10 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes Reviewed

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Searching for Zero Drop Running Shoes? Take a look at the top rated shoes of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store!

Running is not only meant for athletes, it is a form of fitness exercise that people engage in to keep the body healthy. In sports, athletes ensure they only run in whatever they feel comfortable in, and they try to be as light as they could possibly be. With the aid of technology, major Sports brands have been able to develop shoes that will increase the performances of athletes on the track, hence the introduction of zero drop running shoes.

Merrel Trail Glove 3
  • Merrel Trail Glove 3
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Omni-Fit Lacing System
  • Price: See Here
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
  • Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Megagrip pods increase traction
  • Price: See Here
VivoBarefoot Pure
  • VivoBarefoot Pure
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dri-Lex moisture wicking Liner
  • Price: See Here

However the firm cushioning and minimal toe-heel drop offered by the shoes have not been beneficial to athletes only but also for those who run for the fun and health benefits. Here are some of the best zero drop running shoes for every kind of runner.

10 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes


1. Merrell Trail Glove 3

Hit the running terrain in this sturdy, zero drop running shoe. Unparalleled comfort can now be experienced in the new Merrel Trail love 3. It offers excellent fit and undoubtedly sure to become your new favorite running companion. It is made with mesh and synthetic Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that features Merrel Omni-Fit lacing system that gives you a precise, glove-like fit
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Materials/Construction
The durable M Select Fresh prevents sweat and moisture from infecting the freshness the shoe. The Merrell Trail is made with antimicrobial agents that penetrate and disrupt the reproduction of odor causing microbes. Features low light visibility accents

Comfort/Fit
Designed to be worn comfortably with or without socks, runners with high arches will have a great option for a 0 drop minimalist running shoe.

Cost or Value:
The price comes in various ranges; from medium cost to high cost, but they are a good buy for their prices.
Pros
  • It is made with 0% animal products
  • Very stylish and comfortable to make you look good and feel good.
  • Designed with imported synthetic fabric
  • Antimicrobial properties prevent that stinky sneaker smell.
Cons
  • Runners with flat feet may find the supportive mid sole unnecessary.


2. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

Vibram FiveFingers is the perfect shoe for different conditions and seasons. It is flexible from the toes to the collar. You are guaranteed of maximum grip on any terrain; the design of the shoe is amazing as well. It is available in standard running shoe length.
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Construction/Mterials
The Bikila provides a unique velcro fastening mechanisms that is fast and simple; polyamide stretch fabric it is used to allow for maximum breathability. Designed to grip on slippery terrain.

Comfort/Fit
The Vibram FiveFingers are designed to be like a second layer of skin on your feet. They fit tightly around your foot and are perfect if you want to feel like you aren't wearing shoes at all.

Cost or Value:
A good price for a good shoe. The price is not too much or too demanding; just a perfect price.
Pros
  • The Vibram FiveFingers Bikila offers up to par protection for the feet
  • It is very light and flexible
  • The Bikila almost fits like a sock.
Cons
  • Has been reported to have tight toe pockets. 


3. VivoBarefoot Evo Pure

The Evo Pure is the purest in-gym and on-road barefoot performance shoe ever made by VivoBarefoot. It is designed in a way that all the things your foot doesn’t need are removed to create a shoe with less material, ensuring less friction.
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Materials/Construction
The first noticeable feature about this shoe is its light weight; the whole upper part is basically light, breathable fabric design with hexagonal mesh for reinforcement.
Comfort/Fit
The sole is automatically designed to be fully flexible and puncture resistant sole with zero drop form heel to forefront.


Cost or Value:
The cost of this amazing shoe is just the right amount. It is guaranteed to be a good investment.
Pros
  • Hexagonal upper structure shape for excellent breathability

  • With superior control and underfoot sensory clarity.

  • Made with eco-friendly materials; soles made from recycled rubber

  • Lightweight upper lamination for stitch-less lateral support.

Cons
  • Not available in a variety sizes.

4. Merrell Pace Glove 3

4. Merrell Pace Glove 3
This feather light trail shoe gives you absolute freedom with zero-drop ground contact. Its breathable mesh upper molds to the foot for an unhindered stride.
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Made with long lasting M select fresh that prevents your feet from sweating and prevents moisture from affecting the freshness of the shoe.

Designed with lug patterns that provide stability in any condition. With no logs placed beneath the arch, your foot flexes naturally for greater comfort.

