The best cheap running shoes 2022: for running on roads and trails

Collage of the best cheap running shoes
(Image credit: Future)

When money’s an issue, the best cheap running shoes will keep you running with the pack while staying firmly in the black. Trails and paths are free to use, and running doesn’t really require too much gear, so it should be one of the most accessible outdoor activities of all. But a quick scan of the price tags attached to a lot of the best trail running shoes could quickly convince you otherwise. 

But you don’t need to re-mortgage your house in the name of your favorite healthy pursuit. We’ve scoured the market for the best affordable running shoes with list prices of around $100 / £100 or below, and found plenty in that price range that perform perfectly well on roads, tracks and trails.

Many are considerably cheaper, costing $60-$80 / £60-£80, and that’s retail price, so you may even find some models for much less than that, especially during sales. Some are budget road running shoes, some of them budget trail running shoes, and some will do a bit of both. They may not have the latest carbon technology, designed to fling your feet 4% further with each step, but if you’re not planning on racing Eliud Kipchoge any time soon we think you’ll be just fine in these. They’ll also leave you a little more to spend on running shorts and running tops.

The best budget all-terrain running shoes

Asics Trail Scout 2

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Asics Trail Scout 2

A versatile, durable road and trail running shoe with all the right features

Specifications

List price: $60 (US) / £55 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 562g / 19.8oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Black & Lumo Yellow / Navy & Yellow / Navy & Orange; Women’s: Blue & Orange / Black & Pink / Black, Turquoise & Pink
Drop: 10mm
Compatibility: All-distance runs on multi-surfaces

Reasons to buy

+
Robust
+
Suitable for roads and trails
+
Toe box fairly wide
+
Secure laces
+
Cushioned
+
Grippy
+
Heel loop

Reasons to avoid

-
A little stiff at first
-
No eco materials mentioned

The Asics Trail Scout 2 is a fantastic value shoe that will tackle most surfaces with ease, apart from extreme mud. It is padded enough for roads with an EVA foam midsole, and has a good amount of grip for most of the surfaces you’ll encounter both on the pavement and on trails. 

It is a great all-rounder for anyone on a budget. The fit is true to size, the toe box is roomy, and you can get a nice snug fit with the traditional-style laces. The tongue is soft and padded and the synthetic mesh upper feels very durable and weather / puddle / stone resistant, but at the same time ventilated enough to be breathable on warmer or longer runs. 

At the rear is a Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System to reduce impact, and the 10mm drop from heel to toe is good for runners used to traditional road running shoes, which usually have a 10-12mm drop. The outsole rubber is abrasion resistant too so the Trail Scout 2 should last for many miles of running. The heel loop is a nice feature to get the shoe on and off easily too.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel V5

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel V5

A light, flexible, bouncy road and trail running shoe that will carry you over any distance on any terrain

Specifications

List price: $70 (US) / £85 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 508g / 17.9oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Red / White; Women’s: Black / Gray / White
Drop: 8mm
Compatibility: Any distance, multi-terrain

Reasons to buy

+
Also comes in wide fit
+
Light (but the fit is small)
+
Bouncy ride
+
Grippy

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit feels a half size small
-
Top end of budget pricing
-
High heel may rub some runners

The New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel V5 is nudging the top end of the affordable shoe price range but for this you get a lighter, more flexible shoe straight from the box. 

The fit is slightly small, we advise going up a half size so your toes don’t brush the end when running downhill. The drop is a nice, middling 8mm from heel to toe so even if you’re used to a more traditional trainer with 10-12mm drop you will probably be fine to use these without straining your lower legs. 

It’s great that it comes in a wide fit too – your toes can splay out naturally in these. The lacing and tongue is comfy with no bulky seams to rub anywhere and the mesh upper is breathable, but some runners find the heel rubs high on the ankle. 

