Best Running Shoes of 2021
We’re constantly testing new (and old) shoes to provide a balanced assessment of what the best running shoe available today might be.
From the weight, material, insole, outsole, tread, flexibility, durability, even the style of running. We’ve taken the time to assess it all within our reviews so you can be confident in your purchase.
But don’t just take our word for it. Test a new model, or brand, for yourself and give us your candid feedback on what the top-rated running shoe should be. We update this list often, so come back and see if your top running shoe pick will emerge a winner.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Without the right supporat, you won't be able to run in your shoes comfortably!
How do you typically run? Maybe you’re more of a jogger. Maybe you go for a distance. Or, maybe you like to go full out, focusing on speed and endurance. Whatever your style, the shoe has to fit the purpose. By fit, we mean the ability to provide adequate support for the run. Without it, you could suffer from patellar tendonitis.
Our easy-to-followrunning shoe fit guide should help you navigate your running shoe selection.
For the runners who like to go and go, aiming for longer distances, then lasting support and adequate cushioning will be at the top of the list of requirements. You’ll also want a pair that will stay together throughout all of the miles you will be putting on them. Long-lasting durability will be an important factor there. You can go for long-distance shoes.
If you go for speed, then look for lightweight running sneakers. You will probably want something with as little mass as possible. A shoe that is able to provide exceptional response and just enough cushion to support your run, are some ideal factors to look for. What if you usually take light, but longer jogs?
Footwear such as trainers would most likely be a good fit for that role. Look for a shoe that provides ample cushioning and good stability, all in a package that is lightweight and breathable. Check out some additional factors to look out for below!
What is your arch type?
Not all runners have the same type of foot--and the biggest difference often lies in our arch type. If you have neutral arches, you won't need a lot of added support and can opt for neutral running shoes. On the other hand, if you have high arches you will need shoes that have additional cushioning to fit your needs. And, if you have low arches, you will definitely need to look for shoes that address your support and pronation needs.
Read also about best neutral running shoes.
Do you have any pronation issues to address?
If you know you are an overpronator or an underpronator, then you need to make sure to look for shoes that will help correct the issue when you run in them. If you aren't sure there are two easy ways to test it out:
1. Check and see if there are wear patterns on the soles of your shoes for running. If you over or under pronate you will notice excessive wear on certain parts of the shoe.
2. Conduct the Wet Feet test. This is done by wetting the bottom of your feet and walking on cardboard. Once you do this examine and compare your footprint to see if you have any pronation issues.
Make sure the running shoes you get will address your stability needs.
Who wants to go for a long run in an uncomfortable pair of shoes? Nobody that I know is jumping with joy at the chance to do that! Comfort is obviously a huge factor when shopping around for any type of footwear. They have to feel as on your feet after a run as they did before it. Sounds pretty straight forward, but we had to take into consideration that all feet are different.
What works well for one person, may not be so great for another. In our list, we included some options that provide the fit and support needed for issues such as pronation, wide feet, flat feet, and plantar fasciitis. Those who over or under pronate will typically need appropriately directed support to correct the foot’s position inside the footwear.
Whereas those with plantar fasciitis will need that support plus adequate cushioning to allow a less painful running experience. Runners with flat feet will need the necessary mid support to keep the center of their foot from dropping. And, those who have higher arches will need the much-needed support in the center to eliminate the weight stress that would be put on the arch if left unsupported.
The fit of the upper to the shock absorption and cushioning of the midsole all play a huge part in the overall comfort of certain shoes for running. We researched specs product information and a lot of customer feedback pertaining to different brands and their models, narrowing our list down to ten shoes of 2020 out there on the market now.
Breathability is key, especially if you like you run during the hot summer months!
No matter where you run or what the weather is like, you usually want your footwear to breathe. Well ventilated shoes are more comfortable for longer amounts of time, but can also prevent issues related to moisture and bacteria. We looked for models which had uppers constructed with lightweight materials such as mesh or even knitted fabric.