Cost or Value:
Great price for great product. The shoes aren’t expensive and would definitely give you a good return on investment.
Pros
  • Sure traction on both dry and wet surfaces in even the most extreme temperatures.
  • They give an incredible barefoot feeling while running or walking.
  • Made with a barefoot style trail runner in mesh with traditional lace closure
  • They provide great balance and natural weight distribution and foot protection.
Cons
  • They are easily prone to wear and tear and
  • The fabric separates from the rubber sole easily.

5. New Balance Minimus MT10v1

5. New Balance Minimus  MT10v1
The New Balance Minimus are designed to disappear on your feet. The wide toe box will allow your feet to splay naturally and they can be worn without socks.
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Materials/Construction
The flexible synthetic mesh upper is breathable and lightweight. The Vibram outsole provides minimal cushioning but exceptional grip on slippery surfaces.
Comfort/Fit
The New Balance Minimus can be worn comfortably with or without socks. The wide toe box has plenty of room for wider feet. Cost or Value:
The Minimus costs as much as an average pair of running shoes while offering a unique design that runners with wide feet will appreciate.
Pros
  • very lightweight
  • Very good grip on slippery surfaces
Cons
  • The lack of cushioning can take getting used to
  • Not a good choice for heavy heel strikers

6. Merrell Vapor Glove 2

6. Merrell Vapor Glove 2
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is a solid barefoot running shoe that is able to function well. Its security is made to be comfortable and precise, and its flexibility is next to the natural movement of the runner’s foot. It is a great option for everyday training.
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Materials/Construction
The foot bed of Vapor Glove 2 has been integrated as one unit with the outsole; this gives the runner a minimalist and barefoot-like running experience.
Comfort/Fit
The upper part of this shoe is made from mesh and TPU materials; which offer a secure and breathable coverage for your foot.

Cost or Value:
The cost of this shoe is very affordable; doesn’t cost much and definitely worth the price.
Pros
  • This particular version of the Vapor Glove has a very lightweight nature
  • The outsole unit is made with long lasting and dependable vibram layer.
  • Its mesh lining and foot bed have been coated with the M Select FRESH odor-wicking technology
  • 100% vegan-friendly construction
Cons
  • Not as durable as some other options
  • May fit a bit large and you may have to size down.

7. Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon

7. Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon
The Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon is designed for off-road running. It has impressive grip that helps runners on both dry and wet surfaces. The lightweight construction of the shoe makes it ideal for trail running, competition and trekking.
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Construction/Materials
Many runners love the lightweight construction of this shoe and were impressed by its traction due to the Vibram MegaGrip technology in the sole.
Comfort/Fit
The shoe is flexible and designed to protect the foot at the same time. It is a perfect blend of stability and flexibility.

Cost or Value:
Slightly on the expensive side, but when compared to its functions and durability, it’s considered to be money well spent.
Pros
  • The Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon features an improved outsole unit; it features 3.5mm thick Vibram outsole that gives the right amount of traction and protection on different surfaces.
  • The shoe is designed to survive rugged barefoot running; the directional thread lugs are aggressive enough to give a powerful push-off and braking capacity in the heel area.
Cons
  • It is slightly expensive and offers little amount of breathability.

8. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4

8. Merrell Bare Access Arc 4
The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 is a running shoe that many athletes and casual users can easily enjoy. It is a neutral running shoe that is catered to minimalist enthusiasts. Its durability is excellent and the underfoot comfort is perfect, but lacks arch supports.
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Materials/Construction
The upper of the Bare Access Arc 4 comes from the synthetic Leather & Air Mesh, which makes most testers appreciate this version’s comfortable design and light nature.
Comfort/Fit
The outsole unit has deeper flex grooves in the forefoot area; this design encourages more freedom of movement. Every toe-off is now more natural because of the flexibility.
Cost or Value:
The price of the Bare Access Arc 4 is a little bit on the high side, but when you consider its durability and technology, you will be glad you chose this running shoe.
Pros
  • The durability of all the individual parts of the Bare Access Arc 4 are very dependable.
  • The minimal cushioning is able to offer comfort, protection and surface control for the runner.
  • The Bare Access Arc 4 is a perfect companion that is effective for various activities such as running, walking or  weight training.
Cons
  • Some runners will find that the shoe is to narrow for their feet.
  • There is little support for the arch, so an orthotic may be necessary for individuals with high arches.

9. Altra Instinct 3.5

9. Altra Instinct 3.5
The Instinct 3.5 is a very flexible and light design with unique styling. The upper is particularly soft and flexible to prevent blisters or hot spots. The wide shoe box allows your toes to be relaxed and comfortable as you run.
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Materials/Construction
It comes with A-Bound top layer and InnerFlex. This unique feature springs each steps taken by the users, offering more responsive strides.
Comfort/Fit
The innovative Footpod Outsole outlines the bones and every tendon in the runner's foot, providing natural responsiveness and better flexibility.

