Buying a pair of sneakers is not as simple as it once was, but know that the choices out there are far better than ever before. With every brand offering their own type of waterproofing, cushioning, and outsole technologies, talking about athletic footwear can start to sound like a foreign language. Let us translate, these are 10 Performance Footwear Upgrades That are Worth the Extra Cash and why.
No. 10 – Gore-Tex
Gore-Tex is a membrane that is affixed to fabric by a laminate process, sealing durable protection onto a high performance material for waterproof footwear, outwear, and accessories from a variety of brands. If you’re planning to take your sneakers out rain or shine, road or trail, Gore-Tex is a smart upgrade to consider that's worth the extra dough. We at Sneaker Report approve especially of the Brooks Running Adrenaline GTX and the Saucony Guide 6 GTX.
No. 9 – Vibram Soles
You probably already own a pair of sneakers with a Vibram sole. A brand that has been equipping climbers for the mountain for the past 70 years is still creating high-performance products for athletes. The original sole was rubber, but today’s outsoles are made up of a variety of synthetic and natural rubber compounds depending on how elastic, durable, or hard or soft the shoe demands.
One of our favorite Vibram equipped sneakers is the Saucony Xodus 3.0.
No. 8 – Reflective Hits
Wearing reflective gear no longer resembles the getup worn by air traffic controllers and construction workers. Today's reflective footwear aims to be subtle in the light and potent at night with finishes that effectively reflect light when needed without the neon mesh.
The Nike Shield Collection is built to deflect rain and winter's darker days with a weatherized finish.
No. 7 – Professional Level Insoles
For those with specific needs, like a high or flat arch, may want to look to the experts. From completely customizable insoles to a simple cut-to-fit option, a simple solution to your ailing feet could be that you aren't getting sufficient support from the insoles provided with your favorite pair of runners. The above by EZ-Fit adapt to your feet over time for an extra layer of shock absorption.
No. 6 – Performance Specific Socks
Socks can be just as important as the shoes you slip them into. Today's best performers include merino wool and synthetic blends, favored for their wicking abilities to keep feet dry and regulate temperature. A little bit more expensive than your beloved cotton pack of 12, the contoured fit and next level fibers you'll find in a performance specific shoe will feel better instantly, so we'll let you decided if it's worth the extra dollars.
If you are looking for a pair that stands out, the Brooks Nightlife should do the trick.
No. 5 – Boa Closure System
Boa technology started in the snowboarding industry and has since found its quick-zip ways onto a wide variety of products, including running, golf, trail, snow and cycling shoes. With a simple twist of the knob the aircraft-grade stainless steel tightens or loosens, which makes this great for quick adjustment when you're on the go.
No. 4 – Enhanced Sockliners
Saucony is updating their sockliners for Fall 2013 and you should too. Enhanced breathability through a larger ventilation system and a more contoured fit via cupped heel and taller edges to hug the midfoot, the layer that receives the most direct contact from your foot deserves a bit more attention this year. Your feet will thank you.
No. 3 – A Healthy Rotation Schedule
Any athlete will tell you that a healthy rotation of three pairs of shoe is standard for feeling and playing your best. Runners often own a more minimal pair for faster days and a more cushioned shoe for gentler runs, where ballers wear a variety for similar reasons. Mixing it up prevents injury and can be good for your mental state, as sometimes all you need is a new pair of shoes.
No. 2 – The Right Fit
Finding the right shoe and fit is worth going to your neighborhood specialty store to get the inside scoop. For runners, it's smart to get a gait analysis every once in a while to make sure you are putting yourself in the correct shoe as you can change over time. For soccer players and cyclist, it's super important to have the right fit which is sometimes something that has to be achieved by breaking them in at home. Whatever your sport, visit a professional every once and a while to make sure you're setting yourself up for success.
No. 1 – That Perfect Shoe
Here at Sneaker Report we provide plenty of advice for those looking for a deal, but for serious athletes it’s worth finding the right shoe for your daily grind regardless of the price point. Most performance shoes today (excluding cycling) range from $80 to $150, with a few exceptions, but sometimes handing over an extra $40 for a sneaker you are truly comfortable in is worth it in the long haul.