Supershoe Showdown: The Best Racers Head-to-Head

Supershoe Showdown: The Best Racers Head-to-Head

Five years after the debut of the first supershoe, the thick-stacked, carbon-plated racers are no longer new nor controversial, but they continue to amaze with their ability to enliven a run and produce fast times. While a few brands didn’t join the party until this year, many models on the market are two or three generations deep—and the new releases keep coming.

Every shoe in this genre boasts some sort of ultralight, hyper-responsive foam with an embedded, curved carbon-fiber plate, but each delivers a surprisingly unique ride. Designers manipulate myriad elements of the shoe—midsole thickness and composition, heel-toe drop, rocker shape, plate stiffness and location, upper materials—each of which affects how the shoe interacts with your stride. And, since the resulting roll and explosive response of each shoe is tuned to optimize a specific stride pattern, it’s important that you find the supershoe that complements how you move.

group of supershoe racers
This year’s crop of supershoes (Photo: 101 Degrees West)

To help you narrow the search, we put miles on ten new supershoes over the course of several months of training. Before completing our reviews, we also compared the shoes back-to-back, running roughly a half mile in each shoe at marathon pace, taking notes on the ride, then changing into the next model for another loop. Throughout the testing, we paid attention to how each shoe felt on the run, which we preferred, and why. Our impressions differed, sometimes dramatically, as each of us has unique stride mechanics and shoe preferences.

In addition to our individual reactions to each shoe, we identified two characteristics that seem to have the greatest effect on how each supershoe rides: the squishiness of the midsole and the shape of the toe rocker. Comparing notes, we assigned each shoe a “soft score” to rank how much we felt the foam sink in before rebounding (1 for the least deflection or firmest and 10 for the most deflection or softest). Then, we described each shoe’s rocker: where it begins along the foot, its shape, and how it affects the stride.

We hope these comparisons and observations help you find the best shoe for you—one that enhances your stride and creates magic.

Meet The Testers

Lisa Jhung

I generally don’t track my mileage and most often head for trails and hills, but road running in supershoes has given my road running new life. I’ve been running for about 33 years, having started on the hardpacked sand of Southern California. Running in supershoes reminds me of the combination of spring and cushioning you get running fast on perfectly packed sand at low tide. (I once ran a 6-minute mile, my fastest to date, on packed sand during a race in college at U.C. Santa Barbara.) I have a connective tissue disorder which gives me loose ligaments and frequent injuries, and fallen arches when I stand but that are pronounced when I’m off my feet. That combination makes me appreciate the stability afforded by carbon plates. I sort of view supershoes as a revolutionary form of stability shoes, and I dig it.

Cory Smith

Give me a hard track workout or tempo run over an easy long run any day. I love everything about racing—the anxiety, pain, victory, and defeat. My competitive spirit started over 25 years ago when I became the sixth-ranked high school 3k runner in the U.S. my senior year. Since then, I’ve been addicted to competitive running at every distance, from one mile to the marathon on the roads and trail. Now at age 44, I compete on the national master’s racing circuit. I was once a fan of ultra-lightweight and firm low-profile racing shoes. In the new era of supershoes, however, if there’s a plate in there, the thicker and softer, the better. About half my weekly mileage is run in a supershoe. They’ve resurrected that effortless feeling of floating across the ground at high speeds I used to have in my younger and faster days, not to mention allowing me to recover faster.

Jonathan Beverly

My idea of a perfect run is ten miles at a comfortable cruise, and has been ever since I first went long in high school cross country in the late ’70’s. I ran a marathon at age 16, and the puzzle of getting that distance right has fascinated me for most of my adult life. After four decades of wearing any shoe I wanted (with a preference for minimalist models), a cascading series of injuries in my mid-50s has me now appreciating more supportive shoes. Once a 2:46 marathoner regularly doing 50+ mile weeks, the injuries and my age (58) have reduced my volume by about half and slowed my easy training pace to around nine-minute miles—but I still enjoy an uptempo workout or two each week. I’m not a fan of shoes with serious squish, including many of the first-gen supershoes, but the improved stability and smoother roll in many of this year’s models are winning me over to the supershoe magic.