Cost or Value:
The price of the Instinct 3.5 is just around the average rate, it is definitely worth going for considering the benefits.
Pros
  • Its light weight, flexibility and firmness give runners the feeling of running  barefoot, while still enjoying the protection offered by the shoe.
  • It is pretty firm while providing a lot of room for the toes and holding the heels tight with the right amount of padding.
Cons
  • These shoes may run a bit small

10. Newton Tri Racer

10. Newton Tri Racer
Newton Tri Racer is a very light and flexible running shoe. Made of 100% recycled laces and insole covers. The upper part is made of breathable lightweight mesh. Offers runners the experience of a sock-like fit.
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Construction/Materials
The middle layer of the Tri Racer features a water drainage system. An anti-bacterial sock liner and the high-rebound EVA provide flexibility and protection.
Comfort/Fit
The Tri Racer is a good option for runners with a wide forefoot. It is very flexible and comfortable if it fits your foor type.

Cost or Value:
The price is a bit higher than the average range.
Pros
  • The toe and the heel areas of this shoe are made of high-density rubber.
  • Very lightweight yet surprisingly supportive.
  • Newton Action/Reaction design will have you springing off your forefoot.
Cons
  • The shoe feels tight at the heel area according to some users.
  • Heel strikers wont get as much benefit from Newton's unique design.

Zero drop running shoes - urban running

The Criteria We Used to Establish the Best Zero Drop Running Shoes Available

Several different factors were considered as we determined which of these shoes deserved the top spots on our list. Only shoes that we feel are worth owning are included on this list. We only focus on reviewing good products and have provided the information you need in order to make a selection that is best suited for your personal needs. Our number one choice isn’t the best option for all runner’s and you should consider your personal foot type and running style before making a purchase.

Here are a few of the different criteria that we used to make our list and that you should consider as you select a pair of shoes that will be right for you.

Are They Breathable Enough?

Depending on the materials used in the upper a shoe can be very breathable and allow humidity and heat to escape easily. This may be more important for individuals who live in warm climates, or who have a tendency to sweat.

Do the Shoes Provide Enough Protection?

Many of the zero drop running shoes we evaluated are also minimalist running shoe designs that have very little cushioning or protection. Many of the shoes on our list have very abbreviated toe caps or completely lack one. If you are prone to stubbing your toe then try to select a pair that is a bit burlier. However, not all zero drop shoes are minimalist designs. For example Altra offers models with generous amounts of cushioning and plenty of protection.

Trail running

Do they Provide Enough Flexibility?

The human foot is an incredibly complicated structure and the more a shoe allows it to move how it is naturally designed to it is a good thing. Cushioning and burly overlays often impede flexibility so try and find a shoe that doesn’t sacrifice flexibility for easier manufacturing or durability.

Perhaps you prefer a shoe that is more rigid in which case consider looking for a shoe with a stiffer outsole. Once again you may need to shy away from the minimalist designs and go for something more like the Altra.

Allowing your foot to have free range of movement and flexibility can help you be more agile and can even help to prevent some injuries.

Are the shoes too high, or too low of a profile?

A large framed runner prone to frequent injuries will probably not want to go with one of the shoes offering minimal cushioning. However, some runners will find the lack of bulk in the outsole will help support their running gait especially if they tend to land on their forefoot. Heel strikers will probably want to avoid shoes with little cushioning.

Cliffside running - zero drop shoes

Is the sole too thick, too thin, or just right?

Many of  the zero drop running shoes that you will come across will have very thin soles. It is still possible to find shoes with more cushioning from brands like Altra. Thick running soles may help to protect your knees and is especially important if you are running on hard surfaces such as pavement or concrete. If you primarily run on soft dirt trails you may be able to get away with a thinner sole. It is important to honestly assess your goals and needs as a runner and choose a shoe that is in line with your lifestyle. However, you may find that some thin soled running shoes can be just as protective as some thicker soled shoes and can offer just as smooth of a ride.

Room for the toes to move…

A common complaint with all running shoes is that they are constrictive or to narrow. Companies like Brooks, Altra, and New Balance use lasts in their manufacturing process that are well suited for most wide footed runners. Of course it will vary across different sizes and models of shoe. This is another reason why it is a good idea to try on running shoes before you buy them. However once you have found a brand that works for you, typically you can order more online with confidence that they will have a similar fit to your old pair.

If you have narrow feet and or prefer a tighter fit, North Face and Asics may be a better fit for you.

How durable are they?

