Running can be one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise. And, depending on your body weight, it can help you burn a few hundred calories an hour. But to do that, you need to be properly kitted up.
Regardless of whether you’re new to the pastime or you’re already a seasoned runner, you’ll need to do your research on what running shoes to buy. This will help keep the healthy habit feeling good for your whole body. However, researching a trustworthy, reputable running shoe brand – and one that makes the best running shoes for women no less – can be a bit of a minefield. After all, there are hundreds out there. So, which are thebest running shoes brands? And can you still get a good deal on big names?
Some brands have been around (and perfecting the running shoe) for more than 100 years. Others are newer to the market, but have impressed runners and experts alike with their advanced technology.
Taking into account factors such as flexibility, support and cushioning, we investigated the brands that are ahead of the field when it comes to women’s running shoes, to help you decide which ones to invest in. Get it right, and you'll run faster and for longer, however much you exercise.
8 of the best running shoes brands
Although the company launched in 1914, it didn’t start making running shoes until 1974. This was after being inspired by Olympic marathon runner Frank Shorter. Since then the brand has been developing its running shoes to make the best shoes for runners. They look at different aspects, such as cushioning and flexibility, as well as experimenting with different midsole technologies.
This year they launched the Levitate 4 running shoe, which has its latest DNA AMP midsole technology. It's said to be 20% lighter than its previous version.
Originally an all-round sports-shoe shop, Adidas’s first official running shoe was made in the 60s. The brand continued to innovate and, in the 80s, introduced the The Micropacer. This was the first shoe to have a digital fitness tracker that measured distance, average speed and calorie consumption.
With more than 100 years’ experience of creating running shoes, the brand was the first to experiment with 4mm heel-to-toe drops on its trainers. Plus, EVERRUN cushioning – which gives more cushioning in the midsole for better landings. The brand’s new range of trainers – the Ride 13 – come in a range of very reflective colours. These are perfect if you’re running after work, especially as the nights start to draw in earlier.
One of the newer kids on the block, On launched in Switzerland 10 years ago. Now it exists in more than 50 countries around the world. The three creators of the brand (all athletes), have since designed a number of shoes with two things at their heart (or sole). This means shoes with cushioned landings and a firm take off. Last year the brand launched the Cloudflow, a multi-functional training and running women’s shoe that is as lightweight as it is stable.
Originally a manufacturer of basketball shoes, Japanese company Asics switched its focus to running shoes in 1953. This is when it premiered its marathon shoe, which has continued to evolve through the years.
Today, Asics’ running shoes are known for support and stabilization, as well as a good grip. The brand’s Nimbus line, which includes the latest incarnation of last year’s Nimbus 22, is well known for its soft cushioning – ideal for long-distance running.
When the original brand (J W Foster & Sons) launched more than 100 years ago, the company now known as Reebok was famed for its running spikes. Over the years other brands overtook it in the running-shoe market, but Reebok has invested heavily to make a comeback in this field.
In 2017 it released its Floatride Run shoe, which was based around a lightweight foam called Pebax. This makes its shoes not just more responsive for the runner, but also lighter on the feet. The brand’s new lines since then have built on this technology, with each fresh iteration calling for further innovation.
Hoka One’s original goal was to create a shoe that helped long distance runners go downhill faster. But it went on to create shoes for all types of runners. Known for its cushioned midsole, the brand’s trainers also have an active foot frame, which embeds the foot into the midsole rather than sitting on top of it.
The Hoka One Clifton 7 was released in July 2020 and is said to be its most cushioned running shoe to date.
In 1972, one of the creators of Nike (then known as Blue Ribbon Sports) Bill Bowerman created one of the first waffle rubber soles on its shoes after a breakfast-time epiphany. Four years after this morning lightbulb moment, which changed the direction of the running shoe industry, the Nike Waffle Racer was one of the best-selling shoes on the market.
Of course, the rest is history. Now Nike remains a market leader, constantly innovating with its running shoes. Elements, such as self-tightening shoes and futuristic designs, are really just the tip of the technical iceberg.