The 6 best treadmills for your home gym

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Adding a treadmill to your home gym is an excellent way to increase your routine cardio and keep fit.
  • The most important qualities to look for in a treadmill are power, reliability, and comfort.
  • Our top pick, the ProForm Pro 2000, features iFit workouts, has a cushioned tread, and folds up easily.

Editor’s note: Due to high demand, some of the selections are either limited in stock or back-ordered. We will update this piece with new picks or purchase options as best we can.

Few exercise machines have endured the changing landscape of at-home fitness quite like the treadmill. They’re great for maintaining cardio fitness, preparing for road races like 2-milers or 5Ks, or serving as a complement to a weekly workout routine – especially for anyone who doesn’t have time to run outside.

Treadmills are also incredibly simple to use. You just run or walk on the belt, and a motor moves it under your feet at whatever speed you select. Some even offer a variety of different features, including touchscreen displays and live-streamed classes, that’ll help you gain exactly the kinds of training and health benefits you need.

As a frequent gym-goer (prior to the pandemic, of course) and current fitness editor, I’ve run my fair share of miles on treadmills advanced, basic, or otherwise. For every mile logged on something like NordicTrack’s Commercial 2950 or ProForm’s Pro 2000, I’ve logged an equal amount (if not many more) on treadmills without an interactive screen attached to them and those a bit more typical of a standard fitness center or gym.

This experience proved vital when combing through and testing the allotment of treadmills currently available – and helped me better understand why someone may prefer a certain model over another. The following guide features a range of treadmill types at various price points in hopes of helping you find the best option for your fitness needs.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a treadmill as well as insight into the testing methodology used for deciding which made the cut.

Here are the best treadmills:

The best treadmill overall

treadmill

The ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill is a race-trainers dream that’s versatile enough for the casual runner, too. 

Pros: Good motor, large running belt of 22 by 60 inches, includes both an incline and a decline setting, offers good interval training features, has access to iFit workouts

Cons: Customer service may be disappointing if you have problems, very heavy treadmill

Runners looking for a treadmill with good all-around training capabilities and a host of useful features will like the reasonably-priced ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill

It has a 3.5-horsepower motor, which allows it to stand up to daily use, and it boasts a belt deck that measures 22 by 60 inches, which is perfect for most runners. When you’re training for races with hills, you’ll appreciate this treadmill’s ability to reach a 15% incline and a 3% decline, which better simulates hills than most other treadmills — it’s easy to adjust it both up and down, too, even while running. 

The ProForm Pro 2000 also has a number of techy features, including a 7-inch screen that’s compatible with iFit’s wide range of interactive workouts, a music port for iPods, and a built-in fan that works well to keep you somewhat cool while using it. Its tread features what the brand calls ProShox Cushioning, which is designed to lessen the impact on your feet and knees while running. Though a true, long-term test of this would better judge its viability, even a handful of runs on it showed that this made a difference (even if it was minimal). 

What truly makes this treadmill stand out is its inclusion of the above-mentioned iFit workouts. Not only are these excellent ways to keep motivated, but the platform offers some genuinely unique workouts. One day you could be running through France and the next through Vietnam. The globe-spanning locales add a level of quality to the workouts you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere.

Another perk of the iFit workouts is how the trainers leading the runs entirely control the incline, decline, and speed, allowing you to focus strictly on running. This is something that’s incredibly welcome as fumbling with a treadmill’s controls while in a full stride isn’t always the most fun (and can easily mess with your cadence). The ProForm Pro 2000 comes with one free year of iFit, too, so you won’t have to worry about shelling out a monthly payment for at least 12 months.

Its price is also in the range of what you’d expect to pay for a full-featured treadmill. Most interactive workout machines run in the $2,000 range, and the fact this undercuts that average by a few hundred dollars, makes it an appealing choice for anyone looking to add a treadmill to their home gym. It can easily support any fitness routine, whether it’s the centerpiece of your weekly workouts or a supplement to a more comprehensive plan.

The best smart treadmill

2950Nordic

NordicTrack’s Commercial 2950 is a highly versatile treadmill that offers automatic incline control, an HD 22-inch touchscreen, and a deep library of interactive classes from iFit. 

Pros: Now features automatically adjusting resistance and speed, the iFit library offers a wide range of in-studio classes and runs through real-world locales, offers Bluetooth connectivity and WiFi support

Cons: Expensive

The Commercial 2950 treadmill from NordicTrack is one of the most full-featured machines I’ve tested, coming with everything from automatic incline control and Bluetooth connectivity to Google Maps integration and personalized workout stats. My favorite feature, however, is its access to iFit’s expansive library of interactive workouts. 

With iFit, you’re able to run essentially anywhere, yet still from the comfort of your home. The service’s roster of trainers offers a wide range of run types that aren’t just confined to a studio or their home (where they do film some of the classes). Rather, you could be running through real-world locales that quite literally offer a breath of fresh air from standard treadmill routines. I found this to be a welcome deviation from the tediousness of normal running. Though iFit does cost $39 per month, a free year of the service comes standard with the purchase of all new treadmills (and bikes, too, for that matter). 

In addition to those workouts, the rest of the 2950 is a highly premium product. The automatically adjusting resistance feature mentioned above is a game-changer, and, as the name suggests, allows the trainers to fully control the incline, decline, and speed of the treadmill as you run along. All you have to worry about is just running — which does well to keep you focused and motivated instead of worrying about fumbling with controls. 

One nitpick could be that the iFit interface can be a little clunky and slow to use sometimes, and the service occasionally crashed mid-workout (though did tend to load right back up in the exact same spot I was running). This didn’t happen enough to be concerning, nor did it detract from my overall experience. 

The 2950 certainly isn’t cheap but few treadmills with this much to offer both in terms of features and available workouts will necessarily be “affordable.” Still, it’s worth the investment for those who want access to a huge library of interactive classes and a premium-built treadmill. 

The best budget treadmill

treadmill

Compared to other budget fold-up treadmills, the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill has nice features and good performance.

Pros: Very good price point for an entry-level treadmill, will save space with a fold-up design, runs quieter than most budget-priced treadmills, works better for walkers and light runners

Cons: Only a 55-inch belt length, not really made for high-end running workouts, longevity is questionable

Saving space with a fold-up treadmill is a great idea for a lot of people. However, most fold-up treadmills don’t offer a lot of power.

With those natural limitations of fold-up treadmills in mind, you’ll like the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill, which works well for walkers and anyone on a budget (and isn’t really made for runners looking for high-end workouts). Think of it as like an entry-level treadmill, or something that can be a complement to a wider range of at-home equipment. 

It has a 55-inch belt length, a maximum 10 mph speed, and a 2.25-horsepower motor. The T101-04 treadmill is easy to fold up for storage, which is great for anyone with minimal space in their home or apartment.

You can’t beat the value, too. If you want something simple, straightforward, and cost-effective that has the basic features necessary for just running and walking, the T101-04 from Horizon Fitness is the treadmill you need.

The best upright folding treadmill

treadmill

The LifeSpan TR3000i uses an extensive shock absorption system to take some pressure off your joints while running.

Pros: Good price for a mid-range treadmill, unit folds up to save storage space, extensive shock absorption system, good feature set versus other models in this price range

Cons: Not really designed for high-end workouts, build quality of treadmill is questionable

Some people dislike working out on a treadmill because of the pressure it places on their joints. The LifeSpan TR3000i attempts to alleviate some of this pressure by using a shock absorption system in the treadmill’s deck.

It has a 20 x 56-inch running surface, 15 incline levels, and a 6-inch LCD screen that shows your time, calories, distance covered, steps, heart rate, speed, and incline. The eight shock absorber elements in the deck ensure that it remains both stable and comfortable to run on. As mentioned on other models, long-term testing would be a better indicator of just how well the shock-absorbing works, but it’s easy to notice the difference in the TR3000i compared to others. If you at all have foot, knee, or joint issues, you’ll want to at least consider this one when shopping.

