Our test team is obsessed with help you find the best shoes and gear—and identifying the stuff you should stay away from. Creating helpful, reliable, authentic reviews of shoes and running gear is at the core of everything we do at Runner’s World. And we’ve been at it for more than 50 years. Our current test team includes former collegiate athletes, a few sub-3:00 marathoners and a bunch of people who run almost every day.
To help you find the best shoes, apparel, and gear, we test products every day. We’ll cover roads, trails, and steep hills, comparing findings across a category of products like GPS watches, sunglasses, sunscreen, headphones, headlamps, and more. Cross-country spikes? We took a box of them to the Paul Short course at Lehigh University and ran laps to get a better picture of how each performed. Recovery products? Our office is filled with them. Monday is a popular time for the NormaTec recovery system to soothe legs beaten over Sunday long runs.
How We Test
Every month, we test 25 shoes, and dozens of pieces of gear. Our team of three editors have reviewed thousands of shoes—our deputy editor and runner-in-chief, Jeff Dengate once ran in a new pair every day for 257 consecutive days.
Every shoe we review goes through three independent tests. First, we put it through a series of mechanical tests in our shoe lab. Then we put it on the feet at least six runners (and usually twice that many) in our wear-test program, who each run 100 miles or more in the shoes. At the same time, our staff runs in each pair to gather personal insight in real-world conditions.
When we can’t test a product, we’ll let you know. In those cases, we rely on our experience with similar models, extensive research, and consumer feedback to spotlight products we believe are good options for the intended user. In almost all cases, it’s gear we’ve had hands-on experience with.
Wait, Did You Say You Tested Shoes in a Lab?
Yup. We’ve been testing shoes in top biomechanics labs for nearly 50 years and have a mountain of data from it. We weigh and measure each shoe, paying close attention to the heel and forefoot thickness (stack heights) to get a reliable figure for drop, which often differs considerably from what manufacturers claim. Then we use precise scientific equipment to measure cushioning, flexibility, and rebound. That gives us a clear picture into each shoe, so we can compare it to the 10,000 other models we’ve tested, and verify or dispute manufacturer claims. We’re the only publisher that tests shoes in a lab.
And a Little More About the RW Wear Test Program
Our wear-testing program has nearly 300 local runners of all sizes and experience so you can be sure that someone who is a lot like you has run in any shoe model we test. The group includes experienced 70-year-olds, Olympic Trials-caliber marathoners, twenty somethings on the local college track and cross-country teams, and runners just trying to squeeze in 25 miles a week.
The program allows us to get between six and 12 runners in every pair of shoes we test. That means we never rely on a single runner’s opinion of a shoe, as do most other web sites. That’s because no two runners are alike, and no shoe works for all runners. One night per month, our wear testers join us at our office and we personally fit them to their shoes, matching them with a pair of shoes that meets their performance goals, surface preference, foot type, and desired level of comfort.
Each tester is required to put at least 100 miles on a pair of shoes before submitting feedback to us. That means every shoe reviewed has 1,000 miles or more of real-world testing. Since 2013, we’ve tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, with nearly 17,000 detailed feedback reports from our testers.
How We Select Products to Review
Each piece is carefully selected by our test editors after rigorous research into the product category and trends, interviewing product engineers and experts, and listening to reader feedback and consumer reviews.
Our job is to be aware of the latest product releases so we can inform our readers of new gear we think you’ll enjoy. But we never write a review of a product because a brand asked us to, or because they paid us to. Our editors independently select every shoe and piece of gear we review. We don’t accept payment from any company for editorial inclusion, outside of sponsored posts. If a piece is sponsored, we’ll make that clear to you at the top of the page.
Most of our product reviews include links to retailers where you can purchase a product. We do this to make shopping easier for readers. We link to reputable retailers who we know provide good service and fair prices—whenever possible, we try to find the best deal for our readers and ensure that the product is in stock across a range of sizes. If you purchase a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We don’t allow that to influence our coverage. We include many products on which we earn no commission and always put your needs first, recommending and reviewing only products that have been fully researched and tested.