Sports science has proved that our feet move and flex better when the ball of the foot and the heel are on the same level. This improved foot’s flexion and movement have also improved the running performance of athletes such as marathon runners and running enthusiasts. This discovery has pushed major shoemaking brands to focus special attention towards developing “zero-drop” running shoes.
Zero-drop running shoes are running shoes whose heel and toe platforms are leveled. While there are many such shoes out there on the market, not all of them are the best for you. That’s why we’ve brought you only the best zero drop running shoes to buy for your running exercise. For you to find the best of these products on the market, you will need to know how to choose the best zero drop running shoes.
- 1 How do you choose the best zero drop running shoes?
- 2 Top 8 Best zero drop running shoes in 2021
- 2.1 1. Altra Men’s Torin 3 Athletic Shoe
- 2.2 2. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Runner
- 2.3 3. New Balance Men’s MT10V1 Minimus
- 2.4 4. Altra Olympus 3.0
- 2.5 5. Altra AFM1855F Men’s Lone Peak 4
- 2.6 6. Altra Escalante 1.5
- 2.7 7. Topo Athletic Runventure 2
- 2.8 8. Altra Men’s ALM1957F TIMP 1.5
- 3 Frequently asked questions about Best Zero Drop Running Shoes
- 4 Conclusion
How do you choose the best zero drop running shoes?
To choose the best zero drop running shoes, you will have to consider the following factors or features:
1. The drop in the shoes
The drop of the shoe is the height difference between the heel and forefoot. Zero drop running shoes are those shoes with the same heel and forefoot height, giving runners a ‘flat’ running experience. The heel-to-toe drop varies from zero millimeters to 16 millimeters. Being able to find the best shoes for your running experience means considering your feet’s anatomy, flexion and movement to get the ideal drop that is perfect for you. These zero drops include:
- Zero drop: Ideal for midfoot or forefoot strikers.
- 4 mm drop: Ideal for runners who strike the midfoot.
- 8 mm drop: Also ideal for runners who strike the midfoot.
- 12 mm drop: Ideal for moderate heel strike.
- 16 mm drop: Ideal for runners who strike with the heel.
2. The comfort level of the shoe
The best zero drop running shoes should provide comfort by sufficiently cushioning your feet against all hazardous shocks and impacts. Also, it should be highly breathable to keep your feet fresh and dry at all times throughout your running experience. As such, look for a highly breathable pair of zero drop running shoes with excellent cushioning as well.
3. The material of the shoe
Only go for shoes with high-quality shoe construction materials. This will guarantee durability, reliability and excellent performance. You could choose a shoe with EVA cushioning midsole unit since this foam is lightweight and performs excellently.
Also, you could choose a rubber-made outsole since rubber offers excellent traction and also durable. A quick-dry synthetic upper mesh also makes up a high-quality shoe material. Therefore, choose a pair of running shoes that feature the above-named shoe construction materials.
Top 8 Best zero drop running shoes in 2021
This shoe brand uses a high-quality quick-dry textile air mesh material in its upper unit. The textile material is breathable to allow air to circulate inside your shoe. The result of this is fresh and dry feet. Also, this upper unit has the brand’s Strobel Last cushioning material that makes the foot very comfortable. This upper also has a soft fabric lining that is also breathable to give you a soft sock-like feeling on your feet. The tongue and ankle collar are lightly padded for additional comfort and to prevent interior wobbling and accidental shoe removal.
The midsole unit of this shoe features a two-layered EVA cushioning material to make your foot as comfortable as possible. The top layer of this EVA cushioning is the A-Bound technology that is filled with energy for a responsive running experience. The other layer is the 6 mm contour footbed that provides a comfortable underfoot experience.
The midsole unit also features the Natural Ride System (NRS) design that has the zero-millimetre heel-to-toe drop that encourages a natural movement of your foot. On the outsole unit, this shoe brand features a Footpod outsole, which is very durable and reliable. This outsole material is flexible and provides excellent traction. Slipping is, therefore, minimal with this shoe.
A high-quality breathable synthetic mesh comprises the upper unit of this shoe. This upper allows air to circulate inside the shoe for a fresh and dry foot. Besides, this upper mesh features a breathable lining that wicks away moisture and sweat from the inside of the shoe. This guarantees a fresh and dry in-shoe environment further.
A strong but lightweight TPU overlays that run from the eyelets all the way down gives the upper mesh the support and reinforcement it needs. The tongue and collar are lightly padded for a comfortable running experience and also to hold your foot in place.
The midsole unit comes packed with excellent cushioning materials to give your feet the comfort they deserve. A compression moulded EVA foam, which is the major midsole material, cushions the feet and absorbs all the shocks.
