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The FITNESS Spring 2010 Sneaker Guide

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Neutral Cushioned Shoe

    Mizuno Wave Creation 11
    The plastic "wave" midsole in this lightweight shoe takes cushioning up a notch by absorbing impact along your entire foot, thereby creating ouch-free landings for joints. Plus, its underfoot ventilation system prevents overheating, and a soft sock liner keeps feet sweat- and odor-free. "Absolute comfort!" one tester says. "My struggle to find the perfect shoes is over." ($135,

    Footnote: If you've got high arches, like tester Carrie Carlson, 29, chances are you need more cushioning than stability in your sneaks. "It was as if the Mizunos were made for my feet; they had me running like a gazelle," says Carrie, who jogs after work along New York City's East River.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Neutral Cushioned: Runner-Up

    Brooks Glycerin 8

    This comfy shoe boasts a custom cushioning technology in its heel and forefoot that guarantees a plush ride. And the midfoot hugs your arch for a secure fit. "I felt supported even though the shoe is not at all rigid; it's sleek, stylish, and fast," one tester notes. ($130,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Mild Stability Shoe

    Nike LunarGlide+

    Unlike many traditional stability models, this shoe is built to correct your gait only when needed. You won't feel the extra support of the small, dense foam in its midsole unless your foot overpronates (rolls inward), so you get a surprisingly cushy run. Log miles without blisters, too, thanks to stretchy material by your big toe. "The support and bounce in these were the best," one tester says. "I'm training for my next marathon in them." ($100,

    Footnote: Most runners, like Jennifer Hornak, 37, overpronate a bit. But a touch of stability goes a long way to steady one's gait. "The Nike LunarGlides were so light, I thought I could run forever," says Jennifer, who does loops in East Coventry, Pennsylvania.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Mild Stability Shoe: Runner-Up

    K-Swiss Konejo II

    This stable, cushioned shoe corrects slight overpronation with a stiff-in-the-middle foam midsole that's also springy enough to help propel you forward. "I'm impressed," one tester says. "They were light and supportive on speedy hills." ($100,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Extra Stability Shoe

    Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10

    This shoe's reinforced arch support helps keep feet from seriously overpronating as they strike, while fluid-filled pockets in the forefoot and heel soften jolts. It also has a soft sock liner that wicks away sweat. "I could feel the stability under my arches as soon as I put them on," one tester says. "My ankles felt better than usual when running, and I loved the spring back they gave my stride." ($100,

    Footnote: Runners with flat arches, like Antoinette Church, 32, often need extra stability. "The Brooks Adrenalines supported me so well that I sprinted through a five-mile run!" says Antoinette, who logs her weekly miles in Wantagh, New York.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Running Extra Stability Shoe: Runner-Up

    Adidas adiStar Solution

    Dense foam under the arch keeps overpronators on steady footing, and a breathable mesh upper prevents this shoe from feeling heavy. A divided outsole allows your heel to move independently from the forefoot and helps diffuse shock. "These felt so light and airy; they put an extra bounce in my step," one tester says. ($120,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Trail Running Shoe

    Merrell CTR Cruise

    These water-resistant shoes have a slip-proof heel that hugs the back of your foot and a rugged tread that can tackle any trail. The solid midsole support steadies your foot on uneven surfaces, and an antimicrobial sock liner combats stinkiness. "Everyone on the trail envied the killer traction of these shoes," one tester remarks. "At first I thought it'd be too much, but it handled the terrain beautifully." ($110,

    Footnote: Sometimes trail shoes feel too much like hiking boots, says Michelle Wesson, 35, a competitive runner who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. "The Merrell CTR Cruise is lightweight; it's just the right amount of shoe."

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Trail Running Shoe: Runner-Up

    Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

    Great for training or racing, these reflective shoes have extra cushioning under the forefoot and heel and added arch stability to steady your gait. "I felt that I could push myself, no matter what the trail had in store for me," one tester says. ($110,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Walking Shoe

    New Balance 760 Walking Shoe

    This supportive sneak not only looks like a running shoe but also feels as light and breathable as one. Its lower-to-the-ground profile trims drag from your step, and a flexible outsole divided down the center promotes a well-aligned roll-off. "These shoes practically formed to my feet. I was so at ease in them that I ended up walking faster than my normal pace," one tester says. ($85,

    Footnote: Flexibility is key when it comes to walking shoes. Mindy Anaya, 30, of Santa Maria, California, says the give and take she got from the New Balance 760 was just right. "Two days of shopping with my mom and sister, and my feet didn't hurt at all!"

