Best Sport & Athletic Shoes Reviewed
Do you love engaging in a variety of physical activities that challenge both your abilities? With so many workout routines and sporting styles, it can be a challenge finding a pair of shoes to match your performance. Finding a pair that is appropriate to the terrain and weather conditions you plan to practice on is paramount to performing your best. Traction, cushioning, support, shock-absorption, and protection are all factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a pair of shoes. Footwear that is lacking the essential fundamental qualities required for your favorite physical activities heighten the risk of injuries including, shin splints, blisters, calluses, joint and muscle pain, stiff muscles, and pain in the arch of the foot.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Medium To High Arch
Stretch Mesh Upper
12mm Heel To Toe Drop
DNA LOFT Heel Crash Pad
BioMoGo DNA Cushioning
Gore Tex Version Available
- Brooks Ghost 11
- Nike Lebron XIII Unvrsty
- Adidas Adipower
- ASICS GEL-Venture 6
- Skechers Energy Afterburn
- Adidas Samba Classic
- Salomon X Ultra 3
- New Balance 608v4
- Puma Tazon 6 FM
- Nike Air Monarch IV
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Sports & Athletic Shoes
1. Brooks Ghost 11
Medium To High Arch
Stretch Mesh Upper
12mm Heel To Toe Drop
DNA LOFT Heel Crash Pad
BioMoGo DNA Cushioning
Gore Tex Version Available
Runs Slightly Narrow
The top running shoe at the moment the Ghost 11 is a continuation of one of the most successful series of running footwear made for those who need a neutral road running shoe with a good amount of cushioning and energy return. The upper of the shoe has been updated to now include engineered stretch mesh that perfectly combines support with flexibility, giving you a more comfortable fit you’ll definitely enjoy. And great news for those who never want to stop training - there’s a Gore-Tex version available as well.Read more
Named the best running shoe by Runner’s World, the Ghost 11 combines the company’s BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning to give you a shock absorbing shoe that’s responsive, lightweight and durable. The heel crash pad will be especially loved by runners who tend to land hard on their heels, and those who may be suffering from pain in this part of the foot.
The outsole of the Brooks Ghost 11 was made for use on pavement, giving you a good amount of traction in most conditions. The Omega Flex Grooves in the forefoot allow for a bigger range of motion of the foot, which means that you’ll have a more efficient toe-off phase, allowing you to use the strength of your foot to the max.
2. Nike Lebron XIII Unvrsty
Nubuck & BattleKnit 2.0 Upper
Flywire Cable Support
Customizable Lacing System
Herringbone Pattern Outsole
External Heel Counter
Great Midsole Stability
Although a lot of those who manage to snag the latest edition of the Nike LeBron won’t actually use these to play basketball, the latest release by Nike is a solid choice for all-round players who need a shoe which will perform for all styles of play. Compared to the previous edition, the XIII Unvrsty fixes many imperfections, improving traction, stability and cushioning - which are the three most important aspects of a good basketball shoe. The upper is made out of BattleKnit 2.0 that’s super supportive and allows easy entry and a customized fit.Read more
There are only a few basketball shoes that have an outsole that’ll work both indoors and outdoors. The LeBron XIII Unvrsty manages to do this by using a herringbone pattern that’s zoned, and that has grooves deep enough to prevent dirt from sticking in them. What does this mean on the court? Less wiping and longer wear. They’ll even stand up to a few months of use on concrete courts.
Nike’s Air cushioning systems are legendary for a reason - they work well to provide excellent shock absorption, provide a good amount of bounce back, are lightweight, and are less likely to pack than foam materials such as EVA. The LeBron XIII Unvrsty features Air cushions both in the heel and forefoot, giving you just the right amount while still allowing for a good feel of the court.
