Best Athletic Shoes Rated for Performance

Do you love engaging in a variety of physical activities that challenge both your mental and physical abilities? With so many workout routines and sporting styles, it can be a challenge finding a pair of shoes that will stand up to the plate and work as hard as you to better your performance.

Finding a pair of shoes that are appropriate to the terrain and weather conditions you plan to practice on is paramount to performing your best because the wrong style of footwear can impede your ability to move freely and can put you at risk for injury. Traction, cushioning, support, shock-absorption, and protection are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a pair of athletic shoes to ensure that you’re able to compete at your best. Footwear that is lacking the essential fundamental qualities required for your favorite physical activities heighten the risk of injuries including, shin splints, blisters, calluses, joint and muscle pain, stiff muscles, and pain in the arch of the foot.

Last Updated: May 2, 2018
By Alanna Elia:

The most recent update to this page includes the addition of five more of the best athletic shoes, bring the list up to 15 shoes in total. The information included in the page has been reviewed and updated accordingly in order to ensure that the most relevant and up-to-date information and product models are included. A 'Terminology' section has also been added highlighting the most relevant terms from the page and defining them.

Featured Recommendations

Asics Gel Venture 5
  • Asics Gel Venture 5
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Outdoor-ready Runner
  • Price: See Here
Skechers Sport Energy Afterburn
  • Skechers Sport Energy Afterburn
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Memory Foam Insole
  • Price: See Here
Champion Gusto Cross Trainer
  • Champion Gusto Cross Trainer
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Light & breathable
  • Price: See Here

So how exactly do you know which is the best pair of shoes for your preferred activity? That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best athletic shoes available on the market, to help take the guesswork out of purchasing your next pair of athletic shoes. We’ve highlighted the very best options based on performance, comfort, protection, and durability, so you can make an informed decision and feel confident with your new pair of shoes.

 

15 Best Athletic Shoes

 

1. Asics Gel Venture 5

While technically classified as a running shoe, the ASICS GEL-Venture 5, the latest in the ASICS GEL line of athletic shoes, is great for just about any activity where cushion, comfort, and stability are your main footwear objectives. With features like deep heel cups, arch support, and the patented GEL technology found in every ASICS GEL shoe, there’s no reason not to utilize these shoes wherever the action is, whether on the job, on the track, or just on the go.
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Performance technology
A low-top shoe designed to rest around the ankle bone, these “outdoor-ready” shoes have a series of gel inserts along the footbed to give not just all day comfort, but all day performance enhancement. The GEL technology gives a glove-like fit as well as a superior grip to the contours of your feet. The outsole is designed to accommodate a variety of terrains, whether you’re jogging on cement, an uneven path, or through the grass.

Comfort
The GEL technology in the Venture 5 is the latest improvement on a series of ASICS designs, made to provide the best cushion and comfort available in the market of athletic shoes. The extra deep heel cup (which is where the majority of the GEL cells are) lets the wearer dig into the feeling of soft envelopment while their feet feel fresh with the removable sock liner that ensures room for medical orthotics.

Cost and Value
For the combination of design features and high quality, ASICS are the best money can buy. The acronym stands for the phrase “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano,” or “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.” Essentially, healthy mind, healthy body! ASICS believes if you get out there and move, and your movements aren’t hindered by discomfort, you’ll lead a happy life.
Pros
  • Fabric Mesh Upper
  • Brushstroke Inlays
  • Rearfoot GEL Cushion
  • Removable Sockliner 
  • Fits Orthotics
Cons
  • Thin Cushion

2. Skechers Energy Afterburn

Sketchers is a brand known for their comfortable walking shoes and every-day sneakers. Their athletic sneaker provides all the performance enhancement of an athletic shoe but the comfort and stylish aesthetic of a sneaker that can be worn in the gym or on the street. Perfect for those wearers that work on their feet all day, the Sports Energy Afterburn is offered in a variety of color options and has excellent arch support.
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Shock Absorption
When doing anything athletic a major factor when selecting the proper footwear should be shock absorption. Your joints shouldn’t be under constant stress by your movements, and joint pain shouldn’t prohibit you from enjoying exercise. The padded heel of the Energy Afterburn sneakers provides ideal shock absorption, while the non-slip rubber outsole gives the wearer superior traction. It even has a cushioned midsole for comfort, along with the extra padded tongue and collar.

