One sneaker takes up to 40 years to decompose in a landfill. These 10 brands are changing that by making shoes from recycled and renewable materials.

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Adidas Parley

  • Over 300 million pairs of sneakers are thrown out annually.
  • It can take 30 to 40 years for a pair to decompose in a landfill.
  • Learn about 10 sneaker brands using eco-friendly materials and more sustainable production methods.

The sneaker industry is bigger than ever, and its growth shows no signs of slowing.

More than 23 billion pairs of sneakers are produced every year, but behind the great demand for footwear is an industry so wasteful it’s almost beyond measure. Most of these new pairs use virgin plastic, rubber, and petroleum, producing alarming amounts of carbon dioxide. According to sneaker startup Nothing New, about 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out every year and, on average, it takes 30-40 years for a pair to fully decompose in a landfill.

In the past, most shoppers would have put little thought into exactly how the items they bought were made, but that is no longer the case all around. In addition to demanding trendsetting styles and groundbreaking innovations, the educated consumers of today expect products to be made responsibly.

Sportswear retail expert Matt Powell explained to Insider that younger people are very concerned with how their purchases are affecting the environment. “Sustainability is an important theme in retail, so much so that younger consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products,” said Powell. “Brands have long been concerned about making products sustainably, but they’re being more forward and open about it.”

If you’re looking to make better, more sustainable choices, we hear you. We are too, which is why we rounded up this list of brands that are using innovative, eco-friendly materials and more sustainable production methods to make sneakers.

From performance sneakers made by popular brands like Nike and Adidas to fashion-forward trainers from startups like Everlane and Allbirds, you’ll find plenty of brands new and old working to set new standards.

Check out 10 brands making more sustainable sneakers:

Cariuma

Cariuma

Low Black Stripe Vintage Sneaker (small)

Founded in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Cariuma is a sneaker brand that focuses on sustainability. The brand handmakes its sneakers using high-quality natural materials including organic fair-trade cotton, natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis trees, and leather from gold-rated tanneries using hides sourced from areas that weren’t deforested for cattle farming.

The brand ships its shoes directly in the shoebox, which eliminates the need for wasteful packaging. It also makes up for the carbon emissions associated with shipping products by purchasing carbon offsets, which brings its carbon footprint down to zero.

Cariuma’s sneakers have an old-school look, but with modern comfort. The insoles have a generous amount of memory foam, which make them easy to wear all day long.

Read our full review on Cariuma sneakers here.

Shop all shoes at Cariuma here, $79-$159

Adidas x Parley

Adidas Parley AlphaBounce

Ultra Boost 20 (small, Preferred: Adidas)

When it comes to mainstream sportswear brands, Adidas is easily the most vocal about its sustainability efforts — and environmental organization Parley for the Oceans has been its biggest collaborator. The two brands teamed up for the first time in 2015 with a sneaker using yarn made from recycled ocean plastic and illegal deep-sea gill nets. They officially launched products to the public in 2016.

In 2020, Adidas made more than 20 million pairs of sneakers with Parley ocean plastic — a major increase from 11 million pairs in 2019 and 5 million pairs in 2018.

Today, you’ll find Parley’s recycled materials on everything from running sneakers like the Ultra 4D 5.0 and Ultra Boost to outdoor shoes like the Terrex Two.

Shop all Adidas products made with recycled materials here.

Tread by Everlane

Tread by Everlane

The Trainer (Men’s) (small)The Trainer (Women’s) (small)

While recycled knits account for a big part of the sustainable sneakers market, Tread by Everlane is for those who still appreciate quality leather. With 94.2% non-virgin plastic soles, leather sourced from the world’s cleanest tannery, and laces and linings made from recycled plastic bottles, The Trainer is touted (by its maker, mind you) as the world’s lowest-impact sneakers.

Even if you aren’t a particularly conscious consumer (although you should be), Tread by Everlane has great appeal. Its style lends itself well to minimalists and lovers of that cut-and-sewn look found on retro running sneakers.

Read our full review on Everlane Trainer sneakers here.

Shop all Everlane sneakers here.

Reebok Cotton + Corn

Reebok NPC UK Cotton and Corn

Corn & Cotton Slip-On (small)

Reebok first launched the Cotton + Corn sneakers with the NPC UK sneaker. It originally featured leather accents on the heel tab, but after receiving kickback from Peta, the brand took the initiative to make the shoe completely vegan. The updated sneaker features a 100% cotton upper, a sole derived from corn, and insoles made from castor bean oil. Even the packaging is 100% recycled.

Now, Reebok is continuing vegan shoes with the Corn + Cotton Slip-On, a casual sneaker.

Shop all Reebok Cotton + Corn sneakers here.

