The 11 Best Budget Running Shoes

For absolute beginners, running is often sold as the ultimate budget-friendly workout because it requires no special equipment – just your good old reliable trainers and a water bottle. However, running is one heck of an addictive workout, and as soon as you move into running at least once a week, you’re likely to begin noticing that not any pair of cross-trainers or running gear will do.

Cushioning, stability control, comfort, and breathability all begin to matter the more you hit the trail. The specific shoes you will need will likely depend on your particular gait. Overpronators and supinators will often realize that investing a little bit more on quality will save them many evenings of knee pain and hundreds of dollars in recovering from injuries.

Even for the lucky few among us with perfect technique and neutral pronation, a proper pair of road-running shoes will quickly improve your performance and give you the edge you need for your first 5K of the season. Because of this, the market is now full of very high-tech, luxurious options. From celebrity endorsements to the barefoot-shoe craze, running shoes are big business.

Stay ahead of credit card debt without sacrificing your joint health with one of these well-selected, thoroughly tested, and top-rated budget-friendly running shoes.

361-Strata 2361-Strata 2

A great mid-range option that targets the mid-range runners, the 361-Strata 2 provide both decent cushioning and that little extra motion stability that most runners need. These shoes are made from a breathable synthetic mesh (available in four different color combinations, all equally bright and easy to spot) and reinforced with an extra layer of foam near the insole. However, their best feature is the rubber forefoot outsole, which can discreetly help correct your landing and take significant stress off your joints.

With an average weight of 11.7 ounces, these running shoes are not too light to feel flimsy, but they won’t hold you back either.

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New Balance Fuel Cell ImpulseNew Balance Fuel Cell Impulse

New Balance may not be a major World Cup sponsor, and as a brand, they are relatively low profile when compared to the Big Three. However, they have quickly established themselves as an excellent option for fitness devotees and have expanded their offering significantly. From weight-lifting to minimalist options, they seem eager to provide something for everyone.

The FuelCell model is a great option for looking for a faithful neutral shoe. No frills and no big branding attempts were made here, which keeps the final price tag free of any wasted resources. Instead, you get good soles, efficient removable inserts, a resilient mesh, and a very precise arch. The boot-like construction can feel a bit tight when first trying it out, but it quickly compensates for it by improving your stability and protecting your metatarsals.

As an added bonus, these shoes are remarkably light with an average weight of just over 8 ounces. Add that to their relatively minimal drop (just 6 mm), and you have a great companion for those days when you are looking for speed.

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Hoka One One CavuHoka One One Cavu

Overpronating is significantly more common than under pronating (also known as supinating). Because of this, stability running shoes tend to get all the attention and the biggest budgets. If your soles have a tendency to wear out on the outer side first, however, the chances are that you feel a bit neglected by the mainstream market trends.

If that sounds like you, there’s no need to spend a small fortune on gel inserts for extra cushioning. The Cavu running shoe by Hoka One will provide you with the protection you need. These reliable running buddies also come with a superb mesh that will keep scents away even during the harshest of summers. The collar padding and fully adjustable laces will keep them comfortable even when switching to long-distance training.

As a final bonus, the available color combinations look bold without being gaudy. Try the charcoal and black if you are looking to fit in, or go for anthracite and sulfur spring if you are planning to run at night.

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Skechers GoRun Ride 7Skechers GoRun Ride 7

Despite their airy and light appearance, the GoRun Ride 7s by Skechers are incredibly tough. They can take 5 kilometers straight of grass, dusty trails, and hard cement with minimal discomfort.

As a brand, Skechers has positioned itself well in the market of non-professional athletes who are looking for something equally efficient and eye-pleasing. Good materials, smart design, and a youthful look are now considered the quintessential Skechers qualities. But the GoRun Ride 7 model successfully improves this with impressively lightweight construction, a 6 mm drop, and padding in all the right places.

This includes extra cushioning near the heels as well as a padded collar and comfy tongue that somehow still stays cool even in hot and humid weather.

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Reebok Fusion FlexweaveReebok Fusion Flexweave

The Flexweave line was first created by Reebok as a budget-friendly option for offering competition-worthy quality to those of us who often need to stick to the same pair of shoes all day. Eventually, they branched out their builds into weightlifting, CrossFit, or combat training shoes, which left the Fusion Flexweave as the only model devoted to joggers and cardio lovers.

Nevertheless, this is a great shoe for those with neutral pronation or who are trying to extend their workouts beyond the 5K range. Their breathable mesh and curvy, natural landing is complemented by the design’s versatility and unassuming color combinations, which make this a great gym-to-street show.

For those looking to make the most out of their investment, the Reebok Fusion Flexweave also offers a low-cut design that can be used with any sock model as well as a high-tech rubber sole.

