The Best Wide Toe Box Running Shoes in 2018
Whatever type of running you enjoy, there’s nothing worse than experiencing chafing, blisters, and even cuts from too-tight shoes. But one of the most prominent problems runners face is finding shoes that fit right for their wide feet. As current research shows, there are significant benefits to shoes that allow toes to splay naturally than just a faster mile time.
When it comes to wide toe box running shoes, there are a few brands (like Altra) that have positioned themselves as leaders in the industry. However, there are plenty of options at every price point and comfort level so that you can find the best wide toe box running shoes for your next road or trail run.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Top Neutral Road Shoes
1. Altra Torin 3.5 Knit
With both women’s and men’s sizing, Altra poses the Torin 3.5 Knit as its best-selling road shoe. These neutral shoes have a sock-like upper, as the “knit” name suggests. The soft “boot” helps keep you comfortable while maintaining a secure fit.
Altra’s Footshape toe box lets your toes splay naturally and keeps your big toe in a straight position. A flexible midsole and an energy-return compound cushion add comfort no matter what the surface conditions. And with a zero-drop platform, you’re reaping all the benefits of a neutral shoe while protecting and cushioning your feet.
Most wide toe box running shoes can accommodate a wide forefoot. But for those who experience rubbing with traditional running shoe materials will appreciate the 3.5 Knit’s construction even more.
Plus, a “high” level of cushioning, on Altra’s scale of light to max, makes for a more forgiving rebound no matter the surface. If you want ultimate comfort while protecting your feet from various running conditions, these Altras might be just what you need.
- Knit upper offers breathability and conforms to your feet
- No rubbing from less forgiving/more rigid toe boxes
- High level of cushioning cradles your feet
- Although they’re zero-drop, a 28mm stack height means feedback from the trail is limited
- Knit upper is not waterproof or water resistant
- Narrow shoe laces may not offer the longevity of hardier laces
2. Altra Escalante 1.5
Although they offer a less “cushy” ride than the Altra Torin 3.5 Knit version, Altra’s Escalante 1.5 still manages to provide comfort and performance. Moderate cushioning and a 6mm contour footbed mean you receive more sensory feedback from the conditions below your feet. However, Altra’s midsole compound is still present, giving you increased energy return to maximize your run.
Rather than mimic every feature of the original Escalante, version 1.5 makes a few improvements. The new Escalante adopts an updated knit with reflective properties, better breathability, a tongue stay, a trimmer heel cup, and even new color patterns.
At the same time, you’ll find the “plush” feeling of the original Escalante in this version, too. Overall, you can expect the same durability and comfort of prior models. But at the same time, Altra has given consumers more features that make these shoes fashionable as well as functional.
- Sleeker heel cup for better positioning than previous models
- Zero-drop with a 6mm footbed means a low profile
- Mesh upper gives breathability
- Mesh upper is not waterproof or water resistant
- Similar fit to original Escalante, but at a higher price point
3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v8
feedback. The new-sew upper helps keep the shoe snug without rubbing in uncomfortable places. The Fresh Foam midsole gives additional cushioning while maintaining a neutral running position.
The mesh upper is supremely breathable, and a blown rubber outsole helps grip the road with “flex grooves” for traction. There’s also the Ortholite Premium insole, which helps give a bit of arch support and adds to the level of cushioning.
Though the 1080v8s are the most recent of New Balance’s Fresh Foam offerings, they do run a bit heavier than their predecessors. That said, with the amount of padding they pack in, it’s a decent tradeoff for the comfort level.
And while not all the 1080v8s can be billed as “wide toe box,” they do offer multiple widths from Narrow to X-Wide. That means you’ll be able to find the right fit regardless of toe splay. Plus, wearers with plantar fasciitis report that the support helps reduce pain with daily wear.
- Adequate support for flat feet and those with plantar fasciitis
- Multiple width options available; from Narrow to X-Wide
- May aid plantar fasciitis pain relief
- Low 8mm drop height
- Narrower toe box than comparable road running shoes
- Heavier in comparison with comparable models
- Limited colors in extra-wide option
4. Altra Vanish-R
Although the Vanish-R shares the same FootShape Toe Box and Zero Drop Platform with other Altra models, it also offers at least one unique benefit. Its Propel Plate is a springy addition that aids with push-off, helping you increase energy return and move faster.