Nothing New

Nothing New Sneakers

Sneakers (small)

Founded in 2019, Nothing New is a sneaker startup that aims to positively impact the planet and educate the people that live on it. Unlike most brands on this list that are simply making strides to improve their eco-friendliness, sustainability is at the very core of the brand.

As the name suggests, Nothing New sneakers are made with only recycled materials. The upper is 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, while its other components are made from recycled cotton, fishing nets, rubber, and cork.

Beyond the production process, Nothing New offers $20 discounts on new pairs to those who send back their used sneakers. Depending on the condition of the sneakers, Nothing New will clean and donate them or break them down and put the materials back into its recycled supply chain.

Read our full review on Nothing New sneakers here.

Shop all Nothing New sneakers here.

Nike

NIKE SPACE HIPPIE

Cosmic Unity (small)

Over the last five decades, Nike has continually pushed boundaries in sportswear innovation. While performance has been at the forefront of its designs, sustainability has also been a major factor in recent years. Even though sustainability isn’t heavily incorporated into the brand’s marketing (compared to Adidas Parley or Allbirds), the brand’s work has not gone unnoticed.

In 2018, Nike was recognized by Textile Exchange as using the most recycled polyester in the industry for the sixth year in a row, and from 2010-2018, the brand transformed 6.4 billion plastic water bottles into recycled footwear or apparel.

Nike’s signature Flyknit material, which can be found on footwear throughout the brand’s catalog, is made in-part with recycled plastic, but the Swoosh is doing more than sustainable knits.

In 2019, Nike also launched sneakers made from Flyleather, a new material made from at least 50% recycled leather fiber. Although there haven’t been many other sneakers to release with Flyleather yet, you can expect the material to be included more often in future designs.

In 2020, Nike furthered its impact on sustainability by using recycled rubbers on midsoles and outsoles — a feature that could be seen on everything from Nike SBs to Converse. Some of the most notable use of materials made from recycled trash is the Nike Space Hippie collection and the new Cosmic Unity basketball shoe. In total, the brand has roughly 900 items available that are made from at least 20% recycled materials.

Shop all Nike products made from recycled materials here.

Converse Renew

Converse

Renew Chuck Taylor All Star Crater Knit (small)

The Chuck Taylor All-Stars are cemented in footwear as one of, if not the most timeless sneakers on the planet, but Converse has proven that it’s able to stay in touch with modern demands. Using 100% recycled plastic bottles to make up its canvas upper, the Renew Collection is the latest example of its commitment to produce more carefully.

The process starts with plastic bottles sourced by the US-based recycling company First Mile. The plastic is then ground up into flakes, melted, rolled into bales, spun into yarn, and weaved into canvas.

The best part about the Converse Renew collection is that shoes are fully customizable and are available in sizes from toddlers to adults. 

Shop the Converse Renew collection here.

Allbirds

Allbirds

Men’s Wool Runners (small)Women’s Wool Runners (small)

As the brainchild of New Zealand native Tim Brown and San Francisco-based renewables expert Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds is the wildly popular sneaker startup you’ve seen all throughout Silicon Valley and New York City. In the first four years, the brand reached a $77.5 million valuation — all thanks to its sustainable footwear.

Love them or hate them, all of Allbirds’ designs are undeniably unique and unmatched in comfort. The brand’s shoes are made with merino wool or eucalyptus trees for the uppers and sugar cane for the SweetFoam soles. They even made the patent on their SweetFoam material public so that other brands could utilize it as a sustainable alternative. Recycled plastic and castor bean oil also make their way into the inner-workings of the shoes. Allbirds even uses 90% post-consumer recycled cardboard for packaging that serves as a shoe box, shopping bag, and mailer all in one.

We’ve reviewed everything from the signature Wool Runners to the newer Tree Toppers and found them to be incredibly comfortable. Read all of our Allbirds reviews here.

Shop Allbirds sneakers for men and women here, $95-$115

Greats

Greats

Royale Knit (small)

Founded in 2014 by Ryan Babenzien and footwear designer Jon Buscemi, Greats began as an affordable alternative to the luxury sneaker market. The brand’s signature style, The Greats Royale, features premium leather, is manufactured in Italy, and only costs $179 — which far less than comparable high-end sneakers.

In efforts to be more eco-friendly, Greats redesigned the silhouette with a recycled plastic knit upper. Seven plastic bottles go into making each pair of Royale Knit sneakers, and in the initial production run alone, Greats removed 75,000 bottles from the ocean.

In addition to the recycled plastic uppers, Greats uses recycled materials to produce the shoe boxes and packaging.

Shop all Greats sneakers here.

Rothy’s

Rothy's

The Sneaker (small)

Founded in 2016, Rothy’s took over social media and the streets of New York and San Francisco with its recycled plastic flats for women. With such a heavy emphasis on sustainability, it was only right for the brand to start making other styles, including sneakers. 

