These days everyone knows about Nike, Brooks, Asics, and New Balance running shoes. What you might not know is that there are several newer companies that have great philosophies and are putting out spectacular shoes. Here is a list of 5 running shoe companies that you might not know about.
Altra has grown in popularity since they were founded in 2009. Golden Harper who has over 30 years in the running specialty industry wanted to design shoes what had a wide toe box that allows more room for your feet to spread out. Altra also provides a zero heel drop in their shoes, claiming that it puts your body in a more natural posture. They have an extensive line of shoes from minimal cushioning in their Instinct 1.5 to their max cushion shoes, the Paradigm. Altra believes in educating their customers on running with proper form and includes a booklet with each pair of shoes on how to run with proper form. Altra is one of my personal favorites.
Topo Athletic is another shoe that uses the wide toe box. Founder Tony Post left his job as the CEO of Vibram (maker of the Fivefingers) to start his own company about 2 years ago. Topo Athletic makes shoes with a secure heel, relaxed instep area and loose toe box. Some of their shoes incorporate the Boa lacing system for quick micro-adjustments. Their most popular shoes include the Runduro road shoe, MT trail shoe, and the Sante cross training shoes. Topo Athletic wants to provide a natural experience where you feel connected to the ground.
Hoka One One is known for their cushion. Founders Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermoud started Hoka One One in 2009. Their vision was to create a shoe that would help alleviate fatigue, impact, and muscle strains so runners could just enjoy running. They produce light weight oversized shoes with plenty of cushioning. Some of their top sellers include the Bondi 3, Clifton, Conquest, and Huaka. If you want a shoe that feels like you are running on clouds, Hoka might have a shoe for you.
Newton is another company that you might not have heard about. Newton was founded by Jerry Lee and Danny Abshire. Newton is best known for shoes with lugs underneath the ball of your foot. They provide what Newton calls a “pop sensation.” The lugs recede into the shoe and provide a trampoline type effect (no, it won’t make you jump ten feet in the air). Newton makes shoes that are light and responsive with a low heel drop. Some of Newton’s most popular models include the Gravity III, Distance III, and Motion III.
One of the newest members in the US market is Salming. They were founded in 1991 in Sweden with the idea of incorporating a holistic approach to making running shoes, but did not start selling in the US until September 2014. They want to provide a light weight shoe without any of the “gimmicks or factory add-ons.” Salming utilizes a 4D Running lab, which is unlike any other running lab in the world. That is where the designing of their shoes takes place. Their shoes are light weight and comfortable so you can just get out and run. Salming has four models; the Distance, Speed, Race, and Xplore.
There are many other great shoe companies that I could add to this article. Let me know what some of your favorite lesser known running shoe companies are and maybe I will mention them in “5 great lesser known shoe companies you haven't heard about, part 2.”