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Eco friendly running shoes

Eco-Friendly Running Shoes (That Are Also Vegan)

If you’ve found your way to Cool of the Wild most likely you’re already a nature lover, eager to do your part to protect the environment. In that case, welcome!

That doesn’t mean just picking up litter, but also buying responsibly. You may already buy second-hand outdoor gear and recycle your old kit but when you do need to buy new shoes to hit the trail in, opting for eco-friendly running shoes is another super positive step towards sustainable consumerism.

We often forget the environmental impact of sourcing materials and manufacturing of new running shoes. Fortunately, there are now a number of companies offering eco-friendly running shoes made from recycled materials, bio-plastics, and natural fabrics. Some are 100% recyclable and sustainable vegan running shoes that are 100% free from animal-based materials. Other eco-conscious companies donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes or take extra measures to adopt green manufacturing processes.

So, which are the most sustainable running shoes? Which are vegan-friendly? And how can you choose the right pair for your next run? We’ll answer all those questions, and more, in our eco-friendly running shoes round up.

Summary of eco-friendly running shoes

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

ProductBest forVegan?
Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG Running ShoesTrail runningYes
Veja Condor Mesh Running ShoesRoad and light trail runningYes
Nike Free RN Flyknit Running ShoeRoad and short-mid distance runningYes
Ecoalf Anthon TrainersRoad running, light useYes
Adidas Ultraboost Parley Running ShoeRoad and long-distance runningYes
Merrell Agility Synthesis X Dogfish Trail RunnersMulti-terrain and trail running, light hikingYes
Allbirds Wool RunnersLight useNo
Timberland Brooklyn EK+ Lace SneakersRoad or light trail running, dirt roadsNo
Icebug NewRun W RB9 4Seasons GTXRoad running, cold conditions, distance runningYes
WVSport Oakes Cross Running TrainersTrail running, multi-terrainYes
Brooks Cascadia 14 GTXTrail running, mixed off-road, long-distanceNo

Road vs trail running shoes

Trail running shoes

Trail running shoes are designed to be used off-road, on uneven surfaces of varying hardness. If you tend to run on fields, muddy tracks, dirt-packed footpaths, rocky terrain, or woodland trails – basically anything that’s not road – then you should be looking for eco-friendly trail running shoes.

Key features of trail running shoes include a varied tread pattern and deep lugs to ensure great grip and confidence on varied terrain. Technical trail runners often have a thicker sole and more cushioning, some models are reinforced with a metal plate that protects the underfoot from sharp rocks. For soft surfaces, barefoot or minimalist trail running shoes are a lightweight option. Other useful features include waterproof treatments and abrasion-resistant fabrics.

Road running shoes

Road running shoes perform best on hard and flat surfaces such as asphalt, running tracks, and treadmills, although they can be usually be used on unpaved roads too. If you’re an urban runner, then look for sustainable running shoes that are lightweight and flexible. Aggressive traction and tough uppers aren’t necessary for road usage. Instead, look for recycled running shoes with smooth soles and enough cushioning for repetitive hard impact.


11 eco-friendly running shoes

Often manufacturers list their shoes as trail runners or just as running shoes (usually meaning road runners) but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be used on mixed terrains. Some perform best over short distances and sprints while others are tough enough to tackle marathons. Below we’ve included the best use for each of our favourite eco-friendly and vegan running shoes.

Vivobarefoot

Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG Running Shoes

Best use: Trail running (grass, woodlands trails, and soft/dirt tracks)
Vegan

Designed for runners that like to feel the earth beneath their feet, the Primus Trail FG from Vivobarefoot is certainly worth a look. As with most minimalist running shoes, the Primus Trail FG has a zero-drop heel and little padding. They’re so light that you’ll feel as though you’re running barefoot. A removable thermal insole adds some cushioning but the Primus Trail FG can take some getting used to, particularly if you usually wear more supportive running shoes.

The Primus Trail FG is fitted with a flexible rubber sole that grips well on dry and mildly muddy terrain. The sole is thick enough to protect your feet from debris but running on stony tracks might be uncomfortable. They perform best on soft tracks including fields and dirt-packed trails.

For more information read our full review of the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Mesh uppers are made from recycled PET
  • Bloom EVA insole made from bio-based materials
  • Made from animal-free materials

Pros

  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Decent grip
  • Features a wide toe box (good for wide feet)

Cons

  • Minimal support – these shoes won’t suit every runner and take time to get used too
  • Thin sole – uncomfortable on gravel/rocky trails

Find the latest price at:
Vivobarefoot | Amazon


Veja Condor Mesh Running Shoes

Veja Condor Mesh Running Shoes

Best use: road or light trail running (dirt roads)
Vegan

A new contender in the running industry is Veja. The eco-conscious French fashion company has released their own line of eco-friendly running shoes. The Condor Mesh is 53% made from a combination of recycled materials and bio-based polymers such as banana oil, sugar cane, and rice husks.

