Best Neutral Running Shoes for Men & Women

From the outside looking in, the world of running seems fairly straightforward. All you need is a pair of shoes, some clothes to run in, the space to move, and the time to get a run in. Runners, however, know that there is a lot more to it than grabbing any pair of shoes and hitting the pavement. A basic sneaker will work in the beginning, but anyone who tries to run in an unsuitable shoe for long will quickly feel it in their feet, knees, and hips. A proper running shoe can be almost as unique as the runner wearing it and shoe companies are very aware of this. Shoe designers take everything into account from padding to cushioning the force of foot on the pavement to fashion elements, to the support needed for people with different gaits.

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ASICS Gel Kayano 20
  • ASICS Gel Kayano 20
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New Balance 990V4
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Saucony Cohesion 10
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A person’s gait is the pattern of how they walk. This can be affected by a number of things, but the factor most important to shoe designers is a person’s arch and if their foot turns in a bit at the ankle. These factors affect a person’s pronation, which is the term for where a person’s midfoot strikes the ground when walking. Some people strike along the outer edge while some strike in the center and varying angles in between. Not having the proper support for their personal pronation level lead to serious problems for frequent runners.

Neutral running shoes are those designed for people with a neutral pronation who often strike towards the center of the foot when walking or running. Their ankle bones turn in slightly when standing, and many in the running community consider this pronation to be ideal as it requires little support – also called neutral support – and leads to fewer possible complications.  Runners with neutral pronation do best with mild support, as too much can cause their pronation to change to something more severe, or with mild support for the arch and ankle. The shoes listed here are considered best for those runners who have neutral pronation, or a neutral gait. Their features and prices range widely but they all share the mild support needed for a neutral runner.

 

 

10 Best Neutral Running Shoes for Men & Women

 

 

 

1. ASICS Gel Kayano 20

ASICS makes several appearances on this list, which says almost as much about the brand as the Kayano's number on position does. Their shoes are designed for comfort and support without sacrificing usability or adding too much weight to the runner's foot. The Kayano is designed from the ground up for runners with neutral to mild pronation. When combined with its light weight and numerous support features, it easily takes first on this list.
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All Weather Shoes
Many running shoes on the market at the moment heavily feature mesh in their design. This is ideal to cut down on the shoe's weight and to increase the air flow to the foot, but it also leaves the shoe vulnerable to wet, wind, and cold. The Kayano avoid this issue with internal liners and supports, making this an all-weather shoe.

Gel Cushioned Heel
The Kayano features several forms of built-in support, but the most enticing for many runners will be the gel-cushioned heel. This feature absorbs shock to the hindfoot when running, which translates into less force traveling up the leg to cause problems in the knees and hips.

Cost and Value
These shoes are some of the most expensive on the list, but it is most certainly a case of getting what you pay for. They are too steeply priced for those who aren't sure what they're looking for but experienced runners and shoe buyers will appreciate the Kayano.
Pros
  • Multiple forms of support
  • Gel heel cushion
  • All Weather Shoe
  • Fits true to size
Cons
  • On the high end of the price spectrum

2. New Balance 990V4

New Balance is another company with a reputation for affordable daily sneakers that also designs running shoes with specific runners in mind. The 99OV4 is intended for runners with neutral pronation and a need for a sold ankle cuff. They come in a range of colors and are the latest addition to New Balance's Made in the US line.
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Leather and Mesh Uppers
Mesh has become a key material in modern running shoes, prized for its light weight and ability to let a foot breathe. Unfortunately, it is not particularly supportive, which is why New Balance mixed the mesh with leather. The design combines breathability with the structure of leather.

Dual Density Collar Foam
Running shoes can break down in the oddest places, one of which is the collar around the runner's ankle. With dual density construction, the collar on the 99OV4 will last long past other shoe collars will have crumpled or folded under repeated use.

Cost and Value
The 99OV4 is less expensive than the Kayano but still high priced enough that casual runners or those unsure of what they need might be better off trying less expensive shoes until they are sure. For those who are sure, this is a good investment shoe.
Pros
  • Lightweight and supportive design
  • Dual enforced ankle collar
  • Huge range of colors
  • Fits true to size
Cons
  • On the higher end of the price spectrum

3. ASICS GEL-Exalt

Asics' second offering is almost as impressive as their first. The GEL-Exalt running shoe has several similar features to the Kayano, though not quite as many. It is, however, an excellent shoe in its own right with solid construction and a trusted name backing its durability.
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Padded Tongue and Collar
Any runner can tell you how aggravating a shoe can become if the collar causes chafing around the ankle. Every step becomes an agitating experience. Asics avoids this in their GEL-Exalt design by way of a padded collar and tongue. This should reduce chafing and provide a smoother running experience.

