Brooks PureDrift from Best Running Shoes Under 100 Bucks
Best Running Shoes Under 100 Bucks
Thanks to shoes like the PureDrift, gone are the days when minimal models were only reserved for the narrow-footed, elite runner. With an extra-wide toe box to allow for the toes to splay, the PureDrift is well suited for wider feet. The light mesh upper also allows for some give, leaving a bit more volume for wide feet. In fact, many runners with standard-width feet need to go down a half-size in this model. Offering a zero-drop experience with some cushioning underfoot, the PureDrift provides an overall barely-there feel.
#12 Brooks PureConnect 2
The PureConnect is like a racer in a lightweight trainer’s body. Its asymmetrical lacing, foot-hugging anatomical shape (it even has a separated big toe that allows the big guy to move more naturally) and low-to-the-ground ride aren’t for everybody. But those who embrace it will be rewarded with an agile, fast, performance-oriented trainer that’s perfect for speed workouts and has just enough cushioning for some weekend long runs.
Style: Lightweight Cushioning
Weight: 7.1 oz
#11 New Balance Minimus Zero
This barely-there, zero-drop shoe weighs in at a scant 4.4 ounces. The mesh upper is breathable and conforms to the foot almost like a sock (which makes sense, since New Balance designed it to be worn with or without socks). But for such a lightweight shoe, the Minimus still packs more foam than its competition, allowing the sole to be flexible and absorb shock from pebbles and small debris. This is a very fast shoe that simply won't get in the way of your run.
Weight: 4.4 oz
*This shoe typically retails for $110, but the (pictured) women’s white with silver and berry colorway sells for $80.
#10 Saucony Virrata
Named to Outside’s “Gear of the Year” list for 2013, the Virrata is garnering plenty of attention since its release. Saucony’s lightest and most flexible training shoe built on a zero-drop platform, it allows for natural movement, while still providing good cushioning. An airy mesh upper furthers the lightweight feel and allows for quick drying in inclement weather.
Weight: 6.5 oz
#9 Vibram FiveFingers KSO
The KSO, which is based on the original FiveFingers, is a true barefoot shoe. Like its predecessor, it's light and comfortable, dries quickly and feels great off-road (park, field, dirt, etc.), though it comes with a sturdier closure system that makes your foot feel secure on the go. If you plan to run on pavement, look into the FiveFingers Bikila ($90), which better protects the toes and forefoot.
Weight: 5.7 oz
#8 Skechers GOrun 2
Entering the already saturated running market is no easy task, but Skechers has pulled it off with its GOrun line. The GOrun 2 will satisfy Skechers converts with its rocker shaped outsole, which promotes optimal toe-off. Additionally, the signature lightweight upper allows this shoe to form to any foot and flex with ease.
Weight: 6.8 oz
#7 Merrell Trail Glove 2
With a close-to-the ground fit and zero drop from heel to toe, the Trail Glove stays true to the natural running ethos. Meanwhile, a Vibram outsole and TrailProtect pad still offer good protection from rough patches and rocky spots on the trail. Merrell’s unique Omni-Fit Lacing System insures this shoe lives up to its name by giving your foot a truly sock-like fit.
Weight: 7 oz
#6 Saucony Kinvara 4
Since the heady early days of the minimalist craze, this well-cushioned, lightweight model has been the go-to shoe for many a runner making the less-is-more transition. Saucony hasn’t changed much—just transferred some excess rubber from the heel to reinforce the forefoot and made the upper lighter and tighter. This is a smooth-riding, comfortable lightweight trainer shoe that’s suited to asphalt, non-technical trails and, for those who spurn (sometimes bone-jarring) racing flats, races. For an even better deal, you can get its predecessor, Kinvara 3, for $75.
Weight: 7.7 oz
#5 Altra Instinct
Here is a rare and wonderful thing—a zero-drop minimalist shoe (the heel and forefoot are the same height)—with ample cushioning. It’s a great shoe for transitioning to the more “natural” running style encouraged by minimal shoes, and even comes with removable footbeds in two separate thicknesses to help you work your foot closer to the ground. The Instinct is foot-shaped with a very wide forefoot that offers the toes plenty of space to splay out on contact, offering greater-than-average stability and support. Looking for a sharper-looking update with a more breathable upper? Check out the brand-new Instinct 1.5 ($100).
Style: Neutral Minimalist
Weight: 8.8 oz
#4 ASICS GEL-Lyte33 2
What sets this shoe—engineered to help runners improve their form—apart is its “FluidAxis” sole. Basically, deep flex grooves cross the heel diagonally rather than on a grid, which is supposed to make the shoe move better with the joints in your feet. The jury’s out on whether it works, but most testers still agree that the Gel-Lyte33 is a well-cushioned, super flexible, fairly lightweight trainer that boasts Asics’ trademark plush ride.
Style: Lightweight Cushioning
Weight: 8.4 oz
#3 New Balance 1400
Now in its third year, the 1400 is a lightweight racing flat that’s about as fast as it looks. It strikes a good balance between barefoot shoes and the cushioning and support of more traditional models, all while encouraging a quick, efficient stride. As such, it’s firm enough for tempo runs and forgiving enough for very long runs, an unusual quality in a shoe marketed for competition.
Style: Racing Flat
Weight: 7.1 oz
#2 Brooks Launch
This versatile lightweight neutral trainer is fast, very flexible and offers plenty of cushion for such a slight shoe without feeling mushy. It conforms to a wide variety of feet—from flat to high arches—and isn’t overbuilt with medial posts, wedges or other features that tell the foot what to do. In other words, it stays out of your way just enough on tempo runs, medium- to long-distance days and, for some, even serves as a standby race shoe.
Weight: 9.1 oz
#1 Altra Samson
Altra is another zero-drop shoe company, and the Samson is its middle-of-the-line model. Like the rest, it’s designed to strengthen feet and promote natural running technique. The upper is a quick-dry mesh that ventilates feet effectively while keeping grit away from toes, and the sole is grippy enough for easy trail runs. Inside, you have the option of using an included 3mm insole, or running directly on the BareSole footbed, which brings your feet within 7mm of bare ground. Think you might need a bit more cushioning? Try Altra's ever-so-slightly beefier, much lauded Instinct ($75).
Weight: 6.5 oz