Best Cushioned Running Shoes Compared 2021

Last updated: November 12, 2021

Running Shoes / Best Cushioned Running Shoes Compared 2021

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Having running shoes with cushioning help your supporting muscle tissue and bones stay intact due to the greater amount of padding the foot will have that ultimately reduces impact on you.

When looking for the best running shoes for you, a lot of choices are available out there. There are neutral shoes, stability shoes, wide toe box running shoes, the list goes on. Usually with cushioned shoes there is less responsiveness and they tend to be a lot heavier. As such, cushioned running shoes are usually reserved for long distances.

Personally, I also use cushioned shoes as I’m a bit of a heavier runner and prefer the support they provide on my muscle tissue. I am also not aiming for speed but rather consistency and endurance. Everyone is different though. However if you’ve landed on this page because you know you want cushioned running shoes then check out our carefully curated choices.

Best Cushioned Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed

Best Overall
Brooks Glycerin 19
Brooks Glycerin 19
Sock-Like Fit
Adidas UltraBoost 21
Adidas UltraBoost 21
Lightweight Ride
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
Best Cushioning
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Best Style
Nike Zoom Pegasus 37
Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

1. Brooks Glycerin 19

Key Features

  • DNA Loft midsole
  • Full-coverage rubber outsole
  • Padded upper
  • Weight: 255.1g (9 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Supportive and padded upper
  • Rocker shape for transition efficiency
  • Comfortable and protective midsole
  • Full-coverage outsole provides great traction

Reasons to avoid

  • Not that lightweight
  • Less breathable than mesh uppers
  • Expensive

Designed to be the perfect balance between comfort and support, the Brooks Glycerin 19 is a pair of cushioned running shoes that you’re going to want to wear every day.

The Glycerin 19 offers an outstanding performance delivered in a comfortable package. It features a thick chunk of Brook’s own DNA Loft midsole – a specialized rubber technology that creates tiny air pockets within an EVA and rubber compound. This makes the material feel very plush while retaining its responsiveness at the same time.

Aside from that, the DNA Loft technology from Brooks also allows for better protection. The Glycerin 19 is designed to contain more cushioning in the middle part of the foot, which can better protect that vulnerable region.

This also comes with the additional benefit of forming a rocker shape for an easier transition.

On the other hand, the full-coverage outsole is made of sturdy rubber, providing maximum traction on flat surfaces. This combination of sturdy outsole and protective midsole makes the Glycerin 19 functional on long runs, as well.

Lastly, the padded upper stands out superbly. It’s significantly more padded compared to other running shoes, resulting in a more comfortable and supportive experience. It’s also designed to stretch, so you don’t have to worry about your feet feeling constricted despite having a snug fit.

The only downside is the extra padded upper may be less breathable compared to traditional bare mesh uppers. It’s also not as light as we’d like, at least for shoes as expensive as this.

Nevertheless, if you want to combine comfort and performance, then the Brooks Glycerin 19 are the best cushioned running shoes for you.

2. Adidas UltraBoost 21

Key Features

  • Stretchweb Continental Rubber outsole
  • Boost midsole
  • Torsion System technology
  • Primeblue recycled upper
  • Weight: 340 g (12 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Sturdy outsole
  • Generously padded midsole
  • Premium materials and design
  • Pronounced rocker shape for efficiency
  • Breathable upper with a sock-like fit

Reasons to avoid

  • Heavier than most
  • Expensive

Premium in both looks and fit, the Adidas UltraBoost 21 delivers incredible comfort that feels as good as it looks.

The biggest draw of the UltraBoost 21 is the generous 20% increase in its trademarked Boost midsole. Compared to other shoes on this list, the Boost cushion is both denser and softer, giving much better feedback without sacrificing comfort. With these shoes, your feet can churn out power and land in pillowy softness every time.

The midsole also has a pronounced Torsion System-supported rocker shape that increases the rigidity of the material. Combined with the thick midfoot and heel cushioning and less padded forefoot, your feet can roll off properly and transfer energy more efficiently.

In addition to this, the UltraBoost 21 features a full Stretchweb Continental Rubber outsole that gives it durability and flexibility.

As for the upper, it’s made with a high-performance recycled plastic called Primeblue and features a seamless, sock-like fit. Although the interior isn’t padded, it does have textile linings, which provide some support and protection. It’s also more breathable than padded uppers.

It does have some drawbacks, though, the most significant of which is the weight caused by the thicker cushioning. Also, the price is rather steep. The premium materials are understandably costly, but the extra weight is unfortunate, considering the high price tag.

That said, if you have some money to burn, the Adidas UltraBoost 21 is a responsive, supremely comfortable shoe in its own right.

3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11

Key Features

  • Hypoknit upper
  • Fresh Foam midsole
  • Ortholite sockliner
  • Weight: 229.8 g (8.1 oz)
  • Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

  • Supportive fit
  • Comfortable toe box
  • Plush midsole cushioning
  • Stretchy and breathable upper
  • Aggressive rocker shape

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Slippery soles
  • Midsole cushion is not durable

Looking for the perfect recovery running shoes? Rest your feet while you run on air with the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11.