Aptly named “The Sneaker,” Rothy’s recycled plastic sneaker features a Vans-inspired slip-on look with a recycled plastic upper. Other eco-friendly elements of the shoe include recycled foam insoles, vegan, outsoles made from recyclable, carbon-free rubber and TPU, and vegan and non-toxic adhesives.

To date, Rothy’s has repurposed more than 35 million plastic water bottles in its footwear. For now, the brand only makes footwear for women and kids, so if you’re looking for shoes in men’s sizing, you’ll have to check out one of the other brands on this list.

Read our Rothy’s review here.

Shop all recycled plastic shoes at Rothy’s here, $125-$165

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Teva vs. Chaco – here’s how the 2 most popular sport sandals compare

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tevas vs chacos
The author’s Chacos (left) and Tevas (right).

  • Teva and Chaco are two wildly popular sport sandals in the outdoor community.
  • While both are practical and comfortable, they differ in design, feel, price, and color selection.
  • We compared them side by side to help you choose the right pair for your needs and preferences.

Z/1 Classic Sandal (small)Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Men’s) (small)

Many great debates rage on in the world of consumer products. Apple or Samsung? Coke or Pepsi? Canon or Nikon?

If you’re looking at sport sandals, we know the big question on your mind is: Tevas or Chacos?

These popular outdoor sandals were both born out of necessity. In the 1980s, two river guides, one in Arizona and the other in Colorado, needed comfortable footwear solutions that would keep their shoes on their feet and prevent their feet from wrinkling into prunes every day.

They had these basic needs in common, but from there the river splits. The sandal designs they ultimately came up with look and feel quite different. We like and have covered both Teva and Chaco sandals, delving into their history, design, and impact on the fashion and outdoor industries.

Now, here’s a direct comparison that will let you easily decide which sandals are right for you.

We compared the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 Sandals and the Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandals on features like their strap system, footbed, arch design, and color selection in order to help you determine whether you’re Team Tevas or Team Chacos.

See how Teva sandals and Chaco sandals compare below:

Strap design and materials

tevas vs chacos 2

An easy way to tell Tevas and Chacos apart is their strap designs. Teva straps line the sides of your feet while Chaco straps wrap across the tops of your feet. 

Teva straps support the tops, sides, and ankles of your feet and have Velcro to allow for fit adjustments. They’re made from water-friendly, quick-drying webbing that’s made from polyester, nylon, and recycled PET. 

Chaco straps include a buckle, criss-cross each other, and are actually one long, continuous strap. This gives your feet the feeling of being wrapped. You adjust the fit at each part of the foot by pulling that area of the strap. They’re made from water-friendly, quick-drying polyester jacquard webbing.

Footbed materials and feel

tevas vs chacos 6

The footbed is what your feet are in contact with all day as you wear these sandals. Here’s how the footbeds differ:

Tevas feel soft, smooth, and cushioned.

Chacos have a slightly textured footbed that feels more dry. 

Midsole and arch design

tevas vs chacos 4

Depending on the shape of your feet and the level of support you want, you’ll like one brand more than the other.  

Tevas have a lower arch and make you feel like you’re walking closer to the ground. I have fairly flat feet and found Tevas to be more comfortable than Chacos. The midsole is made from lightweight and flexible EVA foam, which feels cushioned and bouncy. 

Chacos have a high arch, with a thicker midsole at the heel than Tevas. If your feet have high arches, they’ll be more comfortable in Chacos. The midsole is made from PU foam, which is a little heavier than EVA foam, but has a longer-lasting bounce. 

Outsole

tevas vs chacos 7

While the outsoles have different designs, both Tevas and Chacos provide strong traction, allowing you to walk across all types of terrain — smooth tile, rocky trails, slippery rocks, and more. 

Weight

tevas vs chacos 9

Both shoes are excellent lightweight footwear options that won’t weigh you down as you trek miles and miles on your travels or hikes. 

Tevas are lighter. One pair weighs 1 pound, 4 ounces. 

Chacos are heavier. One pair weighs 1 pound, 5.2 ounces. 

Color and pattern options

tevas vs chacos 10

Sport sandals, like all shoes, can be a reflection of your personal style. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of colors and patterns from each brand. 

Tevas come in many neutral and bright colors, as well as prints. Some styles are part of limited-edition collections, but if you aren’t able to find the one you want on Teva’s website, you might have better luck checking another online retailer such as REI. 

Chacos also come in many neutral and bright colors, as well as prints. The brand also features limited-edition collections. To ensure your pair never gets mixed up with another person’s, you can create a custom pair. This process lets you customize everything from the main strap to the logo badge. You can even upload your own image as a print or add embroidery. 

