Best Running Shoes for Men 2021
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
Finding the best men’s running shoes for your needs can be a challenge. There are hundreds of great running shoes to choose from, and sifting through all of them is a never-ending process.
At Fleet Feet, we’re constantly searching for the best running shoes for men and all runners, including ourselves. We research, test and write about as many men’s running shoes as we can to assess how well they hold up to their intended purpose: to deliver a comfortable running experience.
There are sometimes also differences between men's shoes and the best running shoes for women of the same model. If shoe designers created models for each gender, we outline how each shoe is different.
After putting many shoes through their paces, we think these are the best men’s running shoes for (almost) every type of run:
- Brooks Ghost 13
- New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
- HOKA Bondi 7
- Saucony Kinvara 12
- Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
- Mizuno Wave Rider 24
- On Cloud X
- Altra Escalante 2
- Karhu Ikoni 2020
- ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
Got more questions? Check out these FAQs.
[Updated Apr. 5, 2021. This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2021. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
Brooks Ghost 13
Comfort is paramount when you're ramping up your miles, and the men's Brooks Ghost 13 offers plenty of it, making it one of the best men's running shoes around.
The newest Ghost is comfortable all around. Brooks built the Ghost 13 with a soft and smooth engineered mesh upper. The mesh comes with a hint of stretch to mold around the curves of your foot, and it's roomy to accommodate a range of different foot shapes. It also comes in wide sizing for runners who need it.
Designers made another big change to the Ghost 13 this year: more DNA Loft foam. DNA Loft is one of Brooks' softest foam compositions, and it extends all the way into the forefoot to create a soft, smooth transition from heel to toe.
In the Brooks Ghost 13 review, Fleet Feet runners said the newest Ghost provides a comfortable fit and flexible ride while feeling softer than ever. It remains an all-around performer that brings an ideal combination of comfort, cushion, weight and price.
New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
The running shoes you use for your everyday training have to strike the right balance of cushion and weight. The men’s New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 nails it.
The 880 has long been a favorite among many male runners for its comfortable fit and cushion, and the tenth version is no exception. New Balance used a cushy Fresh Foam midsole in the latest model, giving it a softer feeling than ever before without weighing it down.
Designers also gave the 880v11 a more modern (and slightly more aggressive) look. With a redesigned upper and organic styling on the sidewalls, the newest 880 is a classic everyday training shoe disguised as something you could wear out with friends.
Testers said in the New Balance 880v11 review they loved the move to Fresh Foam. Adding New Balance’s premier cushioning to its most popular trainer was a no-brainer, and it paid off.
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7
HOKA is known for building some of the best-cushioned running shoes on the planet, and the men's HOKA Bondi 7 is the most cushioned of the most cushioned.
Designers packed the men's Bondi 7 full of its soft, bouncy EVA foam for cushioning that won't ever bottom out. HOKA built the shoe on a 33 mm/29 mm (heel/toe) stack height that soaks up as much impact as you can dish out.
The puffy midsole provides a soft, smooth ride and buttery transitions from heel to toe. That cushioning also makes it one of the best men's walking shoes, too, and it's a great choice for anyone who spends long days on their feet at work, like nurses and doctors.
In the HOKA Bondi 7 review, Fleet Feet runners said the newest Bondi gives you cushion without any compromises, making it an ideal long run or recovery day shoe.
When you prioritize cushion above all else, lace up the HOKA Bondi 7 for the most-cushioned experience you'll find.
Saucony Kinvara 12
There are men’s running shoes that are lighter or more technologically advanced than the Saucony Kinvara 12, but few running shoes put together the same combination of weight, cushion and speed.
The men’s Kinvara 12 is a featherweight running shoe that packs enough cushion to blur the line between racing flat and everyday trainer. A full-length PWRRUN midsole provides the cushioning and an airy mesh upper gives the shoe a comfortably snug fit.
Part of the Kinvara’s fast feel comes from the 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. Testers in the Saucony Kinvara 12 review said the low drop puts more emphasis on a light step and quick turnover, which encourages a quicker pace.
Even with the narrow difference, though, there’s still a healthy amount of cushioning to soften your steps.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
Nike made big updates to the Pegasus 37 to make it faster than ever—and to maintain its reign as the best-selling Nike running shoe ever.
The Peg 37 is still a lightweight, nimble everyday training shoe, but Nike updated the midsole and Zoom Air unit to give it a snappier ride.
