind and short lived downpours, while fitting in just about any run short or vest pocket.

Ivan Luca Corda

Nike Phenom Elite Tight. Does not absorb sweat. Light, stretchable and even a bit of wind protection. Almost doesn't notice its there. 

Zack Dunn

ASICS Men's Fall Ekiden Singlet; A very lightweight, high quality racing singlet, as well as having a very cool design.

Jacob Brady

Tracksmith Harrier Tee and Long Sleeve. Performant, comfortable, simple cool to cold weather top. The merino blend dries quickly, doesn't hold odor, and only needs occasional washing. In the fall, winter, and spring in Maine I wear it as a layer on nearly every run. 

Mike Postaski

ODLO - picked up a bunch of base layers for cold weather - never seem to get cold or overheat. Very versatile across temperature ranges. 

Joost de Raeymaeker

Tracksmith. I've never tested and received any gear of theirs for testing, but I keep on buying it because it's just that good. The half Reggie lined is my absolute favorite.

Marcel Krebs

Asics Fujitrail Jacket. A very versatile, comfortable and light jacket for lots of use cases. It very quickly became my go-to jacket in the last couple of months. 

Jeff Beck

TASC Performance Carollton t-shirts continue to be my go-to/no-brainer shirt. They breathe well when it's warm (with zero chafing) and they also act as a great base layer when things get chilly, I'm constantly impressed.

Sally Reiley

Tracksmith Session Speed Short. Somehow you forget you are wearing anything at all - great fit, luxurious soft feel, perfect length and weight, great pocket. The only drawback is the price, but so worth it because they are one short that does it all short for me. Performed like a champ in both Boston and NYC Marathons for me this fall.

Sam Winebaum

A mix here: 

Cool and Cold Weather: Tracksmith Off Roads Short Sleeve (merino/tencel) as never chilled, incredibly fast drying, and stink proof. Not far behind Hoka’s stretch woven merino short sleeve. Gorewear Ultimate 2-1  shorts for cool weather due to length and liner and for 5L plus vest carrying capacity and great in any season as they are fine in warm weather too. 

Brooks Carbonite Long Sleeve: high visibility in any light condition, breathable and comfortable even in warm conditions

Any Odlo base layer and new Axalp Ceramiwarm Miidlayer with 2 pockets, silicone pack patches and stretchy breathable fit. Tracksmith Reggie Tight with liner.  Odlo Zeroweight Warm Run Pant:  Windproof front, very light, articulated knees, huge range of temperature and conditions utility.  


Warm Weather: Craft Hypervent Tee and Singlet . I reached for these two more than many others this past summer.

adidas Terrex Pro Trail short for carrying capacity and shorter than “usual” in a trail short length. 

adidas Terrex ProTrail Jacket:  totally waterproof and ultralight. Tracksmith NDO Jacket breathable, merino warm, northeast weather proof.


Hats: Mission Vented Cap, Buff beanie and Buff UV multi functions of all types and materials.. 


Socks: Darn Tough Ultralight, ON socks, CEP Ultralight sleeves and compression merino  hiking socks.


Tracksmith and Odlo clearly were the team’s top favorites in 2021


Favorite Run Accessories of 2021


 

What is your favorite accessory of 2021 and why? (Packs, lights, poles, recovery and injury aids, etc)

Peter Stuart

UltrAspire 3.0 water bottle. Easy to carry, wide mouth, good pocket.

Matt Kolat

My many Ciele athletics running caps. They are very soft, take in buckets of sweat, retain softness after machine washing and look awesome.

Renee Krusemark

My Salomon Active Skin Set 8 pack is finally about to wear out after about 18 months of hard use. The pack is light and comfort, and I use it just to carry my phone even when I don't need hydration.

Jeremy Marie

I've spent the year pack-less, poles-less and relied on my existing accessories. The one that never let me down is my Stoots headlight, even after several months being left in a drawer.

Handbuilt in France, effective operation, huge battery life and one of the most efficient lighting patterns  I've seen - and experienced once again during the  recent SainteLyon night trail run race. This is quality stuff and the kind of buy that you won’'t regret.

Adam Glueck

Hyperice Hypervolt Pro:  This massage gun is extremely powerful and features several interchangeable heads that allow you to target muscles in different ways.  In a year with less easy access to physical therapy, this was a great way to do some preventative maintainable on sore muscles.  

Beto Hughes

Naked HC Vest and Naked Running Belt. Very Light weight, Comfortable, Zero Bounce and can carry a lot of stuff.

Ryan Eiler

Knog Quokka Rechargeable Headlamp - A minimalist headlamp that's perfect for running, its low-profile silicone strap stays in place better than any other. The bounciness of larger headlamps is eliminated, making this my choice for the dark winter months.

Shannon Payne

LMNT Hydration. Salted Watermelon and Salted Citrus specifically. Great for the salty sweaters among us.

Mike Postaski

UltrAspire Basham vest - A lightweight vest great for warm weather or racing.  Few small pockets in front and water bottle in the lower back feels more balanced when running fast.