The focus is on performance and speed with the Vanish-R, so it has little in the way of cushioning. Altra rates it as “light” in the padding category, but overall, that means a lower profile and quicker response. Plus, the stack height is a trim 14mm, meaning there’s less bulk all around.
Further, each pair of Vanish-Rs comes with two sets of insoles so you can customize your running experience. Note, however, that using both included insoles will create a tight fit, and Altra recommends removing one to wear the shoes.
And while the Propel Plate claims to add responsiveness on the road, many wearers notice that the soles are somewhat stiff. That said, the performance and low overall weight (just under four ounces) mean most runners are willing to accept the tradeoff in flexibility.
- Comes with dual insoles for customization
- Lower drop height, closer to a “minimalist” shoe
- Unisex sizing means all color choices are available across all sizes
- Insole use dictates how well the shoes fit; fit can vary
- Propel Plate and laminated soles make for a stiff sole
5. Altra Paradigm 4.0
A maximum level of cushioning makes Altra’s Paradigm 4.0s feel like running on a cloud. The unique Altra EGO midsole has plenty of padding plus energy return, meaning you won’t feel bogged down with this hyper-cushioned shoe.
Along with the classic Altra FootShape Toe Box and Zero Drop platform (with a 30mm stack height), the Paradigm 4.0s also utilizes foot-guiding technology to prevent fatigued and ill-positioned feet. The Guiderail gives feet support to avoid pronation, keeping you in-line while on the road.
StabiliPod technology “acts as a stabilizing tripod,” Altra explains, giving your foot support at three points to reduce foot collapse and pronation. The knit upper offers breathability and gentle support while maintaining stability, so you won’t need to worry about slippage despite the amount of cushioning.
As with Altra’s other support shoes, the midsole compound helps with energy return, so despite their heft, the Paradigm 4.0’s shouldn’t feel sluggish. That said, they do weight just over 11 ounces, a bulky fit for those unfamiliar with this level of cushioning and support.
- Sculpted footbed and support features help keep your feet from pronating and arches from dropping excessively
- Ranks “Max” on Altra’s cushioning chart, the highest padding available
- 30mm stack height means less road feedback (in exchange for “max” comfort)
6. Topo Magnifly 2
Topo’s zero-drop Magnifly 2 shoes use an injected EVA midsole that is more forgiving to your feet and firmer on the bottom layer for top responsiveness. They’re ideal for road running thanks to a toe rocker that promotes transition and proper toe-off with a natural gait.
With a 25mm stack height and a weight at 10 ounces, runners who are accustomed to a lower-profile shoe may find the Magnifly 2 to be bulky. However, the combination of cushion plus the breathable materials makes for a comfortable run.
At the same time, the support features and more “stiff” pliability enhance the stability of the Magnifly 2s. While most road shoes highlight zero-drop as supporting natural gait, for many runners, some rigidity is welcome to keep feet in the proper position. However, the Magnifly 2s don’t claim to be a stability road shoe, so don’t expect full support along with performance.
While Topo’s toe box is notoriously narrower than, say, Altra’s, runners who judge the Altra as too roomy will find a compromise with Topo. Their “anatomical toe box” isn’t excessively broad, keeping a snug fit while allowing toes to splay naturally.
- High cushioning for comfort
- Stiffness in structure helps give support
- Some positioning features despite zero-drop rating
- Styling is not a top benefit to most reviewers
- Narrower toe box than other brands (could be a pro for those with narrower feet)
7. Brooks Ghost 11
There’s a reason Brooks calls them the “Ghost”- because the stretchy engineered mesh almost seems to disappear from your foot. Runners note that the forgiving mesh upper is breathable and comfortable without sacrificing function.
And unlike other zero-drop running shoes, the Ghost 11 has a 12mm midsole drop that caters to medium and high arches. Plus, there’s a heel crash pad to help soften your landings, along with a Segmented Crash Pad under your forefoot for better performance.
