Alright, folks, let’s talk about some of the best max cushion running shoes you slip into the day after those marathon-worthy workouts. This is the category where cushion is at a premium and heavyweight be damned.
Now, as I share my thoughts on the best max cushion shoes in 2023, there are a few changes in the lineup compared to last year. There are some surprises in there, but I believe not everything will catch you off guard.
I’m on a mission to assist you in finding the cream of the crop, so together, let’s delve into the world of max cushioning and ensure your runs feel as smooth as a gentle breeze!
Let’s dive right into it…
Best Max Cushion Running Shoes
Hey, I’m Eric Barber, the face behind Steadyfoot.com. Today, I’m excited to bring you some top-notch max cushion shoes. But before we jump into the recommendations, let me take a moment to break down what exactly a max cushion running shoe is.
Max cushion running shoes are crafted to deliver the pinnacle of cushioning and impact absorption, revolutionizing your running experience with a plush and luxurious ride underfoot.
Consider these your go-to recovery shoes, the reliable companions for those long runs, and the perfect choice when your feet are feeling weary and deserve a bit of pampering.
If you’re the type of runner who enjoys longer distances or spends extended periods on your feet, I think max cushion shoes could be a great choice for you.
Let’s just get into it…
First up, my top pick happens to be an upgrade to my favorite max cushion shoe from last year. Drumroll, please – it’s the Fresh Foam X More version 4 from New Balance.
This latest iteration promises an even better experience, building on the excellence of its predecessor.
My Top Max Cushion Shoe
New Balance More v4
The New Balance More V4 is a true beast of a shoe that firmly sits in the slower running category. Despite its bulky appearance, that thick slab of Fresh Foam X midsole foam brings an unexpected balance, ensuring a fluid transition that feels remarkably smooth over many miles of running.
When it comes to running shoes for easy days or those longer sessions, the More V4 stands out as my top choice. Its generous base provides a comfortable landing, and the subtle rocker keeps you moving forward at a consistently pleasant pace. It’s the perfect companion for logging miles without sacrificing comfort and performance.
And that’s not all—they’ve taken it up a notch by enhancing the ride of the midsole. The Fresh Foam X from last year underwent some tweaks to make it airier, lighter, and even a tad bouncier than before. Remarkably, they managed to maintain that delightful sink-in cushiness, creating a perfect blend of comfort and quick decompression. It’s a lively shoe, defying expectations for something of this size, delivering an experience that’s both plush and responsive.
New Balance has not only revamped the midsole but also made significant updates to the outsole. They’ve incorporated new cushion zones throughout the length of the shoe, along with Flex Zones, enhancing the overall feel, and providing a more natural sensation during your run.
What’s impressive is the robust durability of the outsole, with ample rubber coverage to protect all that lovely plush foam. So, not only do you get all this lovely cushioning, but you can also count on lasting comfort as you clock those miles.
The upper on the previous version was really puffy and really hot. Plus, there was a lot of armor in the heel. The good news is New Balance went and fixed all of those things.
In the current version, New Balance has opted for a minimally padded tongue, reduced padding in the heel, and completely removed the armor, although there’s still a touch of internal structure.
This approach aims to enhance overall comfort and breathability, providing a lighter and more free-flowing feel without compromising necessary support.
Again, because the V4 effortlessly checks off every box for what I look for in a max cushion shoe and does it in a way that I almost can’t believe, it has earned the spot as my favorite max cushion shoe of the year. Its exceptional performance and comfort make it a standout choice, delivering on all fronts for runners seeking the ultimate in cushioning and support.
Securing the number two spot right behind the Fresh Foam More V4 is likely what comes to mind when you envision max cushion shoes – the Bondi.
|Where to buy
My Number 2 Pick
Hoka Bondi 8
I genuinely appreciate the way they’ve revamped the appearance of this foam. It’s less blocky, shedding that resemblance to a shoe you’d find at your orthopedist’s office or in a kitchen. Now, the Bondi genuinely looks more like a running shoe, which I think is a significant improvement.
I also feel like they’ve incorporated a lot of what they learned with their Bondi X experiment which was a plated version of the Bondi.