Joost de Raeymaeker

While not exactly an accessory or even a running item, a friend lent me a 2016 Specialized Venge road bike and an early Wahoo Kickr to try and keep up my cardio fitness while doing a full running reset. I've thoroughly enjoyed it together with the Wahoo Sufferfest (now SYSTM) software. My next race might now be a duathlon now.

Marcel Krebs

TheraGun Pro. It is my go to solution when muscles are sore or stiff. The TheraGun offers enough power to loosen even very hardened muscles if you “enjoy” such kind of deep tissue massage. It also offers different attachments for different areas of the body and different use cases. For example, the very soft one is invaluable for sore calves. The attachments also work with the TheraGun Mini which is a perfect travel companion. 


Honorable mention: Salomon Adv. Skin 5. It already was my favorite pack of 2020 and still remains my go to pack for almost every use case. Positioning of the pockets and even more important of the bottles is very well thought through.

Jeff Beck

Calf Pro stretcher. I crowdfunded this a while ago, and when it finally showed up it was worth the wait (and the weight - this thing is beefy). There are a number of calf stretching devices on the market, but the Calf Pro is the only one that really leverages the stretch. No way to cheat this one, it brings the heat.

Sally Reiley

Sidestep Bow Muscle Scraper

I have been plagued these past few years with hamstring injuries, and the pandemic made it challenging to see a physical therapist or chiropractor for treatment. The Sidestep muscle scraping tools enable you to perform Graston like muscle scraping, and the 19" double handed Bow makes it easy to work larger muscles such as your quads, hamstrings, hips, etc. Scraping has helped me immensely and kept my leg muscles healthy at home.

Sam Winebaum

Salomon Sense Pro 10L Vest. The reworked multitude of well placed front and side pockets and a big zip rear pocket dramatically extend the utility of this race vest with no real weight or breathability penalty as now I can carry outer layers and other stuff at the rear when needed.


When I need more capacity or for travel the Camelbak Octane 25L from 2020 is still my goto with intriguing up to 40L Deckers Lab pack in the hunt.



Favorite Tech of 2021


 

What is your favorite tech of 2021 and why?

Matt Kolat

Coros Pace 2, super high quality watch for a moderate price.

Renee Krusemark

As far as shoe tech, I enjoyed the insoles this year that used TPU beads. Last year's Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 had a TPU beaded insole and this year's Craft CTM Ultra (and Carbon Ultra) both used similar insoles. I have been using these insoles in other shoes and notice a benefit.

Michael Ellenberger

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE. I haven't drafted a full review for it yet (and may not), but this watch lured me away from my beloved Apple Watch. And while I still miss shouting commands at Siri on my wrist, the 945 LTE is a great, safe, and just bombproof option in a smaller package than its predecessor, the 945!

Jeremy Marie

Stryd Powermeter pod. Even if I'm still getting used to it, building landmarks on power values, I can feel that it's an incredible tool. First as a foot pod, ensuring perfect pace - something that is far from ideal using GPS watches - and no matter the brand, Suunto, Polar, Garmin Coros - they all have issues depending on the terrain, turns, building around, trees coverage.

Then, there's the power aspect of it. Clearly something that demands time to be properly used, and a great effort to change paradigm: going from a pace-based training (or maybe an HR-based one) to a power based training - just like on bikes.

I'm still not convinced of the values on the trails  on slopes, I feel like the wattage is low regarding the effort. but even with this caveat, the Stryd Powermeter can really help you focus your training and staying in the right zones, independently from external situations (wind, slight slopes...)

Beto Hughes

Coros Pace 2, for everything it offers at its $200 price it’s a great watch. 

Nils Scharff

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE - I finally upgraded from my aging Forerunner 935 and never looked back. I honestly don't use the LTE features, but especially the smaller form factor and the on-wrist maps are worth every penny. I also like the advanced 24/7 and sleep tracking (compared to the 935).

Ryan Eiler

Gaia Maps (gaiagps.com) - I've found dozens of miles of new trail running using this app. It made 2021 much more tolerable than it would have otherwise been!

Shannon Payne

Hypervolt massage guns. They pay for themselves in terms of reduced trips to your sports massage therapist :)

Jeff Valliere

Suunto S9 Peak - it was great to see Suunto lose the weight/bulk of their previous models and jam so much functionality, battery life and accuracy into such a small, light, comfortable and elegant package.

Ivan Luca Corda

Coros watches. Great software/app which is superior to competitors visually. 

Zack Dunn

I don't use very much tech in terms of my running, but one thing I did buy and use an Athletic Works LED visibility vest. It is very reflective as well as having lights, and I wear it during  night runs for safety purposes. 

Joost de Raeymaeker

I really enjoyed RunScribe at the beginning of the year, and continue to use my Stryd, but neither of them is 2021 tech and I've also gone cold turkey on all the data. To be honest, I don't miss peeking at the numbers.

Marcel Krebs

Silva Free Runner H: A powerful and still very light headlamp with different battery life depending on the length of your runs. Adaptive lighting makes it an excellent choice even on more demanding trails. Nonetheless, in very technical terrain you should aim for something with more lumen like the Silva Exceed series.