The idea is to have as much airflow coming and going, while also maintaining the structure and upper integrity of the shoe. Most brands have their own name for their breathable upper designs. For example, Nike uses their Flyknit material, which almost looks like that in a sweater, but with lightweight man-made materials that are suitable for a running shoe.
Breathable running sneakers will allow air to move through and escape the shoe, which helps control moisture buildup. Whether you are running in colder climates or under the sweltering sun, breathability is a huge deal. it not only affects your performance, but proper airflow and ventilation can also help cut down on issues like the build-up of bacteria as well as other smelly and problematic issues caused by lingering moisture.
Running shoes need to be flexible enough to allow for our natural stride, so take a close look.
When we took a look at the overall flexibility of the shoes we evaluated. there were several factors we took into consideration. Before going over them, it is important to note that you need to make sure to consider your own specific needs when you do your own research. Make sure to consider the type of flexibility you need, not just we rate as the absolute best.
Do the shoes allow for your natural stride?
The appropriate amount of flexibility means that the feet can function as naturally as possible, even while inside the shoes. A pair that are stiff and don’t give way for the natural movement of the feet will, first off, be very uncomfortable after only a short while. Second, the chance of foot fatigue will occur a whole lot sooner, as your feet will be fighting against the resistance to move more freely. And third, without that ability of more naturally functioning feet, your performance and speed will be hampered quite a bit.
Can a pair of running sneakers be too flexible?
On the other hand, too flexible isn’t always the most appropriate choice either. A sole that is extremely flimsy, with almost zero resistance, will probably be a good sign that the shoe also doesn’t offer much in the way of needed support.
Do the shoes have a break in period?
This is important because there are shoes for running that have a little bit of a break in period when it comes to overall comfort and flexibility. This is because sometimes we have to get into the shoes and moving in them to get them used to our feet and the range of motion we need. Having a break in period is not a bad thing, it just means you have to use them a few times before you get used to them.
Top Running Shoes
1. Hoka One One Clifton 8
Hoka is well known for its maximalist running shoes and offer tons of features that some runners need. If you want a pair of shoes that offers a cushioning and support without sacrificing flexibility and weighing you down, then you need to check these out closely.Read more
If you are tired of not getting the support that you need, you will love the added cushioning these shoes for running have to offer. They also feature a midsole made of EVA foam which effectively absorbs shock. They are a good option for rougher surfaces and also have a padded tongue and collar.
As far as stability, these shoes feature a well-cushioned midsole that will help stabilize your feet when you run in them. Their ortholite sockliner also provides a lot of support to your arch to ensure your feet stay secure and stable.
One of the best features of these shoes is how breathable they are. They will definitely keep you cool and dry thanks to their breathing pores and ability to provide you with excellent ventilation. Their sockliner is also moisture-wicking as well, so your feet won’t stay soaked with sweat.
These shoes for running are really durable and many users attest that they are built to last. It is important to note, however, that the midsole will probably go before the rest of the shoe. The shoe outsole is made of lightweight AHAR rubber for added durability and protection.
Another good thing about these running sneakers is that they are pretty flexible, although they are not as flexible as other shoes on our list.
In fact, they are the most rigid option here. Overall, they offer some flexibility but they are not pliable enough for neutral runners.
2. Brooks Ghost 14
The Brooks Ghost 14 took all of the great components of previous iterations and just shaved them down a bit into a more sleek and lightweight pair of trainers.Read more
The heel cuff offers a moderate cushion without rubbing blisters into the back of your heels. The mesh knit upper contours to the shape of your foot, and minimal seam lines reduce the risk of hotspots for a cool and easy fit.
The midsole of this design boasts both BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT technology for a super comfortable ride that adds a little extra spring in your step. The molding of this midsole helps to cradle your foot to help keep your gait even as well as correct overpronation.
It is composed of breathable materials that are perfect for a myriad of exercises (not just running), and adds a little extra spring to your step.
The Ghost 14 lives somewhere in between a stability shoe and a lightweight minimalist pair of trainers. It may cost a little bit more than most, but these durable trainers last for hundreds of making, making them a great value.
The Ghost 14 shaved off a lot of the extra bulk of previous versions so that it is more lightweight and flexible.
