10 Best Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed For 2021

Last updated: November 29, 2021

Running Shoes / 10 Best Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed For 2021

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Running shoes are the bread and butter of any runner. Having the right pair of running shoes will enable you to run injury-free as well as improve your performance.

Once you’re aware of which type of shoe you need you will be inundated with the different options available such as neutral shoes, stability shoes, cushioned shoes, and more.

Here we’ve compared some of the best running shoes as rated by popularity and purpose by other runners. We’ve compared them against their various features and purpose below.

Best Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed

Best Overall
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14
Best Value
Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Tr 14
Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Tr 14
Lightweight
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5
Cushioned Shoes
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
Durable Choice
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23

Haven’t found what your’e after? Check out our individual reviews on shoes for different purposes.

1. Brooks Ghost 14

Key Features

  • 100% DNA Loft midsole
  • BioGoMo DNA cushion tech
  • 3D Fit Print upper
  • Segmented crash pads
  • 17 colors and designs
  • Weight: 249.5 g (8.8 oz)
  • Drop: 12mm

Reasons to buy

  • Aggressive drop
  • Stable and cushioned midsole
  • Comfortable foot-hugging technology
  • Excellent durability
  • More than a dozen colors and designs

Reasons to avoid

  • Relatively expensive
  • Narrow on the forefoot area

Glide through the tracks with the Brooks Ghost 14’s exceptional cushioning and transition technology.

This running shoe features Brook’s DNA Loft midsole technology to provide a smooth glide through the tracks or road. Paired with BioMoGo DNA cushioning, you’ll be running on a cushioned yet firm platform that provides comfort without sacrificing responsiveness.

All these combined with a massive 12mm heel drop for an aggressive stance can help you boost your miles during your run. As a result, you get to enjoy a bouncy, energizing step for a much longer duration.

The upper is made of Brooks’ new Engineered Air mesh material, shaped with the brand’s special 3D fit print that allows the stretchable material to hug your foot like a second skin. Due to this, you won’t have to worry about a lack of support, be it on the tracks, the road, or the treadmill.

You can also take advantage of the Ghost 14’s segmented crash pad outsole, which not only provides great traction but also effectively distributes the force of every step from your heel to your toes. This spreads the force of your landing and reduces the risk of injury or strain.

No matter your running style and your preferred terrain, you can rest assured that you’ll have a balanced, stable ride every time.

It does sit on the pricier end, though, and the shoes tend to run a bit narrow on the forefoot area. However, with its special technology and 17 different colors and designs, we can assure you that it’s worth every penny.

2. Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Tr 14

Key Features

  • Versafoam midsole 
  • Heel Grid system
  • 7 color choices
  • Weight: 261 g (9.2oz)
  • Drop: 12mm drop

Reasons to buy

  • Extremely versatile
  • Grippy outsole
  • Breathable tear-proof mesh upper
  • Additional stability thanks to Heel Grid
  • Special midsole maximizes comfort and protection

Reasons to avoid

  • Not for wet and muddy trails
  • Upper retains more moisture
  • Arch support might not suit everyone

A versatile shoe that can handle everything from speedwork to regular training, the Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Tr 14 is guaranteed to conquer whatever terrain you’re running.

It features Saucony’s Versafoam midsole cushioning, which means it has a firm yet comfortable midsole that can absorb ground impact and minimize the pressure to your feet. With this level of protection, you can run just as well on the trails as you would on a flat racing track.

It also has a grippy outsole equipped with small, multidirectional treads. Although it won’t get you through muddy and wet terrain, the strong traction provided by the rubber grip is enough to carry through technical trails and still smoothly transition to concrete and running tracks.

The Cohesion Tr 14 even has a new Heel Grid system to keep your joints stable and comfortable at all times, reducing strain and minimizing chances of injury. This ensures protection and stability no matter the terrain.

The upper is also very high-quality. It’s made of tear-proof mesh with perforations to improve breathability, a padded tongue, and cushioned collars. However, the upper material retains moisture more than usual. The insole arch support present is also not for everyone.

