5 Unusual Running Shoes of 2014

From major padding to sustainable materials, these new designs pack features that claim to make you a better runner.

Is it just us, or are running shoes looking wackier these days? We’re not talking about the eye-catching neon and tie-dye color trend—we mean insanely thick padding and Vibrams made of hemp.

It’s not just about appearance when it comes to these new shoes. The shoe companies claim that with the unconventional designs come more benefits, from better running form to reduced injuries. What do you think of these odd-looking shoes? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

1) Hoka One One

Dubbed “clown shoes,” these highly padded shoes have attracted ultra-runners such as local pro Michael Wardian. The design allows runners to feel like they’re on a rocking chair, and despite the size, reviews say the shoe is extremely lightweight. $130 to $170.

2) Vibram CVT Hemp

Described as the “casual cousin” to Vibram’s current CVT LS line, these casual shoes are made with sustainable hemp up top and rubber on the soles. Wearers can push down the backs to wear them as slippers. Available in August for $100.

3) Vasque Ultra SST

Available in March and designed specifically for trail runners, the newest Vasque shoe model is also thick-soled. Vasque has combined the outsole, midsole, and insole into one to provide extra protection from roots and rocks. The laces can be tucked in, too. $170.

4) On Running Cloud

Who said the minimalist shoe was dead? On Running’s new Cloud line is fully cushioned but still lightweight. Its unconventional shoelace design also allows you to easily slip the shoe on and off, and the sole is designed with 16 separate cushioned pods to react to every movement. $110.

5) Altra Olympus

The Altra Olympus is designed with a foot-shaped toe box that allows you to run trails in a more natural position. Altra designed the shoe in efforts to reduce ankle sprains, stone bruising, overstraining, knee pain, forefoot pain, and impact. $130.