One name immediately comes to mind when you think of cushion: HOKA ONE ONE.
HOKA packs its running shoes with generous portions of cushioning foam for supremely soft rides. But, if HOKA isn’t for you or you’re dedicated to another brand, there are plenty of stellar max-cushion running shoe options on the market today.
Foam options have been getting softer as runners’ preferences change, and it’s evident in some current shoes from New Balance, Saucony and others.
While the best cushioned running shoes are not typically the fastest shoes in your lineup, they can be great for everyday training, recovery days or just standing around.
Here are the best cushioned running shoes you can buy today:
[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2020. 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.]
Brooks created the Glycerin 18 for a luxurious all-around feeling.
In the Brooks Glycerin 18 review, Fleet Feet testers loved the shoe’s plush step-in feel. A padded heel collar draped in silky fabric paired with an internal bootie and padded tongue make the shoe feel like a soft hug around your feet.
But it’s the cushioning underfoot that powers the ride. Designers used Brooks’ softest foam, called DNA Loft, to soak up shock. DNA Loft has lots of application in other Brooks running shoes, but nowhere does it get the spotlight like in the Glycerin 18.
Th Glycerin’s full-length DNA Loft midsole eases your foot along from heel to toe, and it’s light enough to not feel like you’re doing leg day at the gym. If you’re a Brooks fan, you won’t find a more cushioned running shoe than the Glycerin 18.
The Nimbus has long been a great full-cushion running shoe from ASICS, but designers this year made it even softer.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 is the best-cushioned running shoe from ASICS thanks to its host of technologies. ASICS softened the GEL unit in the heel to help better absorb impact, and they improved the GEL in the forefoot to create a softer transition.
Designers also used more foam underfoot. The Nimbus 22 has both Flytefoam Lyte for cushion and Flytefoam Propel for responsiveness, so you get the best of both worlds.
Complete with ASICS Trusstic system to reduce twisting and enhance stability, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 is the best-cushioned running shoe ASICS has to offer.
The Karhu Synchron 2020 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. Paired with Karhu's Fulcrum technology, the Synchron gives you smooth transitions and helps carry your momentum forward.
Like other Karhu running shoes, the Synchron was engineered from data captured during Fleet Feet's fit id outfitting process. The 3D scans helped inform the way Karhu designed the Synchron, so you get a luxurious underfoot feel and comfortable fit.
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.
Redesigning popular shoes can be a daunting task. But designers didn’t leave any stitch the same when they updated the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10, and the boldness paid off.
The New Balance 1080v10 is the Boston-based brand’s best-cushioned running shoe thanks to a new bed of Fresh Foam.
In the New Balance 1080v10 review, designers said they wanted the 1080 to be light, softer and smoother than ever before, and they accomplished that with both the new midsole and a new manufacturing technique for the upper.
Fresh Foam is New Balance’s premier cushion, and it provides a ridiculously soft and bouncy ride. The full stack of it beneath the 1080v10 gives you ample protection against running on pavement, but it doesn’t weigh the shoe down.
On top, designers used new computer software and knitting techniques to create a one-piece upper that seamlessly creates zones of stretch and structure. The result is a precisely crafted upper that gives you an ideal fit.
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.