Best running shoes for men 2020: the best shoes for every running type and need

T3's guide to running trainers will get you from 5Ks to marathons...

Best running shoes for men
(Image credit: Future)

Whether you choose to wear running shoes as part of a daily athleisure outfit or to actually run, you're going to need the best. But what are the best men's running shoes? 

The selection here, picked out by T3's experts, all offer an ideal mix of great technical ability and striking looks – sometimes so they are very clearly running shoes for men, but sometimes in a more off-duty, coffee-shop-friendly style.

All of these are taken from our core guide to the best running shoes for both men and women. We also, logically enough, have a guide to the best running shoes for women specifically. Oh, and we also have…

 How to choose the best running shoes for men

If you're at all serious about running – by which I don't mean being an ultra-marathon runner, I just mean you are serious about wanting to run as a pastime and  to get fit – you should definitely consider gait analysis. Various stores for runners can do this. Gait analysis should identify issues such as pronation or supination (inward and outward rolling of the foot as you run), that can be addressed either by the your shoe choice, or by suitable insoles.

If you haven't had gait analysis yet, don't stress: just make sure you get it before buying any of the shoes on this guide. In fact, you could go in and show the shoes you like and get them checked. 

Lighter, faster runners will probably want a more minimal, lighter and faster shoe especially when racing. 

'Heavier' runners, and those who favour longer training runs, should probably look for more supportive, cushioned shoes to absorb all that whacking impact as you run.

However, we must stress the 'probably' part of those sentences. There are no hard and fast rules for choosing a shoe and much of it will come down to how they feel when you try them on.  

To that end you should of course try before you buy. You can do that in a shop, but you can also buy online, and return if you don't like them, so long as you haven't destroyed the shoe during 'testing'. That said, Nike for example has an almost 'no questions asked' attitude to accepting returns, so long as it's within a month.

 What are the best running shoes for men?

It's entirely logical that Hoka One One Carbon X, which is the #1 shoe in our core running shoes list, should also top this list of men's running shoes. However it's certainly not hindered in that by the fact that Carbon X looks quite masculine, in a retro street style kind of way. You could imagine breakdancing in a pair, if you weren't saving them for your next training run.

Those in search of a truly no-compromise race shoe might prefer the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. If they're good enough for the world's first sub-two-hour marathon runner, they're probably acceptable for you. A bit over-engineered, perhaps.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 might be perfect if you're after a great combination of affordability. speed and cushioning. 

All of the shoes in our roundup are great – read on to decide which is best for you, sir.

 THE BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR MEN, IN ORDER 

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1. Hoka One One Carbon X

Yes you CAN have both speed and comfort

Specifications
Weight: 246 grams
Drop: 5 mm
Reasons to buy
+Carbon fibre plate in sole+Wide forefoot platform+Lightning fast
Reasons to avoid
-Sole looks a bit orthopaedic

Initially launched as part of a 50mile and 100K world record attempt, which saw Jim Walmsey stroll through 50miles at a frankly ridiculous pace of 5:48, the Carbon X has been designed to gobble up the miles like a hungry hippo.

On first glance, the most obvious appeal of the Hoka One One is the supreme cushioning and rocker style sole, but with the Carbon X, they’ve tweaked their tech by incorporating a carbon fibre plate in the sole that helps creates a super-smooth running experience. Essentially it has been designed to help the foot transition through the natural gait cycle more efficiently, and it does a brilliant job. You’ll really notice the benefit of the plate as you toe-off and how the shoe forces you onto your forefoot. 

It’s worth noting that the Carbon X is great for runners with wide feet, with the spacious but still supportive forefoot platform providing excellent stability, holding your feet just enough so it doesn't slide around the shoes. The super-breathable upper is a classic mesh that keeps your toes nice and cool on hot long runs.  

And if you ask us, they look 'fresh', as today's modern young people say, with a bold colourway that says, ‘run in me!’ The thick sole profile drops only 5mm from heel to toe, but the Carbon X remains agile and eager, at all times. The embroidered heel gives extra support to the back of your feet, but also reminds us of the Nazca lines in Peru. In a good way.

