Good running shoes aren’t cheap. At full retail price, a pair can easily cost above a hundred dollars. And if we talk about something fancy – say a running shoe with the latest knit upper and midsole tech – paying $130 ~ $180 is the norm.
When spending that kind of money, you want your running shoe to last long. But there’s no telling how long a shoe will last unless you accumulate mileage. That, or if the model has been in the market long enough for other users to review.
So without any history, how does one go about choosing a durable running shoe? We’ve curated a list of durable shoes, but like all our buying guides, we’ll first lay out the rationale.
This thinking can be applied to any running shoe, and you’ll likely end up with a product that exceeds the industry mean on longevity. These findings are based on thousands of hours of shoe testing by Solereview and independent reader feedback.
Three factors determine the shoe’s potential durability or the lack thereof:
1. The upper: Decoding the estimated lifespan of the upper is difficult for several reasons. At a very basic level, the materials used – be it the mesh or synthetic overlays – must flex and have a certain amount of thickness. But what’s of greater importance is the working relationship between the materials.
Even an upper made of thin materials can be durable – as long as it gets a few things right. The first is the absence of friction between materials, and the second is the lack of pressure points. This can be made clear by a few examples.
If the big toe rubs the area where the stitched toe-bumper (if applicable) and mesh meet, there is a chance that a tear could develop over time.
This often happens if the toe-box mesh is thin and lacks an inner lining. However, this is becoming less of a concern since newer running shoes are based on knit uppers with internal bumpers.
Certain brands use a backing fabric to reinforce this area, and you can feel this by inserting your hand under the toe-box. Other shoes skip the lining and rely on a thicker base material or an inner sleeve instead.
Some shoes use stiff materials around the last two rows of lacing. We’ve come across cases where this portion tears prematurely due to friction. There are a few cases of the heel lining coming apart, but that’s usually due to improper (shorter) sizing.
Lacing eyelets rarely tear these days. But if you want to make sure that this doesn’t happen, turn over the lacing panel to check for reinforcement.
The upper durability is also affected by how well (or not) the shoe fits; it is important to buy the right size and have enough room in the front. In many cases where the heel lining tears too soon may indicate a short size.
2. The midsole material: The lifespan of the midsole depends on three things – the compound, the density (firmness, softness), or a combination of both.
Polyurethane, PEBA, and SBES based midsoles last longer than EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) ones. Polyurethane (PU) is used in two forms; a poured kind like the Puma Ignite and Brooks Levitate, or the popular variety known as E-TPU.
These materials have a higher resistance to abuse from repeated compression and temperature, making them extremely durable. E-TPU is commonly known as adidas Boost or the Saucony Pwrrun+. Even the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 3 uses expanded PU.
The Nike React Infinity Run 2 like uses a SEBS polymer, otherwise known as synthetic rubber in plain-speak.
Saucony uses PEBA (Poly Ether Block Amide) foam for its Endorphin Speed and Pro models. The feedback on Pwrrun PB’s durability has been very positive so far.
EVA midsoles are ubiquitous and form the majority of running shoe midsoles. Though not as durable as newer foams, most last reasonably long. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. Softer the EVA midsole, the shorter its life. A softer density EVA midsole is more likely to lose its cushioning properties sooner.
Besides the firmness, midsole inserts such as Nike Zoom Air (like the one inside the Pegasus 38) increases cushioning durability.
3. The outsole: In the majority of cases, the rubber outsole is the first point of failure. The upper and midsole could be in perfect condition, but the outsole could get shredded into wafer-like thinness after a few hundred kilometers.
Three things matter when it comes to the outsole life – the rubber material, the layout/geometry, and how well it works together with the midsole.
A running shoe that uses only hard rubber for its outsole will outlive a model that uses a mix of soft blown rubber (forefoot) and a harder rubber under the rearfoot.
Some compounds like Saucony’s XT-900 rubber and adidas Continental have proved to be more durable than regular rubber. The new adidas Ultraboost 21 combines both; the Continental rubber outsole now comes in a translucent hue.
