In need of shoe advice

Ok, so for a while I’ve been wanting to add some shoes to my collection. Haha, well my running tool belt actually only currently contains a “collection” of two shoes, my VFFs and my Nike Free Hyperfeels, which I use about once a week.

I want to add a shoe with a bit of cushion (gasp!) for long runs and possibly races.  I’m looking for a lightweight shoe, ideally with a zero drop although a max 4mm offset would be okay.  It would also be a plus if said shoe was vegan, as adhesives made of animal parts is kind of a strange concept to me.  As I said, cushion is acceptable, although anything weighing more than 7oz will probably tire my skinny little ankles down – I learned this when I tried running a mile in my prized Flyknit Lunar2’s, which weigh about 7.5oz.

Ideally I would just go and try on a bunch of shoes, but apparently this is much easier said than done.  I’ve taken a trip to my local Fleet Feet, which didn’t really have much to offer beyond a Brooks PureFlow and a Saucony Kinvara.  I also ventured into REI and tried on the Brooks PureGrit 2, a Merrell Road Glove Dash 2, and the new VFF Bikila Evo just for kicks.

I loved the PureGrit 2 because, unlike the rest of the PureProject line, it doesn’t have those strange sectional pieces on the outsole that felt so awkward when I tried it on the PureFlow.  Since I eventually want a dedicated trail shoe as well, this will be something to reconsider later on.  And I like the Bikila Evo as a replacement for my original Bikilas when they are eventually worn beyond repair.  I really wanted so bad to love the Merrells, but when I tried them on without socks, the creasing on the front mesh of the toe box where the laces end was an issue.  I’m not sure if this is something I would notice less with socks and time, although I definitely would like the option of running both with and without socks. Hopefully this was even improved in the new Road Glove Dash 3 that I would probably order instead.

Anyways, I have a list of shoes I’d be interested in trying on that the sad running stores near me apparently do not carry.  San Francisco, why do you fail me so?  Oh the struggles of a runner not looking for a conventional shoe…  This list includes 

Road shoes: Saucony Virrata 2, Inov-8 Road X-treme 118 or 138, Merrell Road Glove Dash 3, Merrell Vapor Glove, Mizuno Wave Evo Levitas, Mizuno Wave Universe 5, and possibly Topos.

Trail shoes: Saucony Kinvara TR2, Inov-8, Trailroc 150 or 226, and New Balance Minimus MT 00.

I’m considering just going ahead and ordering the Mizuno Wave Evo Levitas since they’re discontinued, thus highly discounted on Running Warehouse, and I’ve heard great things about them.  I also really want to love the Merrells and try them out.

I would really love to get your thoughts on any of these shoes or any others that might fit the bill.  Also if you know of a store or website that has a great return policy so that I can try out the shoe but still be able to return it if it doesn’t work after a few trial runs.

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