The bottom line

tevas vs chacos 8

After trying the sandals from Teva and Chaco, we’ve learned they’re both very comfortable and supportive. But you should use the following points to figure out which pair you should buy. 

Buy Tevas if: You have flat or less arched feet, you don’t mind Velcro straps, and you want a softer footbed. 

Tevas retail for $70, but you may be able to find them at lower prices at retailers such as Amazon and REI. 

Shop the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 sandals (Men’s) here:

Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Men’s) (button)

Shop the Teva Hurricane XLT 2 sandals (Women’s) here: 

Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal (Women’s) (button)

Buy Chacos if: You have high arches, like the look of the single-wrapped strap, and want a more “dry” feel. There are also more color and pattern options thanks to the customization feature. 

Chacos are more expensive and retail for $105, but you may be able to find them at lower prices at retailers such as Amazon and REI. 

Shop the Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals (Men’s) here: 

Z/1 Classic Sandal (Men’s) (button)

Shop the Chaco Z/1 Classic sandals (Women’s) here: 

Z/1 Classic Sandal (Women’s) (button)

Read the original article on Business Insider

Allbirds’ Wool Runners are still the most comfortable sneakers out there – even after wearing the same pair for over 3 years

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

allbirds wool runner

  • Popular shoe startup Allbirds is best known for its Wool Runner ($95) that was launched in 2016.
  • The sneaker is lightweight, breathable, machine washable, and sustainably made.
  • Learn why they’re still some of our favorite sneakers after more than three years of wear.

Women’s Wool Runners (small)Men’s Wool Runners (small)

Allbirds is one of the hottest footwear brands in recent years – and it’s not just because its shoes are made of wool.

The sneaker startup came about when Tim Brown, a New Zealand native, teamed up with San Francisco-based engineer and renewables expert Joey Zwillinger.

In 2016, they launched their first shoe, the Allbirds Wool Runners – a sneaker that’s innovative, comfortable, and sustainable. The brand quickly became popular because of its use of merino wool.

Why merino wool makes sense for sneakers

Most people think wool would be hot and itchy, but Allbirds uses a proprietary dual-faced wool that’s super soft and itch-free on the interior and dirt-resistant on the exterior.

With Allbirds’ special construction, the wool actually has many natural properties that make for amazing sneakers. They’re lightweight and breathable, cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and for those that like to go sockless, they’re odor-resistant. And the best part is, you can throw these sneakers in the washing machine, instead of meticulously scrubbing away stains like you would with traditional sneakers. If you’re looking for a pair of sneakers that are comfortable, durable, stylish, and affordable, Allbirds is the solution.

Since it was first founded, Allbirds has expanded its product offerings significantly. It now sells eight shoe silhouettes total, from a high-top sneaker to a women’s flat, as well as three sock styles. And, in addition to wool, the company has experimented with other sustainable materials, including eucalyptus fiber for its Tree shoes, and environmentally friendly water repellent for its Mizzle shoes.

Still, the most popular and recognizable shoe from Allbirds is undoubtedly the Wool Runner, which many members of the Insider Reviews team have tried over the years. Read on for our thoughts on how they feel and fit, plus how they’ve held up since we first tested them in 2017.

Shop all wool shoes at Allbirds here.

Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter

WOOLRUNNER_WHITE_PAIR_dc9f52d5 a63e 4fe6 b53a d5cabb32defa

Women’s Wool Runners (small)

September 2017 review: Silicon Valley is obsessed with these wool shoes, and now I understand why. I love wearing sneakers with dresses or skirts to add a sporty-casual feel, and my white Allbirds Runners were a seamless addition into my weekend daytime look.

One day, I wore these shoes after spending the entire previous day in heeled boots, and my sore feet seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I’d normally be a little paranoid trying to care for bright white shoes, but I don’t worry at all about any scuffs or dirt that attack these shoes since I can just throw them in the washing machine at any time.

April 2021 update: The Wool Runners are still one of my favorite sneakers to wear because of their soft and supportive comfort. I used to wear the shoes without socks, but now I usually wear socks because I’ve discovered they’re even more comfortable that way. From experience, the insoles can start to smell if you go barefoot for too long, so that’s another reason to pair your Allbirds with some socks. Or, hand-wash those insoles often. 

While I love white shoes, the maintenance is admittedly more intensive than one of the many other colors Allbirds offers. If I could go back, I think I would choose a different color (and luckily, there are plenty to choose from). 

Another thing to note is that after a few years of regular wear, the soles wear out and the shoes feel less supportive. If you plan on wearing them often, don’t expect them to last too long. Still, I’d buy them again because they’re just that comfortable!

