No two runners run alike. Your preferences, natural stride, body type, skills, and experience are all unique to you — and while that’s awesome, it can also pose a challenge as you look for the right shoe.
Fortunately, we know a thing or two about matchmaking. To find your best running shoe, use these questions as a guide. It’s more fun than setting up a dating profile. (And bonus: shoes will never ghost you.)
Where do you prefer to run?
Whether you’re hitting the road or tackling the trail, you need a shoe that’s built for the specific challenges of your environment.
Road shoes are lighter weight, with responsive cushion to soften your landing on hard asphalt or cement.
By contrast, trail shoes tend to be more heavy-duty, with built-in protection from rocks and debris and more stability to counter uneven terrain.
How do you want your shoes to feel?
“Comfort” means something different to everyone. We want to match you with a shoes that feels good to you. So consider which of these categories aligns with your goals and running style.
Our Cushion collection is built to absorb impact for a soft landing and steady push-off. Perfect for runners who want to feel clouds beneath their feet.
Our Energize shoes are designed to give you back the energy you put into each stride. For a springy toe-off and a little more pep in each step, these are a great fit.
Our Speed category features the sports cars of the shoe world. Light and fast, these models are just right if you plan to push the limits of pace and time.
What are your support needs?
Your body has a preferred motion path — the way your joints and muscles naturally want to move with every step you take. To maximize comfort and reduce the risk of injury, the right shoe will help your body maintain its natural motion.
Neutral runners move the same way off the run as they do on the run. Their bodies stay in their preferred motion path without added guidance.
You may be a neutral runner if:
- The wear pattern in your shoes is consistent indicating you distribute your weight evenly with each step.
- Your feet and knees align as you run, tracking straight ahead.
- Your knees stay parallel when you do a simple squat.
Support runners experience excess joint movement as they run. To help, we created GuideRails® support technology, designed to keep knees and hips in alignment. Think of GuideRails like the bumpers in bowling — out of the way when you’re on course, and gently nudging you back if you deviate.
You may be a support runner if:
- There is excessive wear on the inside edge of your shoes, indicating lateral movement in your stride.
- Your feet and knees don’t track perfectly straight as you run.
- Your knees rotate inward when you do a simple squat.
A final note on support:
Whatever your natural stride looks like, all runners need extra support off-road. So while your trail shoes aren’t defined as “neutral” or “support” — they don’t have GuideRails technology – they all offer that essential stability.
So which shoes are best?
Tally your answers for terrain, preferred experience, and support style, then take a look at our suggestions here.
Trail | Cushion
Divide Traction and protection to bridge runners from road to trail
Cascadia Rule the trail with cushioned, durable protection and stability
Cascadia GTX Cushioned, durable protection with a waterproof exterior
Trail | Energize
Caldera Excellent traction and responsive cushion on any terrain
Catamount Lightweight cushioning and top-notch traction for high-speed miles
Want a more personalized recommendation?
Now that you’re familiar with our line, check out our Shoe Finder! It’s a great interactive tool that can give you even more detailed results. And it only takes five minutes.
Or, get some in-person help when you stop by a local running store. You can talk to an expert about your specific needs and concerns — plus try on different shoes and see what feels best.
However you pick your pair, make sure shoes have a long, happy life by taking good care of them. Check out some pointers on how to maintain your kicks.