Best Treadmill Running Shoes 2021
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
Whether you are escaping bad weather or trying to catch up on your favorite TV shows while getting a workout in, the treadmill is a great tool for running. While most of the time the same great qualities that make up the best running shoes will also make for the best treadmill running shoes, there are a few differences when running on a treadmill versus running on the roads.
- Treadmills are inside. This means when looking for a shoe, breathability is a big factor. It is hot enough running inside, the last thing you need is for your feet to burn up because your shoes are not breathable.
- Treadmills are softer than pavement. This means that you may want a lighter weight shoe because it is less jarring on the muscles compared to running mile after mile on the pavement.
- No twists or turns on treadmills. You are always running straight on a treadmill, therefore you may not need as much traction on the outsole or structure on the upper as a road running shoe. Plus, you don’t have to deal with rain, snow or ice, so your footing is less of a concern.
- Treadmills are repetitive. Although softer than pavement, your foot is landing at the same place on the same surface over and over. Therefore, you may want some more cushion and if you excessively pronate, a stability shoe is more important.
The other question that you need to ask yourself: Are you only running on the treadmill in these shoes or do you also need a shoe that can do other workouts in the gym? If you are using the same shoes for group classes or other gym work, certain shoes will work better than others.
We’ve selected some of the best running shoes for you to log those miles on the treadmill. If you are looking for other great gear for treadmill training, check out our gift guide for at-home workouts.
We broke down the best men’s and women’s treadmill running shoes into four categories: daily trainer, lightweight, cushioned and stability. So whether you are completing speedwork with some fast intervals or using the treadmill to get your run in while your kid naps, here are the best treadmill running shoes:
Most Cushioned Shoes
[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.]
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
The Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is one of the best Nike shoes for treadmill running and checks all of the boxes for a good treadmill shoe. It is light but cushioned, breathable and gives you good support. The Pegasus features Nike’s react midsole and they added a Zoom Air unit in the forefoot to give it some extra pop – perfect for pushing off on the treadmill.
The engineered mesh upper is light and breathable, and midfoot webbing helps create a finely tuned fit. In our review of the Nike Pegasus 38, one reviewer said, “It gives your foot a hug and keeps it in place throughout the run or walk.” The midfoot webbing also helps to keep your foot secure if you want to take that extra gym class or throw in some body-weight exercises after your run.
Brooks Ghost 14
Balanced cushioning and versatile performance make the Brooks Ghost 14 a great treadmill shoe. DNA Loft foam is super soft and springy for a light, responsive ride, and the cushy midsole foam works with a Segmented Crash Pad for rolling transitions from heel to toe. You are going to want to watch another episode of your favorite show because you’ll love running in the Brooks Ghosts that much.
Brooks designers used their unique 3D Fit Print technology on the mesh upper of the Ghost to give you a combination of structure and stretch that hugs your foot so you feel comfortable and supported. To learn more check out our review on the Brooks Ghost 14.
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
You will have a spring in your step with the Mizuno Wave Rider 25. Its Wave Plate has been redesigned to stabilize the foot even more, which is great when you are landing in a repetitive way step after step. Mizuno added its Enerzy foam to the midsole, giving the latest Wave Rider a great combination of cushioning and energy return. With Mizuno’s Flex Groove design on the outsole, it gives you extra flexibility in the forefoot so that you can push off the treadmill with ease.
With a dialed-in upper, one of things that was noticed in our review of Mizuno Wave Rider 25 was how it hugs the foot for extra security. You can choose between an engineered mesh or knit upper—we were pleasantly surprised by how well the knit upper did in group fitness classes. Mizuno uses a vector knit that allows the foot to move forward but holds it in when doing side to side motion.
Karhu Ikoni 2021
Shaped by millions of 3D foot scans at Fleet Feet stores around the nation, the Karhu Ikoni 2021 is one of the best fitting shoes around. Its neutral support and moderate cushioning make it perfect for the treadmill. Karhu’s lightweight AeroFoam offers support that works with the unique Ortix footbed to provide individualized cushioning that’s just right for you.
The half-length Fulcrum rocker in the midfoot of the Ikoni promotes a rolling transition that is ideal for the treadmill since it absorbs some of the shock. A refreshed upper made of a breathable knit mesh uses Karhu’s M-Lock lacing system so you can dial in the fit of your Ikonis around the midfoot without constricting your toes.
Learn more about this shoe in our Karhu Ikoni 2021 review.
Saucony Kinvara 12
The Saucony Kinvara 12 is a lightweight, minimalist shoe that gives you everything that you need to succeed and nothing extra to weigh you down. The PWRRUN cushioning in the Kinvara 12 gives the shoe the flexibility and responsiveness to power strong take-offs, smooth transitions and soft landings so you can reach top speeds with minimal impact.
The upper on this shoe is focused on breathability, perfect for those hot and stuffy gyms. The mesh is lightweight and only has extra padding where it is necessary—on the heel counter and tongue. “The Kinvara 12 has just enough cushion on the heel collar and underfoot to keep it comfy while it remains light enough to be a speedy trainer,” says one reviewer in our Saucony Kinvara 12 review.
On Cloud X 2.0
Explode in any direction with the On Cloud X. This shoe combines Helion foam with On’s springy Speedboard to energize you every step of the way.