Some of those learnings are trickling over into the regular Bondi in the Bondi 8 and I feel like overall, it’s a shoe that feels lighter and rolls a lot smoother, and you’re still getting a lot of comfort while you’re doing it as you’re protecting your feet from the road in this ultra-high stack.
That’s why the Bondi 8 is my number two max cushion shoe. If you’re really into the Bondi, here’s the release date of the Bondi 9 and the tweaks I’d love to see.
For the third spot, I know it might be a bit of a controversial shoe for some of you. I’m aware that some folks use this shoe for workouts, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
However, I still believe this shoe belongs in the max cushion category because of its impressive height and unmatched comfort. I’m talking about the SC Trainer…
My Number 3 Pick
New Balance SC Trainer v2
The SC Trainer is a real standout in the super stack category, boasting more than 40 millimeters of stack in the heel. Technically, it’s not allowed for marathon races, but that’s only a concern if you’re aiming to win the race, snag some prize money, or set a world record.
For the rest of us normies out there just looking to enjoy a comfortable and cushioned run, it’s an excellent choice without any race-day restrictions.
I love what they’re doing with the FuelCell in this shoe, making it nice and squishy. And the way they have this shoe set up makes you want to land in the midfoot or towards the heel.
So, for those of you who are mid-foot heel strikers, you’re going to be really getting a lot of the benefit of that squishy foam.
They’ve configured the midsole with a two-wall construction and incorporated an Energy Arc channel in the bottom, contributing to a smooth forward motion while allowing the foam to deflect and compress effectively.
This setup maximizes the benefits of the full stack height, ensuring it’s not just about having a tall stack for the sake of it but optimizing the functionality of each component for an enhanced running experience.
The SC Trainer does come equipped with a carbon fiber plate, allowing it to pick up the pace when needed, especially for those moments when you want to get up on your toes.
Personally, I find the SC Trainer when I’m really chill and going nice and easy. The comfort of the upper, featuring a fantastic knit design, makes it suitable for both long and recovery runs.
There’s a certain ease and joy when wearing this shoe, and I particularly feel in sync with it when I’m on those easier runs, max cushion recovery runs. That’s why I’m placing the New Balance SC Trainer at the third spot on my list of the best max cushion shoes.
Now that I’ve revealed my top 3 max cushion shoes, let me give more picks for the:
- Best overall
- Most versatile
- Best value
- Most stable
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Best Overall Max Cushion Shoes
First up in the best overall cushion category, we have the Nimbus…
1. Asics Gel Nimbus 25
This latest iteration of the beloved Gel Nimbus line, now in its 25th edition, brings a significant evolution from its predecessor. With a fully maximized stack of FlyteFoam (FF) Blast+ cushioning, coupled with the introduction of the new Pure Gel material, what you experience here is a ride that’s not only comfortable but also exceptionally protective for those easy and long runs.
Regardless of how far you run, I believe the Gel Nimbus 25 provides a consistently cushioned feel and the midsole foam never bottoms out.
The addition of mild rocker geometry contributes to a remarkably smooth feel in the ride. Yes, it’s a pricey shoe, and not every runner might never need that much cushioning, but for those in the market for a max stack shoe, the Gel Nimbus 25 stands out as one of the premier choices.
It provides a level of comfort comparable to any other option currently available, making it a top contender in the world of cushioned running shoes.
2. On Cloudsurfer 7
The ON Cloudsurfer 7 made quite an impression on us. Serving as an excellent successor to the Cloudmonster, I believe the Cloudsurfer stands out as one of ON’s finest running shoes to date.
The midsole features a brand-new design that ON calls Cloudtec Phase midsole technology where you’ve got a newly shaped cloud elements that are made from Helion foam.
The concept behind these pods is that they collapse in sequence, a bit like dominos, as you progress through your transition. This design aims to enhance the rolling motion for a smoother and more fluid running experience.
There’s a pretty big rocker too and interestingly, there’s no more Speedboard which makes them a little softer. This results in a really nice balanced shoe with great versatility and nice rolling snappy responsive springy ride.
The shoe strikes a comfortable balance – not overly aggressive, offering both good cushioning and stability, and ensuring a smooth transition.
