It doesn’t matter what kind of runner you are – someone who’s ready to shed a few pounds and begin a running program or someone who has several marathons under his belt – a good pair of running shoes is essential.
Running shoes help prevent injuries and keep you motivated to stay on the road or trail. They’re important enough for us to take a closer look at the best running shoes for men, including the exceptional ASICS Gel Nimbus 20 running shoe.
In this post, we’ll review nine of the best men’s running shoes, list some running shoe buying tips and how to find the right size shoe for you, and how running shoes differ from training shoes. Let’s start with some buying tips.
Table of Contents
Balding Beards is reader-supported. When you buy through external links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
|Asics Men’s Gel Nimbus 20 Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Brooks Men’s Ghost 11||Check on Amazon →|
|Asics Men’s Gel-Kayano 24||Check on Amazon →|
|Adidas Performance Men’s Solar Boost M Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Mizuno Men’s Wave Inspire 14||Check on Amazon →|
|Hoka One One Men’s Bondi 5 Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Saucony Men’s Triumph Iso 3 Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|New Balance Men’s Fresh Zoam Zante V3 Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
|Saucony Men’s Peregrine 7 Trail Running Shoe||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 9 Things to consider when purchasing running shoes
1. Fit is it
There’s nothing quite like running in a pair of ill-fitting shoes, and we don’t mean that in a good way. If nothing else, a pair of shoes that are too tight, too wide, too whatever may cause you to give up running. Or, worse, they’ll lead to injuries that will keep you on the sidelines.
What makes for a good fit? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you’re trying on running shoes:
- The upper
The shoe’s upper consists of everything above the sole and usually consists of fabrics and mesh sewn and glued together. The best bet is to look for an upper that’s shaped like your foot and doesn’t bind or chafe.
- Toe box
The toe box is the part of the shoe that extends from the front of the eyelets to the end of the shoe. Its primary purpose is to protect your toes from stubbing. Look for a toe box that allows your foot to spread out naturally in width and length without binding your toes.
The outsole is the part of the shoe that directly impacts with the running surface and generally consists of rubber or foam material that helps increase your shoe’s flexibility. Ideally, the outsole should provide traction without adding stiffness or excess weight to the shoe. It also should fit your foot shape while providing superior stability.
- Heel cushioning
You want a balance between cushioning, feel, and stability regarding heel cushioning. The primary purpose of heel cushioning is to minimize the impact of the runner’s heel hitting the ground. Pay attention to a shoe’s heel counter, i.e., the cup layered inside the rearfoot that supports and cradles your heel. The heel counter centers the heel for support and stable landings and also should allow your ankle to move comfortably.
- Forefoot cushioning
Forefoot cushioning material reduces the impact of the stride that occurs when your forefoot “loads” and then pushes off. It also protects the basic structure of your foot. Look for a shoe that has a nice balance between cushioning comfort and a solid push-off platform that’s not too stiff.
- The heel-toe drop
The difference between the height of your heel and the ball of your foot when standing in a shoe is important for a variety of reasons, including that it helps keep you from altering your stride. You want a shoe that feels comfortable throughout your stride and reduces stress on any weak parts of your foot.
- The saddle
A running shoe’s saddle is part of the shoe’s upper and helps holds it securely to the foot (along with the shoe’s laces). Evolving technology has led to developments of eyelets, lacing systems, and overlays that mold the saddle close to any runner’s foot shape. The saddle should be secure on your foot with no slippage at any point of your stride.
- The sock liner
A sock liner is a pad of foam inside the shoe that’s removable and designed to cushion the bottom of your foot’s contours. It provides much of the shoe’s arch support. Note: soft isn’t always better when it comes to a shoe’s sock liner, because the foot provides some of the support and cushioning on its own.
Another important component of finding the right fit is always to have your feet measured before you buy and then making sure to try the shoe on. Sizing may differ from brand to brand.
2. Buy your shoes at a specialty running store
It makes sense: you should buy your running shoes at a runner’s store. But many people prefer the convenience of shopping in department stores that carry running shoes. We’re not bashing department store shopping, but you’re more apt to find a shoe you like and that properly fits if you shop in a specialty running store with knowledgeable salespeople.
