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Best Running Shoes (2017) for Men and Women

Last updated: May 14, 2017

What are the best running shoes for Men, Women, and more?

The question of which running shoes are the best is really an unanswerable question. There are THOUSANDS of running shoes on the market. For every amazing running shoe, there is an equally bad one. Part of this is because there is a huge running community and runners require different things in running shoes. Every runner could rightfully have a different perfect shoe based on needs, goals, fit, comfort, support, and more.

That being said, it doesn’t mean we cannot try and answer this question. But given all the different types of runners, it’s best to break down the best running shoes in sections according to style, purpose, and effectiveness. If you know what you’re looking for, I’ll let you jump straight to our table of contents, which can be immediately found at the top of the sidebar.

Table of Contents
What are the Different Types of Running Shoes?
What is the Best Type of Running Shoe for you?
Best Running shoes from All Categories
Best Neutral Running Shoes
Best Stability Running Shoes
Best Maximal (Cushioning) Shoes
Best Lightweight Running Shoes
Best Trail Running Shoes
Best Cheap Running Shoes
Best Racing Running Shoes
Resources

What are the Different Types of Running Shoes?

Before I go in, just note that these different kinds of running shoes can easily intermix with each other. lightweight running shoes could also be max-cushion shoes, or max cushion shoes could also be considered race shoes.

Neutral Running Shoes- These running shoes are for runners who don’t need as much structural support and features to help your foot stay in a proper motion. If you need to learn more about Neutral Running, check out an entire page on it, here. Overall, because they don’t need much support, they’re able to be lighter than stability running shoes, and often offer more cushion and comfort.

Stability Running Shoes- Contrast to neutral running shoes, stability running shoes offer more features that help build structural support and help with your foot’s motion as you run. They’re often a little heavier than neutral running shoes, but there is quite a big market for stability shoes. To learn more, visit my stability running page, otherwise enjoy the list here.

Maximal (Cushioning) Running Shoes– Maximal Cushioning running shoes are simply running shoes with about the most amount of cushion amounts that one could find. There are maximal running shoes in every category ranging from neutral, stability, lightweight, and trail running shoes. They’re created to provide a high level of support and shock absorption for when your feet smash down into the hard surfaces. Heavier runners often look for more cushioned running shoes because the heavier your body, the more force you exert on your entire body with each step taken.

Lightweight Running Shoes– The weight of a running shoe can be very important for a runner. Usually, the lighter it feels, the easier it is to run. Often times, super light running shoes are aimed to keep things simple and effective for performance.

Trail Running Shoes– Trail running shoes are simply shoes designed specifically for hard and rough terrain. They’re meant for the toughest of hikes, mountains, and uneven grounds. Running a track with trail running shoes is probably a mistake as would be trying to run an advanced and bumpy trail in normal running shoes. They often contain rigid outsoles, capable of creating traction with the ground, as well as allowing your foot to hit the ground and absorb the contact without aching or hurting your feet.

Cheap Running Shoes– Running shoes can cost anywhere from $30 to $200 depending on the brand, quality, and use. Some runners can’t invest in an expensive running shoe whether its because they can’t justify paying that much for a pair of running shoes or they’re new to running and trying to figure things out before making the big investment. Whatever the reason, there is a market for cheap running shoes, and just because they’re cheaper, does NOT mean they will not perform as well. Cheap shoes CAN be the better running shoe for you depending on what you are truly looking to gain from them.

Racing Running Shoes– There are many ideas behind racing shoes. Some are created around short distance performs, which can also include tempo runs (which helps you work on your speed). But racing shoes can also be tailed for marathon racing, or other long distances. Some racing shoes cut down the weight a lot, so you can be quick on your feet, while others try and focus on a multitude of things such as keeping your feet comfortable while still able to get a new personal record on your latest marathon. Either way, if you’re an avid runner and you are looking at improving your performance, racing running shoes may be the best route to go.

What is the Best Running Shoe for you?

With so many different types of running shoes, how do you figure out which method may be best for you? Well, it is truly based on so many factors, but you need to be able to answer these questions to better your chances of finding the most correct and best running shoe for you.

1)How is my foot motion?

2)Where do I want to run?

3)What are my goals with running?

4)Do you have any current injuries or past injuries?

5) How does the running shoe fit?

1) How is my foot Motion?

Foot motion matters because every runner runs and hits the ground differently. There are three core types of foot motions, followed by millions of variations. These types are known as neutral, over-pronation, and supination (otherwise as under-pronation). It’s important to know that there have been many studies about what is the best motion for the foot, some with mixed results. There is no “best” shoe for each type. Just follow what running shoe fits you best, is most comfortable, and gives you the right amount of support.

Over-pronation– this motion means that when you run, you’re feet are rolling inward, hitting the insides of your foot, forcing more impact damage in those areas of the feet, that can also create pain in your feet, knees, back, and more. You can tell you’re an over-pronation runner if you look at a wore down pair of shoes and see that the insides of the soles near your toes and heels are more worn down than the other parts. Over-pronators should be looking at stability types of shoes, which will help keep your feet comfortable, following the proper motions through many different kinds of support features.

