Best Running Shoes for Men & Women Reviewed
Whether you’re an experienced runner, or just looking into starting picking running up as your preferred form of daily exercise, a high quality pair of footwear is definitely going to contribute to your experience. With a wide variety of running shoes available for purchase, it is possible that you are confused in terms of what you need, or that you’re looking for some recommendations for models which will suit your personal preferences better than your current pair.
Considering the popularity of running, and the fact that over 60 million people participate in this for of exercise in the US alone, it comes as no surprise that choices are endless when it comes to footwear intended for this purpose. Whether you prefer minimalist or maximalist shoes, ones made for roads or those for trails, those which offer arch support and motion control to those which feel like you’ve got nothing on your feet, you are sure to find the perfect pair for you.
- Mizuno Wave Rider 21
- Wave Plate Shock Absorption
- AirMesh upper
- Brooks Ghost 11
- Neutral Support
- Excellent Outsole Grip
- Saucony Cohesion 11
- Heel Grid System
- Great Energy Rebound
This list looks at the ten highest rated pairs of shoes for running available for purchase online. Including models by a wide variety of brands, all chosen for their quality and performance, this is a list which includes something for everyone, and can be used by beginners and experienced runners alike. Additionally, the article includes a Criteria for Evaluation, FAQ as well as a Terminology section in order to give you all the necessary information you need before making a purchase you are sure to be happy with.
10 Best Running Shoes
1. Mizuno Wave Rider 21
Weight: 10.2 oz
Drop: 12 mm
The Wave Rider 21 features a parallel Wave plate in the midsole, combined with a U4ic midsole that absorb the shock from each landing and disperse it throughout the entire foot, from heel to toe. This ensures less stress on your muscles and joints, and results in less fatigue, even after a long run. This is a model that is just as good of a choice for everyday runs, as it is for recovery sessions.
Breathability / Temperature Regulation
With an AirMesh upper that greatly helps airflow, and an INTERCOOL system which removes built up heat from inside the shoe, leaving you cool and dry, you will find that this is a pair of footwear will be more than comfortable even on a hot summer day.
Cost and Value
Ranking average on this list when it comes to price, the Mizuno Wave Rider 21 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a good road runner that will minimize fatigue and discomfort, and will allow them to achieve their highest performance. Additionally, it will even work well for some gym sessions, if you are someone looking for more than just a pair of footwear for daily running.
Supportive and Breathable Mesh Upper
Wave Plate Shock Absorption
Carbon Rubber Outsole
Runs ½ Small
Requires Breaking In
2. Brooks Ghost 11
Weight: 10.9 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Made for runners with normal to high arches, the Brooks Ghost 11 is pair of neutral shoes with some of the best cushioning available. Featuring a BioMoGo DNA midsole with a DNA LOFT addition to the heel, you can expect a soft feeling underfoot that will absorb shock and that provides a more fluid transitions than model 10.
Upper / Toe Bumper
Removing the sewn on toe bumper found in the previous version, the Brooks Ghost 10 has an upper made entirely out of mesh, with inner reinforcements that mold to the foot and stabilize your movement without imposing any constrictions. Furthermore, the lacing system has been improved to put less pressure on the metatarsal area, ensuring that you can lace these up as tight as you need, without feeling discomfort in any part of the foot.
Cost and Value
Ranking average to slightly above average on this list when it comes to price, the Brooks Ghost 11 is a pair of flagship runners that you are bound to love if you’re a fan of the brand. The improved heel crash pad and transitions ensure that the level of cushioning is brought to a higher level, while over the rest of the foot the model remains just as comfortable, if not more, as its predecessors.
BioMoGo DNA Midsole
DNA LOFT Heel Pad
Stretchy Mesh Upper
Improved Lacing System
Improved Outsole Grip
Heel Too Cushy for Some Users
3. Saucony Cohesion 11
Weight: 9.6 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Featuring Saucony’s own Heel Grid system, the Cohesion 11 gives plenty of cushioning, especially for those who tend to land with their heels. The system uses individual parts that compress upon each landing, meaning that it does not compromise on stability, and provides a customized cushioning effect. Evenmore, it provides excellent energy rebound, allowing you to push harder to achieve your goals.
