In today’s article, we’re going to be reviewing some of the softest running shoes in 2022.
In the desert of fartleks and mile repeats, the soft running shoe is a welcome oasis.
These are your go-to shoes when you want to feel pampered and all you care about is comfort, not pace and long miles rather than fast ones.
Beware that with super-soft running shoes, your legs will get tired sooner as they use more muscle energy to create propulsion.
But the good news is some of the running shoes below feature responsive foams or even a carbon fiber plate to create that responsiveness that’s going to help propel you forward reducing leg fatigue considerably.
Let’s dive right into it…
Softest Running Shoes
Nike Invincible Run
The new ZoomX Invincible is Nike’s long-distance shoe that utilizes the revolutionary ZoomX midsole foam to achieve an incredibly soft and bouncy ride perfect for go-long comfort.
Behind that wide blocky exterior, mundane color palette, and thick heel build lives one hell of a running experience that delivers so much soft and springy cushion.
It’s that springiness and bounciness that you’re really feeling every time your foot hits the ground that makes the Invincible a very special shoe to run in.
Why the Invincible is good for you
The Invincible is super-soft, super-cushioned, and really bouncy.
We weren’t really sure at first if the Invincible was going to be a speed shoe or a max cushion shoe based on the amount of stack height. It turns out, at least in my mind, that it fits in that super soft max cushion shoe category.
You can go on longer runs in the Invincible and your joints are definitely going to feel the benefit of all that ZoomX foam. However, this shoe doesn’t love running at your slowest paces. It just likes to move a little bit faster than easy pace.
I just love the Nike Invincible Run on days when there’s going to be easy paces, some moderate paces, and maybe a couple of strides in there. It could do all of those things really well.
Again, I think anything from easy to marathon, those are the efforts that the Invincible really seems to be enjoying.
What I noticed is the Invincible wants you to land more squarely in the midfoot to get a lot more of the bounce. Because of that rocker, when you get on the midfoot, it hits the ground just right and so it starts to throw you into the next part of your gait cycle quite effortlessly. So, that’s where I think the design of the Invincible is really intended.
The midsole is the shoe’s main selling point. The ZoomX midsole is soft, super cushioned, and has a nice bounce to it. This is really Nike’s everyday running shoe that’s meant to go long without any sort of plate at all.
What we’re left with is this extremely soft and pillowy cushion. With a lot more bounce and momentum, the result is just one of the most comfortable shoes that I put on my feet.
Again, the ZoomX midsole is really what sets the Invincible apart.
The Flyknit upper is so accommodating and I think so many different foot types are going to feel right at home in this shoe.
What you get with this Flyknit upper and the overall material choices is a comfortable accommodating padded upper that protects and essentially hugs your foot in a nice layer of comfort.
A lot of shoes that tend to be accommodating for so many different foot types really don’t excel in one area. But I think a lot of people will get a good fit out of the Invincible.
With the wide thick laces, the gusseted tongue, the extra padding around the heel, and a really good structured heel counter, the shoe itself will tie down and fit to your foot in a more precise manner.
Again, with that ZoomX, you are getting that just miraculous bounciness and so much spring in each step. To have it in kind of this configuration in this easy-day/everyday use of shoe is a little bit unique.
The ride of the Invincible is pretty comfortable and the shoe could still pick up the pace because the more you put into it, the more it seems to give you back.
- Marshmallow-like yet springy cushioning
- Incredibly fun & bouncy underfoot
- Transitions are smooth
- Guaranteed comfort over long distances
- Plush upper & great upper fit thanks to the stretchy materials
- Good for wide-footed runners
- Great traction & grip
- No widths available
- A bit unstable around sharp turns
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The Nike Invincible 2 is one of these most comfortable Nike shoes.
New Balance RC Elite v2
The New Balance FuelCell RC Elite 2 is one hell of a fun shoe. This thick road beast brings a ton to the table for those looking to better their long-distance PR’s, crush a marathon, or just plain propel themselves down the road wrapped in joyful springy goodness.
Why the RC Elite is good for you
The Fuelcell midsole is bouncy and incredibly soft and energetic.
A lot of the times, when you get one of these hyper cushioned super shoes with the carbon plate at a very high price point, the shoe is designed for that upper echelon of athletes and they do tend to leave us mid-packers in the dust both literally and metaphorically.