Malarie Gokey, Insider Reviews deputy editor

WR_KOTARELAV_PROFILEL_370ba357 aee4 4c92 9b13 0da856e726f3

Women’s Wool Runners (small)

September 2017 review: I don’t wear sneakers very often, but when I do, they have to be comfortable and stylish. The Allbirds Runners meet both requirements in spades. These merino wool shoes are ridiculously soft — I couldn’t stop touching them when they first arrived!

I’ve never worn sneakers without socks before, but the wool was so silky and smooth that I gave it a try, and it worked. The Runners are super comfortable to walk in, and they’re also very light and breathable with or without socks. 

April 2021 update: I don’t wear my Allbird runners too often, so I can’t speak to how much heavy wear they can withstand, but they’ve held up to light wear well. I wore them on a long hike once and they got a bit dirty, so I washed them by hand, and they looked like new afterwards. Anyone who’s ever labored over a pair of dirty or stained sneakers knows just how convenient it is to be able to wash your shoes without ruining them. They also seem to get more comfortable with age as they mold to my feet.

Amir Ismael, Insider Reviews senior reporter

WOOLRUNNER_GREY_FRONTANGLE

Men’s Wool Runners (small)

September 2017 review: Before I even got to the actual shoes, my first impression on receiving my Allbirds Wool Runners was the box. As a sneaker collector, the box is sometimes just as important as the shoes themselves — it’s definitely something I wouldn’t throw away. Building on its efforts to improve sustainability, Allbirds ships its shoes in the same box that they’re stored in. The box unfolds and two separate compartments hold each sneaker.

Once I did get to the shoes, I was immediately impressed. When I think of lightweight sneakers, mesh or engineered knit comes to mind first — not wool. Upon learning about Allbirds, I actually thought wool sneakers were a bad idea, but the Wool Runners definitely proved me wrong. 

The Allbirds sneakers are super comfortable, lightweight, and stylish. I’m able to wear them all day long because of the plush insoles and flexible outsole. I went with the Natural Grey pair for a minimal and subdued look, and I absolutely love them.

October 2019 update: I wore my Allbirds a few times after I initially reviewed them and they held up wonderfully. I can remember them being comfortable and surprisingly cool in warm weather, despite being made out of wool. As much as I liked them, I ended up donating them last year because I have way too many sneakers. They were still in lightly-used condition, so I can’t speak to how quick or badly they wear out.

Over the past two years, Allbirds has come out with several different shoe designs, but the original Wool Runner is still my favorite. I definitely wouldn’t mind owning another pair, but I know I’d have a hard time picking out a color — there are just so many great ones to choose from now.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Allbirds’ sustainable ‘Tree’ sneakers were a game-changer when they debuted in 2018 – here’s how they’ve held up after 3 years of regular wear

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allbirds tree runners
The Tree Runner in Mist.

Chances are you’ve heard about Allbirds, the internet-famous $95 sneakers made from soft Merino wool.

We’ve tested them before, and our team universally feels that they’re pretty much the most comfortable shoes out there (read our review on the wool Loungers here, the Runners here, and the Runner-Up Mizzle here). In fact, an Insider Reviews survey showed that Allbirds was one of our readers’ favorite products that they have purchased as a result of an article we wrote.

There are a lot of reasons people like these shoes beyond just how comfortable they are. They’re also relatively affordable from $95-$145 a pair and they’re easy to clean with a simple spin in the washing machine. But for some, the biggest draw is the fact that the company maintains a deep, unshakable commitment to sustainability.

It’s this commitment that led the brand in early 2018 to develop and introduce an even more sustainable set of shoes made from trees – or more specifically, from a textile engineered using eucalyptus pulp.

The materials

Allbirds_2057_Shot_23_NavyTreeRunner_W_3646
Allbirds in a limited edition blue color (since replaced with navy).

According to Allbirds, this material uses 95% less water and cuts its carbon footprint in half when compared to traditional footwear materials.

Naturally, considering that merino wool prices have been steadily climbing, we wondered if the production of these shoes was intended to offset the increased cost of producing their wool line. After all, Allbirds is beloved in part because their shoes have maintained a steady and reasonable price since the very start. But the brand assured us that the idea for new, sustainable textiles had been in the works since before they even launched their original Runners in 2016.

We spoke with the founders of Allbirds, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, who told Insider that they’ve always envisioned Allbirds as a sustainable material innovation company. “For us, it was about creating a brand that challenges the status quo and redefines what it means to make something ‘better.”

The Tree Collection styles

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The line, aptly named the “Tree collection,” is made up of six styles, including the Runners and Loungers that we already know and love, a pair they call the Skippers, which are similar to a boat sneaker, and a high-top Topper sneaker.

