Best Shoes For Multiple Sports
When you want to be in the best shape of your life, it’s important to make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes. With so many options out there, it can be hard to know what’s best for your feet. If you’re looking for a shoe that can do it all, check out these top picks for multiple sports.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 is designed for running, but its versatility makes it a good choice for many other activities as well. It provides plenty of support and cushioning while still being lightweight and breathable—making it ideal for running through the city or pounding the pavement on a hot summer day. But those same features also make it great for other activities like cycling or hiking on trails. The wide range of colors available means there’s something for everyone!
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2
If you’re looking for a supportive shoe that can handle any activity, look no further than the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2. The Fresh Foam cushioning system provides incredible comfort and support during both short and long distances, making this shoe perfect for anyone who loves to run! And with its lightweight design and low-profile sole, this shoe is also great
Best Shoes For Multiple Sports
When LeBron James laces up his new LeBron 18 basketball sneakers during the NBA bubble experience in Orlando the Nike design has technology designed specifically for basketball. And that’s no different than the sport-specific approach taken in the brand-new Adidas marathon shoes, the latest in road running from Asics, on-court tennis shoes from New Balance or even mountain biking from Giro, Five Ten or Shimano.
Every shoe brand has staple technologies used across all its models, but if you’re new — or returning — to a sport, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right technologies and design for your activity. Knowing what you need on your foot can improve safety and performance. For example, that linear running movement means engineers can design technologies specifically for that movement, one that wouldn’t work for someone playing basketball. And that doesn’t even touch on the intricacies of the needs of a trail runner, mountain biker or marathoner.
“If you were to compare a road running shoe versus a trail running shoe versus a tennis shoe, the average consumer may not be able to point out many differences,” says Kevin Fitzpatrick, general manager of performance footwear for New Balance, “but under the hood there are drastic variations in the way these shoes are designed and engineered.”
As technologies improve, brands merge technology concepts. Marathon runners now have the carbon fiber once found in basketball, giving them a newfound energy return. Tennis players have upper materials found in running to offer lightweight design. Trail runners have durable materials previously only found in boots.
“With distinct technical expertise across multiple specialisms, research for one product can significantly benefit the performance of another,” says Sam Handy, an Adidas design vice president. “For example, research conducted to make running shoes as light as possible can positively impact the design of basketball silhouettes. Vice versa, the ankle support from a basketball boot can inform how the brand reviews running shoes.”
Explore what you need to know about sport-specific shoes.
Most brands introduce the newest technologies in running because, not only is this the most sold style of shoes in athletic footwear, the linear movement of running allow engineers take a straight-ahead approach.
Really, what you want to look for in a running shoe is technology that meets your cushioning needs while providing the right weight for your foot. But that also means that running shoes vary widely in the type of technology offered. Take Asics, for example, with entire lines built around its FlyteFoam cushioning system that puts a focus on everything from energy return to softness to lightweight.
A good running shoe, no matter the brand, will have a high-quality cushioning system. For Asics that means blending its foam with the brand’s proprietary gel cushioning to help with impact protection in various zones of the shoe. Nike has mixed its new React foam with its famed Air offerings while every brand on the market has its own foam variation. Find a cushioning system that works for you and don’t skimp on a shoe that doesn’t offer something better than traditional EVA foam. Cushioning is where running technology gets to shine.
If you’re a runner in need of some stability support, check out brands with technology built in to offer that service. As technologies evolve, brands have reduced the weight and size of the strategies used to help support a midfoot and keep a runner stable.
The upper of a running shoe will largely focus on lightweight breathability and have less structure than other sport-specific uppers. Due to the linear movements in running without lateral stresses, this allows engineers to strip away material from the upper and put the technology where you need it, under your foot.
The length of a marathon precipitates needs for a runner. If you’re running longer and longer distances, think about shaving down the weight of your footwear, but with even more energy return.
That means the cushioning system that was perfect for your shorter runs may be too heavy to handle the longer distances. So, expect to see long-distance shoes reduce the upper material to minimalist status and then really return energy to the runner by introducing carbon fiber under the foot for lightweight energy return. Every brand will take a unique approach but expect a combination of proprietary cushioning mixed with carbon fiber, from Brooks to Nike to On. Adidas, for example, has introduced a new approach with EnergyRods, driven by anatomy testing to create a structure that mirrors the metatarsal bones of elite athletes, says Falk Brun, Adidas lead design of the Adizero Adios Pro. Their version of carbon fiber, then, comes in rods for “optimizing running economy and allowing (runners) to maintain their speed for longer.”
Long distance running necessitates a more streamlined approach to weight and high-tech option for energy return.
Traction patterns and the ability to withstand the environment make trail running shoes more robust … [+]NEW BALANCE
Trail running isn’t the same as hitting the pavement. While many of the same properties you find in a running shoe hold true for trail running, you also need to be aware of the need for better traction and grip underfoot and abrasion resistance on the upper.
Fitzpatrick says New Balance has an extensive toolkit of sport-specific technologies that will be seen in only one sport, such as the HydroHesion Rubber technology used in trail running to provide traction and durability on wet, uneven surfaces. The stable of trail running shoes, then, such as the Fresh Foam Hierro v5, offer a complete trail-specific design.
Brands such as Salomon have developed new traction patterns for mixed terrain with fresh approach to lugs on the outsole to provide traction in mud, rocks and dirt.