Overall, the Saucony Versafoam Cohesion Tr 14 is a versatile, supportive shoe that can take you beyond the tracks, other than minor inconveniences.

3. Mizuno Wave Horizon 5

Key Features

  • Xpop and Enerzy foam combo
  • WAVEKNIT upper
  • 3 color variations
  • Weight: 328 g (11.6 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Comparatively lightweight
  • Supportive yet breathable upper
  • Good traction even on wet surfaces
  • Comfortably cushioned

Reasons to avoid

  • Tends to run narrow
  • Heavier than the average running shoes

Leap like the waves with the Mizuno Horizon 5’s light, springy, and energetic midsole technology.

These cushioned running shoes are designed for runners who love feedback. The upper is made of engineered jacquard mesh for a sturdy yet breathable design. The tongue and cuff are also cushioned, which makes for a protective, durable grip. 

Plus, thanks to the XPOP and Mizuno Enerzy foam technology that gives the Horizon 5 a lightweight, firm consistency, you can enjoy incredible responsiveness and added stability. 

As a result, you get a sustained bouncier ride that gets more advantageous the longer your runs are.

In addition to this, the Horizon 5 can handle a wide variety of surfaces. Its full-coverage rubber outsole allows you to run both light trails and off trails. It can stay grippy even on wet surfaces, so you won’t have to worry about slipping during the rainy day runs.

Combined with its super comfortable and bouncy midsole, you’ll stay in tiptop shape from the tracks to the trails, no matter the weather.

It does tend to run a bit narrow, though, so if you’re unfamiliar with the brand’s sizing, buying half a size up might be a good choice. Also, for a supposedly lightweight shoe, it’s actually a bit on the heavy side compared to other running shoes due to all the supportive foam.

All in all, the well-crafted elements of the Horizon Wave 5 work together to provide support and stability, helping control pronation while staying relatively lightweight.

4. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11

Key Features

  • Hypoknit upper
  • Thick Fresh Foam midsole
  • Ultra Heel for stability
  • 16 color variations
  • Weight: 229.8 g (8.1 oz)
  • Drop: 8mm heel drop

Reasons to buy

  • Modern and trendy look
  • Stretchy upper
  • Plush and thick midsole
  • Comfortable toe box

Reasons to avoid

  • Upper knit can be too tight for some
  • Midsole not as durable

Feel like you’re running on air with the maximum cushioning brought to you by New Balance’s Fresh Foam 1080 v11.

If you want something that takes your comfort very seriously, the 1080 v11 is the perfect choice for you. Thanks to its huge chunk of Fresh Foam technology as its midsole, the v11 gives off a luxurious and plush feeling with every step you take.

And it’s not just for comfort: combined with the engineered Ultra Heel design and the rocker shape of the outsole, the ultra-cushioning is made to absorb force and facilitate the better transition, sparing your joints the impact for every intense footfall that you make. As a result, the 1080 v11 are shoes that you can run on for hours.

More than that, the upper material is made to be light and stretchy. It features a hypoknit mesh made to stretch in key areas so that it can hug your foot effectively, forming a second skin. It’s not as supportive as other shoes, but it’s one of the most comfortable in this aspect, fitting a wide variety of foot shapes because of its flexibility and increased toe box size.

However, as comfortable and protective these shoes are, the soft, force-absorbing midsole is not as durable as some models. Moreover, the lack of upper support increases the strain that can be felt on the forefoot area.

For all these minor inconveniences though, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11 is still a solid choice for those who want maximum comfort and protection.

5. Asics Gel-Nimbus 23

Key Features

  • Hypoknit upper
  • Thick Fresh Foam midsole
  • Ultra Heel for stability
  • 16 color variations
  • Weight: 229.8 g (8.1 oz)
  • Drop: 8mm heel drop

Reasons to buy

  • Modern and trendy look
  • Stretchy upper
  • Plush and thick midsole
  • Comfortable toe box

Reasons to avoid

  • Upper knit can be too tight for some
  • Midsole not as durable

Are you wondering how it would feel to run on clouds? Try the new Asics Gel-Nimbus 23 to find out.