The Cloudsurfer is noticeably softer than many ON shoes of the past and that might be down to the removal of that Speedboard that generally adds a bit of stiffness to their shoes.
Also, the Helion foam feels more compressive but without feeling sinky. It kicks in with return just at the right time.
Overall, the ON Cloudsurfer 7 stands out for its impressive versatility. It’s the type of shoe you can easily toss into your suitcase to cover most of your holiday runs, especially if you’re aiming to pack just one reliable option.
3. Brooks Glycerin 20
The Brooks Glycerin range has consistently been a go-to for runners looking for substantial cushioning during easy runs and longer sessions.
In the Glycerin 20, Brooks implemented several enhancements, such as introducing a nitrogen-infused DNA Loft V3 midsole and widening the base. The result is a noticeable improvement on an already impressive shoe with a balanced ride that feels both soft and energetic, upping its versatility to make it more of a cushioned everyday shoe.
Crafted from engineered mesh, the upper of the Brooks Glycerin 20 is designed to provide a blend of breathability and a secure fit. Ample padding around the ankle collar and tongue contributes to a plush feel, creating a cradling sensation for the foot throughout every run.
Brooks went and created a stability version of the Glycerin, the Glycerin GTS. Make sure you get the right pair for your gait.
4. Nike Invincible
The original Nike Invincible made waves with its release, bringing the propulsive ZoomX foam from the Vaporfly and Alpha Fly into the world of super-soft easy-day running shoes.
Fast forward to the Invincible 3, and it still holds its ground as one of the softest cushioned shoes, although it has undergone changes to enhance stability. While it may have lost some of the initial squishiness that made it exceptionally fun, the updates cater to increased support.
For fans of the original, this shift may pose a concern, but the added stability makes it more accessible for runners who struggled with midsole instability.
Most Versatile Max Cushion Shoes
1. Hoka Clifton 9
The Clifton 9 is lower drop than the other options in this list and has a smooth rockered ride that works well at a range of paces. Hoka’s most cushioned shoe is the Bondi, but I found that the Clifton is more than comfortable enough while being lighter, more versatile, and more fun to run in than the Bondi.
2. Saucony Triumph 21
When it comes to cushioned daily shoes, the Saucony Triumph 21 is pushing the top-end price for cushioned shoes, but it’s won me over because it ticks many of the right boxes for this type of shoe. It just offers plenty of versatility for training at different speeds.
When compared to most cushioned shoes these days, the Triumph 21 veers more towards the daily training end of the spectrum largely thanks to the energetic PWRRUN+ cushioning in the midsole and sock liner.
Midsole & Outsole
The PWRRUN+ midsole works really well and absorbs impact from the road but also is a nice lively foam. PWRRUN+ isn’t sinky. It’s a good balanced amount of cushioning that’s protective and responsive but not too soft or mushy.
You also get Saucony’s classic Speed Roll rocker geometry that makes for a good roll through, which makes the Triumph a happy clip-along shoe.
There’s also plenty of outsole rubber to protect that foam and deliver a high level of grip across varied road conditions. Then the heel lock is designed to hold the foot in place securely.
I’ve observed a consistent improvement in this shoe since I first started running in the Triumph 17. I appreciate that Saucony recognizes plushness and comfort stem from the midsole down, not necessarily from the puffiness of the upper.
So on the upper, they’ve reduced the amount of padding around the ankle collar area. The mid-level padding in the heels, the tongue, and the upper makes for great step-in comfort and you get that all-important disappearing feel on the foot.
The Triumph is a little bit on the heavy side, but you could even use this for your strides if it’s an easy run with just a couple of strides, the shoe is really willing to pick up the pace.
So, the Triumph 21 has an enticing amount of versatility for a daily trainer, it’s got a little bit more stack height, and it can absorb a little bit more impact from the road.
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3. Asics Superblast
The Superblast stands out as a daily training shoe that leans towards faster and longer runs, blending FFBlast+ (also found in the Novablast 3 and the Magic Speed 2) with FF+ Turbo, the propulsive foam from the Metaspeed Sky+. The result is a remarkably lively and fluid ride that effortlessly covers miles at speed.
What makes the Superblast truly exceptional is its versatility, offering the comfort for ticking off easy day miles and the responsiveness for picking up the pace during more harder training sessions.