3. Hoka One One Carbon X 2
What’s great about the Carbon X 2 from Hoka One One is that it does a little bit of everything. While it may look boxy and heavy, this is actually one of the lightest options gracing our list!Read more
The most notable feature of this design that users simply love is the addition of the carbon fiber plate. This plate is found in the midsole and helps to keep your feet on the right track.
It is super lightweight and helps with overpronation and stability throughout the entire execution of your gait. Plus, it is made from super-lightweight materials that won’t weigh you down.
Users love it because it is a great companion for long distances, but the easy materials and agile frame are also made for speed as well.
While it may look like it boasts a platform heel, this durable design actually only has a 5 mm drop. This lower drop helps runners stay more agile and connected to the ground. Don’t let the lower drop fool you into thinking this design doesn’t offer much cushioning.
As with all designs in the Hoka line, the Carbon X 2 still offers classic cushioning the midsole for great energy return.
If you are in the market for something that is versatile that you can take on long runs or just for a lightning-fast trip around the block, this is a great design. Plus, users really love that the wider design is great for those with wide feet, or that just need room to spread out.
4. Saucony Peregrine 11
Looking to take your workouts off of the sidewalks and onto the trails? If you need something that provides excellent traction without a lot of heavy and bulky materials weighing you down, the Peregrine 11 from Saucony is one of your best options.Read more
What makes the Peregrine 11 stand out from the pack is its well-designed outsole that is made for treacherous surfaces. It is composed of PWRTRAC tacky rubber that really sticks to surfaces. It’s a great companion for rocky trails, but it is also great for slick sidewalks as well.
One of the biggest reasons runners lose footing on the trail also has to do with the less-than-ideal lockdown. That won’t be a problem with the Peregrine 11. The laces were designed to really hug your foot so that your trainers won’t slip around on your foot as you run. If your trainers aren’t secure, you are more prone to lose your footing on uneven surfaces.
It is composed of lightweight and easy materials that won’t slow you down, and smart lace design promotes excellent lockdown.
The Peregrine 11 is the SUV of trainers. The treads aren’t so deep that you won’t be able to take them out on the sidewalks, but they really shine when you take them off-road!
It has smart traction that really grips the trails without the weight and bulk of a hiking boot.
5. Adidas Ultraboost 21
The Ultraboost from Adidas has gone through quite a few changes over the years. The changes in the Ultraboost 20 include a slimmer and sleek design that comes in a ton of color options. If you want to feel like you are running on a cloud in a lightweight and pliable frame, you will want to check out the Ultraboost 21.Read more
While the upper is lightweight and easy, there is a lot of cushioning found in the midsole. Users find that running on this midsole - which provides 20 percent extra cushioning than other models - provides excellent support when running on hard surfaces.
Our favorite feature of this design is that it has a super comfortable and lightweight upper. It doesn’t have a lot of cushioning in the upper, which allows for more natural movements without a stiff structure.
It is composed of a knit mesh material that is vented along the top of the foot to promote airflow.
This is a great durable trainer for those that need something that provides great stability without a lot of extra materials weighing you down.
The Torsion Spring in the heel is also designed to help control your gait and pick up speed when needed. Users love that it is lightweight and flexible while still offering excellent midsole support to protect your knees and joints for long distances.
If you like to vary your workouts throughout the week and need something that is a little more versatile, you can’t go wrong with the Ultraboost 21.
6. Brooks Glycerin 19
Do you love that feeling of standing up in a new pair of training and feeling the spring of the midsole simply by standing up? This design has a light and springy midsole that will make you excited to lace up your trainers and hit the open road (or open treadmill)!Read more
The biggest feature of this design lies in the midsole. All Brooks trainers contained a layer of DNA Loft in their midsole, but the Glycerin 18 has increased DNA Loft materials to put an extra spring in your step. It also hosts a plush transition zone to keep your gait nice and even so matters how tired and sloppy your stride gets.
Brooks is a brand known for unmatched comfort and stability, and the Glycerin 19 takes it to a whole new level.
