In this article, we are going to help you find the best running shoes for 2021. The idea is to help you find out what to look for when purchasing running shoes, and then offer you eight high quality running shoes for you to choose from.
The Best Running Shoes In 2021
|Best Running Shoes 2021||Comfort||Durability||Value||Traction||Fashion||Total|
|Saucony Men’s Guide 14||4||4||4||4||4||20/25|
|Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail||4||5||4||5||4||22/25|
|Brooks Ghost 14||5||4||4||4||4||21/25|
|Nike ZoomX Invincible||5||3||3||3||5||19/25|
|Brooks Glycerin GTS 19||5||4||4||4||3||20/25|
|Saucony Endorphin Trail||4||5||4||5||3||21/25|
|Hoka One One Clifton 7||5||3||3||4||4||19/25|
|ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23||4||4||4||4||4||20/25|
As you can see, most of the running shoes on this list scored similarly, there are a lot of good value for money running shoes on this list, and we also clearly favoured comfortable shoes. The highest scoring was the Salomon Speedcross 5 trail running shoe, but this shoe is designed for trail running, if you are looking for a decent all-rounder then the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23 is perhaps a better choice.
Now that you’ve seen our chart, let’s see what makes a good running shoe in the first place and then take you through each running shoe individually to help you find the right shoe for your needs.
What Makes a Good Running Shoe?
There are lots of different requirements for a good running shoe, dependant on who is searching. An advanced runner will prioritise performance, while a new runner may be more interested in comfort. But there are a few things that are universal.
You want a shoe that is going to fit your foot well, you want one that is excellent value for money, you want one that is comfortable (even if comfort is not your main priority) and one that allows you to run pain-free. You also want the shoe to look good.
Yes, this may sound shallow, but let’s be honest, unless you are a trail runner and you know that your shoe is going to be covered in mud 30 seconds into the race, how your shoe looks on your feet is going to be slightly important to you.
Finding eight of the best running shoes is an impossible task, as what is best for one runner will not be best for another. So, we’ve decided to focus on all-rounder running shoes. There won’t be any sprinting spikes or running shoes that cost more than a mid-sized Toyota on this list. You won’t need an Olympic medal to get the most out of them.
The running shoes on this list will be suitable for the majority of people, and slightly geared towards beginner and intermediates. Based on the (perhaps incorrect) assumption that more advanced runners may want a more technical article, and probably have strong opinions of their own when it comes to running shoes.
If you’ve ever tried to compare desktop computers and had to double-check whether the articles are actually in English, then you’ll know what we’re trying to avoid here. If you are a new or intermediate runner who just wants to know that the running shoe they are buying is “good” then this is the list for you!
What to Look For When Purchasing a Running Shoe?
In this section, we are going to go over the questions you should be asking yourself when you are holding a pair of running shoes in your hand (or hovering over the “add to cart” button). We will also help you answer these questions.
How well does it fit you?
There are a few things that you should focus on here. The first thing is making sure that you know your foot size. This may sound funny, but there are a lot of people out there who either don’t know their foot size or have somehow convinced themselves that they are a completely different size to the reality. If you have the time and the opportunity, then get your foot professionally measured at a shoe shop.
Once you know your correct foot size (bear in mind that your feet can actually grow slightly as you age) you then need to find out how well the shoe lives up to its shoe size. Many (usually cheaply made) shoes tend not to live up to the sizes they write on the label. Even if it is just a tiny bit out this can make a huge difference to how comfortable the shoe is and how well you can run in them.
Luckily, this is rarely an issue with top quality running shoes, and none of the eight running shoes on our list will have this issue. Just get your foot measured and pick the right size.
How durable is it?
One issue with running shoes is that many people expect them to last longer than they are designed to. There is a belief that because running shoes are expensive, they should last you decades. Like a good pair of walking boots.
This is not the case, and there are many reasons why. For starters, good walking boots only last for years because they aren’t worn that often. If they are used every day for miles at a time, then they will fall apart a lot quicker.
Running shoes are designed to last for around 300 to 500 miles. Now, depending on how often you run (and how far) this means that they could last you for 3 months or 10 years! The running shoes on this list are chosen because they have decent to very good durability, but there are thousands of shoes out there that won’t last anywhere near 300 miles.
Spending more money on a running shoe that will last you longer and withstand more damage is a really smart investment. Over time it will save you a fortune.
Does it suit the type of running you plan on doing?
