Sure, your sneakers are fire. But do they go, bro? I mean, you cop like the best of them, cutting your monthly medicine down to an eighth bag just so you’ll be able to afford some YEEZYs in 2018. But will those kicks run? I think not.
Me? I’m all about function and form. Fashion sneakers adorn my rack, sure. But the vast majority are viable running shoes too. Because I like to run. It clears your head and keeps you not dead for a bit longer (more time to save for YEEZYs amirite?!). Besides, it doesn’t matter how on fleek your threads are if you’re too fat to fit into them.
So let’s all go for a fucking run. For the past seven years I’ve been testing shoes for that purpose, for both Men’s Health and Runner’s World. Now I’m doing it for Highsnobiety. The main difference being this roundup is for aesthetes as much as it is athletes: the following five pairs of the best running sneakers are fire, but no less functional for it.
Best for: Swag Lords
Silhouette: adidas Y-3 Sport Approach
The first on the list is the priciest BUT JUST LOOK AT THEM THEY ARE SO SICK I COULD CRY. The clear frontrunner in the recent Y-3 Fall/Winter 2016 range, the Sport Approach packs in some impressive tech to boot, making them more than just a stunning pair to gawp at. The combined torsion control and sock softness upon adidas’ revolutionary tread is a running tour de force.
Using the Boost sole means all the responsiveness that made UltraBOOSTs among the best runners in the world is here, plus the one-piece sock paradoxically makes for some excellent stability coupled with the rubber over. I took these around a track and later a park on a miserable day and really felt what adidas call “energy return” – there’s a palpable bounce from the ground with each stride. You quite literally run a bit faster.
On the testing day, these were far and away the best shoe in terms of comfort and performance when you have an eye on aesthetics as well. Want.
Upshot: Probably the most genuinely useable collab shoe I’ve run in. Where so many are stripped of tech in favor of aesthetics, the performance is here in spades. As is midfoot and ankle support.
Downside: They’re pricey, there’s no escaping it. But an investment worth considering if you want to make these your main running shoes
Best for: Showboaters
Silhouette: Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Shield
I tested these shoes in the yellow colorway you see here. And for a time I felt entirely self-conscious. As with football (American and soccer alike), if you’re turning up to the field with yellow and gold on your shoes, you’d better bring some skills too. Otherwise you risk opprobrium and will be laughed off the pitch as you fucking well deserve.
But then, I always wear monochrome. These also come in more muted colors. But that’s by the by. In terms of performance, you’re getting some serious bang for your buck: the shoes come in at a reasonable price considering the craftsmanship here. The one-piece sock is soft but I felt held well in the shoe. But the star of the show is the sole, which dealt with both a gravelly track and muddy trail with aplomb.
You can really feel the heel-to-toe momentum with each stride. And if you run on the reg, you’ll know that ground feel is of foremost importance when it comes to not being shit.
Upshot: The balance between softness and support coupled with the excellent ground responsiveness and grip make this the perfect winter shoe.
Downside: That is unless it rains a lot, in which case your foot will be absolutely soaking. I personally wouldn’t buy the yellow.
Best for: Pro Runners
Silhouette: Asics Dynaflyte
Now, I know what you’re thinking: these won’t go with my new jawnz, bruh! Well, newsflash muthafucka: they’re not mean to. I know, I know; I promised good looks as well as performance, but these are actually pretty easy on the eye compared to most super-functional running shoes. Viable streetwear, perhaps not so much.
But forget that shit for a minute. The Dynaflyte is, at the risk of dropping some hyperbole here, one of the best running shoes ever made. Its stability is such that your old running shoes will feel about as stable as Lindsay Lohan in comparison. Plus I noticed after a 4K run around that all the lovely cushioning comes at a minimal cost to weight – a rare thing indeed.
If you plan to just run in your new shoes, and nothing else, you’ll struggle to find a better pair for the job.
Upshot: Great for those who want a bit more stability from their running shoes. The rugged design means these’ll likely last you a good while, too.
Downside: Yes, yes, calm down – wearing these won’t fulfil your dream of one day being snapped for some lame street style blog.
Best for: Bargain Hunters
Silhouette: Under Armour Bandit 2
The first thing I noticed when starting my first kilometer was the barely-there feel to these shoes. They’re light. Very light. For that reason I expected some discomfort from a lack of proper cushioning and a poor run as a result. Neither came. In fact, after a good stint during which I lapped the local park like a boss, I started to fall in love with these shoes.
The main reason for that affection is the cost. These are the cheapest shoes on the list. And while they aren’t loaded with tech like the Boosts or the Flyknits, and certainly don’t look as good, they’re nothing short of excellent in the middle-of-the-road, neutral shoe market. If I had $100 to drop on a new pair of runners, these would be a top contender.
Choose these, if your YEEZY dreams are behind you and you don’t want to start cutting back to an eighth.
Upshot: The cost is incredible considering the quality. These shoes epitomize good value for money.
Downside: UA still aren’t quite up there with the big boys in terms of aesthetics.
Best for: Non Runners
Silhouette: adidas UltraBOOST Triple White
Have you run in BOOSTs? The feeling is actually quite unsettling at first, if you’re a seasoned runner. I tested them for the first time on a mountain road in Germany and found myself prancing like a cat with socks on. That’s because of the “energy return” I mentioned with the Y-3s. But then you get used to it, and you feel like someone’s stuck a nitro booster up your ass.
Round the park the feel was there – it’s particularly pronounced in a boxfresh pair – and I clocked the fastest lap during the day in these (yes, I know, that’s no real test; my speeds did indeed vary). With the news that adidas are dropping 11 new colorways, now’s the time to cop a pair, if you haven’t already. The Triple White I tested have a pristine, crisp beauty to them.
And for that reason, they’re best for dudes who just tell people they run but want a new pair of sneakers to complete their monochrome look. These were absolutely filthy when I finished my run.
Upshot: Packing that awesome BOOST feel, these shoes will make running fun again. Plus they’re a work of art.
Downside: You’ll literally cry yourself to sleep clutching them if you run anywhere near mud. The BOOST tech is ruined by a machine wash, too. Load up on Crep Protect.
Hit me with your grooming questions below so I don’t have to come up with column ideas for myself and can just answer them next week.
– Alex Harris
Knock, knock. Who is it? Groom service.
- Photography: Cindy Parthonnaud / Highsnobiety.com