10 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 running 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 best zero 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
Made for wide feet
- Altra Torin 3.0
- Merrell Vapor Glove 2
- Brooks PureCadence 6
- Nike Flex Fury 2
- Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
- New Balance Minimus MT10v1
- Inov-8 Terraclaw 250
- Brooks PureFlow 7
- Altra Escalante
- Xero Shoes Prio
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes
1. Altra Torin 3.0
Made for wide feet
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. So, if you are looking for one of the best zero drop running shoes these are perfect--there's a reason why they are at the top of our list!Read more
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.
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.
Although these are not the most flexible running shoes out there, they are still incredibly flexible. Their outsole is really pliable and the midsole has flex grooves to ensure you can get a natural stride each and every time.
The outsole of these shoes are really durable and built to take on the road and some easier trails—so don’t take it on technical terrain. They utilize a FootPod to ensure that they securely hold your feet without compromising the overall flexibility of your shoes.
In terms of durability, these are pretty durable and even the mesh in the upper holds up. Although they are really lightweight, they don’t compromise durability and you can certainly rely on them.
2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2
Long-lasting and dependable Vibram outsole
Mesh lining and footbed have odor-wicking technology
100% vegan-friendly construction
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.Read more
The upper part of this shoe is made from mesh and TPU materials, which offer secure and breathable coverage for your foot. These keep your feet warm and comfortable during each step.
When it comes to protection, these shoes feature a minimalistic design, thus you will get minimal protection from them as well. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t protect you from outdoor elements. They have a toe bumper to protect your toes and they will prevent you from overheating as well.
The flexibility of these shoes are perfect for neutral runners—you can literally feel every stride as your foot hits the ground
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.
These shoes have pretty durable—and the best part is they can withstand more difficult terrain. So, if you want to run in the snow or take them out on more technical terrain, then they are certainly an option. Thanks to their flexibility they are both really durable and really comfortable.
3. Brooks PureCadence 6
Secure foot-hugging FIT
Sole traction is good
Appropriate cushioning for low drop shoe
A light shoe
Good for speedy runs
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.Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although these are not the most durable running shoes on our list, these will definitely last you for about 250 to 300 miles with them. While you won’t be able to take these shoes on technical terrain, they will definitely last you the long haul on the road.
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 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.Read more
The breathability of these 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 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.
These shoes are highly durable and made of high-quality materials. They have a breathable mesh upper and durable rubber outsoles.
These are 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. 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 of 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
6. 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.
7. 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.
These running shoes provide excellent flexibility for those of you enjoy trail running. Their outsole features Metaflex grooves and their flexible RVA foam.
The outsole of these Inov-8 running shoes 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 shoes are built to take on rocky and technical terrain and even their midsole holds up to the test of time.
8. Brooks PureFlow 7
Has a break in period
The Brooks PureFlow 7 running shoes 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 of the shoes 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 of these Brooks shoes 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 shoes 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.
9. 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 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.
If you want a flexible pair of shoes 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.
10. 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
These shoes are 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 shoes are pretty pliable and allow for your natural stride.
The outsole on these shoes are 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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