Picking the best athletic shoes in 2021 is no small task. As editors at a wellness brand. We’re used to continually testing dozens of new releases throughout the year. So we can help you find the right shoe. While experts say that the best way to find a athletic shoes is to go to a speciality store. Where you’re able to speak directly with the staff and try on a bunch of athletic shoes, until you find the right fit. Obviously, that’s not always so easy to do, especially now in a pandemic.

How We Picked the Best Athletic Shoes

We talked to our experts to find out, what exactly you should look for when buying shoes. Even when you’re unable to try them on in real life. Then we tested almost 100 of the newest shoes. For walking, running, hiking, lifting weights, and cross-training. All released from October 2020 through this summer, based on our experts’ criteria. After poring through tester reviews. Averaging scores for each shoe, and eliminating any that didn’t make the cut. We ended up with 15 winners. These are our picks for best athletic shoes releases of the year. Whether you’re someone looking for a shoe that takes you from walking to hiking. See all our winners of the 2021 below.

Best Road-Running Shoes

Nike Athletic Shoes, 20 UK Wide

Our testers recommend the Nike Running Shoes, 20 UK Wide Shoe for fast runs and shorter distances. Noting that the style might not provide enough support for longer distances.

If you’re training to conquer your fastest mile time yet, we highly recommend giving the Nike Running Shoes, 20 UK Wide shoe a shot.

ASICS GT-1000 7 Athletic Shoes

Our testers loved that this sneaker continues the legacy of the ASICS GT-1000. Improving on the previous qualities that make it a great legacy shoe. Specifically, they appreciated the comfortable ride that provided just enough support and cushioning. Overall, testers said that this is a great investment. Running shoe that also works well for cross-training.

The classic ASICS GT-1000 cushion you’ve come to know and love in a shoe made with recycled materials.

Salomon Speedcross 4 W Trail Athletic

Our testers gave the Salomon Speedcross 4 W an award for its versatility and everyday durability. They noted that the shoe is great for logging daily runs and doing occasional speedwork. All while feeling easy on your joints due to their substantial cushioning. Overall, testers said this style is great for runners looking to get back into running longer, more frequent runs, or those who suffer from occasional knee pain.

These cushioned running shoes all but eliminate occasional knee pain for everyday runs. And despite the higher profile, they’re surprisingly lightweight and roomy.

Nike Flex Experience Run 8 Shoe

Our testers loved the Nike Flex Experience Run 8 Shoe for good reason. They said it was the best of every world. A little bit of support when needed and cushioning for long or slow runs. Without sacrificing your connection with the road for those days where you want to push your pace. All in all, our testers said that the Nike Flex Experience Run 8 made running a complete joy again.

Versatile, lightweight shoes with both cushioning and responsiveness. That are perfect for beginners and experienced runners alike.

JOOMRA Stylish Sneakers High Top Athletic Shoes

If function and quality support are your ultimate goals, our testers say to give the JOOMRA Stylish Sneakers High Top Athletic-Inspired Shoes a try. While testers noted the lack of features and subdued color options. They also loved the extra cushioning and workhorse capabilities of the shoe. Overall, our testers say this is a solid choice for anyone in the market for an everyday shoe that does the job.

The JOOMRA Stylish Sneakers is a great running shoe whether you’re aiming for distance or working on getting a little faster.

Nike Free TR 8 Athletic Trainer Athletic Shoes

Our testers say that Nike Free TR 8 Athletic Trainer has found its stride with this hybrid stability-neutral running shoe. Which they say strikes a great balance between providing cushion and support. But also with a responsive midsole that makes this shoe perfect for shorter distances.

These shoes are surprisingly lightweight and agile for the amount of cushioned support they offer. Meaning you can be your fastest and still run pain-free for shorter distances and sprints.

RYKA Dash 3 Walking Shoe

Our testers say that RYKA Dash 3 has found its stride with this hybrid stability-neutral running shoe. Which they say strikes a great balance between providing cushion and support but also with a responsive midsole that makes this shoe perfect for shorter distances.

These shoes are surprisingly lightweight and agile for the amount of cushioned support they offer. Meaning you can be your fastest and still run pain-free for shorter distances and sprints.

