The Best Running Shoes for Kids in 2018
You wouldn’t go running in any old pair of shoes – neither should your kids.
Although kids seem to have the energy and temperament to run in pretty much anything, the right shoe makes a huge difference performance and comfort during training runs.
While kids running shoes aren’t as focused on technology and features as adult shoes, you still find large gaps between quality and comfort in kids shoes. The shoes we like find the right balance between comfort and durability.
Most of the running shoes listed are neutral shoes, meaning there is no corrective support placed in the shoes. We feel that unless your child has very flat feet or has been recommended to wear a stability shoe by a doctor, it’s better to use a neutral, non-corrective shoe. This allows their feet grow and develop naturally without artificially changing their running gait.
So let’s get started and check out the best running shoes for kids in 2018.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
1. Saucony Ride 10
The Saucony Ride 10 is a neutral shoe modeled after the adult version of the Ride. Like many of Saucony’s running shoes, it’s lightweight with nice cushioning and support.
Unlike most running shoes, the drop on the Ride 10 is 8 mm. This allows your child’s foot to sit flatter on the ground, which is more accommodating for a natural running gait.
The Ride 10 also includes a Tri-flex outsole, which means you can take them from the court to the playground.
The upper on the Ride 10 keeps your foot in place and adds extra security around the midfoot. However, it does have a wider toe box, which is great for kids with growing feet or sore toes.
- Cool colors, mirror adult Ride 10s
- Work well on many surfaces
- Bigger toebox for growing kids
- Traction issues on slippery surfaces
- Insoles may slip
2. New Balance Zante 4
The Zante is a neutral road shoe with a big focus on comfort. Like the Saucony Ride, New Balance modeled the kids shoe after the adult e version. So it’s lightweight with just enough cushion to protect kids’ feet. Whether they’re the first out the door or the last off the couch, there’s no need to coerce them into their running shoes.
In addition to comfort, you can expect a shoe with good traction even in wet conditions. Your kids will also find it easier to go faster as New Balance continues to add a bit of firmness and a low heel-to-toe drop to promote a natural stride.
It’s likely that the greatest benefit of this shoe is its ubiquitous popularity among children and adults. These shoes are very popular both for their performance and price.
- Lightweight shoe
- Super comfortable
- Many colors and very popular
- Promotes natural running style
- Firmer than other shoes
- Stability is lacking
3. New Balance 990 v4
New Balance remains all the rage, and there’s a reason: they make good shoes.
The 990 v4 is a stability shoe for daily road running. Its claim to fame is in its ability to support all kinds of feet from narrow feet to extra-wide feet. Although the style isn’t a slim one, it does disguise wide feet better than the bulky or wide versions of other running or street shoes. It’s available in a range of widths to fit different types of feet.
There are a few things to love about the latest version of the oldest New Balance running shoe.
First, it includes ENCAP midsole technology for supporting little feet and adding stability. The protection makes it a great shoe for kids with flat arches complaining about pain in their feet and arches.
Second, the added lace keeper is a lifesaver. It keeps the laces tight and prevents the tongue from moving.
A few things to note: there’s a limited color scheme available on these shoes. They are also heavier than the Zante 4. Still, it’s a small trade-off for exceptional comfort.
- Underfoot support
- Supports wide and narrow feet without looking bulky
- Quality materials translate into serious durability
- Lack of available colors
- Stiffer than Zante 4
- Upper-end of price range, though quality is very high
4. Nike Free RN 2018
Nike Free RN is one of the latest models of the original Nike Free – the manufacturer’s popular lightweight shoe.
The shoe is designed to be an alternative to barefoot running by providing both cover and cushion to the foot. For adults, it’s a good transition shoe for someone who is interested in trying a Vibram shoe but isn’t ready to go all the way. For kids, it promotes good running form and builds strength if their feet.
The Nike Free and Free RN serve as more of a kind of slipper than a shoe. Although there is some cushion, these shoes remain flexible. You can even wiggle them on with the laces tied.
Be wary of transitioning kids straight into Nike Free RNs if they’re currently in a very structured shoe. Additionally, this is a better shoe for running on the grass or softer surfaces.
Although you can use it as a gym shoe, it wouldn’t be recommended for lots of court time in part because of the hard surface but also because there’s no tread on the sole.
Many kids also wear the shoe as a an everyday shoe since it comes in many colors and has a popular style.
- Train kids to run in a barefoot style that promotes a natural running gait
- Soft, comfy shoes
- Great colors and unique style
- Lack of cushion renders shoes unsuitable for all surfaces
- No treads on sole
5. Asics Tri-Noosa 11
Have you seen bright, multi-colored neon shoes floating around your local 5ks? They’re likely the Asics Tri-Noosa – and they’re great shoes for adults and kids.
Asics designed the shoe to be comfortable even sockless, like when you’re transitioning from the swim to the run in a race. The lightweight sockliner protects your feet, and there are even grips to help you get the shoe on with wet feet.
Like other Asics models, much of the cushion comes from the gel in the sole. However, the gel does more than providing comfort – it also guides kids’ ankles away from pronation.
