13 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes Reviewed
Running keep your body healthy and increases your overall endurance and performance. Thanks to updated technology, many sports brands have been able to develop shoes that are meant to increase the overall performance of runners, which is where the best zero drop shoes come in.
These shoes offer firm cushioning and minimal toe-heel drop, which is beneficial for runners who enjoy the unique natural running “feel” they deliver, along with the health benefits they provide.
We've compiled a list of the top 0 drop running shoes available on the market today, so read on to find the perfect pair for you!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Excellent energy feedback
Quilted knit upper
13 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes
1. Altra Torin 4.0
Excellent energy feedback
Quilted knit upper
Many runners think that zero drop means no support like a barefoot running shoe. However, Torin 4 sets out to prove that’s not always the case. While it has a 0 mm zero, it is also packed with supportive stability features to provide you with extra cushioning. Users find this design comfortable, lightweight, and perfect for long journeys.Read more
The most notable feature of this design is that it has a stack size of 26 mm. This means that it has 26 mm of space between your feet and the hard concrete that can really anger your lower back and joints. It's made from Altra’s proprietary Quantic midsole that offers excellent energy feedback without hindering your full range of motion.
Users also like that the upper provides padding in the heel and the tongue, and it is made from soft materials. The inside of the upper is made for a soft quilted knit that won’t rub your feet raw, even when worn all day long. The outside is composed of a durable mesh that promotes airflow and wicks away moisture from the surface.
If you are in the market for something that comes from a trusted brand and is made from materials built to last hundreds of miles, this is one of your best options. It provides runners with optimal comfort in its Quantic Midsole and is lightweight enough that it won’t weigh your down.
2. Merrell Vapor Glove 4
Hyperlock TPU film heel counter
If you are in the market for something lightweight and simple for road running or general training at the gym, the Vapor Glove 4 is a great choice. It boasts a low profile that sits low down on the foot, and it is composed of lightweight and easy materials that feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all!Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it boasts a thin and breathable mesh upper with a unique and subtle mountain landscape design. Users love that this simple upper comes in a wide variety of subtle and eye-catching color options. It also boasts flat laces to help promote lockdown so it doesn’t shift around on your feet as you run.
The rubber outsole is composed of Vibram rubber that has gentle grooves to grip and is enhanced by a tacky film that is perfect for gripping slick sidewalks in the rain. It also has a Hyperlock TPU film heel counter that ensures that this design stays firmly in place on your foot without cutting off circulation.
This is a great option for those that are in the market for something that is lightweight and versatile, you will want to check out this updated design in the Vapor Glove line from Merrell. Due to the moisture-wicking and antibacterial treatment to the upper, you can even pop these trainers on without any socks!
3. Brooks PureCadence 7
BioMoGo DNA midsole
Breathable knit/mesh upper
Very stiff heel
Brooks is a brand known for excellent comfort and stability when running on hard surfaces, the PureCadence 7 is no exception to this rule. It is packed with features that help you improve your gait as well as keep your feet padded and comfortable. It isn’t the lightest shoe on our list, but it is one of the most comfortable to wear all day long.Read more
The BioMoGo DNA midsole is what makes this design really stand out from the pack. The proprietary midsole materials actually adapt to your running style to provide you a little bit of extra support where you need it most. Plus, it is lightweight and flexible so that you can really feel the ground under your feet without putting too much strain on your joints.
Runners also love that the upper is composed of a blend of sock-like knit materials as well as mesh materials. The mesh materials are utilized on the top of the foot around the toe box to help release hot air to keep your feet cool and dry. The woven knit is placed inside as well as along edges to prevent blisters and chafing.
If you hate the idea of a drop between your heel and toe box, but you don’t want to give up cushioning that protects your joints, the PureCadence 7 from Brooks is worth checking out! Runners love that this style is comfortable, lightweight, and incredibly versatile.
4. Nike Flex Fury 2
Flywire knit cables
Lots of color options
Contours to the shape of your foot
Lots of color options available
Sizing runs small
These are one of the more affordable running shoes on our list, which is why they are at the top of our list. These Nike zero drop shoes offer great features, are durable, and will keep your runs comfortable; so we are sure you will love them.Read more
The breathability of these low drop running shoes are up to par to most of the shoes on our list thanks to their upper mesh and flywire cables. They will keep your feet cool and dry and prevent your feet from overheating, no matter how far you are running.
While you can rely on these shoes for daily protection, they aren’t going to offer you great protection anywhere off the road. Some users also experience chafing and blisters during their break-in period, so make sure to keep that in mind.
