Cushioning can provide something different for everyone. Whether you use a cushioned shoe for everyday training, recovery days, or working long hours on your feet, benefits abound to wearing a well-cushioned shoe. The best-cushioned running shoes deliver a super soft ride and support smooth transitions for runners at all levels.
As more runners tap into the benefits of putting a cushioned sneaker into their training rotation, shoe brands are rolling out new, adaptable foam technology to provide the best cushioning possible. This means there is a large selection of cushioned running shoes across multiple brands, so you can find the just right shoe for you.
Here are the best cushioned running shoes you can find right here at Fleet Feet:
[Updated April 2, 2021. This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2021. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
If you're looking for the most comfortable walking shoes, don't overlook the best-cushioned running shoes.
While shoes can be tailored specifically for each activity, you can wear running shoes for walking, too. In fact, some of the best walking shoes for women and best walking shoes for men are actually running shoes.
Some walking shoes have slip-resistant outsoles that make them great for working. But, if you're walking for exercise or just taking a stroll around the block, these running shoes will pull double duty as the most cushioned walking shoes, too.
When you think HOKA, you think cushioning. And the HOKA Bondi 7 is the best-cushioned running shoe from the brand known for its cushioning.
HOKA stuffed the Bondi 7 full of soft, bouncy EVA foam. The shoe has a 31/27 mm stack height for the women's version and a 33/29 mm stack height for the men's, which gives the shoe its signature soft ride.
Designers shaped the foam into HOKA's early stage Meta-Rocker shape for quick and smooth transitions from heel to toe, and they draped it in an engineered mesh upper for lightweight structure and breathable performance.
Even with all that foam, though, Fleet Feet testers said in the HOKA Bondi 7 review that it feels lighter on your feet than it looks at first glance.
When you're craving maximum cushioning for a long run or long shift at the hospital, the HOKA Bondi 7 is up for the challenge.
[For a walking and work-specific version, check out the HOKA Bondi SR, which includes a full-grain leather upper and non-slip outsole.]
The Brooks Glycerin 19 maintains its max-cushioned ride, but Brooks added a second version this year to give you a stability option, too.
The Glycerin 19 and Glycerin 19 GTS both deliver soft underfoot feelings thanks to beds of DNA Loft foam. DNA Loft is the softest formulation in Brooks' lineup, so you get ultra-soft steps mile after mile.
The difference between the two models is Brooks' GuideRails technology. The Glycerin 19 GTS includes the stability tech to ensure your shoes stay stable through their entire life while still providing the plush experience of DNA Loft foam.
Fleet Feet runners in the Glycerin 19 review said the updated shoe provides the same super-soft ride you expect from the Glycerin, so it's still a great shoe for long hauls, recovery days or walking.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 is the newest addition to ASICS Nimbus collection and packs a super-soft ride with unbeatable support.
Featuring strategically placed cushioning, the GEL-Nimbus 23 is softer than ever. The midsole is lined with FlyeFoam technology throughout for responsive, lightweight cushioning to propel you forward on your run. Additional GEL cushioning technology layered into the heel absorbs impact and promotes proper compression necessary for smooth heel-toe transitions.
As an added plus, the GEL-Nimbus 23 takes a step in a sustainable direction with a mesh upper constructed with 20 percent recycled material. The lightweight mesh adds breathability and flexibility to the shoe and supports the top of the foot. Learn more about this well-loved shoe in our ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 review.
The Karhu Synchron 2021 is the most luxurious shoe from Karhu yet.
Featuring a generous bed of AeroFoam Nova, the Synchron's midsole delivers a plusher feeling than typical EVA foams—making it the most-cushioned running shoe in Karhu's lineup.
Designers paired the AeroFoam Nova midsole with Karhu's Fulcrum technology. The H-shaped piece of composite material helps transfer momentum from landing to takeoff.
In the Karhu Synchron 2021 review, Fleet Feet reviewers said the updated model delivers soft landings and smooth transitions, making it ideal for long runs and recovery miles.
