Running can be cheap. Especially if you’re not chasing records or racing competitively. A cheap pair of running shoes might perfectly accompany you on your occasional runs along with casual walks and running errands.
We define running shoes as cheap if they cost less than $100.
Having put over 100 budget-friendly pairs through the wringer, we came up with the top picks in five different categories. Depending on what you find the most important in your running shoes, there are options that highlight style, cushioning, durability, or a little bit of everything.
Our team of experienced shoe fanatics has reviewed over 350 cheap running shoes to help you find the best deal. Our shoe testers and an independent RunRepeat lab scrutinize every new release, seeking out the underdogs among budget-friendly models. Here is our process:
We do multiple test runs in each pair, averaging 30-50 miles per shoe.
Measure 30+ different parameters in our lab, including flexibility, softness, breathability, etc. We even cut shoes into pieces to evaluate each component.
All shoes are purchased with our own funds to avoid bias.
Our system incorporates over 2.5 million ratings from shoe experts and regular users to keep the scores comprehensive.
As a result, every shoe gets a CoreScore, which reflects its performance across the board. It is a number from 0 to 100 which allows us to pick out the best running shoes under $100.
A budget shoe that’s loaded with high-end benefits, our feet felt premium comfort in the Asics Gel Contend 7!
It’s marshmallowy soft and it’s impact-dampening, our feet did NOT feel beat-up even after a series of long pounding on the pavement!
Even better, it doesn’t make its presence known because it’s so light. It felt like we had barely anything on our feet!
The Contend may skimp on price, but it sure doesn’t when it comes to lockdown! It’s snug, and it wraps like a glove. It just contributed to the overall confidence-inspiring ride this shoe gave us.
And if you’re a runner who wants one shoe for everything - running, jogs, aerobics, and walking - this shoe won’t fail you! It’s got all the support you need to get through your activities!
Another reason why this shoe sits atop our list is that it’s plenty durable! Yes, you may think that cheap running shoes don’t really pack a lot of strength to last you miles. But this shoe will prove you wrong!
50 miles in, we still don’t see any wear on the outsole. And we expect it to last 300-500 miles before we retire them in our closet.
For anything short to mid-distance, we wouldn’t consider any other shoe but the Asics Gel Venture 8! It’s everything that screams trail-ready!
It won’t hurt the bank and it won’t hurt the feet! This shoe just had us swooning over its VERY comfortable cushion. And it’s got a lot too to keep the foot protected and free from impact pain.
Not only does this shoe dampen impact but it also mutes the harsh elements on the trail. Even better, it smashes them! This shoe doesn’t hold back on energy return too. In fact, it’s got loads of it, it didn’t feel like a heavy trail beater at all. If anything, it made us run fast with a lot of fun!
And to really test this shoe’s caliber, we took it out on a variety of terrain. And boy, did it surprise us! From gravel pedestrian trails to the more technical trails, this shoe just latched into everything!
We’ve tested a lot of trail shoes, but the Venture 8 is nothing like a budget shoe. For us, it’s in the same league as the more expensive trailblazers!
And wow, this shoe just takes the spotlight in the durability arena! After punishing it on the most unfriendly trail surfaces, it withstood everything fantastically! It’s a high-strength shoe we expect to last 400-450 miles.
Like you, we think trail shoes are burly, but NOT the Asics Gel Venture 8! It’s got all the goods jam packed in a lightweight package! We never felt like it was weighing us down
Okay, we admit, we didn’t really take Nike seriously in the trail running arena, but the Nike Air Max Torch 4 had us rethink our decision!
But first, what’s cookin’ good lookin’? This is, by far, the most eye-catching trail shoe we have in our arsenal! But it goes BEYOND looks. It’s a serious performer on the trails!
In our test runs, we took the shoe out on moderate to technical trails, and this shoe killed it with its highly grippy outsole! So much so we didn’t even consider jagged rocks and roots obstacles in our running. We just breezed through them!
It’s got plenty of protection too! What we appreciated the most was the toe bumper. Even when we hit some hard ground objects, we didn’t feel any pain, let alone some bruising!
And if you think all this comes at the expense of comfort, we’re here to tell you NAH. It doesn’t. That’s what’s great about this shoe, it’s got a lot of cushion to protect the feet and keep it nice and comfy!
If there’s anything we don’t see ourselves picking the Nike Air Max Torch up for, it’s on muddy sections. It’s still got a long way to go to truly deliver that soft-surface bite!