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Puma Men’s Cell Surin 2Puma Men’s Cell Surin 2

Puma was making a name for itself among speed fans even before they paired up with Usain Bolt and his nearly superhuman feats. Despite their recent success and newfound status, they have never forgotten their roots and have, therefore, kept providing budget-friendly options for every niche market.

The Cell Surin is a great cross trainer and mid-distance running shoe that won’t have to wait until the next Black Friday sale before it can be squeezed into your budget. Made from 100% synthetic materials, it is a durable and well-made shoe that provides superior breathability, good landing, and proper stability for those who need to pivot or change speeds often.

Also, the design looks very Puma, very cool, and way above its actual price. And what’s even better, they have managed to achieve this without driving themselves into neon or streetlight territory. Just five color combinations, mostly favoring red, black, and gray, are all they needed to make a great-looking and better-performing running shoe.

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Nike’s Men Air MaxNike’s Men Air Max

Nike rarely pulls any punches when claiming what it’s due and a brand this size rarely has any small punches in its repertoire anyway. A reinforced engineer mesh meets head-on against a carbon fiber outsole in a great attempt to provide its audience with the best budget-friendly outdoor running shoes of the year.

A cleverly-hidden phylon forefoot offers a little extra edge when speeding uphill or protecting your toes during a long-distance session while the reflective stripes will do their part in preventing a nighttime accident.

These running shoes also manage to offer superb stability and extra cushioning without looking oversized or making you look like a 90s stereotype. It takes a Nike-worthy designer to accomplish that, and the opportunity to offer a wide range of colors (13 different combinations) was not wasted.

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Brooks Ghost 11Brooks Ghost 11

Mass production has been providing us all with more affordable, faster products for nearly 200 years. However, it has also pushed manmade products into the luxury market to the point that manmade or handstitched shoes below $200 are now quite the rarity.

Good thing Brooks is still around to defy this trend. The Ghost 11 is a proud running shoe that doesn’t come across as vain or superfluous in any way. Even its flashier edges can all be quickly justified in the name of comfort and performance.

And do they perform! Thanks to their bouncy rubber soles and energizing cushioning, a quick run with the Ghost 11 feels a lot like hitting the gas pedal on a motorbike. Despite their unusually large differential drop (12 mm, a bit above the modern standards), they still offer good arch support and enough room to stretch or bend. They are also very easy to adjust, thanks to their plush tongues and collars as well as their neat laces. All parts of the shoe are made from earth-friendly synthetic materials, available in eight different color schemes.

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ONEMIX Air Running ShoesOnemix Air Running Shoes

Onemix is not a big player in the sports gear market yet, but if they keep launching models like their Air Running shoes, they should find themselves to be a cult classic in no time. These snug running shoes are a great option for overpronators who need an extra pull right beneath their arch to keep their gait healthy. However, the extra-large air cushion chambers manage to turn this high-stability shoe into a neutral and overall friendly model.

Sizes tend to run a bit small, especially for those who have wide feet, but they more than make up for this with a soft interior feel, a breathable mesh, and a series of unique zesty colors, which range from lime green to key lime yellow with the obligatory stops in the blue and black palette.

As any brand trying to build a base of loyal fans, these shoes come with a surprise pair of free socks.

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ADIDAS AerobounceADIDAS Aerobounce

Big brands sometimes seem set in launching a flashier and pricier model every year, but no true megacorporation can live off the 1% alone. Perhaps this is why Adidas has kept their Aerobounce model current and available in the back of their catalog for years.

The Aerobounce is probably the ultimate budget running shoe, at least where Adidas is concerned. A midsize shaft, 8 millimeters of drop, and a total weight of 7 ounces speak of a shoe meant for good, devoted runners who are not really interested in the Boston Qualifiers but who have logged enough miles to know comfort from blister-worthy. The rubber outsole will perform well both in outdoor trails and inside the gym and offers extra traction on wet floors.

The two-tone synthetic mesh is not only incredibly fresh but also looks nice: colorful yet stylish with the black background providing a great counter-balance to the solar red edges.

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Under Armour Surge Running ShoeUnder Armour Surge Running Shoe

Under Armour is rarely found in budget lists, which is something the brand seems particularly proud of. Perhaps this is what makes the Surge such a rare find. All the quality and attention to detail that we have come to expect from Under Armour can still be found here without any accidental extravagance.

These shoes provide all the basics a good pair of neutral running shoes need but with the added perks of Under Armour’s passion for innovation and efficiency. A low drop and an extra-rugged outsole will provide you with a light, travel-friendly, fast companion that will remain dry and efficient across all seasons. This is perhaps why they went with a textile mesh rather than the standard synthetic engineered mesh, although no ugly smells can be expected despite the relatively unorthodox choice.

The only defect, if one must be pointed out, is that the model seems targeted at narrow feet only as the wider sizes remain difficult to locate – or may require a different model altogether.

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