The 100 Best Running Sneakers of All Time

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Running as a sport seems like it would have a longer story in modern history, but the most important developments have been made in the past five decades.

From Nike’s creative waffle iron approach to the latest and greatest suspension midsoles from Mizuno, Sneaker Report has blasted through the sports marketing hype to take a look at the best running shoes athletic brands have to offer. Whether these runners paved the way for future greatness with innovative technology and breakthrough ideas or are simply your current favorites, click through for some extra inspiration to hit the road this week with The 100 Best Running Sneakers of All Time.

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  • Pingback: The 100 Best Running Shoes of All Time, and My Personal Top Three | Road Runner Shoes

  • Rick

    This is a tough list to get through. Everytime I click the next number it lags, reloads the whole page. With 100 shoes to get through, this could definitely have been done better!

    • Rick

      I retract my statement! It’s internet explorer that’s the issue. I load up Chrome and it’s 100x better. Sorry!

      • beaconaust

        Same problem in Apple Safari.

  • Martin Thorne

    Please add me to your email mailing list of new posts

  • Glen Grant

    As a former international I really enjoyed the list but you are missing the best shoe ever as number 1 – Nike Air Mariah. It is the only shoe that people email me and ask if I know where to buy it from. Look back at past races and see how many were being worn. I remember one road race in UK where virtually all the leading runners were wearing them. I think the Adidas feet-you-wear shoe deserves a mention too. They pulled it from sale just as it was gaining popularity.

  • Travis

    Asics GT2000 series, with the newly reengineered 2000s as well, are missing! :( Also the 2004 Bowerman Series (Specifically Air Coos) are missing…

  • Jim Hooko

    Reebok had a Phase 2 trainer along with the Maree racer in 1984 that I loved. I got a ton of miles out of both and never had any injury issues with either one. The trainers lasted me over 1000 miles, 700 in one winter alone. If you have a worst list, the Reebok Zigtechs would have to be number 1. They are horrid! I wore a pair for 100 miles and that was about 90 too far.

  • Dave

    Not sure if this deserves to be # 1, but what I do know is Japenese fellows would come in and buy 20 pair at a time when this shoe first came out…. so obviously it was “hot” somewhere.

  • Olasonn

    I can’t tell you how dissapointed I am in seeing a shoe that was more for looks then performance come first. Nike is the reason most running shoes have had a raised heel for about 30 years, which has caused lots of problems for many runners. Fortunately things are turning around, and the future looks brighter.

    • Kenyan Runner Wannabe

      Agreed! There are waaaaaay too many Nike shoes on this list, most of which have only added to the heel-strike epidemic. The Saucony Kinvaras, and Mizuno Prophecy are rated well, but by some of these on this list, I begin to wonder if these shoes are really rated based off of experience and not simply the brand name, style or looks.

  • Mike

    The best running shoe from New Balance in the past 20 years, the all-orange 902 Lightweight Running shoe was amazing. Would have liked to have seen it make the list, somewhere. It won nearly every “shoe buyers guide” that reviewed it at the time. Including Outside Magazine’s “Gear of the Year” in whichever year it came out (somewhere around 2006/2007)

  • http://www.none.com john

    Really, not even a mention of Hoka One One? I mean these shoes are just the best for ultra’s! Should look into them, man!

    • beaconaust

      Agreed.

  • Nacho

    Very good list. I’d include: Nike Air Pegasus (1983) first edition Pegasus with the “air” heel cushion. Also: the Adidas Rom, Adidas Vienna or Adidas Country (one of the first with the tread extending up the toe and heel). Also: New Balance 320 (1976), Nike Sock Racer from ’85, Brooks Vantage (first with EVA midsole).

  • Corey

    The New Balance Minimus should be in this list! By far the best Minimal shoe ( http://www.newbalancevancouver.ca/minimus-10-runner.html ). I’ve been running with the minimus for a few months now and it’s a huge improvement over any other running shoe I’ve used.

