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10 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes Reviewed

last updated Nov 28, 2018
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 their overall performance; this is where the zero drop running shoe comes 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.
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By Giselle Killebrew:

Our most current update brings the Altra Torin 3.0 and the Nike Flex Fury 2 running shoes. Both of these shoes are available in options for wide feet, are super comfortable, and highly breathable.

Sorting Options
Breathability Protection Flexibility Outsole Durability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.2
Breathability
92%
Protection
94%
Flexibility
89%
Outsole
96%
Durability
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$103.77
$124.95
Best Deal
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Breathability
92%
Protection
90%
Flexibility
93%
Outsole
95%
Durability
91%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$69.95
$79.95
Best Deal
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Breathability
95%
Protection
90%
Flexibility
91%
Outsole
94%
Durability
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$69.99
$109.95
Best Deal
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Breathability
93%
Protection
91%
Flexibility
91%
Outsole
92%
Durability
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$84.95
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Breathability
79%
Protection
88%
Flexibility
94%
Outsole
93%
Durability
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$94.90
$119.95
Best Deal
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Breathability
80%
Protection
81%
Flexibility
91%
Outsole
90%
Durability
83%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$99.95
Best Deal
$104.95
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.2
Breathability
83%
Protection
80%
Flexibility
89%
Outsole
90%
Durability
79%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$73.00
$89.95
Best Deal
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.2
Breathability
82%
Protection
89%
Flexibility
79%
Outsole
85%
Durability
81%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$79.95
Best Deal
$190.84
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Breathability
82%
Protection
80%
Flexibility
77%
Outsole
90%
Durability
83%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$99.95
$129.95
Best Deal
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Breathability
79%
Protection
80%
Flexibility
89%
Outsole
85%
Durability
77%
Price Comparison Last Updated (11.12.18)
$80.00
$114.95
Best Deal
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Altra Torin 3.0
  • Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  • Brooks PureCadence 6
  • Nike Flex Fury 2
  • Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
  • New Balance Minimus MT10v1
  • Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO
  • Merrell Pace Glove 3
  • Altra Escalante
  • Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes

1. Altra Torin 3.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.2
Altra Torin 3.0
Breathability
92
Protection
94
Flexibility
89
Outsole
96
Durability
95
best offer for today
more shops
$103.77
$124.95
Best deal
Pros:

Comfortable

Lightweight

Supportive

Made for wide feet

Durable

EVA midsole

Well-cushioned

Breathable

Cons:

Sizing runs small

These shoes are highly comfortable and supportive. They have a wide foot toe space with enough cushioning, which provides the right support for your wide feet.

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Materials and Construction

These shoes are made of high-quality materials and feature a rubber outsole and an EVA midsole. These features not only boost comfort but also offer great durability.

Comfort

These are comfortable and breathable. They also offer more cushioning than other zero drop shoes and are or really lightweight. They will keep your feet cool and dry and ensure your runs are comfortable.

Cost or Value

These are priced a little above average but are well worth the cost since your feet are secure and you feel comfortable with minimal chances of getting an injury with the perfect support.

2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Merrell Vapor Glove 2
Breathability
92
Protection
90
Flexibility
93
Outsole
95
Durability
91
best offer for today
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$69.95
$79.95
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Pros:

Very lightweight

Long-lasting and dependable Vibram outsole

Mesh lining and footbed have 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.

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

The footbed of Vapor Glove 2 has been integrated into one unit with the outsole. In turn, this gives the runner a minimalist and barefoot-like running experience.

Comfort

The upper part of this shoe is made from mesh and TPU materials, which offer a secure and breathable coverage for your foot. These keep your feet warm and comfortable during each step.

Cost or Value

The cost of this shoe is very affordable. The Merrell Vapor Glove 2 is definitely worth the price, small as it may be, considering the valuable features the brand provides.