Comfort / Flexibility
Featuring the same upper as its predecessor, the Cohesion 11 does improve when it comes to one aspect, which is the toe box. The latest model features a toe area that’s neither too narrow or too wide, and even comes in a wide variation for those in need of more room. This way, the toes have plenty of room to splay out, giving the runner a better experience during the push off phase.
Cost and Value
Ranking low on this list when it comes to price, the Saucony Cohesion 11 is the cheapest option among the models listed in this article. For the low price, however, it provides plenty of quality through the cushioning system, upper as well as the durable outsole that works just as well on asphalt as it does on the treadmill.
Heel Grid System
Supportive Rubber Overlays
Indoor and Outdoor Use
Not for Cold or Rainy Weather
4. New Balance 990v4
Weight: 13.6 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Using both leather and mesh in the upper, this is a pair of footwear that will adjust to the foot while still providing the wearer with the necessary stability and breathability. One of the best features, however, is the dual density foam collar which cradles the ankle and provides soft cushioning in order to prevent chafing, rubbing and any Achilles tendon issues that may appear with other footwear.
Cushioning / Stability
Users with low arches, flat feet or related issues such as plantar fasciitis can greatly contribute from wearing the New Balance 990v4, seeing that it was made to provide excellent midfoot stability, and to prevent overpronation, ensuring that the foot is properly aligned so as to absorb as much shock as possible.
Cost and Value
Being the most expensive item on this list, the New Balance 990v4 may not fit everyone’s budget. Nonetheless, its a model to consider if you’re in the market for a pair of stability shoes, especially if you value a high quality make - these were entirely made in the USA, which partly explains the high price tag.
Dual Density Foam Collar
Blown Rubber Outsole
Breathable and Durable
Wide Variety of Sizes and Widths
5. Hoka One One Bondi 5
Weight: 10 oz
Drop: 4 mm
With plush cushion for a neutral ride, the Bondi 5 is a considerable road runner for those who want the most cushioning without all the weight. In fact, it's incredible how much cushioning can be added without an extreme amount of weight. When going for long distances, this shoe holds its title with its signature marshmallow midsole for optimum underfoot protection. A slightly beveled heel enables a smooth transition, and its relatively lightweight structure will keep you going mile after mile.
Breathability / Air-Flow
It's engineered mesh upper ensures optimized breathability and 3D Puff Print frame gives Lightweight support. The Bondi 5 only weighs 8.5 ounces for a lighter and natural feel.
Cost and Value
The Bondi 5 is an investment you should definitely consider. Taking into account all its features, you will find that this is a pair of lightweight road runners that come at a cost which is completely justified. If max cushioning is what you need, there's no shoe that does it better, period.
3D Puff Print Frame
Tongue May Rub
6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18
Weight: 9 oz
Drop: 12 mm
Considering the fact that it is made with a lot of cushioning and support features, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 is a lightweight shoe that does a lot with a little. It features a Progressive Diagonal Rollbar in the midsole section, the main function of which is to ensure proper foot placement all throughout the gait cycle, meaning that not only will you land properly, but will also put a smaller amount of pressure on the inside of your foot as your overpronation issues are corrected.
Traction / Flexibility
The Flextra outsole found on the Adrenaline GTS 18 means that you can move your foot without any constraint while still having a firm grip of the asphalt underfoot. Additionally, the upper has also been improved from the previous edition of the Adrenaline in that it is made with seamless mesh that’s more lightweight without compromising heel lockdown and support over the top of the foot.
Cost and Value
With a price that is average compared to other models on this list, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 is definitely the best choice for those with pronation issues, as well as those who prefer high levels of support in the arch and midfoot. Despite its generous cushioning, this is a shoe which is lightweight, which makes it perfect for long runs.