With its thick slice of Fresh Foam cushioning and additional Ortholite sockliner, the 1080 v11s make sure that you won’t feel anything but comfort every time your feet land on the ground.

Combined with one of the most aggressive rocker shapes in this list, this shoe can take you for long rides while minimizing your energy consumption and keeping your feet happy.

Despite having lightweight mesh uppers, the 1080 v11 is also mindful of foot support. The upper itself is made of stretchable Hypoknit mesh so that it can hug the contours of your foot better, while its Ultra Heel design locks in the heel and midfoot region for a more stable run. The toe box is also wider, making it more comfortable for your toes.

However, the 1080 v11 does have a few issues. The soft midsole is one of the first parts to wear out or break down. The material compresses easily after just a few long runs. At this price range, we don’t think people will appreciate being forced to replace their shoes every few hundred miles.

In addition to this, the soles make use of non-skid rubber, which could make it slippery on smooth surfaces such as bare gym floors.

Despite a few avoidable inconveniences, though, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11 is something that you should try if you’re on the quest for performance and comfort.

4. Hoka One One Bondi 7

Key Features

  • Thick EVA midsole
  • Memory foam collar
  • Ultralight mesh upper
  • Weight: 297 g (10.5 oz)
  • Drop: 4mm drop

Reasons to buy

  • Relatively light
  • Thick stack height
  • Plush midsole cushioning
  • Supportive and comfortable upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Midsole foam is affected by heat
  • Thick cushioning make shoes less agile

No list of cushioned running shoes would ever be complete without Hoka One One’s iconic offerings.

The epitome of maximum cushioning, the Hoka One One Bondi 7 provides you with 1.3 inches of comfort every time your foot touches the ground.

Its Meta-Rocker design and beveled heel make the shoe roll forward much easier and keep your foot in a more stable position.

It also has a sturdier rubber outsole construction on the heel and forefoot, so you have a shoe that allows you to run long distances or be on your feet for a long time without strain.

The Bondi 7’s upper is one of the most padded in running shoes. With memory foam on the collar and seamless, breathable mesh throughout, this shoe keeps your feet happy while keeping it light at the same time. It’s supportive as well, thanks to the overlaid interior strips that give the shoe structure.

However, one of its most glaring disadvantages is the midsole foam, which can soften under heat. If you’re running in the summer months, expect to feel a slight change in the quality of the shoe. Also, it’s a lot less agile than other cushioned shoes, probably because of the foamy constitution of the midsole.

Nevertheless, this shoe is great for those chill recovery runs where you’re not under any time pressure. For those who are not running to break a record, you can surely appreciate the premium comfort that the Hoka One One Bondi 7 delivers.

5. Nike Zoom Pegasus 37

Key Features

  • Nike React midsole
  • Engineered mesh upper
  • Forefoot Air unit
  • Weight: 10.05oz
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Versatile everyday shoes
  • Breathable and light upper
  • Modern minimalist aesthetics
  • Comfortable and responsive midsole cushioning
  • Features targeted cushioning on the heel and forefoot

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Runs a bit small

World-renowned trendsetter Nike presents the Zoom Pegasus 37, delivering a good-looking, comfortable, and versatile cushioned running shoe for your everyday needs.

It’s undeniable that the most striking thing about the Pegasus 37 is its looks. Typical of Nike’s fashion-forward design, the Zoom Pegasus 37 features a simple silhouette with contoured curves and tasteful midsole accents, achieving a minimalist, futuristic look that nevertheless delivers a characteristic flair.

It doesn’t just look good, though, because the Pegasus 37 is also made to run even better. It features a Nike React midsole–a superbly responsive chunk of rubber that propels you with every step. There’s even a unique, perfectly placed airbag unit on the forefoot, designed to enhance the bounciness and absorb impact in that region.

The outsole is made with a type of hard, segmented rubber, allowing flexibility while providing maximum traction and durability. Its engineered mesh upper is lightweight, sturdy, and breathable, securing the foot and moving the same way you do.

Fans of the previous version should keep in mind that these tend to run smaller than usual. If it’s your first time buying these expensive shoes, make sure to size them wisely to avoid a costly mishap.

For what it’s worth, the Nike Zoom Pegasus 37 is a pair of cushioned running shoes that can help you zoom through the tracks.

6. Asics Novablast 2

Key Features

  • FlyteFoam Blast midsole
  • TPU Heel Stabilizer
  • Engineered jacquard mesh upper
  • Weight: 275 g (9.7 oz)
  • Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

  • Great value
  • Sturdy upper construction 
  • Protective heel cushioning
  • Improved heel support
  • Extra propulsive midsole

Reasons to avoid

  • Slippery outsole 
  • Lack of forefoot cushioning

Gone are the days of clunky, sluggish, and visually unappealing support shoes. With the Asics Novablast 2, you can have support, comfort, and functionality in a well-balanced package.