3. Adidas Adipower
Mesh Collar & Tongue
Hook & Loop Instep Strap
Vent Flow Openings
Cross-Lace Power Strap
PU Leather Upper
The Adidas Adipower Weightlift is made to provide support under heavy loads. It features a leather upper and a comfortably padded mesh collar and tongue. An instep strap holds your feet securely in place, and a cross-lace power strap keeps your laces in place. The Adipower features vent flow openings along the outsole for added airflow and comfort, along with a heel overlay that provides a stable and lightweight wear.Read more
The Adipower features a hook & loop instep strap which provides excellent rear-foot stability and comfort. Your feet won’t slip or slide around inside of these shoes thanks to a locked down and secure design. The Adidas Adipower Weightlift is made with a PU-coated leather upper that’s airy and lightweight, so your feet will stay cool even while engaging in any strenuous physical activity. It features a rubber non-slip outsole that prevents accidental slips or falls and offers water-resistance during wetter weather.
While the Adipower Weightlift costs more than most of the options on the list, they are definitely a shoe worth owning if you enjoy performing any strenuous or heavy load sporting activities. They’re designed specifically for weightlifting exercise but work well for all kinds of physical activities.
4. ASICS GEL-Venture 6
Protective Toe Bumper
Trail Specific Lugs
Durable Synthetic Upper
If you’re someone who likes to venture off the beaten path, this pair of trail runners by ASICS is definitely worth checking out. Made for daily training, this is a shoe that’s made to protect both from the high impact of running, as well as from natural obstacles that are found on unpaved roads. With an ASICS High Abrasion Rubber Outsole and a protective toe bumper to keep your toes safe, this is a shoe you’ll definitely be wearing for a long time, as it is sure to stand up to the test of daily running.Read more
One of the things that set ASICS apart from any other similar footwear company is the fact that they use their own GEL cushioning to reduce the shock that is put on your joints and muscles with each step and landing. The GEL-Venture 6 features such cushioning in the heel, allowing for a better transition to midstance.
Seeing that it’s made to be used on trails, the GEL-Venture 6 features reversed lugs on the outsole that give a better amount of grip both uphill and downhill. Furthermore, the shoe has a removable insole that can be replaced with custom orthotics, so if you find that the neutral support is not enough for you, you can add more and be on your way.
5. Skechers Energy Afterburn
Good Arch Support
Ghillie Lace-Up Vamp
Extra Padded Tongue & Collar
Sketchers is a brand known for their comfortable walking shoes and every-day sneakers. Their sports sneakers provide all the performance enhancement of an athletic shoe but the comfort and stylish aesthetic of a sneaker that can be worn in the gym or on the street. Perfect for those wearers that work on their feet all day, the Sports Energy Afterburn is offered in a variety of color options and has excellent arch support.Read more
When doing anything athletic a major factor when selecting the proper footwear should be shock absorption. Your joints shouldn’t be under constant stress by your movements, and joint pain shouldn’t prohibit you from enjoying exercise. The padded heel of the Energy Afterburn sneakers provides ideal shock absorption, while the non-slip rubber outsole gives the wearer superior traction. It even has a cushioned midsole for comfort, along with the extra padded tongue and collar.
Because Sketchers is known for street shoes as well as athletic shoes, their range can be worn in a variety of environments. Pair them with workout clothes or with jeans and feel confident and comfortable. Having a sleek leather and rubber design without a lot of mesh means their appearance is streamlined, and so are you.
6. Adidas Samba Classic
Synthetic Leather Upper
Excellent Ball Control
Non Marking Outsole
If your idea of a good workout includes more fun than lifting, then you need to consider this classic shoe by Adidas. A pair of footwear made for indoor soccer, the Samba has become legendary, both on the court and off, and has been the inspiration behind many a sneaker that has been released since. The upper is made with synthetic leather that has several benefits, including a small weight, ease of maintenance, a low price, as well as a good level of flexibility and ball grip - all of which will help you achieve a better workout.Read more
Even if you’re not going to use the Samba for soccer, you’re sure to benefit from its natural gum rubber outsole that’s nonmarking, meaning it won’t ruin gym floor or hardwood surfaces. It provides excellent grip, which means you can walk and run without worrying about slips, falls and sprains.