A flat and full-coverage outsole will outlast a design that features prominent lugs. Pointy outsole lugs take the brunt of the wear and tear – as opposed to a flat profile outsole that spreads the wear and tear over a wider area.
A higher outsole mileage can be expected from a shoe (cue Asics Metaracer) that uses a hard rubber compound arranged in a flat profile. We’re always surprised at the extent of the positive effect a flat outsole has on durability – even with soft rubber.
At times, the outsole lifespan depends not on the material but in the way it works together with the midsole. The Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 3 is a good example of what we mean.
Its thin outsole flexes along with the soft midsole and slows down the rate of wear and tear. Our readers have unanimous praise for the Floatride Energy’s high mile-per-dollar value.
The shoes on this guide satisfy most of the selection criteria. The adidas Continental rubber outsole used to be the only show in town, but that time has passed. Other brands have caught up and now offer a wide selection of durable running shoes.
Under normal usage conditions, these shoes will last at least 400 miles. Unless you’re a heavy runner living in a warm country, most of these shoes will give you 600 miles without any degradation in performance.
The shoes are arranged in an alphabetical order.
1) adidas SolarGlide
The combination of the Boost midsole and Continental rubber outsole gives the adidas Solarglide an edge in overall durability.
On the outsole, the hard-wearing rubber, flat rubber lugs, and the latticed geometry work together to deliver high mile per dollar. The Boost midsole’s durability credentials have been tried and tested over many years, so that’s not an area of concern.
Bringing everything together is a durable engineered mesh upper that’s reinforced with fused overlays and a sleeved lining.
As far as its usage is concerned, the Solarglide is an excellent daily trainer pick. The thick Boost midsole adds a lot of ride comfort for daily and long-distance miles without being mushy – thanks to the firmer EVA rims.
2) adidas adizero Boston 9
The adizero Boston has been a popular choice for runners who want a durable shoe without the structured build of heavier running shoes. The Boston is proof that a low-profile running shoe can also be long-lasting.
The upper fits narrow yet breathes well, and the lightweight Boost midsole provides durable cushioning. The outsole is made using a large piece of Continental rubber that adds many miles to the Boston’s lifespan.
The 9th iteration of the Boston has the same outsole and midsole as the Boston 8. However, the older Boston outsole (prior to the V8) was more durable. The newer geometry has a latticed (windowed) outsole that isn’t as hard-wearing as the Boston 6 or 7.
But for a running shoe that is meant to be used as a speed trainer or road-racer, the durability levels are above average.
3) adidas UltraBoost 21
The 2021 UltraBoost is quite the evolution. The Boost midsole acquires more volume and visual heft, and the upper marks the return of the plastic midfoot cage.
Though we view the Ultraboost as an athleisure product than a serious running shoe, it’s an ultra-cushy (and heavy) trainer that works best for easy miles.
Both the Boost midsole and upper are robustly built. The expanded Polyurethane midsole has excellent resistance to cushioning fatigue, whereas the stretchy upper has no weak spots.
Though the shallow toe-box design results in the big toe rubbing against the mesh, the upper is thick enough to resist premature damage.
Noteworthy updates take place on the outsole as well. The Continental outsole takes on a translucent texture – similar to Saucony’s ‘Crystal rubber’.
The outsole piece in the center of the forefoot is mounted directly over the Boost foam, thus allowing it to flex together with the midsole. The overall outsole has a flat lug profile, so the impact from foot-strikes and transitions does not result in accelerated wear and tear.
4) Asics Metaracer
Until now, this guide was missing a road racer. Hence, the Asics Metaracer fills that gap perfectly.
The Asics Metaracer is a unique running shoe, and a racer unlike any other. It has a carbon fiber plate that’s integrated so well into the midsole that it’s hard to tell the two apart. The ride is unexpectedly soft for a racer; making that happen is a cushy layer of Asics’ proprietary foam over the plate.
In our tests so far, we haven’t seen any degradation in the cushioning performance. The ultra-flat outsole seems exceptionally durable; there has been little to no wear and tear during the time we’ve had it.
On a side note, the lack of lugs doesn’t translate into poor traction. Asics uses a specially-formulated rubber compound for superior grip.
5) Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 3
A couple of years ago, this shoe from Reebok turned out to be a surprise durability hit. We knew it was durable, but then the 1000 mile+ reader feedback began pouring in.
The latest version – the Floatride Energy 3 – introduces a brand-new midsole and outsole with a similar durability profile.
So what makes the Floatride Forever Energy 3 long-lasting? The midsole material is very reliable; the expanded Polyurethane foam doesn’t lose its cushioning over time.
As it turns out, the outsole geometry also plays a huge part in prolonging the shoe’s life. The thin rubber outsole flexes along with the midsole to distribute wear and tear. The absence of raised lugs under the heel also means that the abrasion doesn’t happen locally but is spread over a larger area.
The Floatride Energy’s upper was always well designed, and there are no weak spots with the V3 either. The Reebok logo adds structural support on the sides, and the reinforced lacing panels prevent eyelet tear.
This model also makes it to many of our curated lists. That’s because the Floatride Energy 3 is a versatile running shoe that’s great for most runs. Make it your everyday beater or the high-mileage trainer – it’s pretty much a do-everything shoe.
Finally, making it an excellent value proposition is its $100 retail price.
6) Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
Based on our experience with Nike React-based running shoes, the React foam is capable of delivering hundreds of trouble free miles. That applies to the React Infinity V2 too – it has a full rubber outsole under a high-volume React midsole.
It’s not just the amount of rubber; the outsole geometry also plays a role in extending the shoe’s lifespan.
The generously-grooved outsole exposes the midsole foam. This layout not only helps the outsole telescope into the foam during the gait cycle to minimize damage, but also provides durable traction.
The V2 shares its underpinnings with the V1, so both versions share an identical durability outcome. The mesh knit upper is fairly thick and resistant to wear and tear.
Like the previous version, the React Infinity V2 is a cushioned running shoe with sufficient ride comfort for high-mileage runs.
7) Saucony Triumph 18
Unlike the Saucony Triumph 17, the newest Triumph doesn’t feature the ‘Crystal’ rubber outsole. That said, it has many things going for it, durability wise.
Among those is the long-lasting Pwrrun+ midsole – a material made of the reliable expanded Polyurethane. Not only does it deliver an optimal blend of cushioning and support, but also offers a high resistance to deformation.
Though the outsole rubber isn’t the same as last year, there are no complaints of premature shredding. Large grooves allow the outsole to flex and work together with the midsole instead of taking direct hits from the landing and transitions.
The upper is solidly stitched and welded together and will outlive the rest of the shoe.
Also see: The Saucony Hurricane 23 – it’s similar to the Triumph, and has a supportive inner midsole.
8) Saucony Endorphin Speed
The Endorphin Speed and Pro are two of Saucony’s plate-equipped speed trainers.
We chose the Speed because its $160 retail price offers better value – both the models feature Saucony’s Pwrrun PB foam and a similar outsole, so they are equally durable.
The Speed variant has a Nylon plate (versus the Pro’s Carbon plate), but that makes no difference in how long the shoe lasts. The Speed and Pro are snappy and cushioned distance trainers that also deliver excellent value per mile.
The new foam is very resistant to cushioning loss, and the outsole is specially designed with targeted reinforcements in high-wear areas.
9) Saucony Freedom 4
The Freedom is a low-profile, yet cushioned trainer that released to rave reviews several years ago. Back then, it was viewed as the cushioned and more durable version of the popular Kinvara. It still is – to a certain extent. But then, the Kinvara has evolved as well.
Till the Freedom V3, the outsole featured a translucent compound under a Pwrrun+ midsole. It was aptly named the ‘Crystal rubber’.
For its fourth iteration, the Freedom makes changes not only to its outsole, but to the midsole as well. The foam is now Pwrrun PB (of the Endorphin Speed and Pro fame) and the outsole uses an opaque rubber with flat lugs. Nonetheless, the new set-up appears to be as durable as the previous design.
It’s worth mentioning that this shoe’s inclusion on this guide is based on a presumptive lifespan. Since the Freedom 4 uses similar midsole and outsole materials as the Endorphin Pro twins, its durability should be at par.