People who want to have some extra support on the bottom part of the lower leg often opt for best running shoes that feature extended collars. This design, known as high-top, is often attributed by contemporary shoe enthusiasts to visual flair and the heightening of general aesthetics. But high-top running shoes for women and men are actually made by athletic-shoe companies to accommodate a practical purpose, which is to assist in the stabilizing of the wearer’s stance during the activity or when standing idly. When it comes to performance footwear, the visual aspect plays second fiddle to the fundamental helpfulness of a high-top shoe construction.
Elements of high-top running shoes
High-top footwear started with uppers made from canvas, and this fabric is known to be slightly flexible. But as time went on (and as high-top shoes proceeded to take center-stage in the sport of basketball), the fabrics became more padded and stiff. Only through the jump to the realm of running did high-top shoes adapt façades that are form-fitting and flexible while retaining security and in-shoe steadiness. Most of today’s high-top options also boast lightweight builds, favoring well-ventilated silhouettes with printed overlays over the traditional layered approach.
Secure and extended collar design
While running shoes are usually known for the freeing low-cut constructions of their uppers, some options are purposely configured to hold the ankles and the heel, preventing those sections from destabilizing during the activity. The extended tops of the shoes are akin to socks as they bring a cohesive coverage of the lower leg’s bottom portion, staving off any strain in the process. While some high-cut running shoes for men and women feature one-piece tops that are stretchy and all-encompassing of the circumference of the lower leg, others still employ the collar-and-tongue build that made its start over a century ago.
Supportive heel counter
Because a lot of high-top running shoes are using fabric uppers that have thin or non-existent padding, it becomes the prerogative of the shoemakers to use creative methods to hold the foot in place. Yes, even the exaggerated collar design isn’t enough to determine full foot-security. The well-known system in hightop trail running shoes is a blend of printed overlays and layers of synthetic material stitched on the primary upper textile. High top shoes for the roads employ creative foot-security measures on the heel: while others use printed overlays or hot-melted layers that are hardly noticeable on the façade, some variants employ woven letterings of the brand or model.
Not all running shoes require decent amounts of cushioning to better the performance of the wearer, yet high-top variants stand to benefit from midsoles that are reactive and supportive. Since running involves intense heel-to-toe transitions, an underfoot platform that contributes to a well-rounded step may incentivize an energized performance. A well-cushioned midsole also means that the runner won’t lose confidence when taking each step or when expecting quality from their chosen footwear.
The surface grip is one of the most essential aspects of a shoe’s performance. Being able to experience precise movements on the roads or trails is a sky-high element to the satisfaction of the runner. Grip-optimized outsoles are responsible for such feats, and they’re precisely designed to maintain surface control. No one wants a running shoe that has a tendency to slip and slide at any point during the run. As much as it is a determinant for the quality of the swerve, turn or brake, traction is also a safety measure that prevents potential injuries.
Best high-top running shoes for the trails
Inov-8 Roclite 325
The Roclite 325 family of running shoes is made up of straightforward trail companions that are designed to adequately accommodate the foot and lead it through the unpredictable terrains. The façades of these products are made of mesh, printed overlays (though the noticeable difference in the Roclite 325 GTX model lies in its use of a waterproof Gore-Tex® layer) and the AdapterWeb system of fabric eyelets that snake through the midfoot like fingers. The semi-aggressive yet close-to-the-ground midsole units of these 325-gram shoes (hence the name) ensures proprioception and natural stability on the ground.
Altra Lone Peak Mid
The Lone Peak family of trail shoes from Altra is considered to be one of the most efficient in the industry. In fact, many consumers felt that each iteration gave comfort, security and agreeable performance, starting from the first one to the much-lauded Lone Peak 4.0. The zero-drop brand wanted to expand the series, utilizing different materials for the upper as well as a high-top collar to lock the foot in place. The Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Mid Mesh (a version that uses quick-dry mesh) and the Lone Peak 4.0 Mid RSM (featuring a façade that is lightweight, breathable and waterproof at the same time) are examples of these reinventions.
