10 Best Neutral Running Shoes Compared 2021

Last updated: October 19, 2021

Running Shoes / 10 Best Neutral Running Shoes Compared 2021

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Different runners require different running shoes.

Some people need a narrow fit, or a wide fit, some people need underpronation running shoes, everyone is different. One of the most common types of running shoes though are the neutral kind.

These are designed for people that have mild pronation or supination and provide a neutral run. Most neutral runnners are usually comfortable in any shoe, however they won’t experience benefits such as the lightweightness neutral shoes provide.

We’ve compared some of the most popular neutral running shoes from the most frequent sought after brands below and reviewed them against each other against their various features below.

Best Neutral Running Shoes Compared and Reviewed

Best Overall
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14
Lightweight
Mizuno Wave Rider 15
Mizuno Wave Rider 15
Best Cushioning
Hoka One One Clifton 8
Hoka One One Clifton 8
Best Stability
New Balance 880v11
New Balance 880v11
For High Arches
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23

1. Brooks Ghost 14

Key Features

  • 10oz. Weight
  • 8mm heel drop
  • 36mm heel
  • Cushioned

Reasons to buy

  • Great cushioning
  • Very stable
  • Smooth ride
  • Luxurious upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Heavier than previous versions

The Brooks Ghost 14 is probably the most neutral running shoe of all neutral running shoes. It’s pretty bland, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – it has a huge, loyal fanbase of runners who aren’t really known for taking risks. These fans know exactly what they like, and Ghost delivers it to them each and every year. 

The Brooks Ghost 14 shoes are also great for beginner runners because they are a safe option. They are not too firm nor too soft, they have a comfortable upper regardless of your foot type, and for a neutral shoe, they are wonderfully stable. 

The Brooks Ghost 14s feel very slipper-like and luxurious when you put them on for the first time. The upper is quite streamlined and is far less puffy than the upper on the Ghost 13. This version of the Ghost makes it feel as though it is much easier to run at a faster pace, while previous versions made running feel cumbersome and sluggish. 

They are a very nimble pair of shoes and are more agile than what you might expect from a neutral running shoe. One of the most exciting features of the Ghost 14 is that it comes with a full DNA Loft midsole, which makes quite the difference in comparison to the half DNA Loft that was on the Ghost 13.

2. Mizuno Wave Rider 15 

Key Features

  • 11.1oz. Weight
  • Cushioned
  • 1.75-inch heel
  • 0.75-inch platform

Reasons to buy

  • Great fit
  • Breathable upper
  • Shoes are durable
  • Fantastic cushioning with a low profile

Reasons to avoid

  • Wave plate in midfoot can feel stiff

The Mizuno Wave Rider has attracted weekend warriors and high mileage runners alike thanks to its lightweight but durable nature and silky smooth ride. The Wave Rider 14 left many runners feeling disappointed in its odd fit and poor fit, and if you were one of those runners, then you’ll be delighted to know that the Wave Runner 15 features an improved fit and lower heel collar. 

This improvement to the heel collar comes after many runners complained about abrasions on the Wave Runner 14’s high heel collar. The first thing you’ll notice about this iteration is that it has a fantastic fit and runs true to size. 

Its ample toe box is supported by a snug fit all throughout the heel and midfoot, and the upper’s overlays provide your feet with a good, locked-down feel. The cushioning is nice and firm and is consistent with the Wave technology from Mizuno. There is a bit of a break-in period where the shoes can feel slightly inflexible and stiff, though that wears out quite quickly. 

The Wave Runner 15 comes with a lightweight construction and wonderfully breathable mesh. Its lacing system is nice and straightforward, and the tongue comes with a good amount of cushioning. Your feet aren’t going to feel uncomfortable in these shoes.

3. Hoka One One Clifton 8

Key Features

  • 8.9oz. Weight
  • 5mm heel drop
  • Cushioned
  • Extended pull tab

Reasons to buy

  • More versatile than Clifton 7
  • More snappy forefoot
  • Comfortable upper
  • Great cushioning

Reasons to avoid

  • Not much energy return

Next is the Clifton 8 from Hoka One One, which was one of the softest and most comfortable shoes on the market when it was first released. The midsole on the Clifton 8 is quite a bit firmer than its predecessors, despite this being a very soft shoe. This makes for some excellent stability and helps prevent your feet from slipping. 

The foam density of the Clifton 8 strikes a perfect balance between firm and soft. The foam’s thick stack provides more than enough cushioning for you to run a full marathon without overly compressing you so that you don’t feel like you are battling with the shoe over long distances. As for the ride, the Clifton 8 has an old-school feel in that it does not have the same level of energy return as many modern running shoes. 

Hoka One One has made quite a noticeable change to the midsole of the Clifton 8, particularly at the heel section. There are only two vertical sidewall grooves, whereas there were three on the Clifton 7. When it comes to rearfoot strikes, these grooves will cause the foam under the heel to compass more, providing a more cushioned feel to the shoe. 

This is one of the main reasons why this iteration of the Clifton feels more versatile and firm than its predecessor.