3. Types of running shoes
There are brands of running shoes, and there are also types of running shoes. The various “types” of shoes include neutral, stability, motion control, and barefoot shoes.
A neutral shoe is good for people who have a neutral gait rather than one of over- or under-pronation.
Runners who have mild to moderate pronation – the foot’s inward roll – should seek shoes with stability that have reinforced midsoles.
- Motion control
Motion control shoes have stiffer heels and a design that counters overpronation.
- Barefoot shoes
The soles of barefoot shoes provide the most minimum protection and often have no cushion in the heel pad and a very thin outsole. Barefoot shoe proponents say that heavily cushioned running shoes go against nature and that shoes with minimum cushioning (as close to barefoot as possible) will make the body stronger and less dependent on shoes that may help determine your running stride.
4. Breathability is important
Your feet, like the rest of your body, can get pretty hot during a run. That’s one reason why breathability is so important – it can help keep your feet from overheating – and the good news is that most running shoes have uppers constructed of mesh materials that allow your foot to breathe. On the other hand, the kind of breathability you choose should match the conditions where you most frequently run. A shoe with less breathability is typically more suitable in colder temperatures than, say, the excess heat of summer in warmer climates.
5. Don’t buy for looks
It’s tempting to fall into the “appearance” trap when buying running shoes – you become instantly attracted to a pair based on its design, colors, etc. – but fashion and compliments from friends, family, and strangers won’t mean a thing if your dazzling running shoes don’t fit properly.
While there’s nothing wrong with buying running shoes that look good and match your style and taste – and most people do this – make sure that they fit your feet and stride before you dole out your hard-earned money.
6. Shop for running shoes at the right time of day
Whenever possible, shop for running shoes in the late afternoon or evening, because your feet naturally swell during the day. What felt like a comfortable fit in the a.m. may very well feel tighter later in the day.
7. Your weight
The more you weigh, the higher the impact of your foot on the ground. Your body weight may require you to buy shoes with extra support, even if your foot type and stride wouldn’t normally necessitate it.
8. How you intend to use your shoes
The good news is that you can find a running shoe that fits every type of running – whether it’s long-distance running on the road, trail running, track running, sprinting, you name it. Match your shoes with how you plan to use them.
Good running shoes aren’t inexpensive by any means. On the other hand, a higher price doesn’t guarantee a higher-quality shoe. Nonetheless, shoes made of cheap materials can cause all sorts of problems, not the least of which are a poor fit and injuries. Spending a little extra money makes more sense when you consider the living hell of wearing a cheap, ill-fitting pair of shoes for your daily run.
The 9 best running shoes for men 2020
Many runners remain devoted to the Gel Nimbus line that has been an ASICS best-seller for years, and the latest version shouldn’t curb their enthusiasm.
The Gel Nimbus 20 has a traditional look and feel that doesn’t seem at all dated. Better yet, it provides excellent stability, has great cushioning, and is an excellent neutral trainer that’s perfect for everyday runners.
There’s a lot else to like about the Gel Nimbus 20, including ASIC’s patented midsole technology that’s responsive and comfortable for both short- and long-distance runners. Meanwhile, its FluidRide midsole provides plenty of cushioning and durability, despite being relatively lightweight.
The shoe also has a mesh upper that’s designed to adapt to your foot’s natural motion, as well as overlays that provide additional support. Users also appreciate the shoe’s breathability and how it helps keep their feet from overheating, even while running during the warmest days.
Overall, the shoe has a lightweight feel, but it’s probably not lightweight enough for, say, a competitive 400-meter race. However, they’re hard to beat for everyday jogging.
- Improved fit from previous versions
- High-quality construction
- Comfortable, breathable mesh upper
- May run smaller than other Gel Nimbus versions
What’s the saying, “thousands of satisfied customers can’t be wrong”, or something like that? Either way, the Gel Nimbus 20 is the go-to shoe for many runners and with good reason.
The Brooks Men’s Ghost 11 is popular for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s suitable for a wide variety of runners. Indeed, it’s a versatile shoe loaded with nice features that benefit any runner who heads out to the road, track, or trail.
Inexperienced runners prefer the Ghost 11 because of its excellent cushioning, while running veterans – including marathoners – like its durability and stability, and road racers like how lightweight and smooth it is when competing in a 5K or 10K.
