The West Coast counterweight to New England-based running shoe brands like Saucony and New Balance, Skechers doesn’t have the traditional, 100-year-old running roots of some of its East Coast competitors. Although Skechers is still a baby of a company (relative to others) and its influence on the running shoe market is even newer, the company has made itself into a contender in the race for running shoe dominance.
Skechers launched in 1992 and leapt headfirst into the grunge era with, of course, a big black combat boot. Its popular line of Roadies sneakers, which were a simple, everyday wear-around shoe, helped the brand gain prominence in the mid-90s. Since, Skechers has grown into the fourth best-selling athletic shoe brand in the US, after Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. The company’s innovations for runners have come more recently, but it’s unique compared to running-specific brands because Skechers shoes offer a similar level of performance at a much lower price.
Skechers’s Rapid Running Success
Skechers created its GOrun line of running shoes in 2011, and a number of remarkable kicks have come from the line since. The GOrun shoe, a minimalist, lightweight (6.9 oz for men’s) trainer, was the first in the GOrun lineup, and it made clear Skechers’s commitment to high-performance running shoes. With the GOrun, Skechers was no longer making athletic shoes that you could run in, they were making running-specific shoes designed for you to run in. Skechers then embraced the minimalist running trend of the time with the release of the GObionic running shoe a year later. This shoe was built to give a good feel for the ground and save on weight.
In 2011, runner Meb Keflezighi signed a professional contract with Skechers, and he helped it refine its racing flat design by giving detailed feedback on his shoes. The collaboration between Keflezighi and Skechers led to the GOmeb racing shoe line. In 2014, he won the Boston Marathon while wearing a pair of GOmeb Speed 3s—a big win for him, and for Skechers, too.
The Latest in Skechers Running
Skechers has continued to build on its running successes since then. In 2017, the company debuted Ultra Flight foam and used it in shoes like the GOrun Maxtrail 5 Ultra and the GOrun Maxroad 3 Ultra. This proprietary TPU-based (short for thermoplastic polyurethane) foam is designed to be lighter and bouncier than older foams like EVA, so you get the same level of cushion with less weight and more energy return. More recently, Skechers created a ton of buzz with the release of its Hyper Burst foam on the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper in late 2018. There’s a lot of complicated science behind how it’s made, but it’s essentially EVA that has been exposed to supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2 gas that’s heated under pressure until it turns to a liquid). The liquified carbon dioxide turns the EVA into foam with irregular-shaped pockets, making it lighter than normal EVA while still just as bouncy and soft. Underfoot, it feels firm and fast, but still delivers good shock absorption. It’s now available in several shoes, including the GOrun 7 Hyper, GOrun Ride 8 Hyper, and GOrun Maxroad 4 Hyper.
How We Chose These Shoes
The shoes below represent the best running and cross-training shoes from Skechers. To choose them, we talked with a Skechers brand rep to get a sense of how the company’s running lineup is evolving, analyzed past Runner’s World reviews, and used our knowledge of the running market to pick out the most important kicks. From road racers to trail shoes and more, there’s a shoe here to please nearly every kind of runner. If you’re looking for more info, we also linked to the full RW review for several of these models—that means we tested the shoe in our lab and on the feet of hundreds of wear testers, so there’s plenty of information to guide your purchasing decision. Long story short, Skechers has come a long way since the ‘90s (haven’t we all?), and it has only gotten better at creating shoes for runners. Here are some of our favorites from the brand.
—BEST EVERYDAY TRAINER—
GOrun 7 Hyper
The GOrun 7 is the second Skechers shoe (after the GOrun Razor 3) to get upgraded with the company’s new Hyper Burst foam. This material checks nearly every box when it comes to cushioning: It’s durable, springy, and lighter than traditional EVA. In this shoe, it provides a firm feel but still does a good job of softening impact forces. In addition to the foam, rubber pods on the outsole increase cushion and flexibility, and the sole’s rocker shape promotes a smooth stride. On top, the knit upper offers a good balance between flexibility and support.