4. New Balance 880v11

Key Features

  • 9.7oz. Weight
  • 34mm heel stack
  • 10mm offset
  • 24mm forefoot stack

Reasons to buy

  • Double jacquard mesh upper
  • Softer than previous versions
  • Fresh Foam X midsole
  • Smooth running experience

Reasons to avoid

  • Slightly heavy

The New Balance 880v11s feature a new engineered double jacquard mesh upper, which makes the shoes feel stretchier and softer than previous versions. It holds the feet very well and does not have any pressure points, which means you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth running experience for the duration of your runs. 

What’s more, the improved upper also makes the shoe look quite a bit sleeker than its previous versions. There is a nice bit of padding at the heel collar, and it also flares out to serve as a pull tab for ease of donning and taking off. The external molded heel is smaller in comparison to the 880v10, and New Balance managed to integrate the design better for this iteration. 

The 880v11 comes with a midsole made from New Balance’s signature Fresh Foam X, and while the shoe does have some good cushioning, it still boasts enough firmness to keep the ride smooth and responsive. The ride feels good underfoot, and although this is a neutral shoe, it is definitely more on the stable side of life. 

A generous forefoot offers a comfortable place for you to splay your toes, and even if you have narrow feet, you’ll be able to fit snugly into the New Balance 880v11s. We also like their stylish design.

5. Asics Gel-Nimbus 23

Key Features

  • 11oz. Weight
  • 8mm heel drop
  • Cushioned
  • 36mm heel stack

Reasons to buy

  • Very comfortable
  • Protective & padded ride
  • Squishy feel underfoot
  • Smooth ride transitions

Reasons to avoid

  • The rubber on the outsole wears out quickly

Asics’ Nimbus series appeals to a wide market, from experienced marathon runners to teenagers who are just getting started in the sport, and you won’t find a shortage of Gel-Nimbus shoes on the feet of professional runners. Asics filled in the arch to eliminate the wide gap that was present in the previous iteration, providing a softer ride. 

When it comes to looks, the Nimbus 23 is one of the best-looking max-cushioned running shoes on the market right now. They have a comfortable and luxurious feel, and they fit perfectly true to size, which is, unfortunately, not something we often see these days. 

The Nimbus 23 provides a plush and comfortable ride and does not have a break-in period. One of the most standout sensations when wearing these shoes is the squishy foam layer found right under the insole. It surrounds your toes and feet with every footstrike to keep them comfortable and free of soreness. 

The sink-in, plush foam sensation – which feels remarkably like memory foam – is unique to the Nimbus, and we can see why Asics chose to name this shoe line after a cloud. It certainly feels like you’ve got two clouds on your feet when running with these shoes. The midsole’s Flytefoam makes the Nimbus 23s feel much less dense and more lively than the previous versions of this shoe.

6. Saucony Guide 14

Key Features

  • 99oz. Weight
  • 0mm heel drop
  • Mesh upper
  • Compression-molded EVA

Reasons to buy

  • Durable sole
  • Reflective heel strip
  • Snug fit
  • Support & comfortable upper

Reasons to avoid

  • It feels quite heavy on the feet

Next up is the Guide 14 running shoes from Saucony, a line of shoes that has received plenty of praise for being a consistently solid shoe. This iteration comes with a slightly different look that might make it unrecognizable to some, but we think it looks great. It offers a little less cushioning around the heel and a little more on the tongue than previous versions. 

You’ll also find a reflective material included on the upper, which has not changed much in terms of appearance. If you are a long-time fan of Saucony’s Guide series, then you can look forward to the same reliable stability in the series’ 14th iteration. While the transitions might feel a little flat, the upper is extremely comfortable, even miles into your runs. 

The soft upper feel of the Guide 14 is similar to that of the Hurricane 22, and the Guide even has the same sock liner, as well as an extra cushioning layer below this liner. The PWRRUN midsole foam that Saucony included in this Guide shoe is far more flexible than you might expect, and its medial post prevents the shoe from bending past the midfoot. 

The foam is a firm, decent cushion that is not even the least bit spongy. Despite the sole being quite flexible, the right is less smooth and more blocky.

7. Altra Torin 5

Key Features

  • 9oz. Weight
  • 30mm heel stack
  • 30mm forefoot stack
  • 0mm offset

Reasons to buy

  • Great cushioning
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-purpose

Reasons to avoid

  • The tongue tends to rub on the ankle

The Torin 5 is the latest version of one of the market’s most popular road shoe models in the Altra lineup. It is a highly cushioned and ultra-lightweight road running shoe that is able to perform well at pretty much anything you decide to put it through. Long and slow or short and fast, the Torin 5 can get the job done well. 

As with any shoe model from Altra, this version comes with a foot-shaped toe box and is also built upon a platform with no drop. Some of the Torin 5’s most standout features is just how comfortable and lightweight the shoes are when you first put them on. The sole unit on these shoes is made of the EGO Max foam that Altra is known for and can be found in the midsole. 

