10 Best Retro & Vintage Running Shoes Reviewed
While these shoes may sizzle with retro style, there's nothing old about the performance, comfort, and features that they offer. By utilizing modern materials and design these shoes can go toe-to-toe with the top shoes on the market today, and look cool doing it. Even though these shoes are vintage, they are still comfortable, durable, and offer everything you need as a runner!
We researched, ranked, and reviewed the 10 best retro running shoes on so that you can save time and money, and get back to doing what you do best - running in style!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
- Simple, yet classy design
- Durability of the shoes
- Quality of materials
- Amazing comfort that they provide
- Great forefoot support which is always a plus
- Timeless look
- Saucony Jazz
- Asics Onitsuka Tiger
- Nike Air Tailwind 79
- New Balance Iconic 574
- Brooks Vanguard
- Saucony Original Bullet
- Nike Air Max 95
- Nike Air Huarache
- ASICS GEL-Lyte III
- Nike Air Max 1
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Retro and Vintage Style Running Shoes
1. Saucony Jazz
- Simple, yet classy design
- Durability of the shoes
- Quality of materials
- Amazing comfort that they provide
- Great forefoot support which is always a plus
- Timeless look
This is not a real problem of the Saucony company, but many customers got knock-off Chinese shoes, so be sure to check the reputation of the seller before buying
Saucony Jazz are shoes with a simple design. But they look extremely classy. In the time when they were created they were hardcore running shoes. They were made with an emphasis on balance, featured sock insert and narrow heel. Also with more substantial forefoot, with all of that combined they were bestseller running shoes, and as such spawned whole Jazz series.Read more
Style is important because if you are here, then you are looking for a pair of retro running shoes. These shoes definitely offer a retro feel that comes in several color options to choose from. If you love the sleeker retro look, then you will absolutely love these.
Saucony Jazz offers amazing comfort, at the time that they were made they were most comfortable running shoes. Even today they offer the comfort that many modern running shoes don`t. The stability that they offer is top notch, one of the best of any retro/vintage running shoes.
When it comes to shock absorption, these shoes offer some cushioning, but not a ton. With these shoes, you will get a good bit of cushioning so you get additional comfort and shock absorption.
In terms of support, these shoes offer enough support for neutral runners. So, as long as you don't have any pronation issues that require additional support, you should be fine.
Saucony Jazz is very durable, because of their simple design there are not many things that can wear off or break down after long use. They will last you for a very long time. And what about quality? Let`s just say that many of today's shoes do not even come close to the quality that Saucony Jazz offered then, and also today.
2. Asics Onitsuka Tiger
16 different colors to choose from
Not really durable
The Asics Onitsuka Tiger retro running shoes are some of the best retro shoes out there. They look great and go with almost anything you wear. If you want a pair of running shoes is comfortable, breathable, and offers a low drop then you will absolutely love these.Read more
When it comes to style, these shoes look amazing! They are available in several different color options and you can wear them with almost anything you choose! They are made of fabric and suede, which gives them a genuine retro look.
In terms of comfort, these running shoes will deliver a secure and comfortable fit thanks to their lace system. The collar and tongue are padded for additional comfort and their EVA midsole is really comfortable and provides additional bounce back.
When it comes to shock absorption, these shoes are well padded in certain areas. They offer a good bit of shock absorption and you won’t have to worry about getting a ton of shin splints if they work for your foot type.
If you want a supportive shoe, these offer enough for the neutral runner. Their additional padding and really secure fit help prevent your ankles from rolling over. The shoes are a really lightweight pair of shoes and the support they offer is totally worth it.
These running shoes are pretty durable and built to last. They have a rubber outsole that holds up pretty well—although a lot of users report that you should stick to the road or indoors when you wear these shoes.
3. Nike Air Tailwind 79
Several colors to choose from
Not the most durable
When it comes to Nike, it is one of the best athletic brands out there—which is why we have several Nike shoes on our list. The Nike Air Tailwind ’79 running shoes are the perfect option for those of you looking for a retro and vintage pair of shoes that we think you will absolutely love.Read more
If you love retro and vintage running shoes then you will love these—they were originally designed back in the ’70s, so they will definitely fit the bill. They are made of nylon and sued, true to the look from back in the day,
When it comes to comfort, these neutral running shoes are pretty breathable and really comfortable. They offer a secure fit, thanks to their lacing system—but you don’t have to worry about them sacrificing comfortable or overall flexibility.