What I’m happy to report on is that the RC Elite v2 is not just for the elite. I think as a mid-packer, I’m getting so much fun out of this shoe every time. This shoe is designed for the every runner who wants to go fast and wants to set PR’s. It is comfortable, it is accommodating, and it works really well.
Midsole & Outsole
The new version of the RC Elite features a thicker bouncier FuelCell midsole that is incredibly soft and energetic.
I just like it better than Fresh Foam and I think it has that bounce, that soft cushioning but also the energy return so you’re not just like losing your foot in the shoe.
The swoop-shaped carbon plate isn’t overpowering and feels legitimately right in a shoe for once providing enough snap for speed and comfort for long hauls.
The outsole is simple but works even in wet conditions, which is surprising.
Upper & Fit
New Balance are doing a really good job by making the RC Elite breathable and good-looking. They have minimized the amount of stitching and also reduced the overall thickness and size of the heel counter while still allowing it to wrap itself around your heel.
The upper just comes together in a really comfortable and fitting way which goes hand in hand with fit. The RC Elite is built to accommodate a lot of different foot types and I think that’s a great selling point for this thing.
The fit is wider in the forefoot, the asymmetrical lacing has a really good tie-down system, and the ankle collar and the heel cup also hold to your foot really well.
All in all, the fit of the shoe is better than I thought.
Again, the RC Elite v2 is a bouncy super-cushioned carbon plated road beast with a really soft, airy, and accommodating upper.
- Racing carbon shoe offering plush comfort
- Midsole offers a good combination of softness, smoothness, bounciness, & stability
- Quick transitions at higher speed & cadence
- Toe-offs are responsive
- Stretchy materials offer a glove-like fit
- Comfortable upper & roomy forefoot
- Knitted upper is breathable
- Grippy outsole
- Tongue is not gusseted
- The hole in the midsole might trap rocks
- Upper is less snug than V1
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The New Balance SC Elite is one of these top picks for runners with narrow feet. Check them out if finding the perfect fit is a hassle for you.
New Balance Rebel v2
The Rebel series debuted back in 2019 and it was that versatile performance daily trainer that took some key philosophies from the Elite carbon-plated racer the 5280. It was just a shoe that could do a lot of things really. It was responsive, bouncy, and had enough cushioning to go the distance.
With the Rebel v2, we’ve got a complete revamp of the Rebel series. While the FuelCell Rebel 1 was a fantastic shoe, the Rebel v2 is possibly the best versatile shoe of the year.
Why the Rebel is good for you
The Rebel now features the same super foam on the RC Elite. It is super-soft yet very responsive.
This is a good choice if you want to buy one shoe for your training and even half marathon to a certain extent. It’s light enough to even race your 5k/10k races in it.
You can use the Rebel v2 for faster runs like tempo efforts and it just feels smooth and responsive. But having the right amount of FuelCell cushioning with that bouncy ride just makes it an ideal option for any day of the week for a wide variety of paces and distances.
The Rebel doesn’t feel hard or stiff. It has just a nice soft underfoot feel that just bounces out and you really get to feel what that FuelCell foam feels like without having a stiff plate in it.
I wouldn’t recommend the Rebel for long-run efforts for most folks. You really have to have a strong footstrike and ankles. Because it is so loose through that midsole, it wouldn’t be my first choice for that long-run distance just because it might provide just not quite enough support.
So the Rebel is an amazing upgrade that really starts all in the midsole…
On the midsole, we’ve got full-length FuelCell foam which isn’t the same FuelCell we saw in version one.
Version 1 was pretty bouncy and pretty responsive, but the Rebel 2 is now going to use the foam we see in the RC Elite v2. It’s that super foam which uses an autoclaved process to be the most responsive compound on the market. It’s extremely soft and extremely lightweight.
The midsole reminds me a lot of the RC Elite, but it’s not quite stacked out and doesn’t have that carbon fiber plate. It’s a little bit more flexible and it just feels like a shoe you can do a lot of things including daily training.
We’ve got a very thin and breathable mesh upper which is almost translucent, which helps keep that lightweight design.
Although the midfoot has room to expand and it’s a little bit adaptive, it is going to have that kind of snug performance fit. Then as you get into the toe box, it does open up a little bit and offers plenty of room for your toes to move around and wiggle.