The Ghost 11 is also among the best neutral running shoes. It has the right amount of cushion for longer runs and races but, again, is light and responsive enough to allow you to pick up the pace whether you’re chasing after a PR or the next group of runners ahead of you.
The 11 is the latest in the line of Brooks’ Ghost series, and its mesh upper provides improved breathability and stretch. It also has a plush tongue and collar, while it’s soft fabric lining creates further comfort within the shoe. The Ghost 11 has a traditional lace-up closure.
Like the previous versions of the Ghost line, the 11 has superb durability and won’t break down or become uncomfortable, no matter how long your run – which is why they easily rank among the best long distance shoes. And, last but not least, it comes at an affordable price when compared to many other shoes.
- Comfortable fit right from the box
- Somewhat narrow in the toes
The Ghost 11 is one of many quality running shoes produced by Brooks. It offers something for every level of runner and can stand up to high mileage and fast paces.
Running isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes plenty of determination to stick with a running program, and, moreover, running places a lot of stress on the body. Aches and pains are sometimes part of the game, including knee pain that can send you to the sidelines for several days or force you to quit in the middle of a run.
That’s why it’s important to choose shoes that protect the body, particularly your feet, ankles, legs, and knees. ASICS’ Gel-Kayano 24 provides just that: protection against the more serious rigors of running. We think they’re the best running shoes for bad knees.
While many running shoe manufacturers provide protection and support through cushioning or added foam, the Kayano 24’s design focuses on the runner’s gait, instead. It does so with the Asics Impact Guidance System, which consists of fluid-filled capsules that help keep the runner’s stride naturally aligned. In turn, it allows the foot to adjust to any running surface easily.
The Kayano 24 also comes with a FluidRide midsole that’s lighter weight while still providing sufficient cushioning and durability. The shoe’s upper consists of stretch mesh that adapts to the foot while furnishing a fit that’s neither too snug or too loose.
Last but not least, the shoe’s rubber sole has excellent traction and offers excellent support on a variety of surfaces.
- Provides protection by focusing on the runner’s gait
- Lightweight yet durable midsole
- Good for runners with bad knees
- Sizing may be an issue
The Gel-Kayano series continues to rank among ASICS’ most popular and best-selling shoes for a reason. It’s comfortable, helps lessen the overall stress running places on the body, and is an excellent choice for any runner.
The Adidas Solar Boost has most of the great features of previous Boost versions but with a nice upgrade, thanks to a lightweight fabric midfoot that’s less rigid than in the past.
There’s also some other new stuff that makes this a go-to shoe for many runners, including improved construction that secures the heel at the midsole to offer more freedom of movement for the Achilles while focusing the runner’s energy forward.
In many ways, the quality of this shoe comes down to Adidas’ popular Boost foam, which is springy and provides plenty of cushioning. There’s more to like, however, including a three-piece tailored upper that offers good support without making the shoe feel bulky.
It also has a stable base and excellent traction, thanks to its full-length rubber outsole. Running experts say that the shoe remains slip-proof and stable even on snowy or slushy roads. The Solar Boost M also has a wider heel for further stability.
Overall, the Solar Boost has a lightweight feel that makes it an ideal neutral shoe for regular joggers who log a decent amount of mileage. You’ll also find it comfortable for long runs.
- Improved cushioned midsole
- Firm, but not too firm, upper support
- Excellent traction
- It may show signs of wear faster than some other shoes
The Solar Boost continues a line of springy, lightweight shoes that’s a popular Adidas choice of many runners. It feels good and provides plenty of support and traction.
Training for and running in marathons places many demands on your running shoes. You need a shoe with plenty of stability and support but isn’t too heavy or bulky.
Enter the Mizuno Men’s Wave Inspire 14.
The Wave Inspire 14 ranks among the best marathon shoes for a lot of reasons, including that it remains solidly stable through the entire stride but also is very lightweight and can take the pounding of long training runs time after time. It’s a shoe built for stability.
Comfortability comes, in part, from the Wave Inspire 14 upper that consists of a mesh with synthetic overlays stitched over it. It’s also very breathable, which always is a good thing if you’re going to be on your feet for hours at a time. The midsole is firm but not constrictive, as is the heel, while there’s plenty of room and softness in the toe box.