The Supershoes

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 ($275)

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2
(Photo: Courtesy Nike)

Weight: 8.8 oz (men); 7 oz (women)
Stack Heights: 40mm – 32mm / 8 mm drop
Soft Score: 9
Rocker: Starts just past the ball of the foot. Curves moderately, balancing toe roll and push-off.

Men’s Women’s

What’s New

  • Shoe width increased by three additional millimeters in heel and two millimeters in forefoot, improving stability
  • Heel drop increased from four to eight millimeters
  • A new contoured insole and wider midsole under the arch for better support
  • A new, lighter outsole also provides enhanced traction and durability
  • A thin layer of ZoomX (Pebax) midsole added under the forefoot Zoom Air pods, for smoother transitions
  • A revamped upper provides a more secure lockdown, increased breathability, and improved overall comfort
  • A softer heel counter relieves pressure along the Achilles tendon
  • Extra padding in the tongue improves comfort

Bottom Line: This shoe combines the powerful spring from bouncy foam and compressed-air pods with a stable, supportive platform, creating a bounding ride that pleases a variety of runners.

Jonathan: This isn’t just a shoe, it’s a whole structure of plates and springs that you carry around to land on, far removed from the ground. To my surprise, however, I enjoyed the ride. This new AlphaFly is more stable than its predecessor and far more stable than the Vaporfly. I felt supported under the heel, the arch, the ball, and the toes. My feet were engaged in the stride, with solid proprioception. The midsole feels like there is a top platform suspended above the ground by firmly-inflated air bags, producing a controlled bounce that drives each step forward. It’s a far cry from most of the more-minimalist shoes I’ve enjoyed in my life, but it works, even for me.

Lisa: For me, this shoe felt like the bounciest of the bunch. It also felt the fastest (well, my pace read faster on my watch than it felt on my legs). I enjoy running in this shoe. It fits my narrow foot well, and makes me feel like a hotshot (I’m not). What’s most noticeable to me are the forefoot Zoom Air units. It really feels like you’re running on propulsive bubbles.

Cory: I had real issues with the first Alphafly. The severely in-cut midfoot and flat insole gave me a nasty blister on the medial side of my arch. I couldn’t wear the shoe for any run over 10 miles. Thanks, Nike for fixing that issue by adding a contoured arch and widening the midfoot. As for the ride: Have you ever seen a cartoon character use springs on their feet to bounce over something high? Yeah, that’s how this feels. Between the uber-soft midsole and Zoom Air units in the forefoot there might as well be springs under your feet.

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 ($150)

Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
(Photo: Courtesy Nike)

Weight: 6.9 oz (men); 5.8 oz (women)
Stack Heights: 40mm – 32mm / 8mm drop
Soft Score: 10
Rocker: Starts late, forward of the ball of the foot. Steep rocker falls away quickly under the toes.

Men’s Women’s

What’s New

  • Completely new, more breathable engineered mesh upper
  • Additional padding in the tongue
  • Plastic reinforced toe box increases durability
  • Reduced price

Bottom Line: With a trampoline-like ride, narrow base, and an aggressive rocker, this shoe enhances the stride of powerful forefoot runners, but leaves others wallowing.

Jonathan: I’ve tried to like the VaporFly in all its versions to date, but it just doesn’t work for me. I feel like I’m running on a trampoline, wallowing in slow strides while I struggle to balance and push off the thick, squishy platform. My cadence goes down and my heart-rate goes up when I’m wearing this shoe. Even when I try to get up on my toes and sprint, I feel like I’m out of sync with the foam’s rebound. I suppose I’m too slow, too weak, and too damn old for this speedster, but I’ll pass and choose other shoes that make me feel super.

Lisa: The phrase that tends to run through my head when wearing this shoe is, “I’m not worthy!” And honestly, I’m not. Even the exposed foam under the heel, with outsole rubber only under the mid- to forefoot, tells me they didn’t make the shoe for runners like me who tend to land on their heels. I also felt the narrow profile was a bit too slim even for my narrow feet—I could feel the outline of the sockliner beneath my arch. But the ride is peppy—as in, world-record-breaking peppy. I know this is a choice weapon of speed for many, but not for inefficient runners with fallen arches.