Supination– Is the exact opposite of over-pronation. It is where you roll your feet outwards. If you’re running and supinating, then your putting more force near your pinky toes and outer heel. Just like over-pronating, this can cause many health risks in a number of areas. This motion of running is much more rarer than over-pronation. You can tell if you are supinating, because if you look at a worn pair of shoes, the insoles will be more worn in the outer regions of your shoe. If you are supinating, you should be looking for cushioned and flexible running shoes.

Neutral– This is the motion where you neither over-pronate nor supinate. This is considered the “best” way to run by many studies, but others can and will argue this point, and some even have the evidence to back it up. If you’re a neutral runner, you can still experience pains and issues with running just like any other kind of runner. Figure out if you like the feel of cushioned shoes, flexible running shoes, or minimalist shoes.

Getting a Gait Analysis done

If you are new to running or simply haven’t tried to figure out what your own running motion is, there are many ways to figure it out. Getting a gait analysis done is one of the best ways to help. It’s simply a test to figure out which motion your foot naturally runs. This helps figure out what kind of support you may need. You can get a gait analysis at any major store that focuses on just running shoes. Most running shoe stores will have experts that offer free analysis’ for many reasons. For one, if they’re going to leave a good impression on you, they obviously need to be knowledgeable in which running shoes fit your needs best. If you haven’t done this, you should give it a go. While it’s not a scientific method, nor is it guaranteed to help, it can be a definite tool you can use to help better understand what you are looking for.

2)Where Do I want to Run?

Where you’re running is very important, as every terrain is different.

Most running shoes are tailed around running on the road, because most runners run on the road, a very hard and rough material at times. And because treadmills are usually less stressful on the foot than the road is, road shoes usually work very well on treadmills as well.

However, there are other running destinations. Running and performing on a track is much different than running on the road, and there are running shoes specifically made just for the track. Here is some more running on each of the surfaces.

Trail Running– Running on dirt puts a lot less stress on the body than running on the road or sidewalk. At the same time, you can still look at beautiful scenery. However, you can end

Running on Trail

Running on a Long Trail

 

up running on a lot of uneven terrain, meaning your shoes should be able to face such terrain while keeping you better balanced. You should look at the best trail running shoes to combat this surface.

Road Running or sidewalk running: Both surfaces are some of the hardest and most punishing surfaces to face. You’ll be able to look at beautiful scenery but at a cost to say the least. Not to mention, if you’re on the road, you should consider wearing bright clothing/shoes and ditch the headphones to stay better alert for incoming cars. To combat the road, you’ll want to find some of the best cushion running shoes. They can absorb some of the force so your feet don’t have to.

Grass– Grass is definitely softer than road in terms of the punishment your feet and the rest of your body experiences. However, like a running trail, they can get fairly uneven and hide certain things such as a gaping hole, which can really mess up a runner’s ankle. I recommend paying close attention to where you’re running when on grass. Also, traction is very important. Grass can easily get wet, especially in different parts of the country, where grass is almost always wet thanks to the humidity. I’d recommend checking out some of the best running shoes that offer extra traction support.

3)What are my goals with running?

Running Goals

Know your goals when purchasing running shoes!

Are you looking at short distance? Long Distance? Are you looking to increase your performance levels of an upcoming race? These are all viable questions you need to ask yourself to help figure out what kind of running shoes you may want. Here, I’d use your best common sense. If you are looking to train and increase distances so you can eventually check that marathon off your bucket list, you should be looking at shoes meant for long distances, shoes that can keep your body comfortable even while it’s telling you to call it quits. If you’re just looking to get into running, it could be a sign that you may not want to make a deep pocket investment into running shoes.

 

 

4)Do you have any current injuries or past injuries?

This is a pretty serious one and you’ll probably be required to think back some. Have you had any injuries (regardless if they’ve come from running or other activities) that could impact how you run, or the support you need. For example, if you’ve been known to tweak a lot of ankles, there could be a reason for that. You may be looking for running shoes that offer good arch support.

If you do have past injuries, or even while you run, you feel minor pains, seeing a specialist could be the best possible scenario. A small pain while running could easily lead to a bigger, more serious problem if left unchecked. There is nothing wrong with being safe first and sorry second. Many runners know first hand how an injury can prevent you from running for long time periods. You usually can’t run as well with a foot injury, knee injury, or back injury. The entire running motion basically connects with as much as your body as an activity could.

5) How does the running shoe fit?

Running Shoe Fit

It’s important that your Running Shoes fit your feet!

When you do narrow down a field of running shoes, you’ll want to figure out how they feel. Fitting is one of the absolute important things in finding a perfect running shoe. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter how well a running shoe is tailored toward your style if you pick the wrong size. Leaving too much space for your feet will leave them to shuffle around back and forth, ruining your motion, adding extra stresses to certain parts of your foot, and so forth. There is a reason when you are looking at running shoe reviews, users will be so quick to judge the fit, usually letting others know about its small fit, as well as an occasionally too large fit.

