If you run, you get blisters. So buy shoes that fit, wear a good pair of running socks, and hope for the best, right?
Not so fast. (That also describes your running if you’re dealing with blister problems.) Blisters from running are caused by moisture and friction. Problem number one: your feet sweat. Problem number two: your feet move.
In other words, the answer to how to prevent blisters when running is going to involve some serious shoe engineering. Your shoes need to be breathable to keep your feet dry. They need to hug the foot precisely and prevent rubbing from touch-down to toe-off. They need to be made from moisture-wicking materials. And they need to avoid seams, gaps, and anything that might irritate your feet.
If you get blisters from running, you’ll need to try various shoes depending on the location and type of blisters. But it’s a fact that some shoes are better than others for preventing blisters. In a survey form Shoekicker of 4000 runners, these were the shoe models (seven for women, seven for men) ranked highest when it came to dealing with blisters.
Best Women's Running Shoes for Blisters
Women's New Balance Vazee Pace v2, MSRP $110 Neutral Running Shoe
For solving the problem of running shoes and blisters, the survey responses point to just two strategies. The first way to reduce friction caused by running shoes is to reduce the shoe’s bulk, and so several models here are lightweight uptempo trainers that will even serve you well in a 10K race. The New Balance Vazee Pace v2, with a snappy 6mm heel-toe drop and the highest energy return of any women’s shoe, and weighing just 7.8 ounces in a size 8, definitely belongs among the racing shoes.
Women's Brooks Transcend 4, MSRP $160 Stability Running Shoe
The Brooks Transcend 4 embodies the other strategy for avoiding blisters from running shoes: prevent rubbing by putting runners in highly cushioned shoes with a high-tech, sock-like fit built from the highest quality materials. Premium cushioning comes at a price—and it feels magnificent.
Women's Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17, MSRP $120 Stability Running Shoe
Four of the top seven models for women are from Brooks, so if you find yourself telling the clerk at your local running store, “My running shoes give me blisters,” maybe you should take a close look at the Brooks rack. If you like the Brooks fit but aren’t sure about the price of the Transcend 4, a great alternative is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17. This shoe is consistently rated as one of the best running shoes in the world.
Women's Brooks PureCadence 6, MSRP $110 Stability Running Shoe
If you’re looking for a solution to running shoes causing blisters, the PureCadence 6 isn’t just another Brooks shoe. Like the Vazee Pace, it’s a lightweight uptempo shoe, but the PureCadence is inspired by the natural running movement, and it’s the highest-rated support shoe. It’s also the lightest shoe on the list, at just 7.8 ounces in size 8. And it has the lowest heel-toe drop, at just 4 mm. By using material sparingly, the fastest and lightest shoes are also the least expensive, with a list price of just $110. So: the PureCadence 6 is the lightest, fastest, and least expensive—and it’s great for blisters, too.
Women's Mizuno Wave Rider 20, MSRP $120 Neutral Running Shoe
With the Wave Rider 20, Mizuno has taken the Goldilocks approach on how to prevent blisters from shoes. It’s light enough for when you need to go fast, but with enough stability and cushioning for putting in long miles. The sole provides a smooth ride under foot, while the breathable Triple Zone Mesh upper and Ortholite Sockliner wick moisture away from your foot while ensuring a snug fit.
Women's Brooks Glycerin 15, MSRP $150, Neutral Running Shoe
When you think of blisters and running, you might wince as you think of blistering on your toes or under the ball or heel of your foot. But runners experiencing Achilles tendon issues face additional misery from blistering when their upper heel rubs against their shoes in all the wrong ways. Brooks’s Comfort Collar gives the Glycerin 15 an extra degree of cushioning that makes it a standout when it comes to ankle comfort.
Women's Asics Gel-Nimbus 19, MSRP $160, Neutral Running Shoe
The top spot on the women’s list of best shoes for blisters goes to the Gel-Nimbus 19. That’s not surprising for Asics’s premium neutral shoe, whose guiding principle is comfort. No exceptions, no excuses, just all the gentle cushioning you need, when and where you need it. This shoe is popular for both women and, as you'll see, men.
Best Men's Running Shoes for Blisters
Men's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34, MSRP $110, Neutral Running Shoe
Putting in road miles, zipping through an interval workout, preventing blisters from running shoes: is there anything the Pegasus isn’t good at? We haven’t found it yet. With a breathable Flymesh upper and smooth ride thanks to a lateral crash rail system, the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is many runners’ shoe of choice for blister-free running.
- Men's Nike Air Zoom Elite 9, MSRP $120, Neutral Running Shoe
While the Pegasus is an ultra-reliable trainer, the Zoom Elite 9 is the other side of Nike: fast. The Zoom Elite 9 has a Flymesh upper like the Pegasus, but weighs nearly two ounces less, giving you a shoe you can wear everyday that hugs your foot like it’s ten minutes before the gun in Hopkinton. If I wanted to run fast but most running shoes give me blisters, the Nike Air Zoom Elite 9 would be on my short list.
Men's Brooks Glycerin 15, MSRP $150, Neutral Running Shoe
For men whose running shoes are causing blisters, the Brooks lineup is as promising as it is for women. If you’re looking for Brooks’s fit and premium cushioning in a neutral trainer, the Glycerin 15 is an excellent shoe. It's also one of the best shoes for runners with flat feet and back backs.
Men's Brooks Ravenna 8, MSRP $110, Stability Running Shoe
The Ravenna 8, the highest-rated support shoe for men, is nearly identical to the Glycerin 15 in weight, but is nearly 30% less expensive, even as it boasts high-end materials and generous padding on the tongue and around the heel. When it comes to blisters and running, Brooks is doing something right.
Men's Saucony Kinvara 8, MSRP $110, Neutral Running Shoe
Go to a big high school cross country race, and it seems like half the fast guys are warming up in Kinvaras, and a quarter are still wearing them in the race. Saucony built the Kinvara 8 for speed, yielding a natural shoe with the lightest weight, the highest energy return, and the lowest heel-toe drop of any shoe on the men’s list. If you don’t want to be one of the guys showing off their blisters from running after the race, take a close look at the Kinvara 8.
Men's Hoka One One Clifton 3, MSRP $130, Neutral Running Shoe
Like the Wave Rider 20 for women, the Clifton 3 from Hoka One One is the one in-between shoe for men, but Hoka has taken a different route to making the Clifton 3 one of the best shoes for blisters. The Clifton 3 marries Hoka’s trademark maximal cushioning to racing-flat attitude, resulting in a shoe that’s slightly heavier than the Zoom Elite 9, but just as much at home on a flat and fast road course. This is consistently one of the best reviewed shoes--from durability to bunions. And with the new version out, you can certainly find the Clifton 3 at a discount.
- Men's Asics Gel-Nimbus 19, MSRP $160, Neutral Running Shoes
When it comes to comfort and cushioning, you have to admit that Asics knows how to go all out. As with the best women’s running shoes for blisters, the Asics Gel-Nimbus 19 is at the top of the men’s list, and it’s the top-ranked neutral trainer as well. Nearly an ounce heavier than any other men’s model, the Nimbus 19 isn’t exactly feather-light. It just feels that way on your feet.