The majority of runners will need a neutral running shoe – here are our top picks...
If you’re in the process of cranking up your mileage or pushing for a new PB, the right shoes will be key to your training. If you need help working out what type of shoe you need then check out our shoe guide, but a majority of runners (almost 60%) will need a neutral shoe. Here are top picks, from trail to road, tried and tested by our panel of runners.
HOKA ONE ONE Clifton Edge | £140
The first thing that you’ll notice on the Edge is that extended heel (clearly a learn from HOKA’s TenNine, launched earlier this year). But while that’s the first thing you’ll notice, the second thing is the weight – they are incredibly light and comfortable to run in. The extended heel gives a very soft landing, with a noticeably easier run downhill on knees and ankles. The foam itself is soft, but responsive, pushing you forward, and we love the achilles support on the heel. Yes, it’s different but it’s good different. This could be the future of running shoes.
A light, responsive shoe that’s great for downhill running.
ADIDAS Ultraboost | £160
This is an outstanding shoe from Adidas. I love the extra cushioning on the heel, they’re made to a high standard and provide very good support. The knit upper provides a cosy sock-like fit which helps your feet expand during a run. The tight fit gives you confidence when increasing speed, and you don’t have to rely on your laces pinching or restricting your foot to gain a stable position.
A good choice if you’re looking for a shoe that fits closely and offers stability.
BROOKS Ghost 13 | £120
The Ghost 13s offer enhanced cushioning but, being lightweight, they also offer dynamic propulsion. On first wear, these shoes feel quite highly strung, but they are receptive to your footstrike so that with more miles, they mould to your foot for optimum comfort. I found them particularly supportive around my high arches while remaining roomy around the toe box. Brooks has designed the 13 for comfort, extending the DNA LOFT cushioning from the heel to throughout the midsole so you can churn up the winter miles on the road with ease. The breathability of these shoes is also excellent and the new Engineered Air Mesh upper is practically stylish and holds the foot well. The laces are thicker and also help to make this shoe feel secure. I never had to stop to mess with laces which is my pet hate on a speed session. This shoe comes in six colourways so you have plenty of ways to express your style. This could be a Brooks classic in the making.
A super smooth road-running shoe with soft cushioning.
ASICS Dynablast | £110
These very nearly didn’t get tested. I mean, who would want to sully the appearance of these beauties? Swiftly nicknamed the Princess Runners, the first thing to note on these is that very affordable price point. These are a fab pair of neutral runners and you get a really quite astonishing amount of tech for that price. Starting from the bottom up, the midsole has been designed to emulate a little trampoline – this is Asics’ Flytefoam, which you can really feel when you go for a plod: the energy return is noticeable and welcome. The upper is snug and secure, too, really wrapping around the foot. I found it warm too, so great for the colder weather. On a run, that trampoline really does its stuff – it’s brilliant for road running on unforgiving surfaces, and gives the sort of propulsion I’ve been lead to expect from far more expensive shoes. A super comfortable, super bouncy ride, best for weekday plods and longer runs.
Neutral shoes at a great price point.
ON Cloudflyer Waterproof | £155
These are your winter work boots; they’ll look after you whatever the conditions. They are wind and waterproof, and have been amazing in the wet and wintry weather that set in during December and January. For anyone who is an everyday, anyconditions type of runner, these are reliable, comfortable and durable. The clouds are bigger than other On shoes, so you get lots of comfort and cushioning, and the bounce is lovely (especially under the heel). For me, it was the incredible support they give round the ankles (a 3D moulded heel) that was the standout feature, and noticeable from the very first run. The tread is far superior to normal Ons, especially when you’re going round corners on wet pavements. They do look spectacular when the high-viz details light up; if On offered alternative colour options, I would’ve given them a top score.
A practical shoe with high-vis detailing that’ll keep you dry.
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7 | £130
Hoka is a bit like Marmite; those who love running in this brand of shoe truly LOVE them and tend to remain loyal forever. And it’s no wonder really; the cushioning is superb, thanks to the soft Eva midsole which brings an unparalleled easy ride. I found them to be true to size and the upgraded design is super fresh. The Bondi 7s are light; although they look bulky, they only weigh a nifty 252g. In all, I was very pleased with this pair; great for long steady miles, but also suited to all-day use, due to their styling and excellent breathability thanks to the engineered upper mesh.
A cushioned neutral shoe that delivers an easy ride.
NEW BALANCE 860 v11 | £120
Tester: Laura D
You’ve got to give it to them, these trainers had the wow factor before you get them out of the box! They’re a seriously stylish running shoe and the comfort, fit and performance didn’t disappoint either. These trainers felt as though they had been made for me; my feet slid straight in and felt immediately supported by the mesh upper that offers not only generous room, but perforated fabric that allows cool air to circulate. The high foam design on the heel area not only looks great but hugs the foot into the shoe to stop movement and rub. The Fresh Foam technology allows for a comfy foot strike, protecting your joints from long-term wear and tear and giving great bounce on each stride. The blown rubber sole has cleverly-placed, multi-directional grooves that stick to the ground and offer grip on many surface types, giving you confidence and the feeling of control during your run. This shoe is the perfect all-rounder.
A great all-rounder neutral shoe that provides added bounce.
BROOKS Levitate 4 | £140
Tester: Laura F
There’s no denying these shoes are built for speed. The designers have clearly weighed every component and cut weight wherever they can to take them down to a flighty 260.8g. In comparison to the first Levitates a few years ago, the upper is radically different. It’s lightweight, more like a sock than a shoe, but fits snugly around the foot, anchoring it to the sole. The sole is where the magic happens. It’s hard to describe the boost they give; you’re certainly not springing down the road, but there’s a noticeable sense that the shoe wants you to run well. It seems to encourage a heel lift in tiring legs, making you run more than shuffle, which I guess must be the energy return that Brooks describes in their marketing materials (they apparently offer the biggest energy return from their range). Those gains do come at a cost and that’s a less squishy feeling from the inner sole on landing. A great shoe for race days and speedy sessions.
A neutral shoe that focusses on comfort and speed.