The EVA foam midsole is bouncy for a propulsive ride. It’s good to see that 3% of it is bio-based content (made from plants or renewable materials); it’s not a great deal but it’s better than 0%. The AT Tread outsole works well on both roads and trails to give a very versatile running shoe. 

Columbia Escape Pursuit

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Columbia Escape Pursuit

A road-to-trail shoe with a good balance of cushioning and ground feel for use in all conditions on all terrain

Specifications

List price: $110 (US) / £90 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 522g / 18.4oz
Colors: Men’s: Black; Women’s: Light Blue / Blue
Drop: 5-8mm
Compatibility: All distances, all terrain

Reasons to buy

+
Average weight
+
Cushioned
+
Responsive
+
Bouncy ride
+
Grippy

Reasons to avoid

-
Top end of budget pricing
-
Hard to lace quickly
-
No eco-friendly materials mentioned

The Columbia Escape Pursuit is at the top end of the price range but they have a lot of excellent qualities that make this higher cost worthwhile. 

First of all the fit is true to size, the weight is average, the toe box is regular and the feel is very comfortable straight from the box. The laces are a little tricky to lock down securely as the middle two pass through a ribbon rather than a hole, but the resulting fit (Columbia call this their Navic Fit System as it fits securely over your mid-foot navicular bone) is very comfy once you have them in place. 

With the bouncy Techlite+ midsole there’s a nice balance of padding and flexibility; you can feel the ground beneath your feet so they can respond quickly but you are also protected from impact and uneven terrain. The AdaptTrax grip is good in all weathers, wet or dry, with 4mm chevron-shaped lugs providing an impressive grip on all surfaces apart from super-deep, claggy mud. 

There’s also a helpful finger / thumb loop and a lengthened heel at the rear so you can get the shoe on and off easily. 

Hi-Tec Spirit

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Hi-Tec Spirit

A heavy but robust pair of comfy, cushioned road running shoes with enough grip for easy trails

Specifications

List price: $55 (US) / £50 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 645g / 22.8oz
Colors: Silver-gray
Drop: 10mm
Compatibility: Roads and light trails

Reasons to buy

+
Vintage look
+
Wide fit toe box
+
Natural suede upper
+
Durable
+
Secure laces
+
Cushioned and comfy
+
Grippy

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff feel to sole
-
Not super bouncy
-
No recycled materials mentioned

Wow, look no further than the Hi-Tec Spirit if you want a classic running trainer. With white, gray and silver suede-and-mesh uppers they’re a fantastic blast from the past, with a wonderfully low price tag to match. 

While over 100g / 3.5oz heavier than most other running shoes, the suede upper is robust and comfortable, while the mesh makes them more breathable for running. The laces would be easier to pull through if they were laced the other way around, which is easy enough to do yourself, and once pulled tight you get a nice snug fit around the top half of the foot. 

The mid-foot is roomy and toe box is wide, which is great for people with wide toes and high volume feet. They have an EVA midsole for cushioning and shock absorption which isn’t as bouncy as top end running shoes but provides enough for a comfy run.

The rubber outsole is formed in a zigzag-like roof tiles pattern up front for good propulsion and traction on wet and dry roads and enough grip for light trails but not super deep mud – not that you’d want to get these vintage trainers muddy!

The best budget road running shoes

Kalenji Jogflow 500.1

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Kalenji Jogflow 500.1

Super low-priced, very light road shoes designed for runs up to 10k in distance

Specifications

List price: $40 (US) / £35 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 426g / 15oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Blue / Gray / Dark Gray/ White; Women’s: Peach / Light Blue / Light Olive / Dark Gray / Black
Drop: 4mm
Compatibility: Road up to 10k distance

Reasons to buy

+
Many colors
+
Toe box fairly wide
+
Secure laces
+
Cushioned and comfy
+
Breathable
+
Eco-designed elements

Reasons to avoid

-
Too breathable for very cold, wet winter runs
-
Laces a little skinny
-
Size slightly large

Kalenji Jogflow 500.1 Running Shoes are a beginner or budget runner’s dream. At only £35 / $40 they are the lowest-priced running shoe in this test yet they punch well above that price point with a lot of great features. 

