Maximalist running shoes are quickly becoming the hot running trend of 2015, and for good reason: they seem to be the cure-all for a variety of ailments that plague runners. For a time, some runners were even opting to go barefoot in place of their so-called “minimalist” running shoes, because the minimalist running shoes were causing them so much pain and so many problems. Maximalist running shoes, however, are not the diametric opposite of minimalist running shoes – in fact, many elements of the maximalist running shoe is taken from minimalist design (because maximalist shoes use light materials, and their design draws from the aerodynamic look of minimalist shoes).
Maximalist shoes have been shown to be best for the so-called “ultrarunner”, that is, the runners who run for extended periods of time or over extended race courses. According to one study, the vast majority of maximalist shoe wearers are marathoners, half marathoners and long-distance triathletes.
So, how do you choose a good pair of maximalist shoes? There’s no real rocket science behind the process: just find a shoe that fits you properly and comfortably. You might say that this answer is rather…well…minimalist. And you would be correct!
Let’s take a look at the top ten best maximalist running shoes. You’re guaranteed to find something that will fit your budget!
1. Hoka One One Clifton
Features: This version of the most popular maximalist shoe brand is lauded for its superb padding and a rocker bottom that produces a fluid run for the wearer.
Why is it good? The Hoka One One Clifton midsole is a little bit larger, which will help with any arch issues you may have as a runner.
2. Sketchers GoRun Ultra 2
Features: Aside from being a longtime player in the sneaker field, Sketchers was one of the first companies to put out a “maximalist” shoe, in the form of a Sketchers “Shape-Up”. And while the end result wasn’t a positive one, they’ve come a long way from their Kim Kardashian-endorsed days.
Why is it good? Like its predecessor, the Sketchers GoRun Ultra 2 offers one of the highest insole in the industry. Yet, this added height doesn’t make for a heavy shoe – in fact, the end result is quite the opposite!
3. Brooks Transcend 2
Features: This minimalist company’s first venture into the maximalist world is a strong one – their shoes look just as minimalist as their true minimalist offerings, so runners concerned about the “bulky” look of maximalist shoes will find the Transcend 2 to be a viable alternative!
Why is it good? The best feature about the Brooks Transcend 2 are the Ideal Pressure Zones that disperse impact and continues with Guide Rails that provide on-demand support. The Super DNA cushioning assist the bod’s natural running motion, and the segmented crash pad allows flawless heel-to-toe transition.
4. New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay 980
Features: New Balance is a longtime sneaker manufacturer, so this is the way to go if you’re looking for a trusted name in shoes rather than a “new” company.
Why is it good? For a wrinkle-free shoe – especially avoiding wrinkles in the toe area – make use of the lightweight neoprene tongue. The New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay has additional cushioning for arch support and durable comfort.
5. Hoka One One Conquest
Features: This is the top-of-the-line maximalist shoe offered by Hoka One One, which has emerged as the premiere company for maximalist running shoes.
Why is it good? What’s not to love about the Hoka One One Conquest? It’s narrow enough that it looks like a minimalist shoe, yet offers a nearly-30mm cushion in the insole for maximalist support.
6. Altra The Olympus
Features: The goal with this shoe is to make it feel like you’re running barefoot (which, according to some studies, is the most effective way to run), so the heel and the toe are aligned with one another on this futuristic-looking shoe that comes in an assortment of colors that are just lovely.
Why is it good? Altra’s Olympus aims to promote proper biomechanics – the shape of the shoe allows for the toes to naturally spread apart, making it perfect for those runners who suffer from neuromas.
7. Puma Faas 1000 v1.5
Features: Puma is a longtime sneaker company with an impeccable reputation.
Why is it good? The Faas 1000 v1.5 is the most cushioned shoe in the FAAS Collection with the increased firm midsole in the middle, which will provide better support than the average softer midsole.
8. Vasque Ultra Shapeshifter
Features: This shoe looks like a stylish hi-top street sneaker, yet is aerodynamically designed for the ultrarunner, particularly those who like to run trails.
Why is it good?: Unlike other maximalist shoes, the Vasque Ultra SST completely eliminates both the midsole and the insole, making the shoe easily conform to any trail it is thrust upon.
9. Name of Shoes: Pearl Izumi’s E:Motion ROAD M3
Features: This maximalist shoes is a improved version from the M2 offering a butter-like heel-to-toe transition with improved cushioning and a redesigned outsole for a more responsive forefoot feel.
Why is it good?: In a nutshell: the Pearl Izumi Road M3 has a premium cushioning and abrasion resistance. It also has Energy Foam in forefoot cushions which upon impact, returns energy back to the runner during propulsion.
10. Asics 33-M
Features: Another shoe manufacturer that’s a longtime sneaker player, the Asics brand of shoes is specifically designed for athletes of all shapes, sizes, and levels of difficulty.
Why is it good?: The Asics 33-M flexibility is its ultimate selling point – because of the nature of the materials in the shoe, it allows for proper biomechanics (your toes will splay naturally).
Maximalist Shoes Trend
It seems like that more runners prefer cushioning over minimalist or barefoot shoes. One of the reasons could be the heavily cushioned soles that were supposed to reduce injury.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of maximalist shoes from different shoe brands to choose from. Have you tried on any of the maximalist running shoes? Which one is your favourite and what are your thoughts on thick-cushioned shoes?