These zero drop trainers are comfortable, flexible, and supportive. They utilize dual-density midsoles that provide you with a custom fit by contouring the shape of your foot.
These 0 drop shoes are highly durable and made of high-quality materials. They have a breathable mesh upper and durable rubber outsoles. This option is not the most durable running shoes on our list with the biggest issues lying with their inner and lower soles. If you keep these on the road they seem to hold up okay but don’t risk taking them on trails or off the road if you want to get the most out of them.
5. Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 v2
Removable insert slides around
Inov-8 makes great trail trainers, but they also like to dabble in urban running as well! What we liked most about the Bare-XF 210 v2 is that it boasts slim and lightweight features that offer you slight support while allowing your feet to really breathe. If you like to stick to sidewalks, this design is one of your better options.Read more
The thing that users love most about this design is that it has a super-wide frame that won’t hug your feet too hard. Users love that it has a wide toe box that won’t jam your toes at the end or cock your paws in uncomfortable positions. The mesh upper promotes airflow so that your feet stay cool and comfortable as well.
The outsole is composed of a tacky rubber that sticks to the pavement. By utilizing a tacky material, it makes the Bare-XF 210 v2 perfect for sidewalks that are a bit slick after a rainstorm. It also has a very small amount of cushioning to absorb the impact from the ground without minimizing your full range of motion.
If you strictly stick to roadways and treadmills, this design is one of your best choices. It boasts a wide frame that won’t cramp your feet in tight spaces and allows a good deal of airflow to keep you cool and dry. We also love that it comes in quite a few sporty color options to match your personal style.
6. Xero Shoes Speed Force
Breathable mesh upper
As the name suggests, this design from Xero Shoes is made for those that want to travel fast. However, many users have adopted this design as their go-to pair for a variety of workouts, such as weight training, CrossFit, or even just for running errands. It may cost a little bit more than most, but we feel that it is well worth it!Read more
What makes this design stand out from the pack is that it is one of the most flexible designs out there on the market. If you were so inclined, you can roll this trainer up into a ball and hold it in the palm of your hand! In fact, these are almost the lightest pair of trainers that are currently out there on the market.
Users love that the frame of this design is wider than most trainers, which allows your foot to spread naturally inside. The upper is composed of a lightweight mesh material that wicks away moisture, and also helps to keep your feet high and dry on those hot summer days.
If you are on the market for something that is the perfect pair for your versatile workouts throughout the week, you can’t go wrong with Speed Force. It is insanely lightweight and flexible so you will really be able to connect with the ground beneath you, whether you're running, cross-training, or lifting weights!
7. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
Excellent foot protection
It is very light and flexible
Almost fits like a sock
Comes in different colors
Has been reported to have tight toe pockets
Vibram FiveFingers is the perfect shoe for different conditions and seasons. It is flexible from the toes to the collar. You are guaranteed maximum grip on any terrain; the design of the shoe is amazing as well. It is available in standard running shoe lengths.Read more
The Bikila provides a unique velcro fastening mechanisms that are fast and simple; polyamide stretch fabric it is used to allow for maximum breathability. Designed to grip on slippery terrain.
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.
While the lack in other areas, like durability, these have everything that you need when it comes to flexibility. In fact, they are so flexible you can fold them up—so you better believe you will get to enjoy every bit of each stride with these shoes. The outsole of these running shoes is really durable thanks to their TC1 rubber and their effectiveness thickness. The shoe’s outsoles also have grooves for excellent grip and traction—and it will definitely hold up to the test of time.
Durability is rarely a strong point in barefoot shoes, and this pair does suffer in terms of durability. They are designed to last if you are able to avoid any rocks, bumps, and technical terrain but they are not a good option for long distance runners.
8. New Balance Minimus MT10v1
Very good grip on slippery surfaces
The lack of cushioning can take getting used to
Not a good choice for a heavy heel striker
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. At the end of the day, these are really flexible, comfortable, and breathable so don't blow these off without checking them out first.Read more
The flexible synthetic mesh upper is breathable and lightweight. The New Balance Minimus can be worn comfortably with or without socks. The wide toe box has plenty of room for wider feet.
These running shoes will provide you with a good bit of protection--you can even wear them without socks if you want to. They will ensure to keep you protected from outdoor elements so you can focus on your running.