Firstly, they’re extremely light at only 426g / 15oz which is well under average for a running shoe and helps you to pick up your feet faster and more easily. The toe box feels wide despite the pointy design, but this may be because the fit comes up slightly on the large size so you may wish to try a half size smaller. 

The laces, although skinny, do create a secure fit. We tend to prefer a wide lace to avoid potential cheese-wire effects, but the tongue is padded enough to avoid this unless you tie them really tight. 

The EVA foam in the midsole is bouncy enough for the 10k they are designed for, they have a 4mm drop heel to toe (transition slowly if you’re used to traditional trainers with 10mm drop) and the Flex H sole is grippy on wet and dry pavements and roads. 

The insole is 29% recycled and the uppers are 56% recycled which is great, but the latter are a very breathable mesh so this may not be the shoe for cold, wet winter runs. They’re also available in a wide range of colors to suit all tastes.

The best budget trail running shoes

Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail

A great value, robust trail running shoe with excellent grip and enough padding to take care of your feet on an impressive range of terrain types

Specifications

List price: $75 (US) / £70 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 592g / 20.9oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Blue; Women’s: Blue
Drop: 8mm
Compatibility: Long distance, off-road running over soft, muddy ground

Reasons to buy

+
Very grippy 5mm lugs 
+
Comfy padded tongue
+
Snug fit laces
+
Cushioned
+
Responsive
+
Bouncy

Reasons to avoid

-
Might not fit all foot shapes
-
Not designed for roads
-
A little heavy
-
Slightly long fit
-
Not wide-fit toe box
-
No eco-friendly materials mentioned

At half the price of the average trail running shoe in today’s market, the Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail has a lot going for it. 

Firstly the grip – widely-spaced, deep 5mm lugs in a chevron design similar to the Salomon Speedcross versions 3-5 (but not the 6’s, which were updated for this fall!). These bite into deep mud and soft ground with excellent traction and shed it quickly once you’re on to less gloopy paths. 

The cushioning is Kalenji’s own and it allows you to feel much of the trail beneath your feet without too much padding to block the response. You can run on roads for short distances in these but it’s really a waste of those impressive grips; these are mainly for off-road use. 

The laces ensure a very snug fit to cope with terrain at all angles; there’s no chance of your foot moving about inside this shoe. The only downside from the more expensive trail running shoes that we can see is that they weigh slightly more than average, by approximately 35g on each foot. They come up ever so slightly long so you may want to order both your usual size and a half size smaller, then keep the pair that fits best. If this shoe fits comfortably, it’s an absolute bargain – buy immediately!

The best budget eco-friendly running shoes

Adidas Terrex Soulstride

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Adidas Terrex Soulstride

A robust, good-value shoe that’s comfy and padded enough for roads and but with some grip for trail running too

Specifications

List price: $95 (US) / £85 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 636g / 22.4oz
Colors: Men’s: Black / Black & Red / Black & Gray / Gray / Navy; Women’s: Black / Navy & Pink / Gray
Drop: 10mm
Compatibility: Roads and trails in most conditions

Reasons to buy

+
Robust
+
Comfy
+
Grippy
+
50% recycled upper
+
Bouncy ride
+
Wide toe box

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

The Adidas Terrex Soulstride is very comfortable straight from the box with a padded tongue and traditional laces that keep your foot snug. 

The toe box is fairly wide but this is quite a big-feeling shoe so you might want to order both a half size smaller plus your regular trainer size, and send back the one that fits least well. 

This large sizing might go some way to explaining the weight – this shoe is 100g / 3.5oz heavier than average. Despite this there’s a comfy, very bouncy ride from the EVA midsole and sides of the outsole come up high around the upper for added stability if you wish to take this shoe off road. 

