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Best Running Shoe Brands

 

I still remember when I decided I was going to get back into running. I had always used Nike shoes when I was growing up because I thought that was the best brand.

However, as I reached out to my running friends, I realized that people have a lot of different ideas about what is the best brand for running shoes. It truly is a personal decision. And that decision can involve the shape of your feet, personal comfort preferences, how much you are willing to pay, and more.

In this article, we’re going to be covering the most popular running shoe brands. Heads up: it’s going to be intensive. We’re going to discuss the history of each company, what makes each company unique, and name-drop any professional runners who rep a particular brand.

If you’ve been thinking about getting some new running shoes, but aren’t sure what brand is best for you, this article will tell you everything that you need to know to make the best decision.

This is a best-seller list. If you want a brand that more runners use, focus on the top of the list. However, if you’re more interested in unique aspects, you may find your happy place further down.

 

1. Brooks

History of the Company

Right now, Brooks is the most popular running shoe brand on the market, and they make shoes for pretty much every type of foot.

Brooks actually began in 1914 in a factory in Philadelphia, making ballet slippers and bathing shoes.

From then until 1972, they focused on a wide variety of shoes (including roller skates!). That year, a shift toward running shoes began as running grew in popularity after Frank Shorter’s Olympic marathon win.

Since 1972, Brooks has designed a wide variety of popular running shoes, driven by technological innovations such as the DNA Loft foam midsole. Thus, for roughly the past 50 years, Brooks has been known for its running shoes.

What Makes Them Unique

Brooks is known for its focus on running and walking shoes. If you’re looking for shoes that are comfortable with a broad appeal, Brooks is the way to go. For some runners, Brooks is the only brand that “true runners” should use.

They are known for their great trainers and the fact that they design running and walking shoes. You might not win awards in the fashion department, but your feet will definitely thank you later.

See our complete list of the top Brooks running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Des Linden, who won the 2018 Boston Marathon, and Dathan Rizenhein, a three-time U.S. Olympian, are two runners that Brooks sponsors.

Best-Sellers

Ghost 12

Adrenaline GTS 20

2. New Balance

History of the Company

Founded in 1906, New Balance was originally focused on arch supports. The company didn’t start designing shoes until the 1950s, when athletes wanted tailored shoes.

In the late 1970s, New Balance started to become known as a running shoe brand when one of their shoes got a Runner’s World award.

Today, New Balance is known not only for their running shoes but also a whole host of other shoes, including shoes specifically designed for basketball, day-to-day activities, and hiking.

What Makes Them Unique

New Balance is known for their Fresh Foam shoes. In fact, that’s why I decided to go with New Balance shoes. Fresh Foam has a unique feel, and the shoes are environmentally sound.

New Balance is known for having running shoes for all types of runners, from newbies to elites, and they are one of the few companies to offer many width options. If you have wide or narrow feet, New Balance is a good brand choice for you.

What I love about my New Balance shoes is that they are lightweight and super comfortable. I’ve run on the track, the road, the trail, and even the beach, and they have always felt great.

See our complete list of the best New Balance running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Rachel Hannah from Canada loves the New Balance 1500v2 because she needs stability shoes that are still as light as possible.

Best-Sellers

990v5

 

1080v10

 

3. Hoka One One

History of the Company

Hoka One One is a relatively new company, releasing their first road running shoe in 2011. At the time, the trend was toward minimalist shoes, but Hoka was focused on the exact opposite: a maximalist shoe.

Today they are known for the extra cushioning and their bold and bright colors. I always know when someone is wearing Hoka One One shoes because I can see them from a mile away!

What Makes Them Unique

I used to rent from an amazing lady who was a Master’s runner and ran all the time. She is still an inspiration to me, and I will never forget her advice to remember how much of a blessing it is to be able to run.

Her favorite shoes were Hokas, and she had tons of them! Hoka is known for its maximum cushioned shoes with rocker bottoms. If you think that you’d like a little extra cushioning, Hoka is the way to go. I’ve known several Master’s runners who love them.

They are known for being light, comfortable, and cushioned. The miles will fly by if you get a pair of running shoes made by Hoka One One. Many ultramarathon runners like using Hoka shoes because they are so light and cushioned.

See our complete list of the top Hoka One One running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

The Hoka One One team is a who’s-who of the elite ultrarunning world: Jim Walmsley, Sage Canaday, Tim Tollesfon, Sabrina Little, Ellie Greenwood, Andrea Huser, Kris Brown, and others. The track team includes Megan Mansy.