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Walking Shoe: Runner-Up

    Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo

    Talk about a soft ride: Two layers of memory foam on this shoe add extra cushioning under the forefoot and heel. The specially grooved outsole helps guide your foot from heel to toe, while its ample arch support steadies each step. "They made a week's worth of walking easy on my soles," one tester says. ($100,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Hiking Shoe

    Keen Voyageur

    Ain't no mountain high enough for this hiker! It's got multidirectional lugs on the outsole that grip uphills, downhills, and uneven terrains. A durable foam midsole helps buffer joints from bumps along the path and is stiff enough to stabilize your ankles. "I'm sensitive to blisters, and these are the only shoes I didn't have to break in," says one tester. "They're perfect for rugged ground or a flat, fast hike." ($100,

    Footnote: Hikers worry about keeping their footing, especially Lara Rosenbaum, 35, who has an old ankle injury. "After a snowy two-hour hike, I knew there was no way my ankle would roll in the Keen Voyageur," says Lara, who lives in Salt Lake City.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Hiking Shoe: Runner-Up

    Teva Ligero Mesh

    The leather-and-mesh upper cools feet and protects them from rocks and debris. Deep treads ensure safe, steady hiking on any surface. "The Tevas are super stable," one tester comments. "My ankles felt supported the whole time." ($85,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Tennis Shoe

    Wilson Tour Vision

    Gel pockets in the midsole, especially under the forefoot, deliver an ultra-cushy feel as you cut and pivot. The shoe also bolsters the ankles, heels, and arches, where you most need support on the court. And the extra-thick toe guard is a big plus in protecting your tootsies. "Wearing these felt like hopping on air," one tester says. "They were so comfortable that I spent all day in them even after losing a match." ($110, for dealer info)

    Footnote: Newbie lesson: Running sneaks don't give you the side-to-side help you need on the court. "The extra agility and cushioning I got from the Wilson Tour Visions was no contest," says Gabrielle Trappe, 27, who plays in Austin, Texas.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Tennis Shoe: Runner-Up

    K-Swiss Defier DS

    With a supportive heel cup, a plush sock liner, and open mesh, this tennie is a foot pleaser. Its dense foam midsole steadies your foot, while a herringbone tread maximizes traction during lateral moves. "I played my best match in a long time, and these minimized the strain on my knees," one tester notes. ($100,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Water Shoe

    Ahnu Trinity

    By land or by sea, this water sport sandal has it all: an adjustable strap for the perfect fit, a toe guard for stub-free walking and kayaking, an EVA foam midsole for cushioned hiking, and a fast-drying mesh upper for any water activity. "The adjustable heel strap was awesome!" one tester says. "It made for a snug fit without any rubbing or blisters." ($80, for stores)

    Footnote: "I'm always looking for shoes that make me feel as if I'm barefoot but protect my feet," says Fiona Inman, 30, who kayaks regularly on a lake in her Richmond, Texas, neighborhood. "I wish all my shoes were as comfy as the Ahnu Trinitys."

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Water Shoe: Runner-Up

    Timberland Mountain Athletics Rip Current Tech

    These multisport shoes have side and rear drainage panels, an easy-to-tighten bungee lacing system, and a recycled, grippy outsole. "They are the most protective pair I tried," one tester says. "The mesh lets cool air in, keeps rocks out." ($75,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Cross-Training Shoe

    Reebok Indoor RXT

    This ultralightweight shoe, designed for classes that require a lot of lateral movement, offers plenty of cushioning in its midsole and a sock liner for comfort during quick cardio sessions. They're super breathable, fast drying, and well treaded for gym surfaces. "I hardly noticed I had shoes on," one tester says. "But I felt completely supported, even while pounding through step class." ($70,

    Footnote: For group classes, grab a pair of cross-trainers, not your usual running shoes. "The Reeboks were so airy that I thought I had the wrong sneakers, but they had enough cushioning for all my workouts," says Andrea Kirkwood, 41, a part-time fitness instructor from Aurora, Illinois.

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Cross-Training Shoe: Runner-Up

    Saucony Grid Virtue

    The slip-free outsole on this shoe is ideal for side-to-side and front-to-back movements. It delivers extra cushioning for jumps and lunges, too. "My ankles felt stable, and the toe box was wide enough that I didn't have to worry about blisters at all," one tester says. ($75,

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Outdoor Cycling Shoe

    Specialized Trivent

    This superlight road shoe was built with triathletes in mind: It has Velcro straps for easy entry, a stiff carbon outsole that deflects heat, and a breathable, open-mesh upper. "It was as if someone made me customized shoes," one tester says. ($170,

    Footnote: It's a bummer on rides when shoes rub the wrong way, says North Liberty, Iowa, resident Lindsay Todd, 26, who bikes at least 100 miles a week. "I have flat, narrow feet, so it's hard to find a snug shoe. The Specialized Trivents fit like a glove."

  • Bryan McCay

    The Best Indoor Cycling Shoe

    Shimano SH-WF23

    This shoe looks more gym than Spin. It has a breathable upper and a semiflexible outsole with a recessed cleat that makes it easier to walk around in. "The sole was sturdy enough during out-of-the-saddle sprints, and my feet weren't nearly as sweaty as usual after class," says one tester. "I didn't want to take them off." ($99, for dealer info)

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2010.