Best Neutral Running Shoes 2021
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
Runners looking for the best neutral running shoes are in luck: All of the best running shoe brands make outstanding neutral shoes as part of their lineups.
This list of neutral running shoes is not exhaustive, and there are other great running shoes out there for you. But if you’re new to running or unsure of what to look for, this is a good place to start.
Here are some of the best neutral running shoes for most people:
- Brooks Ghost 14
- Mizuno Wave Rider 25
- HOKA Clifton 8
- On Cloud
- New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
- ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
- Saucony Ride 14
- Altra Torin 5.0
- Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
- Karhu Ikoni 2021
[Updated August 12, 2021. This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2021. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
Brooks Ghost 14
It's no surprise the Brooks Ghost 14 is one of the best neutral running shoes—Brooks built it to be cushioned, comfortable and versatile.
The Ghost 14 boasts an accommodating fit for a variety of foot shapes and sizes. An engineered upper is light and airy, but secure around the midfoot and heel for an instantly comfortable feeling as soon as you step into them.
Brooks uses DNA Loft foam to deliver the bounciest, softest ride yet. DNA Loft promotes smooth transitions and provides unbeatable cushioning that will last through daily mileage.
The neutral ride, comfortable fit and light overall weight make the Brooks Ghost 14 a great all-around running shoe for most people, and it's one of the best running shoes for beginners.
In the Brooks Ghost 14 review, Fleet Feet testers said the Ghost is an ideal choice for runners who are just starting out and experienced runners putting in big mileage.
Mizuno Wave Rider 25
The Wave Rider has long been a dependable training partner thanks to its responsive feel and durability.
The Wave Rider 25 is powered by Mizuno's poppy Enerzy foam that springs you forward with each step, and cushions landings mile after mile. A reshaped Wave plate helps disperse impact and promotes smooth transitions from heel to toe.
Whether you choose between an engineered mesh or Waveknit upper, you're going to love the balanced, neutral support of the Mizuno Wave Rider 25.
Read more in our Mizuno Wave Rider 25 review.
HOKA Clifton 8
A new midsole compound and refreshed upper give the HOKA Clifton 8 a boost while maintaining its position as one of the best neutral running shoes you can find.
The original Clifton made waves with its blend of max cushioning and minimal weight, and the newest model retains those same characteristics. HOKA pumped the Clifton 8 full of a light and energetic EVA foam that's as capable at quick paces as it is for long, slow days.
Designers draped the shoe in a new engineered mesh upper for a soft feel and secure fit. But the soul of the Clifton remains the same: You get a protective ride and buttery transition while staying light on your feet.
Fleet Feet runners praised in the updated fit and ride, saying, “I think the Clifton loyalists will love the 8. It keeps everything that's great about previous iterations and addresses the previous shortcomings with improved fit and materials.”
Read more in our HOKA Clifton 8 review.
Don’t let the On Cloud’s unique look fool you into thinking it’s just a fashion statement this is a serious neutral running shoe that can handle all of your miles.
The Cloud’s look comes from On’s innovative CloudTec technology. Designers carved each Cloud element beneath the shoe to collapse on landing for precise, comfortable cushioning but spring back into shape for a firm, consistent response when you take off.
On updated the Cloud this year to reshape the Cloud elements, improve the central channel in the midsole and increase the shoe’s grip on pavement. Overall, the meticulous design and outstanding performance make the On Cloud one of the best neutral running shoes you can buy.
New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is as dependable as a running shoe can be thanks to a straightforward fit and premium Fresh Foam cushioning.
New Balance's premier cushioning gives the 880 an adaptable ride. Fresh Foam feels soft when you land and provides a smooth transition as you push off. Plus, it's proven itself in a variety of New Balance running shoes, meaning you can rely on it mile after mile.
Fleet Feet runners say the accommodating fit and responsive ride make it a great choice for new and experienced runners.
The 880v11 is a true workhorse: It's cushioned enough to handle itself on long runs but light and responsive enough to pick up the pace. Whether you're just starting out or training for your next marathon, the Fresh Foam 880v11 can keep up.
Read more in our New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 review.
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23
ASICS took the classic Nimbus and made it even softer.
The GEL-Nimbus 23 maintains the comfortable fit and easy ride that so many runners love, but they added a more cushioned heel. Designers created a new GEL unit that compresses more, which softens your landings.
Fleet Feet runners said the premium cushioning makes the shoe ideal for easy miles, recovery runs or long days on your feet.
Paired with ASICS' gender-specific Trusstic technology, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 is one of the best neutral running shoes—and the best Nimbus yet.
Read more in our ASICS GEL-Nimbus 23 review.
Saucony Ride 14
The Saucony Ride 14 is a classic, no-fuss neutral running shoe that's as good for beginners as it is for experienced marathoners.
Part of the mass appeal is the easy fit. Saucony built the Ride 14 around its FORMFIT system, which uses laters of cushioning to adapt to you specific weight and stride. Capped with a one-piece engineered mesh upper, the shoe is comfortable for a wide range of foot shapes.
Underfoot, Saucony used PWRRUN foam, which is soft when you land and responsive when you push off, making the ride as low maintenance as the fit.
Fleet Feet runners said the accommodating fit and easy ride make it perfect for most types of runs, from mellow evening jogs to weekend long runs.
Read more in our Saucony Ride 14 review.
Altra Torin 5.0
Altra updated the Torin with responsive EgoMax foam to provide a springy, zero drop ride.
The Torin is one of the best-selling neutral running shoes from Altra because it delivers on its promise of a comfortable fit. Where some shoes taper toward the toe box, Altra’s FootShape toe box is more square to mimic the actual shape of a human foot. The shape lets your foot splay naturally when it lands and push off powerfully, so your feet stay comfortable for all the miles to come.
Altra doesn’t use any of its stability technology in the Torin 5.0, but its roomy toe box and 0 mm heel-to-toe drop give you a natural sense of control.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
If you've ever looked for running shoes before, you've probably come across the Nike Pegasus—it's one of the best-selling running shoes every year. This year's version looks to carry on the legacy.
Nike built the Air Zoom Pegasus 38 to be quick and cushioned thanks to React foam and the built-in Zoom Air unit. React foam is soft and responsive, and the Air unit in the forefoot adds a noticeable pop to the ride.
The Peg 38 includes subtle updates from the outgoing version, like a new upper and re-shaped toe-box for more space, but it retains the same versatile ride as its predecessor. Plus, it gives you the same speedy silhouette that makes it look good on the road, on the track or around town.
Karhu Ikoni 2021
The Karhu Ikoni 2021 may be one of the most slept-on daily trainers in the neutral running shoe category. Designed based on millions of 3D foot scans captured during Fleet Feet’s fit id® outfitting process, the Karhu Ikoni 2021 is one of the most comfortable fitting neutral running shoes you’ll put on.
A bed of lightweight Aerofoam feels super plush and responsive and is supported by a half-length Fulcrum rocker in the midfoot. This combination helps to roll the foot through its heel-to-toe transition and makes runs and walks feel effortless with each step.
A unique Ortix footbed gives the sensation of arch support underfoot, and Karhu’s M-Lock lacing system in the upper feels like the palm of a hand gently holding the top of your foot down.
Plus, it comes in a HiVo (high-volume) version for wider or taller feet so you can enjoy the Karhu Ikoni without your feet falling asleep on longer runs. In our review, testers loved how lightweight and cushioned the Ikoni 2021 is, and we think you will too.
How We Chose the Best Neutral Running Shoes
We used data from our fit id® outfitting process, interviews with designers and real-life wear testing to determine the best neutral running shoes.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.