Beyond its shock-absorbing capabilities, the TR3000i has a number of fun features to give you variety in your workouts, too, including a tablet holder, a USB charging port, and compatibility with iPods. It also has built-in speakers, folds up for easy storage, and physical console buttons that are sometimes easier to use when making adjustments than only relying on the touchscreen.

The best compact treadmill

Cubii1

The Cubii Pro is an easy-to-use, under desk exercise machine that’s more of an elliptical than a treadmill but still allows you to log some quality cardio no matter if you’re sitting down for lunch or powering through a backlog of emails. 

Pros: Small, easy-to-use machine that delivers an effective cardio workout, has up to eight different resistance settings, offers companion app support

Cons: Not strictly a treadmill, might not be as intense for hardcore fitness buffs

Though the Cubii Pro isn’t exactly a treadmill in the traditional sense (and is more of an elliptical style machine than anything else), its unobtrusive nature makes it a convenient addition to anyone’s home gym. The machine simply sits on the floor, be it under a desk, next to a coffee table, or literally anywhere around the house, and lets you pedal away for as long as you like. 

The machine delivers low-impact cardio that may benefit those unable to run on a treadmill due to sore joints, and its quiet operation even allows it to be used while watching TV, talking on the phone, or listening to music. With eight different levels of resistance, it affords as easy or as difficult a workout as you like, too. 

A companion smartphone application lets you keep track of all your logged workouts and lets you set weekly and monthly goals or share your progress with friends. The app is also compatible with services like Fitbit or Apple HealthKit, so if you prefer the interface of those, all workout data can easily sync to them.

At $349, it’s certainly not a drop in the bucket but it is far cheaper than even the budget model on this list. For convenient, low-impact cardio exercise, the Cubii Pro is as versatile and easy to use as it gets. 

The best treadmill for quiet workouts

treadmill

The 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers excellent performance and runs quieter than most treadmills.

Pros: Strong steel frame that will support a lot of weight, unit runs quieter than most treadmills, large treadmill belt area for tall runners, includes a large motor to compare favorably to gym treadmills

Cons: Extremely high price point, very heavy equipment that is difficult to move around

Few treadmills made for use at home will deliver the kind of quiet performance that the 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers. It’s made for tall or heavy runners looking a tough workout, but you’ll pay more than $3,000 for the kind of quality that this 3G Cardio unit delivers.

It has an Ortho Flex Shock suspension system to minimize the stress of impact for runners, and the 22 by 62-inch platform is perfect for running.

The 3G Cardio comes with many pre-programmed workouts and a fitness level test. You have access to speed and elevation settings, heart rate control, and workout customization.  This treadmill also has a 4.0 horsepower motor and 3-inch rollers for great performance.

As you would expect with a treadmill with such a high price point, the 3G Cardio Elite consists of thick steel tubing in the frame. It’s also rather expensive, so this is really only for serious runners who want a treadmill that will last a lifetime.

Treadmill FAQ

 

Basic

The most basic type of treadmill only works for walkers. They will have simple tracking features, such as speed, distance, and time. Most basic units will have a short bed that works better for a walker’s stride than for running.

And you’ll find limited shock absorption features here, which isn’t great for runners. Such treadmills will fold up for easy storage (although some more expensive treadmills also can fold up for storage).

Mid-range

These treadmills will work for walkers or runners. For walkers, a mid-range treadmill should have longer support arms, allowing you to balance yourself easier. The belt bed will be a bit longer than the basic treadmill, but those with long running strides may still struggle.

You’ll see better tech features in this price range, including a heart rate monitor worn on the chest or pre-set training programs.

Top-end:

The highest quality of treadmills will contain long belt beds with good shock absorption, making them perfect for runners. To gain these features, such treadmills rarely will fold up for storage, meaning they require a lot of free space. They will deliver greater maximum speed levels and greater levels of incline, too.

These treadmills consist of the highest-quality materials. You’ll receive Wi-Fi connectivity and extensive pre-set exercise programs with these models.

Key treadmill features and terms

As treadmills evolved, companies began adding a suite of high-tech features. However, don’t focus entirely on the bells and whistles of expensive treadmills. Pay attention to its physical parts, too, to find the best possible unit for your needs.

Exercise programs

Treadmills may have pre-programmed workouts that can help you with weight loss, cardiovascular performance, speed workouts, or hills training. These programs will allow you to set the length of exercise time, but they will automatically change the speed of the treadmill and the incline to match the parameters of the pre-programmed workout.

Horsepower

Any treadmill motor with a continuous duty measurement of at least 2.0 should be sufficient for most people. Smaller motors work better for walkers and larger motors work better for runners.

Incline and decline

To help with training for running on hills or for additional calorie burn, the treadmill needs to offer an incline. Most treadmills can reach at least a 12% incline grade. Some treadmills even give you a simulation of running downhill with a decline grade of around 3%.

Length

Runners need a treadmill belt bed of roughly 55-60 inches long, while walkers can use one closer to 45-50 inches long. Taller people will need an even longer belt bed. Remember that the length of the treadmill isn’t the same as the length of the bed.

The treadmill length (and width, for that matter) must accommodate the base portion of the unit that doesn’t move, as well as the bed’s motor housing at the front of the unit.

Safety line

Treadmills will contain a safety line that hooks into the unit. You’ll clip the safety line to your shirt. Should you stumble, the safety line will disconnect from the treadmill, causing it to shut down immediately. This is a nice safety feature, and it prevents those common TV and movie gags where the person using the treadmill falls and gets launched into a wall.

Speed

The speed with which the bed rotates on the treadmill is measured in miles per hour. Most people don’t need anything over 10 mph, but those seeking heavy-duty interval workouts can find speeds up to 15 mph in a top-end treadmill.

Support rails

A treadmill made for walkers, especially elderly walkers, should have long support rails on the sides that you can grip while using the treadmill to steady yourself.

Touch screen controls

You should be able to adjust the incline, speed, and program in use through the touchscreen monitor. The screen also gives you information on the time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled, your heart rate, and more. 

Weight limit

Based on the size of the motor and the shock absorption capabilities, a treadmill may give you a maximum user weight recommendation. You should be able to find this listed in its online user’s manual or listed on its specifications sheet. 

Wi-Fi connection

Through a Wi-Fi connection, you can gain access to simulated video workouts. Or you can play streaming movies on the display screen, giving you some entertainment as you’re workout out on the treadmill.

Width

A treadmill belt bed should be at least 22 inches wide for runners which provides plenty of space in case you have a misstep. Walkers can successfully use a narrower bed than runners, such as 18 or 20 inches.

How we test treadmills

Each treadmill featured in this guide went through a series of extensive tests (i.e. we ran on them, a lot) to see how well they compared across these four categories: Performance, features, quality, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which treadmills ended up making this guide:

Performance: How a treadmill performs comes down to a few basic aspects, including how comfortable it is to run on (and how shock absorbing it is), if it’s able to avoid sounding like you’re loudly pounding the ground with each step, what its tread feels like underfoot, and how wide the running area is. Though not all treadmills reliably check each of these boxes, a healthy combination of at least three of those often translates to high quality. 

Features: Some modern treadmills, like those from NordicTrack or ProForm, feature a built-in interactive screen that streams workouts, tracks output metrics, and improves the treadmill’s performance. For models that don’t have a screen, we looked at how intuitive it was to increase and decrease the treadmill’s speed and whether it offered an incline or decline mode. Even those that aren’t decked out with the ability to stream workouts are still feature-heavy enough to warrant a spot in your home gym.

