While it would be impossible to create a list of the best running shoes that fit the needs of every individual runner out there, that still hasn’t stopped us at Gadget Review from spending hours of research to help you learn how to choose running shoes, no matter if you’re entering your 10th marathon this year or just want something to help you get in shape over the weekend.
With plenty of grip for trail running, extra-stable arch support and a durable overall design, we’ve chosen the ASICS GEL-Venture 5 running shoes as our top pick for 2020. During our testing and research, we also identified four other running shoes for our top picks. Keep reading to learn more about all of these amazing running shoes and how they can keep you moving, whether you’re working out at home or running a triathlon.
Top 5 Best Running Shoes Compared
#1 ASICS GEL-Venture 5 Shoes
Award: Top Pick/Best for Trail Running
WHY WE LIKE IT: The ASICS Gel-Venture 5 running shoes are the perfect trail runners for those who need a lot of grip during slippery conditions outside.
Read Full Review: ASICS GEL-Venture 5
- Tons of grip
- Stable arch support
- Super durable design
- Heaviest shoe on the list
- Fit tends to run small
- Isn’t well suited for use with 3rd-party insoles
For how durable and able to take a beating the ASICS GEL-Venture 5 shoes are, they have no business being as affordable as they are. This is an extremely long-lasting trail runner that can get you through even the toughest of trail conditions. One of the biggest selling points of this shoe is its unique reversed traction lugs on the bottom of the shoe. This increases grip and tractor, even in wet conditions.
And if you don’t particularly need trail running shoes, the GEL-Venture 5 can still be used for everyday use or running the track at the gym. The shoes are comfortable enough for any application you throw at them. Unfortunately, these ASICS GEL trail shoes are a bit too shallow for third-party insoles or inserts, so if you find yourself needing additional support or comfort, these might not be the best fit for you. All in all, it’s easy to see why the ASICS GEL-Venture 5 running shoes are our top pick. With an extra-durable design that can handle trail running and the gym with ease, these running shoes are perfect for anyone needing a new pair. This is a great shoe from arguably the best running shoe brand.
#2 Nike Revolution 3 Shoes
Award: Honorable Mention/Best Lighweight
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Nike Revolution 3 mirrors Nike’s reputation for creating some of the best running shoes on the market today. It’s ultra-light and extra-durable to give you one of the best experiences while running.
Read Full Review: Nike Revolution 3 Review
- Lightest weight on our list
- Durable, mesh fabric design
- Balanced and responsive undercushioning
- Bland design
- Included shoe strings aren’t the best
- Not as much ankle support as other shoes
The Nike Revolution line of running shoes has been a popular hit with runners all over the world, whether they run in marathons monthly or just head out a few times a week for a jog down at their local track. The ultra-light profile of just 8.8 oz makes this shoe the featheriest option on our list, but that doesn’t mean it won’t last you more than a race or two. During our testing, we were pleased with just how durable the lightweight mesh fabric was. In the end, the shoe manages to strike that perfect balance between light on the foot and still durable enough to make it a year or more before needing to be replaced.
The Revolution 3 is a bit on the pricier end of the shoes on our list (but not by much), but its extensive number of color options means you’ll be able to find a pair that fits any outfit without a problem. Last, the underfoot cushioning is both springy and well-balanced, meaning that these will reduce impact on your knees and feet during that early-morning jog. If you’re looking for a solid pair of Nike running shoes, you can’t go wrong with the Revolution 3. Also, check out 8 of the most tech advanced sneakers money can buy today.
#3 KUBUA Running Shoes
Award: Best Design
WHY WE LIKE IT: The KUBUA running shoes offer the sleekest and most eye-catching designs on our list, along with overall excellent performance. If you buy these, you’ll be sure to turn some heads during your runs.
Read Full Review: KUBUA Running Shoes Review
- Innovative and eye-catching design
- Good traction control for trails
- Breathable mesh fabric
- Not great for wide feet
- Doesn’t offer the greatest arch support
- Doesn’t fit wide feet very well
You may not have heard of KUBUA running shoes, but they have certainly made waves in our minds with their premium quality and super affordable price. These shoes are trail running shoes with a fashionable design that’s sure to turn some heads while you’re out running on the trail or on the road. The shoes’ attractive design is one of our favorite things about them, but that’s not the only thing we liked.