Versatility
Because Sketchers is known for street shoes as well as sports shoes, their range of athletic shoes can be worn in a variety of environments. Pair them with workout clothes or with jeans and feel confident and comfortable. Having a sleek leather and rubber design without a lot of mesh means their appearance is streamlined, and so are you.

Cost and Value
Sketchers is a brand known for decent walking shoes, sneakers, and sensible footwear. Its foray into athletic footwear means a shoe that provides all the best performance enhancing qualities with an abundance of comfort and style. Perfect for long work days on your feet or a jog around the block, these sneakers look great with jeans or workout gear and are some of the most affordable athletic shoes available.
Pros
  • Good arch support
  • Ghillie lace-up vamp
  • Extra padded tongue and collar
  • Sleek leather design
Cons
  • Can be a ½ size too large

3. Nike Air Monarch IV

Nike has long been a giant in the athletic footwear world, combining the latest in technology, design, and comfort to create truly functional, practical, and next-level shoes for the fitness elite or the casually active person. With a variety of color combinations to suit any need, a myriad of features that promote breathability, protection, and enduring structural durability, you won’t need any other athletic shoe but the Nike Air Monarch IV.
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Functionality
For those looking for lightweight padding, a stabilizing midsole, and excellent traction, these athletic shoes are for you. With a recently updated design that is sleek and sophisticated, with a multi-pattern rubber outsole that gives you grip on any surface you encounter. Whether your athletic activities require you to jump, pivot, or break into high speeds, the aggressive tread will always stabilize you. Your foot won’t roll side to side as much, and you will be able to flex your forefoot.

Comfort
A lining of soft fabric reduces irritation to your feet, and a mesh tongue and added perforations along the middle of the shoe allow for maximum breathability. This ensures that cool air can continuously flow to your feet and prevent you from overheating during training. Patented Nike Air technology runs the full-length of the shoe ensuring softer landings when you drill hard. And finally, the Pylon midsole gives you all day lightweight cushioned comfort.

Cost and Value
While a more expensive athletic shoe, no brand beats Nike Air for performance-enhancing functionality, maximum style, and optimal comfort. The hardest drills and training sessions won’t be a match for the Monarch IV, with its aggressive multi-pattern tread to keep you upright on any surface, its lightweight Pylon midsole for comfort, and its patented Nike Air technology that keeps your feet feeling refreshed and pain-free.
Pros
  • Great for wide feet
  • Nike Air cushioning technology
  • Aggressive multi-pattern tread
  • Pylon midsole
Cons
  • Can fit snug

4. Brooks Ghost 10

4. Brooks Ghost 10
The Brooks Ghost 10 is a neutral cushioned athletic shoe that’s ideal for running. It features high-energizing cushion and offers arch support that’s best for medium to high arches. Its engineered mesh upper makes for a breathable and lightweight feel, while synthetic overlays and a traditional lace closure system work to keep your feet firmly in place.
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Comfort
The Ghost 10 boasts a padded tongue and collar for plush comfort, along with a removable foam insole for added customization. It features a full-length segmented crash pad that is unisex and works well with any foot landing.

Gender-friendly
The Brooks Ghost 10 is designed with BioMoGoDNA which mixes bio-frieresponsiveoGo and responsive Brooks DNA technologies for a gender-neutral cushioning. The Ghost 10’s gender-friendly segmented crash pad allows for the use of any foot landing and provides extra comfort.

Cost and Value
While the Ghost 10 is a bit more costly, it’s well worth the extra money. It features top of the line comfort qualities and is made tough to withstand the pressures of physical activities.
Pros
  • BioMoGo DNA material
  • Segmented Crash Pad
  • Omega Flex Grooves
  • Good price
Cons
  • Can be too narrow for wide feet

5. New Balance MX608V4

5. New Balance MX608V4
New Balance, like Nike, is one of the premier athletic shoe brands, helping fitness enthusiasts and athletes accomplish their fitness goals. The New Balance MX608V4’s provide fantastic comfort, quality, and athletic performance. Lots of research and development went into them based on the needs of their customers. New Balance focuses on what’s essential to the wearers of their shoes, not merely the current trends. For an athletic shoe to be considered superior, it not only has to be comfortable but also be able to take a lot of abuse.
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Comfort
If you have a lot of pain in either your ankle or heel, these athletic shoes will be a great help. They have extra padding to their insoles as well as injection molded midsoles, both of which retain shape and bounce back from continuous wear. The reinforced heel gives you lots of cushions, to say nothing of the extra padding found throughout the design. If you’re susceptible to a lot of heel and ankle pain, this shoe is for you. It has thick insoles and midsoles that bounce back from a lot of wear. The heel is reinforced and has a lot of extra padding.