Quality: If used often, treadmills can take a consistent beating, mostly due to a runner pounding on it step after step after step. This means the best treadmills should feature a sturdy and durable tread, a high-quality design that won’t become compromised even after a full year or more of use, and that feature an interface or series of buttons and dials that can avoid popping off or being unusable. 

Value: The value of a treadmill is less about its sticker price and more so the combination of the three categories above compared to its initial (and sometimes recurring) investment. We factored in everything when selecting treadmills across each featured category and often feel that it’s worth it to spend a little more money on a product that’s designed to last than to spend less, more often on something inferior. 

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The 6 best hydration packs for day hikes, long-distance runs, and other outdoor activities

  • It’s crucial to stay hydrated while exercising, particularly in the heat.
  • Hydration packs make it easy and comfortable to carry liters of water on a run, hike, or bike ride.
  • The Osprey Skarab 18 hydration pack is comfortable and holds 2L of water plus all your hiking essentials.

You know it’s important to stay hydrated on a hike, run, bike ride, or literally any adventure in exercising. But carrying a water bottle or and having to constantly stop to pull it out of your pack gets old quick.

Hydration packs are the ideal way to make carrying and accessing water easier and minimize stoppage time. The best hydration packs not only have a pouch big enough to hold 1+ liters of water, but they also provide storage for snacks, layers, a first aid kit, and any other essentials you might need on a day hike or run. What’s more, the pack also needs to be comfortable, breathable, and quick-drying to not weigh down your adventure.

For longer hikes and backpacking trips, check out our guides to the best backpacks for men and for women.

The number of hydration packs on the market can be overwhelming. But we’ve dug into which packs can actually keep up on your putting and, therefore, which are worth your money.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are our top picks for the best hydration packs:

The best hydration pack overall

Osprey hydration pack

Osprey’s Skarab 18 is the only day-hiking hydration pack you’ll need, thanks to its high-quality construction, internal frame that keeps it comfortable mile after mile, and easy-to-access water reservoir.

Pros: Comfortable to wear even over several hours, extra-wide clip-on water reservoir allows for easy cleaning and refills, 2.5-liter capacity is perfect for long day hikes, offers plenty of interior storage, and the ventilated foam frame helps avoid excess sweat

Cons: Too small for longer backpacking trips

Osprey has consistently made some of the finest backpacks for decades, so it’s no surprise that the Osprey Skarab 18 also happens to be our favorite hydration pack.

It’s the ideal size for a day hike, weighing just over one pound with enough storage space for hiking essentials. Its foam frame allows for great ventilation, keeping your back cool and mostly sweat-free. Like all its packs, Osprey decked out the Skarab with plenty of straps to allow for the ultimate custom fit, regardless of who’s wearing it.

But what makes this bag truly shine is the large, 2.5-liter water pouch, which should keep you hydrated for most day hikes. Additionally, its extra-wide clip opening makes it easy to add more water or clean the reservoir after use. The pack even has a magnetic bite valve attachment that allows it to quickly attach to the Skarab’s sternum strap, allowing for easy access.

Added extras like stretch mesh pockets on the side of the pack, a scratch-free stash pocket, removable hip belts, and external bungees for more gear are Osprey staples and only add to the pack’s overall quality. Osprey’s Skarab 18 is simple when it needs to be yet versatile and technical for those who demand it.

The best for male runners

camelbak hydration pack

Runners don’t want anything weighing them down, and CamelBak’s HydroBak weighs just five ounces — before being filled with water, of course. 

Pros: Weighs just five ounces without water, mesh back panel and harness aid in ventilation, new Crux reservoir allows 20% more water per drink, and its leak-proof valves are easy to flick on or off

Cons: Doesn’t offer much in the way of storage (not that runners need much of it, anyway)

A running-specific hydration pack should sinch down tight and comfortable, and be able to carry enough water for long miles. Camelbak’s HydroBak has a mesh back panel and harness to help with ventilation and keeping you cool. Its reflective accents help with visibility for early or late runs. 

Uniquely, the HydroBak features a Crux reservoir which lets you pull a full 20% more water with each swig. That means less time sucking on the tube and more time focusing on your stride. Additionally, the pack features easy-to-use leak-proof valves that you can flip on or off with a gentle push for less wasted water and no fumbling with the tube while running.

CamelBak also outfitted the Crux with a leak-proof cap and coated the tube with its anti-microbial HydroGuard technology, which is 100% BPA free and reduces the risk of bacteria growth.

Though it’s small, the HydroBak still features a few zippered pockets perfect for keeping energy gels, granola bars, and some cash for those well-earned post-run beers.

The best for female runners

salomon adv skin 8

The Salomon ADV Skin 8 is specifically designed to sinch down on the female figure, and can carry 1 liter of water with the option of adding a reservoir in the back.

Pros: Female-specific design, adjustable to fit different chest sizes, soft material, 2 soft 500ml flasks included, many mesh and zipper pockets, room to carry warm layer

Cons: Expensive, straws can be a bit tricky to adjust

While females can wear any hydration pack, they’ll be the most comfortable in the Salomon ADV Skin 8. Designed by one of the leading trail running brands today, the ADV Skin 8 is uniquely shaped to sinch down tight around female curves so your pack isn’t throwing off your momentum. Specifically, this pack was crafted to alleviate pressure on your breasts and has an adjustable drawcord fasten in the front for a personalized fit. I’m small-chested and have lent this vest to friends as large-chested as 34DD who say it’s just as comfortable for bigger breasts.

While you can slide a traditional reservoir in the back of the pack, the other feature that makes Salomon running vests so great is their integrated soft flasks. Two half-liter water flasks sit on either side of your chest in a soft mesh pocket, allowing for quick water access mid-run.

Additionally, this pack has mesh and zippered pockets strategically placed in nooks and crannies, as well as down the back, to stash everything from car keys to a warm layer. You can even move the elastic cords and loops around to carry trail running poles wherever feels most comfortable to you.

I’ve been running in this hydration vest for two years and the only bad words I have to say about it is it’s expensive (but, in my opinion, worth it for runners) and the straw on the included flasks might need to be cut down, which can be a little tricky to do. –Rachael Schultz, Health and Fitness Updates Editor

The best for day hikes

platypus hydration pack

The Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 is a day hiker’s dream, offering 7 liters of storage, strategically-placed tool organizing loops and compartments, and a huge, three-liter water reservoir. 

Pros: Plenty of storage options despite its modest 7L capacity, external tool and gear loops, capable of fitting many different body types, comes standard with huge three-liter BigZip water reservoir and magnetic hose, and FloatAir back panel offers comfort for even the longest day hikes

Cons: Expensive

Platypus’s Duthie A.M. 10.0 has plenty of internal and external storage options with a 7L capacity, perfect for short jaunts into the backcountry or several mile excursions. Its strategic approach to organization also means you won’t be digging past your car keys to get to your snacks — everything has its own place in the pack.

When it comes to the Duthie’s hydration capability, few companies deliver as well as Platypus. Featuring a large three-liter reservoir, the brand’s patented BigZip water pouch features a magnetic hose clip and also offers wearers the ability to route the house in multiple ways — a welcome function not typically seen in hydration packs.

For hardcore day hikers who also have other activities in mind, the Duthie also offers a useful carry system designed to hold pads or full-face helmets and even sports a fleece-lined pocket perfect for stashing a pair of shades.

Additionally, the pack easily conforms to a variety of body shapes and sizes with just a few adjustments of its straps and hip belt. After finding the perfect fit, Platypus’ FloatAir back panel keeps you mostly sweat-free and comfortable, no matter how long the hike.

The best for cycling

gelindo hydration pack

Forget reaching down for any built-in water bottle holders because with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, staying hydrated while biking is as easy as simply drinking out of a straw.

