Running is one of those activities that holds no judgment. Whether you just want to get out for an afternoon stroll or compete across lengthy race courses, there's a lane for every athlete. And with the sheer number of runners on the planet, there are just as many running shoes catering to everyone's unique steps and strides. For those that showcase a a more natural step, neutral running shoes can be an excellent pick thanks to their balanced support and emphasis on creating the most unencumbered transitions possible.
BEST OVERALL NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOEBrooks Ghost 15 Read More
BEST UPGRADE NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOENike Pegasus 40 Read More
BEST BUDGET NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOEReebok Floatride Energy 5 Read More
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOEHoka Mach 5 Read More
BEST NEUTRAL RUNNING SHOE FOR BEGINNERSSaucony Ride 16 Read More
This running silhouette also has a lot of perks for those that feature medium or high arches since there's no stabilizing components to get in the way of your foot's natural landing and flex. Because of their effectiveness for a wide array of athletes, though, there are a ton of neutral running shoe profiles to choose from when searching online or walking into your local running boutique. Thankfully, I've put in the mileage to help make that purchasing process a little easier.
How We Tested
Given my supinated stride and tendency to log a bevy of miles throughout the given year, I've had my fair share of experience with running shoes of the neutral nature. In testing, I got hands-on with a majority of the below picks, highlighting their level of cushioning and responsiveness across various paces and distances. I also looked at some otherwise-forgotten notes like how well the lockdown was across the lacing structure and collar, how easily the tongue maintained its placement during runs and how grippy the outsoles were when pacing across wet terrain (which, if you live in a sporadic climate like mine, is more often the case than not). Lastly, I also examined the available colorways of each silhouette, as running gear is typically a good way to show off your personality through vibrant or subdued hues, and if neutral running shoes are expected to cater to more athletes, the color offerings should do the same.
Now, let's lace up and get right into the best neutral running shoes on the market today.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall Neutral Running Shoe: Brooks Ghost 15
- Weight: 10.1 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 12mm
When a running shoe silhouette reaches its 15th iteration, it's more a testament to the sneaker's popularity rather than example of brand insanity. The Ghost 15 is a perfect installment to the Brooks stable highlighted by its updated DNA Loft v2 midsole foam. I found this underfoot tech to be plenty plush for daily miles yet still firm enough for efficient transitions and toe-offs. There's no mushy feeling when you go to press, which can be a detriment to kicks with softer foam technologies.
Additionally, I found the 3D Fit upper to be supportive and breathable across varied routes, and never questioned whether I'd lose centering when rounding corners or ascending or descending down alleyways. Despite its "lightweight" listing, though, the 10.1-ounce frame of this running sneaker is a bit on the heavier side. This, combined with the firmer midsole, can make for some clunky strides if you're aiming at tackling double-digit mileage.
Best Neutral Neutral Running Shoe: Nike Pegasus 40
- Weight: 10.9 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
Like the Ghost 15 above, the Pegasus 40 is a longstanding silhouette in the Nike stable, and for good reason. This absolute workhorse of a neutral running shoe is more than capable of pounding the pavement day in and day out thanks to its React foam midsole. In testing, I found this foundational component to provide a soft yet bouncy experience underfoot, which kept every stride and run a pleasant endeavor. Plus, the foam was quick to bounce back to normal height post-workout, which allowed for daily wear across training circuits without the need to rotate my sneakers (although, I highly recommend you adopt that practice).
The Peg 40 also boasts a redesigned single-layer mesh upper, which cloaks your foot comfortably while still providing ample lockdown. With that said, though, I did notice some unwanted sweat begin to develop when jogging under clear skies, which indicates that this new upper material is less breathable than previous iterations. Still, with the trusted technology baked into this design, as well as the slew of impressive colorways and aesthetics, it's hard to ignore this galloping stallion when searching for a worthwhile neutral profile.
