RunBlogger Curated Shopping Guide

The running shoe world can be a hard one to navigate. Words like “minimalist,” “EVA” and “stack heights” are thrown around with abandon. Two shoes can look similar but feel radically different once they hit the road or the trail. Knowing how much you pronate—or don’t pronate—is the golden ticket to identifying which styles will elevate your run from good to great.

With so many shoes waiting to treat your feet to an endorphin-laden sweat fest, how do you know which pair is your Goldilocks? The one that’s not hard or too soft but fits your needs just right?

That’s where Pete Larson comes in. He has been writing running shoe reviews since 2009 for his blog, RunBlogger. His findings are detailed with a scientific precision and leave no question unanswered. Suffice to say, he’s run around the block a few times. We sat down to chat with him via telephone for a more in-depth look at RunBlogger’s Curated Shopping Guide to further break down styles he swears by and ones that are on his wish list.

RunBlogger’s Recommendations

Saucony Virrata

Saucony Virrata

Specs

Type: Barefoot

Weight:6.5/6.0 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 0 mm

Major Pluses 
  • The mono-mesh upper is reminiscent of the first generation Kinvara
  • HydraMax collar lining wicks away moisture to keep feet dry.
  • An internal bootie means you can run sockless with a reduced worry of blisters
Pete’s Perspective

“It has really nice forefoot cushioning for a zero drop shoe,” Larson says. “I ran my spring marathon in them. They worked great. It’s an all-around good, zero-drop shoe for long distance running.”

Pearl Izumi EM Road N 1
Men's Pearl Izumi Road N 1

Pearl Izumi Road N 1

Specs

Type: Minimalist

Weights: 7.7/6.9 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 1 – 4.5 mm (Dynamic Offset)

Major Pluses
  • Pearl Izumi’s Dynamic Offset changes with the gait cycle rather than staying stagnant from foot strike to toe-off.
  • A seamless upper hugs your foot like a glove.
Pete’s Perspective

“It’s a really smooth riding shoe,” he says. “It’s firm, but it’s not slappy. I was really surprised by it. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it the first time I ran in it. But the more I ran in it, the more and more I felt drawn to the shoe.”

Mizuno Wave Universe 5
Mizuno Wave Universe

Mizuno Wave Universe 5

Specs

Type: Racing or Minimalist

Weights: 2.8/2.2 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 2 mm

Major Pluses
  • Feather-light mesh upper for a sock-like fit.
  • The U4ic midsole is 30 percent lighter than Mizuno’s AP+ midsole compound.
Pete’s Perspective

“It’s just a fun shoe to run in,” he says. “It’s under 3 oz. It has a fairly wide forefoot, which is kind of unusual for a racing flat. And I think that combination makes it a really fun, fast shoe to run in.”

Asics GEL-Lyte33 2
Asics GEL-Lyte33 2

Asics GEL-Lyte33 2

Specs

Type: Structured

Weights: 7.8/6.4 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 6 mm

Major Pluses
  • Featherweight Asics Speed Technology mixes the feel of a racing flat with an everyday trainer. There is minimal outsole material only in high abrasion areas while the lightweight heel construction reduces weight.
  • A flex groove on the outsole lies along the foot’s natural progression to enhance gait efficiency.
Pete’s Pespective

“It’s a shoe that is a nice step-down for someone in a more traditional shoe,” Larson says. “It’s not a big step; it’s constructed more like a traditional shoe. I think it’s a nice, easy step if you’re looking for something more minimal.”

Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks
socks1

Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks

Major Pluses
  • Mesh top for excellent breathability.
  • Arch support for secure and stable fit.
  • Anatomical right and left foot design for a true-to-fit feel.
Pete’s Perspective

“I’m a fan of Injinji because I like the toe separation,” he says. “I think from a blister prevention standpoint, they work better than any other socks that I have used.”

Mizuno Evo Ferus
Mizuno Evo Ferus

Mizuno Evo Ferus

Specs

Type: Trail or Minimalist

Weights: 8/6.8 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 0 mm

Major Pluses
  • Outsole pattern delivers multidirectional grip over rugged terrain.
  • Mizuno’s Wave technology in the forefoot makes this shoe an ace pick for the netural, midfoot striker.
  • Seamless overlays slash weight while increasing durability.
Pete’s Perspective

“It’s what I’ve been wearing the most recently,” he says. “It kind of surprised me. It’s a nice, wide forefoot. It’s zero drop, but it has kind of a cushy feel to it even though it’s pretty low to the ground. I think the durability will be much better than the other Evo shoes because it’s a trail shoe. I also like the fact that even though it has trail grip on it, it’s very capable of running on the roads.

RunBlogger’s Wish List

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N 1
Pearl Izumi EM Trail N 1

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N 1

Specs

Type: Trail or Minimalist

Weights: 9.6/8.5 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 1 – 4.5 mm (Dynamic Offset)

Major Pluses
  • Perforated foam in the tongue repels water.
  • A forefoot rock plate protects against bruising and gnarly trail hazards.
Pete’s Perspective

“I have the Road N 1, and I really like it,” he says. “The trail version will be similar in terms of construction, and I’ve heard really good things about the trail version from other people I know who have run in it. It would be an obvious choice for me to have on a wish list.”

Brooks PureGrit 2 
Brooks PureGrit 2

Brooks PureGrit 2

Specs

Type: Trail or Minimalist

Weights: 10/8.2 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 4 mm

Major Pluses
  • A split toe enhances forefoot flexibility.
  • BioMoGo DNA in the midsole responds to the amount of force placed on the foot and disperses the pressure to provide a sweet spot of resiliency.
  • The outsole’s concave shape increases balance by splaying upon foot strike to create more surface area for ground contact.
Pete’s Perspective

“I ran in the PureGrit 1, and I really liked it, but the traction was really bad on wet surfaces,” he says. “I’ve heard that the traction on this version has improved. I like the fit, I like the ride a lot. The traction was just an issue [in the first generation].”

The North Face Hyper Track Guide
the north face

The North Face Hyper-Track Guide

Specs

Type: Trail

Weights: 12.5/9 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 8 mm

Major Pluses
  • Cradle Guide technology in the midsole absorbs impact upon foot strike, stabilizes the foot and promotes a biomechanically correct stride.
  • A Northotic footbed has plush cushioning that doesn’t skimp on stability.
Pete’s Perspective

“I’ve never run in a North Face shoe, and I would be curious to try out the brand,” he says. “And that is the one that fits my needs most closely—lower drop, lighter weight.”

New Balance 1010v2 
new balance

New Balance 1010v2

Specs

Type: Trail or Barefoot

Weights: 8.5/6.4 oz. (Men’s/Women’s)

Drop: 4 mm

Major Pluses
  • A minimal Vibram outsole gives traction where you need it most.
  • New Balance’s REVLite midsole compound is responsive without weighing you or the shoe down.
  • A flexible, protective layer called RockStop keeps feet free from rocks and helps disperse shock energy.
Pete’s Perspective

“It’s one where I have heard good things about it and that the update is an improvement over the original,” Larson says. “It’s a cushioned trail shoe that meets my standards. I like a more low-profile trail shoe that has a little bit of cushioning. This would be my first time [in the 1010 series], so that would be another reason to try it.”

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