Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

This is our review of the best running shoes for forefoot strikers.

It was hard to pick the best running shoes for forefoot strikers because there are multiple shoes that are fantastic, but we picked the Saucony Kinvara 13 as best overall because of its versatility and affordability compared to some of the other options on our list.

Over the years, I’ve not only tested a myriad of shoes, I’ve also transitioned from forefoot striking to heel striking and back again. Why? To find the most efficient strike pattern, of course.

The debate on whether heel striking or forefoot striking is better can get heated quickly and unexpectedly. Runners like to believe that their way is the best way and we’re here to confirm that you’re probably right.

Yes, yes, I can already hear you getting a little animated stating that I am making assumptions about you and your strike pattern and I don’t even know you. Allow me to explain. Over at Upbeatrun, we like to base our opinions on scientific testing and not just on what feels better. So what does the science say?

In a recent study conducted at Harvard University by Doctor Adam I Daoud, the results demonstrate that approximately 70% of the runners primarily use rear foot strike whilst 30% use forefoot strike. The purpose of the study is to associate the foot strike patterns with injury rates.

Other recent studies show that there is really no reason for an uninjured runner to change strike patterns. When injured, changing strike patterns can be a useful tool for rehab and potentially avoiding surgery. If you’re not injured, however, switching is unlikely to benefit you and might even affect your running economy negatively. It seems the most efficient strike pattern is the one that comes most naturally to you.

With that being said, if you’re here, it’s because you’re looking for the best running shoes for forefoot strikers and that’s exactly what we’re going to give you.

This is Our List of the Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

  1. Saucony Kinvara 13 (Best Overall)
  2. Altra Torin 4.5 Plush (Best Shoe for Wide Feet)
  3. Hoka Mach 4 (Best for Recovery and Easy Miles)
  4. Saucony Guide 15 (Best Stability Shoe)
  5. Asics Cumulus 24 (Best Traditional Running Shoe)
  6. New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (Best for Heavy Runners)
  7. Altra Vanish Carbon (Best Zero-Drop, Carbon Plated Shoes)
  8. Brooks Cascadia 16 (Best Traditional Trail Running Shoes)
  9. Altra Superior 5 (Most Responsive Trail Shoes)
  10. New Balance FuelCell Rebel V2 (Best for Fun)

Saucony Kinvara 13 (Best Overall)

Saucony designed the Kinvara 13 for fast everyday training, coming in at just 184g for the women’s version. It is super comfortable and well-priced. This shoe does everything well, except for really long runs, for which it lacks adequate cushioning.

The midsole is curved but it doesn’t have a very aggressive rocker, so you don’t feel awkward in the shoe when you’re slowing down the pace, unlike the Asics Metaspeed or the Saucony Endorphin Speed that doesn’t really know how to slow down.

It sits low on the ground, with good ground-feel and stability that helps you blow through those tempo workouts and shorter fast runs. It has a 4mm drop with 24mm of stack height in the forefoot and 28mm in the heel.

They fit true to size, and there is a wide option available as well.

The outsole feels very soft and is surprisingly more durable than expected.

Pros

Fast and responsive
Manufactured from recycled materials
Super lightweight
Very comfortable
Wide toe box
Affordable

Cons

Not cushioned enough for long runs
Might be wide for very narrow feet

Altra Torin 4.5 Plush (Best For Wide Feet)

Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

The Torin 4.5 Plush is part of my current rotation. I am doing lots of long slow miles and I’m looking for lots of cushion and durability. The Torin is my first zero-drop shoe, and I had no problem making the switch from my Saucony Freedom (4mm drop) which had to be retired.

The Torin has lots of soft cushioning but it doesn’t feel sluggish to me. I like to add some fast strides or short sprints at the end of my slow runs, and this shoe is more than willing to pick up the pace. While this shoe can do any distance long or short, it’s easier long runs that will really make you appreciate this shoe.

I love the foot shaped toe box Altra is known for. It gives you plenty of room for wide feet. It’s very light for a plush cushioned shoe with my size (8.5US) only weighing 210g.

Pros

Plush comfort
Lightweight
Very responsive for a cushioned shoe
Good grip
Wide feet friendly

Cons

No heel tab
Colors are a bit bland

Hoka Mach 4 (Most Versatile)

The Mach 4 is another great all-rounder. It’s light and fast enough to race in if you’re not into carbon plated shoes and it has enough cushion to handle your long runs.