Functionality
These shoes have been specifically designed with high octane physical activities in mind, and for those wearers that need an athletic shoe that won’t quit. From the reinforced heel to the dual-density collar that uses both a soft density foam for comfort and a hard density foam for support, these shoes will save you from foot fatigue. They come in a wide variety of color combinations and have an aggressive tread for superior traction.

Cost and Value
For New Balance athletic shoes, these won’t break the bank and are a solid investment for any active person that wants their footwear made with the best materials and for the best reasons; customer support and appreciation. With features made just for those hitting training sessions hard, such as EVA mold injected footbeds, aggressive grip, and dual-density collars reinforced with two types of different foam, trust these athletic shoes to get you through any workout no matter how grueling.
Pros
  • Dual-density collar 
  • EVA injection molded footbed
  • Extra cushioned midsole
  • Superior traction
Cons
  • Heel can slip out

6. Skechers Sport D'Lites

6. Skechers Sport D'Lites
Here we have Sketchers again with another addition to the list, this time with an athletic shoe that comes equipped with memory foam to make your training session feel like you’re walking on air. Sketchers is known for being the best at combining street lifestyle and active footwear. With many of the critical features of other athletic shoes at the expense of none of the style, let these be an addition to your closet and your workout.
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Comfort
Known for their great fit, these shoes boast an inlay of memory foam along the midsole that allows you to be on your feet for extended periods of time without feeling any foot fatigue. The collar and tongue have an extra cushion, so the fit along the ankle is comfortable and won’t rub along the bone. The thick sole will absorb the high impact of the intense physical activity, and the grooves in the sole provide maximum traction.

Versatility
With a large variety of color combinations and stylings, these stylish two-toned athletic shoes can be worn with both workout clothes and your favorite casual outfit. Sketchers make sure that its shoes are competitively priced and that they have a smart, sophisticated design and shape. The lace-up front, unlike some other models, allows for a customizable fit and sporty look.

Cost and Value
Affordable enough that you can go through a pair and not feel bad about it, these Sketchers are as economical as they are comfortable. Given the brand’s expertise in quality and design, these shoes are guaranteed to last. The Sketchers commitment to not only competent casual shoes but also athletic footwear means both will be just as functional and aesthetically pleasing. These lightweight and supremely comfortable athletic shoes are the perfect sporty companions to your fast-paced lifestyle.
Pros
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Memory foam inlay 
  • Padded tongue and collar
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Can be narrow

7. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33

7. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33
Another Nike Air addition to the list, there’s no surprise how many times a brand like Nike will appear given the level of quality and performance-enhancing features their footwear proudly promotes. A sleeker, slimmer shoe than some of the other entries to the list, it nevertheless can stand toe to toe with the rest of the brands for improving overall fitness ability and comfort.
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Functionality
Like Brooks or ASICS, Nike engineers and members of the design team are always working in unison to create the best in functionality through technology that reflects what customers need from their athletic shoes. They have wide fabric mesh along the length of the toe box for breathability, and deep tread for wherever your fitness journey may take you, giving you stability and durability along the way. They also have a glove-like fit and hug the foot like a second skin, a nice change to the athletic shoes with thick rubber soles.

Comfort
These shoes are known for providing fitness enthusiasts and athletes with superior comfort. Joint pain, blister pain, and heel chafing is not something the wearer has to worry about in these shoes. A well-cushioned midsole provides a plush ride every step of the way from the first 5k to the next 10k. Special Zoom Air units designed by the Nike Air engineers enhance deflection impact as well as provide an added cushion for the foot mile after mile.