Designed for Reduced Shoe Weight
Asics employs their Trusstic system to ensure stability without adding considerable weight to the shoe. Every ounce of weight can count during training or in a marathon, and Asics knows that. The GEL-Exalt maintains a lightweight while offering support to neutral and overpronated feet.

Cost and Value
This shoe is quickly becoming hard to come by, perhaps because it is an affordable option for runners who are just getting into shoes geared for their specific gait. Reviewers agree, however, that the shoes are worth it.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Supports neutral and over pronated feet
  • Reasonably priced
Cons
  • Not widely availble

4. Saucony Triumph ISO

4. Saucony Triumph ISO
Saucony's debut on this list is a running shoe with a few unique features. From a floating support cage to multiple company-specific support features, the Triumph is a solid shoe that will hold up over several hundred miles in most cases. With discreet eyelets and several color options, this shoe could easily blend into a daily casual wardrobe as well, for those days when the run goes a little longer than planned.
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Proprietary Midsole Foam Support
Saucony uses a proprietary foam for the midsoles, which they assert offers 20% more support than other foams often used for that portion of the foot. This foam runs the length of the shoe, which allows it to offer a shock absorbing layer as well, saving knees and hips some of the force of heel strike.

Floating Support Cage
A floating support cage is not often seen in running shoes, but in the Triumph, it is used to full effect. This feature allows the shoe to adapt to wider feet, which many users have voiced appreciation for. It also allows the shoe to adjust if a runner's foot changes with minor swelling, which many other shoes cannot do. The cage also offers a layer of external support to a shoe designed for breathability and low internal weight.

Cost and Value
These shoes start out at the high end of reasonable and can run into the low end of expensive. For frequent runners, however, the quality should be worth the investment.
Pros
  • Foam padded midsole
  • Full shoe shock absorption
  • Floating cage allows for better fit
  • Several color options
Cons
  • Run towards the high end of reasonably priced

9. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32

9. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32
Nike is one of the most well-known shoe brands on the market. Their Air Zoom Pegasus is no exception to their practice of quality shoes that meant to support the athlete wearing them without sacrificing style or all around comfort. This particular model comes in a range of color and color combinations, and features the kind of support and cushioning needed by the neutral runner.
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Responsive Heel Cushion
Heel strike can be an issue for runners and Nike takes that into account with their response heel cushion. This feature, combined with their neutral arch support and cushioned midfoot, will leave a neutral runner's feet in comfort during a good run.

Underfoot Crash Rail
The Pegasus also features an underfoot crash rail that runs the length of the shoes. This feature is intended as another shock absorbing measure which will keep more pressure from telegraphing to the knees and ankles during a run.

Cost and Value
These are relatively affordable for quality running shoes, particularly those made by Nike. Some sizes and color options can run into higher price ranges, but the base price makes this model a good value.
Pros
  • Mild arch support for neutral pronation
  • Under foot strike rail
  • Cushioned midsole and heel
  • Range of color options
Cons
  • May run a ittle small

6. Adidas Performance Edge Lux

6. Adidas Performance Edge Lux
Some athletic shoe designs have every bell and whistle mixed in. Others, like the Edge Lux, like to keep things simple. This design takes the idea of a neutral runner to a new level: it offers a mild amount of arch support and a trademarked Bounce core to aid in absorbing shock during footfalls. Beyond that, it is designed for the runner who likes to keep things simple.
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Low Shoe Weight
The Edge Lux weighs in at only eight ounces for a size seven shoe. A light shoe weight means less strain on the runner and allows for more foot flexibility and motion during runs or other forms of exercise.

Sock-Like Construction for a Snug Fit
Adidas used a very limited number of structural features when they designed the Edge Lux. Instead of heavier and more cumbersome options, they chose to use a snug sock-like construction that would comfortably hug a wearer's foot. Many reviews even claim that the shoe can be used without laces, though this is not recommended for runners!

