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Last Updated: April 2021
Running shoes are not cheap. We should clarify that. High-quality running shoes are not cheap. Running shoes help you to get the best out of your run when you are out there. They protect and comfort your feet, and help to keep you safe and free from injuries.
If you invest in a cheap pair of running shoes, then you are doing your feet a disservice. You are also buying something that will fall apart in a few months. That is not to say that high-quality and durable running shoes cannot be affordable. In fact, they will often save you money in the long run.
A high-quality pair of running shoes will outlast multiple pairs of cheap shoes, all while protecting your feet from harm.
Our Top Picks For Men And Women
Let’s take a look at some of the best and most durable running shoes out there.
1. Brooks Ghost 13
Your running shoes need to be light so as not to weight your feet down. The Ghost 13 from Brooks is exceptionally light, so much so that it almost feels like you are not even wearing shoes. Brooks even uses 3D printing for part of the manufacturing process, which allows for precision engineering that forms perfectly to your foot while still providing some stretch.
Brooks uses a sole design called DNA Loft, which mixes foam and rubber with strategically placed airholes to provide a super-soft cushion for your feet. Normally DNA Loft is used in the midsole of a shoe, but the Ghost 13 uses it for the outsole as well. This means your whole foot is supported and cushioned for a comfortable run.
Under your feet is the “Segmented Crash Pad,” a sole specifically designed for impact-absorption. If you find your feet get sore after a run, this type of sole is perfect for you. It cushions the impact with the ground to provide a smooth step that minimizes strain on your feet. Brooks rigorously tests their shoes, and the soles will not wear through with less than 300-500 miles of use.
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
New Balance’s Fresh Foam line uses a foam midsole to provide the kind of support your feet need in a running shoe. While many options are available, the Fresh Foam 880v11 is the best choice for durability.
The 880v11 is designed to take on any running challenge with a mix of different foams in the midsole. This blended sole cushions and supports your feet through any activity, so if you switch between running on a forest trail and a tarmac, different foam kicks into gear to prevent strain or injury.
The sole is also made using blown rubber, which is softer and more flexible than normal rubber. This means that the sole lasts longer and provides higher traction. As for the rest of the shoe, the upper is a two-layer mesh, providing both breathability and structure to the shoes. Overall, the shoe is very light while still taking care of your feet.
3. ASICS Gel-Kayano 27
ASICS’ Gel-Kayano 27 uses innovative materials to provide a strong, lightweight running shoe. The upper is a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics, combining breathability with durability. Compared to other running shoes, the fibers are deliberately spaced out to enhance breathability and to save on weight.
On the sole, you have ASICS’ GEL Cushioning System on both the toe and the heel. The extra absorption helps provide a smooth take off and landing when you put your foot down and then lift it up in the course of a step.
The Gel-Kayano 27 also use FlyteFoam, which is a high-density foam that is extraordinarily elastic. FlyteFoam is used in both the midsole—where it helps maintain flex—and woven in with the entire sole to provide extra bounce on each step. FlyteFoam cuts down on weight while still providing platform support, so that your foot is evenly supported on a firm surface to better distribute your weight.
4. Saucony Freedom 3
Do you need a running shoe that feels best when jogging around your neighborhood, rather than on a treadmill? The Freedom 3 by Saucony is just for you, offering an adaptable running shoe that specializes in pounding city sidewalks.
Saucony’s specialized cushioning tech, called PWRRUN+, provides enough padding to keep your feet supported. It is also 28% lighter weight than previous models, and is engineered to provide extra bounce in each step. This shoe has a good springiness that works well for running in urban environments with firm surfaces, like concrete.
Unlike other running shoes, the Freedom 3 has a flat-sole design. Rather than having high arches, the entire sole lays against the ground to provide extra grip and stability. This also means better flexibility because the sole is not as rigidly molded—a long strip of rubber flexes more easily. If you need specific arch support for sore feet, this feature may not be for you, but for other runners who like a high-traction shoe, you have found it here.
5. Adidas Adizero Boston 9
There is a reason Adidas is a trusted worldwide brand: their shoes are top notch. Their Adizero Boston 9 is no exception, providing a light, snappy shoe that has an incredibly efficient energy return. That means that you will not waste any energy as you run, keeping you moving fast and avoiding undue strain.
These are shoes made for running at a quick pace. The Lightstrike cushioning is not only super lightweight, but is engineered to help propel you forwards. On the upper, you have a flexible mesh so that you can keep running without feeling like your shoes are dragging you down.
On the heel and toe, the sole is very soft to create oodles of bounce. They each compress more than a centimeter, which then bounces back to launch you onward. Much of the Adizero Boston 9’s engineering works best when you are running quickly, so these shoes are great if you are training for a race or even if you just want a challenge on your treadmill.
What’s the Difference Between Men’s and Women’s Running Shoes?
Men’s and women’s feet are of different shapes. There are studies that show this.
Women’s feet are generally narrower and smaller than men’s, and there are other subtle differences too. For example, while women’s feet are narrower, they are comparatively wider in the forefoot, when compared to the rest of the foot.
This makes a huge difference when running, and the shape of the running shoe needs to match the shape of the foot. Not only does this affect the way that a running shoe is made, but also the materials that are used.
