The 14 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes In 2024

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Editor’s Message: On January 30th, we updated our footwear choices to confirm availability and included additional high-performing footwear from our latest round of testing. As new models are released throughout 2024, we will update our selection.

There’s never been a better time to be racing on the roads than now. With a massive choice of carbon plate running shoes available from practical technical running shoe manufacturer on the planet!

So what are the best carbon plate running shoes you can buy right now?

It might be good to point out that from all the shoes mentioned, there isn’t really bad shoe amongst them and there shouldn’t be. After all, most of these shoes cost upwards of $200, so they cost not an inconsiderable amount of money.

BEst carbon Plate Running Shoes

The 14 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes

1. My Top Pick For Best Road Racing Shoe – Nike Vaporfly 2

2. Best For Long Distance – Saucony Endorphin Elite

3. Best Value Carbon Racer – Puma Nitro Elite 2

4. Best For Midfoot Strikers – Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

5. Best Cushioning – New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3

6. Best For 5K To Marathon – adidas Adios Adizero Pro 3

7. Best For Versatility – Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

8. Best For A Responsive Yet Stable Ride – Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite

9. Best for Marathon Distances – Nike Alphafly 2

10. Best For Rule Breakers – adidas Adizero Prime X

11. Best For 5 to 10k – Puma Fast R Nitro Elite

12. Best For 1 to 5k Road Races – Puma Fast-FWD Nitro Elite

13. Best For Soft Ground Contact – HOKA Rocket X 2

14. Best For Mid-to-Forefoot Strikers – ASICS Metaspeed Edge+ / Metaspeed Sky+

The best 14 Carbon Plated Running shoes

The options from 14 to 7 are our second-best options, and if you’re here for the very best, check out our top 6.

14. Best For Mid-to-Forefoot Strikers – ASICS Metaspeed Edge+ / Metaspeed Sky+

ASICS Metaspeed Edge+

There are two options from ASICS, the difference being the placement and curvature of their carbon plate.

To most athletes, you won’t be able to tell a great deal of difference between the two shoes and if you wear ASICS training shoes these shoes will feel amazing.

For me, it’s the slightly lower heel drop and softer foam in that area that gave me the sensation of ‘sinking’ a little too much on the heel strike.

Recommended for – 

  • ASICS fans
  • Mid-to-forefoot strikers

13. Best For Soft Ground Contact – HOKA Rocket X 2

The 14 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes In 2024 1

The best shoes to date from HOKA.

But for me, and remember I am having to be hyper-critical with this list to whittle the vast number of choices down, the shoe feels a little unstable in the rear of the shoe.

Yes, the new foam is very soft and has a remarkably bouncy feel, but for me perhaps with an ageing Achilles, it just felt a little too unstable.

I’m hoping that going forward, HOKA will use this foam in other models and give their range of training shoes this light, spring feel.

Recommended for – 

  • Those that like soft contact with the ground
  • Fans of the HOKA rocker ride

For a full review of the HOKA Rocket X 2.

And check out the video.

12. Best For 1 to 5k Road Races – Puma Fast-FWD Nitro Elite

Puma Fast-FWD Nitro Elite

It’s great to see brands pushing the boundaries of traditional design in running shoes and the Fast FWD certainly does that.

Modelled around a track spike, the aggressive carbon plate and forefoot cutaway help this shoe stand out from the crowd.

As a shoe for running fast, it’s excellent, but here, when looking for an all-around road racing shoe it’s perhaps the specificity of this shoe that means it doesn’t make the final 6.

Recommended for – 

  • Those that want a track spike feel in a road shoe.
  • Road races from one mile to 5k

11. Best For 5 to 10k – Puma Fast R Nitro Elite

Puma Fast R Nitro Elite

Another great shoe from Puma that once again showcases what can be achieved with carbon plates.

Here, the de-coupled heel and forefoot create a dramatic look while reducing some of the weight and bulk of the shoe. 

Whilst not as aggressive as the Fast FWD shoe (above) the Fast R still feels a more aggressive ride than many carbon-plated models. 

CM-EVA in the heel adds to the stability, but doesn’t feel soft when compared to the Nitro foam forefoot. It’s perhaps best suited to distances from 5k to 10 miles.

Recommended for – 

  • Race distances 5k to 10miles
  • Those that want a slightly firmer ride.