The Adidas Traxion grip is designed for great traction on both roads and easy trails, with its 3mm lugs are widely spaced to allow mud to drop out. The drop from heel to toe is 10mm so this is perfect for those used to traditional road running shoes which usually have 10-12mm drops. One feature that we’re glad to see is that the upper contains a minimum of 50% recycled material.

hylo Light

(Image credit: Claire Maxted)

hylo Light

A super eco-friendly shoe making the running world a better place

Specifications

List price: $145 (US) / £110 (UK)
Weight (pair UK 6.5): 492g / 17.4oz
Colors: Men’s & Women’s: Gray / Black / Blue / Khaki / Sage / Sand / Slate / White
Drop: 9.5mm
Compatibility: Short road runs

Reasons to buy

+
Very light
+
Very eco-friendly
+
Recyclable
+
Shows carbon footprint
+
Vegan
+
Firm ride

Reasons to avoid

-
Top end of budget pricing
-
Need breaking in
-
Tongue could be more padded
-
Look so nice you don’t want to get them sweaty and dirty!

It’s worth mentioning the hylo Light running shoe in here because while it’s not quite the same as the running shoes we’re used to testing, the company is very much a leading light in sustainable, environmentally-responsible technologies that hopefully more and more brands will start to adopt. 

The composition is a fascinating list of corn, algae, plants and organic cotton, plus natural renewable rather than synthetic rubber for the outsole. This mix of more recycled and renewable materials allows hylo to reduce the amount of EVA and polyester it uses, and the company claims the shoe’s carbon footprint is 6.56kg CO2e (e stands for emissions) which is lower than the average of 8-16kg (source: We Can’t Run Away From This (opens in new tab) by Damian Hall, published by Vertebrate, a must read if you fancy finding out more ways to be even more eco-friendly). 

Running-wise, this shoe reminds us of old-school PE plimsolls, or casual shoes; they’re more like shoes than trainers and need a bit of breaking in. They’re cushioned nicely but not super bouncy like say a Hoka shoe, and they feel a little clunky until you’ve run a mile or so in them. 

With a 9.5mm drop heel to toe they’re safely in the traditional road trainer zone and we highly recommend them for road runs and park runs. (Note: the list price went up while we were reviewing these shoes, but it remains possible to find them for under $100 / £100.)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best budget running shoes
Budget running shoePriceDropBest use
Asics Trail Scout 2$60 (US) / £55 (UK)10mmAll-distance runs on multi-surfaces
New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel V5$70 (US) / £85 (UK)8mmAny distance, multi-terrain
Columbia Escape Pursuit$110 (US) / £90 (UK)5-8mmAll distances, all terrain
Hi-Tec Spirit$55 (US) / £50 (UK)10mmRoads and light trails
Kalenji Jogflow 500.1 Running Shoes$40 (US) / £35 (UK)4mmRoad up to 10k distance
Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail$75 (US) / £70 (UK)8mmLong distance, off-road running over soft, muddy ground
Adidas Terrex Soulstride$95 (US) / £85 (UK)10mmRoads and trails in most conditions
hylo Light$145 (US) / £110 (UK)9.5mmShort road runs

How we test the best budget running shoes

All of the shoes reviewed here were put through their paces on roads and trails, with our tester running in a variety of conditions and over different distances, to see how they felt on the feet and performed in the field.

Choosing the best budget running shoes

You may be looking for affordable running shoes but you still don’t want to compromise too much on comfort, performance and durability, so there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to making your choice (maybe even how eco-friendly the shoes are might be one of your priorities). 

If you’re just working out how to start trail running, it's important to invest in a shoe that works for you. Because choosing the wrong pair could result in a trail running injury. If your local trails are steep, rocky and often wet, then prioritize a shoe with good lugs offering great grip. If you’re going to be doing a bit of road running en route to your nearest trails, perhaps choose a shoe with a less aggressive outsole that can cope well with both sealed and unsealed surfaces.

So, before you buy, consider the following...