Nike is a killer in the style department, and the Nike Revolution 5 is the looker that didn’t dig deep into our pockets! It doesn’t have a lot of gimmicks, but it’s what makes it attractive and a certified eye candy!
And for a $65 shoe, it’s got a lot of tricks up its sleeve! But what really won us over its unrivalled lockdown, especially in the heel area. It just cupped our heel nicely in place, so we can run with confidence on the road!
It’s not cloud-like soft, but it’s also not as rigid as a brick. It’s a middle-ground, generating a stable and comfortable ride.
And because of this, it’s easily our pick for both our daily runs and walks around town.
The upper also flexes generously. This allows for easy entry and for us with wide feet, it’s an accommodating fit, adding to the shoe’s overall comfort!
While it didn’t really serve a nice, fun ride, we didn’t want to punish it too much for something that it’s not designed to do. For such a meager price, the Nike Revolution 5 is truly a bang for the buck!
We were just as excited as our feet to lace up the Asics Gel Excite 8! And guess what? All the excitement we had was justified on the run!
The Asics Gel Excite 8 is another budget-friendly running shoe in our arsenal. It’s been around for quite some time, and because of this, we had high hopes for it; hence, the excitement!
It’s a neutral shoe that packs a lot of stability. Yep, that’s right! We’ve had our issues with bad knees, but this rascal gave us all the support we longed for to be pain-free in our daily runs.
And of course it wouldn’t make its way to our top pick for best cushioned budget shoe if it didn’t steal our hearts with its midsole. It didn’t only WOW us in the stability arena, but it also impressed us with its ride.
It’s not marshmallow-like soft, rather it’s a balanced ride. You get all the support you need while getting all the comfort and protection to last several miles on the road!
And like a true Asics, the Gel Excite 8 is built like a tank! After a series of harsh wear testing, this shoe blew our minds because it remained bouncy (no packing out at all) and there’s little to no wear on the outsole!
Browse online stores. Usually, they allow for shoes to be filtered by price or discount.
Browse online shoe databases. Much more comprehensive than regular online stores. RunRepeat database is updated on a daily basis and offers sorting by discount (from less than 30% to more than 70%) and the cheap filter.
Use “price drop” email alerts. Some shoes are worth waiting for, so why not get an email once their price drops.
Pay attention to older models, they tend to be discounted more often than new models. Especially if you’re offline shopping, smaller shops might have those models on sale.
Exercise caution if buying on Black Friday. Turns out sneakers are cheaper on 66% of days throughout the year than they are on Black Friday. Worth keeping in mind when buying running shoes too.
Saucony Axon is a $100 version of the premium Endorphin line. It delivers a sense of the more expensive shoes for budget-friendly price.
What’s a good price for a running shoe?
$110-130 will probably get you the most value for money. The premium price of $150-350 simply isn’t always worth it. When looking for a cheap running shoe, people tend to stay in the $60-80 range.
Keep in mind that shoe prices are defined by:
Shoe features - e.g. rock plate, GTX membrane, maximum cushioning, innovative technologies (might work wonders for specific conditions, but also might not be needed for your every day running);
Marketing - the bigger the campaigns - the more expensive shoes get;
Timing - do you want the new shoe as soon as it’s available? Or even pre-order? The more you wait, the greater the chances to find that certain model discounted.
Cheap vs. expensive running shoes
The line that separates inexpensive from expensive running shoes is the price: $100. It’s nothing official, but a wide-spread notion.
Brooks’ elite racer, the Hyperion Elite, was a big letdown for the fans. They booed this $250 pair for being too frail and heavy for its price.
Are expensive shoes better?
They are not.
According to our study, the trendline on this graph surely backs this up. It shows that expensive running shoes get lower ratings:
Brands with the biggest % of cheap running shoes
To help your shoe hunt, this is the overview of the top 10 brands with the biggest % of cheap running shoes and their average MSRPs.
Here’s how those brands compare to each other when it comes to their average MSRPs.
To assist you with this search, we’ve created collections of cheap Reebok, Puma, and Skechers running shoes separately. Keep in mind that the overview was based on the initial retail price. This in no way means you won’t be able to get a more expensive shoe at a great price. Keep looking for discounts!
When you’ve nailed a great deal, make sure you keep in mind these few tips:
TIP #1. Shoes should be comfortable! (try them on before buying).
Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.