The right running shoes are essential for making sure you stay safe and comfortable as you rack up the miles.
The right pair of shoes can offer comfort, reliability and unlimited confidence to a runner. You want to have 100% trust in your footwear so that you can go all-out in that next race. The problem is… how do you choose a running shoe that is right for you, when so many different companies are selling so many different types of shoes?
Choosing the best running shoe brand to suit your needs requires some research, but it’s worth taking the time to get it right – not only will you enjoy your runs more, but you’ll also reduce your risk of injury. You might even shave some seconds off your personal bests along the way.
In this article, we’ll look at 7 of the world’s most famous running shoe brands, including Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Brooks, HOKA, ASICS and Mizuno. We examine what sets them apart. We take a look at their ‘flagship’ running shoes, and what sets each brand apart from the competition.
If you know that you need a new pair of running shoes, but you’re not sure which brand to go with, this guide will help explain some of the quirks and unique appeal of each major running shoe brand.
So, lace up! Let’s get started.
7 of the Best Running Shoe Brands
Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular running shoe brands on the market, along with a few of their bestselling running shoes.
If you’ve done any research into running shoes, you’ve likely already seen New Balance trainers online. New Balance has been producing athletic wear for several decades, and their running shoes are some of the top options in the game.
The designers for the Boston-based brand consistently create running shoe models each year, with each new pair boasting cutting-edge running shoe technology. They are responsible for pushing the industry forward, making plenty of noise in the running shoe scene.
With a range of styles that are suited to everything from running sprints to running errands, New Balance trainers deliver exceptional performance no matter the situation.
Some of the most popular New Balance running shoes available in 2023 include:
- Fresh Foam 860v13 is a delightfully stable running shoe designed perfectly for running, static training, and weightlifting in the gym.
- FuelCell Rebel v2 – if you love sprinting, you’ll love the FuelCell Rebel v2s, which offer exceptional support and cushioning to run at top speeds.
- Fresh Foam Tempo v2 is incredible if you’re working on a tighter budget but want New Balance shoes. They boast great support and breathability, offering you excellent everyday training performance at an affordable price.
New Balance running shoes are also popular amongst fashion bloggers and online content creators – and for a good reason. They’re some of the most stylish sneakers out there, often featuring unique designs and exciting colors that are visually appealing. What’s not to love?!
Brooks is probably the most popular running shoe brand we’ll feature on this list, especially if you want a shoe that will improve your performance. They make some of the world’s most famous, effective running shoes, from the specialized Brooks Hyperion Elite to the democratic Brooks Ghost that many runners know and love.
The great thing about this brand is that almost any runner can find a pair of Brooks running shoes to fit their feet, budget, and preferred training style. The brand is based in Seattle and focuses all of its research, development, and energy on running gear, unlike other brands that also delve into swimming, baseball, football, etc.
With the brand focusing solely on running, your Brooks shoes are tailored specifically to running and are designed to help you perform your best when running.
Some of Brooks’ most popular offerings are:
- Cascadia 16 is a perfect shoe if you prefer embracing the great outdoors and running on trails. They have excellent tread and stability that help prevent slipping when running on challenging terrain.
- Levitate 6 – if marathons are more to your liking, consider the Brooks Levitate 6 running shoes. They’re incredibly durable and beautifully cushioned to ensure your feet remain comfortable and pain-free during your longest runs, whether a 10k or an ultramarathon.
- Ghost 15 – these running shoes are the brand’s best for everyday training and are a go-to for runners, weightlifters, and gym fanatics.
Regarding visual appeal, Brooks isn’t the most creative brand in the world. They have some incredible color combinations in their shoes, but the overall shapes and designs are similar across the board. It’s not a major problem, but worth mentioning if you are looking for a pair of running shoes with a unique flair.
It would be criminal for us to leave Nike off a list of the top running shoe brands! After all, they’re a titan in the sports and athletic wear department. Nike is known for dominating the scene sneakers and athletic shoes scene, and it’s easy to see why.
There’s no denying that the Nike swoosh is absolutely everywhere. From baseball diamonds to fashion shows, you’ll always see athletes in Nike apparel and shoes, and the brand certainly isn’t going anywhere.
Nike’s running shoes crowd the line as amateur athletes and elite runners take their marks, often arriving at the finish line to break the tape. With some running shoes built for race days and other engineered for training, Nike running shoes are some of the most sought-after in the industry.
Some of Nike’s most popular running shoes include:
- Air Zoom Pegasus 30 – these shoes are Nike’s everyday training shoes and can be found on the feet of all kinds of athletes. They’re great for walking, running, or hitting the gym, providing plenty of stability during weight training and HIIT.
- Metcon 7 – if you’re a cross-trainer, you’ll love the Nike Metcon 7’s. They’re built to give the wearer extra pop and bounce when doing things like burpees, while the base remains flat and wide to offer stability during weight lifting.
- Zoom Fly 4 – as the name suggests, these are Nike’s best shoes for speedwork – they help you zoom and fly. They feature Nike’s React Foam, combined with a carbon fiber plate that offers a smooth, responsive stride during running.