One of the newest additions to the Nimbus product line, the Gel-Nimbus 23 improves on the most well-loved feature of the previous version: the ultra-soft FlyteFoam midsole. 

The midsole is packed with GEL technology and combined with the extra OrthoLite X-55 sockliner cushioning for a more responsive, more energetic, and smoother run. The heel area is also lined with the same cushioning, enhancing heel compression and absorbing the shocks better.

The Gel-Nimbus 23 also offers men’s and women’s variants specifically engineered to conform to the biological norms of male and female runners, respectively. It features Trusstic articulation technology on the insole to fit the exact bone and muscular structures of men and women, creating a more effective running shoe.

Price-wise, the Gel-Nimbus 23 is on the more expensive side. However, for the arsenal of features it has, we can say that the price tag is warranted. The only downside we can see is that the arch support can be rather uncomfortable for those looking for a truly neutral shoe.

Overall, the Gel-Nimbus 23 is a solid and comfortable everyday running shoe for those who prefer good arch support or for women runners who want something more suited to their biological structure.

6. Brooks Glycerin 19

Key Features

  • DNA Loft midsole
  • Full-coverage rubber
  • Standard and wide width
  • 11 color combinations
  • Weight: 255.1g (9 oz)
  • Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

  • Thick midsole
  • Supportive and durable upper
  • Lots of padding for added comfort
  • Full-coverage rubber outsole
  • Rocker shape and thick midsole

Reasons to avoid

  • Can get hot easily
  • Not as responsive

Designed to be an everyday running companion, the Brooks Glycerin 19 offers supreme quality, comfort, and support that don’t often come by nowadays.

One of the most comfortable shoes that the Glycerin line has made as of yet, the Glycerin 19 features a substantial chunk of DNA Loft midsole to give you some of the softest runs that you can possibly imagine.

And it’s not just for comfort either. The thick cushioning is concentrated on the middle part of the foot to give the shoe a nice rocker shape, facilitating a seamless heel-to-toe force transition.

Combined with a full-coverage rubber outsole, you’ll find that the Glycerin 19 will smoothly propel you forwards no matter how your feet hit the ground. This makes it perfect for long hours on the road.

Another stand-out feature of this shoe is the generously padded flexible upper. Made to stretch in key places, the Glycerin 19 can accommodate a variety of foot shapes and sizes while remaining comfortable and snug the entire time. It’s also made with lightweight mesh, which means its sturdiness doesn’t sacrifice its breathability.

However, if you’re used to more nimble shoes, this one isn’t for you. The maximum cushioning takes away some of the shoes’ responsiveness. It can also easily get hot in the summer, as the upper has substantially more padding than normal.

All things considered, the Brooks Glycerin 19 is a great workhorse of a shoe that will keep you comfortable no matter what you put it through.

7. On Cloudflyer

Key Features

  • Ultra-lightweight mesh upper
  • CloudTec midsole
  • 3D molded heel
  • Speedboard plate
  • 6 color variations
  • Standard width
  • Weight: 280 g (9.88 oz)
  • Drop: 7mm

Reasons to buy

  • Light and breathable
  • Has a waterproof version
  • Extremely comfortable midsole
  • 3D-molded heel for better support
  • Custom-made Speedboard plate

Reasons to avoid

  • Wears out faster than other shoes

With its distinct design and even more recognizable functionality, the On Cloudflyer is a shoe that works just as well on the streets as it does on the tracks.

This shoe is made to be a versatile everyday pair that you can use not only on your runs but also as part of your casual outfit. With the Cloudflyer, you get the assurance that you can break into a run at any time of the day, and you’ll perform as well as you look.

It’s also designed for traversing the city sprawl. The Cloudflyer sports the largest CloudTec midsole elements on the On lineup to date, which, combined with Helion foam technology, gives it a firm yet yielding feel.

