7 Best Low Drop Running Shoes in 2024

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Low Drop Running Shoes in 2024
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The “drop” in road or trail running shoes refers to the difference in height between the forefoot (or toe box) and the heel section. The higher the drop in a shoe, the steeper the angle will be between the forefoot and the heel.

Low-drop running shoes promote a more ‘natural’ gait. Their overall construction is also a great choice for forefoot and midfoot strikers. Having a lower drop allows the feet to make full ground contact instead of catching the heel first.

We tested many zero-drop shoes in our lab and on the test runs. We selected our picks in different categories from the best overall to great options in road or trail running.

How we test running shoes

Here at RunRepeat, we make the lives of other runners out there easier and more fun. We do in-depth research and testing to give you the best low-drop running shoes that suit your training and racing needs.

Here’s our following process:

  • We purchase all the running shoes on this list with our own funds. This is for the sake of transparency and freedom from bias.
  • We cut the shoes into pieces to get the accurate measurement of the stack, drop, and other 30+ parameters.
  • We give our feedback after we put in 30 to 50 miles of running wearing a particular model.

Best low drop running shoes overall

Altra Torin 7
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

Altra's Torin 7 offers unwavering confidence and ease across all terrains and paces, making it the ultimate choice for low-drop running. Our lab backs up the sensation we felt: the midsole strikes the perfect balance between cushioning and ground feel while offering energy return that keeps us chasing more miles.

With a negative heel drop of -0.8 mm, it fosters a natural feel and exceptional control, ensuring solid ground contact with every step. The midsole offers a dynamic ride for faster paces while its soft cushioning dampens landing impact. Our durometer reveals a reading of 16.8 HA, 21.1% softer than average.

Enhancing agility, the flexible midsole surpasses the average running shoe by 30.6%, enabling seamless transitions and enhancing comfort. The shoe also weighs a mere 9.0 oz (255g), making it easier to lift our feet.

The undisrupted ventilation in the upper adds to its airiness, making it a refreshing place to be in for long hours. In our lab test, the smoke passed through effortlessly, earning a well-deserved 5/5 breathability rating.

However, the outsole lacks durability and performed worse than average in our Dremel test. Those who prefer shoes with a long lifespan should explore alternatives.

Pros

  • Pleasantly lightweight
  • Versatile enough for tempo session, long runs, or easy days
  • Responsive and energetic midsole
  • Good impact protection
  • Flexible and comfortable ride
  • Very breathable
  • Feels stable underfoot
  • Solid midfoot lockdown
  • No lace bite
  • Great traction over various surfaces
  • Suitable for wide feet
  • Can go sockless

Cons

  • Not ideal for heel strikers
  • Outsole lacks durability
  • Upper feels snug despite being wide
Full review of Altra Torin 7

Best low-drop daily running shoes

Altra Rivera 3
87
Great!

What makes it the best?

The third time’s a charm as Altra Rivera 3 emerged as our best daily trainer among lab-tested low-drop running shoes. With a seamless blend of natural feel, protective cushioning, and energy return, this all-around shoe gave us a fun and forgiving ride. With a slight 1.7 mm offset, we believe it's a great shoe to try before deep-diving into the zero-drop world.

The midsole truly enhanced smooth, free-flowing strides with its modest stack and flexible build that gives a good ground feel. Our 90-degree bend test shows Rivera 3 is 20.9% more adaptive than average, making it versatile and comfortable enough for any distance or pace.

While the 28.4/26.7 mm platform has a below-average heel, we feel we have enough cushioning to protect our feet. Our durometer confirms the plush sensation we noticed — the foam measures 34.7% softer than average. Despite its softness, it's bouncy and energetic, which makes pushing the pace in the Rivera 3 a breeze.

Unfortunately, Rivera 3’s laces are so smooth that they frequently came undone during our runs. We recommend double-tying them for safety.

Pros

  • Great for easy runs
  • Superb comfort
  • Plush cushioning
  • Peppy and responsive
  • Flexible and forgiving ride
  • Unhindered and smooth strides
  • Toebox easily accommodates wide feet
  • Works great as a walking shoe
  • Can go sockless

Cons

  • Lockdown needs a lace lock
  • Laces get untied easily
  • Not great for speedwork
Full review of Altra Rivera 3

Best low-drop speed-training shoes

What makes it the best?