This EVA foam is lightweight and provides excellent cushioning without subjecting you to a large shoe weight to deal with. This shoe brand has a non-removable microfiber footbed that uses M-Select Fresh antimicrobial treatment to combat a bad foot odour and perspiration.
This shoe brand uses a lightweight but highly durable outsole- the Vibram TC5+ outsole- to give you sufficient underfoot protection and excellent traction. This outsole is rubber-made and is resistant to abrasion. To provide sufficient underfoot protection further, this shoe brand has a Trail Protect Pad between the midsole and outsole to protect your feet from debris and sharp objects like rocks.
This shoe brand features a breathable synthetic mesh in its upper unit. Inside this upper mesh is a soft fabric lining that gives your foot a sock-like plush comfort. This fabric lining features an antimicrobial treatment to fight a bad foot odour and also to prevent sweating. Also, this upper features a lace-up closure design for controlling the fit of the shoes.
Its thin tongue and ankle collar are lightly padded for sufficient foot comfort. This shoe also has a thin textile footbed with midfoot wrap to secure your foot in place. The midsole unit features an ACTEVA foam, which is lighter and compresses less than the EVA foam, to give your foot an excellent cushioning against pain-inflicting shocks. This midsole material guarantees a responsive running experience.
The outsole unit also features a high-quality material- Vibram rubber. This outsole has maximum contact with the surface thereby giving you sufficient traction on different trails. The outsole also features flex grooves which provide outsole durability and additional traction on rocky surfaces.
The upper unit of this shoe brand features a quick-drying trail-specific mesh. As such, this shoe brand is breathable for fresh and dry feet. This mesh has stitched overlays at its lateral sides to give it structural integrity and framework that gives this shoe the shape that it has. These overlays also protect some areas of the feet against possible injuries from the harsh trails, besides giving the upper unit support and shape that guarantees a snug and comfortable fit.
For runners who’d love to use a gaiter, this shoe brand comes with a 4-Point Gaiter Trap which will help you incorporate your gaiter seamlessly with this running shoe brand. In its midsole unit, this shoe brand features a dual-layer EVA foam to give you sufficient underfoot protection. The top layer of the midsole unit is the brand’s proprietary A-bond material that offers additional cushioning against dangerous shocks.
The whole midsole material is made from recycled materials, and this makes the midsole resistant to wear and tear. With this durability, this shoe will offer sufficient underfoot protection for a long time. Also, the midsole unit features zero-millimetre millimetre heel-to-toe drop which promotes natural feet alignment and low-impact feet landing. The result of this is a painless running experience.
This shoe brand features a sticky rubber outsole- the Vibram MegaGrip compound- that provides excellent traction on both wet and dry grounds. This outsole material is durable and adapts to any kind of terrain.
This shoe brand has a quick-drying air mesh that’s basically fabric in its upper unit. This mesh has stitched overlays that reinforce it to give it the proper shape and structural strength. These overlays also come in handy when you want to adjust the fit of this shoe using its traditional lace-up closure system. Also, the overlays protect the upper unit from scratches and potential cuts.
Since the upper comprises a quick-dry air mesh, it’s breathable and prevents water absorption and retention. The result of this is fresh and dry feet. Besides, this upper unit allows circulation of air inside your shoes. The upper also has 4-Point Gaiter Trap for runners who might want to use some gaiters to keep off debris from reaching their running shoes.
This shoe brand has a heel claw construction design on the rear or heel section to clamp your heel in place. This increases safety during a running experience. The midsole unit of this shoe has two layers- the top A-bound technology layer and the EVA foam bottom layer. The topsole, which features the A-bound technology, provides excellent cushioning to your foot while the EVA foam supports both the foot and the topsole.
The whole midsole unit comes from recycled materials which are also eco-friendly. Another brilliant and protective layer- the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) layer which features the brand’s special StoneGuard technology- exists between the midsole unit and the outsole unit. The sole purpose of this layer is to protect your foot from abrasive elements on the trail. This layer is flexible to allow your foot to move naturally.
The shoe brand also has a 5-mm contour footbed which is removable to give you additional cushioning against pain-inflicting shocks. The outsole units of these shoes feature the MaxTrac technology and the TrailClaw lug configuration. As such, this outsole unit is durable and can withstand uneven surfaces of terrains. The lugs also provide excellent traction, thanks to their configuration.
A highly engineered knit material makes up the upper unit of this shoe brand. This allows the air to circulate inside the shoes for a fresh and dry foot. This material is stretchable and features the FootShape toe-box that takes up the shape of your toe. This upper material also has 360 reflective materials that make this shoe ideal for usage in a low-light running environment.
This shoe brand has a moderately padded tongue and ankle collar to give you comfort. Also, this shoe features a lace-up closure design that you can use to adjust the fit to your preference. The upper has lace loops to keep the laces out of the way while you run. The midsole unit has zero millimetre heel-to-toe drop which is ideal at promoting proper foot’s movement.