3. Brooks PureCadence 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.6
Brooks PureCadence 6
Breathability
95
Protection
90
Flexibility
91
Outsole
94
Durability
88
best offer for today
more shops
$69.99
$109.95
Best deal
Pros:

Secure foot-hugging FIT

Sole traction is good

Appropriate cushioning for low drop shoe

A light shoe

Attractive silhouette

Good for speedy runs

Breath-ability

Cons:

Not as durable as other pairs

This shoe is a good performing updated shoe, enhanced performance resulting from a light-weight shoe which gives very good stability and long-lasting comfort. You can up your pace and the shoe is highly responsive on those hard running surfaces. The shoe gives a minimal drop backed up by the right level of cushion factor to ensure you are comfortable and protected for long runs.

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Material and Construction

The designed in high-quality foam platform feels nicely responsive, well built in shoe tech in the form of the built-in support system which effectively balances foot pronation. Very good FIT for the foot stabilizing shoe upper which shapes and fits the contours of your feet. Breathability is well designed for the upper materials and protection is solid through the responsive and durable sole which has proven to give good surface traction.

Comfort

The shoe has positive feedback from runners for being very comfortable and there is equal positive feedback about the light weight combined with comfort which runners feel from the shoe. The shoe is proving itself for speedy runs over short to medium distances. The FIT is assured through the foot-hugging shoe upper, which not only support stability but also performs very well for breathability to ensure dry comfortable feet.

Cost and Value

The shoe retails within an affordable cost range and you get a good performing shoe to add to your gear. Moreover, it has very positive runner comments regarding the appealing shoe design and the good choice of colors.

4. Nike Flex Fury 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Nike Flex Fury 2
Breathability
93
Protection
91
Flexibility
91
Outsole
92
Durability
90
best offer for today
$84.95
Pros:

Durable

Flywire knit cables

Comfortable

Lots of color options

Breathable

Supportive

Flexible

Contours to the shape of your foot

Dual-density midsoles

Lots of color options available

Cons:

Sizing runs small

These are one of the more affordable shoes on our list, which is why they are at the top of our list. They offer great features, are durable, and will keep your runs comfortable; so we are sure you will love them.

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Materials

These shoes are highly durable and made of high-quality materials. They have a breathable mesh upper and durable rubber outsoles.

Comfort

These shoes are comfortable, flexible, and supportive. They utilize dual-density midsoles that provide you with a custom fit by contouring the shape of your foot.

Cost and Value

These come at an average price but can be a bit more expensive depending on the color you choose. They are highly comfortable and made of a quality material to boost durability.

5. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.6
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
Breathability
79
Protection
88
Flexibility
94
Outsole
93
Durability
89
best offer for today
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$94.90
$119.95
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Pros:

Excellent foot protection

It is very light and flexible

Almost fits like a sock

Comes in different colors

Cons:

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 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

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.

Comfort

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 and Value

A good price for a good shoe. The price is not too much or too demanding; just a perfect price. You are guaranteed a highly comfortable pair with a great design.

6. New Balance Minimus MT10v1

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
New Balance Minimus MT10v1
Breathability
80
Protection
81
Flexibility
91
Outsole
90
Durability
83
best offer for today
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$104.95
$99.95
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Pros:

Very lightweight

Very good grip on slippery surfaces

Highly flexible

Quite affordable

Cons:

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.

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Materials and Construction

The flexible synthetic mesh upper is breathable and lightweight. The Vibram outsole provides minimal cushioning but an exceptional grip on slippery surfaces.

Comfort

The New Balance Minimus can be worn comfortably with or without socks. The wide toe box has plenty of room for wider feet.

Cost and 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.

7. Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.2
Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO
Breathability
83
Protection
80
Flexibility
89
Outsole
90
Durability
79
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$73.00
$89.95
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Pros:

Good price for the value

They provide a lot of flexibility

These shoes will be perfect for races

Great design and style

Cons:

Some buyers said that the shoes could be more durable

This is one of the most iconic shoes from Vibram. This is a big hit among people who want to start barefoot or toe shoes. They will be great for running on roads. These shoes have sock-like fit so why not to try them out.

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Materials

This one is made from the polyester blend. This means that these shoes are really breathable even when it’s hot outside. Many runners said that they really like the lacing system as it’s very easy to put the shoes on and off. These shoes are also very easy to wash.