If you are a beginner, then the chances are that you will be running at a low intensity on the street, on grass, or on a treadmill. You are therefore unlikely to need trail running shoes or sprinting spikes. If you are planning on trail running, then you are not going to want regular running shoes as they may not be able to withstand the difficult terrain. There are many different running requirements:
- Sprinting (track)
- Sprinting (grass)
- Trail running
- Long distance running
- Middle distance running
- Walking shoes (comfort)
Then you have running shoes for your foot type (more on that in a bit).
Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner?
Whether you are a beginner or a ten year running veteran, you probably have similar desires (comfort, durability, well fitting) but there are some you may have different requirements. A beginner is probably not looking to invest a small fortune in a top of the range running shoe. They just want something that is comfortable. While an advanced runner may want something that is less comfortable but that performs better at a certain distance.
This also comes down to what distance you’re planning on running, how much running you plan on doing per week, and at what intensity. The effect of high intensity 10km runs on a shoe is not going to be the same as a 10km walk/jog.
Does it fit your foot type?
There are two things to look out for when it comes to feet, your arch type, and your gait type. What type of arch you have will affect your gait, so the two are related. There are three arch types and four gait types. In this section we will take a look at each to help you identify your own.
- Arch type: Normal, High, Low
- Gait type: Severe Overpronation, Overpronation, Neutral, Underpronation (supination)
Testing your arch type is fairly simple. All you need to do is get your feet wet and step on a surface that will display your footprint. You then analyse your footprint to see which type of arch you have.
- Normal arch = If your footprint looks a bit like a question mark, then you have a normal arch. Theoretically, this is the most desirable arch.
- High arch = If your footprint has a big part of the middle missing then you have high arches (sometimes known as hollow foot).
- Low arch = If your footprint has every part of your foot touching the floor then you have low/fallen arches, also known as flat feet.
For decades, the general consensus was that normal arches were great for running, high arches were okay, and low arches were bad. But this is too simplistic an analysis. It is perfectly possible to run well with a low arch, and it is also possible to run badly with normal arches. There is much more to your running than just your arches.
That being said, picking the right shoes for your arch type is a good idea. This is because your arches can affect your running gait, and you want to match your running shoes to your running gait for maximum performance.
There are four types of running gait. These are severe overpronation, overpronation, neutral, and underpronation.
- Severe overpronation – If you have low arches then this can lead to your heel hitting the ground first while running and then rolling inwards. For severe overpronation you want a running shoe that offers motion control.
- Overpronation – If you have normal or low arches then you may find that the outside of your heel lands on the ground first, then rolls inwards. For mild overpronators you want a running shoe known as a stability shoe.
- Neutral – If you have a medium arch then you may end up with a neutral running gate. Your heel will still hit the ground first and then roll inwards, but nowhere near as much as with the other two running gaits. You can use running shoes that are described as neutral.
- Underpronation (supination) – If you have high arches then your foot will land on the outside of the heel first when hitting the ground, but instead of rolling inwards as you do with overpronation and neutral running gaits, you will instead see your foot roll outwards.
Do you like the shoe?
The final thing you should consider when trying to pick your new running shoe is how you feel about it. Do you like the look of it? Does it feel good in your hands? How does it fit? Can you see yourself wearing this? These questions are often thought of as shallow by serious runners, but the aesthetics of a shoe are still important. You want to feel excited when purchasing these shoes, and you want to feel confident when wearing them.
How We Grade Each Running Shoe
When picking our eight best running shoes of 2021, we aren’t going to be paying attention to running gait or arch types as this would overly complicate the whole process. We will focus on the following criteria:
- Value for Money
Each criterion will be scored out of five, and then the running shoes will be given a total score out of 25. Keep in mind that the highest performing shoe on our table may not be the best shoe for you. A shoe may score highly on fashion or value for money, but if those factors are unimportant to you, then the shoe won’t be a good fit.
Let’s take a look at each of the criteria so that you can get an idea of why we picked them and what they represent.
This is a fairly self-explanatory one, how comfortable is the shoe? Is there good cushioning? Will the shoe feel good over the course of a 60 minute run? A lot of this is down to cushioning and how well the shoe fits.
This is a look at both how long the running shoe will last (how many miles) and how much punishment it can take without beginning to fall apart. Some running shoes can be amazing, but a loose stitch can lead to the shoe falling apart relatively quickly!
Value for Money
You may think that this is just about finding the lowest priced shoe, but that’s not the point. You want to find a shoe that fully justifies the price tag. That could be an incredibly expensive shoe that is absolutely perfect, or it could be a very low-priced running shoe that happens to punch well above its weight when it comes to certain criteria. There is a good mix of the two (and everything in between) on this list.
How well does the running shoe grip the surface as you move? A running shoe with greater traction is better suited to running on uneven surfaces. Trail running requires running shoes with high traction. It should be noted that some running doesn’t require high traction scores, so don’t think that a low score is indicative of a bad running shoe, it may be great but not for trail running.