Cory: I’ve heard that there are those whose stride responds to the geometry and design of the Vaporfly family and there are those whose stride does not. My powerful forefoot strike pattern puts me in the high responder camp: my pace is noticeably faster and my heart rate lower when I’m wearing this shoe. The soft ZoomX midsole provides the perfect amount of cushioning to soften landings while the firmer carbon fiber plate and slight forefoot rocker slingshot me forward with each push off. There are three shoes I trust enough to race in: the Asics Metaspeed Sky+, Nike Alphafly NEXT% 2 and Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2. Of those, I’ve found the Vapofly to be the most versatile in terms of paces it can handle. This is the holy grail of supershoes in my book.

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 ($225)

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
(Photo: Courtesy Saucony)

Weight: 7.2 oz (men); 6.2 oz (women)
Stack Heights: 39.5 – 31.5mm / 8mm drop
Soft Score: 9
Rocker: Starts early, just before the ball of the foot. Rolls forward quickly at stance in a long curve that leaves a lot of bouncy foam under the toes upon push-off.

Men’s Women’s

What’s New

  • Additional four millimeters of PWRRUNPB, Saucony’s Pebax-based foam, delivering a more cushioned ride and increasing stack height to the maximum legal limit
  • Insole made of Pebax and a thinner stroebel (fabric layer between upper and midsole) puts energetic foam closer to foot
  • Thinner outsole layer allows for more midsole foam
  • More minimal upper breathes better and makes the shoe lighter

Bottom Line: Runners who enjoy maximum cushioning and an energetic rebound from heel to toe will love the quick-rolling ride of this shoe.

Jonathan: This shoe disappears on my feet, given the barely-there but secure upper and the plush feel of the superfoam directly underfoot. The cushioning rivals that of the Vaporfly, but seemed to firm up a tad faster. Combined with the early rocker, this kept me turning over quicker and running with a more natural stride. Only when I was fatigued and found myself heel striking heavily did the deep softness feel excessive and unstable, so I wouldn’t want to go too long in the shoes without getting fitter. But when I got my posture tall and put power into my push-off, the shoes levitated and left me feeling like I was gliding above the ground, just reaching down and brushing the road to maintain escape velocity.

Lisa: This shoe has a noticeably high stack height, and the cushioning feels peppy. The forefoot cushioning, in particular, is more pronounced in it than in some other supershoes. The speedy roll of the rockered plate made me feel like I could run faster with less effort, but the large layer of lightweight, responsive cushioning is really what made me want to keep running in this shoe. A knock: I didn’t love the bright—and I mean bright—pink women’s colorway, but maybe that’s just me and my tomboy ways [Editor’s note: the men’s version has the same colorway].

Cory: This shoe is super bouncy and fun to run in! Of all the supershoes, I found the Endorphin Pro 3 feels like it returns the most amount of energy. The additional four millimeters of  midsole on this version was a welcome change. Every footstrike seemed to snap back at me with greater force, and the harder I pushed, the better the shoe performed. My biggest gripe is the scratchy and, quite frankly, cheap-feeling upper. I would have expected a more comprehensive upper from a $225 shoe. I know less material means less weight, but after only 50 miles, the heat-pressed logo started coming off. Despite those issues, I’d still recommend this shoe to pretty much any runner, with full confidence. It’s just too much fun to run in.

Adidas Adizero Pro 3 ($250)

Adidas Adizero Pro 3
(Photo: Courtesy Adidas)

Weight: 8.1 oz
Stack Heights: 39.5 – 33 mm / 6.5 mm drop
Soft Score: 6
Rocker: Starts late, just past the ball of the foot. Allows a stable stance before dropping off steeply under toes.

