The new cross country season will be here before you know it, and unless you’re planning to rock the same old pair of racing flats you’ve been holding on to for the past couple of years, it may be time to invest in a new pair.
To keep thing simple, cross country shoes come in two forms: spiked and spikeless. Of course, the ones we’re concerned with here are the spikeless ones. Assuming you can figure out the main difference between given just that information, we’ll move on.
Designed mostly for neutral terrain (including, road, grass, and dirt) racing flats are designed to go the distance despite what their minimal construction may suggest. Most solid options lack substantial heel support, however, this allows for more ground contact for runners, giving them more control and promoting an overall natural stride.
However, with so may shoe options out there, we know it can be hard to find the right pair. So we did the work for you. Here are the 10 Best Cross Country Racing Flats Available Today.
No. 10 - Asics Hyper XC
The Hyper XC is low-profile shoe that has has a reputation of being a reliable racing flat on the cross country scene. It features a minimalist-friendly upper designed for comfort and breathability, while maintaining enough support to last during long races. The Hyper XC's solid rubber outsole is lined with an aggressive lug pattern that offers excellent multi-surface traction, resulting in faster overall speed.
No. 9 - Saucony Shay XC 3
Saucony's revolutionary FlexFilm technology has been so successful, the brand has infused it in all of its top performing running shoes it seams like--including the Shay XC 3. The spikeless version of the shoe comes with a durable XT-600 carbon rubber outsole for ground-hugging traction, and at just 5.6 ounces, it's one of the lighter cross country sneakers.
No. 8 - Brooks Mach 14 Spikeless
As Brooks puts it: the Mach 14 "Runs like the wind, and weighs just as much." Thanks to a screen printed synthetic upper, the Mach 14 doesn't have extra overlays that add unnecessary weight to a shoe. As a result, this Brooks racing flat comes in at 5 ounces flat. If you're worried the shoe is too light and not supportive enough, don't be. An internal skeletal structure secures the foot firmly in place, making it extremely comfortable on longer runs.
No. 7 - Nike Zoom Streak 4
Designed with insight from a team of world-class runners, the Nike Zoom Streak 4 is for serious road competition. The shoe has excellent lightweight cushioning thanks to a full-length Phylon midsole with a Nike Zoom heel insert that comes in handy when you're looking to go the distance. The Zoom Stream 4 has a supportive midfoot strap that provides a glove-like fit, combined with a single-layer open mesh upper for proper ventilation. A Duralon-reinforced rubber outsole holds everything in place, offering sound traction and foot support.
No. 6 - Saucony Kilkenny XC 4
The Saucony Kilkenny XC 5 is set to hit the market this summer. But until then, the current version, the Kilkenny XC 4, will do just fine. The shoe's streamlined design is built for speed on race day. It offers great support with a custom fit mesh upper, as well as solid traction on various surfaces. The Kilkenny is a bit slim on the cushioning, but does provide a low-to-the-ground ride that promotes a more natural stride.
No. 5 - Nike LunarRacer+ 3
The well-cushioned Nike LunarRacer+ 3 has become a top choice for middle-to-long distance runners, and it's no surprise why. The latest version of the shoe features Flywire technology for support and a custom fit. Beneath it is a engineered no-sew mesh upper that is equally as comfortable with or without socks. A Lunarlon sole provides soft, responsive cushioning that keeps your feet happy as you make your way to the finish line.
No. 4 - Mizuno Wave Universe 4
If the Wave Universe 4's fierce design isn't enough to get you pumped up for race day, then maybe its 3.8-ounce weight will. Featuring Mizuno's Wave cushioning technology, the Universe 4 has a shock-absorbing midsole that holds tough on long runs. It has a lightweight Air Mesh upper for a comfortable fit, and a G3 rubber outsole that offers ground-hugging traction on the road.
No. 3 - New Balance 1600
The NB 1600 is more of a marathon flat than a cross country one. But given the versatility of modern-day racing flats, what's the difference? The 1600 has become a house favorite here at Sneaker Report since it was introduced in Fall 2012. Among the plethora of performance technology imbedded in the shoe is a highly-responsive REVlite RC midsole for support and comfort. With a FantomFit construction, the sneaker has a seamless design to eliminate distractions on race day.
No. 2 - adidas adiZero Haigo 2
The original version of the adiZero Hagio has proven itself time and time again in big races, so it’s no surprise that the updated Hagio 2 is yet another racing flat from adidas that is in a league of its own. It has a seamless Sprintweb upper for comfort, and a durable ADIWEAR outsole with cushioning in the heel and forefoot. The shoe's three-tiered Torsion System offers maximum energy return during forefoot push-off.
No. 1 - Brooks Running T7 Racer
Ask anyone who's had the liberty of running in the Brooks T7 Racer, and they'll tell you just how amazing of a shoe it is. The T7 is everything you could ever want and need in a cross country racing flat. It's ultra-light, breathable, well-cushioned, and above all, fast. Made to burn up the road, the shoe features a streamlined design that promotes speed reserved only for serious runners.
Gurvinder Singh Gandu is a New York City-based contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports and Sneaker Report. A California-raised, performance gear and footwear expert, Follow him here to keep up with all things performance.