In terms of durability, I think the Rebel is going to be about in line with what you’d expect from a lightweight performance trainer.
Again, the Rebel v2 has everything you need for pretty much any run. Whether you’re an elite runner or just looking for something soft, fun, and bouncy for any day of the week, this is going to be a fantastic option to pick up and go.
- Incredibly lightweight
- Responsive, rockered, ultra soft, propulsive ride
- Good energy return & versatility
- Breathable, minimal, sleek, comfortable upper
- Widths are available
- Midfoot isn’t very secure
- Outsole is not very durable
- A bit unstable for heel strikers
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Skechers Max Road 5
The Max Road 5 is a beast and it’s squishy. It’s highly soft and cushioned, it’s ultra-lightweight, and it has the most Hyper Burst out of any daily trainer in the Skechers lineup.
Why the Max Road is good for you
The Max Road is the same super-cushioned shoe as the previous version but does manage to bring some exciting tech to the table without sacrificing what makes the Max Road line so popular.
This is a neutral responsive high-cushion training shoe for any distance from a 5k to a marathon. This shoe is great for easy days, long runs, middle-distance runs, and daily training. I almost want to say this is also a tempo-day shoe, but that’s just a bridge too far because of the weight.
If you’ve never run in a Skechers shoe, I’d recommend the Max Road 5 to just try out.
The shoe has got a thick layer of Hyper Burst cushioning which is super soft, bouncy, responsive, and highly cushioned. There are forefoot flex grooves throughout the midsole with the M-Strike technology to promote efficiency in each stride.
Inside the shoe, we have an internal H-plate design which is just going to add a little bit of rigidity. This H design offers multiple points where that plate can flex and align with your foot.
This is also going to make the shoe a little bit more propulsive and more responsive but still retain a lot of those same features and feel of the last version.
The plate doesn’t get in the way and so you’re not getting one of those super-stiff race-ready shoes. You’re getting something that’s a bit more resilient and a bit more friendly underfoot.
Upper & Fit
The upper is constructed with breathable engineered mesh that is extremely soft and comfortable. The new mesh design is soft, breathable, very lightweight, and offers tons of stretch to accommodate a bunch of different foot shapes.
With the previous Max Road 4, some runners were commenting on the fit. That knit design wasn’t holding the foot properly and a lot of people were having instability issues.
With this new mesh design on the Max Road 5, it’s really going to wrap your foot a lot better keeping your foot securely in place. While this isn’t a huge change, it is definitely noticeable on foot and I think it is going to help elevate the shoe to the next level.
All of this is built on small outsole pods featuring Goodyear rubber that provide fantastic traction, durability, and stability.
When compared to other shoes like the Hoka Rincon or some New Balance FuelCell models, the Max Road 5 is kind of in that middle-lower price tier for the max cushion shoes.
Overall, the Max Road 5 is going to continue on the Max Road legacy. It’s still ultra-lightweight and ultra-responsive. Now, the midsole features a carbon-infused H-shaped plate that adds just a small bit of snap but gets out of the way when comfort is the goal.
Again, while you can use it for your daily training, you can use it for your long runs as well. It is a great choice if you’re looking for a daily trainer that’s super-soft, fun, and easy to run in.
- Lightweight responsive yet comfortable cushioning
- Carbon infused H-shaped plate does great at stabilizing the springy, soft ride
- Plate isn’t very aggressive & offers pretty good transitions
- Pace versatility is enhanced by the plate, stability, & flexibility
- Great value & excellent fit
- Nice & roomy toe box for toe splay
- Offers amazing traction
- Upper may suck water in humid and wet conditions
- Might feel unstable when turning
- Might pick up rocks
- A bit rigid through the forefoot
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New Balance More v3
The More v3 is butter to the bread.
The New Balance More v1 and v2 were rather forgettable based on everything that I’d heard about those. But the Fresh Foam More v3 came with a lot of fanfare and it delivered on all the hype.
Why the More v3 is good for you
The More has a slab of Fresh Foam X midsole foam in a very wide platform. So, not only is it nice and soft and bouncy, but it’s also very stable despite all the squishiness that it has underfoot.
I’d be reaching for the More v3 for those recovery runs when you want something to baby your feet and absorb all that shock and impact from all those road miles.