The material creates a cooling effect by wicking moisture away, making them perfect for summer. The makeup of the insoles has stayed consistent, so you can still expect the same comfort level as their classic pairs. The women’s styles come in up to 11 colors, and the men’s styles come in up to 12 colors.

As longtime fans of the brand, our team was given the chance by Allbirds to test out the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers. Keep reading to find a breakdown of each of our experiences with the styles (spoiler alert: they’re still really, really great).

Read our initial reviews, plus an update after nearly three years of wear, below:

Navy Runner
Allbirds Tree Runners in a discontinued Kauri Navy color

Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter:

March 2018 review: Allbirds is one of my favorite companies to shop from because they have always exceeded expectations on comfort, quality, and style. In other words, they’ve earned my trust as a valuable buy. I don’t feel bad dropping money on a new pair of shoes from them because I know I will wear them until they’re borderline disintegrating – and I will be glad every time I put them on. It sounds like an exaggeration, but they’re really that comfortable.

I tried the Tree Runner in navy, which is actually a nice dark green-blue in person (less bright than a true teal), and – again – Allbirds has exceeded my expectations. They’re crazy comfortable, the silhouette is flattering and close-fitting, and I love the smooth but texturized upper. The stylistic contrast of the thick laces is a really nice touch, and the semi-muted color means they go with basically anything.

The sole feels familiar (it’s the same structured, wool-lined insole found in my Loungers) and supportive, but the upper is even more breathable than my other pairs.

While I wouldn’t buy Allbirds if they weren’t consistently making the most comfortable shoes I own, I also love that they’re using sustainable materials (and encouraging innovation). They feel ridiculously good on, and any conscious consumer can feel great about buying them.

March 2021 update: Three years after testing them, these are still both my go-to travel shoes and my favorite pair of Allbirds. They’re comfortable, noticeably cooling, and perfect for all-day wear. The navy has held up well over time and shows negligible signs of wear after semi-frequent use.

Allbirds_2057_Shot_2_RoseTreeSkipper_W_0289 (1)
The pink skippers are no longer available, but Allbirds has released various neutrals to take its place.

Connie Chen, Insider Reviews senior reporter:

March 2018 review: I wear my Wool Runners regularly and am always more than happy to talk about how wonderful and comfortable they are to anyone who’s curious, so I was excited to learn about this newer style from one of my favorite brands. Itching for the feel of summer, I opted for the Tree Skippers, which are a modern twist on the classic boat shoe.

Again, Allbirds’ surprising materials have proven to be successful. I never would have guessed that the textile was made from eucalyptus pulp, but it provides an interesting, eye-catching texture that’s more unique than that of a traditional boat shoe. Eucalyptus is known for its cooling properties, so I appreciate that the Skippers offer the ideal casual summer look while also keeping my feet cool in warm weather. The Stone’s neutral, sandy color (color no longer available) reminded me of the beach and can really match with any color you wear on top.

Like Mara said, slipping into the shoe felt soft and familiar since it has the same wool-lined insole and heel cup of Allbirds’ other offerings. I’m also almost certain that these Skippers are more comfortable than the Runners, which is an impressive feat.

March 2021 update: My universal test for whether a pair of shoes is truly supportive and comfortable is how they feel when I wear them to a music festival. These all-day events are the ultimate battleground and involve a lot of walking, standing, and dancing – my Tree Skippers passed the test again and again. I like that they look even more casual than regular sneakers, which is why you’ll often find me wearing the Skippers on the weekend, regardless of the season.

I have discovered over the years, however, that the Skippers are more finicky to care for, perhaps because there’s less material and they have a thinner sole than the Runners. I think the mesh knit material is not as resilient as wool and is prone to slight shrinking and warping, so I would recommend that you either get a darker color or be extra careful while drying them post-wash.

38674210_349842065555817_4138142835838812160_n
New colors for the men’s Skippers include plenty of neutrals and some more playful options like bright yellow and blue.

David Slotnick, senior transportation reporter:

March 2018 review: “I tested out the Tree Skipper in Kauri Stone (color no longer available), and think I’ve found the perfect summer shoe. They feel like a combination of a boat shoe and a sneaker – I’ve never found the former very comfortable, but sneakers can be warm or restrictive during summer. The Tree Skipper is lightweight and breathable, and, to my delight, feels like a nice, properly-supportive shoe that would be equally fitting for walking around a city during vacation, wearing on the way to the beach, or on a boat. I can tie the laces to keep them on as I walk – even if I walk quickly or run – although I can kick them off without untying them if I want to.”

