In an oversaturated market of men’s athletic sneakers, it’s quite comfortable to fall victim to decision fatigue. When online shopping, you head over to your trusty friend Google to read some customer reviews and are suddenly you are faced with ads sneaking into your Instagram feed and the pressure is real.
Whether it’s decision fatigue, or worse — post-buyer’s regret from an impulse purchase, we’re here to help make the shopping process a whole lot easier. You should feel excited about what you’re buying, even if it is just sneakers. While we do recommend research, the most important thing to consider (other than style) is how functional an item will be in your everyday life. Wearing the right sneaker can keep your body aligned and moving properly. If you look around the gym, you’ll notice that most guys wear a simple pair of running sneakers on repeat without thinking about their tech specs.
When it comes to athletic sneakers, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all workout style. Some are better than other at being universally functional (more on that later), but it really comes down to the sport or level of activity you’re involved in, combined with the shape and size of your foot and your fitness goals. Ahead, we offer well researched options for a variety of activities. Wearing the right shoe for your workout will enhance your performance and reduce injury. Hopefully this guide can serve as your treasure map to finding the right sneakers for you while feeling good about it, too.
Read more: The 11 Shoes Every Man Should Own
Best Men’s Running Shoes
This category of athletics probably takes the most try-ons. When it comes to running, you have to look at the cadence and distance of your activity. If your goal is distance, it’s important to have more cushioning for better impact absorption.
If you have flat feet, seek out something that is supportive but not corrective. When you wear a shoe that doesn’t properly align with your body, the injury risk jumps high. Take your time to find running sneakers that match your level of activity and foot.
Hoka One One Clifton 6
Some might say Hoka One One’s Clifton 6 is an icon. It’s the style that put the brand on the runner’s map … or should we say road. It features the three things everyone looks for in a running sneaker: a balanced cloudlike footbed, neutral support, and extremely light weight. The cult following is there for a reason.
Brooks Running Ghost 13
The latest from Brooks are the Ghost 13 sneakers. Best for road runners with medium to high arches, these offer more cushion than ever to promise a smoother transition between strides. They are a solid and dependable choice for your daily runs.
On Running Cloudswift
We recommend these for both the treadmill and urban roads. They have a flexible CloudTec outsole to let your foot perform naturally. With a wider fit, these also support an arch, but don’t force correction. In a world of bright colors and foamy bottoms, these running sneakers remain pretty low profile and high tech.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 22
When it comes to Asics, if you know, you know. Die-hard fans will never wear anything else and they probably count how many pairs they go through as a badge of honor. These babies sit on a midsole made of Gel and Flytefoam technology with a mesh upper, meaning they mold to your foot right out of the box with a “no break-in necessary” promise.
Best Men’s Basketball Shoes
For basketball shoes, you have to think plyometrics and bounce. This isn’t a one-dimensional activity. Similar to boxing, you are pivoting, running backwards, jumping, and side shuffling. Therefore, it requires sneakers that can handle it all. Keep an eye out for super bouncy cushioning to give you those big ups.
Nike Jordan React Elevation
If you’ve ever played basketball, you’ve probably owned a pair of Jordans. With new drops each year, the style continues to improve across style, fit, technology and comfort. The Jordan React Elevation focuses on what’s important: The fundamentals. They provide a balanced ride with a wide set footbed and just enough cushion allowing you to jump high and move fast.
Puma Clyde Hardwood Natural Basketball
The perfect blend of old school leather and performance materials, these Pumas are the foundation of PUMA Hoops, the basketball technology under the brand. While many basketball sneakers are made for indoors only, these can also take you to the pavement. They don’t have many bells and whistles compared to other basketball styles, but that’s what we love about them. They’re a classic shoe with maximum comfort, grip, and support.
Best Men’s Lifting Shoes
When you’re lifting at the gym, it’s important to stay away from anything with too much cushion. It will throw off your balance. You aren’t making a repetitive impact (like running) and the excessive foam might get in the way of your reps. You want to find something extremely supportive, yet low to the ground. There should also be a wider footbed, for proper weight distribution and hip alignment.
Reebok Legacy Lifter 2.0
Reebok collaborated with Olympic weightlifter, CJ Cummings to design the best sneaker for optimal squats, dead lifts, and more. The low height here is crucial, combined with the rubber outsole and Velcro closure to keep you locked in and fully supported. These are best for men with medium to wide feet.
Adidas Powerlift 4 Shoes
These lifting sneakers from Adidas provide a narrower fit, with similar technology to the Reeboks above. They are also lighter in weight with a more flexible toe design allowing for more movement and breathability.
Best Men’s High Impact Shoes
Whether you’re into CrossFit, explosive sprints, or any kind of circuit training, your sneakers should match up. To protect your knees and back, you’ll want to look for a foam footbed that gives a slight responsiveness combined with enough ankle support to keep you lunging and moving responsibly.
Nike AirZoom Super Rep
It wouldn’t be a best sneaker roundup if Nike didn’t appear more than once on this list. Don’t be scared by the multilevel foam bottoms here. The extra cushion gives you the responsiveness you need for box jumps, jump roping and other explosive moves. With these, you’ll get an extra kick, noticing an improvement in your speed, agility, and energy.
APL Men’s TechLoom Tracer
Athletic Propulsion Labs are deemed the top sneaker for casual wearability. If you’ve ever been in an APL store you know just how cool the brand feels. They give you that Yeezy level status (without being Yeezy). The new TechLoom Tracer is APL’s entry into a training-specific shoe. It focuses more on performance than previous styles. With low profile cushioning, there is just enough of a bed for rebound, with a non-stretch support for keeping your foot in place.
Best Trail Sneakers
When you look at gym shoes, versus trail shoes, it’s easy to go from athletic swag to grandpa real quick (and not in a cool way). With that said, the treads of a training or running sneaker won’t suffice on the trail. That’s why we recommend these trail sneaker hybrids below. Take note, if you’re planning a rigorous hiking trip that’s a whole different animal.
Read more: The Best Men’s Trail Sneakers
Adidas Terrex Two Ultra Parley Trail Running Shoes
By the looks of these, you would never know they are made for the trail. The classic Adidas boost cushioning technology is combined with a continental grip to keep you on your feet. These also feature Parley Ocean Plastic, upcycled plastic waste from remote islands, beaches, and coastal communities to prevent it from polluting our oceans.
Altra Men’s Lone Peak 4.5
Straight out of Utah, Altra sneakers are made for the mountains and known for their “foot-shaped toe box.” When you compare a pair of Altras to a traditional sneaker, you’ll even notice the boxy appearance around the toes. This leaves room for your feet to swell (a natural occurrence with any high-level outdoor activity). You can kiss any thought of blisters goodbye.
Best Universal Sneakers
Universal athletic sneakers are for the low-profile guys that dip their toes into just about everything. These should be neutral in color and sleek enough to jump from the gym to business casual meeting.
AllBirds Men’s Tree Dashers
We’ve written about AllBirds before, so you know we’re a fan. Other than the fact that they are environmentally friendly and can be worn sockless (yes, machine washable), they are probably the best pair on this list for running errands. For biking around town to grocery shopping and even some light training gym, these sneakers are universally functional and ooze comfort, breathability, and style.
Another versatile option, these Nobull trainers have a near-perfect customer rating on over 3,500 reviews. For a smaller brand, that is pretty major. They cover just about every activity for any environment, giving you a little bit of everything on this list.
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