Hokas runs narrow as a rule and while the Mach 4 seems to have a little more room than the average Hoka, it’s still on the narrow side.

The outsole of the shoe shows early signs of wear, but it seems to be purely cosmetic and doesn’t influence the performance of the shoe.

There’s a lot of cushioning in this shoe which makes the 190g for the women’s model and 230g for the men’s model even more impressive.

This is a fantastic shoe that will give you tons of joy. You won’t regret buying it.

Pros

Comfortable Ride
Lightweight
Responsive

Cons

Long skinny laces that won’t stay tied
Outsole shows early signs of wear
Narrow Fit

Saucony Guide 15 (Best Stability Shoes)

The Saucony Guide 15 is a lightweight stability shoe for everyday training that can handle short, medium and long runs.

They offer lots of protection for your feet and gently guide you through your stride rather than forcefully correcting it. The stability features are subtle enough that the shoe will work for neutral runners as well. It’s an extremely reliable shoe that will last for hundreds of miles.

The PWRRUN foam in the midsole offers medium firm cushioning that isn’t squishy underfoot, but soft enough that you can be comfortable on those long runs. It’s not great at picking up the pace and reminds me of my Brooks Glycerin 18s (I call them my lazy shoes). For your slow to medium paced runs, you’ll have a tough time finding a more comfortable shoe.

Pros

Very comfortable shoe
Stability that guides your stride, not force it
Good for neutral runners as well
Snug and secure fit
Spacious toe box
Breathable upper
Upper made of recycled materials

Cons

Not very responsive

Asics Cumulus 24 (Best Traditional Running Shoes)

The GEL-Cumulus has always been a workhorse, but it felt like it was an afterthought with the real focus on shoes like the Nimbus and Kayano. With the latest update, Asics have given the GEL-Cumulus a chance to shine in its own right.

The shoe got an updated midsole with FF BLAST foam that is softer than previous versions of the shoe but also more responsive. It has the visible gel layer in the heel and another gel insert in the forefoot.

In contrast with the Nimbus, the Cumulus doesn’t have that squishy soft feel. I have never been a fan of the Nimbus. I find it too soft and when fitting them, I usually can’t take my foot out of it fast enough. The Cumulus just gets the balance right for me. Not too soft, not too hard and now with the new FF BLAST foam, it’s got some spunk as well.

It has a more traditional drop of 8mm for those who don’t like low or zero drop shoes. With a stack height of 24mm in the heel for men and 23mm for women, with 16mm and 15mm respectively in the forefoot. It’s on the heavier side at 286g for men and 250g for women, but that responsive midsole makes it feel lighter than it is.

It’s grippy on all surfaces, wet or dry, and this shoe will last longer than most. You’ll be able to use it for any distance. Short runs up to a full marathon and this newest edition will let you pick up the pace when you want to.

Pros

Good cushioning
Stable
Durable
Snug fit
Eco-friendly upper
Excellent grip on wet and dry surfaces
Different widths

Cons

None that we could find

New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 (Best for Heavy Runners)

The New Balance Fresh Foam More is a maximum cushion daily trainer that is excellent for the heavier runner. It offers amazing impact absorption, a smooth ride, a wide stable platform and cushioning that stays soft as you add the miles.

This shoe is like a Hoka Bondi or Clifton for wide feet. The upper is pure luxury, and the midsole is no different. If you’re a heavier runner or just want lots of cushioning for long training runs, you can’t go wrong with this shoe.

While not quite lazy, it’s not great for speed. The Hoka Mach 4 is better at that. Something else to consider is that all that foam (33mm in the heel and 29mm in the forefoot) can stiffen up in very cold weather, which makes it feel very different under foot. The 4mm drop also adds to the stability of the shoe.

Pros

Ultra comfortable and soft
Fits true to size
Wide feet friendly
Stable
Durable
Comfortable straight out of the box
Secure lockdown

Cons

Grip could be better

Altra Vanish Carbon (Best Zero-Drop, Carbon Plated Shoes)

This is Altra’s first carbon-plated shoe. It’s specifically designed for racing marathon’s but does great over any distance at absolutely any pace.