If you want a pair of shoes that offers a good bit of shock absorption, these are a great option to consider. If you deal with shin splints and you are a neutral runner, then you will absolutely appreciate these running shoes.
If you are a neutral runner, then these running shoes are a great option for you. They offer neutral support for those of you who need a pair of shoes that will ensure that your ankles don’t roll so you can focus on your run!
These running shoes feature a waffle rubber sole that can hold up their own according to many users. However, it is important to note that since these shoes are true to retro and vintage style, they are not as durable as some other shoes on our list.
4. New Balance Iconic 574
Lots of colors to choose from
Available in wide sizes
Available in wide sizes
Not as durable as some users hoped them to be
These New Balance running shoes look great and are perfect for the retro and vintage lovers out there. They are perfect for those of you who want a pair of running shoes that will look great with all of your favorite outfits—so take a close look.Read more
When it comes to style, these running shoes are perfect all you retro lovers. They are available in lots of great colors and feature a bit of a sleeker design—so if you are a 90’s and 00’s running shoe lover, then you will absolutely love these shoes.
If you want a comfortable pair of shoes, you will absolutely love these. They have EVA foam in the midsole and heel of the shoe—so they definitely offer quite a bit of additional comfort. Their lacing system also offers a secure fit that you can count on.
In terms of shock absorption, these running shoes will help prevent your shin splints and other pesky symptoms that come with a pair of shoes that don’t offer the right amount of cushioning. These shoes are also pretty responsive and offer a good bit of bounce back.
If you want additional support, then you will love the heel midsole and heel clip. These features will help you keep your feet securely in place. These running shoes are also a great option for those of you still want to be able to use an additional insole or orthotic.
While they are pretty durable, there are some durability issues reported by users. They are made of suede and mesh—which gives them a great retro look but also ensures they slack in durability. They do feature a rubber outsole that will boost their durability though.
5. Brooks Vanguard
Several color options to choose from
Compatible with additional orthotics or insoles
Size runs small
Not the most breathable
The Brooks Vanguard running shoes are some of the best retro running shoes out there. These not only look great, but they are also a sleek and great looking pair of shoes that you will absolutely love once you put them on.Read more
When it comes to style, these running shoes definitely have a 90’s and early 00’s vibe. They are really comfortable and available in several colors to choose from. They are sleek and lightweight and a really comfortable pair of shoes.
In terms of comfort, these shoes offer excellent comfort. They feel great and offer additional support and cushioning to ensure you stay comfy and look great. These shoes also offer a secure fit without sacrificing your comfort or overall range of motion.
These retro running shoes offer some cushioning, which in turn means that they offer a good bit of shock absorptions. You definitely shouldn’t expect them to be the absolute best shoes, but they offer enough shock absorption for the neutral runner.
These running shoes offer enough support for the neutral runner, however, they are not made for people that have serious support issues. The best part about these running shoes is that they are compatible with additional orthotic and insoles.
These shoes are pretty durable if you care for them properly. That being said, some runners report that these running shoes don’t really hold up to the test of the time. Definitely, don’t try to take these shoes out on technical terrain because they won’t hold up to that.
6. Saucony Original Bullet
Lots of colors to choose from
Not very durable
Sizes run small
The Saucony Original Bullet running shoes are a sleeker and more minimalistic retro running shoe option. If you want vintage but want to stay away from the typical bulky options, then you will absolutely love these running shoes.Read more
In terms of style, these running shoes are available in lots of color options—about 38 to be precise. Their low profile is perfect for those of you who love the minimalistic look and their silhouettes go great with almost any outfit.
When it comes to comfort, these running shoes are perfect for those of you who love a comfortable and secure fit. These shoes offer a great range of motion, so you can trust that they offer excellent flexibility with each and every stride.