Cost and Value
Slightly above mid-range athletic shoes in price, they are nevertheless favored by serious marathon runners and those looking to capitalize on the functionality, technology, and comfort that go into the Nike design. They are sleeker and more agile in mobility than other athletic shoes, and also come in a staggering variety of color combinations for those that like to workout in style.
Pros
  • Cushioned midsole
  • Zoom Air units to deflect impact
  • Sleek design
  • Thick grooves for traction
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than other brands

8. Champion Gusto

8. Champion Gusto
This athletic shoe is a unique addition to this list, a slim and sleek bit of footwear with lots of perforations along its design. They are extremely lightweight yet surprisingly durable, with a focus on energy expulsion and providing maximum arch support for the wearer. Champion is a brand not ordinarily associated with some of the other brands of athletic shoes on this list, but it is every bit as competitive in its features, design, and functionality.
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Functionality
With a durable upper, perforated mesh for breathability and a solid arch-supporting sole, these are the athletic shoes of choice for those looking to up their pace. It has a sleek, ultra-lightweight design, sturdy laces, and a removable foam insole comprised of memory foam that makes it feel like you’re hardly wearing any shoes at all. They are great for training hard as well as for daily walks around the neighborhood or running errands.

Comfort
Just because they’re lightweight, doesn’t mean the Gusto Cross Trainers don’t maximize the comfort with added padding around the collar to minimize chafing, the memory foam inlay, and the soft fabric lining that makes the shoe feel like it was made for your foot alone. They make for squishy footfalls and their soles are non-marking.

Cost and Value
At a very affordable price and with a unique look and performance delivery, Champion has delivered on a versatile athletic shoe that is competitive with the more well-known brands on the market. Its sleek, lightweight yet very comfortable construction makes it possible to train harder and longer, and its memory foam inlay and soft fabric lining make you feel like you’re not wearing a shoe at all.
Pros
  • Memory foam removable inlay
  • Sleek design
  • Very lightweight
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Runs a half size large

9. Adidas Energy Cloud

9. Adidas Energy Cloud
A second Adidas addition to the list, it goes without saying that the Performance Energy Cloud deserves a place. Don’t let its slim look and unencumbered looks fool you - it packs all the performance-enhancing features of other athletic shoes Adidas produces as well as the brands it competes against. It has a unique technology for runners that need to go the distance without sacrificing comfort, as well as those that like to drill extra hard during their training sessions without being bulky.
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Functionality
Like all athletic shoes, a mesh fabric upper grants superior breathability so that cool air is continuously circulating along the toe box. A supportive cage-like wrap envelopes the midfoot section of the shoe to offer maximum stability for the heel. Aside from stability and excellent ventilation, its soles have deep grooves evenly spaced for great traction across a variety of surfaces.

Comfort
Each footfall feels like a cloud, which is exactly appropriate for these shoes. Each strike from heel to toe will experience a full range of comfort, with a special cloud foam midsole that provides the wearer with superior cushioning for any range of athletic activities. These shoes can also be worn walking or running errands, with hours of wear in a day not diminishing their energy return in the slightest.

Cost and Value
These unique looking, extremely comfortable athletic shoes are a great investment for those that value comfort and a full range of movement. Their lightweight, “cloud” like feeling put them apart from athletic shoes with more rubber components, though it can be said that their arch support is minimal because of this. They can be worn equally well with jeans or workout gear, so they have the bonus of not telegraphing as an athletic shoe.
Pros
  • Lightweight design
  • Special cloud like feel
  • Good on a variety of surfaces
  • No break in period
Cons
  • More expensive

10. Nike Revolution 3

10. Nike Revolution 3
Looking like more of a skate shoe than an athletic shoe, don’t let the casual look fool you. The final addition to our list (third time’s the charm for this brand!), the Nike Revolution 3, is a shoe that packs a lot of performance punch into an unassuming yet highly capable sports shoe. It is a unique design departure from other Nike products, proving that their design engineers are some of the best in the business, continually pushing the known boundaries of footwear that is often so much more than what it seems.
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Functionality
While they may seemingly lack the hardware of other athletic shoes, without thick rubber soles or multiple synthetic design components, these athletic shoes are lightweight, and constructed from a single layer of mesh, without a cage over it or any perforations typical of similar shoes, yet still just as breathable and well ventilated. It has soft foam all along the inside of the shoe, from forefoot to midsole, to heel. The rubber outsole has been specifically designed for optimal traction across a variety of surfaces. Special underlays in the vamp and tip of the toe offer support, stability, and structure.

Versatility
With its single layer mesh design and minimalistic, “no sew” overlays, it looks like no athletic shoe you’ve seen before. A sophisticated piece of footwear offered in a wide range of colors and combinations, you can choose between bright pops of color or a sleek black on a black silhouette. The revolutionary principles didn’t stop with its functionality but continued with its aesthetic, which one could easily wear at the gym, at work, or around town.