As a result, you get the responsiveness of a lighter shoe without sacrificing the comfort that you get from a more cushioned one.

In addition to this, the Cloudflyer also provides maximum support. The upper is made of lightweight mesh that is breathable and easy on the foot. The heel part is 3D-molded, allowing your heel to fit more snugly and preventing it from absorbing more force than needed.

Lastly, this shoe features On’s signature Speedboard plate for better weight distribution and a more efficient transition. There’s even a waterproof version, in case you often run on wet trails.

Perhaps because of how efficient it is in absorbing daily wear, the Cloudflyer is bound to wear out faster than other models. Nevertheless, if you want a stylish yet capable urban-running shoe to add to your rotation, the Cloudflyer is a fantastic choice.

8. Altra Rivera

Key Features

  • Altra EGO foam
  • InnerFlex midsole grids
  • FootShape upper
  • FootPod tech outsole
  • Bio Heel technology
  • 7 color choices
  • Weight: 257 g (9.1 oz)
  • Drop: 0 mm

Reasons to buy

  • Thick midsole
  • Body-friendly design
  • Comfortable yet balanced cushioning
  • Feels very natural on the foot

Reasons to avoid

  • Relatively expensive
  • Zero-drop shoes are not for everyone

Altra has always been a champion of mimicking and enhancing the body’s natural movement, and the Altra Rivera is a good example of that.

In the name of enhancing what is natural, the Rivera has several unique features to help you perform well while also taking care of your body. The Rivera’s midsole uses the Altra EGO technology to deliver a cushioned yet responsive ride. It’s also thick, made to protect your feet from wear, but still maintains a lightness that is hard to come by among other brands.

And that’s not all–the Rivera’s midsole is packed with a variety of innovations to help make your running sessions better.

First, you’ve got the Neutral InnerFlex midsole technology that utilizes a grid-like pattern to maximize flexibility. Next is the FootPod design that follows your bones and tendons to mimic your body’s natural movements. It also has Altra’s signature Balanced Cushioning that removes the heel drop and makes all parts of your feet equidistant to the ground for a more natural and body-friendly gait. Lastly, it uses Bio-Heel technology to provide a firm, natural resting place for your heel.

As for the upper, it’s made of lightweight engineered mesh, designed with Footshape technology to follow your foot’s natural contours and specifically address the physiological differences of men’s and women’s feet.

However, If you haven’t tried zero-drop running shoes, you should think twice about getting the Rivera. Not only can it be uncomfortable for runners with no experience in zero-drop shoes, but they’re also too expensive to be used as a trial pair.

But if you’re a fan of zero-drop shoes and are prepared to pay a premium, the Altra Rivera is a versatile running shoe that can keep your feet happy no matter what terrain you decide to tackle for the day.

9. Hoka One One Bondi 7

Key Features

  • EVA midsoles
  • Padded interior
  • Ultralight mesh upper
  • 4 color choices
  • Standard width
  • Weight: 297 g (10.5 oz)
  • Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

  • Supportive structure
  • Thick EVA midsole padding
  • Best for casual and recovery runs 
  • Lightweight, breathable, and durable upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Your footing is a lot less agile
  • Isn’t as responsive as other shoes

For runners who don’t believe that there’s such a thing as too much cushioning, the Hoka One One Bondi 7 is a fantastic and incredibly comfortable option.

One of the first things that leap at you is the amount of EVA midsole padding that this shoe has. With a total stack height of about 1.3 inches (33mm) on the heel, the Bondi 7 literally lets you run on a thick platform of foam.

This results in one of the softest running experiences ever. Due to this, the Bondi 7 is great for recovery runs or casual long-distance running. The comfort and protection it provides are quite unmatched.

More than that, this shoe also features an extremely padded interior paired with a lightweight, durable mesh that weighs next to nothing, keeping the shoe light yet still supportive.