There are two details on the Samba that make it great for soccer. One is the suede overlay that gives a better feel of the ball, allowing you to control it, so it always ends up in the net. The other is the high tongue which can be adjusted to anyone’s liking. If you prefer to fold it over to protect the laces, you can, or, if you’re unafraid of a little customization, you can cut it down to fit your foot to a T.
7. Salomon X Ultra 3
High Abrasion Rubber Outsole
Anti Debris Tongue
Abrasion Resistant Upper
Slightly Soft Outsole
Unsuitable for High Arches
If you’re a fan of hiking, or just spend lots of time on your feet, then the Salomon X Ultra 3 is a great choice of tough, durable shoes that’ll keep your feet protected, cushioned and ventilated in dry conditions. Making use of Salomon’s best technologies, this shoe features an abrasion resistant textile upper, paired with an anti-debris tongue and a lace pocket that’ll allow you to stow the laces without having to worry about them coming undone throughout the day. If you need an even higher level of protection, go with the GTX model that’ll also keep water out.Read more
Between the outsole and midsole of the X Ultra 3 is a lightweight chassis that works to stabilize your motion, support the arch of your foot, and protect you from movements that could lead to unwanted injury. Nonetheless, it won’t reduce the responsiveness of your footwear, which means your feet will have just the right amount of information from the ground to adjust the amount of energy put into each next step.
To provide you with supportive cushioning, the X Ultra 3 uses a footbed made out of EVA foam, coupled with an ortholite sockliner that combines with a supportive heel counter for the best possible alignment and heel protection. The Sensifit fit management system wraps the foot from the midsole, all the way up to the laces, giving excellent stability and support.
8. New Balance 608v4
Dual Density Padded Collar
Internal Stability Shank
Injected EVA Midsole for Stability
May Be Eligible for Medicare Reimbursement
Poor Heel Locking
New Balance, like Nike, is one of the premier shoe brands, helping fitness enthusiasts and athletes accomplish their fitness goals. The New Balance 608v4’s provide fantastic comfort, quality, and athletic performance. Lots of research and development went into them based on the needs of their customers. New Balance focuses on what’s essential to the wearers of their shoes, not merely the current trends. For a shoe like this to be considered superior, it not only has to be comfortable but also be able to take a lot of abuse.Read more
If you have a lot of pain in either your ankle or heel, these shoes will be a great help. They have extra padding to their insoles as well as injection molded midsoles, both of which retain shape and bounce back from continuous wear. The reinforced heel gives you lots of cushions, to say nothing of the extra padding found throughout the design.
These shoes have been specifically designed with high octane physical activities in mind, and for those wearers that need an athletic shoe that won’t quit. From the reinforced heel to the dual-density collar that uses both a soft density foam for comfort and a hard density foam for support, these shoes will save you from foot fatigue. They come in a wide variety of color combinations and have an aggressive tread for superior traction.
9. Puma Tazon 6 FM
Traditional Lace Closure
The Puma Tazon 6 FM is an aerodynamic shoe that’s stylish and comfortable. It features a synthetic leather upper that’s breathable and lightweight, along with a midfoot saddle that provides excellent comfort. The Tazon has a rubber outsole for non-slip wear and T-toe construction for a durable ride. Traditional lace closures allow for a customized fit and keep your shoes secure while you move.Read more
The EcoOrthoLite is a breathable and lightweight sockliner that provides superior comfort and a perfect fit. EcoOrthoLite is an environmentally friendly, bio-based technology that uses 20% less petroleum and replaces it with a bio-oil substitute made from castor beans.
The Tazon 6 is designed with a non-slip rubber outsole and midfoot saddle that makes for a secure fitting shoe. Its traditional lace closure system allows for a customized level of tightness ensuring that you can control the way your shoe feels.