Cost and Value
One of the most expensive pieces of athletic footwear on our list, these shoes nevertheless are worth the investment, especially since they benefit from the latest in Nike research and development. Their lightweight, sleek design, coupled with ultimate breathability, traction, and comfort make them stand out in a crowd of overly built out and over-designed shoes. When it comes to the Nike Revolution 3, less is more.
Pros
  • Single layer mesh design
  • Dense foam cushioning
  • Sophisticated design
  • Great traction
Cons
  • More expensive

11. Tesla Sports

11. Tesla Sports
The Tesla Sports running shoes are perfect for jogging, running, and other physical exercises. It features a groove-designed outsole for superior traction and a svelte low-profile style for balanced wear. The Tesla Sports was made with internal foam padding at the back side which works to keep your foot securely in place, while a knit vamp allows for proper airflow.
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Durability
The Tesla Sports comes complete with a convenient back pull-loop that prevents damage to the heel counter while pulling shoes on to help the Tesla Sports running shoe last even longer.

Airflow
These running shoes are designed to allow air to circulate around the foot keeping you cool and dry. It's knit vamp allows for adequate airflow even during tough activities.

Cost and Value
These running shoes are a total bargain and offer great value. Complete with internal comfort foam padding and designed to last longer, these Teslas are a solid investment.
Pros
  • Knit Vamp
  • Pull-loop
  • Groove Outsole
  • Internal Foam Padding
  • Low-profile Design
Cons
  • Sizes Run Large

12. Dreamcity Water Athletic

12. Dreamcity Water Athletic
The Dreamcity Water Athletic shoe is made for walking and is perfect for engaging in water sports. It’s a breathable and lightweight shoe that provides superior bounce back on every step. The Dreamcity Water Athletic is made with a fabric upper and Water Grip non-slip rubber outsole that allows for a sturdy grip on wet and slippery surfaces.
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ComforDry Sockliner
The Dreamcity Athletic features a ComforDry sockliner that gives the ultimate cushion and makes for fresh and dry wear. Your feet will feel great even after hours of strenuous physical activity thanks to the ComforDry’s innovative comfort technologies.

Solyte Midsole
A Solyte midsole is incredibly lightweight and bounces back from every step. It’s made to last and offers durable midsole construction.

Cost and Value
These are another reasonably priced athletic shoe that offers tremendous value for your money. The Dreamcity Water Athletic is an excellent shoe for water-sports, or for walking on wet terrain and is made to last thanks to uniquely innovative construction utilizing durable and comfort enhancing materials.
Pros
  • ComforDry Sockliner
  • Solyte Midsole
  • Water Grip Outsole
  • 90% Fabric
  • Budget-friendly
Cons
  • Tight Across The Toes

13. Puma Tazon 6 FM

13. Puma Tazon 6 FM
The Puma Tazon 6 FM is an aerodynamic shoe that’s stylish and comfortable. It features a synthetic leather upper that’s breathable and lightweight, along with a midfoot saddle that provides excellent comfort. The Tazon has a rubber outsole for a non-slip wear and T-toe construction for a durable ride. Traditional lace closures allow for a customized fit and keep your shoes secure while you move.
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EcoOrthoLite Sockliner
The EcoOrthoLite is a breathable and lightweight sockliner that provides superior comfort and a perfect fit. EcoOrthoLite is an environmentally friendly, bio-based technology that uses 20% less petroleum and replaces it with a bio-oil substitute made from castor beans.

Security
The Tazon 6 is designed with a non-slip rubber outsole and midfoot saddle that makes for a secure fitting shoe. Its traditional lace closure system allows for a customized level of tightness ensuring that you can control the way your shoe feels.

Cost and Value
Puma shoes are never overpriced and the Tazon 6 is no exception to the rule. These shoes are relatively low-priced and are definitely an affordable option for anyone in search of a comfortable pair of shoes for outdoor activities.
Pros
  • EcoOrthoLite
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Synthetic Leather
  • Traditional Lace Closure
Cons
  • Tight Fitting

14. Nike Flex Supreme TR 4

14. Nike Flex Supreme TR 4
The Nike Flex Supreme TR 4 is crafted from textile materials and features a non-slip rubber outsole. It offers a Flywire and mesh-upper for a securely locked down forefoot and a flex outsole that allows for maximum flexibility. Complete with a comfort collar and supple foam core the Flex Supreme TR 4 is one comfortable running shoe.
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Phylon Carrier
Phylon is an ultra-lightweight material composed of EVA foam pellets. It provides a soft and flexible cushioned material and is ideal for the midsole of a shoe due to its comfortable and flexible properties.

