Best Running Shoes
Expensive does not necessarily mean better: Source
Best Budget (~$60 Both Short and Long Runs) –
New Balance 1400v6 $57 [Amazon Search] (better fit and lighter and boost than Adios Boost, better feeling than the Fresh Foam More). Adios Boost is softer and heavier. Would get Boost over the Adizero Boston 7. Boston is one of the most popular shoes for longer runs, because it is super comfortable to all and perfect for most. Adios Boost is preferred over Boston for faster runners.
Sub2 is more firm than the Adios, which is firmer than the Boston, and Boston is more versatile than the Tempo which is too cushiony and for overpronators), Zoom Fly SP (mid sole of the Zoom Fly with same race upper as the Vaporfly)
Best Performance Trainer – Sprint to Mid-Length Runs (~$120) –
(forefoot striking only) Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit $120-160 [Amazon Search] – If you can handle a stiffer ride than the Pegasus Turbo, this is bouncier (react foam and same carbon fiber plate as Vaporfly). A big step up from the original Zoom Fly (less durable and less cushiony) and Zoom Fly SP. Zoom series in general is better than lunar (lunaracers). ZF FK is good also for preparing for using the Vaporfly 4% for race day, because it has the same carbon fiber plate. Pegasus 35 is heavy dense, Pegasus 35 Turbo is soft and fun but not stable or responsive. Nike Epic React 2 is more stable but less performance and less fun.
(heel striking only) Nike Zoom Vomero 14 [Amazon Search] – More cooler looking, more versatile than the soft Pegasus Turbo, more substantial daily training focused than the Zoom Fly Flyknit, more dynamic than the lighter Epic React, Pegasus 35 is stiff and dull. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9 (which is a better fit and lighter than the Brooks Ghost), and Saucony Triumph ISO 5 (heavier) are softer and slower. Nike Pegasus Turbo $144 is a mix of React and Zoom X cushioning, more cushion than the ZF FK above. Regular Pegasus 35 ($95) is less comfortable, has an uncomfortable heel.
Substitute – Reebok Floatride Run Fast [Amazon Search] – Not great looking. Versatile light shoe, slightly more versatile than the Zoom Fly Flyknit which wants to run fast. Slightly lighter but doesn’t have the same snap as the ZF FK.
Best Performance Trainer – Long Runs (Marathons / Daily 10-14miles) (~$120) –
New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon [Amazon Search] – Slightly softer than the Reebok Run Fast, slightly more versatile. Better than the Saucony Kinvara 10 (will last longer, and softer and faster). More fun than the Pegasus 35, still even more fun than the 35 Turbo (lighter firmer and for faster). Skechers Razor 3 was too stiff and firm and heavier.
Best Racer (~$160) –
Nike Vaporfly 4% $160 [Amazon Search] – ZoomX and carbon fiber plate. Same shape as the Zoom Fly but less stiff (insanely soft) and more bouncy.
Substitute to Vaporfly: Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro – More traditional feeling, slightly less cushioned and slightly more ground feel than the Vaporfly. Vaporfly is more versatile, can handle longer distances. Half the weight of the Vaporfly, however, expensive and hard to find a good deal on. May not last as long.
Don’t get: Adidas Ultra Boost (comfortable, heavy and durable but more of a lifestyle shoe than a regular running shoe), Nike Epic React, Asics Gel DS Trainer 24 (decent but nothing revolutionary)
Not Durable – Salomon (tread wears out quickly), Teva, Merrell Just Okay – Asics Gel Intensity 2
Best Barefoot Running Shoes
Barefoot Options: Toed, Foot-Molding, Sneaker-Like – only for exercise (can’t fit orthotic insoles)
The “barefoot” shoes option is not an answer for everyone such as people with abnormalities of structure or people who impact the ground hard and require cushion, but they still may work great for active people who are light on their feet and only flat-footed (or only need orthotics for non-sport activities such as work, going out). While they reduce stress on the shins and knees, however, barefoot running (especially when your form is only being on the balls of your feet) shifts a lot of that stress to the ankles and calves. It is important to not land hard, especially solely on the balls of your feet. And work your way up, should only be doing barefoot at 10% of the distance you normally run at first; injuries can happen if pushing oneself too hard while wearing a new type of shoes.