RYKA Sky Walk

Testers said the hype is real. This shoe is quite unlike any other they’ve tested. They noted the shoe’s lightweight, bouncy, and speedy feel, and say the RYKA Sky Walk deserves high marks for its fit and performance. However, testers did note that this shoe is for a specific purpose—shaving seconds off your race time and therefore not versatile. The style is also expensive and currently hard to find.

If you’re looking to shave seconds off your marathon or half-marathon time or simply run in a technologically advanced pair of sneakers. These bouncy and innovative kicks from Nike will help you do it.

Reebok Work N Cushion 3.0 Walking Shoe

Testers noted that they appreciated Reebok Work N Cushion 3.0 unique design. Which they said helped with shock absorption but might take some time to adjust to. However, testers liked the cushioning and said that runners will enjoy the Reebok Work N Cushion 3.0 (and its unique support technology) on almost any kind of run.

The On Work N Cushion 3.0 walking shoe has a unique design for 3-D cushioning that really helps absorb impact from road walking.

RYKA Devotion Plus 3 Oxford

Our testers say that the RYKA Devotion Plus 3 is a solid trail-running option for when the terrain isn’t exactly smooth sailing. If you’ll be running on a trail that’s jagged or uneven, this RYKA Devotion Plus 3 style will protect your feet from debris on the ground, and its ample cushioning will make your body feel good while you’re doing it. Testers do say that the shoe is a little stiff and narrow, which may not work for those with wider feet. But with a wide toe box and grippy sole, the RYKA Devotion Plus 3 shoe is great overall and able to handle whatever the trails may throw at you.

Thanks to its wide toe box and ample cushioning, the RYKA Devotion Plus 3 is a solid choice for anyone looking to make tough trail runs a little more comfortable.

Propet Walker Sneaker

Testers said that if you’re looking for a durable, lightweight shoe that will get you through your daily miles, the Propet Walker Sneaker is it. Testers liked that this everyday running shoe also works well for those days when you’re going for speed. With a low profile and five colors, our testers say the Propet Walker Sneaker is a pleasantly unobtrusive, versatile shoe that helps you feel lighter on your feet.

These lightweight running shoes from Propet Walker Sneaker have a low-profile and durable outsole, making them great for logging everyday miles and ideal for tempo runs where you’re looking to push your pace.

Reebok Club MEMT Athletic Shoes

If you’re in the market for a shoe that goes the distance, our testers wholeheartedly recommend the Reebok Club MEMT. While they note its snug fit, they also liked its ample cushioning and pillowy feel. If you prefer a less cushioned shoe, the Reebok Club MEMT is not the running sneaker for you, but overall, testers say to consider this shoe if you’re a distance runner who cares more about building mileage than cutting down your pace.

The Reebok Club MEMT will keep your feet comfy and supported for practically any long-distance race.

ALTRA AL0A4QTX Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Athletic Shoe

Our testers say the ALTRA AL0A4QTX Lone Peak 4.5 a straightforward, no-nonsense, all-purpose trail shoe with a design and features that make it an excellent choice for a range of runners. They note that while the Cascadia 15 is missing the bells and whistles  other trail-running shoes might have, for the most part you won’t miss them. Instead, features like an internal stability system, a rock plate, and quick-drying mesh make it an ideal option for anything from a beginner trail run, easy hike, or more technical routes.

The ALTRA AL0A4QTX Lone Peak 4.5 is a straightforward, no-nonsense, all-purpose trail shoe with design and features that make it an excellent choice for a range of runners, from beginners getting out on the trails for the first time to experienced runners planning an epic adventure.

Easy Spirit Punter Athletic Shoe

Testers say to go for the Easy Spirit Punter if you’re looking for trail shoes that can do double duty on roads and trails, without sacrificing the protection and durability trail shoes are known for. Whatever terrain you choose, testers say, the Easy Spirit Punter will prepare you for it.

The Easy Spirit Punter is cushioned, responsive trail shoe that also feels great on the roads.

Skechers Empire D’lux-Spotted Athletic Shoes

Our testers say the Skechers Empire D’lux-Spotted Sneaker is an agile and versatile trail-running shoe that’s great for entry-level trail runners. With its hint of European glamour, testers also liked that the shoe looks a bit cooler than other trail-running options out there. 

The Skechers Empire D’lux is made for any trail adventure and features a foam midsole and durable chassis to provide comfort, support, and vibration reduction with optimal responsiveness.

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