How good does the running shoe look? Could you see yourself walking through town wearing it? Or is it hideously ugly? Fashion is pretty subjective, what looks good to a 19 year old goth girl may not look good to a 70 year old priest. But we’ve tried our best to grade the shoes based on how good they look, you may completely disagree with us.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #1: Saucony Men’s Guide 14
The Saucony Guide 14 running shoe is a great shoe for road running. This should be no surprise to anyone who has heard of Saucony before, this company has built its reputation on high quality racing shoes. Unlike many of their shoes, the Guide 14 is aimed at everyday running, rather than racing.
The shoes are incredibly comfortable and are perfect for overpronators. The shoes will last you well over longer distances and are perfect for new runners or runners who have been training for less than 4 years. Advanced runners may fancy something a little better performance-wise.
The running shoes have scored highly in comfort thanks to the excellent cushioning and design, but they are also highly durable and able to withstand the rigours of long runs on hard surfaces. Their value for money is based on their price point as well as their durability, this is a shoe that will more than justify its price tag over time.
Unsurprisingly, this excellent road runner shoe has a high score for traction, helping you to survive wet and slippery conditions with relative ease. The only area where it is a little bit of a let down is in fashion where we’ve scored the shoe a 4/5. The New Natural colour scheme is by far the best looking one and would score a 5 out of 5. But it’s a mixed bag when it comes to the other colour schemes available.
Overall, the Saucony Guide 14 is a great running shoe for beginners and intermediates who prefer to run on the road. It’s perfect for longer distances and services as a great everyday running shoe, ideal for training runs. A great price for a Saucony shoe, and amazing durability as you would expect.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #2: Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail
If you are looking for a trail running shoe, then the Salomon Speedcross 5 trail running shoe is perhaps the best shoe you can buy in 2021. It’s the highest scoring running shoe on this list, mainly down to perfect scores for durability and traction.
If you are looking for an all-rounder, then this may not be the running shoe for you. It’s also not going to be good for treadmill running or track racing as they are a little slow and cumbersome in comparison to other shoes. But they are superb for marathon running, ultra-distance racing, regular training, and for any cross-country or off road runs.
If your idea of a good run involves a mountain, running through streams, and a lot of mud then these are the perfect running shoes for you. They offer medium cushioning, which explains their high comfort score, particularly when you consider how nicely they fit your foot. They are highly breathable, yet the mesh is designed to be anti-debris, so you won’t get them filled with dirt during your runs.
Overall, these are a truly breath-taking running shoe and a deserved leader in our list. Fashion-wise they are decent, and they are excellent value for money. But if you plan on running in a gym, on a track, or just on the road, then these running shoes may not suit you as well as some of the others on this list.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #3: Brooks Ghost 14
Not every running shoe needs to blow you away, and the Brooks Ghost 14 is in no real danger of doing so. That’s not to say that it is a bad shoe, it wouldn’t be on a list of the 8 best running shoes to buy in 2021 if it was! We really like it, but it is just a decent, reliable, and comfortable running shoe that is a great price and will serve you well.
The cushioning is perhaps the best thing about these shoes. Brooks have used high energising cushioning which works well on multiple surfaces (roads, treadmills, and grass). These are a great pair of running shoes to take to the gym with you. Or to wear while playing sport recreationally.
There is also BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft cushioning in the underfoot, which really helps with comfort without affecting durability. The shoes have great shock absorbers too, which will also help with comfort during long runs. The upper is really well designed and helps make you feel great during a run.
The Brooks Ghost 14 is probably the best running shoe for beginners or intermediate runners. You can expect an enjoyable, comfortable run, with decent traction and durability too. The value for money is very good as these shoes should last you a long time. The shoes look pretty good, though again they suffer from being a little bland. Inoffensive might be a better term.
If you are new to running and want a comfy, good quality everyday running shoe then the Brooks Ghost 14 is perhaps the ideal running shoe for you.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #4: Nike ZoomX Invincible
The thing about Nike is that you can almost always guarantee that the shoe you are buying is going to be good, but you are going to have to pay for it! That sums up the Nike ZoomX Invincible running shoe fairly well. It’s one of the comfiest running shoes on this list, it is an excellent all-rounder that can suit beginners and advanced runners alike.
But it is expensive, and not as durable as perhaps we’d like. The traction could be a little better. But while these complaints are accurate, they are also fairly minor ones. We are particularly harsh due to the price tag. Their traction isn’t too bad when compared to the others on this list, just not as good as the best. The value for money isn’t as great as some on the list, but it’s still a good investment if you like the shoes.