The KUBUA running shoes also feature excellent traction control for trail and road running. We were especially pleased with the breathable mesh fabric of the shoe. Our feet stayed cool while we ran in them, even during hot days. Unfortunately, this means you won’t really be able to use these trail shoes in wet conditions, since the moisture can easily pass through the mesh and onto your feet. Ultimately, you shouldn’t let an unknown name detract you from these shoes. The KUBUA running shoes are excellently designed for both performance and fashion. Speaking of clothing, check out 13 pieces of high-tech clothing.
#4 Saucony Cohesion 11 Shoes
Award: Best Budget/Best Support
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re looking for a good, budget pair of running shoes, you absolutely can’t pass up the Saucony Cohension 11 shoes. They’re lightweight, comfortable and, best of all, the cheapest price on our list.
Read Full Review: Saucony Cohesion 11 Review
- Most affordable shoe on the list
- Toe box offers lots of room
- Best arch support on the list
- Not made for high-mileage training
- Doesn’t have the best grip
- Mesh fabric isn’t the most durable
This is the 11th version of the popular Cohension line of Saucony shoes, a testament in and of itself to the quality and performance of these top running shoes, especially when you consider just how affordable they are. These are the cheapest shoes on our list, but that doesn’t make them the worst when it comes to performance by any means. The Cohesion 11 shoes excel when it comes to arch support, making them perfect for people with little to no natural arch in their feet.
And if you don’t particularly need trail running shoes, the GEL-Venture 5 can still be used for everyday use or running the track at the gym. The shoes are comfortable enough for any application you throw at them. Unfortunately, these shoes are a bit too shallow for third-party insoles or inserts, so if you find yourself needing additional support or comfort, these might not be the best fit for you. All in all, it’s easy to see why the ASICS GEL-Venture 5 running shoes are our top pick. With an extra-durable design that can handle trail running and the gym with ease, these running shoes are perfect for anyone needing a new pair. Speaking of running and exercise, you may want to read best recumbent bike for seniors.
#5 Adidas CF Lite Racer BYD Shoes
Award: Best Value/Best Comfort
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Adidas CF Lite Runner BYD running shoes are perfect for beginner and intermediate runners who need both a solid fit and lightweight design.
Read Full Review: Adidas Lite Racer Adapt
- Sock-like fit
- Stretchy and extra comfortable
- Superior design and durability
- Not suited for outdoor running
- White sole gets dirty quick
- Weak shoe laces
Like Nike, Adidas is another staple in the running shoe game, and their dedication to quality really shines through here. The Adidas CF Lite Racer BYD shoes are stylish, extra-comfortable and long-lasting. When you put on these shoes, one of the first things you’ll notice is just how snug they fit, due to their unique sock-like construction. And this isn’t a bad thing! These shoes are ultra-lightweight, which makes the sock-like construction feel like a natural part of your feet. Combine this with the Cloudfoam mid-sole and you’ve got yourself one of the most comfortable shoes on our list.
Unfortunately, the Adidas CF Lite Racer BYD shoes aren’t really made for outdoor training, so you’ll be restricted to running on a track at your gym or well-paved outdoor track. The shoe is very well designed, but comes with weaker shoe laces than we would have liked, so you may want to consider buying new laces when you get the shoes. If it’s comfort you seek, then you’ll definitely want to think about getting these Adidas CF Lite Racer BYD running shoes. Then you just need the best headphones for running.
Finally, because our list of best running shoes is constantly changing, there are a number of other brands and new releases that may later appear here that we haven’t fully reviewed yet such as the New Balance FuelCell shoes with FuelCell Foam technology and the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus’ newer releases with great energy return. There’s always something new with a few new ingredients like the new Hoka One One Mach 3 designed for long runs, the Hoka Carbon X with a carbon plate design for energy return, and the new Brooks Ghost with supportive GuideRails, so stick around for reviews of the best and latest products in town.
How We Choose the Best Running Shoes
On a personal note, I’ve been an avid three-times-a-week runner for around 13 years, and have gone through upwards of 25+ pairs of running shoes of my own over that same period. Whether I was using the treadmill in my building, running through the hills of San Francisco, the forests of Portland, or the trails of Santa Cruz, I’ve seen many of the significant advances that running shoe technology has gone through in such a short period of time – and for flat-footed runners specifically – know how those improvements can affect your overall mile times and recovery period as a whole.
