Our Favorite Stability Shoes of 2023
2023 had its fair share of excitement, from both the men’s and women’s marathon world records being shattered to Taylor Swift’s monumental courtship with a certain NFL tight end.
Fleet Feet reviewers have had their fair share of excitement, too, testing out all the new shoes from our favorite brands. Perhaps the most innovative technology we saw this year may come as a surprise. It didn’t come in the form of carbon-plated race day supershoes (those are old news!), but the completely revamped technology being used in our favorite stability shoes.
Stability shoes are designed to offset the effects of excessive pronation, which is the inward rolling of a runner’s feet after impact with the ground. Over the years, stability running shoes have evolved from rigid, motion-control shoes to more flexible options–and the last year has seen the biggest shift yet. The result is the most comfortable stability options we’ve ever run in.
Here are our top five stability shoes of 2023, in alphabetical order:
1. ASICS GEL-Kayano 30
If a running shoe is on its 30th iteration, you know it’s doing something right. The ASICS GEL-Kayano is the brand’s most cushioned stability shoe, and the 30th version maxes out with a stack height of 40 millimeters in the forefoot and 30 in the heel.
Not only does it have ample FF BLAST PLUS ECO foam, ASICS’ softest and most energetic midsole foam, but new stability technology called 4D Guidance System makes this shoe just as smooth as it is supportive.
ASICS’ 4D Guidance System is made up of four key components; a flared midsole allows your foot to sit inside the cushioning rather than on top of it, a wide base for stable landings and takeoffs, a heel bevel to help you smoothly transition into the toe-off phase, and a spongy medial posting made up of energetic foam to help you bounce back after landings.
“The best way to describe the GEL-Kayano 30 is smooth like butter,” Mandy says. “This was the only sneaker I brought on vacation and it gave me enough cushion to walk around all day on concrete, but still bounced back and gave me plenty of rebound on the run.”
2. HOKA Gaviota 5
Just like the GEL-Kayano, the HOKA Gaviota is the brand’s maximally cushioned stability shoe. The Gaviota 5 features a thick bed of compression-molded EVA midsole foam to protect your joints and muscles from the impact of the road while also providing stability for your stride.
The major update to the Gaviota 5 is the change from an J-frame to an H-frame. In case it sounds like we’re getting lost in a bowl of alphabet soup, we’ll break it down for you.
HOKA was ahead of the game when they created their J-frame technology in 2017. The J-shaped piece of rigid foam wraps around the heel and lines the medial side of the shoe to reduce excessive inward motion. While the J-frame focused on reducing excessive inward motion, the new H-frame offers the same level of stability without limiting correction to the medial side. The result is a smoother ride that can be enjoyed by runners with all gait patterns.
“The cushioning in the Gaviota 5 feels firm and stable while still running super smoothly, which I really enjoyed,” Nate says. “The stability is there for those who need it, but it never felt harsh.”
3. Mizuno Wave Inspire 19
Mizuno was putting plates in shoes before it was cool. Almost every Mizuno running shoe we’ve tested features the Mizuno Wave Plate, a rigid, wave-shaped plate that absorbs and disperses shock evenly throughout the foot. In the Inspire 19, the fan-shaped plate contracts upon landings and expands during takeoffs to reduce side to side movement and ensure you’re running as efficiently as possible.
The plate is wrapped inside a thick layer of Mizuno’s ENERZY foam for extra cushioning and support. The 19th iteration provides even more cushioning than prior models for a smoother ride.
“The Wave Inspire 19 is as stable as they come, thanks to the fan-shaped Wave Plate,” Max says. “The geometry of the midsole also works to keep my transitions fluid and quick.”
4. New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo V6
Just like a lot of shoes on this list, the New Balance Vongo v6 is the brand’s max-cushion stability shoe. What can we say? Our reviewers love their cushion.
The Vongo v6 provides plenty of New Balance’s soft, plush Fresh Foam X foam underfoot while still offering sturdy support for runners who overpronate.
The Vongo offers a dual-layer midsole, with a firmer foam on the bottom and a softer foam on top, so it sits right underfoot. Sandwiched in between is a thin, rigid, plate-shaped EVA film that gives the shoe a solid, stable base. This film replaces the traditional medial posting seen in the previous version, which is a firm piece of foam embedded in the medial side of the midsole to reduce the inward rolling of a runner’s foot. Reviewers thought the thin film made the Vongo much more comfortable than previous versions—and the higher stack height didn’t hurt, either.
“While I could tell that there was extra medial support in the Vongo, it wasn’t invasive,” says Travis. “I didn’t feel like it was pushing me too far to the outside like some older-model stability shoes do.”
5. Karhu Synchron 2.0
The Karhu Synchron 2.0 is the only stability shoe on this list that’s shaped with data from millions of Fleet Feet’s 3D foot scans. Not only did our reviewers find their perfect fit in the new Synchron, they found comfort and support, too.
Just like all Karhu running shoes, the Synchron 2.0 is made with Karhu’s proprietary Fulcrum technology. This piece is placed in the midsole of the shoe and uses your body’s natural momentum to keep you rolling forward, all while reducing excessive side-to-side movement. The Fulcrum in the Synchron 2.0 is H-shaped (sound familiar?), which helps guide you forward and maintain an efficient stride.
Surrounding the Fulcrum piece are layers of Karhu’s AeroNova foam, a liquid-based midsole foam designed to absorb more shock and provide more durability than traditional, EVA-based midsole compounds.
“The Karhu Synchron 2.0 is firm in feel with enough flexibility for natural-feeling toe-offs,” Caroline says. “While the cushioning itself feels firm in that it doesn’t bounce up and down or provide a “sinking-in” feeling, the shoe has enough flexibility to allow me to move through the gait cycle.”
While Fleet Feet reviewers really enjoyed these five stability shoes, they’re just a fraction of what’s available at your local Fleet Feet. Be sure to head in for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.