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Which Carbon-Plated Shoe is Best for Me?

Which carbon-plated shoe is best for me Hollie Sick fueldbylolz run Tri bike magazine

We all know that not every shoe is suitable for every runner. It’s the same with carbon-plated shoes, and finding the right carbon-plated shoe is just as challenging as finding the right training shoe. Plus, it can be substantially more expensive. If you’ve ever asked yourself: Which carbon-plated shoe is best for me, you’ll want to keep reading.

What you should look for: The shoe should feel comfortable when you try it on. If it doesn’t feel comfortable then, it probably won’t feel comfortable when you race. When you’re uncomfortable while you’re running, your form can change slightly, which could result in an injury.

So What Carbon-Plated Shoe is Best for Me?

You want the best: Nike Alphafly: This carbon-plated shoe features three different carbon plates. It’s the identical shoe that was used to break records in Nike’s Breaking2 project. Keep in mind that if you have bad form, the Alphafly will only exacerbate it. If you are prone to Achilles or calf injuries, you might not want it.

You want the most cushion: The Hoka Bondi X: The newest carbon-plated shoe on the market, the Hoka Bondi X features the same cushion as the Hoka Bondi 7 but with a carbon plate. In fact, the Bondi X has more cushion than the majority of daily trainers.

You don’t want to spend $200: We get it. These carbon-plated shoes are not cheap! The 361 Flame is the only carbon-plated shoe that sells for around $160, and you receive the same benefit as the more expensive shoes. It’s impressive how the maker designed this shoe and cut its cost to make it less expensive even than some daily non-carbon-plated trainers.

You want a carbon plated-shoe for training and long distances: The Hoka Carbon X was made for longer distances. This shoe has been used in ultra events on pavement and is an excellent option for exercise.

You want stability: Keep in mind there is no “stable” carbon-plated shoe. If you need a lot of stability, you won’t get it in any of the available models. Of all the carbon-plated shoes, the Brooks Hyperion 2 is the most stable. It has a wider base than the others, which allows for inherent stability without a posting.

You want a racing flat for shorter distances: The Asics Metaracer is a great 5k racing shoe. You won’t feel that extra cushion as you would in most other carbon-plated shoes, but you will feel the ground more. It’s a great short-distance shoe, but not designed for much more.

You’re running on trails: The North Face VECTIV Flight is an excellent option if you are racing and running on trails. Adding rocks or making a trail race more technical can mean negating the effect of carbon-plated shoes, but if you are running on smooth and well-groomed trails and want a carbon-plated shoe, it’s a good option.

You want a carbon-plated shoe with good traction: Not every marathon is going to have ideal weather. The New Balance RC Elite 2 has complete traction across the bottom. We have seen the Boston Marathon and many Spring marathons run in torrential downpours, and watched runners slosh to the finish line. Many carbon-plated models don’t have great traction, and you’ll find yourself sliding, but this shoe will help.

You want a carbon-plated shoe that can “handle any course”: Whether they have excellent traction or can run fast on a flat course, many carbon-plated shoes do only one thing well. However, the Asics Metaspeed Sky is an excellent jack-of-all-trades carbon-plated shoe. You can run 5ks, marathons, flat or hilly. This shoe can handle them all.

You want a more responsive ride: A common complaint about many carbon-plated shoes is that they seem “too soft,” or they feel “too mushy.” The Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 is much more responsive than the others. If you prefer feeling the ground more, but still want a carbon plate and cushion, the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 is a great option. Plus, its sister shoe, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, makes a great option for workouts, so you don’t need to waste precious miles training in your carbon-plated racer.

These days there are plenty of carbon-plated running shoes. Like finding your perfect daily trainer, it takes time to find which is the best shoe for you. No running shoe is ideal for everyone. Visit a run specialty store, ask questions and get the shoe that is right for you.


Hollie is a runner, hiker, swimmer, residing in California. She has worked in run specialty for nearly 8 years and has fit hundreds of people for shoes. Outside of the running world, she enjoys the general aviation world, her two cats, and spending time with her spouse.