Best Cheap Running Shoes
Experts recommend replacing running shoes about every 300 to 500 miles. By this rule of thumb, consumers who run an average of three miles three days a week should be buying new shoes about once a year. Finding a good cheap running shoe suited to your foot can take some of the sting out of this exercise. Adidas, Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, Reebok, Mizuno, and Puma are some of the best-known names in this market, which totals more than $3 billion a year, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Based on our analysis of price, features, and online reviews, we identified several top budget running shoes priced between $50 and $100. Our selections are all available in men's and women's versions.
Our Top Pick
Saucony Kinvara 5 Review
A Saucony Kinvara review by Runner's World concludes that the already well-regarded shoe is getting better every year. This version promises improved durability, with extra rubber on the outsole and a redesigned mesh upper with a more plush collar (the rim that surrounds the ankle). The magazine declares the Saucony Kinvara 5 a "responsive ride" and names it an Editor's Choice.
The Saucony Kinvara 5 (starting at $63, Amazon) also garners cheers from consumers. At Amazon and Road Runner Sports, reviewers comment on the shoe's sturdier mesh upper and improved forefoot flexibility. One runner who logged 80 miles before posting a review says the shoes hold up well in a variety of training runs, ranging from long distance and speed work to hard-packed trails and runs in mud/ice.
Other reviews, including an expert appraisal in the Running Times, laud the new Pro-Lock lacing system, which wraps mid-foot and provides a secure yet flexible fit. One reviewer mentions that it took him a few runs to get used to the lacing. Overall users are impressed with the comfort of this shoe.
The Saucony Kinvara 5, which comes in men's and women's styles, is a neutral running shoe with a minimalist bent; it's designed for people with normal to high arches and normal pronation. The construction is simple and very light -- just 6.7 to 7.7 ounces, depending on gender and size. Saucony's proprietary technology includes memory foam heel pods, a breathable upper made with FlexFilm, and PowerGrid cushioning in the midsole.
The combination of lightweight, sturdy construction and responsive performance keeps reviewers gushing about the Saucony Kinvara 5. That's enough to warrant placement at the top of our list of recommended budget running shoes.
Saucony Guide 8 Review
Saucony Guide reviews heap praise on this stability shoe designed for runners with a tendency toward "overpronation," or a pronounced inward rolling or flattening of the foot when it hits the ground. Both male and female runners swear by them, according to reviews posted on Amazon. Many are loyal fans of the line or converts from Asics or Nike. They report that no break-in period is necessary -- the shoe is comfortable right out of the box. Many mention the arch support, whether it's for hours spent on their feet at work, stints on the treadmill, or training runs outside. As a stability running shoe, the Saucony Guide 8 (starting at $85, Amazon) weighs slightly more than neutral models, coming in at 9 to 10.4 ounces, depending on gender and size. Yet the shoes feel sufficiently light, reviewers say, while providing ample cushioning.
The consensus is similar in reviews at Zappos and Road Runner Sports. Multiple reviews note the extra room in the toe box and one credits the shoe with supreme ankle support. About the only sour note is a couple of comments on Amazon that reference a tighter fit in the women's version; some users suggest buying a half size larger than normal.
Stability in this shoe comes from a molded and contoured sock liner, which cradles the arch while providing cushioning to the heel, and a medial post in the midsole to support the arch. High-density EVA foam provides a plush cushion. The shoe features a mesh upper and special lining to keep moisture at bay.
If you want a stability running shoe and your budget is limited, so, too, are your options. For a stability shoe in the Cheapism price range, this one stacks up well, with comfortable arch support and cushioning. The Saucony Guide 8 hits the cheap ceiling hard but is worth the investment. If you can't find a low price for your size and color choice, look for last year's version, the Saucony Guide 7. Solereview considers the two a 94 percent match.