Best-Sellers

Bondi 6

 

Clifton 6

4. Saucony

History of the Company

Saucony was founded in 1898, getting its name from Saucony Creek in Pennsylvania. They moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts when they were bought out by a rival brand in the 1960s. Years later, they were purchased by a company in the greater Boston area.

Saucony is known for its grid cushioning that looks like spider webs and flexes each time you pound the pavement. This has been a signature of Saucony for over 15 years.

What Makes Them Unique

If you’re someone that is high-tech and likes anything that is on the cutting edge, Saucony is your brand. They are technology-focused, and they have new technology for performance and comfort, giving you a smooth ride whenever you run.

Because of their technology, Saucony shoes can be a little spendy, and you might be less likely to purchase a pair of these shoes. But if you’re looking for light shoes that will last for a long time, you’ll definitely get that in a pair of Saucony shoes.

See our list of the best Saucony running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Jared Ward likes Saucony Type A shoes because they are light and have a good amount of cushioning, which helps with rebound. They are almost 50% lighter than many other marathon shoes!

Best-Sellers

Guide 13

 

Triumph 17

5. ASICS

History of the Company

ASICS was created after World War II when the founder of the company, Kihachiro Onitsuka established the company in 1949.

The company was later renamed ASICS in 1977 as an acronym for a Latin phrase: “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano,” meaning “A healthy mind in a healthy body.

In the 1950s, the company released its first athletic shoe, a basketball shoe, and later a marathon shoe. By the mid-1960s, the distinctive Mexico line (the current ASICS stripes) would appear on every new shoe.

In 1977, the same year the company was renamed, ASICS released its first running shoe, and ASICS became known as a popular brand in the sport.

What Makes Them Unique

ASICS is another brand that I’ve used, and it’s one that my best friend loves. When she lived in Spain, she ran five miles a day and always used ASICS. This brand is known for its running shoes that feature gel cushioning and a unique fit locked heel into the shoe.

In my experience, ASICS last for forever. On the other hand, an editor for this site has had problems with the locked heels wearing out quickly, long before the outer or sole of the shoe shows wear.

That aside, they are known for providing extra support if you need it. Whether you want a shoe that is great for trail running, cross country, or road running, ASICS likely has one that would be a good fit for you.

See our complete list of the best ASICS running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Ryan Hall, the only American to break 2:05:00 in the marathon and one of three to run under 1:00:00 in the half, raced in the Gel HyperSpeed. Today Diane Nukuri of Burundi loves ASICS Gel HyperSpeed 7 shoes.

Best-Sellers

Gel-Nimbus 22

Gel-Kayano 27

6. Nike

History of the Company

Nike, then called Blue Ribbon Sports, released its first shoe at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon in June 1972. The company’s t-shirt had a lowercase “nike” in script, which led some people to ask, “Who’s Mike?”

Jeff Galloway was the first athlete to cross a finish line with Nike shoes. Nike became known for its waffle shoes, the first sole of which was made with an actual waffle iron!

In the 1980s, Nikes became synonymous with Michael Jordan, which helped to establish its image, and by the 1990s and 2000s, the Nike swoosh was everywhere in sports. Today, it still is.

What Makes Them Unique

This is the brand that everyone has heard of, and I have some friends that will always use Nike products. It’s a classic brand with fashionable styles, and it’s definitely true that you’ll always look good if you buy Nike running shoes.

Nike is at the forefront of shoe technology, and that is not without controversy. The introduction of the Vaporfly 4% shoe, which uses a carbon fiber plate to maximize running efficiency and energy return, started an international debate about how much is too much in a running shoe. Records at all distances started to fall by unheard-of margins.

When Eliud Kipchoge rode a later version of the shoe, the Next%, to the world’s first sub-2:00:00 marathon, it seemed as if half the world threw a fit over the technology. World Athletics ended up revising their rules regarding running shoes in response to the Vaporfly line.

Nike may be on the forefront of athletic shoe as fashion. But a quick look at the shoes worn by the winners of major marathons since 2016 leaves one thing very clear: the fastest marathoners in the world all wear Nike.

High performance and great looks is a winning combination. If you want to look good and still get a decent shoe, Nike will definitely do the trick.

See our complete list of the men’s Nike running shoes

See our complete list of the top women’s Nike running shoes

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Galen Rupp loves the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% because it’s a light shoe that gives him the support he needs to avoid overpronation.

Similarly, Ruti Aga of Ethiopia likes Nike Zoom Streak 5. Who else? Well, all the big names. All of them. Kipchoge. Bekele. Tola. In 2018, 8 of the 12 World Marathon Majors races were won by Nike athletes.