While it can handle a variety of running scenarios on its own, I found it works best as a training partner to work alongside a faster race shoe.
The Superblast features a breathable and comfortable thin asymmetric mesh upper, a heel stabilizer ensuring a secure ride, and an AHAR+ outsole rubber for reliable grip.
The trampoline-inspired outsole design adds a responsive bounce, contributing to a more responsive bounce.
Last but not least, the Superblast of one of these top picks for runners with narrow feet. Give it a read!
3. Asics GlideRide 3
Last on this list is a shoe that I’ve been meaning to try for years but only finally got to try it this year and that is the GlideRide.
The GlideRide is remarkably versatile, capable of handling a variety of tasks you’d expect from a daily trainer, all wrapped up in a comfy and cushioned package.
It retains the Guide Sole technology, seamlessly guiding your forward motion with its integrated geometry.
In terms of updates, they’ve incorporated a top layer of FFBlast+, Asics’ lightest and bounciest daily training foam. While it may not be their racing foam, it certainly stands out as one of their superior choices for daily training.
Underneath that is a layer of FlyteFoam which is a layer that is a little bit firmer.
Even though it’s not classified as a stability shoe, I’ve noticed that when I slip into these on a recovery day, especially when everything feels wobbly and a bit squirrely, it kind of takes on a stability-like role. The way it consistently wants to roll in a particular manner provides a sense of stability without being a designated stability shoe.
Thanks to that FFBlast+ on top, the GlideRide offers a pleasantly soft experience, even if it doesn’t feel like the tallest shoe underfoot. It does lean a bit heavy on the padding in the heel cup, but overall, it’s an incredibly comfortable shoe, both for running and casual wear.
Last but not least, the GlideRide’s rocker geometry provides runners with Morton’s neuroma with great relief.
4. ON Cloudmonster
The ON Cloudmonster stands out as a max cushion shoe, tending slightly firmer compared to most others in the same category.
While this might not suit everyone’s preference for easy runs, it translates into increased versatility compared to shoes with softer foam. The firmness is a result of the robust combination of the thick Helion super foam midsole and a full-length Speedboard, working together to offer rebound and minimize impacts during easy day sessions.
Another aspect I like is the stretchy mesh upper, striking a balance between comfort and support with reinforced sections spanning the length of the shoe.
5. Asics Novablast 3
While the Novablast 3 may not be as remarkable as the Superblast, as it features a full FFBlast+ blast midsole instead of FF Turbo, it stands out for its more budget-friendly price. Nevertheless, it continues to provide a comfortable and lively ride, making it a solid choice for daily training.
6. Salomon Aero Glide
The Aero Glide, introduced in 2023, brings versatility to the table as a max-stacked shoe, standing out for its relatively lighter weight compared to most shoes with its stack height, reaching 37 millimeters at the heel.
Not only does it offer stability, but its smooth ride contributes to effortlessly ticking off the miles, making it particularly well-suited for long runs.
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Best Value Cushioned Shoe
In the world of max stack cushioned shoes, finding tremendous value can be a challenge as prices often climb alongside the amount of foam underfoot. However, you can still discover excellent cushioned daily trainers at budget-friendly prices.
The top of my list is the Puma Velocity Nitro 2.
1. Puma Velocity Nitro 2
The Velocity Nitro 2 deserves special mention as an excellent cushioned daily trainer that excels in both versatility and great value, often available in sales for half its original price.
Its winning combination of comfort and performance is attributed to the dual-density midsole, featuring Puma’s nitrogen-infused Nitro foam on top and a durable Thermo EVA material underneath. This dual-density midsole setup strikes a balance by being responsive enough for faster efforts, making it a well-rounded choice for various types of runs.
Supporting this midsole is a dependable Puma Grip outsole, capable of handling trails and wet roads alike.
I specifically highlight the Velocity Nitro 2 for its outstanding value, making it one of the best-cushioned options overall, unless you specifically look for more stability or an exceptionally towering stack height.