So how can you tell you find the right fit? To get the right fit, you need to have the proper wiggle room in certain areas while having other areas of the running shoe tight.

The Toe box Region– You should have about a thumb’s width of distance between the tips of your toes to the end of the shoe. While running, your feet swell, so you’ll need a bit of room to naturally allow that to happen. In terms of the width and height of the toe box region, you need to be able to wiggle your toes freely a bit. If they’re too compressed, you’re probably not going to feel very comfortable running of all things. Some running shoes feel a little tighter in this region, but often loosen up once you are able to break them in, so keep that in mind when you are checking out running shoes in person, or looking at reviews online.

Midsole Region– The midsole region should be fairly tight. This helps prevent your foot from moving up and down while inside the running shoe. Making sure your laces are tight can help this of course, but at the same time, having your laces too tight will cause serious irritation in the best of shoes. So when you’re trying a pair of running shoes on, only tighten up the laces to a reasonable point, and see how your foot shuffles around.

Heel Region– Similar to the midsole region, there shouldn’t be much wiggle room here. It is okay to have a small amount as long as you don’t feel your heel slipping out of the running shoe while giving your tests. If they are slipping too much, they could be an unexpected problem while running.

I want to repeat this because it’s important. It doesn’t matter how much a shoe costs or how well it works for you, if you are getting a running shoe that is too small or too big, you’re increasing your chances of injury and you’re probably not going to be that comfortable, happy runner that you were born to be.

 

Best Running shoes from All Categories

With there being so many different types of running shoes, it’s hard to choose one or even a few to be considered the best of the absolute best. Everybody will have their own opinion. That is why I’ll choose 3 of my personal favorite running shoes I’ve had the honor of running with.

  1. Hoka One One Clifton 3– This has been one of my favorite line-ups since they came out, especially after the second edition came out, because I did find some minor flaws in the original Clifton (read that review here). That being said, The Clifton line-up continues to bring it. With this latest addition it addresses some of the major concerns I had as well as other runners. First, the toe box was a little narrow in the Clifton 2 compared to the original. That being true, they needed to widen the toe box just a bit in their next Clifton, andthey did just that in the Clifton 3. The other known issue is the durability of the upper. In the Clifton 2, the upper was thin and smooth, allowing for some holes to develop a little quicker than other running shoes. However, in the newest Clifton 3, they created a upper that
    Hoka One One Clifton 3

    hoka one one clifton 3

    almost cross-stitch and create a thicker layer of material that is a bit harder to break through, thus extending the life of this great running shoe, further increasing its true value. For these reasons, I find almost nothing at vault with the Clifton 3, allowing it to land at the top of my best running shoes list.

  2. Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Improved Midsole and Mesh editions
    • Features Rocker Technology (which helps with the overall Feel/Ride

    Cons

    • Price is a little steep at a MSRP of $130.
    Check out the Hoka One One Clifton 3 at Amazon

Skechers Go Run 5– Similar in style to the Hoka One One Clifton 3, this is my favorite go to shoe when i’m looking for overall value per dollar spent. I have been able to find many Skechers Go Run’s on several sales over many of the other premium running shoes, allowing me to run in many different versions of these shoes. They’re light and well cushioned just like the Clifton’s (although the well-cushioned feel doesn’t last quite as long in this running shoe). I enjoy the quick-fit system allowing me to slip the shoe on quickly on my way out the door. My biggest gripe with this shoe is its performance on wet grass. I run on all kinds of surfaces, and at times I need to cut into some grassy areas. I haven’t fallen yet, but I can tell

Skechers Go Run 5

Skechers Go Run 5

the potential is there.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight at only 7.5 oz for a Men’s 9
  • Like previous models, the Skechers GoRun 5 offers its quick-fit heel system, allowing runners to slip the shoes on and off quickly and effortlessly.
  • Its plush cushion not only adds a lot of comfort but doesn’t hamper the shoe’s overall weight.
  • Upper is breathable yet durable and supportive.

Cons

  • Similarly to past models, the outsole doesn’t provide a lot of hard rubber allowing for better gripping. I’d caution running on wet grass.
Check out the Skechers Go Run 5 at Amazon

Brooks Transcend 4– I wanted to put a stable stability running shoe into my top 3 because even I need a little stability in my runs, depending on how I’m feeling. Even though this running shoe is a little heavier than I’m used to, its cushion and traction more than make up for it by adding some versatility to the shoe. I know minimalist running has increased in

Brooks Transcend 4

Brooks Transcend 4

popularity, and while I enjoy some of those styled running shoes, I find myself going back to cushioned running shoes. For my needs, I just find better results and more versatility out of them. The Brooks Transcend 4 finds a way into my normal rotation because of its traction and ability to tackle some different terrains (I usually run on roads) while keeping my comfortable.