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2. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%

Now THIS is a serious shoe

Specifications
Weight: 190 grams (men's size 9)
Drop: 8 mm
Reasons to buy
+Blisteringly fast+Supreme cushioning and energy return
Reasons to avoid
-On the top of the price chart-Acquired taste 

Why buy the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%? Well, it is in these very shoes that Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon record, a feat previously thought to be impossible. They’re so fast compared to your common-or-garden sneakers, that athletes are lobbying for them to be examined by the International Association of Athletics Federations because they think it provides unfair advantage to athletes who wear them.

So, what is it that makes these men’s running shoes so fast? When embarking on the design of the Vaporfly, Nike says it discarded everything it knew about running shoes and completely reinvented running dynamics.

We can’t list all the specs here as they read like an Elon Musk inspired Ted Talk, but what you do need to know is that the ZoomX Vaporfly Next% combines the ZoomX foam and a carbon firbe plate in the sole as well as the VaporWeave mesh, plus a unique lacing design on the top. The result is the closest thing we’ve found to PB-smashing, running shoe nirvana.

If your reason to live is to run faster than the next man, you’ve found the perfect running shoe. You probably wouldn't want to wear them to the pub but if you're trying to run marathons in less than 2 hours, what on earth are you doing at the pub? Get back to training!

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3. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 21

A great all-rounder

Specifications
Weight: 309 grams
Drop: 10 mm
Reasons to buy
+Supreme cushioning+Good traction
Reasons to avoid
-Extra cushioning makes the shoe a heavy and warm one

Asics’ Gel system is synonymous with supreme cushioning and the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 is no different. The addition of a new midsole foam, known as FlyteFoam Propel, absorbs shock and increases durability and rebound, while a new full-contact outsole offers up a smoother ride.

It’s also heaving with other technological advances including I.G.S. technology, which, when coupled with the Guidance Line system provides outstanding gait support.

Understandably, all the extra cushioning adds a bit to the weight of the shoe, especially if you’re a size 12, but the Gel-Nimbus 21 was designed for comfortable, long-distance runs and not explosive sprints.

The Gel-Nimbus 21 looks just like a professional men’s running shoe, which may not appeal to the camp-overnight-at-Supreme-Hype-Beast-brigade, but we’ve got plenty of Nike and Adidas options for that. Buy these and you’ll get long-lasting comfort and knowing looks at any serious start line.

Given all the extra padding, the Gel-Nimbus 21 can feel a bit warmer when the weather is hot – not that that is a problem right now. The shoes have great breathability but even that won’t counterbalance all the thick cushioning. Nevertheless, it’s a great shoe for any serious runner out there.

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4. Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Another premium Nike shoe but one more suited to non-elite runners

Specifications
Weight: 220 grams
Drop: 10 mm
Reasons to buy
+Updated upper mesh+Lightweight+Great energy return
Reasons to avoid
- Foam can feel slightly soft at times

• Buy Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 and Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 SE from Nike, from £159.99

Nike has managed to enhance the already excellent Zoom Pegasus Turbo with the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2. Nike's line is that it is, “A turbocharged trainer that’s lighter and sleeker,” which is an accurate appraisal.

The upper mesh-fabric has been updated so it’s remarkably light, whilst retaining and improving on the stability of the shoe. The foam base has also been updated without compromising on the metrics of this great all-rounder.

Much more so than the Next%, this Nike running shoe offers great versatility, suiting however you like to run – trail being the exception, obviously – and pairing it with stylish looks. This shoe is comfortable enough for longer runs, but also provides great traction on concrete and other hard surfaces if you’re a concrete pounder.

As for design, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 still has the trademark protruding-heel design which it takes from its big brother the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. Don’t panic though, the Next% has an altogether bulkier design, while the Turbo 2 gets the job done with gentler lines and softer curves.