Users also love that that upper is super lightweight and hugs your foot like a glove. It is composed of breathable mesh materials with vents on the top and side to promote airflow. It also has an internal bootle to help promote the ultimate lockdown.
Brooks is known for durable materials, so this is a shoe you can wear for hundreds of miles without the midsole breaking down into a pancake.
If you simply cannot get enough padding in your trainers, the Glycerine 19 is the perfect option. It is super supportive and adds an extra spring in your step. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the materials breaking down over time.
7. Nike Air Pegasus 38
When it comes to Nike, they are one of the most well-known and highly regarded brands in the athletic world - and the Nike Air Pegasus 38 model is one of the best and most recommended shoes out there this year.Read more
If you are a neutral runner, then these road shoes for running are perfect for you. They feature FlyKnit cables, which allows these shoes to provide you with a secure and adjustable fit every time. They also feature a heel collar, which allows for additional support in your ankle.
It is safe to say that these shoes offer enough stability for those of you who are neutral runners. That being said, if you need any additional stability features, you won’t find it in these running sneakers. They do have a lateral crash rail and heel collar that does provide enough stability for neutral runners.
After doing the research, we found there are no issues with the overall breathability of these shoes. In facts, countless users actually rave about it—although some do mention they are not the best for winter running. These shoes are so breathable because of their mesh, which allows for optimal ventilation, so your feet stay cool, dry, and comfortable.
These Nike shoes for running are really durable! They feature an outsole made of really durable rubber as well as hexagonal lugs that will hold their own for the long haul. As long as you stick to just running with these shoes, you will find that they are definitely built to last.
In terms of flexibility, these running sneakers allow for a full range of motion thanks to their flexible midsole. The breathable upper is also constructed of flexible materials and since the newest model got rid of an eyelet row, you will find these are even more flexible than the previous model.
8. Altra Lone Peak 5
If your training takes you off of the sidewalks and onto the trails, you want to check out the Lone Peak 5 from Altra.Read more
Not only does this design help you retain your traction on rocky trails, but it also is built with features that support your gait and help you pick up speed. The outsole is equipped with MaxTrac rubber that really grips slick surfaces so you can pick up the pace with confidence.
What we also like about Lone Peak 5 is that it has a skeletal frame to mirror the shape of your foot. Users love that it boasts a wide toe box that won’t pinch your toes. A wider toe box is also beneficial because when you can spread your toes out, it helps you to retain balance on rocky and uneven trails.
It is composed of materials that really contour to the shape of your foot to feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
If you are in the market for a lightweight and durable pair of trainers that you can take off of the sidewalks and treadmills, this is a great option. It is made from quality materials that really grip the ground beneath you, and comes in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
It provides excellent traction and flexibility without being too bulky or cumbersome.
9. On Cloudsurfer
The On Cloudsurfer running shoes made the cut for the top 10 best overall running sneakers for several reasons. First and foremost, they come highly recommended by running gurus everywhere and secondly, they really are one of the most comfortable shoes for running out there and perfect for training and racing.Read more
When we took a look at support, we found these shoes are best for those of you with neutral arches and no specific needs. They feature a secure fit, but the lacing system doesn’t allow them to get them really tight. These won’t work for you if you have pronation issues or if you need a lot of ankle support.
These running shoes do not offer a lot of ankle support and can be unstable for those of you who are not neutral runners. Furthermore, their Cloudtec pillows will improve their overall traction but diminish their stability. Overall, these are a great option for those of you who don’t need a lot of stability and like to feel the ground beneath you.
Thanks to the shoe’s mesh upper, they are really breathable and allow for great ventilation. They don’t fit tightly either, which allows for more ventilation. If you like your shoes a little loose (but not too loose, of course) these are a great option.
As far as durability, these running sneakers rank high. They are made of high-quality material and the sole itself has proven to hold its own for the long haul. They pods featured by the shoe’s design also hold up over time and get more comfortable with prolonged use—so you don’t have to worry about them wearing down.
These shoes for running are pretty flexible, but they certainly are not as flexible as other selections featured above. They are rigid and have a bit of a break in period as well—the pods will feel better once you run in these a bit.