Pros

  • Offers plenty of stability for running as well as other daily activities
  • Price drop from its predecessor
  • Has been noted that the toe box in this model has widened a bit, pleasing a large number of runners.
  • Offers great cushioning, ALMOST rivaling some maximal cushioning running shoes

Cons

  • Even with a price increase, this running shoe remains highly expensive for some.
Check out the Brooks Transcend 4 at Amazon

Best Neutral Running Shoes

Neutral Running Shoes are for runners who don’t need as much structural support and features to help your foot stay in a proper motion. If you need to learn more about Neutral Running, check out an entire page on it, here. Overall, because they don’t need much support, they’re able to be lighter than stability running shoes, and often offer more cushion and comfort.

Brooks Ghost 9

Brooks Ghost 9

Brooks Ghost 9 Offering a good amount of cushioning without the sink feel, the Brooks Ghost 9 hits all the check marks. It’s lightweight, offers extreme grip for a road shoe, and offers a spacious toe box.

Pros

  • Breathable Upper with a wide toe box
  • Well above average grip
  • Offers a comfortable and balanced level of cushioning
  • Has received much praise for its arch level by many runners
  • No need for a break-in period

Cons

  • Large toe-to-heel drop
  • Not enough cushioning for some wearers, heavier runners
  • lack of colors/style and laces that may come undone for some

Check out the Brooks Ghost 9 at Amazon

Check out the Brooks Ghost 9 at Amazon

 


 

ASICS DynaFlyte– the popularity of the DynaFlyte has continued to build momentum over the last couple years. This versions lightweight, cushioned feel, with a no-irritation upper has kept many runners coming back for more. From its anti-moisture sock liner to its durable rubber outsole, the DynaFlyte hits home with many small features that add up to a great running shoe.

Pros:

Asics Dynaflyte

Asics Dynaflyte

 

  • Irritation free Upper/Tongue
  • Midsole that offers plenty of cushion
  • Its comfort has been a huge plus for most runners willing to share their thoughts
  • Runners have noted a great size fit, with the running shoe offering plenty of toe space
  • Offers a good stiff arch support as well as heel stabilizing features.

Cons:

  • Higher priced running shoe sitting at $140.
  • Its biggest default has been runners going hotspots in certain spots of the shoe when running some longer distances.  (One runner noted a easy solve by inserting a gel-insert, which helps with the heated up default insert it comes with.
Check out the ASICS DynaFlyte at Amazon

 


Skechers Go Run 5

Skechers Go Run 5

Skechers Go Run 5– Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the line-up from this series. Being able to find deals for the GoRun series quite often, this cushiony, comfortable running shoe hits as one of my favorites to allow me to run without any distress.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight at only 7.5 oz for a Men’s 9
  • Like previous models, the Skechers GoRun 5 offers its quick-fit heel system, allowing runners to slip the shoes on and off quickly and effortlessly.
  • Its plush cushion not only adds a lot of comfort but doesn’t hamper the shoe’s overall weight.
  • Upper is breathable yet durable and supportive.

Cons

  • Similarly to past models, the outsole doesn’t provide a lot of hard rubber allowing for better gripping. I’d caution running on wet grass.
Check out the Skechers Go Run 5 at Amazon

Best Stability Running Shoes

Contrast to neutral running shoes, stability running shoes offer more features that help build structural support and help with your foot’s motion as you run. They’re often a little heavier than neutral running shoes, but there is quite a big market for stability shoes. To learn more, visit my stability running page, otherwise enjoy the list here.

mizuno wave inspire 13

Mizuno Wave Inspire 13

Mizuno Wave Inspire 13– The Mizuno Wave Inspire made some great upgrades to this model’s cushioning while being able to slightly lower its overall weight. Thanks to those upgrades, it’s hard not to make note and put this running shoe on this list.

Pros

  • Most runners note the upgrades in cushion between the Wave Inspire 13 and its predecessor.
  • Wave Inspire 13 found a way to lose 6 ounces without giving up any key features
  • This running shoe has been noted as true to size by most.
  • Its Wave System is supposed to help the flow/motion of running.

Cons

  • Upper could have a better feel if it contained an inner sleeve.
  • Has a break-in time period in which runners must adjust to.
Check out the Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 at Amazon

 


Brooks Transcend 4

Brooks Transcend 4

Brooks Transcend 4– Even at a decreased priced over its previous model, the Brooks Transcend 4 stands at a steep $160, but for good reason. The durability of this shoe is outstanding, so considering the mileage you may be able to get out of these can help ease the costs by not needing to replace a pair of running shoes that may wear out quicker. Overall, its stability and help with motion-control through its guard rails pleases runners looking for support.