Vibram Fivefingers (all-terrain/weather) ~$100 [Amazon Search],
[Vibram Closeout]. One-color leather Vibrams (brown or black) are more muted and subtle, instead of attracting lots of attention, e.g. KSO Trek [Amazon Search]. If you are okay with non-leather: [Non-Leather KSO Evo Men’s on Amazon, Non-Leather KSO Evo Women’s, Non-Leather Treksport Men’s, Non-Leather KSO Women’s]
If you’d like Toe Socks for the Vibrams (especially for Winter use), get Injinji
[Amazon], such as the 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Crew Nuwool [Amazon] – The 2.0 Outdoors Midweights are the heaviest option for extra warmth and will last the longest. We also prefer tall (crew), because during warm months, we either go without socks or for buggy trails, the tall socks protect from ticks and mosquitos. During the cold months, the tall socks provide extra warmth and one could tuck pants in them, if needed.
Barefoot Shoes (Tighter Feeling):
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail $145 (can fit inserts in these, EVO better than Stealth and the One) [Amazon Search]. Note: Trail FG has the cushioning, while Trail SG only has a thin wall on the back. Merrell Flux Glove or Vapor Glove are great but not durable (Trail Glove and Flux Glove are too stiff). Xero Prio doesn’t look that great. Skora Fit has more padding to the upper and cushioning to the outsole, than the Vapor Glove, and doesn’t look great.
Barefoot Shoes (More sneaker-like, less tight):
Adidas Adipure Gazelle [Amazon Search] (seem to be more durable than Nike Free, Merrell, and New Balance Minimus)
Secondary: New Balance Minimus [Amazon Search]
LEMS Primal 2 $52 (on clearance, otherwise $105) [LEMS]. LEMS trailhead is too stiff. Not durable, lasts less than a year. But could currently at a good discount.
More Cushioning Trail Running Shoe (less barefoot) – Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5
Don’t Get: Nike Free Run (more for looks than the New Balance Minimus which are more comfortable runners). Inov-8 Bare-X 180 – not great, Too Cushioned – Saucony, Mizuno, Altra, Skechers, Brooks, Pearl Izumi. Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 (made by Asics) – Bruce Lee’s shoes (yellow with black version) in his last movie Game of Death, very comfortable and perfect for light sporting, however they’re fashion sneakers rather than for actually running/athletics. Xero Shoes Minimalist Huarache Sandals $25 InvisibileShoe – Pretty much flip flops except specialized for running, supposedly very comfortable (they are custom fit) – durable, however, not very stylish, and may slide around too much for running, not much support, aren’t great when wet. Xero Cloud are too minimalist. Skora Fit doesn’t look that great.
Best Sandals: For Light Hiking/Water
Best Sandals: Kiwis. Keens aren’t stylish
It is best to get versatile socks (socks that could double for both activity and dress). Best material is wool (only the cheap ones are itchy), as it is wicking (not only removes moisture but allows it to evaporate) instead of absorbent cotton (which is why those get smelly). Wool is also insulating when wet, while cotton is not. However, high end wool socks may not be machine dryable. Match your pant color, or go one shade darker, and use minimal patterns, ie Dark gray/blue/brown socks with denim/navy/khaki pants. Thin (never thick gym socks) black socks only with black or dark-gray pants. Never white, unless you’re exercising (or going Californian)
Activity Socks Source
Balega Hidden Comfort [Amazon] (better than Thorlo Unisex Walking Crew)
Gold Toe [Amazon]
Hiking – Kirkland Signature Merino Wool [Amazon] – Better value than the Darn Tough (1/4 price) and almost as good
Not great – Smartwool, Point6