Designers swapped out the Cushlon foam midsole used in the previous model for a new bed of React foam. The new React midsole is a proven performer that lends the shoe a bouncier, more durable ride than before.
While the Peg 36 used a full-length Zoom Air unit, Nike this year shortened the Air to fit in the forefoot. They made it twice as thick to give you more bounce where you need it.
Instead of just making a single Air unit, though, Nike used testers' feedback to create unique units for men and women. The men's Air unit is pressurized to about 20 psi, while the women's is pumped to roughly 15 psi. The lower pressure gives the women's shoe a less stiff feel, which female testers requested.
Even with major updates, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is still one of the most versatile neutral training shoes around, and one of the best men's running shoes you can find.
Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Mizuno rolled out a brand new foam to create the Wave Rider 24, giving it an updated ride while maintaining its comfortable fit.
The Wave Rider 24 sports a pad of new Mizuno Enerzy foam. The Enerzy foam is light and cushioned but also bouncier than previous foams, which makes the Rider feel more energetic. Designers paired the Enerzy with its proven U4icX foam for reliable performance.
Like other Mizuno running shoes, the Wave Rider 24 has the brand's signature Wave Plate. Mizuno says the plate helps to disperse impact when you land and create a smoother transition.
The Wave Rider 24 also comes with two upper choices: mesh and Waveknit. The classic mesh upper is breathable and flexible, and the Waveknit gives you a sock-like fit and natural feel.
With a refreshed midsole and roomy fit, the Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is one of the best running shoes for men.
On Cloud X
The On Cloud X is one of the best running shoes for men because it excels in all situations.
On engineered the Cloud X for multi-directional use, meaning it will go from long run to HIIT workout with ease. The minimalist styling helps the shoe blend in when you're out of the gym, and the knit mesh upper is comfortable no matter where you are.
Beneath the Cloud X, on used its CloudTec technology to cushion the ride. On's Zero-Gravity foam is light and bouncy, and the individual Cloud elements collapse on landings for another level of comfort.
The all-around performance of the men's On Cloud X makes it a great running shoe for anyone who runs from the gym to the track or anyone who is looking to support their active lifestyle.
Altra Escalante 2
Comfort is important when you're running, and Altra's FootShape toe box on the men's Escalante 2 gives you comfort for many miles.
The unique shape of the toe box matches the real shape of your foot: wider through the midfoot and forefoot with a squared-off toe. That shape lets your foot splay more naturally when you land and push off better when you explode forward.
A new knit upper with more perforations helps your feet breathe better than the original, and an upgraded EGO midsole is more flexible for a smoother transition. With a 6 mm Contour Footbed, the men's Altra Escalante 2 provides plenty of cushion for any run.
Karhu Ikoni 2020
The men's Karhu Ikoni 2020 isn't just one of the best Karhu running shoes, it's one of the best running shoes out today thanks to its generous fit.
Karhu designed the Ikoni using data captured during Fleet Feet fit id® outfitting process. The 3D scanning data informed the shape of the last, giving it an accommodating fit for a wide variety of foot shapes.
This year, Karhu made the Ikoni with a slimmer heel cup for a better fit. But it still sports the same AeroFoam midsole and Fulcrum technology that delivers a cushioned, stable ride.
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 is a great update to a classic running shoe.
ASICS refreshed the Nimbus with an even softer landing thanks to a new GEL unit in the heel. Designers tweaked the GEL unit to soak up even more impact, which helps create an easy landing and buttery smooth transition.
While the ride is new, ASICS maintain the same generous fit of previous versions. Testers in the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 review said the new Nimbus feels better than ever.
What Does “Best” Mean?
It’s impossible to say definitively that these are the best men’s running shoes for all male runners.
There are so many factors to consider when picking the right men’s running shoes for yourself—not to mention personal preferences—that we can’t say which men’s shoes will be the best for you. Instead, we chose the men’s running shoes that we think will work for the most men, most of the time.
For more personalized recommendations, visit a Fleet Feet location for a one-on-one expert fitting through our fit id® outfitting process. A Fleet Feet expert will walk you through the 3D scanning process to precisely measure your feet, and then they will talk with you about your current training and future goals.
At the end, you’ll have personalized recommendations for men’s running shoes that are tailored to your size and needs.
How We Chose the Best Men’s Running Shoes
We used data from our fit id® outfitting process, interviews with designers and real-life wear testing to determine the best men’s running shoes for most runs and the most runners.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.