The Saucony Triumph 18 remains the most-cushioned running shoe in the Saucony lineup thanks to a huge bed of PWRRUN+ foam.
The full-length PWRRUN+ midsole cushions—and powers—every step of your run. The foam composition is 28 percent lighter and twice as flexible as previous Saucony foams, and it delivers a nice bounce.
Saucony again used its FORMFIT fit system to give the Triumph 18 a custom-like fit. The FORMFIT system employs three layers of cushioning to adapt to your specific weight, stride and foot shape.
Topped with a comfortable engineered mesh upper and rimmed with extra padding, the Saucony Triumph 18 is one of the best-cushioned running shoes you can buy today.
On gave the Cloudstratus two layers of cushion to keep you comfortable over longer distances.
Each layer of cushioning is made from On's CloudTec technology. The bottom layer contacts the ground and collapses to cushion your landing. The top follows suit, giving you an even softer feel.
Both layers then snap back into place in order to give you a snappier response. With more cushioning and a wide base for a stable feel, the On Cloudstratus is the best On running shoe for cushioning.
Whether you're craving an easy long run or shaking out on a recovery day, the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 4 is the most-cushioned Mizuno running shoe you'll find.
Mizuno updated its popular Wave Sky shoe with a new type of foam, called Mizuno Enerzy. The Enerzy foam is softer on landing and more energetic on takeoff than previous cushionings from Mizuno, making the newest Wave Sky even more plush than before.
Matched with bouncy XPOP and cushy U4icX foam, the Wave Sky Waveknit 4 packs enough cushioning to carry you through your longest runs. In the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit 4 review, Fleet Feet runners say the new foam combination creates one of the easiest rides around.
But it isn't just the midsole that feels soft: Mizuno used its Waveknit upper for an ultra-plush feel. The knit upper gives the shoe a soft, sock-like fit for premium comfort, mile after mile.
Max cushion meets minimal weight in the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11.
New Balance updated its popular 1080 with a new mesh for a better overall fit. The refreshed upper is super stretchy and lightweight, and it breathes exceptionally well to keep you comfortable when your workout heats up.
Powering the 1080v11 is a generous bed of Fresh Foam cushioning. New Balance's premier foam is incredibly soft and very responsive.
In the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 review, Fleet Feet runners praised the cushy, bouncy ride.
“It truly feels alive,” one reviewer says. “The experience feels really interactive, something I don’t normally think about when I describe the ride of a running shoe.”
A liberal serving of React foam and a prominent rocker shape make the Nike React Infinity Run the best-cushioned running shoe Nike has to offer.
React is the same popular foam used in the Nike Epic React Flyknit 2, but designers added a whole lot more of it. The Infinity Run has 24 percent more foam underfoot than the Epic React 2, and Nike shaped it for a wider base. The wide footprint gives the shoe inherent stability.
In the Nike React Infinity Run review, Fleet Feet testers said they loved the soft, springy feeling provided by the React midsole, and the wide base mitigated any side-to-side wobbling. The rocker shape is the other major midsole feature in the Infinity Run. Nike carved the foam into a curved shape for smooth heel-to-toe transitions, which it delivers every time.
Designers then covered the shoe in a Flyknit upper with an integrated tongue. The single-layer upper is lightweight and accommodating to fit a wide variety of foot shapes, plus the stretchy tongue helps give the shoe a snug feel.
The original Altra Paradigm was created for 100-mile races, so it needed enough cushioning to stand up to the job.
The latest version is no exception.
The Altra Paradigm 4.5 is a packed with a responsive and durable EGO midsole that helps power the shoe from the first step of your run to the last. With Altra's signature FootShape toe box, the Paradigm 4.5 isn't just well-cushioned, it also mimics the natural shape of your foot for premium comfort.
We chose the best-cushioned running shoes by poring over the details of each model. Through wear testing, interviews with shoe designers and professional athletes, and our own fit id® data, we chose the shoes we think will work best for most runners in most situations.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.