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.

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.

Last Updated: November 9, 2017
By Brian Price:

Check some of the new picks that we have added to our list. We’ve made quite a few updates, based on both reasearch and what we like the best. A couple of our additions include some great new updates from Altra.

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

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.

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO
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/Construction
This one is made from 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/Fit
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 or Value
We must say that these shoes are totally worth every dollar and in addition, they’re not expensive.

Look
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 fun of minimalistic construction, these will be excellent for you.
Pros

Good price for the value

They provide a lot of flexibility

These shoes will be perfect for races

Cons

Some buyers said that the shoes could be more durable

Altra Impulse

Altra Impulse
If you want very good-looking shoes but you still want to have 0 drop, Altra has something for you. Lightweight and comfortable – these words can described Altra Impulse. See more features!
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Materials/Construction
There’s rubber sole like in most shoes to provide more durability. There are special ventilation holes to provide more air to your feet. There’s special mesh in the upper that helps to dry quickly and it also boosts breathability.

Comfort/Fit
These shoes will be great for running on roads as they’re really lightweight. The insole inside is removable so you can put it out. These shoes are very praised for toe box- it has extraordinary shape. You can enjoy running in them even if you need to run long distances.

Cost or Value
These shoes aren’t very expensive. They are said to be durable so it’s worth to invest some money.

Look
These shoes look really good on your feet and the colors aren’t boring. If you’re not a big fan of barefoot running shoes or you don’t want your fingers to be separated in the shoe, this will be a good solution for you.
Pros

Some buyers said that these shoes will be great for people with overpronation

Good for people who want stability

Cons
  • They may be not enough cushioning for some runners

Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport

Vibram FiveFingers KMD Sport
Here we go with next shoes from Vibram. 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 may want to know better this Vibram shoes.
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Materials/Construction
This is the next shoe that has very lightweight design. These shoes aren’t intended only for runners but generally for cross-training and many others.

Comfort/Fit
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 or Value
This is a good price for 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.

Look
All the Vibram shoes look similar. The barefoot running is not for everybody but if you want to have 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.
Pros

AEGIS Microbe Shield prevents the unpleasant odor

These are quiet breathable

They can be washed in the machine

Cons

Some buyers encountered problems with sizing

Altra Escalante

Altra Escalante
These shoes are the last product on our list and it’s also next one from Altra. There are many sizes available so you can enjoy great fit. See other features of these shoes
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Materials/Construction
Outsole is made from slip-resistant rubber and the upper is made of engineered knit.

Comfort/Fit
Despite being zero drop shoe, there’s a little amount of cushioning which adds more comfort. The shoes are extremely soft and they have great fit. Great shoes for people who need wide toe box.

Cost or Value
The cost is quiet similar to the value of the previous shoes on our list. These are good quality shoes.

Look
The next shoes that look great and aren’t barefoot running shoes. When it comes to colors, there are more vivid ones but generally, runners prefer simple black/ grey version.

Pros

Durable and lighweight shoes

Much better protection than Vibram shoes

Many attractive colors

Cons
  • It’s relatively hard to find the right size

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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