10. Best For Rule Breakers – adidas adizero Prime X

adidas adizero Prime X

With a massive 50 mm stack of cushioning, the Prime X is ‘illegal’ in terms of competition rules as per World Athletics guidelines.

For that reason alone the shoe doesn’t make my top 6, but, if those rules didn’t include a 40mm stack height limit this shoe would be in the top 6!

The deep stack of Lightstrike Pro foam provides excellent cushioning and when combined with the brand’s carbon ‘Energy rods’ has a great, propulsive ride.

You can check out my full review here.

And watch the video here.

Recommended for – 

  • Rule breakers!
  • Straight-line speed

9. Best for Marathon Distances – Nike Alphafly 2

Nike Alphafly 2

Perhaps the non-inclusion of the Alphafly in my top 6 will create the widest uproar!

Of course, it’s a phenomenally popular shoe and one in which many people have run their marathon bests, including Eliud Kipchoge and his sub-2-hour run.

For me, it’s just a little too much shoe. It feels too bulky under my foot, and the combination of the carbon plate and twin Air units in the forefoot feels too stiff.

Yes, I’ve run in it and ran fast in it, it’s just I feel better in other Nike shoes.

In a recent marathon, I conducted a shoe count of the models worn in the race by the first 273 finishers. Many athletes chose the Alphafly, so there’s no denying it’s popular, this list is merely my personal choice.

You can watch that video here and find out what the most popular shoes were.

Recommended for – 

  • Marathon distance races
  • Those wanting lots of cushioning as well as the carbon plate.

8. Best For A Responsive Yet Stable Ride – Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite

Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite

The Velociti Elite is the latest carbon-plated shoe on the market, with Under Armour being the last of the major manufacturers to create a super shoe.

It offers a smooth, stable and responsive ride and a great fit. But for this list, it doesn’t make the final cut as I would like a little more cushioning.

It’s fine when limited to shorter racers, but for a more versatile race day model I think a touch more cushioning would hit the spot.

Recommended for – 

  • Those wanting a responsive yet stable ride.
  • 5 to 10k races

Read our full review here.

And watch the video here.

Shop Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite On Under Armour

7. Best For Versatility – Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

 Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Last year, the Endorphin Pro 3 might have made it into my selection of the top 6 road racing shoes. It’s only since the introduction of another model from the brand that it has slipped out of my top picks.

The shoe offers a nice blend of soft responsive cushioning and positively aggressive toe-off that works well at speed. The shoe also works well for a variety of distances.

Recommended for – 

  • Versatile use, tempo runs through to racing at multiple distances.
  • Soft, smooth, and engaging ride

My top 6 picks of the best road racing shoes

6. Best For 5K To Marathon – adidas adios adizero pro 3

 adidas adios adizero pro 3

Unlike many of the other shoes that have made it into my top 6, the adidas adios adizero pro 3 wasn’t an instant hit.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe my initial feelings about the shoe, perhaps ‘too-technical’ best echoes my initial runs in it.

It was probably after about 4 runs in the shoe that it became a little more natural and felt like it was complimenting my stride and speed.

The Lightstrike Pro midsole foam softened up a little and the Energy rods began to have a more noticeable effect on my stride. 

The 39.5 mm stack height and 4 mm drop felt quite high at first and perhaps even a touch unstable, but again, after those first few runs the shoe became a more natural ride and the instability concerns disappeared.

The Continental rubber outsole, although slick, provides great traction and gives you more confidence in the wet. 

The shoe has also now notched up a considerable amount of international marathon wins making it a shoe of choice for many.

Recommended for – 

  • Versatile use, 5k to Marathon
  • Light, well-cushioned with a responsive feel

5. Best Cushioning – New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3

With the 40 mm stack of FuelCell cushioning, the 4 mm drop and the Energy Arc carbon plate this shoe feels instantly smooth riding with a balanced ride and great toe-off.

The shape of the brand’s carbon plate (Energy Arc) adds to the stability of the v3, which feels much more stable to me than the previous two versions. 

Such was the great fit of the shoe I raced a 10-mile road race in the shoes straight out of the box. They felt great on my warm-up and even better at race pace.

The shoe had a smooth, natural feel and simply disappeared on my feet. 

The FuelCell cushioning has held up well and so far, doesn’t seem to have lost any of its bounce, making the shoe more durable than the previous version too.

