Getting into running can be extremely cheap if you choose the right kit, and we've compiled a list of the best gear that delivers great performance for a minimal price.
To start running all you really need it a pair of decent shoes, but sweating into an old cotton T-shirt or getting blisters from a pair of regular socks is no fun at all, so we've also included some entry-level apparel to keep you cool and comfortable. If you've got some extra cash left over, we've also tossed in a beginner-friendly running watch that will help you track your progress.
This checklist covers all the essentials for when you're just getting started. Once you start tackling longer distances you might want to invest in extra gear such as one of the best running jackets and the best hydration packs, and perhaps pick up one of the best headlamps for running before dawn or after dark.
At this point, the biggest investment will be your running shoes, and we've picked out affordable models both both road and trail running. Neither of these is the absolute cheapest shoe available, but both perform well and will last you a long time with proper care. Your footwear is the only thing coming between you and the repeated pounding of the pavement, so it's worth paying a little extra for good cushioning and support, and saving some cash by picking up a very simple running T-shirt and shorts.
Cheap road running shoes
Reebok makes some excellent budget road running shoes, and the Floatride Energy Grow have some impressive green credentials as well. It launched last year, but you can now find it for much less than its list price.
Although you wouldn't be able to tell at first glance, the uppers of these shoes are made from lightweight wood-derived Lyocell, while the midsole foam is made using castor bean oil, both of which reduce dependence on virgin plastics,
It's a great, versatile shoe to run in as well. We found it particularly well suited to mid and long distance runs during our tests, and although the upper isn't quite as thin and breezy of modern 3D-printed mesh, it still keeps your feet pleasantly cool when temperatures rise. This is a neutral shoe, so if you need something with motion control we recommend checking out a budget shoe from Asics instead (last year's models are often a good bargain).
List price: $120 / £90
Cheap trail running shoes
Earlier this year Brooks released the Divide 2, meaning you can now snap up the original Divide for much less than their list price. They're still excellent entry-level running shoes if you're new to the trails
It's not the lightest and nimblest shoe around, but you're getting a lot for your money here. The Divide features a rockplate to protect your sole from stones and branches, plus plenty of foam cushioning, both of which are more commonly found in pricier models. It feels soft and snug on the foot too, and although our tester found it wasn't the best trail running shoe for soft mud, it offers the smooth and stable feel of a road shoe on mild and moderate terrain and delivers an impressive ride for the price..
List price: $100 / £100
Cheap running socks
Darn Tough makes the best trail running socks we've tested, and they're surprisingly affordable as well. We're particularly good fans of these low-cut merino wool socks, which are practically invisible, but supremely comfortable and virtually indestructible. The socks are made in Vermont and come with a lifetime guarantee, so you can return them to the company if they wear out (Darn Tough examines worn-out socks to identify potential points of weakness).
The merino wool keeps your feet warm in winter and cool in summer, and washes easily without holding onto odors. A great pair of socks for new runners, and ones you'll still be wearing in years to come.
List price: $16 / £17
Cheap sports bra
This sports bra might be budget-friendly, but it doesn't compromise on coverage or comfort, which has earned it a place high in our list of the best sports bras for running. Its long design meant our reviewer felt comfortable wearing it under a top or by itself, and its combination of rear clasp and front zip fastenings made it easy to put on and remove.
Support is rated as 'medium', but we'd rank it as 'high' for smaller breasts as it offers plenty of hold with minimal movement. There's even a phone pouch on the back with a hole for headphone cables.
List price $40 / £30
Cheap running top
This is a no-nonsense technical running T-shirt that's light, comfortable, and quick-drying. You don't get reflective detailing to ensure you're visible at night, so you'll need a light or reflective armband to keep you safe on evening or early morning runs, but it's a functional garment that's ideal if you're just getting into running and keeping a close eye on your budget.
We reviewed the men's version, but there's also a Berghaus 24/7 Tech Tee Baselayer for women (available on Amazon ) and both are available in an array of colors.
List price: $31.49 / £25
Cheap running shorts
When you're first starting out, there's no need to spend big bucks on expensive shorts. These baggies from Evadict are lightweight and comfortable, with a quick-drying outer shell and mesh inner brief and gusset.
The two zipped pockets are handy for stashing your keys and other small items, several mesh pockets, and an unusually large pouch on the front. Evadict claims you could squash a windproof jacket in here, but we're more inclined to use it for our phone. All this means it's not the lightest pair of shorts around, but having put it to the test we can safely say that the elastic waistband holds them firmly in place.
We tested the men's version of these shorts, but there's also a women's model available from Decathlon.
List price: $25 / £20
Cheap running watch
A GPS watch isn't essential for running, but it's a great motivational tool that lets you see the rapid progress you'll make as your start training regularly. There are cheaper GPS watches around, but the Forerunner 55 is one of the best GPS watches around beginners and intermediates alike. Its GPS and heart rate monitoring are both impressive, and it gives you recovery insights to help you balance training and rest when you're first getting used to working out regularly.
The Garmin Forerunner 55 also provides workout suggestions based on your fitness and previous training to help mix things up, stop you getting bored, and improve all aspects of your fitness. If you've got a specific goal in mind (such as running your first 5k, 10k, or half marathon), you can even create a custom training plan using the Garmin Connect app, which will adapt to suit your target time on the fly.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).