The Kinvara 14 proves that low-drop shoes aren’t necessarily minimalist. It’s a surprisingly lightweight and flexible shoe in spite of its healthy stack. This makes the Kinvara 14 as forgiving on the foot as it is a relentless speed demon and, with only a 4.1 mm offset, easily our choice for best low drop speed trainer.  

With 15.3N of force required to bend the shoe in our stiffness test, the Kinvara 14 is incredibly flexible compared to the average road shoe. This runs contrary to most modern performance shoes that make use of stiff and uncomfortable carbon plates to increase responsiveness. As such, the Kinvara 14 feels extremely comfortable underfoot as it is able to conform to the bending of our foot with little to no resistance while still feeling reactive enough for high paces.  

“Barely there “ doesn’t do a good enough job describing how the Kinvara 14 feels on the foot. Tipping the scale at a ghostly 6.84 oz (194g), we had to make sure we actually had them on for our test runs! This makes pushing the pace in this shoe feel like accelerating barefoot despite the shoe’s substantial stack, which is 1.7 mm higher than average at the forefoot.

While the Kinvara 14’s midsole performed extremely well in our freezer test, becoming only 6.1% firmer compared to the average of 28.3%, the same can’t be said for the shoe’s overall flexibility. After chilling for twenty minutes, we found that the shoe stiffened up by a whopping 86.9%, almost double the average of 44.2%. The shoe won’t feel as comfy during frosty winter runs.  

Pros

  • More cushioned and protective than ever
  • Responsive foam
  • The lightest Kinvara yet
  • Offers some mild guidance
  • Good grip even on wet surfaces
  • Smooth, natural-feeling ride
  • Pleasantly airy
  • Works for fast and slow paces
  • Can go the distance
  • Also a worthy racing shoe
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • A bit on the firm side
  • Less outsole rubber means less mileage
  • Lockdown is so-so
Full review of Saucony Kinvara 14

Best low-drop shoes for running a marathon

What makes it the best?

With the lab and the streets as our witnesses, ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ is our best marathon pick among low-drop running shoes. We blazed through grueling miles without the burning feeling with its superior combination of blissful comfort and insane responsiveness. This lightweight marvel gave nothing but peak performance in our runs.

With a 33.5/30.8 mm heel and forefoot stack, we savored the extra cushioning in our runs, notably in the forefoot. Its leveled 2.7 mm drop encourages a natural feel without absorbing much ground impact because of its stack that saved our legs from fatigue as we pushed our speed to the limit. 

The heavenly comfort is balanced with energy that keeps us lighting fast! Its pronounced rocker design promotes smooth forward momentum, while its stiff carbon plate powerfully launches us. Backed up by our 90° bend test, it’s remarkably 131.0% stiffer than average. This stiffness translates to record-breaking responsiveness.

Wearing this pair feels like a breeze (literally!), scoring the highest 5/5 rating on our lab breathability test. Every step is light, carrying only 7.2 oz (205g) vs. the average of 9.4 oz (266g).

However, this high-quality shoe comes with a hefty $250 price tag. It’s more expensive than other carbon-plated shoes that only average $210. Runners on a budget should look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Fast as hell
  • Buttery smooth transitions
  • Protective cushion
  • Comfy for long miles
  • Stable when cornering
  • Very very breathable
  • Heel lockdown is awesome
  • No more heel rubs
  • Fits just right!
  • Grippy on wet roads

Cons

  • Stiffer than before
  • Outsole lacks durability
  • Expensive
Full review of ASICS Metaspeed Sky+

Low drop running shoes with the best cushioning

What makes it the best?

Fresh Foam X More v4 represents its name well with plenty of cloud-like cushion. It’s great for easy runs when we want to soak in the mileage without being conscious about pace. It’s all about comfort, making it our best pick for low-drop running shoes with plush cushioning.

The heel area is 3.6 mm taller than average. This contributes to a less inclined 4.6 mm heel drop, 48.3% lower than average. The cushion feels soothing, dampening the impact of every stride,  We checked with our durometer in the lab: it's 36.2% softer than average.