These running shoes are really low profile and don’t have tons of additional cushioning, so they don’t offer a ton of additional shock absorption. However, these running shoes are pretty responsive and have additional cushioning in the tongue and the collar.
Since these shoes are low profile and minimalistic, they don’t offer a whole lot of additional support. However, they are perfect for those of you are neutral runners and love to feel each and every stride when you use these.
When we looked at durability we considered the fact that these shoes are made of Nylon, Suede, and the outsole is made of rubber. While these shoes are pretty durable, some users do report that they tend to fall apart a little quickly.
7. Nike Air Max 95
Unique design that still looks modern
Quality of the shoes
Bulkier than previous models
Nike Air Max 95 were the running shoes that started the design revolution. Nike used gradient shades and also structured lacing system inspired by the human spine. When they were released, they blew the minds of many people because of their unique design that was never seen before. They could pass even by today standards as modern running shoes. But they were released in 1995. Which says a lot.Read more
These newer Nike shoes are really stylish and look great. They come in several colors to choose from and feature the bulkier retro style that you are looking for.
Nike Air Max 95 offers amazing comfort because of a large amount of air cushioning. Air cushions go almost for all the length of the shoes. They also offer you unparalleled stability because of their unique design.
When it comes to shock absorption, these shoes offer additional cushioning to protect your joints with each and every stride.
Support is something these retro running shoes do provide, however, if you have special support issues that you need then you don't want to rely on these running shoes.
Nike Air Max 95 is very durable running shoes, they will last you a very long time. The quality of the shoes is amazing. All materials used are high-quality materials that will last for as long as you use these shoes.
8. Nike Air Huarache
- Unique, modern design
- Stability, they will allow you to run on rough terrain with no problem
- Comfort that they provide
- Quality of the shoes
For some people little bit too narrow
Nike Air Huarache Light are the shoes with the sock and framework concept that definitely was different from other running shoes on the market. Nike Air Huarache Light was definitely unique and great shoes that still would make people turn their head around if they see you running with those shoes. And they are definitely beautiful.Read more
If you love retro running shoes, then you will absolutely love these running shoes. They feature the bulky retro design and come in several colors to choose from. These shoes also feature additional reflective features that keep you safe and look great.
Nike Air Huarache Light offers great comfort while running, they are perfect for long runs because they won`t create any discomfort. They offer the unbelievable stability that is one of the best in the retro running shoe category.
These running shoes offer a good bit of cushioning that will ensure you get a good bit of shock absorption when you wear these running shoes.
For the most part, these shoes offer a good bit of support and help prevent your ankles from rolling.
Nike Air Huarache Light are very durable running shoes, you can run in them even in the harsh environment. The quality of the shoes is top notch, they won`t break down anytime soon.
9. ASICS GEL-Lyte III
- Build quality of the shoes
- Comfort, they will allow you to run for a long time comfortabley
- Gel technology which absorbs shock created while running
- Stability, they will allow you to feel stable even on rough terrain
- For some people split tongue is useless addition
- Some people find them too narrow
ASICS Gel Lyte III were better than older Gel Lyte split tongue application. As we know, the gel was one of the first technologies that were more than just a gimmick that would increase the price. ASICS Gel Lyte III were revolutionary shoes, and the same technology is used today on many other running shoes. They definitely brought the revolution in the running shoe market.Read more
When you look of these running shoes, they definitely look like what you should think of when you are looking for a pair of retro or vintage pair of shoes. They are available in several different colors to choose from, so you can be sure they will look great with whatever you are wearing.
ASICS Gel Lyte are very comfortable shoes, especially for longer use because of its gel technology that gives you comfort even on hard surfaces. They also offer great stability for any user because of their wide forefoot area.
These running shoes are a pretty great pair of shoes. They offer additional shock absorption that will help you prevent shin splints or any other annoying issues. These running shoes also offer a good bit of cushioning for additional responsiveness and bounce back.
ASICS Gel Lyte III are shoes that are not for every person, but if you don`t mind the split tongue, then there is no reason not to buy them because they are unique. And the best thing is they are affordable, so what are you waiting for? Buy yourself a pair, you won`t regret it.