“When you decide to hit the trails, your shoes become one of the most important pieces of your gear,” says Erin Cooper, the brand’s run marketing manager in North America. “Trail running offers a lot of variability — it can be rocky, muddy, sandy, buffed-out, or any combination of those things — so it’s important to find the right pair for your needs that complement the trail terrain.”
The uppers, while needing to provide protection against the elements must also remain lightweight since this is still a running shoe. Look for brands to employ thin overlays for protection without providing too much added weight and turning a trail running shoe into a boot. And, of course, if water is something you’ll experience while running — whether rain or streams or puddles — be thinking about a waterproof option.
“The key factors to think about with trail running shoes are grip, protection, and durability,” Cooper says. “Different from road running shoes, trail running shoes need to have the appropriate outsole to help grip or bite the ground as you move across it. Many trail running shoes offer a variety of outsole lug patterns and depth – lugs will help you dig into the ground to keep you from sliding around on wet, muddy, uneven terrain. You always want to make sure your shoes offer you protection from the elements – you never know when you’ll be crossing a creek or leaping over fallen trees. And durability is important to think about as you’re likely to wear trail running shoes down a bit faster than you would in road running shoes.”
Mountain bike shoes put a distinct focus on rubber compounds in flat-pedal shoes. “The soul of a cycling shoe is the sole, and, as with most athletic footwear, those for mountain biking have to balance grip and durability,” says Peter Curran, Giro footwear product manager.
Giro, then, uses a compound selected for its stickiness, such as in its Riddance model, but still that last long enough that they don’t need to get replaced every month for its flat-pedal options.
Along with stickiness, mountain biking shoes need a midsole that provides support and comfort, able to absorb vibrations transmitted via the metal pedal. “The tuning of this midsole is a vital differentiator versus something like a running shoe,” Curran says. “A key to flat pedals over athletic shoes is the hardness of the midsole to resist deflection on the pedal down stroke. A running shoe would fold in half while pedaling, losing all power to the pedal and likely causing foot cramps or pain on a ride lasting several hours. Giro engineers the midsoles with enough flex to walk, but stiffness to transfer power and resist folding.”
Of course, the uppers of mountain biking shoes focus on abrasion and are resistant since they often encounter rocks, trees, brush and more.
“Mountain bike footwear differs from other sport-specific shoes due to the secure connection riders need between their shoe and pedal when navigating bumpy terrain and for power transfer while pedaling,” says Jessie Gascon, Shimano’s lifestyle gear product manager. “Shimano flat-pedal mountain bike shoes utilize a slow-rebound, sticky rubber compound combined with an oversized pedal-interface area on the sole for improved grip in all riding conditions. The sole pattern is also optimized to connect with pins in Shimano flat pedals for enhanced connection and security. Mountain bike shoes can also include protection features like a robust toe cap and raised padded ankle collar for added protection and comfort out on the trail.”
Five Ten, an Adidas-owned outdoors brand, mixes and matches Adidas technologies with the outdoor expertise of Five Ten to create sport-specific mountain biking options that have the benefits of insight from other sports. New from the brand, then, is its Trailcross model that helps bikers both on the bike and on a hiking trail. The Trailcross mountain bike shoe was designed with a toe-lift for hiking but the brand’s soles offer traction that work on pedals and also repel water.
Closely related to a lot of different sport-specific shoes, the shoe designed for training differs from a running shoe in that the construction comes with more collar height and structure around the ankle to support lateral movements. Also, expect traction patterns that can help in movement in all areas.
Think of a training shoe as a more robust cousin to a running shoe, but without all the stability you’ll find in court sports, such as basketball and tennis.
Cushioning and stability must merge together to assist in explosive movements that could take a wearer in every direction possible.
A good basketball shoe, then, will have similar cushioning technologies if a running shoe, but often expressed in a more robust manner and sometimes differentiated in zones under the foot. Take Nike’s LeBron 18 for example, releasing in September, where, for the first time an Air Max unit in the heel will match with a full-length Zoom Air bag in the outsole.
Basketball shoes will also have the ability to lock in heels and provide powerful midfoot support to keep a foot over the shoe’s footbed. The LeBron 18, then, mixes a new style of knit with an integrated cable-inspired rib cage for support.
A basketball traction pattern solves for multi-directional movements.
Basketball is a breeding ground for playing with new technologies. Often running introduces new tech, but basketball can build on them and make them more versatile. Take New Balance’s FuelCell as an example of this. What started as a way to solve for middle-distance runners has now expanded to basketball and tennis but tweaked to accommodate movements specific to that sport.
The court sports of basketball and tennis are closely related. Both need cushioning to meet the needs of the hard impacts. Both need stability that can allow a wearer to move in any direction. Both need traction patterns that fit sudden changes of direction. But where tennis differs from basketball is with a need for increased durability, as the game is often played on hard courts that quickly wear down materials.
Tennis, then, often borrows cushioning needs from basketball, but with the durability needs, a tennis shoe can get heavy. Recently designers have started borrowing from running upper technologies to reduce weight in areas that don’t meet the court but improve the durability with abrasion-resistant technologies near the toe and on the sides to ensure the shoe holds up to the pressure of play.
“The way a shoe is designed and engineered for a running moving unilaterally is not going to work for a tennis player who experiences sudden changes in direction with high lateral forces applied to the shoe,” Fitzpatrick says. “It’s important to note that even within a specific sport, needs vary greatly.”