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GOrun Ride 8 Hyper
Skechers swapped the Flight Gen foam found in the last version of the Ride for its new Hyper Burst foam, which gives this shoe light, responsive, and durable midsole cushioning. The new foam also lowers the overall weight of the shoe, but the stack heights remain fairly consistent. Goodyear rubber on the outsole should provide good traction and durability, and the shoe comes topped with a knit upper and a removable insole for a dialed-in fit.
—CUSHIONED AND FLEXIBLE—
GOrun Maxroad 4 Hyper
The lighter, more flexible counterpart to the Ride above, the distance-focused Maxroad also got the Hyper treatment in its latest iteration—and nabbed an RW Editors’ Choice Award at Outdoor Retailer 2019. Although we haven’t tested it yet, that means it’ll likely have a firm-but-responsive cushioning profile like the other shoes equipped with the foam. It’s slightly lighter than the Ride (less than an ounce, according to stats on the Skechers website), and like the previous iteration, it comes with a series of grooves in the forefoot to promote flexibility and a smooth stride.
—BEST TRAIL SHOE—
GOrun Speed TRL Hyper
Designed for uptempo trail runs, the GOrun Speed TRL Hyper is built for low weight and good responsiveness in the dirt. It features a combination of durable, springy EVA-based Hyper Burst foam in the heel and TPU-based Ultra Flight cushioning in the forefoot, which should deliver good energy return to help you pick up speed. A nylon rock plate in the forefoot adds stability and protection from sharp edges. The upper is constructed from a light, breathable mesh, and a lugged GoodYear outsole creates dependable grip underfoot.
—BEST FOR RACING—
GOmeb Speed 6 Hyper
Skechers returned to its GOmeb line of speed shoes with this revamped iteration: It now features a full-length Hyper Burst midsole and weighs an eye-popping 5.2 ounces in a size 9, according to Skechers (the sizing is unisex). We haven’t tested it yet, but the generous midsole cushioning should provide good shock absorption and energy return while a Pebax plate at midfoot adds stability and even more snap in your stride. The ultralight upper is built for a snug fit and comes with an external heel counter to keep your foot locked in as you push the pace.
—BEST FOR CROSS-COUNTRY RACING—
GOrun Speed XCR Ultra
Aimed squarely at cross-country runners, this stripped-down racing flat is inspired by Skechers athlete Edward Chesarek (that’s where the “King Ches” decal on the upper comes from). The shoe features a super light, breathable mesh upper with a knitted collar for a close fit—and to guard against trail debris. Grooves along the outsole help the shoe flex with your stride, and sections of lugged rubber under the forefoot and heel help you maintain a sure grip through hills and corners. It’s also available in a spiked version, too.
—BEST FOR SPEEDWORK—
GOrun Razor 3 Hyper
This shoe has garnered a lot of attention in the running industry. Why? Because Skechers engineers found a new way to create an EVA midsole, know as Hyper Burst, and it’s featured on this shoe. In short, it’s impressive and radical because it’s lighter and more durable than traditional EVA (to learn more about how Skechers did this, click the link below and read the full review). The main takeaway is that this shoe is super light, feels like a racing flat that’s built to hold up as an everyday trainer, and it features a thin, breathable upper. If you’re looking for a new shoe to try in 2019, the GOrun Razor 3 Hyper is one to consider.
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—BEST RECOVERY RUN SHOE—
A decent running shoe for less than $100 is a rare find, but the GOrun Pure bucks convention: With its combination of low weight, exceptionally soft cushioning, and a nearly seamless knit upper, it’s a great candidate for an affordable trainer. The EVA-based Ultra Go foam in the midsole provides plenty of shock absorption without weighing the shoe down, and testers found it to be highly comfortable on short- to mid-distance runs and even when wearing casually.
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—BEST FOR CROSS TRAINING—
GOtrain Viper Competitor
The “train” in the name hints at what these shoes are designed for: cross-training. The latest version features a lightweight layer of Ultra Go cushioning in the midsole, and a mesh upper helps keep your feet cool while you’re cranking out box jumps. The rubber outsole provides full bottom coverage and even runs up the sides of the shoe, so you’ll get excellent grip through all kinds of movements, and grooves under the forefoot help the Viper flex with your feet as you move.