If you’re looking for something that’s going to be really helpful to you as you’re setting your long-run PR’s, this is your shoe. Or, if you’re looking for a shoe to give you a little bit of extra comfort on those recovery days and easy days, I think that’s where the Fresh Foam More v3 comes into play.
If you have some strides or some speedwork to do, that’s not what this shoe is designed for.
Fresh Foam More vs Fresh Foam 1080
The New Balance More v3 is taking over the space of being a max cushion shoe instead of the New Balance 1080. Also, the upper is a little bit roomier than I feel like you’re getting in the 1080v11.
Because the upper is using engineered mesh instead of the knit material on the 1080, you’re going to be locked in a little bit more stable inside the More v3 vs the 1080v11.
The upper is really forgiving in terms of the amount of room it has in the toe box without being sloppy. It is puffy and comfortable but not overly puffed out.
The More does go a little bit over the top in terms of the design, the overlays, the layers, the textures, and the materials, but after all, the shoe is called the More and so of course it’s going to be a little bit extra.
Despite the fact that I do not really appreciate the way it looks, I absolutely love the softness it delivers underfoot.
On the days after I had my hardest workouts and my longest runs when I needed to get out there for some active recovery and still get a couple of miles in but my body was hurting, the Fresh Foam More v3 is one of the first softest running shoes on my list that I wanted to reach for.
- Massive cushioning is very bouncy & insanely soft
- Stable ride despite the stack height
- Premium upper metreials
- Comfortable padded tongue
- Great wiggle room through the roomy toe box
- Wide-feet friendly
- Durable & stable platform
- Decent cushion-to-weight ratio
- A bit on the warmer side
- A bit heavy
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Saucony Triumph 19
This is a neutral road running shoe. I feel like I’m getting along a lot better with the Triumph 19 even though I don’t think it’s all that different from the Triumph 18.
Why the Triumph 19 is good for you
The Triumph has got two layers of foam. There’s a layer of PWRRUN+ that feels better than Boost. On top of that, there’s a squishy layer that gives you all the softness you’re looking for.
The Triumph 19 is an easy-day shoe 100% for me. It’s also fantastic for everyday runs, recovery runs, and for those longest runs as you’re getting ready for those half marathon and marathon training blocks.
So, if you…
- Want to buy only one shoe, it’s going to go the distance for you. If
- Need to pick up the pace for some strides just a little bit
- Need to go on a long run with this shoe
- Just want to feel comfortable after a hard workout the day before
…the Triumph 19 can do all that for you.
PWRRUN+ is the same foam that the Triumph series has for several years now to great success.
This PWRRUN+ midsole looks a lot like Boost but it’s definitely being used in a much better way than Boost. I feel like the Triumph 19 is a shoe that the Adidas UltraBoost should have been but isn’t. Because this material has a lot of those Boost-like properties, it still feels pretty springy and responsive.
On top of that midsole layer, there is a top sole to add a little bit of extra softness and plushness to this max cushioned shoe.
Because of all the stack, I feel like I’m getting plenty of cushion and a ton of shock absorption in the heel and in the forefoot as well. This is a really well-executed shoe for either a max cushioned shoe or even for a heavily cushioned daily trainer.
Also, the PWRRUN+ midsole rebounds really quickly so you’re still getting a very bouncy ride and not getting stuck in mush. A lot like the ZoomX Invincible, the Triumph 19 has that max cushion feel, but it doesn’t have that kind of max cushion tax in terms of what you have to give up in terms of pace, nimbleness, and some agility.
The upper is also trimming down from the Triumph 17 and 18 which I think were just super mega puffy with memory foam everywhere. The tongue and heel collar are minimally padded especially compared to the crazy amount of padding and puffy tongue on the Triumph 18.
I really like the way that Saucony are really distilling their uppers and getting rid of a lot of the extra stuff while still maintaining a very comfortable fitting upper.
So, with the Triumph 19, Saucony reminded us that you can have a very plush shoe without necessarily putting memory foam or just all the sort of stuff in the upper.
But what’s really interesting is the upper now looks and feels a lot like the upper on the Endorphin Speed and Endorphin Pro. It’s a much more breathable, stretchy, and comfortable material than the upper on the Triumph 18. In fact, the upper changes have resulted in a weight loss of almost one entire ounce.