The shoe also comes with a soft sock liner with extra arch support and cushioning.
Reviewers say the shoe hasn’t changed much regarding its design or look, but that’s perfectly fine for loyal users who see no real need to improve upon what’s already a good thing. Besides, Mizuno has 112 years of experience in the sporting goods business and has made a multitude of technological advances over the years.
- Great fit
- Stable enough to handle high-mileage runs
- Comfortable upper
- Few, if any, but may run a bit narrower than some other shoes
Mizuno combines comfort and stability, among other positive attributes, to create the high-quality shoe that is the Wave Inspire 14. You’ll like how the shoe gently hugs your feet and offers a comfortable landing when you pound hard running surfaces.
We recommend that you use your running shoes only for running, not everyday wear, but the Hoka One One Men’s Bondi 5 running shoes may tempt you to wear them all day. After all, when it comes to overall comfort, this shoe earns high marks.
Many factors contribute to the Bondi 5’s comfortability, not the least of which is its abundance of cushioning that comes from an EVA midsole and an Ortholite insole, creating an additional cushion for your arches.
It also has a breathable mesh upper that sits comfortably against the foot and has superior ventilation; cool air flows into the shoe, while warm air is released to keep your foot comfortable and dry, not overheated and sweaty. The shoe’s upper consists of lightweight material and has a comfortable, secure fit that isn’t constrictive, while the toe box is roomier than in previous Bondi incarnations.
Another Bondi 5 feature we think you’ll like is its Meta-Rocker midsole that helps give you an accurate roll through your running stride with every step. The outsole includes a durable rubber bottom that doesn’t wear out easily or too quickly, while additional rubber placed on key areas of the outsole enhances its durability.
The Bondi 5 is ideal for long runs and recovery runs and won’t leave you feeling like you went 10 rounds with Manny Pacquiao. Its superb cushioning is easy on your joints and muscles as you crank out the miles.
- Excellent for long runs
- Excellent cushioning and comfort
- Lightweight, responsive feel
- Some reviewers feel that the tongue is too long and rigid
The Bondi 5 is comfortable enough to wear all day, every day, but they belong on this list because of how they respond to the heavy pounding of longer runs. While the previous Bondi versions were excellent, the Bondi 5 raises the bar even higher.
Saucony’s Triumph ISO 3 running shoe is for every runner, but heavier men or those with foot issues such as plantar fasciitis should give them careful consideration.
Why? For one, the shoe’s cushioning is distributed evenly between the heel and toe for overall comfort and protection. This helps your body stay in a more balanced and comfortable position with each stride. The Triumph ISO 3 also features excellent support, including built-in pronation.
Saucony also prides itself on making shoes that fit properly. The Triumph ISO 3 is no exception and features the company’s ISO fit system that molds easily to foot with a sock-like feel. It’s the kind of fit that adapts to your stride.
You’ll also like the Triumph ISO 3’s traction, as it allows you to run comfortably on a variety of surfaces, including trails and gravel roads.
- Evenly-distributed cushioning
- Comfortable fit
- Good for heavier runners or those with foot problems
- Maybe a little stiff out of the box
Saucony is a respected name in the running shoe world, and products like the Triumph ISO 3 hardly tarnish their reputation. You’ll love the support, cushioning, and fit that this shoe offers.
Few runners prefer a shoe that’s as heavy as a work boot. OK, maybe not that heavy, but the fact is that the lighter the running shoe the better.
That’s one reason to like New Balance’s Fresh Zoom Zante v3 running shoes: they’re super light – at 8.6 ounces, they’re lighter than many, many other top-quality running shoes.
Another reason to like them is their versatility. The Fresh Zoom Zante v3 is responsive enough for shorter distances and races, like a 5K race, but has enough cushioning to make them suitable for longer runs. Many runners appreciate the potential for extra speed for when running competitive longer-distance races.
The Zante v3 includes a few upgrades over previous versions, including its engineered mesh upper and its fresh foam midsole. The outsole includes more rubber without adding extra weight, while the seamless upper makes for an ideal fit.