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What’s New

  • More lightweight TPU-based foam underfoot, particularly in the forefoot, increases cushioning and bounce
  • Drop reduced from 8.5 to 6.5 millimeters
  • Embedded carbon-fiber Energy Rods are now full-length and joined at heel before spreading out under the metatarsals, improving stability and heel-to-toe transition
  • Wider base adds forefoot room and enhances stability

Bottom Line: Combining a wide stance, a moderately-firm, responsive midsole, and a sharp, fast toe-off, this shoe produces a smooth, stable and fast ride for those who like a more supported feel underfoot (unless your feet are so narrow the fit feels sloppy).

Jonathan: I loved the slightly firmer platform of this racer. It has plenty of cushion on landing, strong support through a stable stance phase—particularly under the ball of the foot—and rolls me quickly off my toes. I didn’t feel like I had to brace myself from excess squish and bounce in this shoe, making it comfortable and confidence-inspiring at any pace or level of fatigue. When I picked up the pace and got forward over my toes, it felt like the foam was gathering under the plate and adding a boost to each push-off.

Lisa: This shoe felt the tippiest of the bunch to me. I felt high off the ground, and a little unstable in it. The fit is a bit roomier in the toebox than some of the others in this roundup (Nike, Asics) which I think added some to the unstable feeling for me and my narrow feet. That said, I also felt like I was bouncing around, and doing so quickly. Ultimately, I enjoyed the ride. And as a fan of thoughtful, design-y details, I love the little heel tab that folds down over the heel collar once you’ve used it to step into the shoe.

Cory:  I really enjoyed this shoe, but in a very different way than most of the other supershoes. It’s not particularly bouncy. On the contrary, I was surprised by how firm it felt on the first few runs. I found their biggest asset was how smoothly it transitioned from footstrike to toe-off. The steep toe spring (upward curve under the toe) provided a ramp that seemed to sling me forward with ease.

Altra Vanish Carbon ($240)

Altra Vanish Carbon
(Photo: Courtesy Altra)

Weight: 7.3 oz (men); 6.2 oz (women)
Stack Heights: 33mm – 33mm / Zero drop
Soft Score: 5
Rocker: Starts late, forward of the ball of the foot. Plate flexes as soon as weight comes past the ball, then the steep rocker rolls stride quickly off toe.

Men’s Women’s

What’s New

  • All-new model, and the first zero-drop supershoe
  • Carbitex plate flexes upward to allow natural foot motion, while maintaining downard stiffness for a powerful push-off lever
  • Plate is partial length, from the front of the arch to the end of the toes, and is W-shaped to allow toes to move semi-independently
  • Midsole foam is a proprietary, nitrogen-infused, high-rebounding compound

Bottom Line: A supershoe for runners who want the more natural ride of a zero-drop sole and a slightly flexible forefoot, this shoe provides a lively ride that’s easy to get comfortable with.

Jonathan: Compared to the other supershoes, this feels the most like a part of my foot. Whether due to the exceptional fit, the balanced geometry of the sole, or the flexibility of the ride, I felt nimble and engaged with the ground, as if my sole had grown a thick pad on the bottom. I liked the tuning of the foam, which provides a firm, bouncy sensation starting from the moment of touchdown, with a cushioned feel but little squish. The flexible plate and sharp roll under the toes reduced the zero-drop feel—I could go long in the shoe immediately without foot or achilles strain. This would be my current shoe of choice for a marathon.

Lisa: This shoe feels great upon step-in; the laces pull securely and wrap the soft upper and lightly padded tongue around my feet like a perfect hug (and I’m not much of a hugger). But due to the waxiness of the laces, they come untied almost immediately if not double-knotted. Not a deal-breaker; just remember to double-knot! The combination of the carbon plate and cushioning directly under the forefoot felt pronounced, almost like it was a higher stack height than under the heel. I also felt a significant drop-off, from the ball of the foot to right under the toes, which may contribute to a quick toe-off but seemed a little odd. Still, for Altra devotees, this is a fast and comfortable shoe.

Cory: I’ll be perfectly blunt, I’ve historically had issues with Altra and zero-drop. I find them too flexible and minimal and they just don’t work well with my running gait and footstrike. That said, this is by far my favorite Altra. It doesn’t feel like a zero-drop shoe to me. Between the soft foam, slight toe rocker, and flexible plate I was able to find a more forward-leaning stance, which I typically cannot in most Altra’s. I think this is a perfect gateway to zero-drop running shoes.