Best-Sellers

Air Zoom Pegasus 37

 

Air Zoom Vomero 14

7. On Running

History of the Company

Like Hoka One One, On Running is a newer company formed by three friends and runners in Switzerland. Founded in 2010, it has become quite the prominent company in the past ten years, with over seven million runners in over 50 countries wearing On shoes.

What Makes Them Unique

On Running shoes are known for their hollow-hole soles that give you an interesting feel and cushioning. If you’re looking for something different, they might be a great choice for you. The Wall Street Journal described them in 2012 as a revolutionary running shoe.

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

There is a whole host of elite runners who wear On shoes, including triathlon legend Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and many others that On Running lists on their elite athletes page.

Best-Sellers

Cloud

 

Cloudstratus

8. Mizuno

History of the Company

Mizuno was founded in 1906 in Osaka, Japan. They sold various Western goods, including baseballs, and for many years, the company focused on sporting equipment.

In 1982, the RunBird athletic shoes became available, and running shoes started to become more popular.

In 1991, Mizuno shoes set the 100m dash world record of 9.86 seconds in Tokyo, and Mizuno began to develop a wide variety of options for running shoes.

What Makes Them Unique

If you want to go fast, Mizuno is the brand for you. They make fast, comfortable shoes that utilize a wave plate for a responsive feel. They have an air mesh that gives your feet oxygen, and they are very dynamic.

Some runners love to use Mizuno for running marathons because they are comfortable, light, and responsive. In other words: running shoes for professionals.

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Mizuno has a wide variety of individuals listed on their elite athletes page, including runners Maegan Krifchin, Megan Malasarte, Rob Mullett, Caroline Rotich, and Brandon Lasater.

Best-Sellers

Wave Rider 23

 

Wave Inspire 16

 

9. Altra

History of the Company

Established by two friends who wanted a zero-drop shoe, Altra was incorporated in 2009 and was in business by 2010. One of the founders, Brian Beckstead, had participated in a number of ultra runs, and his feet would always be bloody and blistered by the end.

But when he tried an Altra prototype for a 100-mile race in 2010, it was completely different, and he knew that Altra was going to be a success. Since then, Altra has become a common brand for trail runners and ultrarunners, and for anyone who wants a minimalist experience.

What Makes Them Unique

Altra is the brand for minimalist shoes. All of their shoes are zero-drop with a wide toe box, meaning that the ball and heel of your foot are level. This helps to promote natural-style running.

Many ultra and trail runners use Altra, so if you like to get off the beaten path, you might really enjoy Altra shoes.

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Altra sponsors Zach Bitter, who broke the 100-mile world record in 2019 at 11:19:13. He knew he was going to be on the track for 12 hours, so he opted for Altra Solstice shoes since it has more room in the toe box than other Altra shoes.

See our complete list of the top Altra running shoes

Best-Sellers

Escalante 2

 

Torin Plush 4.5

 

10. Adidas

History of the Company

Adidas was founded in Germany in 1949 when Adi Dassler wanted to create the best equipment he could for athletes. In the 1950s, Adidas designed a world-record-holding sprint shoe and a wide variety of soccer cleats in shoes.

Soon the company would be known around the world with its easily recognizable three stripes. Today, Adidas is known for its impact on fashion and culture as well as sports and running.

What Makes Them Unique

Back when I was a teacher, Adidas was a popular brand for the students to wear. Like Nike, it’s a fashion-forward company. Additionally, Adidas was the first brand to introduce Boost foam, which lasts longer and provides energy return while running.

Adidas is the choice of many athletes, and most of my students who wore Adidas shoes were soccer players. Many people like how lightweight and thus great for running Adidas shoes are.

Professional Runners Who Rep This Brand

Wilson Chebet of Kenya opts for the Adidas adizero adios 3 because it provides a good grip. He also made a great shout-out to his older brother who worked hard through manual labor to buy his brother his first pair of running shoes.

In fact, before the Nike Vaporfly line, Adidas had a firm grip on ultra-fast marathoning. Dennis Kimetto set the marathon world record in 2014 wearing Adidas, as did Wilson Kipsang and Patrick Makau before him.

Best-Sellers

Ultraboost 20

 

Solar Glide 3

 

Concluding Thoughts

In the end, brands of running shoes all come down to personal preference. Some brands are better for road running, while others are great for ultra running and trail running. It’s worthwhile to ask your friends what running shoes they love.

If you’re like me, you may learn about a brand that you had never considered before, and if it works for you, well, that’s all that matters. Good luck in figuring out the best running shoe brand for you! You can’t go wrong with any of these ten brands.

The Wired Runner