Cost and Value
The Edge Lux starts out at a very reasonable price and then spans the price range all the way to the near-absurd end. If a pair is purchased at the low end of the price range, however, it is definitely worth the cost.
Pros
  • Range of color options
  • Soft, snug fit
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Prices can run very high for some pairs

7. Skechers Go Run Vortex Spiral

7. Skechers Go Run Vortex Spiral
Skechers is not the first name that comes to mind for running shoes, but they have a few quality offerings all the same. The Vortex Spiral shoe takes its name from the vortex spiral styling of the heel, which also plays a part in the shoe's efficacy as a running shoe. It's a solid, affordable shoe that should certainly be considered by a neutral runner.
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Dedicated Midfoot Strike Traction Zone
Neutral runners hit the ground solidly with the midfoot of their shoe instead of the outer or inner edges. The Vortex Spiral is prepared for this with a strong, dedicated traction zone in the midfoot of the shoe, providing a neutral runner with a solid grip.

Energy Return Insole
The insole of the Vortex Spiral is designed to deflect and absorb the shock of footfalls while running, minimizing the effect of the shock on a runner's joints.

Cost and Value
These are among the most affordable shoes on our list, though as with all shoes the price range varies. If they can be purchased at the lower end of the price spectrum, they are an excellent shoe for runners on a budget.
Pros
  • Energy return insole
  • Cost effective
  • Dedicate midfoot traction zone
Cons
  • Only one style

5. ASICS Gel-Contend 2

5. ASICS Gel-Contend 2
Asics' final offering on our list is almost as strong as the first two. The Gel-Contend 2 is another gel-insole shoe with a few twists up its sleeve. It features a padded tongue and collar to avoid ankle chafing while on runs, a rubber sole, and a mesh upper that is both lightweight and extremely durable.
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Rearfoot Gel Cushioning
Asics makes frequent use of gel cushioning in the rearfoot area of their shoes and for good reason. This alleviates the pressure of heel strike when running, which translates into a more comfortable running experience.

Slip Resistant and Mostly Non-Marking
The shoe is marketed as neither slip resistant nor non-marking, but the reviews are clear. Asics' rubber soles are fairly slip-resistant, which makes them ideal for wet-weather runs as well as sports that may take a person onto wet surfaces. The shoes have also been reported as almost entirely non-marking, which allows to them translate well onto a court if necessary.

Cost and Value
Even at their most expensive these shoes are reasonably priced. If a runner is looking for solid shoes at an affordable price, these are the shoes to go for.
Pros
  • Gel cushioned rear foot
  • Slip resistant and non-marking
  • Affordably priced
  • Padded tongue and collar
Cons
  • Not many style options available

9. Newton Fate

9. Newton Fate
Newton is not a common name among the highest reviewed running shoes on Amazon, but it is a great brand nonetheless, and its offering on this list is very specifically a shoe for runners. The Fate is Newton's replacement for a shoe named the Lady Isaac, and by all accounts, it is an excellent shoe to transition into if a Lady Isaac has worn out. There are several reinforcement and comfort features built into the shoe's design, making it a great option for runners who want a dedicated running shoe.
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Very Lightweight
The Fate weighs in at just under nine ounces for a size nine and a half shoe. This is an incredibly low weight for a shoe that features several support options, shock absorbers, and design elements.

Crafted for Running in Comfort
Newton packed several structural and support elements into the Fate. External lugs compress to absorb shock while the suppers are stitched the full length around to give the shoe durability as well as a more cohesive footfall sensation. The liner is constructed in a sock-like fashion to give a snug fit and the mesh uppers are reinforced at anatomically key areas to provide maximum support with minimum weight or footfall interference.

Cost and Value
These shoes start at the very low end of the price range and can top out towards the middle of the high end, but even at their higher costs, they are worth the investment.
Pros
  • Very light weight
  • Sock like construction for snug ft
  • Shock absorbing compression features
  • Anatomically placed supports
Cons
  • Limited styling options

7. Saucony Cohesion 10

7. Saucony Cohesion 10
The Cohesion 10 from Saucony is another shoe that leaves off the bells and whistles in favor of solid construction and no-nonsense efficacy. They might run a little small, but if that is taken into account they are long-lasting and durable, making them a great option for casual runners.
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Durable and Long Lasting
By all accounts, these shoes last and last. They are ideal for casual joggers who need a solid pair of durable shoes for their jogs and runs without investing a large sum on more complex shoes with features they might not have a need for.