Flywire Upper
Flywire is a supportive structure which utilizes Vectran fiber cables to provide additional support for the foot. Flywire prevents the foot from sliding while inside of the shoe and keeps it locked down for more secure wear.

Cost and Value
These shoes are an affordable option for athletic footwear and offer exceptional value. Complete with Nike’s innovative Flywire technologies these shoes will keep your feet comfortable and secure while performing all of your favorite athletic activities.
Pros
  • Flywire
  • Phylon Carrier
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Textile Materials
  • Mesh Upper
Cons
  • Narrow Toe

15. Adidas Adipower

15. Adidas Adipower
The Adidas Adipower Weightlift is made to provide support under heavy loads. It features a leather upper and a comfortably padded mesh collar and tongue. An instep strap holds your feet securely in place and a cross-lace power strap keeps your laces in place. The Adipower features vent flow openings along the outsole for added airflow and comfort, along with a heel overlay that provides a stable and lightweight wear.
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Hook & Loop Instep Strap
The Adipower features a hook & loop instep strap which provides excellent rear-foot stability and comfort. Your feet won’t slip or slide around inside of these shoes thanks to a locked down and secure design.

Materials
The Adidas Adipower Weightlift is made with a PU-coated leather upper that’s airy and lightweight, so your feet will stay cool even while engaging in any strenuous physical activity. It features a rubber non-slip outsole that prevents accidental slips or falls and offers water-resistance during wetter weather.

Cost and Value
While the Adipower Weightlift costs more than most of the options on the list, they are definitely a shoe worth owning if you enjoy performing any strenuous or heavy load sporting activities. They’re designed specifically for weightlifting exercise but work well for all kinds of physical activities.
Pros
  • Mesh Collar & Tongue
  • Hook & Loop Instep Strap
  • Vent Flow Openings
  • Cross-lace Power Strap
  • PU Leather Upper
Cons
  • Small Fitting

 

Athletic shoes are as different as the activities they’re used for. Competitive athletes may choose to train with one brand, the casual fitness enthusiast another, but certain key features are essential at all times; proper fit, comfort, traction, and durability. Take advantage of the new technology being incorporated into a variety of athletic shoes today by top brands invested in the needs of their customers.

Since athletic shoes take so much abuse, they have to be able to suffer under a tremendous amount of stress. They need to be able to withstand a variety of activities and not need to be continuously replaced. They need a little of a break in time as possible so you can get to achieving your fitness goals. Some favor ventilation and lightweight materials, some favor structural support and shock absorption. The best have a combination of those attributes, and it’s even better when they can make you look like the fitness star you are.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Athletic Shoes

Some factors contribute to the quality of an athletic shoe that vary depending on the sport or activity the footwear is aimed at serving. Regardless of sport-specific features, some aspects of an athletic shoe are universally essential, which are the areas of focus in the criteria we used while researching for this list. These aspects are:

 

Breathability

An athletic shoe needs to allow for proper airflow and breathability. It is vital that an athlete does not overheat during training or while performing because this can lead to lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting, which can increase the risk of injury while also negatively affecting performance. There are several features and materials to look for in an athletic shoe that will prevent overheating such as:

  • Mesh Material
  • Air Ventilation Holes
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Cotton Lining
  • Sockliner
  • Lambskin
  • Wool

Mesh is one of the most breathable materials available and is highly recommended for athletic footwear. Air ventilation holes allow for air to flow in and out of the shoe circulating the foot and preventing sweat and overheating. The best materials for athletic shoes are ones that wick moisture away from the foot and which pulls sweat away from the foot and towards the outer part of the shoe keeping your feet cool and dry. A sockliner that enhances the temperature control as well as wicks moisture away from the foot is an ideal additive to any sports shoe.

 

Traction

Whether you play a sport, enjoy running, or like to keep your gym routine consistent, traction is vital to your athletic shoe. Because your activities could take you to a variety of environments, you need to be sure that your footfalls are stable. Insufficient traction will lead to serious injury, which is why selecting an athletic shoe for traction is so essential. Look for deep groove inlays along the sole which provide excellent traction and also offer flexibility. Multi-pattern grip, such as raised shapes across the sole also power better grip. Whether you like your shoes grooved for better flexibility, or patterned for grip, both will keep you safely upright and prevent you from the possibility of breaking a bone or tearing a muscle.