Pros: Insulated water reservoir pocket keeps liquids cool for up to four hours, mesh back panel keeps airflow at a maximum, interior organization capable of holding a variety of items without feeling cluttered, and its easily adjustable straps are capable of fitting almost any body type

Cons: Limited reflective details

While most bikes have space for attaching a water bottle holder, a hydration pack makes staying quenched much easier and Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack is perfectly fit for the job.

This pack has an insulated pocket to carry its 2.5-liter water reservoir, which will keep your water cool for up to four hours. The pack is also designed to keep your body heat from warming the water. 

Gelindo included several storage pockets capable of holding energy bars and car keys, and bigger compartments to hold a spare change of clothes, larger items of food, or spare tubes. Organization also scores highly as it’s easy to reach for and access any of the interior contents, no matter how full the pack gets.

It’s no secret cyclists care about comfort and with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, finding a perfectly comfortable fit is easily done via its adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt. Furthermore, its ergonomic mesh back allows for steady airflow to keep you from overheating, keeping you comfortable throughout the entirety of your ride.

The best for commuting

gregory hydration pack

Gregory’s Inertia 30 makes it easy to stay hydrated while commuting with its easy-access water tube, ample interior storage, and comfortable shoulder harness.

Pros: Plenty of storage for whatever the workday requires, quick-drying 3L water reservoir is easy to fill up and features an integrated drying hangar, hydration sleeve auto-centers the water pouch to stabilize weight, versatile enough to even act as a day-hiking pack

Cons: Expensive

Even just commenting to wor requires energy, so it’s important to stay hydrated. The Gregory’s Inertia 30 is designed to not only quench thirst but also to pack a work day’s worth of gear. Be it a laptop, notebook, tablet, or otherwise, the Inertia offers enough interior storage space to tote along whatever the day calls for.

It even features several exterior pockets perfect for storing items that need to be quickly accessible, as well as a padded zippered pocket designed for sunglasses or house keys.

Gregory includes a quick-drying 3L water reservoir that has a built-in drying hangar, perfect for airing it out to avoid mold or mildew buildup. The Inertia’s dedicated hydration sleeve makes it easy to just toss the reservoir into the pack, and it automatically stabilizes the pouch’s weight to the center of your back. Gregory even made the reservoir’s tube magnetic, making it easy to take on and off.

Though we chose it for its ability to act as a commuter bag, the Inertia 30 also excels as a day-hiking pack, offering exterior loops for trekking poles, compression straps on either side, and load lifters that help stabilize the pack when it gets heavy.

At $120, it’s not the cheapest bag of the bunch but considering what it offers, and the Gregory name also means supreme durability, the Inertia 30 is worth every penny.

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The 5 best men’s trail running shoes, perfect for off-road jogs or mountain races

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Trail running shoes support and protect your feet from the ever-changing terrain of off-road jogs.
  • Choosing the right pair depends on if you want to run fast, keep your feet dry, or plan to run on pavement and trails.
  • Our top pick, Salomon’s Sense Ride 3, is a durable, neutral trail shoe that fits like a glove and has great traction.

Trail running is an amazing upgrade to road running if you’re looking to log miles with better scenery and a more intense challenge to your body. You’re often running uphill and your feet are constantly having to stabilize against imperfections in the trails like tree roots and rocks. This makes it so both your lungs and your muscles work much harder than a road run.

But because your foot tackles more than just smooth pavement, your shoes have to do more than a typical runner would.

You essentially want your trail running shoes to be akin to a hiking boot in that they’ll protect your feet against rocks, mud, and roots while having enough grip to keep you from skidding on loose terrain. Yet, you also need them to be supported and lightweight like a road running shoe, enough to keep your legs moving fast and feet from absorbing too much shock with each step.

Because there are so many more factors to consider, finding a great pair of trail running shoes can be harder than finding road runners. The right pair can take you on a gorgeous path through the woods and you’ll have a running experience like no other. Pick the wrong ones, however, and you could be in for a rough ride.

There’s certainly plenty to consider and to help, I’ve field-tested a range of different trail shoes fit for a variety of running styles – and I’ve included my five favorites below. At the end of this guide, I’ve also provided some tips on how to shop for trail running shoes, as well as the testing methodology I used in deciding which pairs made the cut.

Here are the best trail running shoes for men:

The best overall

Salomon sense rides trail runners

The Salomon Sense Ride 3 has amazing traction on a variety of terrain, holds up on rough trails again and again, yet is still lightweight enough to keep you moving fast.

Pros: Capable of handling a variety of terrain, outstanding protection and durability, very comfortable with a molded, glove-like fit, superb traction

Cons: Heavier than I expected, unique lacing system takes some getting used to

On one hand, this neutral, everyday trail trainer features some of the best protection and durability of all the shoes I tested. It handled everything I could throw at it during runs that took me over splintery logs, down wet embankments, and through a loose gravel field. After two months of testing the Sense Ride 3, they still looked as good as new and my feet were untouched. Insider’s Health and Fitness Updates Editor Rachael Schultz adds she’s been running in the women’s Sense Ride 3 for two years now and they’re still as reliable underfoot as the first wear.

The shoes performed well on a variety of trails from steep technical inclines to pure slop (it was a rainy spring) with Salomon’s Contragrip MA outsole offering superb traction. The outsole’s diamond-shaped rubber lugs are long enough at 2mm for climbing muddy hills but not so aggressive that they slowed me down or clogged up with dirt afterward.

The Sense Ride 3s were the most comfortable of the shoes I tested, with a smooth contoured fit that seemed to swaddle my feet. There’s an internal sleeve in the shoe, which Salomon calls EndoFit, that’s designed to hug the foot and provide comfort. It delivered as did the molded OrthoLite insole that offered added cushioning. 

The Sense Ride 3’s welded, stitch-free upper is deluxe, producing a glove-like feel with no hotspots. It’s also a gorgeous-looking shoe, with a minimalist design that’s not likely to go out of style.

Salmon’s patented Quicklace system took a little getting used to, however. Featuring thin but strong laces that you pull tight via a sliding button, Quicklace lets you fine-tune the fit to get just the right amount of lace pressure. While this is definitely a learning curve, it makes for quick adjustments if you need to loosen a bit mid-run. Also important to note is there is a hidden pocket on the tongue that you’re supposed to tuck the dangling laces into, as outlined in a short video from Salomon. This may be a pain for some, but honestly, so is lacing a shoe period.

The Sense Ride 3s were heavier than I expected, with my size 11.5 pair weighing in at over 12 ounces per shoe. Part of that is because of the thicker midsole compared to previous versions. The added weight is worth it though because Salomon’s plush Optivibe foam offered great energy return and a smooth ride while the shoe’s rock plate added another layer of protection. The shoe has a moderate 8mm drop, which suited most conditions well.

Put plainly, the Sense Ride 3 is a great all-rounder on the trails.

The best for races

FW20 M Speedgoat 4 Lifestyle.JPG

Hoka One One’s EVO Speedgoat is lightweight and made for going fast while still offering a thick midsole to float you over rough terrain.

Pros: Light and fast, flashy design with a comfortable and durable fit, thick foam midsole for cushioning on terrain

Cons: Some stability issues on rocky, technical trails; high-stack height reduces ground feel

Hoka’s popular Clifton series of road running shoes was named our best cushioned trainer for men, and the brand’s EVO Speedgoat is a bit like a trail version of that highly-stacked shoe. 

The entire Speedgoat line of trail shoes is named after legendary ultramarathoner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer who has more 100-mile race wins than any other runner. There are quite a few key features that make the EVOs, specifically, ideal for speeding down trails:

For one, the EVO Speedgoat’s upper is stitched with a lightweight but tough material called Matryx that blends stretchy Lycra with tough Kevlar for a durable, water-repellent shell. I loved putting on these shoes, too. Their bucket seat design and stretchy laces fit my feet (which suffer from some bunion issues) perfectly, with ample room in the toebox. 

