Zero-drop road shoe recommendations

I'm looking for a running shoe that has 1) wide toebox, 2) zero arch-support, and 3) zero-drop heel. I want to use an insole and prefer light to moderate cushioning (e.g., 12-20mm or so). I prefer a flexible shoe, but I will buy a stiff shoe if it's all I can find that fits my 3 requirements.

I've looked at some reviews but I was hoping to widdle the list down here first. For example a Brooks shoe I looked at had a 4mm drop insole (so this eliminates the shoe). A Merrel shoe I looked at had an insole that was zero-drop but it was molded such that it had a little arch-support (so this eliminated the shoe).  A New-Balance shoe I looked at was way too narrow in the mid-foot (so this eliminated the shoe).

Any contenders folks?


  • Could you mention the models you're referring to there?  Seems odd to vaguely mention shoe models, then ask for people to mention shoe models to you (that are probably on your list).
  • I vaguely mention them because they don't have the 3 requirements. I assumed no one would post those shoes because they don't meet all 3 requirements.
  • The new Altra One. Mizuno Evo Levitas 2 (Europe only I think)
  • At Altra, we make several models that fit your description.  Every one of our shoes has a foot-shaped toe box and is Zero Drop.  Models with around 20mm stack height or less would be:
    The One, The 3-SUM (my favorite and I don't run Tri's), and the Superior are all great at 18mm.  The Instinct 1.5 might be an option too at 21mm stack.  
    You can also find our even more minimal shoes like the Ada, and The Samson on the Clymb or Left Lane Sports.  
    Good luck!
    -Golden, Creator and Founder of Altra
  • While you're on the subject, Golden, what's the plan for the 3-Sum now that The One is getting a re-do?  For some reason The One's upper didn't work for me (everything else did), and I'd considered the 3-Sum, but if it's getting a complete revamp that may not be necessary.

  • edited April 2014
    @RunGolden1, I've been running in the Altra Instinct v1 and the Skechers GoBionic v1 (my fav). I have much positive things to say about the Instinct. I do confirm the lack of flexibility in the shoe, but I use the GoBionic when I want flexibility. My primary gripe with the Instinct is the shape/fit as it relates to my foot. I find the GoBionic v1 roomier and less constricting in the mid and forefoot. Basically, the Instinct's shape doesn't contour to the shape of my foot as well as the GoBionic does. The GoBionic v1 is a perfect match when I step my foot over the top of the shoe, it literally traces my foot exactly. The Instinct does not.

    I'm hesitant to buy a shoe with more cushion than the Instinct v1, and it looks like Altra is only adding more padding. So I'm hesitant to buy a new Instinct. But I'll prolly pick up the One2 to try. I'm trying to be patient until next month because I want to buy a new shoe now. In the meantime, any chance of a GoBionic shape for an Altra model shoe? I read somewhere (I think on runblogger) that GoBionic v2 is no longer zero-drop. This is a problem for me, so I have to find a replacement shoe that offers flexibility. I'm also interested in zero-drop casual shoes. These are hard to find it seems. One of the things I liked about GoBionic v1 was that it could double as a casual shoe: no reflectors or peacock colors, no prominent display of the manufacturer and whatnot. Just a regular looking shoe.

    I mention all this only because Altra is my second fav shoe maker, after Skecher's GoBionic v1. I recommend Altra wholeheartedly to people who ask me.
  • I have the Altra The One and it would fit the bill.  I really like that shoe.  I also have the Merrell Bare Access 2 and it also would fit the bill. 
  • Might check out skora running. It's what i use for road running. Great flexibility, Fit will have a bit more cushion, Forms and Bases will be in the middle, and Cores/Phases will be lowest stack. Zero Drop. No arch support. Wide toe box. 
  • I think the Skechers Go Bionic (prana) is a good choice (already mentioned above) if you still can find it. Version 2 is also a good option. Same sole and without insole it's zero drop.

    Mizuno Evo Levitas or Cursoris can also be found online at a discount and also fit the bill. They do have a very thick insole, so you can definitely swap that for another insole if you like. 

    The inov-8 road-x-treme 138 is also an option, but I haven't tried that one yet.
  • I couldn't stand the Levitas.  Just didn't fit me in any way at all.
  • edited April 2014
    Wow, some great recommendations. Thx guys. Skora, especially, is new to me. Will have to check them out. The new One2 looks interesting to.

    I wish manufacturers would start making these zero-drop (natural) footwear for casual/street wear. Seems everything is only designed aesthetically for running. Hey manufacturers! make your running shoe designs (extra eyelet for tie-down lacing included) available in a socially low-key, muted-colored, no reflector, shoe!

    I have searched long and hard on the internet (including local bricks and mortar) for GoBionic 1 shoes (prana and regular) but nobody has my size. I do not like Skechers design of removing the insole. I tried this design with the trail gobionic shoe and it was awful. Wearing the shoe without the insole changes the cushioning feel, how low my foot sits in the shoe, and how the cut/fit feels against my foot (e.g., in the midfoot). The shoes fit much better with an insole in. And if the insole is not zero-drop, it's not something I'm going to buy. So, unfortunately, GoBionic 2 is on my NO-buy list. GoBionic 1 is my all-time most used shoe. I doubt anything can replace it, but my pair is wearing out so I need something new to run in. Like shortmatt, I also wear them socially, but none of the new manufacturer models I'm looking at are aesthetically pleasing for social wear. So I don't know what I'm going to do there.

    Since switching over my runs to GoBionic 1, I have had zero issues with shin splints, knee ache, low back, and big toe pain. I run as much as I want and love feeling more connected to the ground (cause of zero-drop) when just wearing shoes socially around town.

    I'll never buy a non zero-drop shoe again. In case anyone needs zero-drop to wear with suits, try primal professional. I like them the best (so far) of the shoes I'm tried for this purpose.
  • I will agree there isn't much for the business casual environment, I have heard and looked into the primal professional, just need the money. :) I know Altra has the Everyday coming out but I am not sure it would fly in my business environment, who knows. I do wear my skoras (a pair of phases and a dark pair of cores) out most of the time socially. I love them. Me feet do too. But I do understand with color preference it isn't right for every situation. Maybe soon? Good luck, hope you find something you really enjoy like your Go Bionic 1s. Love have that shoe you just run into the ground cause it is so awesome. Then hate when you cannot get them anymore. 
  • The Altra Everyday is not the same as the running shoe though. It doesn't have that extra eyelet to lock in the heel for example.

    I want the running shoe design styled without bright colors, reflectors, etc. The Everyday is not that shoe. The GoBionic 1 shoe was a truly great shoe because 1) it had a great design but 2) it offered a simple black/white color, no reflectors, low-key display of the skechers logo. It wasn't flashy. It wasn't bright. It looked like a skateboarding shoe, or a regular shoe, but it had the all the performance and design considerations of a running shoe. It's too bad Skechers abandoned that winning formula with GoBionic 2.
  • edited April 2014
    @Bryan: Mizuno Levitas are indeed more difficult to get a good fit. I had to tie the laces in Altra style and now it's fine. First couple of runs I had a problem with the logo on the side that cut in the side of my right foot.

    @fr2ttw: Why don't you put your Bionic 1 insole in a pair of Bionic 2's? You can't remove the flashyness, but at least you have a great zero drop shoe.
  • @fr2ttw Sounds like you lost your perfect shoe. Hopefully you can find some suitable replacement. :) I know its rough when you had the perfect pair(s) and now you have to find something else. 
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