Kalenji Jogflow 500.1 Running Shoes

Kalenji Jogflow 500.1 Running Shoes do not suit all shapes of feet, but if they do suit yours then they’re an absolute bargain (Image credit: Kalenji)

Fit and sizing

Why you can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

We’ve tried to give an impression of the sizing and foot-shape suitability of each shoe in our reviews to help you select one or two pairs that might fit the best. Try before you buy, if possible, while wearing your favorite trail running socks to really find out which fit the best.

Asics Trail Scout 2

Asics Trail Scout 2 running shoes have a grip that suits most terrain except for deep mud (Image credit: Asics)

Grip

This depends on where you do most of your running: shoes with very deep lugs (like 5mm+) are great for off-road running on soft ground and sloppy mud; 3-4mm are great for road-to-trail shoes where you will have a mix of terrain; and 1-2mm lugs or just smooth rubber patterns on the outsole are best for road running where you don’t need to bite into the ground but still need traction to move forward without slipping, especially in the rain. (See also: Running in mud.)

Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail

Kalenji Evadict XT8 Trail shoes’ cushioning allows you to feel much of the trail beneath your feet without too much padding to block the response (Image credit: Kalenji)

Cushioning

This also depends on where you want to run. Go for more padding for tarmac pavements, roads and hard-packed gritty tracks, but you will need less on softer ground and uneven trails so that your foot can flex and respond quickly and easily to the terrain underfoot.

Drop / stack

This is the height difference between the heel and toe of the shoe, usually expressed in millimeters. Many more traditional road running shoes have around 10mm heel to toe drop so you’re running on a sort of squashy heel. If you’re used to this, suddenly changing to a 4mm drop shoe loads your lower leg differently and puts a strain on your Achilles tendons and calf muscles which can lead to injury. Find out what drop your current running shoes have and don’t lower the drop by more than a few mm at a time. Rotating new and old shoes, with lower drop shoes worn for a gradually increasing number of miles is the safest way to do this. For more information on this top see: What is drop on running shoes?

Columbia Escape Pursuit

The laces on the Columbia Escape Pursuits pass through a ribbon rather than a hole (Image credit: Columbia)

Lacing

Most budget running shoes have a traditional flat or semi-flat lace with a small amount of give in it to achieve a secure fit. Some now use skinny laces (not as easy to use with running gloves on), some have stretchy laces (as with Marmite, some love them, some hate them). Laces are easy to change if you prefer a different sort. 

Weight

Some budget running shoes can be a bit heavier than the highly priced ones, but not always. As with all running gear, weight is a fine balance between the super-light materials that enhance speed and reduce effort, and durability for the many miles you want to get out of your running shoes. It’s quite a good idea to train in a heavier, more robust pair and then whiz along in a lighter shoe come race day, provided you know they fit just as comfily. 

hylo Light

The hylo Lighs are impressively breathable, which also means they aren’t great in really cold weather (Image credit: hylo)

Breathability

The more or wider mesh the shoe has, the more breathable it is likely to be, which is great if you generally run in hot places or get very sweaty feet. It will also drain well after running through puddles. A very breathable upper is less welcome in the cold and snow, a more water resistant material is good for this type of climate or weather.

Why don’t I want a waterproof running shoe?

Usually the water just gets in over the top and then can’t get out, resulting in trench foot and a very heavy, squelchy shoe. For most situations it’s best to have a non-waterproof road-to-trail running shoe so the water can drain out. Instead, waterproof socks are a good idea for cold or snowy weather but these aren’t always as comfy as your favorite running socks. 

Eco-friendliness

It’s really fantastic to see many more eco-friendly, recycled and sustainable materials and manufacturing processes being used in the making of running shoes. We have indicated where brands have stated as such, and highlighted when they have not mentioned it. This doesn’t mean the brand is not doing anything environmentally friendly, we just want to encourage this as something brands should be proud of and list as part of the benefits of their products so we can all make a more informed choice.

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.