This shoe brand features the brand’s Altra Ego midsole compound in the midsole unit. This material offers excellent cushioning that absorbs all the shocks and impacts during heel landing. Also, this compound is responsive to give you sufficient bounciness which is useful during running experiences.
The midsole also features the InnerFlex design that has grid-like grooves to give the shoe sufficient flexibility for a smoother running experience. Lastly, this shoe brand has a 6 mm contour footbed to give your foot additional cushioning against shocks and impacts.
The outsole unit features a high-quality and durable rubber. This outsole comes equipped with the FootPod technology that maps your foot’s bone tendons with the sole purpose of allowing your foot to bend and move naturally while you’re running. And with its tread pattern, this outsole offers sufficient traction on running terrains.
An abrasion-resistant synthetic mesh comprises the upper unit of this shoe brand. As such, this shoe brand offers breathability for a fresh and dry foot. Also, the upper unit has overlays to give it structural integrity that it needs to fit you exceptionally well. A lace-up closure design is another notable feature with this shoe brand.
This closure design gives you allowance to adjust the fit to your preference. The shoes also feature a snugger midfoot lockdown technology for an anatomical fit, thanks to the printed upper pattern of this shoe. The upper unit also features an anatomical toe box that lets your toes to spread naturally without any hassle or compressing pressure. If you’d like to wear a gaiter with these shoes, you can do so since these shoes have molded opening in the heel area for attaching your gaiter.
The midsole unit features a zero millimetre heel-to-toe drop, and this is essential for your foot’s natural movement. Aside from that midsole design, the midsoles feature a full-length EVA cushioning. This means that the entire length of the midsole unit offers comfort and protection from shocks and impacts during heel-to-toe transitions.
High-quality and durable rubber comprises the outsole unit of these shoes. Not only that, this outsole has multi-directional lugs that give sufficient traction on all terrains from multiple directions. It doesn’t matter how you step on the terrain because you will still get enough traction. As a bonus, the outsole unit has a rock protection plate to protect your foot and the shoes from sharp hazardous objects like rocks.
The upper units of these shoes feature a multi-directional mesh that is breathable. This mesh allows for air circulation inside the shoes to keep your feet fresh and dry. This mesh has a soft fabric lining that makes the shoes feel very soft and comfortable. With all these features in place, the upper mesh is still flexible to let your foot move naturally when you’re running.
The upper mesh has TPU overlays that give it reinforcement and the structural integrity that it needs. These overlays also protect the mesh from scratches and cuts that might damage the upper unit. Also, these overlays make the upper mesh to wrap around your foot snugly and comfortably for an excellent running experience.
The shoes also have a lace-up closure system, a moderately padded tongue and collar for secure fit adjustability. The upper unit also features a 4-Point Gaiter Trap that has hook-and-loop tabs for your gaiter. This shoe brand features a heel counter that works closely and efficiently with the lacing system to give your foot a secure foot lockdown.
The midsole unit features a zero-drop design, which means your heel and the toe are leveled. This midsole design ensures that your foot has a natural movement for a better running experience. Besides, this midsole unit features EVA foam cushioning with Innerflex grooves for flexibility during the heel-to-toe transition. The midsole, therefore, safely and sufficiently cushions the foot against shocks and impacts. As a bonus to the cushioning functionality, this shoe features a 5 mm contour footbed for additional comfort and excellent fit.
A high-quality and durable DuraTread rubber that features the brand’s special TrailClaw technology makes up the outsole unit of these shoes. With its special TrailClaw technology, the outsole unit provides excellent traction on the trail. This rubber is abrasion and damage-resistant, making these shoe ideal for usage on high-wear trails.
Frequently asked questions about Best Zero Drop Running Shoes
1. What are the benefits of using zero drop running shoes?
Running shoes with zero millimetres heel-to-toe drop benefit you in the following ways:
- You have a better running technique.
- You balance your body weight from front to back.
- They have excellent cushioning that reduces impacts and absorbs shocks.
- These shoes help you align your feet, body posture and back.
2. How can I acquire a pair of zero drop running shoes?
You can walk right into a shoe store and pick of your preferred pair of shoes, or you can place an order online via the website of a trusted e-commerce website and have your shoes right on your doorstep within a short time.
3. Which company makes zero drop running shoes?
While there are many companies that make zero drop running shoes, the pioneer of these shoes is the Altra Company. This company also coined the term “zero drop.”
There are a lot of zero drop running shoes on the market. You don’t have to scour the internet trying to find the best zero drop running shoes today because we bring you just the right information that is useful. While all the shoes on our list are great, one stands out more. You can choose our clear winner- Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Runner since it’s affordable, breathable and promises the zero drop midsole design. For more information, you can read our review above.