Shop all styles from the Allbirds Tree collection here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best cheap running shoes for beginners and marathon training alike

  • You can score ample cushioning, support for long mileage, or just the basics for the occasional jog at an affordable price.
  • Some of the best athletic brands like New Balance, Hoka, and Brooks have great runners at $100 to $130.
  • Our top pick, the Hoka One One Rincon, is cushioned, durable, and great for short jogs or multi-hour runs alike.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

I’ve been running for more than 20 years and, in that time, I’ve tried just about every type of shoe on the market on every type of run, from marathons, to weekend trail runs, to around-the-block sprints.

Along with Brian Metzler, author of Kicksology, a comprehensive look at the history and science behind running shoes, and Mike Fronsoe, owner of the Fleet Feet specialty running store in Monroe, LA, we’ve put in thousands of miles on running shoes and have zeroed in on what pairs are worth the splurge – and which are great at a savings.

It’s common to come across running shoes at $250 that promise – and, honestly, do deliver – faster times. For the average runner, however, that’s more shoe than you’d ever want or need. Thankfully, the market offers its fair share of affordable options, too.

“There are plenty of good, mid-range shoes in the $110 and under market,” Metzler told Insider. “The challenge is there’s a lot of marketing that goes into selling shoes and that jacks the prices up.”

To help narrow down the growing selection of cheap running shoes, I highlighted a few of our favorites that I’ve enjoyed running in and that takes Metzler’s and Fronsoe’s advice to heart. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some additional information on how to shop for cheap running shoes, as well as the testing methodology I used.

From brands like Hoka One One and Skechers to Brooks and New Balance, these shoes keep you running comfortably while also staying kind to your wallet.

Here are the best cheap running shoes:

Best cheap running shoe overall

Hoka One One Rincon

This is a shoe that works for almost any type of runner, including those looking for some speed, anyone who enjoys added cushion, and just about everyone in between.

Pros: Lightweight (only 6.3 ounces in the women’s model), cushy ride

Cons: With the differential between the heel and toe stack at only five millimeters, it can take some time to adjust to the shoe if you’re used to a bigger offset — expect a couple of weeks of sore calf muscles

Runner’s World voted the Rincon an “editor’s choice” for a speed shoe in its Fall 2019 Shoe Guide — and with good reason. The shoe delivers what is typically hard to produce: a combination of heavy-duty cushioning and a feather-light weight. 

I must confess that when HOKA first came on the running scene some 11 years ago, I was a skeptic. The first iterations of their shoes were big and bulky, and I thought I could never run in something with that much cushion. But there was plenty of buzz around the shoes and I finally decided to give the brand a go a few years ago. I’ve since tried out several of its models and settled on the Rincon as my favorite for the road.

I’ve put a couple hundred miles on mine and you’d barely notice the wear. I’ve worn them for a variety of distances, from a six miler around the neighborhood on up to longer weekend runs in the range of 13 miles. It’s a responsive shoe that carries me comfortably on any type of pavement. For $115, it delivers performance and longevity.

Best-selling cheap running shoe

Brooks 12 shoe

Fleet Feet, Mike Fronsoe, says this is the number-one selling shoe in his store and remains a fan favorite, 12 versions in.

Pros: 13 different color combinations to choose from, tried-and-true design

Cons:  Pushes the limits of affordability at $130

Runners hate when their favorite shoe receives an update that changes the feel or ride they’ve come to love. That’s why the Brooks Ghost stays as a perpetual best-seller in many running shoe specialty stores — it’s always stayed true to its roots. 

It’s also an all-around crowd-pleaser that’s not too cushy, not too heavy, not too anything. It’s designed with the neutral runner in mind and works well no matter your running goal. The shoe is known for its soft ride and it’s even able to last up to 400-plus miles.

Best dirt-cheap running shoe

Skechers Go Run fast

Long known for its street style, Skechers made a push into the running space several years ago and its budget runner is an impressive shoe that has marathon-quality style in its DNA.

Pros: You can’t do any better on price than this shoe

Cons: Durability could be an issue if you’re looking for a long-haul shoe

Even Olympic marathoner and winner of the Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, runs in a Skechers model, so the brand must be onto something, right? Coming in at just $65, the GOrun Fast Quake is our most affordable shoe.

The Fast Quake is a lightweight trainer and features the brand’s 5Gen cushioning and cooling “goga mat” insole. Skechers bills this as moisture-wicking and high rebound, to deliver energy return with every step. 

I’ve run in an older version of this model and liked its flexible sole and lightweight feel. The men’s version weighs in at 7.8 ounces, and I can say the fit is comfortable and true to size. The shoe might not go the distance through heavy mileage, but it will get you through a couple of weekly training runs and should hold up for a few months.

Best bang for your buck

New Balance Fresh Foam 880

The New Balance 880 is the number two seller in Fronsoe’s store with him adding that, “you can use this shoe for just about anything. It’s firm enough to take to the gym but cushioned enough to run in it on roads.”

