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 newest featherweight upper and carbon plate – paying $160 ~ $250 has become the norm. It’s tragic, we know.
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 most of our buyer’s guides, we’ll lay out the rationale first.
This thinking can be applied to any running shoe, and you’ll likely end up with a product that exceeds the industry’s 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 the 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. But every once in a while, an imperfect shoe with fragile upper shows up – the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel 2 is a great example.
Certain brands rely on a fabric backer as a reinforcement, and you can feel this by inserting your hand under the upper. 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.
Lastly, high-end uppers like the kind used on adidas Adios Pro and Nike Vaporfly Next% are tough as nails – even if they are paper-thin.
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.
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 Structure 24 and Pegasus 38) increase cushioning durability.
3. The outsole: In the majority of cases, the rubber outsole is the first point of failure. The upper and midsole may 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.
Generally speaking, compounds like Saucony’s XT-900 rubber and adidas Continental are 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 with 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 how 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 alphabetically.
1) adidas UltraBoost 22
The UltraBoost 2021 was quite the evolution. The Boost midsole acquired a higher volume and visual heft, and the upper marked the return of the plastic midfoot cage.
Not much has changed on the Ultraboost 22. The midsole and outsole is the same as 21, and even the upper has an almost identical fit. There are minor updates on the upper, but they do not affect the interiors.
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.
Seeing how close the V22 is to the 21, the newest Ultraboost should be equally durable. Both the Boost midsole and upper have a robust build quality. The expanded Polyurethane midsole has excellent resistance to cushioning fatigue, and 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 tearing.
The Continental outsole of the Ultraboost 21 has been holding quite well after all these months, so that should also apply to the UB-22’s identical outsole.
The outsole piece under the forefoot is mounted directly over the Boost foam, thus allowing it to flex together with the midsole. The outsole has a flat lug profile, so the impact from foot-strikes and transitions does not result in accelerated wear and tear.
2) adidas SolarGlide 4
The combination of the Boost midsole and Continental rubber outsole gives the adidas Solarglide 4 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.
From a use-case perspective, the Solarglide 4 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 firm EVA rims.
3) Asics Metaracer
Until now, this guide was missing a road racer. The Asics Metaracer fills that spot 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.
4) Asics Glideride 2
The Asics Glideride 2’s design uses many durability-friendly best practices. Most Asics uppers use premium mesh and lining materials for a positive durability outcome; the Glideride 2 is no different.
Though the upper isn’t sleeved, the respectable thickness of the mesh exterior means that it won’t be coming apart in a hurry.
Based on our ownership experience, the firm dual-density midsole is fairly resistant to creasing and compression. It also helps that the Glideride 2’s forefoot has a Nylon transition plate to help the foot roll forward.
The cleverly-designed outsole is divided into multiple sections to distribute the wear and tear during the foot-strike and transition process.
If you haven’t read our in-depth review of the Glideride 2, please feel free to read it here. It’s a unique running shoe that delivers a comfortable and fun ride experience due to its interesting midsole dynamic.
5) Nike Zoom Structure 24
Unlike many recent Nike releases, the Zoom Structure 24 doesn’t use the newest cushioning tech.
Its compression-molded midsole delivers a cushioned yet muted ride character. The Zoom Air bag is the only exciting part of the Structure 24, as it produces a snappy feel under the forefoot.
This traditional neutral trainer (it no longer has a medial post) is also very durable – thanks to the firm midsole and the thick rubber outsole. And it’s not just about the quality of rubber. The outsole geometry also plays a role in extending the shoe’s lifespan.
The generously-segmented outsole ‘pistons’ into the foam during the gait cycle to minimize damage, but also provides durable traction.
The Structure 24 shares its sole with the 23, so both versions are equally durable. The sleeved construction of the engineered mesh upper is resistant to wear and tear.
Like the previous version, the Zoom Structure 24 is a cushioned running shoe with sufficient ride comfort and stability for high-mileage runs.
6) 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.
7) Saucony Triumph 19
From a durability standpoint, the Saucony Triumph 19 has many things going for it.
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 high resistance to deformation.
Large grooves of the outsole allow it to flex and work together with the midsole instead of taking direct hits from the landing and transitions.
Like the past Triumph versions, the upper is solidly stitched and welded together.
Also see: The Saucony Hurricane 23 – it’s similar to the Triumph, and has a supportive inner midsole.
8) Saucony Endorphin Speed V2
The Endorphin Speed 2 and Pro 2 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 2 and Pro 2 are snappy and cushioned distance trainers that also deliver excellent value per mile.
The new PWRRUN PB 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.
10) Nike Pegasus Trail 3
Of the factors that increase the lifespan of a running shoe is adherence to design best practices.
The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 is a good example. Its thick rubber outsole protects the React foam midsole, and the rounded lug profile slows down the shredding process. Nike’s React foam – the material that the Pegasus Trail 3 uses – is also resistant to fatigue.
This isn’t a hardcore trail performance product. The Pegasus Trail 3’s comfortable ride and rugged outsole are on their best behavior on moderate trails and hikes. That was true for the first version of the Pegasus 36 Trail as well.
Having said that, the comfortable and secure upper is sufficiently equipped for the outdoors. The outsole ‘lip’ also forms a protective toe-bumper on the upper, and the forefoot is reinforced with high-density printing.
The Pegasus Trail 3’s upper also uses a rubberized lacing panel for durable protection.