ASICS Gel Lyte III are very durable shoes that will last you a very long time, for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Also, the quality of them is amazing, especially because they are older that features old quality materials.
10. Nike Air Max 1
- Great quality as expected from Nike
- Great stability while running
- Design that is timeless
- Durability, they won't break down easily
- You can feel some discomfort after prolonged use
- For some people, they have too snug of a fit
Nike Men's Air Max 1 is the shoe that was inspired by Paris Pompidou Centar. First productions versions were dropped with a bigger air bubble, but that cause some quality issues and because of that, the bubble was reduced a little bit.Read more
This shoe now has a legendary status among the retro running shoes because of its unique design and beautiful choice of colors. If you want to wear running shoe that screams retro than this one is for you.
Nike Men's Air Max 1 provides great comfort because of its soft materials from which they are made of. Also, shoes provide excellent stability because of its wide forefoot area.
Pretty good shock absorption but not a ton.
These running shoes offer quite a bit of additional support for those of you who are looking for enough support for a neutral runner.
Nike Men's Air Max 1 are very durable, they will last you a long time. The quality of the shoes is amazing, you can't expect anything lees from the old Nike designs.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
This list is all about retro and vintage style running shoes, so let's start with style. They say that everything old is new again, and you can certainly see that with today's fashion trends. The styles of yesteryear have come full circle, gracing us with their presence in everything from movies, music, and cars, to clothes and yes, running shoes.
Since vintage/retro has become all the rage, running shoe makers have joined the fray by designing and selling new shoes that look like they've come out of a time machine, preserved from the ravages of eternity and transported here to the present. But it's not magic, it's what happens when modern design, materials, technology, and manufacturing processes combine with vintage fashion.
These might look like something grandpa and grandma might have worn, but they can only wish that this type of performance and comfort was available when they were flying around the track in their singlets and Chuck Taylor's.
In order to help you find a pair of retro-style running shoes you'll love, we went back in our time machine and found you the 10 pairs, brought them here to the present, and with a little magic and a lot of love ranked and reviewed them. For the style criteria, the cooler we think they look the higher the score, it's that simple, just like life used to be...
We've come a long way since back in the day, when running shoes were made of mostly just leather and/or canvas with a thin rubber sole. It's hard to know for sure, but just by looking at those shoes it's hard to imagine they were very comfortable.
No so with the shoes on our list! By using modern processes manufacturers have created running shoes that have old-timey style with new school comfort that's plush and easy on your feet, letting you cruise the street and trails looking a superstar and feeling like a million bucks.
We ranked each of the shoes on our list according to how comfortable they are based on what thousands of reviewers had to say, as well as our own matrix that looks at the materials and manufacturing process.
As runners, we all know what a toll that running can take on your body from the repetitive pounding your feet do on the road and trail. That's why it can be great to have a shoe that absorbs the shock of those impacts and disperses it through the sole before it can start to hurt your tender footsies.
Thanks to modern materials and technology, we have shock absorption available today that grandpa and grandma would have killed for. We ranked each shoe according to how much shock absorption it offers, and while shoes that didn't rate highly in this criteria didn't make our list, there's still a range of absorption that ranges from super plush to not so much, because personal preferences you know?
Especially if you regularly run on uneven or rocky trails, foot and ankle support is an important thing to look at when you're buying a pair of running shoes. A good pair of running shoes will cradle and support your feet as you run, helping you to stay stable and balanced, avoid injury, and just plain enjoy your run more.
With running shoes, support for the foot comes from it's upper and is dependent on the design, materials, and overall fit of the shoe. How you tie your shoes is also important. Too loose or with uneven pressure and your feet won't be comfortable and the shoe will be loose and unsupportive.
Too tight and your feet will feel constricted and you may even start to experience numbness and/or tingling in them from a lack of blood flow. Support for your ankle comes from the ankle cuff, which is different in each and every pair of shoes. In general, the higher and closer around the ankles the cuff fits the more support the shoe will give your ankles
Some people prefer a higher ankle cuff, while some prefer a lower, so we made sure to include a variety of styles on our list.
