The Best Running Shoes (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
From cushioned and lightweight to comfy and stable, these are the shoes we're loving right now for the road, trail, and race day
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BY Ryan Senensky / LAST UPDATED ON March 19, 2021
The first time you put on a great pair of running shoes, you feel like Usain Bolt. A good running shoe won’t just feel like you’re wearing something better than your normal shoes, it will also feel as if you have subtracted from the natural weight of your feet. Conversely, a really bad shoe can feel like you’re wearing concrete boots.
There is an art to creating a shoe that has the right fit and a price point that doesn’t force you to take out a loan just to go on a run. It’s easy for a company to make a good running shoe that is so overspecialized, it doesn’t work for most people. If you don’t know where to look, we have a solution. We have done the research and selected shoes that are the best fit for a variety of categories. Let’s take a look and find you the shoe that is the best fit.
These shoes are made from 100 percent synthetic leather and have a midfoot saddle to provide a comfortable fit.
Lightweight and responsive. Eva foam in the heel absorbs impact and allows you to run for longer. Comfortable for flat-footed people. Fashionable enough for casual wear.
Ventilation holes can let water in. Most Puma shoes run slim and may feel somewhat uncomfortable for a wide-footed person.
This is a versatile slip-on shoe made from synthetic mesh fabric and a rubber sole. It can be used for walking, running, or working out.
Breathable upper mesh body feels comfortable on the feet. Optimal mid-foot support as you move. Lightweight enough to reduce strain on your feet.
Mesh material can get deformed in a washing machine or dryer. May wear out faster with longer runs. Eyelets might come loose.
This is a heavily cushioned shoe with a synthetic mesh fabric and a cleated, rubber sole that provides optimal grip when running on the trail.
Offers a comfortable and precise foothold. Keeps the feet secure when you are picking up the pace. Superb traction and high-level impact cushioning. Plenty of toe room. Accurate sizes.
Some of the cleats might come loose on asphalt or concrete. Can get slippery when walking on wet, even surfaces or large rocks. A bit narrow.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Running Shoes Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Best Running Shoes Buying Guide & FAQs
Your feet provide the foundation of the entire body, so equipping them with the right shoes will help to provide a healthier running experience. Whether you are running for fun or training professionally, you need a great set of shoes to complement your running style and the path that you intend to run on.
Also, from time to time, your running shoes may need replacing and you may find yourself scouting around for a better pair. There is a shoe for every runner, and this buying guide will help you find the best running shoes on the market. Check it out!
The Advantages of Owning Running Shoes
Running shoes are designed to protect your feet from injuries and foot pain associated with wearing the wrong footwear. They are cushioned more than ordinary shoes to help absorb your body weight and the impact of your feet landing on different surfaces. As a result, they help keep your feet pain-free as you run.
Some running shoes can help to correct your running style. If your foot rolls inwards (pronation) or outwards (supination) excessively as it hits and leaves the ground, you can get a shoe that is specifically designed to restore normal gait.
Running shoes help to make running more enjoyable and improve body mechanics. Since most have a midfoot cushioning, it can help to relieve strain on the foot and consequently, relieve strain on the knees, hips, and back. This helps to provide better motion control and safer body movements as you run.
- They can motivate you to keep fit.
- Running shoes provide maximum traction on different surfaces.
- Flat-footed people can gain arch support.
- They can help improve your running capacity and athletic performance.
The Most Common Types of Running Shoes
Running shoes come in different designs that are tailored to be used in different environments. For example, trail running shoes will be different from the shoes you can use to hit the road. This is because different surfaces demand different levels of traction to create a safer and more enjoyable running experience. Here’s a look into the main types of shoes available.
Road Running Shoes
Road running shoes are designed to be used on even surfaces such as a road, track, sidewalk, or a treadmill. Since these surfaces are hard, the shoes are cushioned at the midsole, and the soles are flexible enough to provide optimal flexibility and comfort during repetitive strides.
Also, the soles are smooth and flat to stabilize the feet on the road. These shoes are lightweight enough to be used as normal walking shoes. Most have a mesh upper to make the shoe more lightweight and reduce fatigue as you run. Running in them feels as if you aren’t wearing any shoes, but you still feel comfortable and have your feet well-protected.