Maximum support is the name of the game that the NovaBlast 2 plays. For people who require increased heel support, optimal weight distribution, and overall foot stability, this pair of cushioned running shoes is perfect for you.

The Novablast 2’s primary feature is the thick chunk of responsive FlyteFoam heel cushioning combined with a rigid TPU heel stabilizer. It’s combined with a trampoline-like Ahar outsole design for a better bounce back. For those who stand on their feet all day or require a stable run, these characteristics are a must.

The upper also features a padded collar and tongue, as well as a seamless jacquard mesh construction that provides just the right amount of rigidity to support your feet structure.

That said, with its focus on the heel and midfoot support, notorious heel strikers might find the forefront cushioning a bit lacking. Also, the Ahar outsole is not the non-skid kind and slips easily on wet surfaces.

For the effective price point that this is being offered, though, these are but slight inconveniences. If you want functionality, support, and comfort at a reasonable price, the Asics Novablast 2 is here for you.

7. Brooks Ghost 14

Key Features

  • Hybrid DNA Loft and BioGoMo DNA midsole
  • 3D Fit Print upper
  • Engineered Air Mesh upper
  • Segmented crash pads
  • Weight: 249.5 g (8.8 oz)
  • Drop: 12mm

Reasons to buy

  • Excellent upper fit
  • Aggressive heel to toe drop
  • Cushioned and responsive midsole
  • Flexible and weight-distributing outsole
  • Lightweight, comfortable, and durable upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Runs small
  • Has slippery flat laces

Glide like a ghost with the Brooks Ghost 14, for runners who want comfort that doesn’t compromise speed.

Brook’s hybrid BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft midsole cradle your foot in a comfortable yet energetic embrace. It also has a segmented crash pad outsole design for weight distribution, and an aggressive 12mm heel drop. As a result, this shoe optimizes your feet for a protective, explosive bounce-back every time you land, no matter what the surface is.

It’s also constructed with a super lightweight, Engineered Air Mesh upper. Although the fit is snug, it stays comfortable thanks to the padded heel, collar, and tongue, without sacrificing weight. Combined with Brook’s signature 3D print fit, these shoes feel almost like an extension of your body. It’s also incredibly durable and holds up well whatever kind of running you’re up to.

It does tend to run small, though, so pick your size carefully, or else you’ll have a costly mismatch. Also, the flat type laces are also likely to slip and untangle, a noticeable departure from the previous version’s more functional ones.

For a great all-around cushioned running that doesn’t compromise, the Brooks Ghost 14 is the optimal solution.

How to Pick the Best Cushioned Running Shoes

Although every shoe on this list is cushioned, not every cushioned running shoe is created equal. As you may have already realized, there are vast differences in features and function between each model despite them being the same type.

This can get confusing fast, so if you’re looking for the perfect cushioned running shoes for your needs, you should think of three factors: cushioning level, speed, and support.

Cushioning Level

While all shoes on this list are cushioned, they all vary in the degree of their cushioning.

Various shoes have different cushioning levels: the more traditional ones such as the Brooks Glycerin and the Brooks Ghost sit on one end while over-the-top ones such as the Hoka One One Bondi and the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11 sit on the other end. 

The level of cushioning you desire sits somewhere on this scale, so think of how much plushness you need and go for that.

Responsiveness

Cushioned shoes tend to be less responsive, as the midsole material tends to be more cushiony than elastic.

That’s why you have to pay more attention to responsiveness on cushioned shoes because it’s going to affect how well you run.

The most responsive offerings in this list include the Brooks Glycerin and the Adidas UltraBoost. The less responsive choices also tend to be the plushest ones, such as the Hoka One One Bondi and the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11.

Support

Cushioned shoes should have adequate structural support because the more plush midsole can be more unstable, especially when you’ve been running for some time.

One example of this is the Hoka One One Bondi, which can become softer as the temperature rises. If you want a pair of cushioned running shoes for long runs, best to avoid these. Instead, pick something like the Asics NovaBlast or the Brooks Glycerin.

Frequently Asked Questions

How cushioned should running shoes be?

How cushioned your running shoes should be depends on your specific needs. If you want a more comfortable run, then opt for maximum cushioning. On the other hand, if you prefer a more responsive ride, then minimal or specialized cushioning is the way to go.

Are cushioned running shoes bad for you?

They’re not bad, per se, but if you have unstable feet and need supportive, responsive shoes, then overly plush running shoes might not be for you. However, for long runs that require maximum endurance, cushioned running shoes can make the experience much more pleasant.

Who needs cushioned running shoes?

Cushioned running shoes are good for recovery runners, as well as for individuals who are suffering from injuries that prevent them from putting too much weight on their feet. Since these shoes provide the buffer that tender feet need from the hard ground, they can facilitate better recovery and protection while allowing you to continue running.

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