If you want a flexible pair of running shoes you will like these. They are really pliable and allow for a full range of motion so you can get that barefoot feel every time. The Vibram outsole provides minimal cushioning but an exceptional grip on slippery surfaces.
Although these are not the most durable zero drop running shoes on our list, you will find that they are definitely built to last.
9. Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
Can handle trails
Roomy toe box
Sizes run on the smaller side
Inov-8 is known for its incredible outdoor running shoes, and their Terraclaw 250 model does not disappoint! These barefoot running shoes are perfect for neutral runners and they are definitely built to last you for the long haul. If you want a comfortable pair of shoes that will allow for optimal flexibility, you will love these shoes!Read more
When it comes to breathability, these shoes provide excellent ventilation. The upper is made of breathable mesh that allows for optimal airflow and water drainage. In terms of protection, these shoes feature excellent traction and grip. They also effectively absorb shock—even though they don’t have a rock plate. However, it is important to note that they do have lugs so not having a rock plate does affect their overall comfort. Their secure fit will protect you from chafing and blisters from forming.
The zero drop trail running shoes provide excellent flexibility for those of you enjoy trail running. Their outsole features Metaflex grooves and their flexible RVA foam.
The outsole is made of Dual C-rubber—which makes them incredibly durable and built to last. They provide excellent grip and traction on trails and wet terrain thanks to their 5mm lugs. The platform on the forefoot is nice and wide as well and the outsole definitely provides excellent energy return.
If you are looking for a durable pair of zero drop running shoes, you will love these. These 0 drop shoes are built to take on rocky and technical terrain and even their midsole holds up to the test of time.
10. Brooks PureFlow 7
Has a break in period
The Brooks PureFlow 7 zero drop shoes with cushioning are really sleek and stylish. They are the perfect pair of shoes for those of you who like minimalistic barefoot running shoes without sacrificing style. They are comfortable, durable, and incredibly flexible—and they are absolutely worth every cent they will cost.Read more
The woven upper of the shoe features a seamless design that allows for optimal ventilation and airflow. Thus, these running shoes are really breathable, although they are not the most breathable on our list of shoes. The rubber pods on the outsole allow for excellent flexibility and better traction. The heal is also perfect for heel strikers and allows the shoe to provide excellent arch support and shock absorption.
These running shoes are really flexible and allow for a full range of motion with each and every stride. These shoes will support your natural stride and are really lightweight and well cushioned.
The outsole is made of blown rubber and feature textured pods for the optimal tread. The pods are also made of blown rubber and they are really flexible. The heel of the shoe is reinforced, making these shoes a perfect option for runners who are heel strikers.
These are perfect for easy runs, but they will wear down quickly if you take them off the road. Make sure to use them on the right terrain and you will be able to get hundreds of miles on them.
11. Altra Escalante
Durable and lightweight shoes
Much better protection than Vibram shoes
Many attractive colors
It’s relatively hard to find the right size
The Altra Escalante running shoes are really comfortable and really lightweight. They are available in lots of different colors to choose from and since they are lightweight and breathable you can expect that you will stay comfortable in them no matter how long you run.Read more
While these are not the most breathable or well-ventilated pair of shoes on our list, you will find that they definitely keep your feet cool and dry at all times. Despite being zero drop shoes, there’s a little amount of cushioning which adds more comfort. The shoes are extremely soft and they have a great fit. they are considered one of the great shoes for people who need a wide toe box.
If you want a flexible pair of zero drop sneakers then you will love these. While they aren't the most flexible pair of shoes at first, once the break-in period is over you will find that they allow for a full range of motion.
The outsole is made from slip-resistant rubber and the upper is made of engineered knit. The combination of these two guarantees maximum comfort and you would feel less strain on your feet.
Really durable and built to last, you can rely on these as long as you keep them on the road.
12. Xero Shoes Prio
AEGIS Microbe Shield prevents the unpleasant odor
These are quite breathable
They can be washed in the machine
Some buyers encountered problems with sizing
These shoes are a great option for runners looking for a good zero drop shoe for their running needs. The Xero Shoes Prio has all the features for support and durability and comfort that you need to feel great even during the longest runs and most intense of workouts! They are made to last and will look and feel great no matter where you run.Read more
This option is pretty breathable but not as breathable as other shoes on our list. Their upper is tougher and not made of super breathable mesh and you can definitely feel it when it is really hot.
The inner and outer materials in the soles are designed to be supportive and cushion your feet with every step you take is comfortable and feels good. Some users report the soles start to lose traction if you do a lot of rough terrain running but most find the Xero Shoes Prio a comfortable shoe.
