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What’s the Best Running Shoe Under $100?

April 24th, 2013

This is a question we get a lot at the ‘house. We certainly don’t blame you for wanting to look out for your wallet when you’re shopping for new shoes, especially if you’re racking up 70+ mile weeks and needing a new pair every couple of months. Fortunately, there are many solid running shoe options under $100, and the best one for you will depend on what you’re looking for.

Light, Flexible Running Shoes under $100


Asics Gel Lyte33 2 ($90 MSRP)

The Asics Gel Lyte33 2 was the surprise of the year for us so far. It feels completely different than it’s predecessor (in a good way), and offers a soft yet bouncy feel with a quality ride. We credit the combination SpEVA/Solyte midsole, which gives a particularly nice feel for mid/forefoot strikers where the shoe provides full-thickness SpEVA foam.

New Balance 730 v2 ($75 MSRP)

Flexible might be the first word that comes to mind when you think of the New Balance 730 v2. This shoe has many of the points we loved about the original, including a low offset, responsive ride, and upper that runs on the generous side. We also think it’s one of the best looking New Balance shoes for 2013.

Nike Free 4.0 ($95 MSRP)

If you want to get the Nike Free experience on your feet for under a hundo’, then reach for the Nike Free 4.0. This Free model doesn’t get as much attention as the Free 5.0 (nee Free Run) or the minimal Free 3.0 v5, but it still offers all the classic features of a Free running shoe: extreme flexibility, good cushioning, and a breathable, sock-like upper.

Zero-Drop Running Shoes under $100


Saucony Virrata ($90 MSRP)

In spite of its modest price tag, the Saucony Virrata has the power to amaze. It has a performance fit and a sweet spot just behind the ball of the foot – but it seems to feel good no matter how your foot lands. Unlike most zero-drop designs, this shoe has quite a bit of padding underfoot.

Altra Samson/Delilah ($95 MSRP)

Wide-footed “barefoot” runners of the world, rejoice! The Altra Samson (and the Women’s model, the Altra Delilah) has a rectangular toe box that comfortably accommodates wider feet without rubbing or causing blisters. It also has a removable sockliner so you can get extremely close to the ground.

Merrell Vapor Glove ($80 MSRP)

The Merrell Vapor Glove is a great shoe for barefoot runners who want a stowable shoe to take with them in case they hit a rough patch of ground and want a little extra protection.

Trail Running Shoes under $100


New Balance MT110/WT110 ($90 MSRP)

Many trail aficionados reach for the New Balance 110 on race day, for a lightweight shoe with great feel for the trail. This shoe picked up a lot of fans when it was first launched in January 2012, and it continues to go strong with a winning mix of fit, styling and ground protection. Be alert when running on wet surfaces, these shoes can get a little slick.

Montrail FluidFlex ($90 MSRP)

If you want a trail shoe that packs a serious punch in the cushioning department, then reach for the Montrail FluidFlex. Thanks in part to its highly squishy platform, this shoe is an all-around option that performs well both on and off the trail.

Altra Superior ($95 MSRP)

The Altra Superior is a great choice for a runner who wants a zero-drop trail shoe with a decent amount of rock protection. A removable StoneGuard slips under the sockliner to disperse shock and protect the feet from rock bruising. The Trail Rudder in the heel offers additional stability during steep descents.

Racing Flats under $100


New Balance MR1400/WR1400 ($90 MSRP)

For a well-rounded flat, reach for the New Balance 1400. The RevLite foam offers excellent protection from the ground, and the shoe’s close, performance fit keeps your foot locked down so you can move forward confidently.

Saucony Fastwitch 6 ($90 MSRP)

The Saucony Fastwitch 6 is a distance flat with a touch of pronation support. The current version of this shoe is a little bit softer than the Fastwitch 5, but it remains without a doubt a speedy shoe that is a strong race-day option.

Mizuno Wave Musha 5 ($90 MSRP)

Lightweight, firm and fast, the Mizuno Wave Musha 5 will have you ready for your next race. Like the Fastwitch, it offers minimum pronation support. We like the responsive feel of the platform. and are particularly appreciative of having a bit more room in the upper compared to the snug-fitting Musha 4.

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  • Bryan

    No love for the Bare Access 2?

  • Brad

    I can vouch for the musha….. fantastic shoe.
    Kinvara is awesome too

  • Matt

    The Bare Access 2 is definitely another great option from Merrell. We were sticking with 3 options in each category, and both the Vapor Glove and Bare Access 2 have received a lot of positive comments in the zero-drop shoe category.

  • Kyle Kranz

    Love my SKORA Base (at $99). My current pair has nearly 800 miles on them, with many more hundred of life left.

  • Solamente Dave

    I know this is kind of cheating, but I picked up the Altra Instinct for $55 (clearance sale, FTW). It’s one of the best running shoes I’ve ever worn. I realize the current version is right at $100, but still.

  • andrea

    Saucony Virratas all the way.