They may weight just under 11 ounces, but with the amount of seemingly weightless cushioning the Ghosts have, the tradeoff might be worth it. You also won’t find the 11s to be particularly rigid, since two types of cushioning come together to enhance responsiveness without adding bulk.
If you need a little extra support for your arches, or just want a more responsive shoe that doesn’t sacrifice comfort, the Ghost 11 may fit the bill.
- Support for medium and high arches
- Integrated heel and toe crash pads for shock absorption
- Gore-Tex waterproof (and breathable) upper
- Range of widths available
- Relatively heavy at around 11 ounces
Top Stability Road Shoes
8. Altra Provision 3.5
From the top, they look like any other Altra model. But the Provision 3.5s incorporate all the signature support features Altra’s known for. Starting with the zero-drop platform, Altra pays attention to performance, but they’ve also added stability measures for pronating and otherwise fatigued feet.
Of course, the Provision 3.5’s enjoy the standard Footshape Toe Box, but there’s also energy-return cushioning to help you stay springy. And you’ll recognize the StabiliPod technology from the Paradigm 4.0s, but the Provision 3.5s also use Varus Stability.
Varus Stability is a full-length wedge that gives side support in a sloping shape. From the medial to lateral sides of the foot, the wedge keeps your feet in place. And while these support features add a little bulk- the shoes weigh 10 ounces- the tradeoff is better performance for weak, tired, overpronated, or fallen arch feet.
In contrast with previous Provision offerings, the 3.5 also has reflective hits and a Dri-Lex lining to keep feet cool and enhance wicking. Of course, there’s also the vented mesh upper, a critical component for comfort and breathability.
- Stability wedge and StabiliPod technology for support
- Moderate cushioning in addition to support measures
- Bulky with a 25mm stack height and 10-ounce weight
9. Topo Ultrafly 2
With a 5mm heel to toe drop, the Ultrafly 2 starts out with a bit of arch support from the beginning. But it also ranks highly in both stability and cushioning areas, thanks to its Ortholite footbed. The cushion resists compression plus packs odor-eliminating power to keep you smelling fresh.
And while the 28mm heel stack creates some bulk, the overall weight of the Ultrafly 2s comes in at around 10 ounces. Topo keeps things trim thanks to the molded footbed, but they also use lightweight and breathable materials for a close and comfortable fit.
Hopefully, you can also avoid rubbing and blisters on your run, thanks to the seam-reducing construction Topo uses. At the same time, a closer fit through the heel and midfoot helps with performance and minimizes rubbing.
Of course, the Ultrafly 2 maintains the roomy toe box that Topo has a reputation for, but you won’t find a range of widths in this style. However, one improvement over previous versions is the updated mesh upper. Topo has worked on making the 2’s mesh more durable to avoid breakdown before the soles themselves wear down.
- Low 5mm drop offers support and responsiveness
- Solid footbed with anti-odor technology
- Limited width options
- Limited style options/colors in both women’s and men’s sizes
10. Hoka One One Gaviota
It’s unlikely that Hoka One One receives complaints about the style of their Gaviota trail running shoes- the design is eye-catching as well as functional. Clearly, the supremely cushioned shoes give stability without compromising looks.
The brand’s J-Frame technology gives support to your feet and promotes durability, lessening the amount of energy you use on the rebound. Plus, a moderate heel bevel helps with smoother transitions. A combination of EVA foam and rubber comprises the frame, and there are wing support panels for further stability.
And though the primary goal is not a flashy appearance, the 3D puff-print adds to the overall look of the Gaviota. Still, its primary purpose is additional security around your arch and midfoot areas.
While the print adds bulk, it doesn’t add much weight- the shoes range between about 8.5 and 10.5 ounces depending on the size. That’s with a 5mm offset, with the women’s heel at 28mm and the men’s at 29mm.