Pros

  • Offers plenty of stability for running as well as other daily activities
  • Price drop from its predecessor
  • Has been noted that the toe box in this model has widened a bit, pleasing a large number of runners.
  • Offers great cushioning, ALMOST rivaling some maximal cushioning running shoes

Cons

  • Even with a price increase, this running shoe remains highly expensive for some.
Check out the Brooks Transcend 4 at Amazon
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17– Another Brooks running shoe finds itself in the best running shoes (stability) and for good reason. Sitting at a cheaper price than the Brooks Transcend 4, this $120-130 running shoe hits a lot of the same spots. The weight between the two are almost spot on, honestly, the biggest differences in the shoes comes in the performance review. While the Transcend 4 is more cushioned and offers a bit more support, the GTS 17 gives the shoe a faster feel (which is more rare in a stability running shoe) while not sacrificing any comfort.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Offers a very fast feel compared to most stability running shoes
  • Improvements in sizing and heel cushion benefit more runners than not
  • This running shoe comes in a wide variety of colors and offers a better visual appeal to many runners

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer an extremely soft feel in terms of cushioning compared to the Brooks Transcend 4.
Check out the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 at Amazon

 

Best Maximal (Cushioning) Shoes

What are maximal running shoes? Maximal Cushioning running shoes are simply running shoes with about the most amount of cushion amounts that one could find. There are maximal running shoes in every category ranging from neutral, stability, lightweight, and trail running shoes. They’re created to provide a high level of support and shock absorption for when your feet smash down into the hard surfaces. Heavier runners often look for more cushioned running shoes because the heavier your body, the more force you exert on your entire body with each step taken.

Hoka One One Clifton 3

Hoka One One Clifton 3

Hoka One One Clifton 3– To be honest, this has been one of my favorite series since it started with the original Clifton. Being the 3rd edition in the series Hoka One One continues to find improvements. With tons of cushion and a lightweight build, the Clifton 3 builds on its name by updating its mesh and improving with an amazing midsole feeling.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Improved Midsole and Mesh editions
  • Features Rocker Technology (which helps with the overall Feel/Ride

Cons

  • Outsole could use more protection to better protect and extend the life of the shoe
Check out the Hoka One One Clifton 3 at Amazon

 

Hoka One One Bondi 5- It irks me a bit to bit some of the same branded running shoes into the same category of the best running shoes, but with the combination of comfort, cushion, durability, traction, and its light weight nature, it’s hold to hold them out the Bondi 5’s. Outside of its high price tag, there aren’t many complaints outside of a few odd experiences.

Hoka One One Bondi 5

Hoka One One Bondi 5

Pros

  • Toe box is wider than presented in the past, and this running shoe also comes in wider sizes, increasing availability for many runners.
  • Does not offer a compromised outsole like many other highly-cushioned shoes insuring traction and durability remain as a priority in this running shoe.
  • Its immense cushion and added durability don’t deter a weight still sitting at only 10 ounces.

Cons

  • Some have noted a stiffer midsole in comparison to past models
  • Also some runners have had issues with the tongue rubbing them the wrong way, causing some irritation
  • Price is quite high starting at $130
Check out the Hoka One One Bondi 5 at Amazon

 

Altra Paradigm 2.0– The Altra Paradigm 2.0 has been noted as a bit of a do it all max cushioned running shoe. With Comfort, cushion, traction, durability, and some added support, it’s able to tread waters from short distance training to long distance running, depending on one’s desired use. What makes it unique is that recently Altra has looked to change their image over the past few years. Looking at runners, they’ve decided to follow a simple but yet amazing concept: making a running shoe that flows with the shape of your foot, not to mention a 0 mm drop from heel-to-toe creating a more natural feeling.

Altra Paradigm 2.0

Altra Paradigm 2.0

Pros

  • Traction is at a premium in this shoe with well build rubber that covers most of the outsole
  • The light mesh doesn’t create a lot of overlays allowing for plenty of ventilation to keep some of that sweat out.
  • Toe box is comfortable (though its been recommended to try upsizing at least 1/2 a size if you’re not familiar in running in Altra’s.
  • Like many other running shoes in this list, the cushion is superb, and nearly no road will be felt if this shoe had anything to say about it.
  • This shoe offers a bit more arch support than the others in this list, which may be a plus or negative feature depending on what you’re looking for as a runner.

Cons

  • The laces have been noted to be a tad too long for some runners, causing problems and forcing runners to tuck in their laces to avoid running over their own laces.
Check out the Altra Paradigm 2.0 at Amazon

Best Lightweight Running Shoes

Lightweight Running Shoes– The weight of a running shoe can be very important for a runner. Usually, the lighter it feels, the easier it is to run. Often times, super light running shoes are aimed to keep things simple and effective for performance.

Nike Free Rn Motion Flyknit

Nike Free Rn Motion Flyknit

Nike Free Rn Motion Flyknit– A combination of this shoe’s comfort, lightweight , and versatility rise this shoe to the top of this category, as well as above most of Nike’s other Flyknit running shoes. Being used well for speed training and longer distances, this shoe excels because it offers a plusher feel than other shoes in Nike’s free series. The Nike Free Rn Motion Flyknit is also extremely flexible and offers a sock-like feel with its liner and flyknit upper.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Extremely flexible
  • Versatile use with long distance or speed training
  • Offers more plush cushioning than other running shoes in the Free line series

Cons

  • Some runners have commented on the upper being to thin to be as durable as it could be
Check out the Nike Free Rn Motion Flyknit at Amazon

New Balance Zante V2– Eventhough it’s often confused as a serious race shoe contender, the Zante V2 provides the line-up with new life with added amounts of cushion (especially near the heel region) as well as a more relaxed fit in the toe-box. To top it all off, unlike other running shoes on this list, the MSRP of this running shoe is just $100

New Balance Zante V2

New Balance Zante V2

, much lower than most others. If you try hard enough, I’m sure you can even beat that price by quite a bit. (Yes, the New Balance Zante V3 is a NEWER version of this shoe, however its deemed to be of lower quality than V2 thanks to a lack of performance results. Version 3’s lack of smoothness or ride just isn’t up to par)

 

Pros

  • Its cushion and durability is superior to other lightweight running shoes in this category.
  • This running shoe performs exceptionally well with flexibility and offers a smooth ride.
  • The Zante V2 Offers a irritation-free upper.