Rubber is one of the best materials for the outsole of a shoe as it provides superior grip on any surface including wet and slippery terrain. Rubber also provides an extra level of waterproofing which is ideal for activities in wetter weather.

 

Shock Absorption

One of the surest ways to prevent joint pain and the constant onslaught of foot fatigue is by selecting athletic shoes that have excellent shock absorption feature which avoids a lot of the impact from your foot strikes or hard lands by softening the blow through the incorporation of:

  • Added Padding
  • Impact Technology
  • Extra thick rubber soles to diffuse from the point of impact.

In the case of padding, an additional amount of comfort is added to the shoe’s construction.  Impact technology is developed by a variety of brands and comes in the form of some specially patented components like Nike’s Zoom Air, EVA removable foam inserts, gel pads under the heel cup, etc. Each brand develops their shock absorbing technology based on what customers need to perform at their best. They’ll be more comfortable, pain-free, and much more likely to purchase from the brand again.

Durability

Athletic shoes will take a beating, and they need to be able to, no matter their brand they need to be able to withstand the most grueling physical activities. This often comes down to how they’re made, as their materials play a big part in how durable they are. Areas that can affect the durability of a shoe include:

  • Construction; Including stitching, welding, and aerodynamics
  • Materials
  • Closure System
  • Outsole Design

Make sure that the rubber at the sole is solid yet forgiving when flexed, and make sure that whatever lace system being used will give you optimal customizable comfort. Seams should show no sign of fraying in the future, and a mixture of materials, such as leather and synthetic can be helpful in keeping a shoe’s structural integrity. They need to be able to survive different environments with the different terrain as well as weather.

 

Flexibility

Athletic shoes need to be flexible for proper pronation and to make sure that when your feet hit the ground that they move with the natural movements of your feet. Full range of motion is important for proper performance and form, something which athletes and fitness enthusiasts are well aware of. Flexibility can come from the materials the shoe is made out of, and the more lightweight, the more flexible. The sole, if made out of thick rubber won’t be as flexible as a sole that is made out of thinner rubber but with deep grooves to provide a full roll motion from heel strike to the toe box. More flexible shoes also generally feel more comfortable on your feet because they don’t lock your feet into a rigid stance.

 

Comfort

Having a comfortable pair of athletic shoes is paramount to your overall performance because shoes that feel better help you work out longer, train harder, and dig deeper regarding your physical activities. The following features contribute to more comfortable wear overall:

  • EVA Midsole
  • Cushioned/Padded Insole
  • Slip-resistant Outsole
  • Breathable Materials
  • Lightweight
  • Padded Tongue & Collar
  • Ventilation
  • Weatherproofing
  • Midfoot Saddle
  • Closure System
  • Stable/Supportive Structure
  • Shock Absorption

A cushioned EVA midsole makes a world of difference when it comes to the level of comfort a shoe provides and having proper ventilation allows for adequate airflow which prevents overheating and sweat buildup. It’s vital that an athletic shoe properly absorb shock and provide added stability to protect the sensitive joints, muscles, and tendons of the legs and feet. Weatherproofing and water-resistance will keep your feet dry and make for far more enjoyable wear, while a slip-resistant outsole will work to prevent accidental slips and falls.

The closure system a shoe is equipped with can make a big difference in how well your footwear fits which in turn, alters the comfort level. Traditional lacing systems and hook-and-loop closures provide the most stable and customized fit which is ideal for sports and other activities which require constant moving.

 

Energy Return

Since every athletic activity has a different level of intensity, selecting a shoe with excellent energy return is imperative. There are specific features to athletic shoes that cater to energy return, built right into their design. These unique features could include foam that is particularly dense or gel pads that provide you maximum bounce back along the footbed. The energy that you expel gets maximized, which results in a much more powerful stride. The sole of your athletic shoe gets compressed whenever you do any physical activity, from walking to running, working out or playing a sport. It’s during the rebound period that energy you input gets recovered. To utilize the most energy you can, you need an athletic shoe that returns as much of it as possible to you during your activities. Too much friction and heat will result in lost energy.