There is also FootPod on the outsole, and this combination serves to provide plenty of cushioning. It also offers a smooth ride with every step, as well as some additional bounce when running. The midsole has a softer feel than some of the Torin 5’s predecessors and makes the model as cushioned as it’s known for. 

The outsole helps your feet create more natural movements when you are running with the shoes on. It also offers some fantastic traction and grip regardless of the weather and is quite resistant to the damage that road running often causes.

8. Nike Zoom Pegasus 38

Key Features

  • Cushioned
  • Suitable for multiple foot types

Reasons to buy

  • Fantastic cushioning
  • More accommodating upper
  • Good value for money
  • Impressive build quality

Reasons to avoid

  • Low energy return

It was only a matter of time before you saw a pair of running shoes from Nike on this list. Next up, we have the Zoom Pegasus 38 running shoes from Nike, which features an updated upper that feels far more comfortable and soft than previous versions. No matter what type of foot you have, it’s going to fit perfectly. 

This iteration of the Pegasus comes with significantly more cushioning than the previous version, and this is thanks to the softer React foam as well as the denser airbag. The Pegasus 38 is very cushioned, but this comes with a downside – it doesn’t have that classic, versatile feel that previous Pegasus shoes had. 

Although you’ll find a Zoom unit in the forefoot rather than in the rear, the ride of the Pegasus 38 is still a very smooth feeling, simply because the forefoot and rearfoot have similar densities. Transitions don’t feel disjointed.

9. Karhu Ikoni

Key Features

  • 8mm drop
  • Neutral
  • Road surface
  • Anatomical lacing

Reasons to buy

  • Improved toe box shape
  • Seamless engineered knit mesh upper
  • Narrower heel counter
  • Snug feel

Reasons to avoid

  • Pricey

This version of the Ikoni from Karhu comes with a slightly more rectangular toe shape that avoids pinching your toes at the shoe’s front. It also offers more room than the original iteration, which means that the shoe is more accommodating and comfortable for a variety of different foot types. 

It is also draped in a seamless engineered knit mesh upper, providing some additional give to allow you to splay your toes when you want without discomfort. Paired with its adaptable upper, the Karhu Ikoni has enough room inside for even the widest of foot shapes. It does this while still providing the same locked-in feel that Karhu is known for. 

One of the biggest changes that was made to this model has to do with the heel counter, which is a little narrower than the previous version. This makes it wonderfully snug and secure, so you won’t have to fret about any chafing or slipping at the heel. The cushy collar is comfortable and doesn’t put any unnecessary pressure on the feet. 

The shoe is also threaded with a lacing design that is anatomical. This means that they are slightly angled toward the shoe’s lateral side, which allows them to better conform to the foot’s natural contours. This reduces pressure on the laces when your feet bend.

10. Mizuno Wave Rider 25

Key Features

  • 1.41-pound weight
  • 12mm heel drop
  • Cushioned
  • Road running shoe

Reasons to buy

  • Very stable heel
  • Flexible forefoot
  • Durable outsole
  • Comfortable upper

Reasons to avoid

  • Not very versatile

To end of our list, we have the Wave Rider 25 from Mizuno, which boasts a luxurious and plush feeling in the upper. The fit is perfect regardless of your fit time and feels very smooth on the feet. The forefoot feels surprisingly soft and flexible, and this is thanks to the Enerzy Foam.

This Wave Rider does not feel as clunky as some of the previous versions – long-time fans will know that clunkiness was a signature feature of the Wave Rider series. This shoe feels soft in the forefoot, though transitions are not as smooth as we feel they could have been, and they’re certainly nothing compared to the Ghost 14s.

The Wave Rider 25 is the first shoe in the series to come with an Enerzy Foam midsole that is full length. It also comes with a separate Enerzy wedge beneath the Wave Plate in the heel, which is more durable than the soft top layer. Enerzy is quite a soft foam, though it does lack in the energy return department. 

The back portion of the Wave Rider 25 has a totally different ride from the front, so it kind of feels like you’re wearing two different shoes that were joined in the middle.

Frequently Asked Questions on Neutral Running Shoes

What are neutral running shoes?

Neutral running shoes are generally lighter than other models, and do not come with any motion control features. They are built on a semi-curved or curved last to encourage quicker movement while also feeling softer under the feet. 

Does the brand of running shoe matter?

When it comes to your running shoes, you should always be choosing function over fashion. Try not to be tempted into the latest brands or trends simply because they are popular this season. In short, brand does matter somewhat, but only to make sure that you are getting the proper fit, comfort and functionality for your feet. 

What socks should I run in?

Believe it or not, the thickness of your socks can make quite a big difference to the feel and fit of your shoe, especially as your feet expand when they heat up. When you go for a shoe fitting, you should wear the socks that you would wear when you go on your runs. 

Does running surface matter?

If you are doing most of your running on pavements and the road, then you are going to want a pair of road shoes. If you are running on soft, muddy trails, you’re going to want trail shoes, and if you are doing a bit of both, you should get a pair of hybrid shoes. 

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