10. Nike Air Monarch IV
Great for Wide Feet
Nike Air Cushioning
Nike has long been a giant in the athletic footwear world, combining the latest in technology, design, and comfort to create truly functional, practical, and next-level shoes for the fitness elite or the casually active person. With a variety of color combinations to suit any need, a myriad of features that promote breathability, protection, and enduring structural durability, you won’t need any other athletic shoe but the Nike Air Monarch IV.Read more
For those looking for lightweight padding, a stabilizing midsole, and excellent traction, these athletic shoes are for you. With a recently updated design that is sleek and sophisticated, with a multi-pattern rubber outsole that gives you grip on any surface you encounter. Whether your athletic activities require you to jump, pivot, or break into high speeds, the aggressive tread will always stabilize you. Your foot won’t roll side to side as much, and you will be able to flex your forefoot.
A lining of soft fabric reduces irritation to your feet, and a mesh tongue and added perforations along the middle of the shoe allow for maximum breathability. This ensures that cool air can continuously flow to your feet and prevent you from overheating during training. Patented Nike Air technology runs the full length of the shoe ensuring softer landings when you drill hard. And finally, the Pylon midsole gives you all day lightweight cushioned comfort.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Your shoe needs to allow for proper airflow and breathability. It is vital that an athlete does not overheat during training or while performing because this can lead to lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting, which can increase the risk of injury while also negatively affecting performance. There are several features and materials to look for that will prevent overheating such as:
Mesh is one of the most breathable materials available and is highly recommended for athletic footwear. Air ventilation holes allow for air to flow in and out of the shoe circulating the foot and preventing sweat and overheating. The best materials are ones that wick moisture away from the foot and which pull sweat away from the foot and towards the outer part of the shoe keeping your feet cool and dry. A sockliner that enhances the temperature control as well as wicks moisture away from the foot is an ideal additive.
The best sports shoes will have perforations in the uppers because brands know that without that sort of ventilation, your progress and performance will suffer. Mesh combined with synthetic materials is best because they give you the air circulation you need, combined with stability and support. Whether or not the sport requires lots of impact or sudden changes of movement, breathability, and proper ventilation will make you more comfortable, your feet free from bacteria, and your focus more in the game.
Whether you play a sport, enjoy running, or like to keep your gym routine consistent, traction in your shoes is vital. Because your activities could take you to a variety of environments, you need to be sure that your footfalls are stable. Insufficient traction will lead to serious injury, which is why selecting one for traction is so essential. Look for deep groove inlays along the sole which provide excellent traction and also offer flexibility. Multi-pattern grip, such as raised shapes across the sole also power better grip. Whether you like your shoes grooved for better flexibility, or patterned for grip, both will keep you safely upright and prevent you from the possibility of breaking a bone or tearing a muscle.
Rubber is one of the best materials for the outsole of a shoe as it provides superior grip on any surface including wet and slippery terrain. Rubber also provides an extra level of waterproofing which is ideal for activities in wetter weather.
For sports that are played on fields, involve uneven terrain, or take place in precarious environments, traction and tread are vital for stability and durability. Football and soccer, whether played in or out of doors, require cleats with a lot of traction, the tread for which can vary in depth and enumeration. Tred for tennis and running should be sufficient for traction but enable movement more freely than cleated shoes.
One of the surest ways to prevent joint pain and the constant onslaught of foot fatigue is by selecting a pair that has excellent shock absorption feature which avoids a lot of the impact from your foot strikes or hard lands by softening the blow through the incorporation of:
In the case of padding, an additional amount of comfort is added to the shoe’s construction. Impact technology is developed by a variety of brands and comes in the form of some specially patented components like Nike’s Zoom Air, EVA removable foam inserts, gel pads under the heel cup, etc. Each brand develops its shock absorbing technology based on what customers need to perform at their best. They’ll be more comfortable, pain-free, and much more likely to purchase from the brand again.