Even with its stack, the shoe is easy to maneuver with its flexible midsole (41.8% more than average). Our runs surprisingly don’t feel wobbly with the pronounced sidewalls that guide our feet in place. Also enhancing stability is its wide landing platform. Fun fact: this model is available in Wide sizes.

The outsole is resilient on any surface with its extensive rubber coverage in high-impact areas. We tested it against slippery pavements and it exceeded our expectations. Upon checking with our durometer, its rubber is softer than average, meaning it’s grippier as more rubber holds onto the ground upon landing.

Lots of padding also means more heat. The upper is one of the densest we’ve seen under the microscope. Avoid this pair on hot and humid days.

Pros

  • An armor from fatigue
  • REALLY cushy for long days
  • Puts life in your run
  • A stable ride
  • True to size
  • Superb heel clutch
  • Markdown price
  • Long-lasting
  • Reflective

Cons

  • Easily feels hot
  • Chunky and clunky
  • Low energy return
Full review of New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4

Best low drop trail running shoes

What makes it the best?

Navigating challenging trails was a breeze in Saucony's Peregrine 14. It’s a light, nimble shoe that maintains our form and control with its leveled platform, flexible midsole, and grippy outsole—the perfect formula suited for trails among low-drop shoes we lab-tested.

For starters, its tough PWRTRAC outsole can withstand any trail condition but its deep 4.7 mm lugs are the true standout feature. Deeper than average by 1.2 mm, it bites through mud, dirt, and snow, with a pattern that secures the ride without bringing the trails home thanks to its shedding capabilities.

Peregrine 14 never burdened our strides because its light 9.4 oz (266g) barely made us feel the effects of gravity, especially compared to the 10.4 oz (294g) average trail shoe. It consists of a heel-to-toe drop of 2.2 mm, 5.7 mm lower than average. With its leveled platform, we have a good sense of the ground to navigate through unexpected bumps.

The uncomplicated midsole flows naturally with our movements. As confirmed with our flex test, its 28.5N force is only slightly below average. Because of its versatile nature, Peregrine 14 is not the most explosive racer on the trail. We recommend exploring other options to satisfy one’s need for speed.

Pros

  • Natural running feel
  • Superb value at just $140
  • Flexible and comfortable
  • Heel security
  • Plusher tongue
  • Cushioned insole
  • Rock plate
  • Highly versatile

Cons

  • Limited energy return
  • Somewhat firm
Full review of Saucony Peregrine 14

Best budget low drop running shoes

Saucony Axon 3
86
Good!

What makes it the best?

After a series of tests in our lab, we found that Saucony Axon 3 is our best budget low-drop shoe. It’s a more than capable all-rounder for its $100 price. With its focus on comfort, versatility, and durability, it performs as well as (or even better than) its steeper-priced counterparts ($130 average).

We measured its stack at 33.6/27.9 mm — one of the most cushioned cheap daily trainers in the market. Together with its 18.3 HA softer-than-average cushion, Axon 3 delivers comfort for all-day running. We also found its low-drop geometry suitable for forefoot strikers.

Its light feeling on foot came as a surprise. We checked in the lab and our scales show it’s only 8.6 oz (244g), 12.5% lighter than the average daily trainer! Adding to its airiness is the breezy upper that scored a high 4/5 on our breathability test.

Double-digit miles barely scratched the Carbon Rubber outsole and we had no issues with traction. With a caliper and durometer in hand, the rubber measured 3.9 mm thick and 82.8 HC or hardness. Both figures are above average, which shows Axon 3’s focus on durability. Thicker and harder rubber means more resistance to wear.

Axon 3 is on the stiffer side, both torsionally and longitudinally. Those who seek more flexibility should look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Incredible value at only $100
  • Significant weight reduction from version 2
  • Impressively cushioned with PWRRUN foam
  • Fantastic durability
  • Suitable for quicker paces
  • Excellent as a daily workhorse
  • Lovely upper
  • Works for short and long runs

Cons

  • Probably too stiff for very relaxed runs
  • Slightly narrower forefoot than before
Full review of Saucony Axon 3
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.