Overall, the Condor Mesh trainers are fairly lightweight but they do have a bulkier feel, particularly compared to minimalist running shoes. There are some advantages to this though. Its 10 mm heel drop, EVA insole and chunky midsole provide plenty of cushioning ensuring maximum comfort levels for road runners. Plus, the Condor Mesh is stylish enough for regular wear.

Eco-friendly features:

  • 53% of materials in this shoe are recycled or bio-based
  • Upper fabric (Alveomesh) is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles

Pros

  • Good support
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Slightly bulky

Find the latest price at:
Veja


Nike Free RN Flyknit Running Shoe

Nike Free RN Flyknit Running Shoe

Best use: road and short-mid distance running
Vegan

Nike Free RN Flyknit is a minimalist style shoe for road running and track. Nike Flyknit recycled running shoes are made with recycled polyester uppers. These uppers are stretchy and made to fit the foot like a glove providing a sock-like feel and extra stability. The fabric is also lightweight and highly breathable, ideal for warm workouts. This flexible fabric also lets you tuck the shoes into your gym bag with ease. The company have exchanged animal-based glues for synthetic glues so the Free RN Flyknit is also vegan-friendly.

Nike recommends these shoes for short runs, up to 3 miles. However, if you’re already used to minimal running shoes you should be able to use them on longer distances.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Made with recycled polyester uppers

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Available in multiple colours

Cons

  • Sizes tend to run small

Find the latest price at:
Amazon


Ecocalf Anthon Trainers

Ecoalf Anthon Trainers

Best use: road running, light use
Vegan

Produced by the eco-conscious company Ecoalf, the Anthon sneakers are a lightweight running shoe for pavement and dirt roads. The company specialise in creating new footwear and clothing from raw or recycled materials and low impact materials with PFC-free water repellent treatments.

These sustainable running shoes have uppers and liners that are made from 100% recycled nylon, sourced from waste fishing nets found in the ocean. Plus, the python plus outsole, made with 30% recycled rubber, makes the Anthon trainers lightweight and comfortable for running.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Contains recycled materials
  • From an eco-conscious company

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Low-key design
  • Available in three sizes

Cons

  • Not the most technical running shoe

Find the latest price at:
Ecoalf


Adidas Ultraboost Parley Running Shoe

Adidas Ultraboost Parley Running Shoe

Best use: road and long-distance running
Vegan

Designed for long runs on hard surfaces, the Adidas Ultraboost Parley is of one of the most comfortable eco-friendly running shoes on this list. The shoes are fitted with a responsive Boost midsole that maximises bounce and helps you save energy while running. The uppers are made from a breathable and recycled knit fabric that stretches with your foot. This is coupled with a flexible outer sole and 10mm heel drop.

Parley for the Ocean, an environmental organisation, has partnered with the company to produce this line of Adidas sustainable shoes. The Ultraboost Parley are made using recycled plastic gathered from coastal areas.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Made with recycled ocean waste

Pros

  • Improved bounce
  • Snug fit
  • Comfortable over long distances

Cons

  • Uppers are quite thick – not ideal for warm weather

Find the latest price at:
Amazon


Merrell Agility Synthesis X Dogfish Trial Runners

Merrell Agility Synthesis X Dogfish Trail Runners

Best use: multi-terrain and trail running, light hiking
Vegan

The Agility Synthesis X Dogfish is a versatile running shoe that performs well on a mix of terrains. Its rubber outsole and 5mm lugs provide the grip you need on mid to technical trails but aren’t too aggressive for road use. Likewise, the 6 mm heel drop is a comfortable compromise between regular and minimalist running shoes. Actually, it could also double up as a lightweight hiking shoe.

The shoes feature Bloom midsoles, made with 10% algae biomass, with flex technology that allows for flexibility, improved ground connection, and extra bounce. An EVA insole takes care of comfort while a recycled TPU toe cap protects from trail debris. These sea-themed trail runners will certainly make you stand out from the crowd.

Eco-friendly features:

  • 40% recycled mesh lining
  • 100% recycled TPU overlays
  • 100% recycled laces
  • 10 % algae Bloom midsole
  • 30% recycled rubber outsole

Pros

  • High-quality midsole
  • Versatile usage
  • Comfortable
  • Bold colour design

Cons

  • None – we love these trail runners!