It is important to consider how durable your shoes will be. Not only because it will allow your investment to last, but because a lace breaking during a race or a upper detaching from your sole could ruin your race day or leave you miles from home finding out what running barefoot really feels like! A unique aspect of zero drop running shoes is that the dense thin outsoles aren’t as prone to wearing out as the springy soft cushioning in traditional trainers. This means that if you take care of them they can outlast your other shoes. Of course some are more durable then others and that was a key consideration as we determined which zero drop shoes are the best.

Other Important Factors To Consider When Searching For The Best Pair

Are Zero Drop Running Shoes Right For You?

Although some people may tell you that everyone should be using running shoes with a 0mm heel to toe drop there are a few things you should know before committing yourself to a pair of your own. If you are already used to a more traditional 12mm heel to toe drop it will take some adjusting. It is recommended that you gradually begin using these type of shoes instead of switching over suddenly. Also be aware that there are currently limited options available for runners with high arches or who over pronate.

Road running

  • Style

Remember that the style or appearance of a shoe should not turn you away from the option that is best suited for you. In fact if you are willing to own a color option that is less popular you will probably be able to get them for a discount! Focus on looking for a shoe that meets your personal needs and that will provide lasting value. Don’t be lured by gimmicks or flashy names and consider what your biggest priorities are in running shoes. However, if you love the style or appearance of a certain shoe it could help motivate you to lace up and stay running.

  • Are you willing to own more then one pair of running shoes?

Zero drop running shoes can require an adjustment period during which you should only be running a fraction of your mileage in them. You must gradually allow your body to adapt to using different muscles and and the slight change in your form. This means that if you are already a serious runner that you should planning on having at least one more pair of running shoes.

 

  • Do you plan to use them for activities besides running?

The unique flat profile of zero drop running shoes make them a great option for a variety activities outside of running. Running shoes without any heel to toe drop can be an excellent option for walking, or professionals such as nurses who are on their feet all day. They make great every day shoes that are sometimes recommended by podiatrists for treating plantar fasciitis. Zero drop running shoes are also very popular with competitive race walkers. Race-Walking (running’s often forgotten sibling) is an Olympic sport that involves marathon distance races. Zero drop shoes are also a great option for strength training because of their flat profile which they share with weight lifting shoes.

FAQ

Some questions that many people have had about shoes with a 0mm heel to toe drop are listed below.

Q:What exactly is a zero drop running shoe?

A: A zero drop running shoe has the same amount of material beneath the foot at both the heel and toe of the shoe. There is no angle. They are designed to support a more natural running gait and discourage heel striking.

Q: What type of running are Zero Drop shoes intended for?

A: Zero Drop running shoes can be found in a variety of styles intended for different purposes. Their are models available designed for everything from ultra-marathon distance trail races to your local 5k.

Q: Why am I more sore then usual after switching to zero drop shoes from my 12mm drop shoes?

A: The change in your running form created by a lower heel to toe drop forces your body to use your muscles differently and activates some that weren’t being used previously. It can take a few weeks for your body to get used to the change.

Q:Can Zero Drop running shoes really help my feet grow stronger and improve my posture?

A: Although it is possible that these shoes could help strengthen your feet there have been any controversial claims that have been made that you should be cautious of. Buying a pair of shoes wont fix your posture or strengthen your body without your own honest effort.

Q: Who uses Zero drop Running Shoes?

A: A majority of runners are heel strikers who use traditional 12mm drop shoes. There are high level runners who have been successful using Zero Drop shoes. Many members of the Ultra running community swear by the zero drop designs. Runners like Anton Krupicka have popularized their use.


Long road - zero-drop-running-shoes

Here are some sources we used while conducting our research:

Here are some of the great sources that we have used to gather the most accurate and reliable information available, hopefully helping you make the best and most informed decision for yourself.

  1. Runner’s World, Zero Drop Shoes, Online Running Publication, March 4, 2011
  2. Podiatry Today, When Patients Ask About Barefoot Running and Minimalist Shoes, Online Medical Journal Database, May 2013
  3.  Feet Genius, Best Shoes for Plantar Fascitis, Foot Health Website

Sources

  1. Runner's World, What's the deal with zero drop shoes?, Running Enthusiast Publication, Mar 22, 2011
  2. competitor.com, Should You Run In A Zero-Drop Shoe?, Running Website, Mar 11, 2014
  3. Let's Run More.com, Why Low Drop Doesn’t Have to Mean a Minimalist Running Shoe, Online Running Publication, Nov 07, 2015
  4. Well Within You.com, Zero Drop Shoes: Running Revolution Or Another Footwear Fad?, Wellness Website, Mar 29, 2015
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