Shoes used for training will surely take a beating, and no matter their brand they need to be able to withstand the most grueling physical activities. This often comes down to how they’re made, as their materials play a big part in how durable they are. Areas that can affect the durability of a shoe include:
Make sure that the rubber at the sole is solid yet forgiving when flexed, and make sure that whatever lace system being used will give you optimal customizable comfort. Seams should show no sign of fraying in the future, and a mixture of materials, such as leather and synthetic can be helpful in keeping a shoe’s structural integrity. They need to be able to survive different environments with different terrain as well as weather.
The shoes you choose need to be flexible for proper pronation and to make sure that when your feet hit the ground that they move with the natural movements of your feet. Full range of motion is important for proper performance and form, something which athletes and fitness enthusiasts are well aware of. Flexibility can come from the materials the shoe is made out of, and the more lightweight, the more flexible. The sole, if made out of thick rubber won’t be as flexible as a sole that is made out of thinner rubber but with deep grooves to provide a full roll motion from heel strike to the toe off. More flexible shoes also generally feel more comfortable on your feet because they don’t lock your feet into a rigid stance.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While many options for athletic shoes include sneakers for running, there are so many ways to get involved in physical activity and athletic competitions.
If running isn't your thing, check out a few classes at the local gym. Many include immersive classes like Zumba, boxing, HIIT, or a mix of dance, aerobics, and strength.
If you're using your new athletic shoes for something that is higher impact, like running, or jumping, make sure you select a model that has ample shock absorbing technology or cushion. This will help support you during HIIT workouts or the pounding from running, as well as cushion your footfalls.
This is a matter sometimes of trial and error! Signing up for intramural sports is an easy way to participate, without a long term commitment to the sport should you not fancy it.
Those who enjoy a lot of movement and cardio will like sports with some aspect of running in it, while those who enjoy puzzles and strategy may enjoy sports like golf or football.
While each sport is different in how you move your body, and the surface you may play on, the same goes for your footwear, and how well they help you perform.
Pick out a shoe that is functional for the critical aspects of your sport, like having stability for weightlifting, or cleats for traction for soccer and football.
Other Factors to Consider
Having a comfortable pair of footwear is paramount to your overall performance because shoes that feel better help you work out longer, train harder, and dig deeper regarding your physical activities. The following features contribute to more comfortable wear overall:
A cushioned EVA midsole makes a world of difference when it comes to the level of comfort a shoe provides and having proper ventilation allows for adequate airflow which prevents overheating and sweat buildup. It’s vital that they properly absorb shock and provide added stability to protect the sensitive joints, muscles, and tendons of the legs and feet. Weatherproofing and water-resistance will keep your feet dry and make for far more enjoyable wear, while a slip-resistant outsole will work to prevent accidental slips and falls.
The closure system a shoe is equipped with can make a big difference in how well your footwear fits which in turn, alters the comfort level. Traditional lacing systems and hook-and-loop closures provide the most stable and customized fit which is ideal for sports and other activities which require constant moving.
Since every athletic activity has a different level of intensity, selecting a shoe with excellent energy return is imperative. There are specific features that cater to energy return, built right into their design. These unique features could include foam that is particularly dense or gel pads that provide you maximum bounce back along the footbed. The energy that you expel gets maximized, which results in a much more powerful stride.
The sole of your shoes gets compressed whenever you do any physical activity, from walking to running, working out or playing a sport. It’s during the rebound period that energy you input gets recovered. To utilize the most energy you can, you need a shoe that returns as much of it as possible to you during your activities. Too much friction and heat will result in lost energy.