Asics Metaspeed Sky + ($250)

Asics Metaspeed Sky +
(Photo: Courtesy Asics)

Weight: 7.2 oz
Stack Heights: 39 – 34 mm / 5mm drop
Soft Score: 8
Rocker: Starts at ball of foot. Extends in a long curve, promoting leg extension, long strides, and powerful push-offs

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What’s New

  • Four percent more Flytefoam Turbo Blast—Asics’ proprietary, light, soft, and bouncy nylon-based midsole foam
  • Carbon plate moved higher up in the midsole, closer to the foot, which produces a more cushioned and bouncy feel between the plate and the ground
  • Thinner upper with fewer overlays is lighter, more comfortable, and more breathable

Bottom Line: With thick, bouncy foam under the forefoot and a long rocker plate, this shoe shines for runners with a powerful pawback and push off.

Jonathan: The thick foam under the ball of the foot dominates the ride in the Sky +, giving the impression of a negative heel-toe drop when I was tired and landing on my heels. I felt like I had to get up and over the thick forefoot before I could roll forward. When I got up on my toes, however, that thick foam felt delicious, loading energy under the plate on landing, then releasing it explosively as I pushed off behind me. The long rocker noticeably encourages a long, powerful stride rather than a quick turnover.

Lisa: For some reason, I find the Sky + more balanced in the heel  than Asics’s other supershoe, the Edge. I chalk that up to the fact that the racier Sky has less midsole foam than the Edge. I enjoy running in them both, but the foam of the Sky + is more noticeable. It’s downright bouncy. And while some supershoes make my calves ache—maybe because of the increased springiness—this shoe did not. Note: I also sat in a cold creek following my runs in this shoe, which may have had something to do with keeping my calves in check.

Cory: At first, I was skeptical there was anything special here. As I warmed up at slower paces the shoe really struggled to feel smooth. But once I stepped on the gas and was able to engage a more powerful toe-off, wow did it respond. I think Jonathan was spot on with his assessment that the rocker encourages a powerful stride—which complemented my long miler’s gait. As when wearing the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2, I found my paces were faster than they felt. One note worth mentioning is the updated upper is leaps and bounds better than the original, and I think the lime green colorway is stunning.

Asics Metaspeed Edge + ($250)

Asics Metaspeed Edge +
(Photo: Courtesy Asics)

Weight: 7.4 oz (unisex)
Stack Heights: 39 – 31mm / 8 mm drop
Soft Score: 9
Rocker: Starts early, at the beginning of the ball of the foot. Long and gradual roll promotes easy forward-rolling motion.

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What’s New

  • 16% more Flytefoam Turbo Blast—Asics’ Asics’ proprietary, light, soft, and bouncy nylon-based midsole foam
  • Carbon plate moved down in the midsole, closer to the ground, which produces a more cushioned feel underfoot and less bounce under the plate
  • Thinner upper with fewer overlays is lighter, more comfortable, and more breathable

Bottom Line: With a firmer forefoot, greater heel-toe drop, and less-aggressive toe rocker than its sibling, the Metaspeed Edge+ suits runners who enjoy a more stable ride and take quicker, rather than longer, steps.

Lisa: Asics shoes generally fit my narrow feet well, and this shoe was no exception. This model also matched my stride as a “Cadence” runner (that’s Asics’ term for those who increase cadence as they pick up the pace, compared to runners who increase stride length with speed and thus get more out of the Sky+). The Edge+, with an eight millimeter drop and responsive cushioning, worked well for my need for some stability and general heel-striking habits.

Cory: I am a “Stride” runner, so the Metaspeed Sky+ best fits my running gait, and the Edge+ just didn’t work for me. I found the longer, more gradual rocker under the toe to feel somewhat flat and didn’t provide any additional forward momentum. Also, with the location of the carbon plate situated closer to the ground, it felt a lot firmer than the Sky+, with very little energy return from the midsole. The newly redesigned upper, however, is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

Jonathan: Did not test.