Find the latest price at:
Merrell


Allbirds Wool Runners

Allbirds Wool Runners

Best use: light use

Next to the Merrell Agility Synthesis X Dogfish, All Birds offer a low-key design in their Wool Runners. These are a compact and lightweight pair of running shoes to slip into your backpack. These eco-friendly running shoes are made with natural materials such as cushioning made from castor bean oil and an outsole of FSC certified rubber. The green EVA midsole, made from Brazilian sugarcane, is actually carbon negative. Additionally, the rubber sole provides extra bounce and decent grip on wet surfaces, and the upper is high-quality Merino wool. Although an unusual running shoe material, the wool is moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, and soft enough to wear without socks.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Manufactured with natural materials
  • Carbon negative midsole

Pros

  • Water repellent
  • Comfortable
  • Low-key design

Cons

  • Not ideal for hot weather runs

Find the latest price at:
Allbirds


Timberland Brooklyn EK+ Lace Sneakers

Timberland Brooklyn EK+ Lace Sneakers

Best use: road or light trail running, dirt roads

The Timberland Brooklyn EK+ is a city-style running shoe with a sock-like fit. The stretchy upper, laces, and liner are made from 100% REBOTL fabric which is made from recycled plastic bottles. The upper stretches to fit your foot while the laces make for an extra secure fit. This fabric is also highly breathable. The shoe is designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic so you can run further and faster. Plus, the outsole contains recycled rubber. These recycled running shoes are best suited to road or light trail use.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Uppers, laces, and liners are made from 100% recycled PET
  • Outsoles contain 34% recycled rubber

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Stretchy fit
  • Midsole cushioning

Cons

  • Not the best grip in wet weather

Find the latest price at:
Timberland


Icebug NewRun W RB9 4Seasons GTX

Icebug NewRun W RB9 4Seasons GTX

Best use: road running, cool or cold conditions, distance running
Vegan

The NewRun W RB9 from Icebug is designed for hardcore road runners who aren’t afraid of cold weather. They’re built with waterproof uppers and a special rubber outsole that performs particularly well in low temperatures. Even in the snow!

What’s unique to the NewRun W RB9 is its glove-friendly Boa tension system, a feature more typically seen on ski helmets and snowboard boots. These shoes also have a wide toe box and straight toe line; the roomy fit allows an insulating air layer to keep your toes warm. Plus, a cushioned midsole makes these running shoes comfortable over long distances.

Eco-friendly features:

  • The upper polyester, GORE-TEX lining, and Insock liner are made from Bluesign Approved fabrics
  • Contains recycled mesh fabric

Pros

  • Excellent traction in cold temperatures
  • Spacious fit
  • Comfortable over distances

Cons

  • Not very useful in the summertime

Find the latest price at:
Icebug


WVSport Oakes Cross Running Trainers

WVSport Oakes Cross Running Trainers

Best use: trail running, multi-terrain
Vegan

If you’re looking for vegan trail running shoes, the Oakes Cross Running Trainers from Wills Vegan Shoes are one of our favourites. Developed by world record distance runner Fiona Oakes, the Oakes Cross are built to tackle any obstacle. Vibram soles keep your feet stable on uneven and slippery paths. Ballistic-welded uppers protect from trail debris and splashes, while removable EVA insoles support the forefoot.

Anyone training for a triathlon, or anyone who hates fiddling about with laces, will love the elasticated speed laces. On the other hand, the EVA insoles may be the only soft part of this vegan running shoe. They certainly need some breaking in and barefoot-style runners will miss the flexibility.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Carbon neutral and ethically made

Pros

  • Very supportive
  • Protects from trail debris
  • Easy-use speed laces – great for trails with river crossings!

Cons

  • Need breaking in

Find the latest price at:
Wills Vegan Shoes


Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX

Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX

Best use: trail running, mixed off-road, long-distance

The Brooks Cascadia 14 GTX is one of the best trail running shoes out there. Designed with breathable waterproof Gore-Tex uppers, an extra stable midsole, and pivoting suspension system that helps you balance on uneven ground. The rubber outsole provides enough grip for wet or dry terrain making the Cascadia 14 an all-year running shoe. The finished package is lightweight and can comfortably be used for trail marathons, or even ultra-marathon distances. In a move towards sustainability, Brooks has included their biodegradable BioMeGo Insole which they claim breaks down 50 times faster than regular insoles.

Eco-friendly features:

  • Features a biodegradable midsole

Pros

  • Performs well on mixed terrains
  • Suitable for marathon distances
  • Good stability

Cons

  • A bit overkill for regular runners

Find the latest price at:
Amazon

About the author

author-beth

Originally from the UK and currently based in Turkey, Beth Carter is a full-time adventurer, former scout, and vegan traveller. When she’s not hiking long-distance trails with an oversized pack on her shoulders, you’ll probably find her peddling up and down scenic roads, or pitching a tent in a far-off mountain range. On the odd occasion, you might even see her sitting at a keyboard, coffee at the ready, typing about her latest outdoor pursuit.

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