The heel counter is quite rigid, which is going to aid with some motion control and just keep you feeling locked in and secure inside the shoe.
On the bottom, you have Saucony’s XT-900 rubber outsole which is the same rubber that has served very well in prior iterations in terms of durability and grip.
There’s not so much of the rubber and it’s not so thick that it takes away from the sensation of the midsole foam that’s in there. So, the outsole does a good job of striking a balance between durability and performance.
- Very comfortable plush upper
- Great soft cushioning
- Lighter than previous Triumph 18
- Comfortable midsole feel for longer runs
- Adequate toebox room
- Overly stretchy laces
- Not the greatest for sustained faster paces
- Not much energy return
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Brooks Aurora BL
The Aurora BL is this wild-looking concept shoe that’s manufactured in limited quantities but packed to the brim with new technologies. The purpose of the Aurora is to showcase this new midsole foam which will hopefully be used in future staple Brooks trainers.
Why the Aurora is good for you
According to Brooks, the Aurora possesses supreme softness which is provided by this brand-new supercritical nitrogen-infused foam called DNA Loft v3.
However, contrary to Brooks’ marketing claims, the Aurora doesn’t have a super-soft ride and you don’t get the same sink-in plush feeling that you get in the Nike Invincible Run or the New Balance Rebel, but it doesn’t feel like a firm ride either. So, don’t expect the ride to feel like you’re stepping on fluffy marshmallows. It is soft but not marshmallowy soft.
While the midsole is soft, my runs in it turn into steady-paced runs because of how springy the midsole feels. And the most surprising thing is how fast the Aurora feels.
You can even take it out on a tempo run or an interval workout because it feels like a finely-tuned ride which returns a high level of return with each foot strike.
Overall, while the Brooks Aurora looks like a pure max cushion trainer, it’s actually a really versatile fun do-it-all shoe. It can be used as your daily trainer, your recovery shoe, your long-run shoe, or even for faster-paced efforts.
Midsole & Outsole
The midsole features this nitrogen-infused foam called DNA Loft v3. It makes the ride feel a lot more stable than other super-soft trainers that have a lot of lean bias. But what makes it so stable is its oversized midsole that bulges out at the sides cupping your feet during transitions.
On long distances, the Glide Roll technology makes transitions feel smooth and natural thanks to the sculpted heel and forefoot.
There’s very little rubber on the outsole of the Aurora because this exposed midsole foam can handle daily wear and tear very well. DNA Loft V3 has a high resiliency to it and feels like Puma’s Nitro foam. Traction, however, is below average because of how smooth this exposed midsole foam is.
Upper & Fit
The upper is unique but impressive because it’s a half-bootie construction. However, it still allows you to do a runner’s knot for a more secure fit.
The midfoot and forefoot are made from a thin transparent mono mesh which has a rough texture to it and it’s very porous making for great breathability.
The giant heel cup is a separate piece which is integrated into the rest of the upper without any annoying seams that irritate your ankle. The heel counter has built-in padding and it provides excellent heel support without any heel slippage.
In terms of fit, you can go true to size if you prefer a snug fit or a half size up if you prefer a more relaxed fit.
All in all, unlike other gimmicky concept shoes, the Aurora BL is a proper performance running shoe. I just can’t wait to see how Brooks is going to introduce this new midsole compound to the Ghost, Glycerin, or even the Endorphin series.
- Highly cushioned & comfortable
- Energetic & soft cushion
- Pretty versatile & stable underfoot for such a big stack height
- Heel cushioning doesn’t bottom out despite the softness
- Impressive lockdown
- Mono mesh upper is breathable, sleek, and super lightweight
- Great to wear casually
- Not very smooth at lower paces
- A bit slippery on wet surfaces
- Aurora is very expensive
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Soft Running Shoe Tips
While your softer shoes can reduce the load on your body when you’re out running, they can also make your legs use more muscle energy to create propulsion. With soft running shoes, you’re going to sink into the shoe and the midsole is going to compress when pressure is applied.
So, your best softest running shoes should:
- Not be too soft.
- Be responsive, not dull.
- Stable enough.
- Light enough.
- Supportive enough.
- Have resilient foams.
- Have a carbon fiber plate.
So, there you have it. These were our 7 softest running shoes of 2022. If you have any shoe that you feel is really soft, please share your experience down below.