1. Basketball shoes. The basketball shoe has a leather or synthetic upper, a mid to high top, a rubber sole, and lots of support for the ankles. This support can come from bizarre innovations like air pumps, helium pockets, etc. Basketball shoes are as much about form as they are about function, and many pro basketball players have lent their names to a particular brand of shoe. You can get a good pair for $60 to $90, and if you want to spend more, there are limitless opportunities for you to do so.

2. Canvas shoes.The canvas shoe is of simple construction, with a canvas upper and a rubber sole. They can come in high or low tops, and a wide range of colors. Canvas shoes are cool and casual, but they don't provide much support or cushioning, so they're not very good for any athletic activities. But they're cheap: you can pick up a good pair for $20-$30.

3. Cleats. Cleats are the small spikes on the bottoms of shoes used for baseball, soccer, football, and other sports played on grassy or muddy terrain. The shoes that bear these cleats are also called cleats, and they come in a variety of styles. Metal cleats are great for traction, but they can make a lot of noise if you have to wear them on hard surfaces, they chew up a car's floormats, and they can be really nasty if they go astray and hit an opponent or a teammate. Instead, we recommend molded cleats, made from hardened rubber or plastic, as they avoid or at least diminish these hazards, and they're just as good for traction. You can get a decent pair for $40 to $70, but a lot of the soccer shoes are really snazzy and they get expensive quickly.

4. Cross-trainers. Cross-trainers are usually made with leather or synthetic uppers, rubber soles, and low or mid tops. They are intended to be useful for a wide variety of activities, such as running, aerobics, or weightlifting. Their detractors say that they are actually not useful for anything because the sneaks are too heavy for running and they don't provide sufficient support for other sports. We're not going to take sides on this, but we'll say that if you're hardcore into running, tennis, or their ilk, you should probably buy the shoes designed specifically for the activity. If, however, you like to dabble in a lot of things, cross-trainers will see you through them all well enough. A decent pair of cross-trainers will run you anywhere from $40-$70, and there are some high-end ones that go for up to around $130.

5. Hiking shoes. Hiking shoes, also known as trail shoes or hiking boots, are characterized by sturdy construction, high tops, and darker colors than most other athletic shoes (that way, they won't show dirt as much). These are designed to give you good traction on uneven surfaces, protect you from scrapes and twists on uneven surfaces, and to look rugged. A good pair will usually cost around $60-$80, but you can, of course, find them cheaper and more expensive.

6. Running shoes. Running shoes are usually made with a leather or synthetic upper, low tops, and cushioned rubber soles. The main things you want from a running shoe are good padding between you and the cold hard ground, light weight, and front to back support. Every athletic shoe store or online shoe source will have a section devoted to running shoes, and these will all be designed with the runner's needs in mind. You don't want to skimp on running shoes, and you should replace them frequently if you use them a lot, because you need good cushioning between you and the ground to avoid running-related traumas. You can get a good pair for $60-$90.

7. Tennis shoes. Tennis shoes can look a bit odd, because they often have extensive molding on the sides of the shoes. This is because they have to provide side-to-side support, due to the tendency to move laterally in tennis and other racquet sports. They have leather or synthetic uppers, low tops, and rubber soles. The lower-end models tend to look a bit like running shoes or walking shoes, and they provide less support. As with running shoes, you should probably spend upwards of $60 if you want to get a good pair, and you can spend a lot more if you want all the bells and whistles.

8. Walking shoes. These shoes are designed for comfort and overall support, and you can get a variety of features to suit your needs. Motion control shoes have rigid construction, and they keep you from pronating (bending in at the ankle when you walk). Stability shoes are more flexible, but still provide good support. Race walking shoes are lighter and more flexible. If, however, you're looking for something for casual wear and the occasional romantic stroll, just pick the one that looks good to you and, most importantly, feels the most comfortable. A good, standard walking shoe can be had for $40-$70, while motion control, stability, or race walking shoes tend to be more in the $80-$100 range.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW buy a good pair of sneakers?