More than just an athletic clothing brand, Nike is a giant in the fashion world as well, so it should be no surprise that their shoes are incredibly stylish. From vibrant, poppy colors that serve as an accent to any outfit to unique shapes and designs that push the envelope of what can be done with running shoes.
Although they’re fairly new to the industry, HOKA is already making waves with their unique approach to designing running shoes – specifically when it comes to their larger midsoles. This baby brand didn’t take long to win runners over, especially distance and trail runners.
If it’s incredibly plush cushioning that you’re after, you’re going to love HOKA. They make some of the most cushioned running shoes on the market, so they’re perfect for running long distances, standing, or walking for long periods.
And still, even though they’re packed with foam, HOKA’s shoes don’t weigh you down. In fact, many models weigh less than 10 ounces. Now that’s impressive.
Looking for the most popular HOKA shoes? Here they are:
- Bondi 8 – if HOKA is known for their superior cushioning, then their Bondi 8 running shoes are their magnum opus. The HOKA Bondi 8s are packed to the brim with wonderfully plush cushioning, making them a fantastic shoe if comfort is your top priority.
- Speedgoat 5 – trail runners will love HOKA’s Speedgoat 5s, which are incredibly supportive and highly stable. They’re also super durable and have sturdy treads to help grip uneven, challenging surfaces while off-road.
- Clifton 8 – every running shoe brand has an everyday training shoe, and for HOKA, it’s their Clifton 8s. It’s sturdy, durable, and comfortable, making it great for running, walking, and static training in the gym.
As for aesthetics, HOKA clearly enjoys thinking outside the box. They often combine vibrant colors on their shoes, opting for interesting, unique sole shapes and tread patterns to help them stand out from the competition.
Another heavyweight in the running shoe industry, ASICS lives up to its motto of “A Sound Mind In A Sound Body,” creating high-quality running products suitable for every kind of runner. From long-distance runners to sneakers built for HIIT in the gym, there’s nothing that ASICS can’t do.
Take their GEL-Nimbus, for example. It’s been one of their most reliable running shoes for the last 20 years and only gets more comfortable with each iteration.
Precisely tuned for different characteristics and packed with the latest running technology, every pair of running shoes that ASICS puts out delivers the exceptional running experience that runners demand.
Some of the brand’s most popular offerings include:
- GEL-Cumulus 24 – for beginners who are just getting into running, there’s no better shoe to start with than the GEL-Cumulus 24s from ASICS. Thanks to the FF Blast cushioning underfoot, they have an accommodating fit and well-cushioned ride. It’s definitely one of ASICS’ most responsive models.
- Superblast – long-distance runners will find the Superblasts more than adequate for even the longest marathons. For this model, ASICS takes their lightest foam, FF BLAST TURBO, and places it atop the bouncy FF BLAST PLUS, providing a highly cushioned shoe that’ll have you running for fun.
- GEL-Kayano 29 – the GEL-Kayano 29s have been some of the top stable running shoes for over 20 years. The latest version uses ASICS’ FF BLAST PLUS to create the midsole, offering a lighter, more energetic model than ever.
ASICS prefers to keep things simple regarding the visual design of their shoes. They often opt for chunkier soles in vibrant colors while keeping the body of the shoe more sleek and sophisticated with solid colors throughout.
Mizuno is certainly a lesser-known brand in the industry, but they’re one of the more interesting options for athletes. They deliver dependable, consistent shoes for various runners and are also one of the most affordable brands in the industry.
Their front-runner shoes, like the Wave Inspire and Wave Rider models, have been on runners’ feet for decades. New technology is constantly propelling Mizuno to push the boundaries of what a running shoe can do, and their designs always bring something new to the table.
Whether you want to go outside for a walk or are looking for a new pair of shoes to train for a marathon, Mizuno’s running shoes can serve as your durable, steadfast training partner.
Mizunos most popular shoes are:
- Wave Rider 26 – the Wave Rider 26s from Mizuno are as comfortable and as consistent as they come, and those are exactly the qualities you need when shopping for a good running shoe. They feature the brand’s patented Enerzy foam, offering incredible comfort and support.
- Wave Horizon 6 – if your feet are overpronated, you definitely need to keep the Mizuno Wave Horizon 6s on your radar. They feature the brand’s Foam Wave technology, giving the shoe a floating feeling that provides excellent stability.
- Wave Inspire 18 – when it comes to support, no pair of shoes does it better than Mizuno’s Wave Inspire 18s. They feature a lightweight seamless upper made from recycled materials. The shoes are incredibly comfortable and fit true to size for all foot types.
Aesthetically, Mizuno likes to keep things sleek and sophisticated, opting for gray, solid tones for the body of their shoes and more traditional soles and tread patterns.
However, they have some standout models, like the Wave NEO Ultras, which feature an all-white look accented by blue highlights and are finished with a chunky, unique sole shape.
Of course, we can’t leave Adidas off of this list. As another giant in the running shoe industry, Adidas shoes help boost your running thanks to their advanced technology and lightweight form factor.