Comfort

These shoes are extremely lightweight and there are many sizes to choose from. There’s special XS Trek technology that provides more stability and comfort to your feet.

Cost and Value

We must say that these shoes are totally worth every dollar and in addition, they’re not expensive. Also, these shoes look good with the rest of the outfit and we really like the black-grey version because it’s really hard to see mud or dirt on this. If you’re a fan of minimalistic construction, these will be excellent for you.

8. Merrell Pace Glove 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.2
Merrell Pace Glove 3
Breathability
82
Protection
89
Flexibility
79
Outsole
85
Durability
81
best offer for today
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$190.84
$79.95
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Pros:

Sure traction on both dry and wet surfaces

They give an incredible barefoot feeling

Barefoot style trail runner with traditional lace closure

Great balance and natural weight distribution

Cons:

They are easily prone to wear and tear

The fabric separates from the rubber sole easily.

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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Breathability

Made with long-lasting M-select fresh that prevents your feet from sweating and prevents moisture from affecting the freshness of the shoe.

Comfort

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 and Value

Great price for great product. The shoes aren’t expensive and would definitely give you a good return on investment.

9. Altra Escalante

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Altra Escalante
Breathability
82
Protection
80
Flexibility
77
Outsole
90
Durability
83
best offer for today
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$99.95
$129.95
Best deal
Pros:

Durable and lightweight shoes

Much better protection than Vibram shoes

Many attractive colors

Quite affordable

Cons:

It’s relatively hard to find the right size

There are many sizes available for these excellent Altra shoes so you can enjoy the great fit, perfect drop and comfort.

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Materials and Construction

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.

Comfort

Despite being zero drop shoe, 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.

Cost and Value

The cost is quite similar to the value of the previous shoes on our list. These are good quality shoes that are not considered barefoot running shoes. When it comes to colors, there are more vivid ones but generally, runners prefer simple black/ grey version.

10. Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport
Breathability
79
Protection
80
Flexibility
89
Outsole
85
Durability
77
best offer for today
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$80.00
$114.95
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Pros:

AEGIS Microbe Shield prevents the unpleasant odor

These are quite breathable

They can be washed in the machine

Stylish design

Cons:

Some buyers encountered problems with sizing

This brand is a real giant when it comes to zero drop shoes. If you want to run on the road and you don’t need any additional arch support, then you can't do much better than these Vibram shoes.

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Materials and Construction

This is the next shoe that has a lightweight design. These shoes aren’t intended only for runners but generally for cross-training and many others.

Comfort

There’s added cushioning in the footbed for more comfort. There aren’t any laces but there are special straps to keep your feet locked in the shoes.

Cost and Value

This is a good price for a good pair of running shoes. There are many technologies used here so you can be sure that these shoes will let you feel comfortable and you won’t regret buying them. All the Vibram shoes look similar. The barefoot running is not for everybody but if you want to have a zero drop and also enjoy the feeling of running without shoes, they will be great for you. There aren’t many colors to choose from but many runners tend to choose more vivid colors.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Breathability

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.

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.

Flexibility

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 full range of motion, which can actually improve your agility and prevent injuries.

Outsole

Here we look at the thickness or thinness of the shoe. Many zero 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 thin-soled running shoes can be just as protective as some thicker soled shoes and can offer just as smooth of a ride.

Durability

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

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Experts Opinion Editors Opinion Users Opinion By Default
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1
Outsole
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2
Protection
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3
Flexibility
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Durability
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5
Breathability
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Take Some Time To Try

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.

Zero Drop Doesn't Mean Zero Durability

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

Support

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.

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 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 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.

Use

The unique flat profile of zero drop running shoes make them a great option for a variety of 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.

Overall Fit

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 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:

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.

Sources

  1. Competitor.com, Competitor, Running Website, Mar 11, 2014
  2. Let's Run More, Let's Run More, Online Running Publication, Nov 07, 2015
  3. Well Within You, Well Within You, Wellness Website, Mar 29, 2015