Best Budget Neutral Running Shoe: Reebok Floatride Energy 5
- Weight: 9.4 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
Thanks to an impressive stack of Floatride Energy Foam across the midsole, this latest installment from Reebok was more than capable of keeping my jogs energetic, cozy and downright fun. The FE5s fall right in-line with what you'd expect from a daily training sneaker, providing enough comfort to take on longer routes with enough responsiveness to facilitate the occasional sprint. Despite the performance perks of this sleek silhouette, the shoe remains very approachable at less than $120.
Still, though, that enticing price tag does carry with it some limitations, most notably in the feel of the upper as well as the available colorways. Currently, Reebok only offers the FE5s in three distinct hues — Core Black / Pure Grey 8 / Ftwr White, Pure Grey 4 / Vector Blue / Vector Red and Steely Blue S23-R / Ftwr White / Smash Orange S23-R. Plus, the Speed Shift upper has a firmness to it that's not exactly the coziest across the skin, which lends itself to a "cheaper" motif. Oh well, if you can look past the limited color variety and don't mind the upper makeup, there's a ton of under-the-radar fun to be had with this impressive offering from Reebok.
Best Lightweight Neutral Running Shoe: Hoka Mach 5
- Weight: 8.2 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
If your typical running sessions are on the speedier side, it can help to have a lightweight pair of kicks designed to accentuate that pace rather than hold it back. The Mach 5s are an easy favorite of mine thanks to the stacked Profly+ midsole design that gives each transition plenty of snap for daily jaunts. I also appreciate the increased padding around the heel and collar of this "racing" silhouette from Hoka, as this boosted comfort helps improve security and plushness at these locations, helping eliminate the chances of errant rubbing or blister development.
Athletes with narrower feet may want to pay close attention to the size chart, however, if interested in this lightweight running silhouette. I found the toe box to be slightly wider than other profiles, which could leave more room than wanted at the front. While I didn't have an issue with these dimensions and felt the room lent itself to proper toe splaying, I could see where this space could be an issue for some.
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Beginners: Saucony Ride 16
- Weight: 8.8 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
If you were a fan of the previous Saucony Ride iteration, this new profile shares a lot of the same qualities. A familiar PWRRUN midsole makeup helps keep transitions smooth and balanced, while the XT-900 outsole helps ensure consistent underfoot feel. Thanks to this simple makeup and approachable ride, I highly recommend this Saucony silhouette for neutral-gaited athletes just getting into the sport.
I also enjoy how breathable and secure the mesh upper is across this sleeper of a running shoe. I didn’t experience any hot spots or errant sweating during my runs, which made for an overall comfortable experience. With that said, though, this isn’t the shoe for those that want a quieter ride. While the PWRRUN foam is firm for better toe-offs, it’s not as responsive as other midsole designs. The result can be a slapping sensation as you plant and push through your strides. Still, though, for novices just getting used to logging miles, this is a worthy pick worth your time.
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Heel Strikers: Hoka Clifton 9
- Weight: 8.7 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
For athletes that normally land on their heel, you want to find a silhouette with ample cushioning at this location as well as worthwhile geometry to help you roll into toe-offs without and complications. In my running circuits, I really enjoyed the early stage Meta-Rocker of this Clifton 9 profile, which allowed for seamless transitions even when trying to exaggerate my heel striking. Plus, the Durabrasion rubber outsole keeps traction where you need it most, and I've found no instance of excessive wear after logging a good bit of mileage atop these kicks.
The Hoka Clifton 9s are also surprisingly lightweight despite their pronounced underfoot cushioning across the compression-molded EVA foam midsole. While having a lighter profile may lend itself to quick paces, though, I found this silhouette is best kept for slower, more manageable paces. While you're capable of generating proper toe-offs with these sneakers, you still need to fight through a bit more foam than wanted to achieve that proper ground contact. This means that constant sprints or uptempo training circuits may be a little out of reach. Thankfully, though, there are other neutral running silhouettes more attuned to this workout style (more on that later).
