323,776 Reviews Say "Expensive Workout Shoes Aren't Worth It"

Posted on 28 June, 2023 by Nicholas Rizzo


The analysis below is based not on our lab reviews, but on expert and user reviews from other sites. To learn more about how we lab test shoes, see our methodology page here, which explains in detail how every test is conducted.

Are expensive workout shoes worth it?

This study analyzed 323,776 reviews of 336 workout shoes from 20 different brands.

The analysis focused on the pricing, rating, and savings for shoes across the entire category as well as individual brands. 

The data makes it clear that expensive workout shoes are not better than more affordable ones and are not needed to enjoy the benefits of working out

In fact, the inexpensive workout shoes are overall rated better than the more expensive workout shoe options.  

Key Findings

  • The cheaper a shoe is the higher ratings and user satisfaction are.
  • The top 10 most expensive workout shoes cost 183.05% more and had a 2.3% lower rating on average than the 10 cheapest workout shoes.
  • The three worst workout shoe brands: Merrell, Vivobarefoot, The North Face.
  • The three best workout shoe brands: NOBULL, Skechers, Jordan.
  • The three cheapest workout shoe brands: Avia, Skechers, Ryka.
  • The three most expensive workout shoe brands: Vivobarefoot, NOBULL, Inov-8. 

Price vs Rating: Users more satisfied with lower-priced shoes 

All 336 workout shoes from our database had their prices and ratings plotted against each other. 

This data produced a trend line that clearly indicates a steady decrease in user satisfaction as the price increases.


Average price of shoes at each rating

This trend holds up when we analyze the average price for all shoes with the same score. 

To do this, all shoes with the same score were “bucketed” or put into “groupings”.

The average price for each “bucket” of shoes was then calculated and plotted. Providing a graph that shows the average price for all shoes with the same score, anywhere between 0-100.

The same significant findings appear that workout shoes with higher ratings are cheaper overall. 


Expensive workout shoes vs affordable workout shoes

To further investigate this, we pulled the top 10 most expensive and top 10 most affordable shoes in our database.


On average, buying one of the top 10 most expensive shoes has you paying 183.05% more!

Not only are the top 10 most affordable shoes significantly less expensive they also had a 2.3% greater user rating and user satisfaction.

Top 10 most affordable workout shoes:

  1. Reebok Flexagon Energy
  2. Avia Avi-Edge
  3. Skechers Haniger - Casspi
  4. Skechers Haniger
  5. Avia Avi-Tangent
  6. Avia Avi-Rival
  7. Adidas Essential Fun 2.0
  8. Adidas Essential Star 3
  9. Avia Avi-Verge
  10. Avia Avi-Solstice

Top 10 most expensive workout shoes:

  1. Under Armour ArchiTech Futurist
  2. ASICS Gel Fit Vida
  3. Vivobarefoot Motus
  4. Vivobarefoot Motus II Mesh
  5. Vibram FiveFingers V-Train
  6. Vibram FiveFingers KMD EVO
  7. Nike Metcon DSK Flyknit
  8. Vivobarefoot Primus Trio II
  9. Reebok Froning
  10. Reebok CrossFit Nano Pump Fusion

What are the best workout shoe brands?

To determine how each brands’ workout shoes compared against one another, the prices and ratings of each brands’ shoes were analyzed.

Brand Matrix: Average price vs average rating 

Analyzing the brands started by plotting the average score and rating of each brands’ workout shoes.

The data produced the below brand matrix which provides a clear visualization of the value offered by each brand.


Using the eye-test, look at the top half brands (from ASICS and above). It's clear the majority of these brands are producing very similar quality products, minus a few outliers.

It is the pricing that seems to go from one extreme of $63.11 (Skechers) to the other like $129.00 for NOBULL and $123.75 for Inov-8. 

We can also analyze these two factors of average price and rating individually for each brand. 


5 Most expensive workout shoe brands on average

  1. Vivobarefoot: $139.17
  2. NoBull: $129.00
  3. Inov-8: $123.75
  4. Jordan: $118.75
  5. Topo Athletic: $110.00

5 Most affordable workout shoe brands on average

  1. Avia: $49.17
  2. Skechers: $63.31
  3. Ryka: $73.57
  4. Puma: $85.93
  5. New Balance: $88.52


5 Highest rated workout shoe brands on average

  1. NoBull: 95/100 
  2. Skechers: 91/100 
  3. Jordan: 91/100 
  4. Inove-8: 89/100 
  5. Puma: 89/100 

5 Lowest rated workout shoe brands on average

  1. Merrell: 74/100 
  2. VivoBareFoot: 76/100
  3. The North Face: 77/100 
  4. Altra: 79/100
  5. New Balance: 79/100


Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo
Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.