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 14
- New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
- HOKA Bondi 7
- Saucony Kinvara 12
- Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
- Mizuno Wave Rider 25
- On Cloud X 2.0
- Altra Escalante 2.5
- Karhu Ikoni 2021
- ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
Got more questions? Check out these FAQs.
[Updated September 21, 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 14
Comfort is paramount when you're ramping up your miles, and the men's Brooks Ghost 14 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 14 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 14 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.
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.
Read more in our Brooks Ghost 14 review.
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.
Read more in our New Balance 880v11 review.
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.
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.
Read more in our HOKA Bondi 7 review.
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 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.
Read more in our Saucony Kinvara 12 review.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
The updated Peg 38 is a lightweight, nimble everyday training shoe perfect for men putting on daily miles or training for a race.
The React midsole is a proven performer that lends the shoe a bouncier, more durable ride than before. The Air unit in the forefoot of the shoe is tuned for men's average running patterns. The unit is pressurized to 20 psi to provide enough support for landings and a responsive feel at take-off.
Read more in our Nike Pegasus 38 review.
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
The Wave Rider 25 provides propulsive energy and supportive cushioning thanks to Mizuno Enerzy foam in the midsole. The Enerzy foam is light and cushioned but also bouncier than previous foams, which makes the Rider feel more energetic.
Designers reshaped the Wave plate to better disperse impact and promote smoother transitions as you run.
The Wave Rider 25 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 25 is one of the best running shoes for men.
Read more in our Mizuno Wave Rider 25 review.
On Cloud X 2.0
The On Cloud X 2.0 is one of the best running shoes for men because it does everything you ask of it.
Designers built the Cloud X 2.0 to move in any direction, which means you can take it from a long run on a Sunday to a HIIT workout on a Monday and feel confident with every movement.
The Cloud X 2.0 gets its versatility from a responsive Helion foam midsole paired with On's signature Speedboard. The combo delivers a snappy, stable ride for use on the road or in the gym.
Topped with a flexible and durable engineered mesh upper, you won't feel out of place during those burpees in the middle of your circuit.
But it's not just performance with the Cloud X 2.0: On's sleek, minimalist style gives you an athletic look before, during and after your pub run.
Altra Escalante 2.5
The Escalante may be one of the most versatile men’s running shoes on this list. Our wide-footed friends and lightweight shoe lovers rave about the Altra Escalante 2.5 for its FootShaped toe-box and low-cushion profile.
Altra’s zero-drop midsole keeps the cushion balanced from heel to toe and encourages a low-impact foot strike. This keeps you light on your feet and supports your natural stride.
The Escalante is as comfortable for runs as it is for all-day wear thanks to a soft, stretchy upper and lightweight tongue that feels like a slipper and helps prevent blisters.
Great for mixed distance running depending on the person, Altra uses their Ego midsole foam for an energetic ride that’s soft enough to keep you comfortable on longer runs. With a lower stack height and responsive cushioning, the Escalante can crush home workouts and cross-training as well.
Karhu Ikoni 2021
The new Karhu Ikoni 2021 isn't just one of the best men’s running shoes, it's one of the best running shoes out today thanks to its generous fit and effortless ride.
The design was shaped by millions of 3D foot scans captured during Fleet Feet’s fit id® giving it an accommodating fit for a wide variety of foot shapes. The Ikoni also uses an asymmetrical lacing system and Ortix footbed that accounts for the unique shape of each foot and gives a feeling of light arch support.
A bed of lightweight Aerofoam feels super plush and responsive and is supported by a half-length Fulcrum rocker in the midfoot. This combination helps to propel the foot through its heel-to-toe transition and makes runs and walks feel effortless with each step.
In our review, testers loved how lightweight and cushioned the Ikoni 2021 is, and we think you will too.
The newest Ikoni is an excellent choice for men looking for a smooth and stabilized ride out on their runs or walks.
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.
Read more in the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 review.
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.