Running Shoes Features: How to Choose

Running Shoe Features

Running Shoe Uppers

  • Synthetic leather is a supple, durable, abrasion-resistant material derived principally from nylon and polyester. It's lighter, quicker drying and more breathable than real leather. Plus, it requires no (or very little) break-in time.

  • Nylon and nylon mesh are durable materials most commonly used to reduce weight and boost breathability.

  • TPU (thermoplastic urethane) overlays are positioned over the breathable shoe panels (such as in the arch and the heel). These small, abrasion-resisting additions help enhance stability and durability.

  • Waterproof/breathable uppers use a membrane bonded to the interior of the linings. This membrane blocks moisture from entering while allowing feet to breathe. Shoes with these membranes keep feet dry in wet environments with a slight trade-off in breathability.

Running Shoe Midsoles

The midsole is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and the outsole.
  • EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is a type of foam commonly used for running-shoe midsoles. Cushioning shoes often use a single layer of EVA. Some will insert multiple densities of EVA to force a particular flex pattern.

  • Posts are areas of firmer EVA (dual-density, quad-density, multi-density, compression-molded) added to create harder-to-compress sections in the midsole. Often found in stability shoes, posts are used to decelerate pronation or boost durability. Medial posts reinforce the arch side of each midsole, an area highly impacted by overpronation.

  • Plates are made of thin, somewhat flexible material (often nylon or TPU) that stiffens the forefoot of the shoe. Plates, often used in trail runners, protect the bottom of your foot when the shoe impacts rocks and roots.

  • Shanks stiffen the midsole and protect the heel and arch. They boost a shoe's firmness when traveling on rocky terrain. Ultralight backpackers often wear lightweight trail runners with plates for protection and shanks for protection and support.

  • TPU (thermoplastic urethane) is a flexible plastic used in some midsoles as a stabilization device.


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