- Extremely lightweight
- Ideal for shorter distance competitive races
- Slightly cramped toe area
A lighter weight shoe that’s still suitable for long distance runs with plenty of support – that pretty much sums up the New Balance Zante v3. It’s a versatile shoe with an exceptionally comfortable fit.
Trail running is a different animal than running on conventional surfaces. The terrain is usually more rugged and uneven and places different demands on your feet, legs, and ankles.
But Saucony has the trail runner covered with its Men’s Peregrine 7, a durable shoe with an optimal grip that makes it suitable for many different types of running. They’re a bit heavier than some running shoes – which enables them to hold up to the demands of trail running – but still lightweight enough to be comfortable.
The Peregrine 7’s construction includes a TPU exoskeleton on the shoe’s upper that wraps around the entire forefoot. It even extends to the toe bumper to provide overall protection and frame the foot for optimal support.
Also included with this shoe is a moisture-wicking collar lining that keeps your foot comfortable and dry.
- Great for running on trails and less conventional surfaces
- Rugged outsole
- Sizes may run slightly small
If trail running is your game, then you should have a shoe designed for it. The Saucony Peregrine 7 is made for the trails and provides plenty of support, stability, and comfort.
Some tips for choosing running shoe size
Finding the right size running shoe is crucial for avoiding injuries and for enhancing your running experience. Let’s face it, it’s hard to stay motivated when your shoes don’t fit correctly. While we talked about a shoe’s fit earlier, let’s take an even closer look at some of the factors that go into determining proper sizing.
A basic rule of thumb when sizing running shoes is that your foot will need more space because it naturally expands while running. Leave a little extra space, in both length and width, but not too much. Regarding length, you should leave a finger width of space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe. You may need to go up a size if you consistently run at longer distances. Sure signs that your shoes are too short include bruised toes and lost toenails.
Width is just as important as length for finding a good fit. Some people have wider feet than others, while others have a narrower width than normal. You’ll know that your shoe’s width isn’t right when there’s too much friction between your foot and shoe – which can lead to blisters quite easily.
3. Shoe brand
Shoe sizing often varies from one shoe brand to another. Your “normal” size may fit perfectly in, say, a Nike brand shoe but may not have the same fit in a New Balance. That’s why it’s important to try shoes on and give them a spin around the store or running shop before you buy them.
It’s also worth repeating that the time of day that you try on your potential new running shoes is also important. Your feet swell during the day naturally, starting in the morning, so how a shoe fits first thing in the morning may differ from how it fits in the late afternoon. That said, try on your shoes later in the day whenever possible.
4. Bring your socks and orthotics
Always make sure you bring your insoles and running socks, or even compression socks, with you when you shop for running shoes, because they impact the fit and size of a shoe. Running experts recommend using socks made for running, because they’ll improve both comfort and support.
5. Find your shoe’s flex point
A lack of heel support and flexibility can lead to a variety of foot injuries, including plantar fasciitis. To find your shoe’s flex point, hold the heel of your shoe as you press its tip into the floor. The shoe’s bend and crease should be along the same line at which your foot flexes.
6. Some signs that your shoes aren’t the right size
How a shoe feels on your foot before, during, and after you run is an excellent indicator of whether it’s the right size for you or not. But it’s not the only indicator, and the following signs signal when your shoe isn’t the right size and fit for you:
- Blisters on the ball of your foot may indicate that your shoe is too wide.
- Tingling or numbness in the toes often signals that your shoes are too short or too narrow. Be wary of shoes that are too narrow, because they can lead to serious foot issues.
- Bruised toes or broken toenails indicate that your shoe isn’t long enough.
- Blisters between or on top of your toes indicate that your shoes are too small.
- Heel blisters can indicate that your shoe’s heel cup isn’t wide enough or even that you’re not lacing your shoes properly.
- If you can’t slide your shoes off without completely loosening the laces then you probably need to go up a size.
- If your heel slips when you’re walking or running uphill, then it’s not snug enough. You want some heel movement when wearing your shoe, but not so much that it’s noticeable or uncomfortable.
7. Measure your feet every time you shop for a new pair of shoes
The importance of measuring your feet before trying on running shoes should always be a top priority. For one, a person’s feet change as they age, whether it’s because of weight gain or loss, surgery, pregnancy, etc. The size of your feet now isn’t necessarily the size they will be a year from now.