Trail shoes are specially designed for running on off-road routes filled with rocks, roots, mud, and anywhere there’s rugged terrain. They are made with cleats or spikes on the underside to provide a better grip on the trail. They are also hard-wearing and have a low profile to help you adapt quickly to changing terrain.
The midsole is stiffer than road running shoes to provide more support to your feet when going up or down an uneven climb. Also, the underside may be fortified with a hardened plastic plate to protect your feet from sharp objects.
These are the type of shoes to take with you to the gym if you plan to get on the treadmill and do a series of other vigorous cross-training workouts. They typically have a thin platform sole to provide more contact with the ground. This also helps to prevent excess movement of your foot and ankle, and gives you more stability when training vigorously in a limited space.
Also, most have medial cushioning, which not only helps with extra shock absorption, but also prevents excessive rolling of the foot. This helps to correct your footwork as you train.
What to Look for When Buying Running Shoes
When choosing running shoes, it’s not always about fashion, so you may overlook huge brand names in favor of comfort, flexibility, and functionality. You can get this by shopping around for a running shoe following the basic features discussed below.
Running shoes do not require a break-in period, and should feel comfortable from the start. Therefore, it’s important to get your feet measured before buying new shoes; your foot size changes over time.
The shoe sizing chart may have letters and numbers denoting the length and width of the shoes. Length can be in U.S., European, or Japanese sizing. When it comes to the width, “AA” is for narrow, “M or B” is for medium, “D” is for wide, and “EE'' is for extra wide. Also note the gender indicated on the shoe since men’s shoes may be slightly wider than those designed specifically for women.
When it comes to the material, your main focus should be on breathability and comfort. Shoes with a synthetic mesh upper body check these boxes. However, they aren’t as waterproof as shoes with a genuine leather upper body. As for the sole, plastic or rubber is comfortable and lightweight enough for a run on the road. For the trail, you’d need hardened plastic or rubber with an additional protective plate to prevent injuries from sharp objects.
Also, consider the cushioning or the thickness of the material. Maximum cushioning, especially under the midsole, can make you feel like you are running on clouds and it will take some strain from your back. Alternatively, you may prefer minimum cushioning so that you can have a better feel of the ground.
Tips for Buying and Using Running Shoes
Try to keep an open mind when buying shoes. With a few brands, the sizes tend to run smaller or slightly larger. If you are buying shoes online, it would be wise to go half a size up. In case they are slightly larger, you can wear socks, get new insoles, or fix the laces for a snug fit.
The best time to try out new shoes is in the afternoon or at the end of a long day when your feet are swollen. Have a little run and if you develop blisters or feel uncomfortable in them, then chances are that you will always feel that way at the end of your run. Consider swapping them for a larger size if this happens.
- Wear the socks you intend to run in during shoe fitting to test the comfort level.
- Try different lacing techniques and settle for one that helps to keep your foot in place.
- Keeping your toenails short helps to make the shoes feel more comfortable.
Best Running Shoes FAQs
We have seen that getting the best running shoes boils down to how well you know your foot size, your gait, and your running environment. Above all else, a good level of cushioning will help to give you a safer running experience. For this section, we will answer a few commonly-asked questions you might have if you still need clarification.
Is getting fitted for running shoes worth it?
A. It’s definitely worth it. It will help you get the right pair of shoes that fit the length and width of your foot. As a result, you will have a more comfortable and pain-free running experience.
How long should running shoes last?
A. Ideally, running shoes should last you for about four months or 500 miles if you are a regular runner. However, if the outsoles and midsoles look worn out before that period ends, you should consider getting new shoes.
How do you tell if your running shoes are worn out?
A. With running shoes, the tell-tale signs are usually around the treads and the sole. The sole may be uneven and may slant towards either the left or right side. As for the treads, you may notice that the pattern is no longer visible and some parts of it have chipped.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick is the Puma Tazon 6 FM Running Shoe. It’s a comfortable shoe for running or taking a casual walk, and has sturdy laces that contribute to a snug fit. Its inner padding and a shock-absorbing heel make it one of the best shoes for maintaining your stability as you run.
While we do like the intricate design of the Puma Tazon 6 FM Running Shoe, the CAMVAVSR Men’s Running Shoes are a more affordable option that will help you run faster without having your feet pay the price of your lengthy tour. They’re also breathable and will keep your feet well-ventilated to help reduce bad odors from sweaty feet.