Brooks PureConnect 4 Review
Runners who have posted Brooks PureConnect reviews at Zappos regard this shoe as extremely lightweight, super supportive, and well-cushioned. This assessment is shared by experts at Solereview, who laud the excellent transition from impact to push-off, as well as the light weight, cushion, and responsiveness of the Brooks PureConnect 4 (starting at $100, Amazon). Compared with its highly regarded predecessor, this model offers a more cushioned ride and a plumper, softer upper. The shoe is available in men's and women's styles.
The Brooks PureConnect 4 is something of a cross between a neutral shoe and a minimalist running shoe. It suits people with normal arches and normal pronation who prefer a barely-there feel but still like a well-cushioned ride. A noticeably contoured insole creates a raised profile for arch support. There's a 4-millimeter drop between the heel and the toe.
The design of these budget-priced running shoes features a few novelties. A unique toe-flex outsole puts a 1-inch split between the big toe and the rest, promising more independent and natural movement, although Solereview says it doesn't do much to help generate more power. Brooks' BioMoGo midsole foam and DNA gel provide the right amount of cushioning for a neutral shoe while keeping the weight down between 7 and 9.13 ounces, depending on gender and size. The upper is made of pliable mesh for plenty of breathability.
A minimalist experience wrapped in a neutral package, the Brooks PureConnect 4 claims its share of devotees. Although the price pushes our Cheapism limit, users have few gripes and generally find true comfort when running in these shoes. If you want to try a minimalist-like shoe with neutral cushioning, this is the one to grab.
Asics Gel-Excel33 3 Review
This neutral running shoe, designed for people with normal pronation and higher arches, commands positive attention in Asics Gel-Excel33 reviews. Compared with its predecessor, the Asics Gel-Excel33 3 (starting at $63, Amazon) features a snugger fit in the heel and midfoot and is an ounce lighter: 7.4 to 11 ounces, depending on gender and size. There's a 10-millimeter offset, or drop, from heel to forefoot. Deep flex grooves in the outsole allow the shoe to bend easily, providing a smooth toe-off.
User reviews on the Asics website and the retail site Road Runner Sports attest to the comfort of the shoe's gel cushioning technology and wide, roomy toe box. They also praise the flexibility, breathability, and comfort of the seamless upper. More than one reviewer describes the shoe as "springy" and ready to go out of the box. The FluidRide midsole is light, durable, and very responsive.
Overall the shoes are so comfortable, one reviewer says, that she wears them around the house like slippers. Anti-odor sock liners provide a snug feel. Two other reviewers swear by the Asics Gel-Excel33 3 for volleyball practice, training, and half marathons. An expert review from Runner's World lauds the shoe for being well-cushioned and flexible.
Gel technology, responsive cushioning, light weight, and overall comfort earn this shoe votes of confidence from experts and consumers. For a budget price, runners get the support required for a very comfortable run.
Nike Air Zoom Structure 17 Review
Loyal fans of Nike's Zoom Structure line are disappointed in this version, according to Nike Structure 17 reviews. What was once deemed a top stability shoe for runners who like more arch support fell in the rankings with its 16th and 17th incarnations. As Solereview explains, earlier editions of this shoe featured a medial support post to provide stability and discourage overpronation (an inward roll and flattening of the foot with each stride). The Nike Air Zoom Structure 17 (starting at $74, Amazon), along with the previous model, uses a different midsole construction. Foam of two different densities is fused diagonally together. Instead of providing stability, reviewers say, this structure causes each foot to lean toward the outer (softer) side of the shoe.
The apparent rationale for the redesign was to give runners a closer-to-the-ground feel; marketing materials note the "Dynamic Support platform" and patented Zoom units in the heel and forefoot for low-profile cushioning. However, reviewers posting on multiple sites lament the changes in the once-lauded shoe line. As if problematic arch support and instability weren't enough, a few reviews posted on the retail site Road Runner Sports report that the shoes wore out quickly and the sole came apart.
Runners wishing that Nike had left the original design alone can take solace in the newer Nike Air Zoom Structure 18 (starting at $90, Amazon). Reviews by Running Shoes Guru and Solereview herald the return of a once beloved shoe. A midsole post reinforces the dual-density foam, delivering the stability lacking in the Nike Air Zoom Structure 17.
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