If the latter is your preference, Puma’s Magnify Nitro 2 offers a 40-millimeter midsole, although it doesn’t quite match the Velocity in terms of value.
|Where to buy
Best Stable Max Cushion Shoes
1. Saucony Tempus
The Tempus has secured a spot as one of my favorite cushioned shoes, introducing a new approach to providing that extra guidance and assistance that some runners may look for.
At its core, it has a generous serving of Saucony’s PWRRUN PB cushioning, a feature also found in the speedy Endorphin Speed 3 and Endorphin Pro 3. This cushioning is enveloped by a firmer PWRRUN frame, ensuring stability and offering guidance during movement.
On the upper, there’s a highly breathable mesh with padding strategically placed in key areas. Saucony’s XT900 outsole provides robust grip, even in wet conditions.
The Tempus delivers a delightfully bouncy, yet smooth and stable ride, making it well-suited for more up-tempo running and those instances when you look for something equally enjoyable for longer runs.
2. Asics Gel Kayano 30
With the Kayano 30, Asics introduces significant changes, ensuring the 30th edition remains well-suited for overpronators.
Maintaining a 10-millimeter drop like the Kayano 29, this version elevates the stack height in both men’s and women’s models, creating more space for the lighter FFBlast+ Eco cushioning, also featured in the Gel Nimbus 25.
The Kayano 30 incorporates Pure Gel technology for softer landings, coupled with an engineered knit upper and gusseted tongue to deliver a snug and hugging fit.
Its 4D Guidance System introduces elements such as a wider base and medial foam, strategically providing support from different angles. These enhancements collectively contribute to making the Kayano 30 one of the most comfortable cushioned stability versions yet.
From the plush and luxurious ride of the New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 to the versatile and value-packed Puma Velocity Nitro 2, each shoe brings its unique strengths to the table.
The ON Cloudmonster stands out for its slightly firmer feel, providing an excellent balance of versatility. The Saucony Triumph 21 impresses with its refined design, emphasizing comfort and support.
Whether you’re looking for a bouncy and stable ride like the Tempus or a stability-focused option like the Kayano 30, these max cushion shoes offer a plethora of choices for runners looking to elevate their max cushion running game.
Have some urgent questions about max cushion shoes? Our FAQ section got you covered:
What running shoes have the most cushion?
Running shoes renowned for their exceptional cushioning include the New Balance Fresh Foam More v4, celebrated for its plush and luxurious feel, and the Hoka Bondi 8, which boasts a generous stack height for superior cushioning. Additionally, the Saucony Triumph 21 and Asics Kayano 30 offer advanced cushioning technologies, ensuring a comfortable and supportive ride.
Is max cushioning good for running?
Max cushioning can be beneficial for running, particularly for those in pursuit of enhanced comfort and superior impact absorption. Notable examples of this optimal cushioning experience can be found in leading running shoes like the New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 and the Hoka Bondi. But for those prioritizing injury prevention, the allure of maximalist shoes is compelling. However, a study by Nature challenges conventional assumptions, revealing that despite decades of advancements in shoe technology and the increasing emphasis on cushioning to alleviate the impact on runners’ legs, the incidence of running injuries has not witnessed a significant decrease. This intriguing paradox prompts a reevaluation of our understanding of the relationship between cushioning, footwear technology, and injury prevention in the running community.
Which Hoka shoe is the most cushioned?
Among their extensive lineup, the Hoka Bondi 8 stands out as the most cushioned Hoka shoes. Renowned for its generously thick midsole and maximalist design, the Bondi offers an unparalleled level of cushioning, making it a top choice for runners looking plush comfort and superior impact absorption.
What shoe compares to the Hoka Bondi?
The New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 is often compared to the Hoka Bondi due to its substantial cushioning and plush feel. Both shoes belong to the maximalist category, offering runners a similar experience of luxurious comfort and excellent impact absorption. If you enjoy the cushioned ride of the Hoka Bondi, the Fresh Foam More v4 from New Balance would likely be a comparable and appealing choice.
Are max cushion shoes good for long runs?
Max cushion shoes are generally well-suited for long runs. Their ample cushioning provides enhanced comfort and impact absorption. Many runners find that the plush feel of max cushion shoes, such as the New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 or the Hoka Bondi, contributes to a more enjoyable and supportive experience, making them a popular choice for those tackling longer distances.