Flexible Mesh Upper
Motion Control Support
Over 20 Color Options
Great Traction in All Weather Conditions
Stiff For Some Users
7. Salomon Speedcross 4
Weight: 11 oz
Drop: 10 mm
Sensifit cradles the foot from the midsole to the lacing system, providing a secure, snug, and virtually customized fit all around the foot and weighs only 10 ounces to decrease fatigue and with an end result of an overall top performance.
Breathability / Air-Flow
The Ortholite foam creates a cooler, drier, healthier, adequately cushioned environment under the foot. It has an anti-debris mesh liner that proceeds to keep debris out from in between your foot and the footbed, which also helps airflow to stay consistent.
Cost and Value
The Salomon Speedcross 4 can be considered a bargain compared with some other similar trail runners that don't even compete with its performance. Coming in at an average price for this list, below the midpoint, with the performance of a Salomon trail runner, you have a steal.
Takes Time to Dry
8. ASICS GEL-Nimbus 20
Weight: 10.7 oz
Drop: 10 mm
ASICS shoes are well known for their cushioning system, which is mainly comprised of GEL inserts in the forefoot and the rearfoot that have as their main purpose the absorption of shock in the landing and toe-off phases. But, in addition to the Forefoot and Rearfoot GEL, the Nimbus also features a FlyteFoam midsole which is ASICS’ most lightweight midsole yet, which not only prevents flattening, but also provides great energy return with each step.
Fit / Moisture Management
Employing an exoskeletal heel clutching system, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 20 ensures that the foot is securely locked into the shoe, preventing any unwanted movement, thus ensuring an accident-free run every time. Additionally, the OrthoLite sockliner adapts to the foot and wicks away moisture so as to keep you dry and fresh after every run.
Cost and Value
Although expensive, with a price that is well above average compared to the other models on this list, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 20 is a great choice of footwear if you are looking for the best possible locked-in fit that doesn’t constrict or weigh you down. Ensuring that you investment is a good one is the AHAR rubber outsole which is known for its durability.
Breathable and Secure Mesh Upper
ASICS Hard Abrasion Rubber Outsole
APMA Seal of Acceptance
Lacks Arch Support
9. Saucony Ride 10
Weight: 9.5 oz
Drop: 8 mm
With just enough cushioning to soften the impact of each foot strike and keeping the shoe relatively lightweight, the Ride 10 delivers what its name implies, a great ride. The upper boasts engineered mesh which gives an extremely conforming fit, and allows great air-flow, and the sole incorporates Everun technology for enhanced energy return.
Cushioning / Comfort
Cushioning comes by way of the Everun sole, and an unmatched comfortable fit due to a woven heel that wraps in a perfect hold. Runners reported long miles felt effortless, almost as if cheating. If that's not a good report, we don't know what is! A wide toe-box, well vented upper and adequate cushioning makes for the perfectly comfortable running experience.
Cost and Value
These lightweight runners are priced fairly and somewhat average for this type of shoe. The fact is, for how well they perform, it's a breath of fresh air that they don't cost too much. The Ride 10 is an affordable shoe for all budgets and ranks average for this list.
Cushion & Weight Balance
Only 3 Color Options
10. Nike Free RN 2018
Weight: 8.4 oz
Drop: 8 mm
The Nike Free RN 2018 features the most flexible sole on this list, and it moves completely in sync with your foot, contracting and expanding with each step. This means that you get excellent energy return, while the unique pattern on the outsole works well on the asphalt, as well as on light trails.
Support / Upper
Although made for runners with normal arches, who do not need a stability shoe, the Free RN 2018 does give a lot in terms of support through the upper. First and foremost, the heel is locked into place with a wide strap that prevents movement, while the Flywire cables inside the shoe wrap around the foot, and hold it in place both in the mid as well as the forefoot area.
Cost and Value
Ranking low on this list when it comes to price, the Nike Free RN 2018 is a good choice for those looking for footwear to wear during short runs, competitions or sprints. It does exceptionally well in terms of flexibility, and is versatile enough to be worn both for road and trail runs, eliminating the need for several pairs of shoes.