Recommended for – 

  • Great cushioning
  • 10k and up
  • Fast, smooth feeling ride

4. Best For Midfoot Strikers – Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

Although the stack height of the Wave Rebellion Pro measures almost 50 mm at the highest point, it comes in ‘officially’ at 39 mm, making it legal under World Athletics rules.

The deep cutaway in the heel makes this possible and creates an exaggerated rocker in the midfoot of the shoe. 

The shoe encourages a more midfoot strike and once up to speed you can positively feel the aggressive curvature of the shoe coming from the combined nylon and carbon plate.

For me, the shoe feels like a natural fit for 5k to half-marathon distance, but I have several friends that have used it for the marathon distance with great success.

For the neutral runner and does with an efficient foot strike it’s a great choice.

Read our full review here.

Watch our review video here.

Recommended for – 

  • Midfoot strikers
  • Those wanting an aggressive toe-off feel.

3. Best Value Carbon Racer – Puma Nitro Elite 2

Puma Nitro Elite 2

As the only shoe in the line-up that comes in significantly under the £200 price point, the Puma Nitro Elite 2 offers great value for money.

The Nitrogen injected foam midsole offers a soft, springy feel that proves to be durable too. The addition of the carbon plate gives it that added ‘pop’ that’s great for race day.

It’s a stable shoe too and this helps make the shoe a versatile option that works at any distance as well as faster training and tempo runs.

Recommend for – 

  • Best value carbon racer
  • Racing and training

2. Best For Long Distance – Saucony Endorphin Elite

Saucony Endorphin Elite

Ok, so first up, assuming you can get over the rather steep price, the shoe does indeed make my top 6 road racing shoe list.

The PWRRUN HG foam has a different feel to the PWRRUN PB used in the Endorphin Pro and for me, it’s more stable with an energy return feel that doesn’t seem to tail off during longer runs. 

The carbon plate is slotted in the forefoot of the Elite and the brand says this makes the shoe more adaptable.

In all honesty, I didn’t notice much difference in terms of the plate other than in the Elite with its more aggressive forefoot rocker, the shoe rolls forward off the toes much quicker.

The 40mm stack and 8mm drop suit my gait and this shoe is a possible contender for my next marathon. It feels like a long-distance cruiser, a grand tourer offering comfort and great cruising speed.

Recommended for – 

  • 10K and up in terms of distance
  • Great, durable cushioning that feels consistent for the length of the run.
  • Aggressive toe-off

1. My Top Pick For Best Road Racing Shoe – Nike Vaporfly 2

Nike Vaporfly 2

If you’ve read this far then my top pick for the best racing shoe will be no surprise.

Many of you will have guessed correctly with the Nike Vaporfly, some maybe even guess the Vaporfly 3.

But, at the time of writing, I haven’t tried the Vaporfly 3 yet. I have just this week received a pair and plan to race in them in my next race, a half-marathon.

It is perhaps because of the launch of the Vaporfly 3 that the Vaporfly 2 makes the top pick.

You see when new shoes are launched, the previous version is often reduced. And in the day of online sales and discounts, the Vaporfly 2 can be consistently found at a low price. In fact, I picked up a pair at Christmas for £101 here in the UK.

At a discounted price the shoe is a no-brainer!

It’s the successor to the original Next% shoe and the one in which athletes have found the most success.

Nike stole an early lead with carbon-plated shoes and every other brand is still playing catch-up.

Yes, there are some amazing shoes in my top 6, but the Vaporfly 2 is well established, a consistent high performer and a very versatile option for any distance of race on the road.

The ZoomX foam and carbon plate work beautifully well together and the shoe feels like an extension of the foot, albeit a spring-like extension. 

Everything from the cushioning to the toe-off feels great and it’s a go-to shoe for race day.

Recommended for – 

  • Any distance road races, 5k to Marathon and beyond
  • Tried and tested.
  • Most popular racing shoe around

Make sure to follow the page and YouTube to find out how I found the Nike Vaporfly 3.

The 14 Best Carbon Plate Running Shoes In 2024 2
Photo of author
Paul Freary really does have a lifetime of experience as an athlete. Paul’s father, Mike was British record holder over 10,000m in 1966, so Paul was almost born to run. With best times ranging from 3:56 for the mile to 13:55 for 5k, and ran 2:40 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon at age 55. Having worked with several leading brands as well as in retail he also knows running footwear inside out and also has experience in gait analysis and orthotics. Paul writes regular running shoe reviews for our site and our Youtube channel!

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