Because this is a Hoka shoe, the EVO’s foam midsole is ample, to say the least. With a stack height of 32mm and a heel (31mm) to toe (27mm) drop of 4mm, these are tall, soft trail shoes designed with Hoka’s slightly curved meta-rocker design. The extra cushioning provides a bigger buffer when running over bumpy terrain and I often felt like I was floating on a cloud in these shoes. There’s almost no ground feel, however, which may not appeal to some runners. I didn’t have an issue, except on more technical trails with large rocks, where I often worried I’d turn an ankle (but didn’t, thankfully).

What I liked most about the EVO Speedgoats is the speed they allow. Weighing around ten ounces, these were one of the lightest shoes I tested and, on less technical trails, I’d flat out fly. Even when I was cruising along, I never felt I’d lose my footing thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, which features 5mm multidirectional lugs. Traction was superb and because the outsole extends in the back, the EVO Speegoats held their own when running downhill with the rear foam flare providing added stability.

As for the design, they feature a striking bright yellow and black colorway. The EVO Speedgoats are like the splashy sportscar of all the shoes I tested, but one built with the dependable all-wheel drive of a Subaru to help take you off the beaten path.

The best hybrid

Nike Pegasus

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 borrows design points from its beloved road-warrior brother, but is designed to get down and dirty, making it a unique hybrid shoe you’ll be comfortable using on everything from asphalt to mud. 

Pros: A great commuter shoe that can handle both pavement and dirt, Nike’s React foam midsole provided ample cushioning, many highly functional and attractive design elements

Cons: A very heavy shoe, steep heel to toe drop caused some stability issues, couldn’t get a full locked-down fit

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2, as its name suggests, is the trail version of the popular Nike Pegasus road shoe line. The main similarity between the Pegasus Trail 2 and the road Pegasus 37 is the large chunk of Nike’s React foam, which forms the midsole of both models. React is a soft but responsive foam that I’ve liked on Nike’s previous road shoes and it’s a great match for the Trail 2’s city-to-trail design. 

On one of my first runs in this shoe, I ran roughly a mile on the roads to a local park and then sped off down a winding, tree-lined path for a few more miles on soft ground before returning to the pavement to head home. This might not seem like a big deal but if you’ve ever tried to bring a serious trail shoe on the road – or a road shoe on the trails, for that matter – it’s not fun. The Trail 2 handled both surfaces well, though its mountain bike-inspired rubber outsole with 2mm lugs thrives in the dirt. 

The Trail 2 has a stack height of 31mm in the heel and 21mm in the forefoot for a drop of 10mm. That significant drop did help generate forward momentum and I enjoyed being able to put the pedal to the metal with these shoes, particularly on lower-grade downhills. 

As with other highly stacked trail shoes, I experienced some instability on steeper, more treacherous trails, particularly those lined with large rocks. This was particularly true when my legs were tired, which caused the shoes to feel wobbly. On the plus side, the generous amount of foam reduced the stress on my legs during longer runs. 

I also liked the Pegasus Trail 2’s functional design elements including a faux gaiter on the heel collar that prevented dirt and debris from getting inside the shoe. The tough but breathable engineered mesh on the Trail 2’s upper was also a nice touch as was the water-repellent coating on the gusseted tongue and collar that prevented moisture from creeping in. 

In terms of looks, the Pegasus Trail 2 is an eye-catching shoe. The pair I tested had a brash but appealing color scheme of pale yellow on the upper, neon green around the laces and heel counter, and teal on the neoprene tongue and collar. The shoe’s forefoot includes two toe fangs, which are a pair of rubber nubs that add traction when running uphill and look plain fierce. 

The Trail 2’s were the heaviest shoes I tested (over 12 ounces in size 11.5) and while I wasn’t keen on that, a few of my fastest and most enjoyable runs were in them. These shoes perform extremely well both on and off the roads.

The best lightweight

Altra Timp 2.0

If you want a zero-drop shoe to really feel the trail on your runs, the lightweight but well-cushioned Altra Timp 2.0 will keep you safe and moving fast.

Pros: A sleek and fast zero drop shoe that felt natural to run in, significantly lighter than previous version, Quantic foam midsole provides excellent cushioning

Cons: Narrower fit overall might not appeal to previous Timp fans, shoes require a fair amount of breaking in

Altra’s Timp line is a relatively new but beloved series of shoes, and to say that the 2.0 version has divided Timp devotees would be an understatement. The biggest change between Timp 2.0 and Timp 1.5 is the fit, which on the new version is tighter through the mid- and forefoot. In a word, these shoes feel snug. That’s somewhat unusual for Altra since the company has a reputation for creating shoes with a wide toebox that lets you splay out your toes in a way that mimics barefoot walking. You can still do that with the Timp 2.0, but everywhere else feels narrower. 

Altra trimmed the shoe down and shed some of its weight. In my size 11.5s, each Timp 2.0 weighed around 10 ounces, which is equal to the speedy Hoka EVO Speedgoats above. These felt even lighter than the Speedgoats though and, overall, I loved the sleek and fast 2.0, which would make a decent racing shoe. 

They do require some breaking in, however. When I initially put them on, my troublesome right foot with its bunion issue, felt squeezed. After loosening the laces a bit and taking them on a few tempo runs, I was hooked.

Most notably, this is a zero-drop shoe, which means both the heel and the forefoot are the same height off the ground. Despite that, the Timp 2.0 does has significant cushioning with a stack height of around 30mm. Altra uses its Quantic foam – a first for the Timp line – on the 2.0 and its plush but lightweight midsole felt fantastic even on bumpy trails.

The Maxtrac outsole provided decent grip and while the rubber lugs are on the small size (2mm), Altra deploys them in its Trailclaw outlay, which positions them beneath your foot’s metatarsals to provide better traction at toe-off. These weren’t my favorite shoes for wet and muddy conditions, but they certainly held their own on just about everything else.

Overall, I enjoyed the sensation of running in the Timp 2.0s. While zero-drop shoes aren’t for everyone, they do provide an experience more akin to running barefoot. When I padded over rocks or went sideways on steep embankments, I never felt unstable. I could just run, which is what it’s all about.

The best waterproof

Saucony Sneaker

If the trails you plan to run are wet, muddy, and full of river crossings, the best shoe to go with is the Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX which has a Gore-Tex upper and has the best grip of all the models I tested.

Pros: Gore-Tex upper keeps your feet dry even when crossing streams, excellent traction from an aggressive 6mm lug pattern on the outsole, low-to-the-ground profile provided excellent stability

Cons: Snug fit caused me some heel pain after runs, bottom of shoe retains dirt, quite heavy

The Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX is a low-to-the-ground shoe with a minimal heel (22mm) to forefoot (18mm) drop of 4mm. This is another shoe that helps you feel the trail, minus the jolts since they’re well protected. I had no stability issues with the Peregrine 10 GTX and plowed through a variety of terrain in them with confidence, including ankle-deep muck, piles of slippery wet leaves, and a small stream.

The one knock against Gore-Tex on any shoe is that it can cause a shoe’s upper to feel stiff and confining. However, I had no such problem with the Peregrine 10 GTX, which fit my feet like a comfortable glove. The Gore-Tex upper was less supple than some of the other shoes I tested and didn’t breathe as well – you’ll definitely want to air these out after your runs – but I barely noticed it once I hit the trails. 

What I did notice was the superior traction from Saucony’s PWRTRAC outsole, which uses a sticky rubber compound and an aggressive, 6mm hexagonal lug pattern that kept me from slipping even on a rainy run through a field. On the downside, this is definitely not a shoe you’d want to use on the roads and the grippy outsole tended to retain some dirt after trail runs.

