Updated: August 27th, 2015
Can You Buy a Good Pair of Running Shoes for $16 ?

Top-shelf running shoes in 2015 from your favorite brands start at $100 and go from there.

Yes, you can save some money by buying the edition from previous years. But is there a truly great cheap running shoe ?

I went on a mission to find a “bad” running shoe – by going to Walmart and buying a pair for $16. But.. is this shoe really bad?

Check out the video for a serious, impartial review.

Guys, Frank here from www.runningshoesguru.com. Here is something a little bit different than normal. Our website receives a bunch of great shoes from companies. They send us their best models, their most current items. It made me think, “Are all the shoes we get really great? Are we calibrated wrong? Why are scanning in a lot of great reviews?” I set out on a mission to find a bad shoe, and review it. I ended up finding these guys from Walmart. I’ll tell you more about them.

I set out a few ground rules so I wouldn’t go out and buy a pair of ski boots and declare them as the worst running shoes ever:

  • The shoes had to be declared running shoes.
  • They had to be the cheapest available.

The shoe I ended up getting was the neon green and blue Starter Men’s Endurance Lightweight Running Shoes, which runs you $16.87. The shoe had a 3-1/2 out 5 star rating at walmart.com. I was curious to see if the shoe was actually halfway decent. Also, the shoe looks way better than it should for $16.87. That got me skeptical. In fact, the design of this Wamart shoe is oddly similar to the Nike Free Run 2. In fact, I’d call it just a straight up knockoff. That’s why this shoe looks better than it should. This is probably an indicator that bad things are to come.

One surprising manufacturing fact about this shoe is that it has a seamless upper, which is interesting … They managed to pull it off at the price point. Just on the surface, this shoe looks oddly good. I’m excited to test it out and see what happens.

First thing to do when you get Walmart is to pull out the plastic inserts that hold up the shape. One of these is sized for shoes up to 13; one of these is sized for shoes up 10-1/2 weight. That doesn’t make sense. They’re different. Whatever. It can’t mean anything bad?

The sole of the shoe is just foam. It’s pretty bad foam. It has some sort of coating on it that rubs off. If you pick at it, it keeps just falling off. It’s not good at all. Look at this. This is awful.

Even the stitching inside the shoe is messed up. It’s irregular and doesn’t look right. To show you guys what it should look like, here’s a pair of Saucony shoes. Notice how it’s even all across the bottom. That’s what it should look like.

It’s time to take these shoes out for a run and see how they perform in the real world. I’m going to take off the tags here and put them on. These Starter shoes from Walmart feel pretty light. I would classify them as a lightweight running shoe. The thing is, they probably don’t weigh the same in each shoe. In fact, one reviewer online said that they measured the weights of each shoe, and they were different. That’s concerning. Lacing up these shoes went pretty normal. The upper felt pretty normal, too. That made me think that maybe I’d found a cheap version of running shoes to go try out. I guess I have to remind you that the sole of these shoes is all foam and has essentially no traction. Unless you’re running on concrete or asphalt all the time, you’ll be slipping all over the place. Look at how slippery these guys are.

I’ll head out to a run and let you guys know how these shoes did.

I only managed to do five miles in these shoes. It felt like something was sawing at the edges of my feet. It was awful. The pain is on this area. I think there’s some sort of excessive thing on where they made these shoes. I developed a blister after just three miles of running. It’s ridiculous. I’ve got one on the inside, too. On both feet, just blisters all over. Why was this happening?

Here’s my foot, and here’s one of the blisters it caused. You can tell from the spot on the shoe that it flexes terribly. In fact, it doesn’t flex; it just crumples. Watch. It just creates extreme pressure points and rubs and chafes and essentially saws through your sock and give you awful blisters. The same is true for the other side of the shoe. This is where my big toe is. There’s another blister. Let me remind you, I was feeling blisters after about two miles into this run. I only managed another three before giving up. Normally, I can easily put ten miles on a pair of new shoes without any worries.

Here’s the flexibility of the Nike shoe. Notice how it’s even. Now I’m going to show you the flexibility of the Walmart shoe. It flexes but only at just a couple of points, which is just awful for your foot on the inside, just pressure points. This kind of of even flexibility is something you should see in any shoe you get. Here’s a bunch of shoes I have, and the flexibility is even all across the bottom of the shoe. I even found a pair of Nike Frees. They have over 1,000 miles on them, and I still prefer them to the Walmart shoes even though they’re that worn out. Here’s some more flexing. Even my regular shoes I walk around in seem to be better than the Walmart shoes. I’d rather run in these guys.

Normally, when we review a shoe we try to put them up to 50 miles. I don’t think these shoes will make it. I definitely know my feet weren’t going to make it. This is what the shoes look like after about ten miles. I had to call it quits after 15 because I was worried about my feet.

One last thing, these shoes had a misplaced arch support or something. They felt lumpy in odd sections, just not right.

In conclusion, I don’t recommend these shoes at all. In fact, you’re better off finding an old pair of shoes you have that just work barely enough. Don’t go out and buy these shoes. Thanks for watching.

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