Brooks Hyperion Elite 3 ($250)

Brooks Hyperion Elite 3
(Photo: Courtesy Brooks)

Weight: 8.1 oz (unisex)
Stack Heights: 35 – 27 mm / 8mm drop
Soft Score: 5
Rocker: Starts late, just forward of the ball of the foot. Supports a stable stance then rolls moderately-fast off the toe.

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What’s New

  • Engineered knit upper provides stretchy, comfortable fit and improved breathability—but weighs more
  • Redesigned heel cup and collar improved fit and hold
  • Ribbed laces provide easy lock down and don’t come untied
  • Same midsole foam—nitrogen-infused rubberized EVA—and rocker geometry as in the Elite 2

Bottom Line: The bouncy-but-firm, supportive foam and wide, stable stance make this a great shoe for runners going long in training and racing.

Jonathan: This shoe feels like it is more about support than speed. It provided a pleasant, stable ride, and made my feet feel cradled and buttressed. That was a welcome change after days of running  in other supershoes; instead of working to stay on top of a squishy, bouncy platform, I could relax and I felt like I could keep going longer. While relatively firm, the midsole delivered a pleasantly rubbery bounce underfoot, like pushing into a highly-inflated basketball, which kept ground contact quick but didn’t provide much of a propulsive response. Des Linden wore this shoe to set the world record for 50K, which is fitting. Going long in training or racing is where this shoe seems most at home.

Lisa: The upper of this shoe felt a little stiff to me around the heel collar at first step-in, but the knit is stretchy and the shoe fit my narrow foot really well. There is some room in the toe box without the shoe feeling sloppy. I really enjoyed the ride and pop of the Hyperion Elite overall: really responsive, and notnot super soft. I also appreciate its covert looks–it’s like the Clark Kent of supershoes.

Cory: Ever since the original, I’ve had issues with Hyperion Elite franchise and, unfortunately this latest update is no exception. It’s a shame because the Brooks Hyperion Tempo is such an amazing shoe with the same DNA Flash nitrogen infused midsole. However, something with the geometry of the Hyperion Elite and embedded plate drastically changes the way the midsole rides in this shoe. Underfoot, I found this to be the firmest of all the supershoes we tested. The ride felt blocky, like I was landing flat-footed with no forward propulsion.

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite ($250)

Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite
(Photo: Courtesy Puma)

Weight: 7.5 oz (men); 6.1 oz (women)
Stack Heights: 37.5 – 30mm / 7 mm drop
Soft Score: 6
Rocker: Starts under the ball of the foot. Drops off quickly, with a bit of flex as well as roll, then levels off slightly, leaving a thick layer of foam under toes.

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What’s New

  • All-new design replaces Nitro Elite
  • The back and front halves of the shoe are decoupled back and front from one another. Each has a different midole foam: shock-absorbing and stabilizing EVA in the rearfoot, high-rebounding bio-based Pebax in the forefoot
  • A full-length carbon-fiber plate ties the shoe together for heel-to-toe transition while allowing rearfoot and forefoot to act independently
  • Thin, transparent mono-mesh upper provides highly-breathable, flexible and secure fit
  • Integrated heel, tongue, and saddle straps create sock-like rearfoot wrap

Bottom Line: This shoe provides active stability that works for most runners, but it shows off best for those with strong feet who stay tall and forward-balanced on their toes.

Jonathan: I loved the fit of this fancy cat, hugging the heel and widening in the forefoot. The ride is smoothly bouncy, with the forefoot foam firming up quickly, giving a taut, responsive feel—though not as cushioned as some. At the beginning of each run, I could feel the firmer density of the heel and where it fell away before I engaged the softer, bouncier forefoot pad. This was disconcerting but not uncomfortable. As I adapted to the ride, the decoupled design made me feel like I could get my forefoot grounded quicker in the stride without having to wait for the rotation of the heel, and, when my forefoot rotated onto the big toe at push-off, the shoe didn’t translate that rotation back to my ankle and knee. The entire design, from firm heel to long, gradual rocker, encouraged me to move my balance forward and engage my toes. When I did that, the shoes made me feel cat-like.