Running shoes, training shoes – What’s the difference?
You’re not alone if you sometimes wonder why you can’t wear your favorite pair of cross-training shoes for running. After all, they’re comfortable, they provide support and stability, and maybe you don’t feel like spending extra money on running shoes.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking that way, but doing it is another matter, however.
While running shoes and training shoes often look alike and have some of the same features, they serve specific functions, and using them for something else easily can put you at risk of injury. Let’s break it down to show you why.
1. Use running shoes for running
That’s as obvious as it gets, i.e., running shoes are for running. But the bigger question is “why do they help with running?” The answer is that they help in many ways.
- Running shoes are more shock absorbent than training shoes because they have to endure the high impact stress of running. Studies show that your feet hit the running surface at three times your normal body weight. That extra bit of pounding takes its toll on your feet and legs if you don’t have a good pair of running shoes. The sponginess and extra cushioning of running shoes help absorb the impact.
- Running shoes accommodate the heel-to-toe movement that typifies the running stride. There’s also a higher heel drop during running that differs from walking or most cross-training activities.
- Running shoes are lightweight when compared to other athletic shoes. Wearing heavier shoes during jogging can tire you out quickly.
- Running shoes aren’t equipped to handle the lateral movements needed for a variety of exercise programs. Their extra cushioning and support may keep you from landing properly during exercises that require jumping movements – which, in turn, can lead to ankle or knee injuries.
- The high-impact nature of running makes it crucial for runners to wear shoes that fit their particular foot shape and stride. You can find running shoes made for people who roll their feet inward when they run (overpronation) or for those who underpronate – such as people with flat feet. Running in shoes that don’t cradle your foot properly increases the risk of injury.
2. Trainers: The versatile all-in-one athletic shoe
If your workout routine includes a variety of activities – such as plyometrics, aerobics, strength training, and many others – then training shoes are for you. Workout shoes enable you to exercise with a full range of motion – whether it’s jumping, moving from side to side, cutting, or changing direction quickly. Running shoes, on the other hand, aren’t made to provide stability for the diverse movements that are part of many exercise routines.
- The sole of a training shoe is flatter than that of a running shoe. That enables it to handle a wide range of movement while making it more flexible. In fact, an easy way to tell a training shoe from a running shoe is by examining the flatness of the sole.
- Training shoes are versatile and offer support and comfort for a variety of activities, including strength training, weight lifting, and agility training, as well as those already mentioned.
- Training shoes have a lower heel drop than running shoes that makes it easier to pivot and push off with your foot. Their uppers and midsoles provide flexibility for multi-directional movement.
- Training shoes have the needed grip and traction to handle multiple movements.
- Training shoes aren’t built to handle the high-impact nature of running. They lack the same kind of cushioning and support required from running shoes because of how hard the foot impacts the ground during running.
- The soles on training shoes are wider and stable enough to provide needed support for lateral movements and sharp cuts.
- Cross-trainers weigh more than running shoes. A shoe’s lack of weight makes them easier to run in.
- Training shoes provide more cushioning in the forefoot, which hits the ground with more impact than it does during running. They’ll protect your feet during activities such as jumping rope and plyometrics.
- The material used to make training shoes is often different and heavier than what’s used to make running shoes. Again, a running shoe is meant to be lightweight.
Why we chose these running shoes for our review
In many ways, running shoes are the sports cars of the fitness world. They’re complicated “machines” that offer high performance but also must stand up to the rigors of their designated task. There’s so much that goes into designing a good running shoe: factors such as weight, durability, stability, cushioning, breathability – we could list several more.
We chose shoes for our list that could deliver in a variety of categories. They had to be comfortable but also designed to properly cushion the feet, ankles, and legs from running’s high-impact nature. We looked at the reviews of everyday runners and running experts while deciding whether they deliver on their promises or not. We also looked at shoes that were best for specific running activities, such as marathon training and marathon competitio, and the everyday miles of 5K and 10K runners.
In short, we want to provide you with a diversity of options while hoping that every type of runner can benefit from our list.
We also welcome your feedback and suggestions. What’s your go-to choice for running shoes? Why do you like them? Have you worn any of the shoes on our list? We’d love to hear from you.