The Peregrine 10 GTX is well-cushioned and there’s a rock plate to protect your feet from sharp objects on the trail. Saucony’s FORMFIT design with its reinforced upper cradled my feet snugly if a bit too tightly on my slightly longer right foot. In the past, I’ve had issues with stiff heel cups causing me pain in my right heel after runs and this was the case with the Peregrine 10 GTX. After doing some research, I noticed at least one other reviewer had the same problem with the Peregrine 10, so you might want to consider going up half a size if this is an issue for you.

Other than that, my only other issue was weight. In size 11.5, the Peregrine 10 GTX tipped the scales at over 12 ounces, putting it amongst the heavier shoes I tested. When you consider what you’re getting with this fully featured trail shoe, however, including the waterproof benefits of Gore-Tex, those extra few ounces are worth it. 

A note on fit

The main difference between a men’s and a women’s running shoe regards the exact shape of the foot. Men’s feet are often wider, and their heels tend to be a little bigger, thus the design of a running shoe needs to accommodate for this.

A variation in body mass also impacts the shape of the midsole, and the difference in Q-angles (the angle of incidence between a person’s knee cap and their quad muscle) means cushioning needs will vary, as well.

However, just because these shoes carry the “men’s” label, anyone can (and should) wear any piece of gear that fits them best, above all. 

How to shop for trail running shoes

There are many things to look for in trail shoes but the first question you should ask yourself is, where do you plan on using them? If your runs are on a combination of roads and trails, you’ll want a hybrid shoe that won’t slow you down on concrete while giving you enough grip on dirt to prevent you from slipping.

If you see yourself regularly running on wet, muddy trails, you’ll want shoes with longer rubber lugs on their outsoles for better traction. You may even consider getting waterproof shoes fortified with Gore-Tex if you plan on running in the rain or if your trails have any shallow streams to cross. 

If your local trails are rocky or you favor moving fast through difficult terrain, you may want a shoe with a reinforced toe cap to prevent sharp objects, such as sticks or branches, from piercing the front of your shoe. Also handy are shoes with rock plates, which are slabs of plastic or carbon fiber sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole of the shoe that shield your foot when running over jagged rocks.

Other features are more of a matter of taste: Do you want your trail shoes to have a pronounced drop? This means that the midsole is tilted forward with the heel higher than the toe portion of the shoe. Some runners feel having a heel-to-toe drop of 10 millimeters or more helps their running form by propelling them forward while the added rear foam protects their heels on bumpy trails. 

Other runners, however, prefer zero-drop shoes where the heel and ball of your foot are the same height off the ground. Shoes without drops are typically better for more technical trails and less likely to cause you to turn your ankle on steep, uneven terrain. Some runners even say zero drop shoes help them feel the trail better. 

How we test trail running shoes

Each trail running shoe in this guide went through a series of on-foot and on-trail tests to see how they across these four categories: Fit and comfort, performance, versatility, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into what pairs of trail running shoes ultimately made this guide:

Fit and comfort: Though fit and comfort could be two separate categories, it was easy to lump the two together while testing for this guide. The right pair of trail running shoes should fit snugly across your foot while still leaving a small amount of space between the end of the shoe and your toes. If the shoe fits in this way, you’re likely to also enjoy as much comfort as possible — which is vital for longer runs over uneven and rocky terrain.  

Performance: First and foremost, a trail running shoe should be designed for the trail (however vague the word “trail” might actually be). This means that a shoe built for rocky terrain should have lugs designed to absorb and grip jagged rocks. If it’s a pair meant for mud or other slick surfaces, the grip on the bottom should allow you to avoid taking a spill. And since they’re all running shoes at their core, they should function as a proper runner, too.

Versatility: There may not be a jack-of-all-trades-type trail running shoe that’s built to handle it all, but some do come extremely close. When testing for this, we wanted to see how well the shoes held up transitioning from pavement to trail, or when it went from mud to dirt to sand. We also judged how well the waterproof designation held up not just in rain but when fully submerged, as well. 

Value: Value is essentially the combination of the previous three categories, along with the runner’s sticker price. Proper trail running shoes aren’t often inexpensive but investing in the right pair means you’ll spend less over time (as opposed to buying a budget pair more often and ultimately spending more money). 

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Apple could finally be making a ‘rugged’ version of the Apple Watch aimed at runners and outdoorsy types

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple could launch a new, more rugged version of the Apple Watch as soon as this year.
  • The new design would be aimed at runners and outdoor sports enthusiasts, Bloomberg reports.
  • Last year, Apple introduced the less expensive Watch SE intended for price-conscious consumers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Apple is reportedly considering another version of its wildly popular smartwatch, the Apple Watch.

A more rugged, sportswear-centric version of the device is could launch as soon as later this year or early next, according to a new Bloomberg report.

Though Apple’s wearable is already popular with runners and outdoor sports enthusiasts, the new version would reportedly feature a tougher case than existing versions. The new Apple Watch would be its own model, the report said, separate from the existing Apple Watch and Apple Watch SE models.

Since introducing the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple has repeatedly updated the device with more powerful internals and a variety of new software.

Apple Watch models
The current Apple Watch models.

Last year, Apple introduced the first ever SE model of its Watches – a less expensive base model intended for price-conscious consumers.

Apple is said to have considered a ruggedized version of the Apple Watch in the past, but apparently paused or scrapped those plans. A variety of electronics makers sell outdoor sports-focused smartwatches, including Apple’s main rival Samsung and several companies that tend not to compete directly with Apple, such as Garmin.

It’s unclear when Apple intends to announce a new version of the Apple Watch, if it does indeed come to fruition; the company last revealed new Apple Watch models in September 2020 during its “Time Flies” event.

Apple representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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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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The 8 best running socks for marathon training, blister prevention, and cold-weather runs

  • Running socks manage moisture and provide cushioning to prevent blisters and hot spots on long runs.
  • A quality sock is made of sweat-wicking materials, has targeted cushioning, and lasts through dozens of washes.
  • Our top pick, the Rockay Accelerate Running Socks, is durable, comfortable, and wicks moisture.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Running doesn’t require much equipment. While fancy gear might make runs more enjoyable, some would argue all you need is a quality pair of runners. However, there’s another key piece that shouldn’t be forgotten: a reliable pair of running socks.

These two pieces of running apparel work in tandem to keep your feet happy from heel to toe and as most runners know, happy feet make for a much more enjoyable run. You may think any old pair of socks might do but we strongly encourage you to try out a pair of running-specific socks instead.

We all tend to have strong opinions on which brands are best but it’s important to note what works for one runner may not work for another. That’s why we tried a variety of options perfect for a variety of runners. At the end of this guide, we lay out what to look for in a pair of quality running socks and how we tested here:

Best running socks overall

Rockay socks

The Rockay Accelerate running socks are comfortable, moisture-wicking, and made from durable, high-quality materials with a focus on sustainability.

Pros: Comfortable, durable, moisture-wicking, made from thoughtfully sourced materials, provide support where you need it most

Cons: Expensive

Socks were the first product to be released from the Danish running company, Rockay, and after testing a pair of its Accelerate, I was immediately impressed. They’re incredibly comfortable thanks to a blend of organic merino wool, polyamide, and elastane, and I appreciated the seamless construction. Its focus on using eco-friendly methods and materials is a nice touch, too. 

The blend of materials allows for impressive moisture-wicking capabilities to help prevent blisters. My first test run was on an unseasonably warm day but my feet never felt overheated and stayed dry throughout the run. 

Durability-wise, these socks wash incredibly well. As with most of my running gear, I try to hang dry everything since heat can damage the synthetic materials often used in athletic clothing. However, there were a few times these socks slipped their way into the dryer and I was pleased to find that their performance was unaffected. If you do have any issues, these socks are guaranteed for life, so you can receive another pair, no questions asked.