Cons

  • It’s a bit heavy for a “lightweight” shoe, sitting at 8.8 ounces for men. But I wanted to feature this running shoe because of performance, runner satisfaction, and a lower end price.
Check out the New Balance Zante V2 at Amazon

Saucony Zealot ISO– The original Saucony Zealot ISO’s (not the under-performing latest version) have probably been my favorite pair of Saucony’s that I have tried, which helps lands them on this list of the best running shoes available. Though it’s satisfaction rates from other runners certainly don’t hurt its case. With a comfortable, durable, and smooth ride, it’s

Saucony Zealot ISO

Saucony Zealot ISO

difficult not to give these a try. While they may not be racing shoe light, their weight is definitely on the lower end at 8. 5 ounces for men. Overall, I just believe the running shoe can offer a lot to so many runners.

Pros

  • With a plush tongue that extend to both sides, it’s likely to eliminate any soreness on the foot, especially on those long tedious runs.
  • The Zealot ISO offers very comfortable but well put together upper. I haven’t had any seems ripping near the toes, which I’ve seen in many running shoes.
  • Even while extremely plush, the ride is incredibly smooth, and your foot transitions extremely well into each step.

Cons

  • I wish the plushness of the shoe lasted a bit longer at its highest levels. Yes, it remains effective for a long time, but you can definitely tell when it starts to wear some.
  • The price tag is high at $130, but since the running shoe has a newer model out, you can probably find some good deals if you look hard enough.
Check out the Saucony Zealot ISO at Amazon

 

Best Trail Running Shoes

Trail Running Shoes– Trail running shoes are simply shoes designed specifically for hard and rough terrain. They’re meant for the toughest of hikes, mountains, and uneven grounds. Running a track with trail running shoes is probably a mistake as would be trying to run an advanced and bumpy trail in normal running shoes. They often contain rigid outsoles, capable of creating traction with the ground, as well as allowing your foot to hit the ground and absorb the contact without aching or hurting your feet.

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3– From the Terra Kiger 2 to the newest model, the Terra Kiger 3, there have been massive updates. This trail running shoe has gotten “clunker” and as a result there has been some added weight. Additions to this shoe include a thicker midsole of about 3 mm, eliminating a need for a rock plate. A seemless upper and the Dynamic Flywire system matches a burrito shaped tongue to provide a perfectly comfortable fit. The outsole includes a softer rubber on the inside, allowing the shoe to deal with bumps and rocks alike. While there is a harder and more sturdy abrasion rubber on the outside, allowing the shoe to go into the ground better for great traction while making those changes of directions that

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3

can present themselves in trails.

Pros

  • The many updates to this model create almost a brand new shoe, allowing for a comfortable fit that can take you much further distances on a trial, while remaining comfortable.
  • The heel crash pad definitely softens the blow while taking on some of the force that bumpy trails can put on your foot.
  • This newest model has thickened the outsole some, which allows the shoes to handle and keep out the cold snow quite a bit better.

Cons

  • The toe-box can feel tight at first for some runners because of the break-in period. However, once broken in, these shoes loosen up quite a bit.
  • They are a lower-profile trail shoe, so users that are accustomed to higher profile trail shoes should give their bodies time to adjust because some calf pains are expected after the first few runs.
  • Because the thickness of the outsole has increased, runners have noted some hotspots in the shoes in longer runs with heated temperatures.
Check out the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 at Amazon

ASICS Gel-Venture 5– The ASICS Gel-Venture 5 is my best pick for a budget trail running shoes for runners looking to get try out for trail running. With a gel-cushioning system in place, similar to many of ASICS running shoes, this running shoe absorbs shock very well and keeps many runners happy. Even though it’s a bit heavier and not as flexible as some

Asics Gel Venture 5

Asics Gel Venture 5

would like, if you’re looking for a comfortable trail running shoe capable of giving you some very much needed stability and arch support, then you can find these with a MSRP of only $60, and that’s if you are unable to find a sale going on.

Pros

  • MSRP of only $60
  • Gel-Cushioning system does a great job of keeping the foot comfortable while absorbing the forces the ground tries to throw back at you.
  • Comes in sizes up to 4E which helps accommodate runners with wider feet.
  • Stability features and arch support help keep your foot motion proper even through the uneven surfaces.