On raised the sidewalls to give both agility and stability for moving straight ahead or in any other direction, which gives you confidence during HIIT workouts, too. The engineered mesh in the upper of this shoe is both breathable and durable, making it ideal for gym work or running.
Feel grounded during your run with Altra Rivera. The Rivera sports Altra’s signature FootShaped toe box but with a sleeker look. The toe box is shaped to mimic the real shape of the human foot, which gives you more space in the forefoot to let your toes sit and splay naturally.
Altra used their EGO midsole, which is a foam composition that gives you soft landings but provides an energizing response for a lively ride. The breathable and sleek upper makes this shoe fit like a glove.
Check out our review of the Altra Rivera.
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
If you love cushion, the New Balance’s Fresh Foam 1080 is a great shoe for you. The Fresh Foam midsole is plush and bouncy under your feet, and it provides the smoothest ride whether you’re pounding pavement or running on the treadmill.
The upper in this shoe is knit, with zones of stretch and structure. In the New Balance 1080 review, a reviewer said “The upper feels like you’re wearing a sock. It’s so comfortable and stretchy that it feels like it really hugs my foot without feeling tight or constricting.”
This dynamic stretchiness allows for the shoe to accommodate many different foot shapes and is breathable for when your workout heats up. While this is an amazing running shoe for the treadmill, it may not be ideal for other gym activities due to the stretchy upper.
HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8
Have your smoothest run on the treadmill with the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8. This iconic shoe has HOKA’s signature active rocker that propels you forward on the treadmill. It has a ton of plush cushioning but is still lightweight. HOKA also extended the heel crash pad to create smoother landings and transitions.
Your feet will stay cool thanks to a breathable engineered mesh upper. The heel tab allows you to take the shoe on and off easier and gives it a subtle style, and it helps to reduce rubbing on your Achilles to keep you blister-free. One of the best HOKA running shoes for the treadmill, the Clifton is made for forward motion, so it performs best for walking and running. Learn more about this shoe by checking out our review on the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 8.
On Cloudstratus 2.0
Featuring a double layer of On Running’s CloudTec and Helion foam cushioning, the Cloudstratus 2.0 will have you landing soft, while the Speedboard provides a responsive and stable foundation to push off. Each pod collapses when you land and springs back into shape as you push off, giving you cushion where and when you need it.
The minimalist aesthetic is showcased in its upper for a look that stands out. Plus, the star-lacing system, improved heel hold and wide-fitting forefoot provide a great fit for walking and running as well as other gym classes.
To learn more about this shoe, check out our On Cloudstratus 2.0 review.
New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11
New Balance took their popular stability shoe and added Fresh Foam cushioning to give it a soft landing and energetic response. Placing a firmer piece of foam under the arch, this shoe ensures a stable feeling and reduces excess overpronation to help you run smoothly.
New Balances used its Ultra Heel in this shoe to provide a snug fit, while the flared heel tab doesn’t dig into your Achilles and acts as a built-in shoehorn. The engineered mesh is stylish and breathable, perfect for running on a treadmill or hanging out with friends.
Check out our review on the Fresh Foam 860 v11 to learn more.
ASICS GT-2000 v10
The ASICS GT-2000 provides a lightweight stability option, which is perfect for running on the treadmill. The newest version of the GT-2000 features a soft knit upper that hugs your foot in all the right places while remaining breathable to keep your feet cool. “The upper material has a soft, premium feel. I love how the upper looks like a knit, but feels more like mesh. It’s stable and breathable and locks down well,” says one reviewer in the ASICS GT-2000 v10 review.
The Flytefoam cushioning in the GT-2000 combines with ASICS’ signature gel cushioning for a lightweight, but cushioned, ride that propels you forward. The LITETRUSS technology provides stability by placing a firm medial post to help reduce the inward roll of your feet, ensuring an efficient toe-off with every stride.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Brooks’ legendary stability shoe has both support and the ideal softness for cruising through those treadmill miles. Brooks utilizes a Guide Rail support system, which shifts the focus from the feet to the knees—reducing excess movement so your knees and hips move more naturally to keep you running comfortably. The new mesh upper has 3D Fit Print technology that is designed to hug the foot for a secure, yet breathable fit.
Your run will be buttery smooth thanks to Brooks DNA Loft cushioning. This soft, yet responsive, cushioning adapts with your foot to make sure that you run happy mile after mile.
How We Chose the Best Treadmill Running Shoes
We consider several factors when choosing what are the best shoes for running on a treadmill. From ensuring we judge shoes according to their intended purpose to making sure you’re actually able to buy them, here are the things we consider when picking the best running shoes in each category:
- Purpose. Comparing apples to apples
- Performance. How well does it do its job?
- Real-world testing. We put them to the test on real runs
- Price. Is it affordable? Does its performance justify its cost?
- Sales. Best-selling models are best-sellers for a reason
- fit id® data. Our own data shows how shoes fit for different feet
- Availability. It won’t be good if you can’t buy it
- Designer interviews. We ask the people who made it
Standing Behind Our Picks
We picked the best treadmill running shoes based on what we think will work for the most people in the most situations. If you buy a pair of running shoes from us and you don’t like the way they look, fit or perform, bring them back within 60 days for a full refund. Plus, we offer free shipping on all orders over $99 on fleetfeet.com, and we’ll match a lower price from a qualifying retailer. That’s our Happy Fit Guarantee.