Flywire Cables for Internal Support
Flexible Sole Unit
Improved Upper Material
Stylish for Everyday Wear
Not for Rainy or Snowy Conditions
Outsole May Pick Up Small Rocks
Choosing the best possible pair of footwear to use when you run, whether its road, trail or on a treadmill, comes down to much more than just appearance. Taking the time to consider the features, pros and cons of each model will result in a purchase that will ensure you are not just comfortable, but also protected from injury and have all the necessary factors for your best performance.
Of course, personal preference plays a part, but the list above looks at the 10 absolute best running shoes available for purchase in order to make this task easier for you. Additionally, the Criteria for Evaluation section breaks down the exact things you should be considering before you opt for just one model, giving you all the information you will need for a successful shopping experience.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Running Shoes
Breathability / Temperature Regulation
A shoe that does not allow adequate airflow will leave a runner more susceptible to a number of problems, including a build-up of heat as it’s not able to escape easily or efficiently, which then leads to even more issues. Overheating is regulated by airflow that is allowed through the mesh upper of a running shoe, if there is not proper ventilation the temperature inside your shoe will build causing excessive sweating which will ultimately lead to blisters and allow bacteria to grow, yielding the perfect environment for unwanted odors.
Traction / Grip / Outsole Profile
The outsole profile will be different between road and trail options, but no matter what, it must be able to grip its particular terrain and ensure the wearer does not slip. A proper model for trail runs should have an outsole profile of either aggressive tread or lugs to bite into the dirt ground. A road model profile will be much different as this type of shoe will need a more flat surface area with minimal tread in order to build up friction and ultimately allow ample traction for flat, hard surfaces.
In an endurance run, every ounce counts, and every sheded ounce makes a difference. No need to carry around any more weight than needed on your feet. Models nowadays are made of quality materials that are both durable and lightweight, so finding a shoe that weighs close to nothing but still provides ample protection and lasts is completely possible. An example of such advanced materials is the EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) compound that is used in the midsole make-up of a large number of shoes. It is a material that is soft but durable and very light in weight.. When looking for lightweight choices, our sights were set on models that were lightweight in comparison to most others. For road, the average weight would be around 9.5 to 10 ounces for a single shoe with anything under 8 ounces extremely light. For trail, average weight is around 10.5 to 11.5 ounces as they usually contain more protective features which raise the weight.
Shock Absorption/ Cushioning / Comfort
On a long run, there’s nothing worse than a shoe that your feet do not agree with. Aching feet and general foot pain are a leading cause of calling a run off short of the distance, or not going out at all. Shoes with inefficient cushioning can cause a multitude of complications and even lead to bad injuries that can be avoided.
Common injuries that can be prevented with adequately cushioned shoes:
- Stress Fractures – Stress fractures are hairline cracks in your bones that occur as a result of the constant impact and shock. Shoes with high cushion can soften the impact of your foot to the ground, thus preventing such issues.
- Runners Knee – This is an injury that occurs with constant running over-training where the cartilage in your knees deteriorates. There are several ways to contract this issue, but in general, softening the impact of force that your knees are subjected to will help prevent it in some cases.
- Shin Splints – Shin splints is another way, to sum up, the intense throbbing of your shins due to swelling or other complications which stem from beating up your legs. They are common when subjecting your legs to the shock of changing routines without being gradual with it or training too hard. Of course, you can ease the beatings your legs take by having adequately cushioned shoes, and they will help.
- Achilles tendinitis – As the trend goes, this is another injury that stems from beating up your body. Its signature is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which leads to stiffness, extreme pain and a bad day. Adequately cushioned options will help in preventing this issue.
- Plantar fasciitis – This is perhaps the most well known and common injury. It’s characterized by the inflammation of the tissue that extends the bottom of your feet. Although there are many causes of this complication, and many ways to prevent it, having worn out footwear, without enough underfoot padding is one of the several known contributors to it.