Standard features found with athletic shoes

  • Lightweight material
  • Shock absorption/impact technology
  • Deep heel cups
  • Stabilizing midsoles
  • Memory foam inlays
  • Removable inserts
  • Midsoles designed for arch support
  • Padding along tongue and collar
  • Extra padding to cushion heel and forefoot
  • Flexibility along sole
  • Mesh uppers/perforation for airflow
  • Lace closure system

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: How long do athletic shoes last?
A: A pair of good athletic shoes should last a long time, though it does depend on how much you wear them and how vigorous your level of activity is. Athletic shoes worn to play soccer on the weekends will get less wear than shoes that are used to run several miles every day. The athletic shoes that you choose should be based on what physical activities you engage in. They should also be based on indoor or outdoor activities, and what weather you’ll encounter. As for the shoes themselves, materials, construction, and the performance-enhancing technology they’re built around will ultimately determine how long they’ll last you.

Q: How do general athletic shoes differ from running shoes?
A: Running shoes are a type of athletic shoe, and sometimes there isn’t much difference, but specific athletic shoes are made with materials that can assist in the performance enhancement of a variety of activities, whereas running shoes are primarily designed with features specific to running. More rubber on the soles, for example, to last mile after mile, or more mesh to promote breathability. Athletic shoes can be very lightweight and have almost no rubber to their soles at all, for instance, because they may be used for more stationary activities, like weight training, or for movement on soft, forgiving surfaces, like a soccer field.

Q: Can athletic shoes be used as walking shoes?
A: Athletic shoes can make great walking shoes, especially since they often have lots of extra padding, memory foam inlays along their midsoles for great arch support and cushion, and soles that grip trails as well as cement. However, most athletic shoes have thinner soles so they can be more flexible while walking shoes tend to have thicker soles and be more rigid. Since most brands like Nike, Adidas, and Sketchers also make a variety of athletic footwear, they know what is important to a customer that may be on their feet for long periods of time.

Q: What’s the best brand of athletic shoe?
A: A lot of brands compete with each other by offering different features than their competitors, but many features are fundamentally the same. All should be well ventilated, durable, comfortable, and fit whatever lifestyle you have where athletic activity is concerned. Some have features that make them more comfortable than others, or provide more energy return or look more aesthetically pleasing, and often this will change their price point. But a high price doesn’t guarantee a better shoe anymore than a lower price guarantees subpar quality. The purchase of an athletic shoe is an investment and should meet the qualifications of your physical needs.

Q: Are lightweight athletic shoes best?
A: Generally, the more lightweight the athletic shoe, the more flexible and comfortable it is. Just because it’s lightweight, doesn’t mean it’s not durable, either. Much progress has been made with the materials used in the design of athletic shoes to provide maximum toughness without sacrificing a great feeling shoe. Lightweight shoes may seem stripped down, but they’re just unencumbered. Athletic shoes should have less rubber on them, not be rigid in construction, and allow for a full range of motion for their wearer.

Q: What is the best shoe to wear for water sports?
A: The best type of athletic shoe to wear while performing water-related sports are shoes that offer specific water-repellent and protective properties. For example, a rubber outsole will provide superior traction even on wet or slippery surfaces and will also add an extra level of waterproofing. Having a solid grip is important while performing in a wet environment where the risk of slips and falls is greater than other terrains. Try looking for athletic shoes which specify that they are for use in water, like the Dreamcity Water Athletic featured on this list.

 

Terminology

  • Diffuse: To spread over a large area or entire surface.
  • Hook & Loop: A type of fastener which sees one surface connect and hold to another, Velcro is the most popular form of hook & loop closure.
  • Lambskin: A soft leather or wool prepared from the skin of a lamb.
  • Moisture Wicking: When a material pulls moisture away from the foot and towards the outer part of the shoe keeping feet cool and dry.
  • Outsole: The outermost part of a shoe which connects directly with the ground.
  • Shock Absorption: Shock absorption sees kinetic energy diffused and turned into another form of energy.
  • Sockliner: A internal membrane of a shoe that cradles the foot for added support and comfort. The sockliner can also provide moisture and odor control.
  • Structural Support: A support system which helps to hold up the weight of a heavy load and support the load appropriately to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Toe Box: The front enclosure of a shoe where the toes sit.
  • Traditional Lace Closure: Traditional laces are two thin pieces of material woven to make a shoelace. The two shoelaces are tied together, usually in a bow shape, to hold shoes firmly in place.
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