Remember the story of Goldilocks?
She’s the little girl who goes into a strange house and starts rummaging around for stuff. She finds some porridge that is too hot, some that is too cold, but some that is just right. She finds a bed that is too hard, a bed that is too soft, and a bed that is just right. She finds a pair of running shoes for over-pronators, a pair for under-pronators, and a pair that is…the best pair of neutral running shoes she has ever put on her well-traveled feet!
Then the bears show up and chase her out of the house, but because Goldilocks is already rocking a pair of shoes perfectly designed for her medium arches and neutral stride, she has the perfect gear to high-tail it 10k home for a shiny new PR.
With all the news and reviews on shoes that address flat feet, high arches, over-pronation, under-pronation and such, it can be easy to forget that most of us are, in fact, neutral. And there are running shoes just for us, too! Still, as with any running shoe purchase, you need to consider a few things before committing to a new pair. So take a few minutes to learn more about neutral shoes, and whether this category of running shoe would work for you.
In short, neutral running shoes are ideal for people with medium-t0-high arches, who don’t over-pronate. These shoes also work for supinators; however, if that’s you, you might want to look for shoes with some extra cushioning.
Neutral shoes contour to the feet of people who have neutral pronation, meaning your feet roll neither in nor out. It’s important to match how your feet land with what style of shoe you buy. For neutral runners, neutral shoes alleviate pressure on the knees and other joints, absorbing impact and promoting greater running efficiency.
Neutral running shoes feature flexibility in the right areas. This ability ensures that your feet get support and some freedom to stretch where they need it. They offer stability and extra cushioning to support your arches for injury reduction and comfort.
Wearing the right style of running shoes ensures that your shoes accommodate your gait best. The result: running that is more comfortable and efficient.
We’ve sifted through the many available options to present a short-list of the neutral running shoes that are most worthy of your attention. Take a look:
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Best Overall Neutral Running Shoe
1. Brooks Ghost 12
The Brooks Ghost 12 is lightweight with lots of cushioning and plushness for a smooth running experience. The materials are environmentally friendly, for those seeking green running gear (the BioMoGo midsole breaks down within 25 years, making it ideal for the environment).
This Ghost 12’s adaptive fit is built around thicker cushioning than many other neutral shoes. It contours to your foot and ensures sufficient support for your arches.
The upper is mesh, ensuring that this shoe is breathable so that your feet stay cool and dry during your runs. There are 3D-printed overlays on the uppers that work to support your foot while holding it firmly in place. The result is a comfortable fit and a responsive ride with lasting comfort.
An ideal all-purpose shoe, the Ghost 12 is a perfect choice for long runs, tempo runs, or runs on trails with mixed terrain.
- Ideal for people with wide feet
- Good for high mileage
- Solid traction
- Good arch support
- Pebbles may lodge in the tread grooves
Top Neutral Running Shoe for Long Distance
2. Brooks Levitate 2
The Brooks Levitate 2 features a roomy forefoot, a snug heel and midfoot, and an anatomical foot shape. The medium width can accommodate most feet comfortably.
The outsole uses a sticky rubber compound that provides sufficient traction even when wet. Durability is also enhanced.
The midfoot transition zone allows for direct forefoot pressure, providing a faster and smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Polyurethane foam in the insole is housed in a thermoplastic skin that resists outward expansion, so energy from each stride is returned upwards. Every little bit of energy return on longer runs helps reduce fatigue.
The upper has an adaptable foot wrap while a modified heel counter, a low-cut ankle collar, and an internal bootie structure keep your feet secure.
- The fit conforms to the foot easily
- Comfortable, with no break-in period
- Achilles protector provides extra stability
- Runs true to size
- Ensures proper alignment when you are running
- Heavier than similar options
- May not be breathable enough
- Takes time to dry after getting wet
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Marathons
3. Saucony Triumph ISO 5
The Saucony Triumph ISO 5 is an ideal marathon shoe–lightweight, durable, fast, and comfortable over long distances.
The outsole uses a Tri-Flex Crystal rubber compound that protects the shoes against wear and tear of high mileage training programs, while also covering contact points.
The sponginess of the outsole allows for solid cushioning, and makes it easier to spring up after each step. Zig-zag flex grooves add to the shoe’s outstanding flexibility.
The midsole uses EVERUN cushioning throughout the shoe’s entire length. This cushions footfalls and ensures adequate arch support.
The upper is a jacquard mesh material, ensuring that this shoe ventilates well, keeping your feet dry and comfortable. The padded tongue and collar offer extra cushioning for the top of the foot, and keep the shoe in place mile after mile. Always mindful of runners’ varying anatomy, Saucony offers several different widths to accommodate a variety of feet, so there is a Triumph ISO5 model that will be just right for you.
- Plush cushioning
- Forms to your feet
- Outsole might be too thick at the back
Most Cushioned Neutral Running Shoe
4. Hoka One One Bondi 6
Hoka One One is the undisputed king of cushioning, and the Bondi 6 augments the luxurious feel of their shoes with excellent breathability and ventilation. Your feet are dry, cool, and probably think they are walking on marshmallows, no matter the surface, environment, or temperature.
The semi-curved shape of this shoe follows the foots’ natural curve and allows for greater stability and comfort.
The lightweight outsole has a Hi-Abrasion Lightweight Rubber in the areas that are most susceptible to wear, extending the life of your shoes.
For stability, the outsole fully contacts the ground with each stride. This ability makes sure that you are getting excellent traction and a smoother gait.