The inner cushioning of the upper, the shoes’ footbed, and other cushioning aspects such as a padded collar are just as important as a soft, shock absorbing midsole. The more cushioning, the better, in general. Your feet take a pounding out there, especially if you constantly run double digit miles. In the case of a shoe with inadequate inner cushioning; long miles will result in brushing off the inner layer, and if too rough, will lead to blisters. The same occurs with the collar. A properly padded collar will ensure constant rubbing does not lead to skin irritation. You want something that your feet will be happy with. Make sure they have adequate cushioning and are comfortable enough to get you through the miles.
Proper Fit / Conforming Upper / Contour
The way a shoes upper is designed has a lot to do with with the overall fit. A well designed upper will have the ability to conform properly to the contours of your foot. Uppers are usually made of mesh that is durable and breathable and can stretch to a degree. This is sometimes a hard feat to hit as too much material can make the mesh stiffen, not allowing for a proper wrap-around of the foot, but too little can leave the shoe with durability issues. This is especially true for the road, and has less of a priority in trails, as they are usually made of thicker, layered materials that are naturally stiff, and needed for rougher environments.
The way it fits the foot not only affects the overall comfort level, but it will also provide a much more stable platform in which to run on. A loose or improperly fitting shoe will wiggle, leave room for rubbing, and cause blistering. Some are manufactured bigger or smaller than others, and in which case we will let you know if you need to size up or down to get that perfect fit. The thing is, you will need extra space in the toe-box for when your toes splay, and we’ve considered this as well.
Terrain / Type
The terrain and specific usage of a pair of runners is a critical aspect that should be obvious and definitely needs to be emphasized. There are too many types, for too many specific purposes to not know exactly what you need. a The two main types of shoes for running are trail specific and road specific, but there is a large number of other categories, including shoes that offer arch support, are neutral in support, extra cushioned, zero drops, minimalistic or barefoot, some made for cross country, some specific for long distances, and some made as trainers or for sprints. There are several differences that you can expect from the different types of runners, and those pertaining to road and trail shoes are described below.
Trail models are made to withstand the bare environment, which includes terrain from dirt to mud and everything in between. On the other hand, road footwear is made specifically for use on hard paved surfaces or tracks and these types of shoes are typically more light in weight. Trail models will seldom feature lightweight, breathable Flyknit uppers, unlike road shoes, as their main purpose is to perform in rough conditions. Similarly, you won’t see any road options with deep lugs or aggressive outsoles as a flat profile is needed for flat surfaces, and aggressive outsole profiles on trail running shoes are made to bite the dirt.
Common Features to expect on Trail Models
- Aggressive tread on the outsole
- Deep Lugs
- Waterproofing or Water Resistance
- Gore Tex Linings (Can be found on a few road runners)
- Heavier in weight, more durable material
- Integrated Gaiters
- More material layers
- Less breathability in the upper’s mesh
- Extra/Thicker overlays
- Thicker, pronounced toe bumpers
Common Features to expect on Road Models
- Lightweight, breathable mesh uppers
- Outsole profiles with more surface room/flat profile
- A lot less in weight
- Much more flexibility
Flexibility / Energy Return
There’s nothing worse than a stiff shoe, especially one that’s supposed to help you perform better through intense exercise. Pair that with something that does not provide adequate responsiveness or return of energy and you will have yourself one heck of a time enjoying your runs, and your performance is sure to suffer greatly. Running shoes are generally made of fairly responsive EVA foam-like rubber that acts as a spring, and bounces back when force is put onto it. Not only does EVA provide a nice bounce to each step, it is fairly soft and flexible. To add more flexibility to the articulation areas of the toes and forefoot, companies now include segmented outsoles, or “Flex grooves” to promote more of a bend with a breakthrough in the generally “stiffer” outsole material.