You've heard it said that "they don't make them like they used to", but we don't know about all that. We think that there's a lot of modern shoes being made right now that are pretty darned well made, and use great materials and modern design and manufacturing processes that make today's shoes just as durable as those of yesterday.
But we can't know for sure without a time machine so we recommend just letting the old-timers think what they may as we go on about our daily lives, paying homage to days gone by with our style while living in the present with our modern materials. The best retro running shoes are definitely a great addition to your running gear if you love vintage.
We ranked each pair of shoes on this list according to how durable they were by looking at thousands of reviews, as well as applying the knowledge of shoes we've acquired over the years working in this industry.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Remember that just because these retro shoes look bulky doesn't mean that they will feel bulky. You will be happy to hear that most of the shoes on our list are actually pretty lightweight.
Some of these retro designs are less durable than some of the modern running shoes you may be used to--but they still hold up so don't let that stop you if you want some retro running shoes.
Other Factors to Consider
One of the most important factors you need to remember when looking for the perfect pair of running shoes is to make sure that they fit you properly. Their overall fit doesn't just mean making sure that you order the right size, but you have several things you need to look out for.
Make sure you consider how they are sized.
When getting a pair of these retro running shoes of course you need to make sure you get the right size. That being said, it is important that you take into account how other users report they typically fit--are they too narrow? Do they run big? Are their options for runners with wide feet?
If you are able to try the shoes on before purchasing them, then that will be best--especially for the shoes on our list that run on the smaller side. If you are not able to try before you buy, make sure you order from a source that will allow you to exchange or return your shoes if they don't fit properly.
Do they fit securely?
The shoes on our list are retro and vintage running shoes, so you can expect them to have the traditional lacing system you can remember. These typically fit securely and comfortably, so you can adjust them to fit you perfectly when you wear them. However, they may loosen up a bit when you wear your shoes.
How do you feel after wearing them for a while?
A key component to the overall fit of your running shoes is that you remain comfortable when you wear them. This is important because your feet expand, sweat, and might shift around your feet. Before choosing your shoes think about what your feet need, specifically.
When it comes to the value of your running shoes, for the most part, you will find that the options on our list lie on the affordable or just above avoraged price end of the cost spectrum. that being said, while the budget is incredibly important, you need to make sure you consider the following into consideration.
Is their retro style what you are looking?
We made sure to include several different types of retro running shoes to our list. For the most part, they look pretty similar but there are some that are bulkier than others-- there are quite of bit of retro running shoes that are sleeker and more minimalistic than others.
Will they hold up to what you need them for?
Make sure you remember to consider your specific needs when you are looking for your next pair of running shoes. It doesn't matter where they lie on our list if they won't fit your specific needs--and they certainly won't hold their value or be worth the investment if you don't love them.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are retro vintage running shoes as good as modern running shoes?
In a word, yes! By utilizing modern design, materials, and manufacturing methods, shoemakers are able to create shoes that perform just as well as any modern running shoe, but look like they were made decades ago. It's kind of like wearing a tuxedo or a costume; the outside is classed up and/or disguised, but the bones on the inside are the same.
q: What is the difference between retro running shoes and modern running shoes?
One of the coolest things about the shoes on our list is that other than looks, they tend to perform as well or even better than your standard modern design. With the exception of the Nike Cortez, which is a little more fashion oriented than the rest of the list, all of these shoes can be worn for running long distances while keeping your feet cushioned, supported, and happy.
q: Can't I just buy some inexpensive Converse Chuck Taylor's and save a few bucks?
When it comes to retro style, it's hard to beat a pair of Chuck's. Simple, classic, affordable, and heck, you can even draw on them to show your personal style. Unfortunately when it comes to running however, Chucks don't offer much in the way of cushioning or long-term support, and there's a good chance your feet will be calling out for mercy after just a mile or two.
We recommend saving the Chuck's for looking cool running errands around town, and getting a pair from our list to cover your running and style needs.
q: I notice some retro running shoes are bulky, does that mean they are heavy?
Yes, a lot of the shoes on our list look pretty bulky, but they are actually pretty lightweight. In fact, the best retro running shoes shouldn’t weight you down, even if they look like they are.