The Tri-Noosa is an expensive shoe for those without the need for the extra features. But if you participate in family triathlons, you might find that some of the features make the kids’ run just a bit more pleasant.
- Features designed to support triathletes
- Lightweight but still stable
- Wild colors
- Sturdy shoes
- High priced
- Shoe can be narrow or smaller than other models in the same size
6. New Balance Rush v3
Looking for a budget-friendly New Balance shoe? Check out the New Balance Rush v3.
The Rush is part of the Vazee running line, but it’s more affordable, important for kid’s shoes because they outgrow them so quickly.
New Balance’s Rush sneaker is a good kid shoe because while it’s a running shoe, it’s also good for cross-training and gym class. It’s also a good looking and trendy shoe, making shoe shopping just a bit easier and more affordable.
The shoe is light, but the underfoot cushions mean it’s still a sturdy shoe able to absorb shock during a long run. It’s also breezy enough to keep your feet cool without being too porous.
- Inexpensive but durable shoe
- Comfortable for running but also a good cross-trainer
- Strong grip on different surfaces
- Lack of flexibility makes the shoe stiff
- Isn’t a go-to shoe for extremely active kids, but good for the price
7. Saucony Freedom ISO
Most of the shoes we cover are newly released versions of shoes that have been around for quite some time. In fact, it’s not often we get to talk about a brand new shoe like the Saucony Freedom ISO.
Saucony attempted to design a lightweight shoe that’s as responsive on your first run as it is on your hundredth run.
These shoes aren’t quite racers, but they tend to be up towards that price point. Still, there’s something to be said for what Saucony calls the EVERUN, which is the foam used in the midsole that is said to provide 83% energy return. The foam is also underneath the insole, which is great because it keeps the shoe together.
This would be a great shoe for the child serious about running. It’s pricey but worth it for a top of the line kids running shoe.
- Lightweight and responsive
- Fun design and colors
- Fast shoe that performs better than even lighter shoes
- Snug fit won’t suit all kids
- Premium price point
8. Nike Zoom Pegasus 35
The Nike Zoom Pegasus is a classic running shoe for adults – and the same is true for the kids’ model.
The Pegasus 35 is one of the most comfortable running shoes out there. Many people use them for everyday wear, particularly because there’s so many colors available.
The kids Pegasus 35 has the same look and feel as the adult shoe. It has a soft upper and raised heel tab for comfort around the Achilles. The midsole also offers a cushioned, yet fast ride.
The 35 is generally regarded as being more breathable and having more traction than other pairs of shoes, which means your kids can work harder for longer without creating smelly shoes.
- Easy shoe with plenty of cushion for kids
- Plenty of colors to choose from
- Suitable for running and cross-training (great gym shoes)
- Durable for the price, but breaks down faster than other models
9. Asics Gel-Kayano 25
So far, this list has primarily included basic neutral shoes with a couple of more technical options.
But if your child needs a heavy-duty shoe with a whole lot of cushion, the Asics Gel-Kayano 25 is a worthwhile consideration.
Asics uses gel in addition to cushion, which keeps the shoe feeling comfortable longer. This particular shoe focuses on absorbing shock and promoting stability, which is ideal for anyone training for a long race or even those with injuries.
Although there’s a firmness in the midsole, the upper itself stretches with your foot. The new update also includes an upgrade to a FluidFit mesh, which improves circulation and is all but required in a heavily cushioned shoe.
- Gel and foam provide security and cushion
- Transitions are well supported by the Impact Guidance System and Guidance Trusstic System
- Available in attractive colors and styles
- High price point
- Stiff midsole makes them uncomfortable for general running and playing
10. Saucony Guide 10
The Saucony Guide 10 is a fast, stability road shoe for daily runs or just wearing to school.
Speed is supported by the midsole and the Tri-flex outsole. Both of these also contribute to a lightweight, secure fit for maintaining form and winning the race. In the updated Guide 10, Saucony added a firmer heel and midsole.
The extra firmness is helpful for kids who overpronate by adding extra stability. It also makes them faster because it speeds up the transition before takeoff.
It’s the Tri-flex outsole that wins the day in this pair of kids’ shoes. Whether they’re running track or playing soccer, the Saucony Guide will support them on any terrain. Wearing them from the gym floor to the road makes them a good pair of gym shoes for school.
Why are they great for kids? The security keeps their foot in place while learning. Plus, they’re comfortable straight out of the box, so there are no complaints about breaking them in.
- Outsole makes them versatile for all kinds of training or play
- Good stability combined with some softness
- Added firmness to heel and midsole is good for kids of overpronate
- Only a few colors available
- Forefoot area is narrow
- Not great on slippery surfaces
Catch Up with Your Kids in New Running Shoes
Whether they’re running laps in gym or training for a kid’s triathlon, they need the right pair of shoes.
Fortunately, many of the running shoes best loved by adults are also available in kids’ sizes with many of the same specs.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll both end up with the same pair of shoes.