Trail models are generally stiffer, and rank lower in flexibility, while some road models such as seen in the Flyknit series can literally be rolled up they are so flexible. Then, there’s everything in between. Just weigh out your options because a shoe that flexes extremely easy naturally won’t generate much force in return.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Brands/Companies: Who makes the best, highest quality model?
A: There are several brands that have been around a long time, that provide extremely high-quality models. It’s difficult to pinpoint the best as that’s a relative question, but the highest rated, biggest, and most well-known companies are adidas, and Brooks for a running specific brand. Unfortunately for 2018, Adidas didn’t have an option that made the list, but they have plenty of options out of later years that are still amongst the best. There are also brands such as Hoka One One, Salomon and many others that have set a permanent foothold in the running industry, so there isn’t one best, just a best according to your preferences.
Q: Types: Who are Stability Running shoes for?
A: Stability models are made specifically for runners who have pronation issues. Typically, they correct issues that revolve around a foot that lies naturally at an awkward angle, causing it to roll inward. Stability or support products provide cushioning that corrects the awkward angle and compensates for it allowing the runner to experience a natural run.
Q: Types: Who are Neutral models for?
A: Simple, they are for those who don’t need any extra arch support or pronation support. If your foot angle in normal, and you don’t have issues with supination, or over-pronation, then a Neutral is all you need.
Q: What’s the best way to wash my pair?
A: Let’s face it, despite the breathability, the long miles will inevitably lead to odors that you will want to wash out. The fact is, putting them into a washing machine will only ruin them. There’s no easy way to clean them, but there are plenty of products available to remove odor. Since bacteria growth is a leading cause of odor, putting them in the freezer may help somewhat, as the extreme cold will kill bacteria. But, If they are on borrowed time, it’s probably best to just replace them.
Q: How will rain and moisture affect them?
A: Fortunately, most models nowadays are stitched and glued to be able to withstand water, and prevent water damage, unlike models of the old days that would suffer and fall apart due to moisture. Most are made to combat the accumulation of moisture as it happens when your feet perspire during runs, so typically integrate materials that are quick drying. Although, you need to make sure not to take it as a hint to run in the rain with inadequate shoes, as not all are made with the ability to grab traction on wet surfaces.
Q: What are the best options for women?
A: Although women’s feet will have slight anatomical differences than that of men’s, the important aspects that a shoe needs to provide to be effective remain the same, and companies generally do a good job in compensating for the differences in feet structure from women’s or men’s version. The best option for men, and for women will generally be the same, just get the women’s version and you will be blessed with all the great features and a perfect fit specific to your foot’s structure.
Q: Can I use my regular shoes for running even though they’re not made for it?
A: You can, but it’s not the smartest thing to do, and we do not recommend it. They are made for the high intensity, long miles and to combat the constant slapping that your feet will be doing to the floor. These factors combined, and with regular everyday shoes, your feet will end up with aches and pains. In the long run, you may just end up with permanent injuries that could be avoided by using the correct gear. We don’t recommend taking chances with your health.
Q: How many miles can they last?
A: A good product should last from 300 to 500 miles. If they call it quits coming up around 200 miles, they are not quality. A great model will hold up all the way until you get bored of them. They are out there.
- Collar: The stitching which makes up the rim.
- Midsole: The midsole is the layer of cushioning that sits between the insole and outsole.
- Outsole: The outsole is the outermost sole which connects directly to the ground.
- Overpronation: Overpronation is when the foot excessively turns inwards and consists of the foot rolling towards the medium, or middle of the body.
- Shock-absorption: Shock-absorption is when a mechanism reduces the level of shock felt throughout the body by absorbing and dispersing shock waves.
- Stress fractures: A stress fracture occurs when a bone is fractured from repeated mechanical stress, rather than from a sudden onset.
- Toe box: Consists of a piece of material placed in-between the toe cap and the lining.
- Traction: The grip of an object over any surface such as pavement or off-trail terrain.
- Wear-testing: Manufacturers are able to get a more accurate prediction of wear and tear in footwear products through wear testing under conditions simulating the exact wear process.