Combining performance with style, Adidas’ iconic three stripes have been on the feet of professional runners for decades. From comfortable, stylish kicks to fast and light racing shoes, Adidas has a running shoe option for everyone.
The brand makes a great point of departure for new runners looking for their first pair of shoes. Adidas offers plenty of different models meant to serve different purposes, allowing you to find the one that best suits your feet and running style.
Their most popular models include:
- Adizero Boston 11 – for long-distance running, consider the Adidas Adizero Boston 11 running shoes. They boast an incredibly lightweight upper that offers support and flexibility, working in unison with an internal sock to provide the most comfortable fit possible.
- Adizero Adios Pro 3 – If you’re a professional racer, you’ve got to check out these shoes. The Adizero Adios Pro 3s are designed specifically for speed and combine a carbon plate with carbon rods to provide a responsive, bouncy ride.
- Ultraboost 22 – the Ultraboost 22s are a dream in running shoe comfort. With enough cushioning to make you feel like you’re running on clouds, Adidas’ famous Boost foam adds extra energy to every step, allowing you to run for miles upon miles.
When it comes to visual appeal, Adidas certainly knows how to craft an attractive shoe. They often opt for more high-tech, futuristic-looking designs featuring chrome accents, muted tones, and poppy accent colors. Outsoles are kept simple for the most part, but models like the Adizero Adios Pro 3 feature chunky soles with unique shapes.
The Importance of Good Running Shoes
As the foundation of our bodies, the feet play a vital role to absorb our body weight and the force of impact while running. They’re also responsible for keeping us moving, which is why ensuring they’re always protected is important.
Wearing the right footwear can offer you the support and stability you need while running to ensure your body always feels its best. As an added advantage, we tend to run faster in new shoes!
The Benefits of Good Running Shoes
The act of running itself has some amazing health benefits. It boosts lung capacity while lowering blood pressure and promoting weight loss. So, it stands to reason that having a good pair of running shoes will come with benefits too.
Here are some reasons why you should invest in a good pair of specialist running shoes.
- For superior arch support
- To cushion the midsole area from the impact of running
- Improve overall running performance and increase running speed
- Help prevent injuries and pain
- Prevent back, hip, and knee pain
- Reduce strain on the toes, heels, and ankles
- Help prevent joint pain, tendonitis, and stress fractures
Do Running Shoes Make a Real Difference?
The short answer: yes, they do!
Running shoes do make a big difference, as they are specially made for running. They help offset the high-impact forces that the activity produces.
Proper running shoes serve various purposes. A cozy fit ensures that you suffer fewer foot problems, such as blisters and ankle pain while providing you with comfort, movement, and flexibility. The structure of a running shoe keeps your form correct, reducing your chances of experiencing joint strain.
The build of a running shoe offers longevity and durability, providing the cushioning needed to reduce the force of impact your body produces while running.
Proper running shoes are important if you have a pre-existing foot condition or any other biomechanical abnormality. Different running shoe types suit different types of feet and running gaits to reduce joint strain and promote proper running form.
For those with a biomechanical issue, an orthotic insole can help ease pain or discomfort when running. Proper running shoes, however, are only part of the solution. It’s important to condition and strengthen the muscles in your legs and core to prevent injury and ensure that you’re always running with proper form.
Running Without Running Shoes: Is It Bad?
The answer to this may depend on your running distance and how often you’re running. While some people might be more used to running with any old trainers, most experts recommend running with running shoes made specifically for the activity. Frequently running in shoes with flat soles can cause pain and soreness over time.
However, it’s generally accepted that your biomechanics and gait are more critical than the shoes on your foot. If you have bad running form, you might face pain and injury no matter what shoes you wear.
Of course, injuries and running are not mutually exclusive – in fact, those who are inactive and do not run tend to suffer more injuries than people who run regularly.
Many injuries that were often thought to be caused solely by running, such as “runner’s knee,” are not all related to running but to underlying health conditions and poor biomechanics.
Are Running Shoes Good for Walking?
Running shoes are typically lighter than your average pair of sneakers. They are specially designed for speed, shock absorption, and faster movements while walking shoes are usually just designed for stability.
With that being said, running shoes can be worn for walking, but know that this may cause them to wear out quicker. If you’re doing a lot of walking and running in those same pair of shoes, you may have to purchase a replacement pair more often.
How Long Should Running Shoes Last?
Generally, a good pair of running shoes will last around 450 miles or 700 kilometers.
Depending on how often you’re running and the shoe’s build, running shoes can last anywhere from a few weeks or several months to several years. You can use sites like Strava to record your mileage for a particular shoe, which is a good way to visualise when it’s time to change shoes.
If you’ve run over 700 KM in a pair, the time has most certainly come!
The most important thing to do regarding running shoe maintenance is frequently check up on their midsoles. Inspect it for wrinkles and signs of breakdown or uneven wear. These things are usually signs that it’s time to pick up a new pair of shoes.
What’s more, if you find yourself experiencing new pains and aches in your feet, it might be time to get a new pair.