Honorable mention: Petzl Bindi. While not a 2021 product, it became my go-to headline this year for easy trails and dark parks in the city as it is even lighter and a perfect backup for the Silva Free

Honorable mention: Still Garmin Fenix 6 Pro; it is still the best watch for navigating routes and also offers very good options to plan my training in advance; can’t wait for the 7!

Jeff Beck

Kogalla RA Adventure light yet again (RTR Review). It brings so much light and is so easy to work with (standard USB cable means you can use any battery source you'd like or use the battery to charge other devices) it single-handedly makes night time running effectively day time running. And that's awesome.

Sally Reiley

Garmin 245 with music. Basic, simple, affordable, easy to use, and adequate for all that I need. Some need altimeters and more bells and whistles, but I like the functionality of this watch and the Garmin Connect system. The watch has plenty of sophisticated features that I don't need, but it is nice to know the opportunity to delve deeper into data is there. Plus the watch is smaller than past models (great for women)  and looks classy on the wrist.

Sam Winebaum

COROS Vertix 2: A big GPS watch that finally licks the wrist heart rate inconsistency “problem” of high readings confused by cadence when blood flow is low viaa wide comfortable strap and likely of course tweaks to the algorithms.  And by far the longest battery life I have ever seen. 28 days with about 1 hour of running each day worth. It is great to literally never worry about charging.  More features than I will ever use but the basics of GPS, wrist heart rate consistency, and battery life are all top of the game.


Komoot mapping, used by Suunto and Polar but also a standalone app. The easiest and best way to lay out a route with almost 100% of trails I have tested against indicated.  Where available on the watch even turn indications.


Multiple ways to skin a plate. In particular Carbitex with its DFX (dynamically flexing) pace  and terrain adapting plate in the Scott Carbon RC and Speedland SL:PDX and AFX asymmetrically flexing plate coming in the Saucony Endorphin Edge. Flex in one direction rigid in the others demonstrate a plate doesn’t have to a rigid carbon element. 


I purchased the Ray-Ban Stories Wayfarer sunglasses with built-in dual cameras, mics, and speakers and it has proved most useful for RTR “reporting” on the go, hands free and with  voice commands to activate all functions. 


Coros (4) edges out Garmin (3) by one vote. This is significant as Coros showed RTR its very first watch, the Pace, in December 2017.


To read all contributors Run Bios please click HERE

Our Best of Trail Running 2022 is coming soon. 



And 2022 is upon us!

After attending the recent The Running Event where models for the first half of the coming year were introduced  here are what we see as emerging trends.


2022 Trends:

  • Super foams and near super foams are now increasingly common in both road and trail with gas infused, chemically modified, and mixes of materials in the foams. Pure old EVA is for all intents and purposes gone as the ride and weight advantages of these foams is so compelling.

  • Uppers are getting lighter too, moving towards next generation knits (Hoka Carbon X3) with mono filaments in the mix, simpler light yet effective engineered mesh with elaborate zoning of support and breathability (Diadora Equipe Atomo), and light mono type mesh with elaborate overlay/underlays (adidas Celermesh) in both road and trail

  • “Plates” are moving from monolithic rigid carbon plates to more dynamically flexing (Carbitex), shaped forms (New Balance Energy Arc), multiple plates in parallel (Hoka Tecton X trail) and non carbon highly tunable plastics and fiberglass (Salomon Energy Blade). Brands also now offer non plated versions of the plated platforms (Craft) or PEBA inserts surrounded by more stable foams (Craft, Saucony Xodus Ultra, and some others we can’t discuss yet)

  • Stack heights continue to increase for both trainers and racers yet the shoes can stay light if not lighter than their predecessors due to the new materials

  • Weights drop across the board for both road and trail as both midsoles and uppers get lighter and in all categories of shoes. 

  • Prices continue to rise with many shoes with latest tech $180 or more.

  • Supply chain issues continue to plague the industry with many of the “Spring”  shoes we saw delayed until mid year.  


 RTR’s The Running Event 2022 Recap Article and Videos (34 Shoes Covered)


Thanks for Following RoadTrailRun in 2021 

Happy Holidays from the RTR Team and here is to a Fast and Healthy 2022!

Have a Great Run!

Most covered  samples were provided at no charge for review purposes, others were personal purchases. Contributors were not compensated by RTR or brands for their opinions with their options entirely their own. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content.


Please check out our Holiday Gift Guides for Runners and Savings Page HERE

34 Run Shoes Covered! 
RTR's Top Road & Trail Run Shoe Introductions for 2022 from The Running Event HERE
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3 comments:

Marcel said...

following

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great reviews in 2021. Thanks to all the reviewers also - such a breath of knowledge and experience. Always my go to place before purchasing running shoes. Thanks and have a great Christmas.
Steve

Sam Winebaum said...

Our pleasure Steve! Thanks so much for the kind words and wishing you, yours and all RTR readers, and runners wonderful Holidays!
Sam, Editor