Good Traction
Though the shoes are not marketed as non-slip, many users agree that the shoes have excellent traction so long as the sole is in good condition. And given the durability of these shoes, often more than a year even with heavy use, the traction should remain ideal for some time.

Cost and Value
If a pair can be found for their lower price, these are the most affordable shoes on this list. They are an excellent daily runner shoe that will hold up for a long time under mild use, saving money over time in addition to the money saved on the initial investment.
Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Good traction
  • Durable and long lasting
Cons
  • Run small

The more frequently someone runs, the more important proper running shoes become. Having shoes that over-support the arch, or compensate for a gait foreign to the runner, can lead to problems that would not have existed if the shoes had not been worn at all. If a runner isn’t sure what their pronation or gait is, many sports supply shops have people that can help them find out. Barring that, podiatrists are often reliable people for determining what kind of running shoe is best for each individual. Once the proper fit is determined, it is only a matter of finding a pair in the right style and right price range before happy feet are hitting the street.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate The Best Neutral Running Shoes

Support Features

Because runners with neutral pronation are not in need of the same kind of support structures that other pronation types are, the shoes on this list were evaluated based on whether or not they offered any forms of additional support or padding, and whether those supports were necessary or only added to the weight and cost of the shoe without benefit to the buyer. Shoes with overly high arches or unnecessary supports were eliminated, leaving the shoes best matched to a neutral runner. One of the biggest concerns would be the weight of the shoe, the cost of a durable pair, and the shock absorption offered. Most of the shoes listed feature specific shock absorbing features to give the buyer’s run a smoother and less aggressive rhythm and cause less pressure on the knee, ankle, and hip joints.

 

Weight

Many non-runners underestimate the effect that a shoe’s weight can have on a runner. Shoe designers, however, are very aware of this factor and it was high on the list of criteria that each shoe on this list was matched to. In many cases, an exact weight is offered, though of course, the weight varies depending on shoe size. To reduce weight, many of these shoes are primarily made of mesh with rubber soles, though each model has its own style and method of integrating these two materials. The base weight was not the only consideration, however. When possible, each shoe was evaluated based on the features it offered and whether or not they were worth the weight they added to the shoe, allowing for a weight and function judgment to be made.

Variety of Usability

These shoes are, for the most part, intended for running and little else. Most people cannot designate just one activity per pair of shoes, however, and this was taken into account when choosing the shoes to list above. Each shoe was designed specifically for running and may be mildly uncomfortable for activities where the foot moves in a markedly different manner, but there are numerous other activities that buyers have successfully involved these shoes in. Squash, boating, and basketball are just a few that were listed, leaving the door open for many other options in between runs.

 

FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Q: Do the shoes fit true to size?
A: For the most part, these shoes fit true to size. In cases where there is a chronic issue with the shoes being a size small, it is mentioned in the review. Athletic shoes are generally recommended to be a half size larger than dress shoes to allow for the foot’s movement, so that factor was taken into account as well.

Q: Are the shoes waterproof?
A: A few pairs on this list do qualify as “all weather” shoes, but as the majority of them are mesh, so it is hard to deem them waterproof. A waterproof spray is usually recommended for any shoes that will often be worn outdoors.

Q: How long will a pair last?
A: That depends on how often the shoes are worn and how much use they see in each wear, but generally speaking the shoes on this list will last a consistent runner a year or more before either the insole or the traction on the bottom fails and the shoes need to be replaced.

Q: Where can I find out my pronation?
A: A podiatrist is the best bet for determining what kind of pronation a person has, but shoe stores and sports supply stores often have people available to help determine this as well.

Q: Are neutral running shoes good for people with plantar fasciitis?
A: For the most part, no. There is often not enough arch support or heel cupping for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. Some of the shoes listed above have removable insoles so that suitable insoles for plantar fasciitis can be added and there are many wonderful insoles on the market. Straight from the box, however, neutral pronation shoes are likely not going to have enough support.

Sources

  1. Thorin Klosowski, What's the Difference Between All These Running Shoes?, Webpage, Jan 01, 1970


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