Best Zero Drop (or Very Low Drop) Running Shoes

9 Best Zero Drop (or Very Low Drop) Running Shoes

Several years ago, running shoe companies started to take a critical look at the shoes they were designing. Some companies began to experiment with a more minimalist approach. The theory was that the cushioning and stability features companies were loading into running shoes was actually harming natural running form.

More specifically, companies began to question the common practice of inserting more cushioning under the heel to help absorb shock. As the science of running improved, companies began to believe that the elevated heel actually made running form worse and increased injury. Lead by athletic shoe giants like Nike, zero drop shoes were born.

So, what are zero drop shoes anyway? Zero drop shoes have no cushioning lift in the heel. The height from heel to toe is zero. These minimal running shoes are meant to give runners a more natural feel – almost like running in bare feet.

Number 9

Brooks Pureflow

Brooks Pureflow

The Brooks Pureflow is a lightweight, low drop running running shoe. Unlike Brooks’s more signature lines, the Pureflow, with a thinner rubber outsole and low heel drop, is meant to go fast. In the Pureflow, runners feel the ground with every stride but still remain cushioned. BioMoGo and DNA technologies keep the shoe light and flexible while a flex grid outsole allows your foot to move naturally. The Pureflow has a soft ankle collar and has a snug upper and toe box. This shoe is a great racing flat that will have you flying down the streets or around the track.

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Number 8

Altra Vanish R

Altra Vanish R

Altra is one of the premier zero drop brands. The Vanish R is a true racing flat with minimal support. It is lightweight and snug but not restrictive. This fast and responsive zero drop running shoe has a thin sole with smooth ground feel. The midsole has EVA foam and Altra’s propel plate that really pushes the foot forward. The Vanish R is flexible and well-constructed but not meant as a high mileage, daily trainer. It is priced right for a racing shoe that may not last as long as more substantial running shoes.

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Number 7

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila

As the name suggests, Vibram FiveFingers shoes are designed to look like gloves for your feet. These unique zero drop training shoes are perfect for those looking for a more barefoot-like running experience. With compression molded EVA, the Bikila offers more padding than other Vibram models. The Bikila has a thicker liner that feels like a sock. There is a little extra padding on heel and forefoot, that make this zero drop shoe feel like something between true barefoot runners and traditional soled shoe. With bold colors and the bold design, the Bikila is a standout zero drop training shoe.

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Number 6

Altra Escalante

Altra Escalante

The Altra Escalante is a versatile and durable cushioning shoe. The Escalante includes many of Altra’s signature touches like their FootShape toe box and FootPod technology on the outsole. The roomy toe box provides natural stability while the outsole mirrors the shape and structure of bones and tendons in the foot. The midsole is equipped with Altra’s foam blend (called EGO) to make it one of the best zero drop shoes with cushioning. The knit upper provides a snug but comfortable, sock-like fit.

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Number 5

Altra Lone Peak

Altra Lone Peak

Like all of Altra’s shoes, the Lone Peak is a zero drop running shoe with a wide toe box. The Lone Peak has a unique foam blend and reliable durability. What sets the Lone Peak apart however, is it’s dynamic traction which makes it one of the best zero drop hiking shoes on the market. The upper fits tightly but the laces are adjustable and can be loosened for a roomier feel. The Lone Peak has good drainage for wet hikes and maintains a responsive feel. Your foot will feel comfortable and well protected from debris in the Lone Peak.

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Number 4

New Balance Minimus Trail 10

New Balance Minimus Trail 10

The New Balance Minimus Trail 10 is a great low drop training shoe. The 4 mm drop is hardly noticeable so that it feels like a zero drop training shoe. The lugged Vibram outsole is great for trail running in wet or muddy conditions but is comfortable enough to be worn on smoother paved roads or indoors. The shoe fits snugly like a sock with a roomy toe box. With a combination of different meshes, the upper is both flexible and supportive. An added layer of GoreTex keeps the shoe warm and waterproof. The Minimus Trail 10 is a versatile trainer that works equally well as a zero drop walking shoe.

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Number 3

Merrell Trail Glove

Merrell Trail Glove

As one of the most trusted hiking shoe brands, but the Merrell Trail Glove certainly delivers as one of the best zero drop running and hiking shoes. This minimalist trainer has enough cushioning to be comfortable and responsive while still maintaining good ground feel. It boasts a barely noticeable protective forefoot rock plate with a Vibram rubber outsole to protect against rocky debris and provide good traction. The unique probiotic mesh upper is not only comfortable but also helps control odors. The sole provides great traction for wherever your feet take you.

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Number 2

Topo Athletic Magnifly

Topo Athletic Magnifly

Topo is another company dedicated to making minimalist shoes that mimic the shape and movement of the foot. The Athletic Magnifly is true to this aesthetic. The wide rounded toe box and toe rocker help your foot remain stable while propelling you forward. The Magnifly has two layers of EVA foam in the midsole to give a cushioned feel while remaining firm and responsive. This zero drop neutral running shoe feels supportive but not too soft or squishy. The probiotic mesh upper has no overlays so it keeps it lightweight with a natural, flexible feel. The Magnifly is a durable daily trainer that zero drop fans will love.

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or get it on Amazon

Number 1

Altra Torin Plush

Altra Torin Plush

Topping our list of the best zero drop running shoes is the Altra Torin Plush. This Altra model has all the features you expect from an Altra shoe (natural foot shape, balanced cushion, FootPod outsole), but the Torin Plush is one of their most comfortable models. The latest version is even lighter than previous versions and has an updated, breathable mesh upper that manages to cradle the foot without feeling restrictive or tight. This shoe is a durable workhorse that feels as good on fast short runs as it does on long, leisurely runs.

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or get it on Amazon