While there are male and female versions of running shoes, they are often built very differently.
Do Women Run Differently?
Yes, they do.
A lot of this is down to the differences in physiology between men and women. Women usually have wider hips than men and this means that women strike the ground toward the outside of the shoe.
This can result in more rolling and pronation. Many women’s running shoes will be designed with this in mind.
Women run differently, so it makes sense that running shoes are designed differently.
What To Know Before Buying Running Shoes
When it comes to a durable and high-quality running shoe, almost nothing is more important than the material. Not only will high-quality materials comfort and protect your feet, but they will also hold up to rough terrain, help your feet to breath, and flex and conform to the shape of your feet.
So, what materials should you be looking for in a running shoe?
Leather is a classic material which has been used in clothing and shoes for centuries. Leather is naturally thick and durable and holds up to various weather conditions. You can add a spray to the surface of the material to further protect it and make it one of the most durable materials for shoes.
Leather is also natural and breathable. It allows the air to circulate and stops moisture from build-ing up inside of your shoe. Leather is tough but may need a little more attention than the other materials on our list.
Nylon is not used a lot in modern shoes, but you can still find it in some. It is used in a lot of older shoes, and when you see those shoes still being used, you know why. Nylon lasts a long time while being flexible and breathable.
Knit is not so much the actual material, rather the way that the material is put together. Tightly woven fibers mean that you have a strong material which is highly breathable. Breathability is essential in running shoes as moisture can aggravate your feet and damage your shoes.
Knit materials, such as mesh are great for promoting airflow while being light and flexible.
The Three Parts Of Your Running Shoe
There are many parts which make up a complete running shoe, but you can split the shoe into three main components.
The upper is the topmost part of your running shoe. The materials play a large part in determining the lifespan of your running shoe. The key to a durable upper is getting the balance between the thickness and type of material.
Friction plays a part in wearing down the materials in your upper, and one thing to watch out for is where your big toe lies in the shoe. If the big toe is against a part where two materials meet, then this can cause the join to wear down quicker and lead to the shoe coming apart before it should.
Extra reinforcement in the eyelets, where the laces run through, will help with the friction of the laces too. The heel is also a potential weak point, but the main thing which is going to affect this is the sizing of the shoe. A shoe of the wrong size will wear quicker.
The key for your upper is to choose a shoe in the right size. Do not make compromises, and make sure to have your foot professionally measured.
The midsole sits under the sole of your foot and above the sole of the shoe. This is the part which comforts and supports your foot when you are running. When buying a running shoe, you want to look at the density and compound of the midsole.
Polyurethane and EVA are two common materials used in the midsole of a running shoe, with polyurethane being the more durable of the two. Both hold up well to extreme temperatures and do well under pressure, literally holding up well to multiple compressions.
When you are looking at midsoles, feel the density of the sole. Generally, the denser the sole, the more life you will get out of it. Softer materials will lose their cushioning quicker, and that can lead to sore feet.
The final part of the puzzle is the outsole, the part of the shoe which will come into contact with the ground as you take your steps. The rubber outsole is usually the part which you will have to worry about wearing down first. When the outsole begins to wear, it is time to invest in a new pair of running shoes.
An outsole crafted from harder rubber will last longer than a softer model but is that the way to go?
You also need to think about the design of the sole. One which is flatter, on the whole, will last for a long time, with the wear being spread evenly. An outsell with split sections will wear on the split parts quicker.
Look for a shoe which has a flatter and harder outsole but also one which fits your foot comfort-ably and is comfortable to run in.
What Makes A Running Shoe Durable?
The material can be high-quality, but if you do not stitch it together well, then it is going to fall apart and die before its time. A nice stitch also adds to the design of the shoe.
Look for tight stitching, and double-stitching if you can find it. Shoes with no stitching can also be extra-durable with the lack of weak points.
Moisture can wreck fabrics. When looking at running shoes, breathability is a must. You want shoes which sill let the air flow and stop moisture from accumulating, and also those which wick away the moisture when it does accumulate.
If the shoe cannot flex, then points on the shoe are going to become stressed. This will lead to excess wear and also discomfort. The shoe should be able to conform to the shape of your foot. The shoe should be able to bend freely when you handle it.
How to Size Your Running Shoes
Purchasing a stylish and comfortable running shoe is what we all strive for, but don’t forget about the size.
If you do not buy the correct size, you are never going to be completely comfortable or run as far and as fast as you are able.
We recommend having your feet professionally measured before buying new shoes.
How to Read Sizing Labels
It can be difficult to reading sizing labels. If there are multiple numbers and letters in there, it can feel as if you are trying to solve a riddle or a puzzle.
Here is a handy guide to help:
Length: The numerical length of your foot. Usually listed in US, UK, Euro, Japanese, and cm.
Width: Ranges from AA (narrow) to EE (extra wide). The sizes move upward alphabetically, but medium can also be represented by M.
Sex: You should try to match your shoe to your body type. You may find shoes denoting M for men and W for women.
Now, choosing a shoe by yourself will usually result in a comfortable shoe, but a professional can help you find an exact fit.
If you are a man with larger hips, a female running shoe can give you a more comfortable run.
Sizes and widths also vary by brand, so find someone with experience in shoes.