These shoes are ridiculously comfortable, and they actually rival the Hoka One One when it comes to cushioning. You will feel like you are running on clouds when you put these on. Sadly, it is this huge strength that is also the shoe’s biggest weakness!
The cushioning affects the durability, it also affects traction. If you want a running shoe that will feel amazingly good while you wear it but may not last as long as some of the others on this list, and you are prepared to pay a higher price. Then these shoes are a great choice.
But you may find a better choice for you elsewhere. Particularly if you are into trail running or are a more advanced runner. These are perfect for new runners who want to run on a treadmill or road and feel comfortable throughout.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #5: Brooks Glycerin GTS 19
The Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 is another incredibly comfortable running shoe, almost as cloud-like as the Nike ZoomX Invincible we just looked at. But while it can’t quite compete with the cushioning of the Nike shoe, it outperforms it at value for money, durability, and traction. Making it a potentially better investment for intermediate or advanced runners.
We scored it low for fashion, because we feel that in reality the shoe is pretty dull to look at. It’s not particularly innovative, the colour schemes are uninspiring, and we doubt that many people will feel any excitement when picking them up for the first time.
But if you don’t care about fashion (at least when it comes to running shoes) the Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 is a deceptively good running shoe choice. The shoes are suitable for a number of different uses, are highly comfortable, and stable. If you want a truly smooth ride, then these shoes will suit your needs well.
Lots of road runners love these shoes for their durability and comfort, they are perfect for long training runs and their traction is good enough for going a bit off-grid with your runs (though if you do this regularly you should consider the Salomon shoes, we looked at earlier). They are a great price and should last you many a mile.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #6: Saucony Endorphin Trail
Depending on your fashion sense these are either the most bold and beautiful running shoes on this list, or the most hideous. There is no middle ground here. Okay, there is some middle ground because we scored them a three out of five for fashion. The colour scheme may be loud (some would say screamingly loud), but the design is impressive, and if you like loud, you’ll love these shoes.
But it’s not just about aesthetics, how good are the actual running shoes? Well, they are highly durable, designed for long runs in difficult terrain. The PWR TRAC outsole helps it score so highly in durability as well as traction.
The cushioning is really impressive, making this shoe very comfortable during long runs. The shoes feel amazing to run in, and you can really push yourself in them thanks to the Speedroll technology they employ.
If you plan on running off-road for long distances and want a shoe with great traction, good durability, and one that is comfortable, then the Saucony Endorphin Trail running shoe is a great choice. They are surprisingly good value for money too.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #7: Hoka One One Clifton 7
We’ve scored the Hoka One One Clifton 7 a four out of five when it comes to fashion, but the score varies wildly depending on which colour you pick. The red Clifton 7s are by far the nicest looking running shoes on this list. 100%. Whereas the grey, blue, and red combination colour is a two out of five at best!
The thing about Hoka One One running shoes is that they place a premium on cushioning and comfort but can therefore perform worse if you want to run fast. That is exactly the issue here. The Clifton 7 running shoe is ridiculously comfortable. The cushioning is excellent, and not quite as over the top as you normally find with Hoka One One shoes, yet still they are going to be quite slow to sprint in.
The shock absorption is superb though, and if you are a beginner then the shoes could really help you enjoy your first foray into jogging, fast-walking, or running. If you want a comfortable running shoe and you aren’t too fussed about getting a new personal best in your next race, then these shoes are great. They can also be worn casually during the day and won’t look out of place.
Their durability and value for money suffer a little, but value for money is always an issue with Hoka One One shoes due to their high price point. People who love their shoes will always be happy to pay a premium for them and see them as superb value for money.
Best Running Shoe In 2021 #8: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23
The final running shoe on our list is the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23, to be honest it’s a surprise that we’ve only got one ASICS shoe on this list! The company knows what it is doing, offering incredible running shoes for reasonable prices, and always prioritising performance.
The shoes use GEL cushioning which keeps them comfortable without sacrificing performance in the way that the Clifton 7s do. Sure, they aren’t going to be quite as comfortable because it’s a thinner type of cushioning, but they are still going to keep your feet comfortable and supported throughout the run.
You will run better in these shoes than in almost any of the others. They have excellent traction, are highly durable, and they are great value for money with a very reasonable price point. Aesthetically they are okay, not amazing. But then ASICS has never been too fussed about looking fashionable, they are more interested in performance and comfort.
This is a great everyday running shoe for beginners, intermediate runners, or even veterans who want a bit of comfort and a lot of support. Well worth taking a look at if any of those terms describe you as a runner.