However, runners can expect some unresponsiveness because of the extra cushioning. It also makes you less agile, so if you’re planning to do some speedwork, the Bondi 7 is not for you.

For those looking for absolute relief and support, though, this pair of shoes is pure comfort packed into a shoe.

10. Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoes

Key Features

  • Gore-Tex upper
  • Quicklace system
  • SensiFit upper interior
  • Contagrip lug design
  • 3 color choices
  • Standard width
  • Weight: 320 g (11.3 oz)
  • Drop: 10m

Reasons to buy

  • Durable rubber outsole
  • Convenient lace system
  • Waterproof upper
  • Contragrip lugs for maximum traction

Reasons to avoid

  • Not usable on the track and the road
  • Gore-tex material is not breathable

For the challenger who wants to brave the wilds, the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoes is one of the best shoes to take with you.

The Speedcross 5’s main feature is its massive lugs on the rubber outsole, created specifically to tackle difficult terrain. The Contragrip lugs bite down on the landscape, giving it excellent traction on a wide variety of surfaces.

One of the best uses for the Speedcross 5 is muddy trails. Its lugs bite down just deep enough and are spaced just wide enough to provide excellent traction without bringing clumps of mud with it, unlike other models.

The GTX version is also made out of Gore-Tex, so not only is it lighter, but it’s also waterproof. Perfect for whatever outdoor adventures you have planned. Aside from that, the Speedcross 5 also features a snug and supportive SensiFit upper, a thick and cushioned midsole, and heel support for added stability. It even has a single-pull lace system for increased convenience.

However, because of its durable and waterproof Gore-Tex construction, the Speedcross 5 GTX is not one of the most breathable shoes around. Its specialized nature also greatly reduces its versatility, which means you have to look elsewhere if you’re not planning to run on rough terrain.

Nevertheless, for those days when you feel like a run away from civilization, the Speedcross 5 GTX can get you wherever you want to go and back.

How To Choose The Best Running Shoes

Understanding your personal foot type and gait is one of the key components when it comes to finding the right running shoes for you. Be mindful that we have a complete guide on this should you be interested and want to know your personal foot type. Otherwise here are some other factors you should consider when looking for a running shoe:

Comfort

Above all else, your running shoe should be comfortable. Comfort is of course determined by finding out your personal foot type but also ensuring that you find one with the right size. Some running shoes require you to go half a size up to ensure there’s enough room in the toebox. Your shoe shouldn’t feel tight nor loose but have a snug and perfect fit.

Comfort is also determined by cushioning. Ensuring you have adequate cushioning on your midsole will help with shock absorption and also what will get you through a race when you hit mile-15 of a marathon. By this point your supporting muscle tissue will start failing on you and having proper cushioning will ensure that you can get through without injury.

Terrain

Another highly important factor is to understand which terrain you’re running on. Are you running on the road/asphalt or are you doing a trail/mountain run? If you’re running on the road, treadmill, asphalt then you will want to buy road running shoes whereas if you are running on forest trails where there are heaps of roots and uneven terrain you will need something more sturdy for the occasion such as trail running shoes.

Finally, if you can – go to a run store

Online reviews are nice, they help you gauge the popularity of shoes and figure out what the rest of us runners prefer. But nothing will trump finding the right running shoe for you based on all your nuances such as your foot type and the measurements and stack heights of your shoe. 

Therefore, before you get all excited and buy a shoe that looks really good from an online review we highly suggest that you go to a physical running store and have an expert look at your foot and personal running style so that they can recommend the right shoe for you.

These are some basics you should consider, if you want a full guide on helping you choose your ideal running shoe then check out our page on it.

Be sure to also check the most popular questions on running shoes.

Best Running Shoes For Different Purposes

Sometimes you need very specific running shoes for your foot type, or purpose-specific running such as trails or beach running. Regardless, we’ve done reviews on some of the different types of running shoes that might cater more specifically to your needs as a runner and the stage of running you’re at.

Unsure which running shoes are the best for you? Get started with our beginners guide.

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