Cons

  • Lack of flexibility
  • Traction has trouble on wet surfaces, which can be very dangerous if not careful, especially around rocky trails.
  • Running shoe is a bit heavier nearing 11 ounces for a Men’s Size 9.
Check out the ASICS Gel-Venture 5 at Amazon

Merrell All Out Crush– While the other best trail running shoes above focus on harder terrain, the very light Merel All Out Crush perform better on softer soil and muddy surfaces. At only 8 ounces, these trail shoes shed and go through mud almost as quickly as it hits it. If you’re looking at a softer or muddy trail, these won’t disappoint. And even better, these trail running shoes drain rain extremely efficiently. It’s important to note while the shoe’s outsole lugs perform well in mud, if you’re looking to perform as well on rougher, rockier surfaces,

Merrel All Out Crush

Merrel All Out Crush

your feet are much more likely to feel some of those impacts and uneven hard surfaces. If that’s what you’re looking to go after, I’d recommend another trail running shoe.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced in its market at $100
  • Flies through wet surfaces including rain and mud extremely well, and drains just as well
  • Performs well with mudding events and various obstacle courses
  • Shoe is extremely lightweight for a trail shoe sitting at only 8 ounces for a Men’s size 9.

Cons

  • Toe-box is a bit wider, so those with very narrow feet are definitely recommended to try these shoes on before making a call to purchase
  • Doesn’t perform as well on rough, hard rocky terrain
Check out the Merrell All Out Crush at Amazon

Best Cheap Running Shoes

Cheap Running Shoes– Running shoes can cost anywhere from $30 to $200 depending on the brand, quality, and use. Some runners can’t invest in an expensive running shoe whether its because they can’t justify paying that much for a pair of running shoes or they’re new to running and trying to figure things out before making the big investment. Whatever the reason, there is a market for cheap running shoes, and just because they’re cheaper, does NOT mean they will not perform as well. Cheap shoes CAN be the better running shoe for you depending on what you are truly looking to gain from them.

Saucony Cohesion 9

Saucony Cohesion 9

Saucony Cohesion 9– To be completely honest, the Saucony Cohesion 9 isn’t one of my favorites, but it’s been highly regarded in the running community for its features and overall value. With adequate cushioning, its availability in wider sizes, strong durability, and its very affordable prices, it pleases a lot of buyers.

Pros

  • Its availability in wider sizes offers a better fit for a larger number of runners.
  • Starting at an MSRP of $60, this running shoe can often be found for $40.
  • The cost / durability ratio of this running shoe far surpasses most others.

Cons

  • Its stiffness limits flexibility, which is a turn-off for some runners
  • Some runners have commented on disliking the shoe’s arch support
Check out the Saucony Cohesion 9 at Amazon

Or check out my full review of the Saucony Cohesion 9 here.


Adidas Duramo 7– Yes The Duramo 8’s are out. However, they’ve shrunk in the toe box region making it difficult for runners to find the perfect fit. Overall  the Adidas Duramo 7’s hit the spot with a cheap MSRP of $60 allowing runners to find a cheaper-budget shoe actually WORTH purchasing. With a durable and comfortable outsole, this running shoe performs

Adidas Duramo 7

Adidas Duramo 7

fairly well sitting under 9 ounces for Men’s size 9’s, which is pretty impressive and rare for a running shoe not tailed toward cutting down its weight. It offers plenty of cushion for lighter uses such as workouts or runs.

Pros

  • A very affordable $60 for those looking to get into running.
  • Lightweight at 8.7 Oz in Men sizes.
  • Upper creates a comfortable and snug feel
  • Offered in many different and bold color combinations

Cons

  • Concerns have been noted in terms of durability/how long the shoe may last in comparison to some pricier running shoes.
  • Some runners had some traction issues running on wet surfaces
Check out the Adidas Duramo 7 at Amazon

Asics Gel Contend 3– At a slightly heavier weight, these ASICS running shoes land themselves on the best cheap running shoes list for their support, cushion, and obviously price. Sitting at a bit of a higher weight of 10.5 ounces, their support and cushion is really what stands out for users. While I personally didn’t like their support, and I felt they had quite a bit of arch support, at least from what I’m used to, other runners thoroughly enjoyed the support. In terms of cushion, there is a basic layer of eva foam (which is a bit outdated, heavier, but

Asics Gel Contend 3

Asics Gel Contend 3

also cheaper for shoe makers). The added comfort in the Contend 3’s comes from a silicon based cushioning found toward the heel of the shoe, something ASICS has been known for. That being said, heel strikers should especially enjoy this shoe.

Pros

  • Cushion (especially in the heel, benefiting heel-strikers) is a huge plus and a bit rare in cheaper running shoes.
  • Outsole is sturdy and protects the entire midsole of the shoe
  • Its mesh upper allows for decent ventilation
  • Supported insole including a good arch support

Cons

  • A bit heavier compared to similar shoes in its market
  • Some runners have needed to upsize in this shoe.

Note that Asics has come out with the Contend 4, however there have been complaints with the toe box getting even narrower as well as a different feel and lack of support, which is why the Asics Gel Contend 3 remains on the best cheap running shoes list, ahead of the newest model.