Best high-top running shoes for the roads
Puma Ignite EvoKNIT
The Ignite EvoKNIT is one of Puma’s steps towards a future of performance footwear that incorporates stylistic elements. The products that are in this line evoke sock-like visual aspects as they have woven uppers and flexible designs. The stretchy silhouettes are topped by equally elastic one-piece openings that extend to the lower leg. Ankle straps link the heel of the original Ignite EvoKNIT model to the lacing system while the Ignite EvoKNIT 2 provides extra security through straps on the midfoot section. The highly responsive and long-lasting IGNITE foam graces the shoes.
Nike Free RN Motion Flyknit
The Free RN series from Nike is one of the most versatile rosters of shoes in the market. People have considered it to be highly agreeable when it comes to doling out natural performance on the roads. Moreover, they liked the minimalistic yet appealing designs of the shoes. The Free RN Motion Flyknit subcategory is unique because of the use of high-top designs. The Free RN Motion Flyknit 2017 was particularly well-regarded for being a midsole that had a comfy sock on top of it. This shoe employed Nike’s signature knit material, and it only uses a wraparound midfoot strap to adjust the snugness or looseness of the fit. The same design is applied to the RN Motion Flyknit 2018, though it now has a stretchy heel band to assist in the prevention of in-shoe wobbling and accidental shoe removals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use high-top running shoes for activities other than running?
Running shoes are some of the most adaptable articles of clothing that is widely available for everyone. Though people who buy performance footwear are usually in it for the actual benefits that they could receive to bolster their output on the roads and trails, there are still some individuals who appreciate the comforts of wearing a pair of running shoes without requiring themselves to use it for speedy adventures.
If you are someone who likes the look and feel of running shoes, then you can definitely use a pair or two for various types of activities. Unlike most casual footwear, performance foot-clothing feature cushioned midsoles that are made of foam or variants of it. Moreover, the uppers of running companions have long since moved away from the canvas silhouettes of the previous century; nowadays, most products from the popular and the up-and-coming brands use mesh or a woven textile that wraps around the foot like a sock. All of these elements work together to keep the foot contented.
Are high-top running shoes as equally stable as shoes with stability mechanisms?
The parts that are needed to correct pronation and the general stance are usually placed in the midsole unit (in the form of a stability post or a thermoplastic layer) and the lower heel part of the upper (the internal and/or external heel counters). These technologies work to make sure that the foot is at a neutral anatomical position at all times.
Though high-top running shoes for men and women definitely help when it comes to maintaining in-shoe steadiness and overall foot-security, the extended collar structure and side-walls aren’t to be considered as features that stabilize the anatomy of the foot. The garter-openings and lightly padded collars are not enough to prevent, or compensate for, the excessive inward rolling of the foot during movement. Higher forms of supportive mechanics, not an extra collar height, are needed for such biomechanical concerns.
How do you clean high-top running shoes?
High-top running shoes can be cleaned like any running shoe. The first thing that you should remember is that you should never use a washing machine to clean your shoes or settle with chemical-laden detergents, even if the upper units closely resemble cloth. Only stitching, glue, and other bonding methods are the only ones that connect the upper unit to the midsole and the midsole to the outsole. You wouldn’t want a torrent of water or strong detergent soaps to deteriorate the adhesives.
Now, when it comes to the act of cleaning your shoes, the items that you would need are mild detergent, a clean cloth, and a soft-bristled brush. In removing typical dirt, it is best to wet the shoe using lukewarm water and then wipe it clean with the clean cloth that’s been doused with detergent. The soft-bristled brush is for tougher stains. Rinse your shoes after the washing has finished.
Drying your shoes would only require outside air and an unobstructed spot for drying. It would be unwise to dry your shoes indoors because the water won’t completely evaporate, potentially causing unwanted odors to crop up. Direct exposure to sunlight is also contraindicated as the intense heat would inevitably warp, shrink or separate the fabrics, the foam midsole and the rubber outsole.
7 best high-top running shoes
New Balance Cypher Run
Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid
Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Mid Mesh
Nike Free RN Motion Flyknit 2018
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Mid RSM
Asics HyperGel KAN
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.
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