Spending a fortune on running sneakers isn’t hard to do. The lighter and faster the shoes are, the seemingly more expensive they become. But the real challenge lies in finding a pair of shoes that will last you through a training block for less than $100. We took that challenge and pulled from last year’s sneaker tests to highlight some of the “winning sneakers” step-down models. Caveat: that they had to be just as high performing.
While all of these sneakers are $100 or less, they will get you from point A to point B over and over again, all while providing proper arch support and enough room for your piggies to stretch and breathe. Whether you’re in the market for a new pair of running sneakers or are looking to save on your next pair of gym shoes, this list is for you.
Disclaimer: A lot of these shoes are on sale right now, which is what makes them such a great deal. However, they are also all on the lower end of the spectrum as compared to many others within each brand. It’s also worth scouring the web to search for deals if you can. While there are some variations between each iteration of a shoe, just because you like version six doesn’t mean you’ll like version five. Often times brands completely re-do models so we recommend you try them out before committing.
These extremely lightweight runners are built to fit your foot thanks to a foot-shaped toe box, and a thin upper. It’s a racing flat through and through, so lace these up on days when you want to feel zippy around the track. It’s a zero drop shoe and weighs just 4.1-ounces. Since the upper is so thin, it’s easily flexible and will mold to your feet as you continue to run at a quick clip.
361’s stability shoe comes with an engineered mesh upper, a non-irritating tongue and 361’s proprietary foam, QU!kFoam, in the crash pad and forefoot. Everything about this shoe helps to secure your foot — from the medial post to the overlay pattern around the midfoot — all working together to lock your foot to the foam to help save energy with each step. The midsole and cushion are stiff enough to provide a bit of a bouncy feeling, but just hard enough that you’re not going to want to wear them all day long — it’s quite a different feel compared to some of the plush Brooks models we tested. It’s a bit of a heftier shoe at 11.2 ounces, but if you need stability and support, test these out.
Asics GT-2000 6
Everything you know and love about Asics can be found in this stability sneaker. Trussing system technology helps guide your feet into a proper gait, while the rear and forefoot gel eliminate shock absorption in your hips — especially during the start of your footfall. Top all that off with a wider forefoot and you have a pair of shoes that’s overflowing with tech features to help over-pronators go for longer. How to know if you’re an over-pronator? Look at the bottom of your current running shoes to check if there’s more wear on the outside of your heels as opposed to the inside near your big toes.
New Balance FuelCell Impulse
These New Balances feature a boot-like construction that hugs your entire foot when you put them on. At first, they might feel a bit small, but once you start moving around you’ll be impressed at how normal they feel. They provide immediate feedback when on the treadmill with a goldilocks grip (not too sticky and not too slippery) along the tread. The shoes are just 8.2-ounces with a 6-mm drop and they are built for speed. We found that they also double as great travel shoes — you can jump onto machines or lift weights without feeling like your feet are sliding all over the place when your workout calls for lateral movements.
Skechers GoRun Ride 7
We ran a 5K race in these and were shocked at just how plush the GoRun Ride 7 felt. The outsole didn’t look like it could handle a mix of grass, trail, dirt and concrete, but it proved us wrong. The GoRun Ride also has a 6-mm drop (similar to the FuelCell) and weighs 9.3 ounces. The two-tone knit upper is on the more minimalist side for Skechers, and it’s perfectly breathable during a 30-degree day, as well as a humid 70-degree day. The padded collar and tongue are plush touches we like.
Brooks Revel 2
The Revel is part of Brooks’s neutral cushion line with BioMoGo DNA underfoot. The foam redirects impacts at all angles, meaning if you hit the ground running with your heel or toe or midfoot, you’re protected. It’s on the plusher side at 10.2-ounces, but only $100, beating both the Glycerin ($150) and Ghost ($120) prices — both of which we love for days when we could use a bit more cushion between our feet and the road. If you typically run in the Glycerin or Ghost and like the fit, feel and look, but need something slightly slimmer, try these. The sleek sneakers have an updated upper featuring flat-knit, heat-activated yarns that won’t stretch as you sweat.
Hoka One One Cavu
These neutral and responsive running shoes would do the trick for an early morning run commuter. The Cavu features a lower midsole than previous Hoka One One sneakers, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not cushioned enough. These handled sprints and daily runs easily, thanks to a fast turnover and a lightweight feel on the feet (there’s no clunkiness between steps). With a soft heel and firm forefoot, heel strikers can enjoy a squishy landing.
Reebok Floatride Energy
The Floatride Energy are the little cousin of the Floatride Run Pro, a shoe our team has tested over the course of a Ragnar Relay, for countless 5Ks and speedwork days. We like the lightweight feel and kick of the shoes — despite the accrual of hundreds of miles — and the Floatride Energy aren’t much different. They use the same midsole and a similar engineered mesh upper, just with a slightly more dense foam underfoot, which brings them in at a lower price. While we can’t speak to the durability of these, all the reviews point to positive.
Nike Odyssey React Flyknit 2
These lightweight runners pair Nike React foam (also found in the more expensive Epic React) with a mixed Flyknit and synthetic upper. We’ve run in a version of these with a water-repellent upper (the Shield) all winter long and the foam has kept our feet healthy, regardless of if we’re running nine miles at once or doing hill sprints on repeat. The Odyssey shares a similar foam with the Epic Reacts, but the upper is more sturdy, giving these a locked-in feel.
Topo Athletic Fli-Lyte 2
These 8.4-ounce sneakers won an Editor’s Pick award from Runner’s World for its cushioned, yet responsive feel. After hearing complaints of a midsole that was too firm (meaning there’s no bounce in your step), Topo Athletic tweaked the foam without changing the weight to make it more peppy. If you like space for your toes, these shoes and their roomy toe box are for you.
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