The fit of your sports shoe is essential to your performance since a loose-fitting shoe can mean distraction, irritation, or at worst, injury. Your form and concentration will suffer if you’re constantly dealing with an improperly fitting shoe. Those athletes with wider feet, feet that are narrower, or other factors that make them think going up or down a size will improve the fit of the shoe need to pay attention to the materials the shoe is made with. Often times shoes just need to be broken in, because the materials they use, such as leather, or a pliable amalgamation of synthetic, textile, or mesh will expand and contract based on your movements. Some shoes incorporate memory foam midsoles that will help the fit of a shoe as well as make it more comfortable. Some shoes have lacing systems that allow the wearer to customize the fit of the shoe with a few adjustments to a strap.
Shoes can be as different as the activities they’re used for. Competitive athletes may choose to train with one brand, the casual fitness enthusiast another, but certain key features are essential at all times; proper fit, comfort, traction, and durability. Take advantage of the new technology being incorporated into a variety of shoes today by top brands invested in the needs of their customers. Since they take so much abuse, they have to be able to suffer under a tremendous amount of stress. They need to be able to withstand a variety of activities and not need to be continuously replaced. They need a little of a break in time as possible so you can get to achieving your fitness goals. Some favor ventilation and lightweight materials, some favor structural support and shock absorption. The best have a combination of those attributes, and it’s even better when they can make you look like the fitness star you are.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How long do these shoes typically last?
pair of good shoes should last a long time, though it does depend on how much you wear them and how vigorous your level of activity is. Shoes worn to play soccer on the weekends will get less wear than shoes that are used to run several miles every day. The shoes that you choose should be based on what physical activities you engage in. They should also be based on indoor or outdoor activities, and what weather you’ll encounter. As for the shoes themselves, materials, construction, and the performance-enhancing technology they’re built around will ultimately determine how long they’ll last you.
q: How do they differ from running shoes?
Running shoes are a type of athletic shoe, and sometimes there isn’t much difference, but specific ones are made with materials that can assist in the performance enhancement of a variety of activities, whereas running shoes are primarily designed with features specific to running. More rubber on the soles, for example, to last mile after mile, or more mesh to promote breathability. This means that they can be very lightweight and have almost no rubber to their soles at all, for instance, because they may be used for more stationary activities, like weight training, or for movement on soft, forgiving surfaces, like a soccer field.
q: Can they be used as walking shoes?
Yes, they can make great walking shoes, especially since they often have lots of extra padding, memory foam inlays along their midsoles for great arch support and cushion, and soles that grip trails as well as cement. However, most have thinner soles so they can be more flexible while walking shoes tend to have thicker soles and be more rigid. Since most brands like Nike, Adidas, and Sketchers also make a variety of sports footwear, they know what is important to a customer that may be on their feet for long periods of time.
q: What’s the best brand on the market?
A lot of brands compete with each other by offering different features than their competitors, but many features are fundamentally the same. All should be well ventilated, durable, comfortable, and fit whatever lifestyle you have where sports activity is concerned. Some have features that make them more comfortable than others, or provide more energy return or look more aesthetically pleasing, and often this will change their price point. But a high price doesn’t guarantee a better shoe anymore than a lower price guarantees subpar quality. The purchase of a sports footwear is an investment and should meet the qualifications of your physical needs.
q: Are lightweight shoes best?
Generally, the more lightweight the shoe, the more flexible and comfortable it is. Just because it’s lightweight, doesn’t mean it’s not durable, either. Much progress has been made with the materials used in the design of these shoes to provide maximum toughness without sacrificing a great feeling shoe. Lightweight shoes may seem stripped down, but they’re just unencumbered. They should have less rubber on them, not be rigid in construction, and allow for a full range of motion for their wearer.
q: What is the best shoe to wear for water sports?
The best type of shoe to wear while performing water-related sports are shoes that offer specific water-repellent and protective properties. For example, a rubber outsole will provide superior traction even on wet or slippery surfaces and will also add an extra level of waterproofing. Having a solid grip is important while performing in a wet environment where the risk of slips and falls is greater than other terrains. Try looking for shoes which specify that they are for use in water.