Compiling this list of the best running shoes of 2020 was no simple feat, requiring around 10 hours of research among dozens of different sites from around the web including the top picks from Runner’s World, Men’s Fitness, and the symposium of all things running shoes: RunRepeat. RunRepeat is a massive resource for upstart runners and marathon junkies alike, filled with thousands upon thousands of personal anecdotes from runners around the globe who have used the products themselves.
All these sites have various systems to rate which shoes won the accolade as the best, but we stuck to a few key features that helped us determine which shoes really stood out from the rest of the pack. These included first and foremost the weight of the shoe (no more than 12oz), the style of the shoe (trail vs. road vs. marathon), as well as the type of foot arch the shoe is built for.
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For example, a runner with a flat-footed arch won’t feel nearly as comfortable in a shoe made for those with high arches, because the shoe will deform the foot into an awkward position – which is pretty much the last thing you want if you plan on putting miles on your shoes and want to still be able to run the next day (or week, for that matter). Weight is also an important consideration, though this is probably a bigger issue for road runners than it is on trails. On the trail you want a durable, heavier weight shoe that can put up with a lot of mud and water without the materials breaking down in less than a month, while road runners can go as light as possible since these environmental needs won’t have to be factored into how the shoe is constructed.
I know what it takes to make a good shoe, and despite that I may be a flat-footed trail runner for the most part, I’ve still collected quite a bit of data over the years from friends, family, and runners I’ve met while I’ve been out in the freezing rain about shoes for just about every other kind of runner you can think of.
Why You Should Buy New Running Shoes
But how long do running shoes last? It’s no secret that running shoes can be a serious investment, especially if you’re planning for your next marathon and are looking at shoes that break past the $150 barrier. That said, every year manufacturers are creating new advancements both in materials science and in the art of what makes running shoes great, that improves upon the product in ways never thought possible before.
Often, manufacturers will release updates to some of their flagship brands anywhere from once to three times a year, which just goes to show how quickly things can change when it comes to the world of running shoes. If you’re someone who’s been trudging along on the same pair of trainers for a year or more, it’s definitely time to take a second look at the latest entries into the field.
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Some offer unique blends of foam/rubber that create a softer landing for over-pronated runners (like myself), while others (like Brooks) are experimenting with outer mesh technologies that spread the tension of your foot landing over the entire course of the shoe, rather than it wearing out a few select points every single time.
Although the shoes you have previously had may feel like they get the job done, you’ll be amazed at the level of comfort you’re going to get from shoes that have come out in just the past year thanks to the ingenuity and inventions companies like Asics, Nike, Adidas, and Brooks are consistently bringing to the table year in and year out.
Most Important Features for the Best Running Shoes
- Of course, the most important part of what separates good running shoes from the rest is how heavy they feel on the foot.
- Getting the right weight is a matter of balance first, between durability and how much lift you have to exert to get one foot in front of the other.
- Lighter shoes tend to be better for distance running (marathons on road), while heavier shoes are more durable for those who do most of their exercise on trails and don’t mind getting a little dirt or mud between their toes.
- Ultimately the best weight in your shoe will depend on how you plan to use it, how much you have to spend (turnover rate per year), and what kind of surfaces you intend on using the shoe for most.
- As we talked about in the Why You Should Buy section, every year shoemakers are pairing up with materials scientists to create some of the lightest, toughest, yet most flexible runners designed to date.
- Other advancements like woven rubber and synthetic leather also add tons of durability to newer shoes, without weighing them (or you) down.
- How much flex a running shoe has (or doesn’t have) can drastically alter its performance on road running or trail running conditions.
- Overall, depending on your instep and striking location you want a shoe that can deform when you make sharp turns and keep your foot snug in position, but also isn’t so flexible that it loses durability or stacks up wear and tear too quickly.
- You’ll want a shoe with more flex for trail running to conform to the demands of the dirt, while a stiffer shoe is better in road conditions
- Getting the right kind of cushion underneath your foot is an important part of the buying process, and is dictated by many factors including your weight, the type of runner you are (pronated vs. non-pronated), as well as the distance you plan to run in them over time.
- This also bleeds into what’s known as “striking position”, which dictates where you strike your foot first.