Another positive of these socks is the support they offer. They have just the right amount of compression in the arch of the foot, providing a snug fit without being uncomfortable. This fit also prevents them from slipping around in your running shoes, so any rubbing that might cause blisters can be avoided.

The Rockay Accelerate socks are available in multiple colors and range in sizes from extra-small to extra-large. A sizing chart is available to help you find the best fit, too. I felt that they ran just a tad bit smaller than true to size. Keep in mind that these will have a snug fit around the foot because of the compression arch, making them feel smaller than normal socks. While these are on the more expensive end, you’re paying for quality and for socks that will last.

Best for durability

darn tough socks

The Darn Tough Tab No Show Light Cushion socks are durable, have a seamless toe for added comfort, and are a merino wool/nylon blend which wicks away sweat to keep your feet dry.

Pros: Durable, no seams for added comfort, wool and synthetic blend to wick away sweat, resist odor, all-weather appropriate

Cons: Not many colors to choose from, can be expensive

If you run your socks into the ground — or, more accurately, until they’re covered in holes and falling apart at the seams — it’s worth investing in a pair from Darn Tough for its lifetime warranty. True to its name, these durable running socks will last through countless jogs and arduous trail run. But Darn Tough’s warranty policy says if you don’t find its socks to be the most comfortable, best-fitting pair you’ve owned, or if they come apart for any reason other than being chewed by dogs, burned around the campfire, or one being lost to the laundry monster, you can ship back your faulty pair and receive credit for a new pair. 

You probably won’t need to use that great policy, though. All of its socks are thoughtfully designed to withstand some of the toughest sports, and it shows in the attention to detail given to the Tab No Show Light Cushion running socks. It’s a wordy name but these socks live up to it. The no-show style is subtle and the tab provides extra cushion where your running shoe meets the back of your ankle to prevent chafing.

Another winning feature? These socks are seamless, so your toes won’t be subjected to any uncomfortable rubbing.

As far as material goes, you won’t find any cotton here. These Darn Tough socks feature merino wool blended with nylon and lycra spandex. You may think wool is only reserved for cold weather running but not in this case. These are all-weather socks that wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Wool also helps resist odor, so even after a sweaty run, you’ll be far less likely to offend anyone when you take off your runners.

These Darn Tough socks are available in both Men’s and Women’s styles and come in Small, Medium, and Large sizes that correspond with your shoe size.

Best for all-around comfort

running socks

The Balega Hidden Comfort No Show running socks have a seamless design crafted with synthetic materials and elastane throughout to make for a better fit and prevent blisters.

Pros: Synthetic materials keep feet dry, mesh construction for added breathability, heel tab to help prevent slippage, seamless design, multiple colors to choose from

Cons: Some reviewers reported slippage, they don’t have targeted cushioning

Even if you’ve been running for a relatively short amount of time, Balega is likely a brand name you’ve heard. I own a few pairs of these socks myself and can confidently say these are some of the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn.

They’ve seen their fair share of runs but they’ve also been through trips to the grocery store, as well as some intense Netflix binge sessions on the couch. In other words, they’re so comfortable you’ll probably find yourself wearing them even when you aren’t running.

Each pair is carefully crafted to help runners perform at their best. The seamless design of the Hidden Comfort running socks reduces the friction that causes blisters. They have a reinforced heel and toe for increased durability and the top of the sock is constructed with mesh construction for extra breathability and comfort.

These are no-show socks with a heel tab at the opening that makes them easy to slip on. It also reduces chafing and prevents them from slipping down into your shoes. The elastane provides added stretch and comfort, too.

These socks come in sizes ranging from small to extra large. It’s important to size correctly so you get the best fit and minimal slippage. There is also a fun variety of colors to choose from if you like to add a little flair to your running kit.

Best for cold weather

running socks

The Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew socks are designed for cold weather running, with a longer length for extra warmth and a wool blend that keeps your feet toasty and dry.

Pros: Wool and synthetic blend keeps feet dry and blister-free, mid-crew length for extra warmth, 200 needle construction for warmth and cushioning without the bulk

Cons: Not many color choices, expensive

If you live in a location where winters bring cold and snow, yet you don’t call it quits on your running routine, you need a pair of running socks specially designed to keep your feet warm. Smartwool is known for a wide range of specialized socks and its line of cold weather running regularly receives positive reviews from runners who often brave the cold. 

Read more: The best winter running shoes

These socks are mid-crew height, perfect for wearing under your running tights for added warmth, and preventing the cold ankles that often result from wearing no-show socks. It may sound silly but when it comes to running in the cold, every bit of skin coverage makes a difference.

These Smartwool socks are made of 55% merino wool for warmth, nylon for breathability, and elastane for flexibility for stretch. They’ll wick away moisture to help keep your feet dry and free of blisters. If you’re afraid that warmth equates to added bulk, you won’t have to worry in this case. The 200 needle construction allows for high-density cushioning while keeping these socks lightweight.

Smartwool designed the PhD cold weather socks in both men’s and women’s styles for a better fit and they come in small, medium, and large sizes. Unfortunately, you won’t have many colors to choose from but in this case, comfort and warmth will likely be more important than style as you brave those chilly weather conditions.

Best on a budget

saucony socks

The six-pack of Saucony Performance No-Show socks gives you the most value for your money and keeps your feet dry and comfortable.

Pros: Affordable, synthetic fabric to keep feet dry and blister-free, heel tab to prevent slippage, arch compression for added support, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Can’t be bought in single pairs, non-specific sizing

You’ve likely heard of Saucony, a brand known for its well-made running shoes. However, like many running shoe brands, Saucony also makes athletic socks geared towards runners. If you’ve just splurged on a new pair of running shoes and want to save some bucks, or you simply don’t want to spend a lot on socks, these are a great option.

For less than $20, you can get six pairs of socks, and having more socks means you’ll be less likely to run out before having to do laundry. These socks come in plenty of fun color combinations and are available in both men’s and women’s styles. Unlike most others on this list, these don’t come in multiple sizes but men’s will fit an 8-12 shoe size and women’s will fit a 5-10 shoe size.

A heel tab helps prevent slippage and arch compression provides extra support. You won’t find any cotton here, either, with all synthetic materials for sweat-wicking and comfort, and mesh construction for added breathability. These are all features found in a more expensive running sock, for a fraction of the price.

As a more lightweight sock, these aren’t recommended for winter running but otherwise, they’ll do just fine at the gym, on the road, or on the trails.

If you are looking for just one pair to try, you’ll be out of luck as these only come in six-packs. However, for such an affordable price, it’s worth it to try them for yourself.

Best for preventing blisters

toe socks

With a place for each toe, a breathable mesh upper, and sweat-wicking materials, the Injinji 2.0 Lightweight No-Show toe socks are a great option if you’re prone to blisters.

Pros: Individual toe coverage helps prevent blisters, Synthetic fabric to keep feet dry and comfortable, mesh upper for breathability, heel tab to help prevent slippage, come in multiple colors

Cons: Can be tricky to put on, some reviewers couldn’t get used to the individual toe style

These toe socks may look a little odd but as they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Having a place for each individual toe prevents them from rubbing together — one of the main causes of blisters.

Injinji is a California-based company, with its roots in wanting to develop a seamless sock that allowed for more natural foot movement and toe splay. From this, the patented five-toe sock was born.

In addition to preventing any skin-to-skin friction that causes blisters, the Injinji 2.0 is made from synthetic materials to wick away sweat and keep feet dry and comfortable. A mesh top also allows for more breathability. If you prefer the minimalist style of running toe shoes like Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes, these socks also make a great liner for additional comfort. These socks perform just as well in traditional running shoes, too.

The Injinji 2.0 is a unisex sock but it comes in four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. Sizing is important here since these conform to every contour of your foot — toes included. 

While they may not be for everyone, if you’ve been in a standoff with stubborn reoccurring blisters, these socks may be just what you need.

