Finding new running shoes can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it can be hard to keep everything straight. Fortunately, some of us spend the entirety of our working lives around running shoes – trying them on, running in them, getting feedback from customers in our stores – and are here to help you find the best neutral running shoe for your foot.
Of course, the typical caveats apply: Just because a shoe works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s the best shoe for you. The most reliable way to find the right running shoe for your needs is to visit your local running shoe store, talk to the folks who work there, and try some shoes on for yourself.
That said, we’ve found these shoes work for a lot of people and are the best neutral running shoes we’ve seen in 2023 so far.
Best everyday neutral running shoes
Brooks Ghost 15
I don’t think you’re allowed to make a list of the best running shoes that doesn’t include the Brooks Ghost, and there’s good reason for it: it miraculously fits a ton of different foot shapes and provides a soft, smooth feel from the first mile to the last. As I’ve long said, if you’re in a running store and they don’t sell the Brooks Ghost, then you’re not in a running store.
The Ghost 15 features a lighter DNA Loft v2 midsole foam than previous models. Whether you’re going long or short, fast or slow, on road,treadmill, or (not-too-technical) trail, the Brooks Ghost 15 is a great shoe for the job. That versatility is why it is perennially one of the best neutral running shoes.
Hoka Clifton 9
The closest thing the Brooks Ghost has had to a rival in quite some time, the Hoka Clifton 9 comes with even more of Hoka’s beloved light and soft cushioning underneath the foot and extra padding in the heel for a more locked-in fit. We’re talking more tweaks than an overhaul here, and that’s a good thing.
With the last few iterations of the Clifton, Hoka has found something that has a chance to become the top shoe in running stores and the Clifton 9 continues that tradition. It’s soft and light with Hoka’s signature meta-rocker midsole shape to help you through your stride.
Mizuno Wave Rider 26
If it’s a firm and responsive feel and a structured and supportive fit you’re looking for in a neutral everyday trainer, the Wave Rider 26 is the shoe for you. With their wave plate technology, Mizuno has technically been making plated running shoes since before it was cool. Unlike the carbon plates that propel you to personal bests, Mizuno’s wave plate disperses the forces of impact in a lightweight package with a smooth ride.
The Wave Rider 26 adds more foam under the foot for extra cushioning, especially on landing, and refines the fit of the shoe with a jacquard mesh upper.
Best Cushioned Neutral Running Shoes
ASICS Gel-Nimbus 25
This is one of the best and most significant updates we’ve seen in the store this year. While previous versions of the Nimbus felt like they had plenty of cushion, they often lacked the sort of pop that makes a shoe fun to run in.
The new Nimbus 25 is fun. It comes with a much lighter FF BLAST PLUS cushion in the midsole and a more pronounced rocker for a bouncier and faster feel. With a new breathable knit upper, this shoe feels light on your foot while providing the soft cushioned feel runners have come to expect from the Nimbus. This is the perfect neutral running shoe for long runs and long days on your feet.
In this overhaul of one of On’s original running shoes, they used computer simulation and modeling to optimize the shape of their cloud pods for a seamless transfer of weight from heel to toe through the gait cycle. They’ve ditched the stiff speedboard that has been a staple of most of their running shoes in favor of a more cushioned feel.
The result is the softest On shoe we’ve ever tried. The moment you step into it, you can feel the plushness of the upper and know you’re in for an amazingly soft and cushioned running experience. With the Cloudsurfer, On has created a shoe perfectly engineered to carry you through any distance you have in store.
Best Zero-Drop Neutral Running Shoe
Altra Rivera 3
If you’re looking for the benefits of barefoot running – midfoot-to-forefoot strike, ability for your toes to spread out – with enough cushioning to handle the impacts of pounding the pavement, look no further than the Altra Rivera 3. This year’s version features a super breathable upper that keeps your foot super cool.
The Rivera 3 is built on Altra’s “slim footshape fit” for a secure fit that still lets your toes spread out naturally. It has enough cushion to work as an everyday trainer, but remains flexible enough that you can still get that ground feel many runners crave in a zero-drop shoe. It’s not minimalist in the strictest sense, but has a more minimal, lightweight feel than many other shoes on the market right now.
Best Neutral Running Shoes for Faster and Tempo Runs
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 really can do it all. It has enough cushioning for longer runs and everyday training. But, the Endorphin Speed 3 is most at home when you’re running fast. It has a nylon plate and SPEEDROLL geometry that nod to the feel of the carbon-plated racing shoes on the market while still offering enough stability and durability so you can feel confident lacing it up any day of the week.
If your training calls for a mix of long runs, recovery runs, tempos, and track workouts and you don’t want to shell out for a different shoe for each purpose, the Endorphin Speed 3 is the neutral running shoe you’ve been waiting for.
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer
With over 47mm of FuelCell foam underneath your heel and a carbon-fiber Energy Arc, the New Balance SuperComp Trainer brings the experience of a modern racing shoe to an everyday neutral trainer. This is a shoe that’s going to keep your legs fresh even if you’re racking up the miles training for a marathon. Thanks to New Balance’s Energy Arc technology, you can even take all that cushion for a ride at faster paces without feeling weighed down.
It’s also a carbon-plated shoe that comes in wide, which if you have a wide foot, you know is something of a unicorn. It’s truly a carbon-plated shoe for the everyman. The SuperComp Trainer lets runners feel fast and fresh regardless of their foot shape or speed.