- If you strike at the sole of your foot you’ll want shoes that favor padding in that area, while middle strikers (like my flat-footed self) will want cushioning that distributes evenly over the whole of the shoe to reduce strain and the possibility of injury.
- This material is what adds to the overall comfort and support of the shoe, arguably the most important part of the entire equation.
- Speaking of support, you’ll want to make sure a shoe is actually comfortable for your foot type before you hit the road with them.
- The overall comfort of a shoe comes down to three factors: your arch type (flat vs. regular vs. high arch), the insole, and how the width of your foot squeezes inside the shoe itself.
- You’ll want to make sure you have as comfortable of a shoe as possible, because without it you’ll be subject to all sorts of runner-related ailments including blisters on your toes (not enough width), blisters on the back of your ankle (wrong arch support), or the dreaded “runner’s knee”, which is pretty self explanatory.
- Hitting the sweet spot between these three factors is the Holy Grail of running shoe manufacturing, and no maker has pinned it down to a science just yet.
- Unfortunately even with all the research you can do online, ultimately the only way you’ll know if a shoe is comfortable or not is to head to your local sports supply store and try them on for yourself!
Trail vs. Road vs. Marathon
- Last, there’s the differences you’re going to see in trail vs. road vs. marathon running shoes.
- Trail runners are most notable, thanks to the big pronounced treads that run along the bottom and give you consistent grip even in the muddiest, dirtiest, rockiest terrain. Trail runners also have a lot more flex to them than a runner or marathon shoe might, because they need to adapt to hazards on the fly but still keep you locked to the ground.
- Road shoes and marathon shoes are a bit more difficult to tell apart, and the main difference is both in cost and durability.
- Road shoes will generally be cheaper than marathon shoes, and be tuned for more of an all-around experience.
- Marathon/competition running shoes on the other hand are built primarily for lightness and durability, but also come at a higher price to compensate.
Mistakes or Things to Avoid
Don’t Buy Just for Looks: It’s always as struggle when it comes to running shoes, because nine times out of ten you’re going to run into “those kinds” of people who rock the eye-bleaching neon Nikes and want to show off that they run, rather than actually posting results. If you’re spending anywhere between $75 and $250 on your next pair of shoes your first instinct is to look good in them, but believe me when I say you should buy the shoe that’s right for your feet first, with looks being a consideration in distant second.
Assuming Your Shoe Size: If there’s one mistake that people make more often than anything else when it comes to buying running shoes, it’s assuming that “one size fits all”. For example, while I wear a 9.5 when it comes to my daily drivers (black Chuck Taylor Converse hi-tops since I was in high school), I only wear about an 8.5 on my current Brooks Transcends. That full size gap can mean the difference between a comfortable 10 mile run and a one mile run with dead feet afterward, so be sure you have your running shoe size locked in by visiting your local sports retailer first to get a proper measurement.
Don’t Buy Trail for Road and Vice Versa: There’s a reason trail-specific shoes exist, and there’s a reason road runners are sold just the same. While sometimes it might be tempting to take road runners on the trail once in awhile, you can run the risk of injuring yourself in muddy conditions without any treads to grip you to the earth, and taking trail runners on flat ground will not only wear down the tread, but also cause your foot to strike the ground unevenly, resulting in injury over time.
There is No “Best” Running Shoe: Although we’ve just spent this entire article telling you about the best of the best running shoes, it’s important to remember that the shoes listed here are only the best in their respective categories. What’s “best” for you when you run on the road at the New York Marathon might be terrible for someone else who just likes to hit the trail once or twice a week, and vice versa. Ultimately the running shoe for you will be the one that fits your running style, your running environment, and your foot size the best.
What Else You Should Think About
Now that you know everything you need to about the best running shoes of 2021 and why the ASICS GEL-Venture 5 shoes took the first place gold, it’s time to load yourself up with the rest of the equipment you’ll need to tackle that next marathon head on.
Our list of the best headphones for running will make sure you’re never left without something to entertain you when you’re passing mile 10 of 26.2, and you should definitely be sure to fuel up with the right kind of nutrition by either using the best blender for green smoothies or best juicer before you hit the race track.
Last but not least, you can be sure that your lungs hit their maximum recovery potential once you get back home by making an investment into the best air purifier of 2021, because a healthy body is the one that will get you across the tape fastest at the next marathon of your choosing!