Best for compression

Aspire Socks

If you experience muscle soreness or shin splints after your runs, Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve compressions socks help reduce the pain.

Pros: Promote blood flow and help reduce muscle soreness, olefin wicks sweat to keep your feet dry

Cons: Expensive, hard to put on 

Swiftwick is a mainstay in the compression sock industry and its Aspire Twelve knee-high socks are perfect for the runner looking for more than just muscle relief, but shin relief as well. Made of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, not only do they offer supreme compression and a snug fit, but they wick sweat away, as well. This is especially useful for hot and humid summer runs.

Running in these socks provides response lower leg support thanks to its minimal cushioning. They also function well to help recover after a long run or whenever you feel the muscles in your legs start to tighten up and feel sore. 

It’s worth pointing out that these socks (as well as many similar compressions socks) aren’t always the easiest to put on. We recommend reaching into the sock and pulling out the heel before putting your foot in and pulling the rest of the sock on. They’re made to be really snug on your lower leg, so this isn’t something that just needs to be broken in either. 

Aside from getting them on, the Aspire Twelve’s perform well work wonders to help with sore muscles. They’re a bit expensive at $30 per pair but most compression socks of this quality are hardly cheap. — Rick Stella

Best for fun ankle patterns

Zensah

With a range of fun patterns to choose from, the Zensah Limited Edition Mini Crew-Length running socks allow you to show off your personal style without sacrificing high-quality performance.

Pros: Tons of fun patterns and colors to choose from, comfortable, light compression for added support, moisture-wicking material to help prevent blisters

Cons: On the expensive side

Just because you’re decked out in running gear doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement. If you want to stand out from the pack, a crazy pair of running socks is the perfect way to do so, and the Zensah Limited Edition running socks rise to the occasion. Don’t be fooled by the limited edition in the name. Whether you want to show some holiday spirit, or share your love for donuts, there are tons of fun prints, patterns, and colors to choose from.

These socks look fun but when it comes to performance and comfort, things get serious. Zensah is a brand known for tight-fitting compression products but even if you aren’t looking for compression, their snug fit keeps them from sliding down during your runs. They also have a seamless toe and a lightly cushioned sole for added comfort, and they’re anatomically designed with a specific left foot and right foot fit.

The nylon, spandex, and polyester blend allow for breathability and help these socks dry quickly, protecting your feet from any blisters. Silver ions in the material help keep any odors at bay.

The mini crew height of these Zensah running heights makes them just tall enough to show off your chosen design, without having them take over your entire calf. They’re available in small, medium, and large sizes that correspond to your shoe size.

How we test

Each pair of running socks featured in this guide went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit and comfort, features, durability, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into what socks ultimately made this guide and what sub-categories we chose to spotlight: 

  • Fit and comfort: Though fit and comfort could be two different categories, they’re very closely related when it comes to running socks. You ideally want your running socks to fit snug enough to not rub inside your shoe (even if they get wet and want to start sliding around). This is as true for no-show socks as it is for both ankle- and shin-high options, too. The more comfortable and well-fitting a running sock is, the more enjoyable your running should be. 
  • Features: Using the term “features” to describe the makeup of a running sock may seem odd but different brands do include a variety of unique traits that make them more well-suited for different types of runners (and their needs). For instance, a brand like Swiftwick specializes in compression while Injinji’s socks are geared toward reducing the development of blisters. 
  • Durability: No matter if you’re a casual running or you’re training for a marathon, your running socks will take a beating — and having to deal with holes forming or a sock tearing at its seams can be especially frustrating as you prepare for a run. Though we didn’t push each pair to its absolute end, we did go on enough runs wearing each featured pair to get a reasonable idea of how long they’d last.
  • Value: Value is the combination of each category above, as well as how a running sock’s actual stick price factors into its worth. We do think that it’s more beneficial to spend a little more on a premium product that’s designed to last than to opt for a poorly-made budget option and have to spend that reduced cost more often. 

How to shop for running socks

Since there are so many options, it’s tricky to wade through what’s available. Luckily we’ve done the legwork for you, rounding up a group of socks outfit with the features you need most.

Before we get into our favorites, we’ve outlined what to pay attention to so your feet can meet their best match.

  • Material: One of the most important things to consider is material. Synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, and nylon are your best bet because they help wick away moisture and prevent blisters. A wool blend can also be a good choice to keep your feet warm and dry — especially if you’re running in the winter. You’ll want to avoid anything that’s 100% cotton as it will only hold in moisture, making for very sweaty and uncomfortable feet.
  • Cushioning: The cushioning and the thickness you desire in your running socks is a matter of personal choice, and luckily there are all types to choose from. Plenty of running socks are also designed to provide cushioning in places that are more likely to develop blisters.
  • Height: The height of your running socks can be a matter of personal style, but it can also serve a more useful purpose. Maybe you’re tired of chafing the backs of your ankles. Or maybe you’ve noticed that mid-calf ankle socks have roared back into style, rejoining us from the 1980s. Either way, it’s enough reason to try out a pair of crew length running socks. On the other hand, if you prefer a subtler look, no show or quarter-length socks are also available. 
  • Specialized Features: Aside from the basics, there are also socks designed to meet running specific needs and issues. Compression socks are a good option if you want to improve blood flow through your legs and ankles, or you want additional arch support. If you’re especially prone to blisters, some runners swear by toe socks.
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What happens to your body during an ultramarathon

  • Ultramarathons are races ranging from 50 to 4,345 km in distance. Your body can go through a lot of stress during these grueling tests of human endurance.
  • During races, nausea and vomiting are the most common problems for runners. Some runners may get blurry vision.
  • Sleepiness and hallucinations are problems in longer races lasting more than 24 hours.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: In 2018, more than 108-thousand people finished ultramarathons in the US alone. An ultramarathon is any race longer than 42 kilometers. Races can range anywhere from 50 to over 4,000 kilometers. But one of the more common lengths covers about 100 kilometers and takes, on average, 17 hours to finish.

In some of the longer races, half of the runners never see the finish line. Because these races not only push you to your mental limit they take a toll on your body both inside and out.

Ultra runners endure pretty extreme conditions. The Badwater Ultramarathon, for example, covers over 4,000 meters of elevation through Death Valley, in July, one of the hottest months of the year. Temperatures reach up to 47 degrees Celsius, causing headaches and dizziness in many runners.

But even if you’re running in more comfortable weather, you could be feeling sick to your stomach. One of the most common issues in any ultramarathon is nausea and/or vomiting. It affects about 37% of people who complete a race, but it’s also the number one reason runners won’t finish in the first place. 

That’s because running disrupts your digestion.  It diverts blood away from your stomach to your muscles. And since ultramarathons last so long, many races provide sandwiches, pasta, and other carb-loaded meals. As a result, that food will sit around undigested, causing problems. But if your stomach isn’t slowing you down, your eyes could be causing you grief.

Windy conditions can dry out or damage the cells that pump a protective liquid layer over your cornea, which can cause your cornea to swell up and blur your vision. During the Hellgate 100K for example, runners report losing most of their vision by the end. They call it “Hellgate Eyes.”

But no amount of protection or preparation can prevent one symptom: Sleepiness. For a 17-hour race, it might not be so bad. But longer races can stretch to more than 24 hours, which can make sleepy runners more prone to trips and falls or worse, hallucinations.

The Barkley Marathons, for example, is a race where runners are given 60 hours to finish 161 km. In 2005, one runner reported that he thought he saw houses at the top of the mountain and believed he was their garbageman sent to pick up the trash.

Despite all these health hazards, ultrarunning is a growing sport. One study found that compared to marathoners, ultrarunners are more likely to do it for nature and a sense of purpose than for the competitive aspect. So if you’re up for the challenge, plenty of races are on trails through natural areas, so at least you’ll get a great view!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2019.

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