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Daily Training: Asics Gel-Cumulus 25
- Weight: 9.38 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
While many of the included neutral running shoes in this guide perform well in daily training scenarios, I feel this all-new Gel-Cumulus 25 profile from Asics is the best for the tasks at hand. The PureGel Technology underfoot gives your steps a nice mix of softness and support, while the FF Blast Plus cushioning provides enough plush to even take these puppies on longer strolls throughout the neighborhood (if you so choose). There's also a nice variety of colorways available, perfect for matching your stride aesthetics to your personality.
Additionally, I'm a fan of how comfortable the engineered jacquard mesh upper is across the foot, essentially turning your Asics dailies into personal blankets for your digits. Admittedly, though, this textile is thicker than other running shoe profiles, so some may find the experience to be a little too warm for comfort.
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Tempo Training: Saucony Kinvara 14
- Weight: 7 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
While the Hoka Mach 5 is my go-to for lightweight neutral running sneakers, this Saucony offering is ideal for when you really want to redline your workouts. At just seven ounces in total, the Kinvara 14 is prime for speedy sessions on the streets or track. I enjoy how easy it is to propel forward thanks to the PWRRUN foam midsole and PWRRUN+ sockliner, and the foam's upward extension along the medial and lateral sides of the foot help improve stability along the way as well.
The Saucony Kinvara 14s are also durable enough for regimented speed days in your running schedule, as I've experienced no real signs of excessive wear and tear. With that said, though, the outsole design does leave you wanting more if your sprints are set to traverse wet sidewalks. I had a few tempo days in testing that fell under overcast conditions, and the developing puddles and wet paint markings along my normal routes proved to be more slippery than expected. Oh well, race cars typically don't perform as well when the track is wet, so why expect a running sneaker of the same cloth to perform any different?
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Long Distances: Asics Gel-Nimbus 25
- Weight: 10.5 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
If the Kinvara 14s are the race car of neutral running sneakers, this Gel-Nimbus 25 profile is the luxury family hauler. Every step atop this all-new Asics iteration felt like running on clouds, and extending my sessions well into the double digits was a more than welcome endeavor. The FF Blast Plus Eco cushioning built into the midsole design is plenty cozy, and I also admire how evenly dispersed it is across the frame. This helped eliminate any mushed-out toe-off sensations, which were common for some athletes running in previous Gel-Nimbus iterations.
The Gel-Nimbus 25s also boast a soft knit upper that hugs your foot with even more comfort, yet the stretchy fabric is still capable of providing a well-to-do lockdown. Think of it as the ideal seatbelt that keeps you safe in the car without digging into your waist or shoulder when in motion. Will these kicks break and land speed records? No. Are they more than ready to take your training far beyond your previous distance limits? Absolutely, yes.
Other Good Options
Best Zero-Drop Neutral Running Shoe: Altra Torin 6
- Weight: 9.9 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
For those wanting to pair their neutral footstrike with a zero-drop silhouette, look no further than the Torin 6 from Altra. The FootPod Technology that's synonymous with the brand's lineup helps encourage a more natural underfoot movement, and I also appreciate the FootShape comfort that's intended to allow for more natural toe splaying. Admittedly, though, it is a little to get used to if you're coming from more traditional running shoe profiles.
There’s also improved foot security with the Torin 6 thanks to a molded heel collar that keeps everything in place. I never felt the need to excessively cinch down my laces to keep my foot centered across the profile, which was a welcome touch for both my frame and foot comfort overall. While some athletes may find the upper to run hot in warmer conditions, this could be an excellent option for those fully invested in the minimalist aesthetic yet don't want to dive fully into the barefoot movement quite yet.
