The 29 Best Workout Shoes in 2021 for All Types of Exercise

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Read our full review of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run here.

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run

Best Marathon Training Shoe: Nike Pegasus 38

Our digital director has declared the Nike Pegasus 38 her official marathon training sneaker. This shoe strikes a perfect balance of being cushioned with just the right amount of responsiveness to keep your legs from getting fatigued. Like some of the other shoes on this list, the Pegasus builds on a strong legacy with this latest iteration, introducing a new breathable mesh upper, durable outsole, and a wider fit at the toes than previous versions. They're ideal whether you’re jogging three miles while pushing a baby stroller or hitting the streets for a 12-mile run.

Read our full review of the Nike Pegasus 38 here.

Nike Pegasus 38

Best Lightweight Cushion Sneaker: OnRunning FW21 Cloudstratus

OnRunning is known for its sleek Swiss design and lightweight feel—but that doesn’t mean the brand can’t pull off a great cushioned sneaker. The latest version of the Cloudstratus has ample cushioning but still feels like it transfers power well, thanks in part to the springy plastic “speedboard” running the length of the shoe between midsoles. If you’re looking for just the right amount of cushion, these are a very comfortable pick for long runs.

On Running FW21 Cloudstratus

Best Neutral Sneaker: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

Grab these sneakers for speed drills or mid-distance runs—either way, you’re sure to love them. They're considered a neutral running shoe—meaning they have less guardrails in place to prevent pronation or supination—an attribute that can feel freeing to some runners. If you consider yourself someone who needs more than minimal cushioning but doesn’t want a bulky, marshmallow-y sneaker, Saucony provides an excellent middle ground here.

Read our full review of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 here.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

Best Trail-Running Shoes

Best Classic Trail Runner: Altra Lone Peak 5

Altra shoes are known for their signature FootShape toe box and shoes and tend to have a minimal heel-to-toe drop. (You can read more about a zero drop in the full review below, but in general, Altra claims a minimal drop encourages a more natural running stride, though you may find your calves and ankles working harder.) The Lone Peak 5’s have no drop at all, which really makes the shoe feel like a natural extension of your foot. This was a feature our testers loved for a trail runner—it enabled them to be nimble on various terrains—along with the excellent sole traction.

Read our full review of the Altra Lone Peak 5 here.

Altra Lone Peak 5 Trail Running Sneaker

Best Lightweight Trail Runner: Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco Lyte 2

Asics uses a foam sole to give the updated version of their Gel-Fujitrabuco Lyte trail runner a quick, springy feel. With its aggressive tread pattern and sticky rubber on the outsole, you won’t slip in these either, according to our tester who took them across gravel towpaths, muddy singletracks, and rocky, technical trails.

ASICS GEL-Fujitrabuco Lyte 2

Most Dependable for Any Terrain: Merrell Moab Flight

“I have owned many Merrells in the past, and these fit exactly as expected,” one tester wrote. “Comfortable and secure.” The Merrell brand has a great reputation, and for good reason. In the Moab Flights, you can run on trails, down a rocky hill, or through the woods and feel confident that the shoe will stay secure on your foot. Plus, both testers noted the comfortable toe box and stable heel.

Read our full review of the Merrell Moab Flight here.

Merrell Moab Flight

Best Weight-Lifting, Cross-Training, and HIIT Shoes

Best Weight-Lifting Sneaker: Ryka fEmpower Daring Training Shoe

Picky weight lifters: This one’s for you. This weight-lifting sneaker from Ryka manages to feel both hearty and thick in the sole without adding too much weight or obtrusive support. The shoe maps nicely onto the foot with a wide, roomy toe box, and it kept our testers steady and secure without any foot cramping or pain during their strength-training workouts. The style is comfortable and fairly minimalist. In short: One less thing to worry about when you’re lifting heavy weights.

Ryka fEmpower Daring Training Shoe

Best Sneaker for Cross-Training and HIIT: Veja x Rick Owens Runner Style 2

You can sport the sneakers from this popular Veja x Rick Owens collab all the way from the track to the grocery store—and you’ll be sure to get a slew of compliments on the way. They’re super light and flexible, with a stretchy sock-like upper material that keeps your heel from sliding out of place. While these Runners aren’t cheap, they combine fashion and function for anyone looking for a multipurpose, minimalist cross-trainer (that’s also suitable for a short jog, according to our testers).