- Low 5mm drop for natural positioning
- Relatively lightweight given the heel height
- Framing, heel bevel, puff print frame, and meta-rocker for stability
- Narrower toe box in comparison with similar stability shoes
11. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18
In its newest release of the Adrenaline GTS, Brooks has improved upon the mesh upper, engineering a more modern design that mimics the fit of previous shoes. Also on the list of improvements are softer cushioning, better flexibility, and smoother heel-to-toe transitions.
For support, the Adrenaline GTS 18 offers the Progressive Diagonal Rollbar, which keeps your feet (and the rest of your body) in alignment. On the men’s version, a 12mm midsole drop means the GTS 18 is less a minimalist shoe and more a support-focused one.
Weighing about 10 ounces, the shoes provide enough structure for flat to medium arch support with BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning. The adaptive cushioning helps keep your feet comfortable while the crash pad aids in smoother transitions and less jarring landings.
While many stability running shoes can feel bulky and heavy, the GTS 18s have many runners feeling lighter than ever, especially in comparison with past versions of the same shoe.
- Multiple color choices in both men’s and women’s styles
- Relatively lightweight given the amount of padding and features
- Narrower toe box than other support shoes
Top Trail Shoes
12. Altra Timp
It’s common to see both zero-drop and wide toe box features in the same shoe, and Altra’s Timp is no exception. An in-between model that compromises on cushioning, the Timp looks robust with its 29mm stack height and 4mm outsole lugs. There’s even extra coverage in high-abrasion areas like the heel cap and toe box.
You’ll recognize the FootShape Toe Box that’s Altra’s trademark, but beyond that, this trail shoe departs from the features of other comparable models. It uses a hook-and-loop tab for securing your gaiters, protecting from dirt and debris that you wouldn’t encounter in conditions other than rough trails.
The tradeoff with the fully-cushioned platform and rubber TrailClaw outsole is that the shoes weigh in at over 11 ounces. Still, the Timp is a tactical trail shoe that is ready to perform over long distances and in fast packing conditions. Reinforced mesh tops off the features, giving you ventilation without sacrificing durability.
- Relatively heavy at just over 11 ounces
- Reinforced outsole helps prolong the life of the shoes
- The more ergonomic laces can create unfamiliar pressure points versus other Altra shoes
13. Altra King MT 1.5
Among wide toe box running shoes, Altra ranks highly in every category. The King MT 1.5s are no exception, thanks to the grippy outsoles and exceptionally wide toe box. Plus, at only 8.5 ounces, these may just be your ideal trail shoe for rough and rugged conditions.
You’ll appreciate the familiar fit of the Zero Drop cushioned platform, which ranks as “light” on Altra’s cushioning scale. However, there’s also a 19mm stack height thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, complete with 6mm lugs.
But there’s more to the Kings than the Vibram outsole, including a Gaitertrap tab to secure the gaiters, a StoneGuard midsole to deflect rocks, canted lugs to give toe traction, and a Footlock strap that’s adjustable on the trail. Of course, the DuraTread outsole contributes some gnarly rubber that helps you grip tactical terrain.
- Deceptively lightweight given all the rugged features
- Higher responsiveness than thicker-soled/cushioned trail shoes
- Light cushioning may not feel comfortable for all runners
14. Topo Hydroventure
As its name suggests, the Hydroventure is a waterproof shoe, and Topo claims it’s the lightest on the market. At less than 10 ounces at a men’s size nine, it’s a decent tradeoff for the features that it boasts.
A 3mm heel to toe drop ousts the Hydroventure from the zero-drop category, but with a 23mm heel stack height, it’s understandable. And considering the amount of traction the shoes offer, less padding is a sacrifice you might be willing to make.
The relatively stiff outsole is thanks to a rock protection plate plus a high-traction sole with multidirectional traction and lugs. Heel braking lugs also help with high-speed maneuvering.
Plus, mud and snow release features will keep you moving regardless of the conditions. A one-piece upper keeps outside conditions from getting in. It’s breathable too, thanks to the eVent technology, a surprising departure from the industry-standard Gortex application.
- Breathable but also waterproof
- Multidirectional lugs for enhanced traction
- Limited padding due to the waterproof feature