In terms of flexibility, these zero drop sneakers are pretty pliable and allow for your natural stride. The outsole is designed to withstand different athletic activities so you can use them for more than just running.
The materials used in the Xero Shoes Prio are of high quality and hug your feet in comfort and support. The shoes are constructed to be durable and to hold up well to the wear and tear of running, whether that is on the trails or pavement or treadmill. So, definitely one of the best zero drop trail running shoes if you're looking for this combo.
13. ALTRA Superior 4
Protects feet from water and mud
Not very breathable
Laces are too long
Looking for something to take off of the road and onto the trails? The Superior 4 from Alta provides users with excellent stability and range of motion when traversing uneven terrain. It is made from quality materials that hold up well over time, and a wide frame allows for natural toe splay inside of the sneaker.Read more
The design of the Superior 4 is very minimalistic and is made for high speeds when off of the beaten path. It boasts very little cushioning in the midsole that allows you to really connect with the ground to ensure that you keep your footing. The treads on this design are a little deeper than most, which means that while it's perfect for trails, it may not be versatile enough to wear on roads or treadmills.
The upper of this design is a little bit different than what we have seen from other Altra options. The Superior 4 has a stiff and structured synthetic upper that is designed to keep mud, dirt, and water away from your feet. The downside of this design is that it means that hot air has no place to escape, resulting in hot feet.
If you are in the market for something that is composed of quality materials that can traverse any type of terrain and protect your feet, this is an excellent option. Users love that the wide frame allows their toes to spread out, which in turn improves balance. We also love that this option comes in a wide variety of bright and neutral color options.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Breathability depends on the material employed in the upper portion of the shoe.
The more breathable they are the more they allow humidity and heat to escape, thus keeping your feet cool and dry. This is especially important in warmer climates and for people who have the tendency to sweat excessively. This is also important when it comes to the best low drop running shoes.
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.
Read also about fell running trainers.
The human foot is an incredibly complicated structure so it’s important to use a shoe that allows for its full range of motion.
Cushioning and burly overlays often impede flexibility so try to find a shoe that doesn’t sacrifice flexibility for easier manufacturing or durability. Furthermore, if you prefer more rigid shoes, then minimalistic shoes may not be the best option for you because they create a full range of motion, which can actually improve your agility and prevent injuries.
Here we look at the thickness or thinness of the zero drop sneakers.
Many best 0 drop running shoes have thin soles while others–like Altra shoes–may have more cushioning. Thick running soles help to protect your knees and provide you with excellent shock absorption. Now, if you primarily run on soft trails then you may be able to get away with a thinner sole. Here it’s important to assess your personal goals and needs as a runner and choose a shoe that is in line with your lifestyle.
However, you may find that some flat sole running shoes can be just as protective as some thicker soled shoes and can offer just as smooth of a ride.
It’s important to consider durability because we all want a quality shoe we can rely on for as long as possible.
Here we look at the lacing system, the material the shoe is made of, how durable the outsole is, and how they stand when put to the test.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When transitioning into zero-drop shoes from traditional running footwear, you are simply going to have to get used to the fact that you're losing out on some cushioning. This is going to result in discomfort, but only at first. As you take more time to try running in these forms of footwear, any pain you experience should disappear unless you're somehow suffering from a running-related injury.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many of these shoes offer just as much longevity and overall protection, if not more, than traditional running shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop. You don't have to worry about accidentally breaking these shoes, especially when it comes to Vibram products.
Other Factors to Consider
A common complaint among runners has to do with the narrow fit many of them provide. Luckily, companies like Brooks, Altra, and New Balance manufacture running shoes designed for runners with wide feet. It’s important to try on shoes before you purchase them to ensure they fit properly and when you find a brand you like you can typically come back to it time and time again.
If you have narrow feet or prefer a tighter fit, North Face and Asics may be a better fit for you.
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 at 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 low drop 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.
The unique flat profile of zero drop running shoes makes them a great option for a variety of activities outside of running. Running shoes without any heel to toe drop can be excellent shoes for professionals such as nurses who are on their feet all day. They make great everyday 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.
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 types of shoes instead of switching over suddenly.
Also, be aware that there are currently limited options available for runners with high arches or who overpronate.
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 the slight change in your form. This means that if you are already a serious runner that you should plan on having at least one more pair of running shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What exactly is a zero drop running shoe?
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?
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?
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: Who uses Zero drop Running Shoes?
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.
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