The ZoomX midsole also delivers an unmatched energy return while the specially shaped heel helps you land softer while helping to rock you forward. Using the Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 will make you feel unstoppable both on the road and in the gym too.

Best running shoes for men: Saucony Guide 13

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5. Saucony Guide 13

A well-cushioned training shoe for recreational runners

Specifications
Weight: 291 grams
Drop: 8 mm
Reasons to buy
+Lovely cushioning+Great collar construction
Reasons to avoid
-Heel counter could be firmer-Toebox is a bit spacious

• Buy the Saucony Guide 13 on sportshoes.com

I wasn't necessarily blown away by the PWRRUN cushioning in the Saucony Ride ISO 2 in 2019, so admittedly I was a bit hesitant to give the Saucony Guide 13 a go, in case it won't deliver on the running experience. But I was wrong: the Guide 13 feels good on the foot and it is actually lovely to run in.

I could just copy paste the tech part of the Saucony Ride ISO 2 review here since form a technical point of view, the two shoes are almost identical. Yet, they deliver a vastly different experience: while the Ride ISO 2 felt clunky and too spacious at times, the Guide 13 feels comfortable and supporting.

The Saucony Guide 13 is not an eyesore either, although it doesn't look a fashion shoe, mind. I like the contour and the the tested blue colourway with whoye and orange highlights wasn't too much either.

Probably the collar around the ankle is the best bit about the Saucony Guide 13, it has a low profile but provides ample amount of padding, like a firm pillow. And the Guide 13 needs the support around the ankle since the heel counter is a bit on the loose side, not too much but enough so my heel could move around in it slightly. On larger distances – half marathon and over – this might cause some blistering.

For anything shorter, though, the Saucony Guide 13 provides more more than enough comfort and cushioning. Especially recommended for people who run recreationally but wouldn't mind some extra cushioning under their feet.

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6. Adidas Ultraboost 19

These updates Ultraboosts are more comfortable than ever.

Specifications
Weight: 309 grams
Drop: 10 mm
Best for: Long, daily runs
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable and secure fit +All the bouncy Boost foam you could wish for
Reasons to avoid
-Overly chunky for fast training and short races

• Buy the Adidas UltraBoost 19 directly from Adidas

The Ultraboost has been a running staple since its launch in 2015 and the 19s are the more significant update to the line up since then, featuring several improvements that will make your runs more comfortable. 

To start with, Adidas has added 20% more Boost to the shoe's midsole, giving you a firmer and bouncier experience when running. This is enhanced by the torsion system that Adidas includes in the sole, helping the heel-to-toe transition. 

If you're looking for a shoe that prioritises speed, you will need to look elsewhere, however. The Ultraboost 19 are very much focused on comfort. There's a mesh inside the shoe to stop your foot from sliding, repacking the plastic cage of previous UltraBoosts, a welcome change given that some runners had to resort to cutting the cage off. 

(Image credit: On Running)

7. On Cloudswift

Best urban running shoe, and actually quite stylish

Specifications
Weight: 290 grams **Drop:** 7 mm
Reasons to buy
+Firm and fast +Excellent energy return
Reasons to avoid
-Midsole strikers can land hard

On Running's urban running shoe, the Cloudswift, was designed for uneven streets and hard pavements. The Helium sole may look slightly mad, but it provides very good energy return, while the soft upper mesh feels comfortable yet snug. From stride to stride, the On Speedboard will make your landing softer and your take offs all the more explosive. The result is excellent energy return all-round.

The Cloudswift is recommended for people who don't like overly soft, super-cushioned runs, and as a result, these shoes can help straighten out uneven running surfaces like no other we’ve tested.

Whilst it is all firm at the bottom, the mesh upper fabric is soft and provides plenty of room in the toe box. The midfoot area is supported by a TPU mechanical side band and holds the foot firmly.

Once we become accustomed to the bonkers sole, we began to love the look of the Cloudswift. Different in a good way; and while we wouldn't wear them with jeans – we don't want to look like Jerry Seinfeld – the rugged design and TPU mechanical side certainly help you run better and faster.