Check out the Asics Gel Contend 3 at Amazon

Best Racing Running Shoes

Racing Running Shoes– There are many ideas behind racing shoes. Some are created around short distance performs, which can also include tempo runs (which helps you work on your speed). But racing shoes can also be tailed for marathon racing, or other long distances. Some racing shoes cut down the weight a lot, so you can be quick on your feet, while others try and focus on a multitude of things such as keeping your feet comfortable while still able to get a new personal record on your latest marathon. Either way, if you’re an avid runner and you are looking at improving your performance, racing running shoes may be the best route to go.

Nike Air Zoom Elite 9

Nike Air Zoom Elite 9

Nike Air Zoom Elite 9– These Nike racing trainers have garnished a lot of attention, and rightfully so. With a seamless fly-mesh upper, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 Handles multiple terrains with ease all while providing plenty of cushion to absorb the forces of running. Overall, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 balances weight, comfort, and performance in order to please a large number of runners looking for a great racer. One thing to note is this shoe is better aimed as a race shoe because its got a great forefront responsive cushioning. That isn’t as great of a race shoe if you’re a heel-striker.

Pros

  • Offers a firmer cushioned midsole, that many runners enjoy in this racer
  • Performs well on road and lighter trails
  • Offers a responsive forefront for a quick and responsive step
  • Has lost significant weight to its predecessor, the Nike Zoom Elite 8

 

Cons

  • Because of its forefront responsiveness, heel strikers won’t appreciate this running shoe as much
Check out the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 at Amazon

 


Nike Flyknit Racer– Yes another nike shoe lands here, but keep in mind, these are completely two different shoes. The Flyknit Racer weighs in about 2 ounces lighter than the already light Air Zoom Elite 9. Yes the Flyknit Racer weighed in at under 6 ounces for Men’s Size 9. It does this in a few different ways. Its midsole stays low to the ground with a Phylon build. It

Nike Flyknit Racer

Nike Flyknit Racer

gives the shoe enough cushion to allow responsiveness for a smoother ride. Also included is this running shoe’s upper, which includes a seemless upper, focusing a bit harder on only the necessary spots. Ultimately, the shoe is a flexible and highly breathable running shoe that keeps it extremely light on the feet.

Pros

  • You’re only going to be find a handful of shoes lighter than this one
  • Its one-piece seem-less upper creates superb ventilation and provides a comfortable sock-like feel
  • Nike didn’t short cut the outsole in this shoe providing a great racing specific design to allow the lightweight feel as well as great traction.

Cons

  • Because of the light seem-less upper, some runners have experienced holes after a few months of use
  • Price is fairly pricey at a msrp of $150.
Check out the Nike Flyknit Racer at Amazon

ON Cloudflow– The ON Cloudflow separates itself from these other racers because they’re different. They do so much more while compromising less. Their innovations with doubling up

ON Cloudflow

ON Cloudflow

its cushion and adding in shock-absorption features with its cloud pods, this is probably the most comfortable racer shoe in this list, especially those looking for comfort for longer durations. At the same time, it’s almost exactly the same weight as the Nike Zoom Elite 9, which only provides ample responsiveness in the forefront. Overall it’s a balanced shoe with a light weight feel, a responsive and comfortable ride, and a sturdy upper allowing for ventilation but remaining very durable.

Pros

  • Its honeycomb designed rubber outsole greatly maximizes its traction levels on wet and dry surfaces.
  • The elastic laces are a quick and efficient way to lace up to race
  • The Zero-Gravity EVA is located in the midsole and the 18 cloud pods, allowing for comfort and great shock absorption
  • Because of its overall package of it being a lightweight and well-cushioned throughout, it can be used as beyond a race shoe, short or long distances.
  • A well-built and sturdy upper with decent veneration holes to help prevent overheating allows this running shoe to stay intact allowing it to last longer than similar running shoes.

Cons

  • While the cloud pods help with absorbing shock, it can be problematic on gravel where rocks may be more inclined to insert themselves in-between the gaps that this shoe provides itself.
Check out ON Cloudflow at Amazon


Resources

Running Sites

RunningShoeGuru.com – One of my favorite review sites. Most of their reviewers try and actually review the shoe, and not simply up-sell it. That is something I’ve definitely seen in other areas.

Runrepeat.com – They have a great platform for reviewers to unite and review a shoe from many different aspects.

REI.com – I used this source to verify and extend my own knowledge regarding best results for fitting and different shoe types.

As a runner myself, I used my own input and experiences to create this best running shoes guide as well.

 

Thoughts/Feedback

When deciding which are the best running shoes for you, there really isn’t one or two best answers. What do you guys think of the list? Did I leave something out? Did I go too heavy on one specific brand, or did I not give a fair chance to certain brands? Let me know what I should change. With thousands of different running shoes, it can be tough to narrow it down. That’s why any best running shoe lists should almost always be different, unless you find others simply copying each other. This guide will be ever changing to keep up with the seasons. Feel free to contact me or comment below. I enjoy your thoughts, and of course, a good debate.

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