Pros: A shoe that has something for just about everyone

Cons: The 880 has a wider toe box than some of its comparable models, so for runners with narrow feet, it may not be the ideal fit

I’ve been a New Balance fan for years and can confirm that the 880 delivers on an all-around basis. I’ve taken them on roads, black-top paths, and even on softer surfaces like a mulch-covered trail and they responded well each time. It’s in its ninth iteration and one of the things I appreciate is that the tweaks New Balance tends to make are smaller, less noticeable ones, so I know I can return to the brands’ shoes over and over again and know exactly what I’m getting. 

The 880 retails with a price tag of about $125, so it’s not the cheapest of our choices but one that still checks most boxes. It features plenty of cushioning, a responsive ride, a mid-level weight at 9 ounces, and a mid-range heel to toe drop at about 10 millimeters. In short, it’s the average joe of running shoes and will likely work for most runners. 

Best high-cushion cheap running shoe

Hoka One One Clifton

Hoka One One’s Clifton offers premium cushion, a snug, comfortable fit, and can last for hundreds of miles — and it’s the shoe many runners think of when mentioning the brand.

Pros: All the cushion HOKA is known for with an embroidered upper that provides a snug fit to prevent feet from slipping.

Cons: The stack height of the sole, which is quite big, can be off-putting to some runners, reducing the sense of ground feel. 

Hoka is one of the most beloved brands in the running shoe community. It truly has an option for everyone that delivers on the price — enough so that the brand has made the cut for testing on our best women’s running shoes and best men’s, best winter running shoes, and best trail runners for women and for men. (So literally every running shoe guide we have.)

That high praise is largely for its trademark cushioning, and the sixth iteration of the Clifton seems to have found the perfect amount to satisfy most fans of its shoes.

Going back to my dislike for overly cushioned shoes, the Clifton surprised me with its performance. I’ve put in a couple of hundred miles in my pair and find that the soft landing remains, as does the responsiveness I appreciate. 

At $129, it hits the upper end of the affordability range but if you have any kind of knee or joint pains, are training for a race or just logging high mileage, or generally like more cushioning, this pair is 100% worth the money.

How to shop for cheap running shoes

Before you dive in on price alone, you’d be wise to visit a specialty running shoe store to try before you buy.

“I get a lot of customers who buy a shoe online, find it doesn’t work for them, and then come in to get fitted,” Fronsoe said. “Much comes down to how a shoe feels on your foot.”

Use your time in a shoe store to try a variety of shoes and figure out what works for you in the price range you’re after. Once you know, you can then make it more affordable in a variety of ways. Some stores, like Fronsoe’s Fleet Feet location, have frequent buyer programs offering credit after a certain value of purchases. You can also look for sale tables that feature last year’s versions of shoes — most brands update shoe models about every nine months, which means a past version then moves to a discounted price. 

Finally, you can find decent mid-range models online and at big-box stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to Metzler, these stores don’t carry the marquee models but they do have pairs that are functional, and that you can put some miles in.

How I tested cheap running shoes

Each pair of running shoes featured in this guide went through a testing process that included everything from sprint work on a track and leisure park runs to longer multi-hour training sessions and race-pace 5ks. When testing, I judged the shoes across these five categories: fit, comfort, performance, versatility, and value. Here’s how each factored into what shoes were ultimately selected:

Fit: Just because you’re saving a few dollars on a cheaper shoe, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t still fit correctly — and running in an ill-fitting shoe is an easy way to wear yourself out quicker (or to just be mentally finished with your run before you hit your mile goal). Fit encompasses everything from how the shoe feels when it’s first put on, if there are any unnecessary pressure points, and its underfoot feel. 

Comfort: Comfort is sort of an extension of fit but goes beyond just how the shoe feels on your foot — it also means looking at how comfortable the shoe stays during a variety of runs. Much of this also comes down to personal preference as some runners prefer highly cushioned shoes from brands like Hoka One One while others like to run on less cushion. The same goes for neutral runners vs. stability shoes. 

Performance: If a running shoe doesn’t perform how you want it, you’ll not feel incredibly motivated to keep running with them. This covers everything from stability underfoot and durability to its responsiveness and design. 

Versatility: Though I tried each shoe in a variety of environments, they’re not all made to be a jack-of-all-trades style shoe. Some, however, did do well on several surfaces, adding to their versatility as an everyday runner. If it’s a budget shoe you’re after, it’d be great to find one that works just as well on a treadmill as it does on the road.

Value: Value is more than just the final sticker price. For this, I wanted to see if spending less on a pair of shoes was ultimately worth it long-term — since spending less money more often is equal to (if not more than) spending a lot of money once. Thankfully, there are plenty of impressive running shoes that don’t break the bank. 

 

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