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Daily Wear: Adidas Ultraboost Light
- Weight: 10.5 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 10mm
Thanks to the "athleisure" aesthetic that's brought well-to-do workout attire into everyday life, running shoes are now common footwear for experiences outside of training, too. The Ultraboost family has been a go-to for these scenarios for quite some time, and the latest offering continues that trend with ample cushioning underfoot and sleek colorways for every personality. I also applaud Adidas for addressing one of the main concerns regarding previous iterations of this sneaker, shaving down the overall weight to just 10.5 ounces.
If you've been paying attention, though, you're likely to realize that 10.5 ounces is by no means "light" when compared to other silhouettes in this roundup. The chunky Light Boost midsole can begin to clunk up your paces at longer mileage, so I would forgo distance runs in these stylish kicks. In reality, if you need a pair of sneakers for multiple uses, i.e., training and social life, this is the pair for you. Otherwise, if you're looking to invest in running shoes for the sake of running, you're better of with another profile.
Best Neutral Running Shoe for Trail Running: Hoka Speedgoat 5
- Weight: 10.30 oz.
- Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
Neutral running shoes aren't solely destined for the sidewalk or track. No, there's plenty of worthwhile silhouettes that fall on the more adventurous side, with none more impressive that the Speedgoat 5s from Hoka. I love bombing through trailways and bogs with these durable, grippy kicks, and always admire how comfortable yet grounded these sneakers feel in training. Plus, the redesigned outsole provides ample traction, perfect for navigating through some likely mud or washout when conquering the outdoors.
The upper makeup of the Speedgoat 5s is also a perk thanks to its breathable nature and tough-as-nails durability. While some athletes may experience some discomfort due to the shorter-than-average tongue, these adventure-ready sneakers are sure to be the perfect addition to your growing running interest. If you're in the market for trail running shoes, the GOAT of the category is a great place to start.
What is Neutral Running?
Every footprint is unique, and how your feet make contact with the ground can impact your comfort level, especially when running. The main point of concern when deciding between a neutral running shoe or a silhouette offering more stability is your gait, which can be described as pronated, neutral or supinated.
Runners who pronate tend to have a stride that falls inward when stepping. While every athlete typically has some pronation in their normal step, excessive pronation can lead to less comfortable situations in the arch of your foot, as well as your heel, ankle, knee and more.
Supination, on the other hand, is the term used when runners experience an outward roll in their step. Supination is sometimes referred to as underpronation, for added clarity.
Neutral runners exhibit a more natural stride that doesn't excessively roll inward or outward. These runners can benefit from neutral running shoes, as there aren't any added stabilizing features to correct missteps. The ride is well-cushioned in key areas to promote this natural gait.
How to Tell if You Need Neutral Running Shoes
Outside of having a professional gait analysis, one of the easiest ways to determine if neutral running shoes are right for you is by looking at the tread wear on your current kicks. If you see a lot of tread missing on the inside of your shoe, then that can be a good indicator that you're overpronating. If your shoes are more worn on the outer edge, this indicates supination. Finally, a uniform wear across the sole means your stride is more neutral.
While neutral shoes aren't the most ideal for those with pronation issues, there are plenty of efficient, stylish stability runners out there that can cater to your specific step. Think of it less as missing out on neutral running shoes and more of having a personalized print for your performance.
Can Anyone Run in Neutral Running Shoes?
In theory, you don't need a neutral or supinated gait to reap the benefits of neutral running shoes. Athletes that suffer from pronation are plenty capable of logging miles with kicks that fall under the neutral umbrella. With that said, though, the experience of running in a more balanced sneaker may not be the most comfortable for those that need a little correction in their footprint. It's all a matter of how much you want to accentuate your personal running style with your chosen footwear.
So, if you fancy one of the above picks, by all means, give them a whirl. If you're dead set on running in a neutral silhouette yet still want some correction underfoot, you can always swap out your sock liners for a pair of aftermarket insoles, too. This is really one of the beauties of running — there aren't any hard and fast rules to dictate what you can and can't run in, only selections to help you curate the best step possible.