    • gonzo123456789

      agreed

  • Jim H

    Lots of great memories looking at this list! I’m glad the Nike LDV was included, but I would have chosen the Nike Daybreak, a similar but much better shoe. I’m surprised you didn’t include the NB 320, a hugely popular shoe of the late 70s. My all-time favorite? The original Nike Air Huarache. Wish I had a closet full of them!!

  • Feezer

    Awwh. Saucony Jazz, you saw me through the 80’s. I still think of you- always with me during THE best memories my life.

  • beaconaust

    I must be a Philistine because I changed from the Airmax 95 to my first pair of Shox and never regretted it.i am kind of surprised that I didn’t see early Reeboks or the Brooks Gt get a mention. Also, the Adidas One didnt sell many pairs but was innovative for its time, as was the cantilever outsole of the Osaga. I also agree that the Hoka One One is a serious omission. All that said, the list seemed to cover most of the notable shoes I can recall since I pulled on my first pair of Adidas Romes back in the easy 70s. Keep up the great work!

  • beaconaust

    I must be a Philistine because I changed from the Airmax 95 to my first pair of Shox and never regretted it.i am kind of surprised that I didn’t see early Reeboks or the Brooks Gt get a mention. Also, the Adidas One didnt sell many pairs but was innovative for its time, as was the cantilever outsole of the Osaga. I also agree that the Hoka One One is a serious omission. All that said, the list seemed to cover most of the notable shoes I can recall since I pulled on my first pair of Adidas Romes back in the easy 70s. Keep up the great work!

  • gizmoreid

    Best in my book was the Nike Tailwind from the late 70’s

  • Greg W. Locke

    The Jazz is a GREAT looking shoe, but awful for running. You feet slip around after two weeks. Also, you have a photo of a 993 where a photo of the New Balance 991 should be. Lastly, you ignored several great Reebok shoes and didn’t even mention the greatest running shoe of all-time, New Balance’s original 990 (the V2 was no slouch either).

  • Chris Rusch

    I ran in the Air Max 95 back in, wait for it, 1995 and was not impressed. The entire midsole unit detached itself from the upper after minimal use. The stack height on this one made it unstable. It looks cool, but failed when it came to performance. The Zoom Spiridon, another shoe I ran in, was great. It was low, lite, and fast. I liked it so much it did double duty as a trainer/racer. Currently I am running in the Asics Nimbus 14 and love it. Eventually I want to go more minimal and get into an Altra or Newton. It is so interesting to see how shoes have evolved over the years.

  • gonzo123456789

    Asics Tiger Jayhawk XR were the BEST SHOE EVER MADE. wore them until there were holes in the soles, then still wore them. greatest shoe ever and spent 25 years searching for something equal

  • jo

    tout nul ce classement

  • jo

    tout nul ce classement

  • sodomite

    I bought airmax 95 after reading this article and wow it is true. Comfortable and just enough amount of cushioning and plus, bouncier feeling propelling you forward..it’s not an advertisement bs, it actually does. It is bit heavy for today’s standard, but its bouncy cushioning returning energy and propelling forward transitioning is so good that I don’t feel it’s heavy at all while running. Disregard all gripes and moans below. Too high so unstable? LOL….Nike isn’t that stupid making shoes with heel so high that you go ‘unstable’.. what a joke.

  • RyanF1

    Something like the New Balance 1300 was standard-issue for US Air Force recruits during my time, Basic Training was in 1999. They were all-white, and after Basic they’d be so red-stained from the clay exercise and running surfaces, you wouldn’t think them fit for wear outside of a PT uniform. We kept them through Operational Training (aka “Tech School”), but most were disposed of, trashed or given to charity, once we got to our permanent bases and had the cash to buy our choice at the local AAFES Exchange store. I went back to a Nike Air Max.

  • h62

    Adidas Fire was a great shoe. The posting brings back good memories. I also enjoyed the Adidas Lexicon in the mid-90’s.

  • juantrenine

    Running shoe expert here……how on earth do you leave off the top running shoe in specialty running stores? Brooks Adrenaline. Plus, you have a shoe on there that suffered a class action law suit for false claims and injuries. Nice job.