Lisa: This is a funky shoe. From the see-through upper to the decoupled midsole, the Nitro Fast-R Elite is an attention-getter. I enjoyed the foam’s ability to cushion and propel, and the plate did its job–supported me a tad while propelling me forward. But the “tad” was just that. I didn’t feel the plate’s support—or propulsion—as much as in some of the other supershoes, and felt my knees fall inward a bit. I think it’s because the plate sits closer to the outsole than midsole compared to some others, and because of the lack of midsole beneath the midfoot, with just a socklike wrap under the arch.

Cory: I echo Lisa: this is one funky-looking shoe. However, despite its decoupled midsole and different-density foams (firmer in the heel, softer in the forefoot) I found the rolling forward action to be quite smooth and enjoyable. Perhaps this is because I’m more of a mid-to-forefoot runner and stayed on the softer foam in the forefoot. The ride runs on the firmer end of the spectrum for supershoes.

UA Flow Velociti Elite ($250)

UA Flow Velociti Elite
(Photo: Courtesy Under Armour)

Weight: 7.5 oz (unisex)
Stack Heights: 36 – 28mm / 8 mm drop
Soft Score: 4
Rocker: Starts under the ball of the foot. Long, gradual and flexible rocker rolls smoothly out to a high toe spring.

Buy Now

What’s New

  • All-new model, and the brand’s first supershoe
  • Dual-density midsole has Pebax above the plate and a slightly-firmer, nitrogen-infused Olefin-based foam called Supercritical Flow beneath
  • The Flow foam also serves as the outsole, eliminating the need for a rubber layer and the added weight and stiffness it brings
  • Full-length, carbon-fiber plate with slight flex
  • Upper is a transparent, flexible mono-mesh criss-crossed with thin, stitched-on tape lines that secure the foot while allowing it to flex through the stride

Bottom Line: With a comfortable, roomy fit, soft underfoot cushion, and a connected, flexible interaction with the ground, this shoe will please a variety of runners, particularly those who prefer a more traditional racing-flat feel.

Jonathan: From a fit perspective, I was immediately a fan of the Flow Velociti Elite, with its smoothly padded, narrow heel and generous forefoot—wider at the ball of the foot than any supershoe this year, even Altra’s. The two midsole materials delivered a nicely balanced ride: the upper layer felt soft and shock absorbing as my foot rolled through the stride, while the stable and springy lower layer provided a firm, grounded push-off platform. I was also a fan of the flexible plate, which let my toes bend upward naturally and then extended my foot’s propulsive lever at toe-off. The ride felt comfortable and smooth at any pace, and while I didn’t experience quite the lift-off that other supershoes provide at high speeds, my stride felt connected and quick when I picked up the tempo, and I was never forced into an unnatural gait. This is the shoe I’ll wear for speed workouts, tempo run and races up to the half marathon this fall.

Lisa: This shoe surprised me. I had a small pressure point on the top of my foot when I laced up, but that went away once I started running, and the longer I went the more I just kept marveling at how comfortable the shoe felt. The forefoot cushioning, a layer of Pebax over a layer of UA’s proprietary foam was noticeably responsive—and very enjoyable. And, while many supershoes feel high off the ground and a bit tippy, this one rides lower, which feels stable and almost like a “normal’ shoe, just with a speedy bounce.

Cory: Five years ago, this would have been my go-to road racing shoe when weight and responsiveness were the top priority and ultra-light foams hadn’t been invented yet. It’s fast, highly responsive, and smooth as can be. The midsole isn’t as soft or bouncy as Nike ZoomX or Saucony’s PWRRUNPB, but there’s certainly some pop in it. As compared to other supershoes, the stack height is on the modest end. As such, it rides much closer to the ground, with a more stable, connected feeling than most supershoes. In terms of fit, I found it to run a bit long for a racing shoe and would be interested in seeing what a halfsize down felt like. In all, this is Under Armour’s best running shoe to date, and a great choice for those who prefer a racing-flat feel.

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