- Comfortable plush cushioning decreases joint discomfort
- The fabric allows for good breathability
- Design decreases tired muscles
- Might not be ideal for those with wide feet
- Instep might experience irritation from the tongue
- Outsole could be more durable
Top Neutral Running Shoe for Women
5. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 21
The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 21 offers a plush and soft shoe for women running long distances. The upper uses a flexible and ventilating mesh that provides additional support and breathability.
The FlyteFoam Propel and Lyte technologies ensure that you have an energetic but gentle forefoot bounce. The gel cushioning in the forefoot and rearfoot of the shoe offers optimal flexibility and extra cushioning for each step.
The wide toe box allows the toes to spread for better balance and less fatigue. The outsole provides a simpler heel-to-toe transition due to the lateral full-ground contact that it provides.
The materials are durable, but also lightweight, a necessary trait for reducing fatigue. The midsole has a vertical flex groove to enhance overall gait efficiency.
- Comes in wide and normal widths
- Wide toe box
- True to size
- The heel might be too snug
Top Neutral Running Shoe for Wide Feet
6. New Balance 1080v9
The New Balance 1080v9 has a midsole with soft cushioning and laser-engraved foam. Shock absorption and comfort are both handled admirably well, even on hard surfaces.
New Balance’s Ultraheel construction fits precisely to your foot, and the 1080v9 pulls off the trick of both accommodating wider feet while also conforming to them for a secure fit. This ability prevents that restrictive feel that is possible with other running shoes.
The upper uses a double jacquard mesh material that helps to keep your feet cool and dry, even on the hottest days. The bootie construction of the upper makes sure that your feet have the support and comfort that they need.
The blown rubber outsole, another common New Balance feature, can grip the road or the treadmill for optimal traction.
- Wider toe box allows for a natural toe spread
- Comfortable for long runs
- Wide forefoot allows for efficient transition
- Might be heavier compared to similar options
- Midsole is not as responsive as similar shoes
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Heel Strikers
7. Hoka One One Clifton 5
Try as we might to adopt that sweet, forefoot-striking stride of the pros, many of us consistently come down heel first. Not to worry, though: there are shoes out there designed with this stride in mind, and the Hoka One One Clifton 5 is a great choice. Flexible and breathable, the Clifton provides ample support and even more cushioning for a plush yet responsive ride. The sockliner promotes dryness and helps to resist foot odor.
The lightweight rubber outsole is durable, and helps to ensure sufficient traction as you run. Too, its rocker shape is designed to smooth heel-to-toe transitions, a design that is all the more important if you prominently land on your heels step after step. The outsole benefits your gait cycle and ensures natural foot movement by being built around flex grooves.
- Soft, maximal cushioning ensures optimal comfort
- Durable materials
- Supportive underfoot
- Might be too narrow for some people
- Midsole could be sturdier
Top Neutral Running Shoe for Heavy Runners
8. Saucony Echelon 7
Neutral-running Clydesdales and Athenas, rejoice! Saucony has built an excellent shoe for you in the Echelon 7. A soft rubber outsole provides a good amount of cushioning, and Saucony’s IBR+ technology allows a very responsive toe-off phase.
The Tri-Flex design of the outsole uses flex grooves that allow for natural movement of your feet, and that translates into your feet making fuller contact with the ground. The same grooves minimize the risk of slips and falls in every imaginable traction condition.
The midsole has a sockliner to promote dryness and extra cushioning. The contoured footbed forms to your feet so that you have optimal support. An 8mm drop height finds a middleground between more traditional designs and minimalist designs, helping improve running posture without forcing you to radically change your stride.
The mesh upper allows this shoe to breathe easily for comfortable and cool feet.
- Comfortable midsole
- Easily accommodates orthotics
- Durable materials
- Excellent control when you are running
- The standard size might be too wide for people with narrow feet
- It takes time to adjust to the toe and heel cushioning
Best Neutral Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers
9. Altra Escalante 1.5
For those who are interested in the minimalist trend in running shoes, the Altra Escalante 1.5 is a comfortable zero-drop shoe with plenty of cushioning. This model promotes greater comfort for your feet, legs, and hips when you are running on concrete and other hard surfaces. Soft materials and a noticeably wider-than-average toe box prevent the shoe from constricting your feet on long runs, where a little swelling is common.
The Escalante 1.5 balances good cushioning with a minimalist design. The materials are made to contour to your foot to minimize impact while also maximizing energy return. They are springy without being bouncy under the foot, and comfortable above the foot because of the flat-knit upper.
The inside of the shoe is ideal for those with mild to moderate arch heights. The soft tissues on the bottom of your feet stay comfortable and in the right alignment. The breathable materials ensure comfort and dryness even in the middle of summer.
- True to size
- Works equally well for walking and running
- Excellent cushioning
- Knit fabric may stretch too easily
Best Value Neutral Running Shoe
10. Brooks Launch 6
Brooks offers great running shoe options at many price points, and the Launch 6 is our choice for the best balance between price and quality. The springy midsole energizes your stride with Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA cushioning and rebounding rubber.
A midfoot transition zone eases the transition from heel to toe-off, making your stride more efficient and fluid.
The Launch 6 features a one-piece mesh upper and an internal bootie, both of which are lightweight and breathable, allowing you to keep your feet cool and comfortable. The toe box has plenty of space for you to spread your toes to prevent cramping and fatigue.
Brooks has made this shoe sufficiently cushioned without feel squishy. This translates to a comfortable ride and reduced fatigue on long runs.
- Ideal for long runs
- Spacious toe box allows for a natural toe spread
- Midsole softness provides extra comfort
- Arch might be too high for some people
- May run narrow