VEJA x Rick Owens Runner Style 2

Best Walking Sneakers

Best Walking Sneaker: Reebok DailyFit DMX

Slip these on before your next stroll. Reebok’s laceless DailyFit DMXs combine cushion and arch support for the perfect walking sneaker. “These fit like a glove,” one tester said. “They are so squishy and stretchy that they don’t really feel like sneakers. They honestly might even be a little too comfy.” While both testers said the cushy nature of these may take a bit to get used to, it paid off—there were no blisters or hot spots, even during the first few wears. Walk a mile in these, why don’t you!

Reebok DailyFit DMX

Best Walking Shoe for Flat Feet: Ryka fEmpower Journey Sneaker

These Rykas have a wide toe box and terrific arch support—the latter of which is especially important for folks with flat feet. All of our flat-footed testers loved these sneakers, wearing them during travel, exercise walks around the neighborhood, and days where they spent a lot of time standing. These shoes offer comfortable, unobtrusive arch support, an attribute that is key for those with flat feet. The fEmpower Journeys are responsive enough to feel like an extension of your foot—but better.

Ryka fEMPOWER Journey Sneaker

Best Hiking Shoes


Best Hiking Boot: Skechers Relaxed Fit: Trego–RM

These shoes were unequivocally loved by our testers for how they weather hours-long hikes, wet and swampy terrain, and slippery areas. “The shoe has a lot of cushion and is very responsive,” one tester wrote of her hikes in the Skechers Trego Rocky Mountain boots. “Finding a rhythm was natural.” Even though the Trego Rocky Mountain has a high and sturdy build, our testers said they avoided any pressure areas, hot spots, or blisters.

Skechers Relaxed Fit: Trego – RM

Best Low-Cut Hiking Shoe: Teva Gateway Low

Low-cut hiking shoes can be more comfortable when you’re on a casual nature walk or on a hike where ankle mobility and agility are key. Low-cut shoes are also versatile—and that’s why we love these Teva Gateway Lows. After trail runs, hikes, and varying levels of outdoor activity, our testers gave these rave reviews. They’re light with low cushioning, which makes them better suited for walks and speed training. Their thin, flexible feel and roomy toe box will make your outdoor adventures a walk in the park.

Teva Gateway Low

Best Lifestyle Sneakers

Best Platform Sneaker: Everlane The Forever Platform Sneaker

A quick scroll of Instagram will let you know: Platforms are in. And these no-frills classics from Everlane take the cake. A pair of platform lace-ups can elevate your outfit (literally), dressing up a pair of leggings or adding some comfort to a dress or skirt. As many of us know all too well, canvas sneakers can be tough to break in. Style aside, these are super comfortable. They are a bit clunky, but that’s par for the course with platforms—and as far as platforms go, our testers reported that these were easy and comfortable to wear on the daily.

Everlane The Forever Platform Sneaker

Best Trend Sneaker: Fila Electrove

Speaking of chunky sneakers, meet the Fila Electrove. You might have seen these on Instagram, TikTok, or just about anywhere this summer. The design is reminiscent of dad sneakers (or Baby Spice) circa Y2K, for a sporty and fashionable look. That all being said, these Filas still manage to be utilitarian. “This is definitely a supportive, responsive shoe,” one tester wrote. “Not too cushiony, but my feet felt comfortable standing in them for long periods of time.” Win-win.

FILA Electrove

Best Athleisure Sneaker: Nike Waffle One

Is it an exercise sneaker? A lifestyle sneaker? It’s hard to tell—and truth be told, you can pretty much wear this for both. The Nike Waffle Ones were designed in homage to the brand’s old-school racer, and while our tester took these for active days around the city—and also out to dinner—if you had to run a mile in these, let’s just say you could. They’re an excellent, comfortable alternative to the chunky lifestyle sneakers on the market if you’re set on a sleeker, low-profile look.

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