It’s more expensive than competitors like the Saucony Endorphin Pro or Hoka Rocket X, and cheaper than Nike’s Vaporfly 4%, but runners find them more stable than any of these, which is important when you’re doing courses with lots of turns and tight bends.

The combination of the soft, nitrogen-infused foam in the midsole, the rocker-shaped toe and that carbon plate makes for a thrilling ride. It’s fast and responsive and doesn’t leave your legs feeling beat up after a longer speed session. The men’s version only weighs 206g, and it has a stack height of 30mm in the heel and forefoot.

There’s a bit of a learning curve, which might not be great for beginners.

Yes, this shoe is very pricey, but if they fit into your budget, you will look forward to every run in them.

Pros

Built for speed
Lots of super responsive cushioning
Smooth ride
Very light
Stable
Wide feet friendly
Breathable upper

Cons

Pricey

Brooks Cascadia 16 (Best Traditional Trail Running Shoes)

The Brooks Cascadia is like a lightweight armor car for your feet. You will pick this shoe if you run 10-20 miles of technical trails and your feet need lots of protection.

The midsole is fairly stiff, and the added rock plate gives this shoe a surprisingly responsive ride.

It has a stack height of 29mm in the heel and 21mm in the forefoot with a drop of 8mm. They compare well to other trail runners with a weight of 298g for the men’s model and 269g for the women’s model.

They are available in fun colors, and this shoe is looking for an adventure. Not the shoe for moderate or easy trails.

Pros

Wide feet friendly
Secure lockdown
Fits true to size
Rock plate
Very durable
Gaiter attachments
Excellent aggressive grip

Cons

Heavy
Not breathable enough
Stiff midsole

Altra Superior 5 (Most Responsive Trail Shoes)

The Superior 5 is a lightweight trail shoe, for those who like to be wild and free. It is closer to the ground than other trail shoes, and the responsive midsole makes it feel like a racing flat.

It weighs only 251g and 214g for the men’s and women’s models respectively and has a stack height of 21mm in the heel and forefoot. It has a removable StoneGuard™ to protect your feet against rocks.

According to Altra, “Speed is not subtle, and neither is the Superior 5”. I have to agree with them. This shoe screams adrenaline. The MaxTrac™ outsole and multi-directional lug pattern give this shoe traction and grip that’s meant to go where others can’t or won’t. Buy it if you dare.

Pros

Crazy responsive
Fits true to size
Lightweight
Built for speed
Amazing grip
Gusseted tongue
Wide feet friendly
Water-resistant sidewalls

Cons

Lacks cushion for long runs

New Balance FuelCell Rebel V2 (Best for Fun)

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel has the fun factor of Adidas’ Ultra Boost but with more cushion and less weight. This shoe can do pretty much anything you throw at it, and while it might not be the best in a specific category, it does everything well but adds that fun factor. Only New Balance knows how they combined this level of softness with this much bounce.

This shoe is ultra-light with the men’s model weighing around 210g and the women’s model around 174g. It has a stack height of 26mm in the heel and 20mm in the forefoot with a 6mm drop. It doesn’t have as much cushion as many other shoes, but even heavier runners feel the cushion is great.

This shoe is great for short tempo runs, long easy runs, intervals, etc. We recommend considering the shoe if you’re doing more short runs with the occasional long run.

Pros

Super comfortable
Lightweight
Responsive, fun ride
Fits true to size
Wide feet friendly
Secure lockdown
Breathable upper keeps feet cool

Cons

Midsole foam stiffens in very cold temperatures
No heel tab
Could be unstable for walking

What to Look for When Buying a Shoe for Forefoot Striking

Fit

Picking the right size shoe is very important for forefoot strikers because you’re applying considerable forward pressure on your foot in the shoe. If you don’t have enough room in the toe box, this will quickly become painful and, at higher paces, likely unbearable.

Read here how to pick the right size running shoe.

Heel drop

While some runners feel they can run comfortably regardless of the drop of the shoe, I’ve found that there are certain shoes that make me feel like we’re in a fight rather than working together. I usually get that feeling with a shoe with a 10-12mm drop. It just doesn’t feel optimal. Anything from an 8mm down to a zero-drop feels so much more natural.

Cushioning

Some shoes have more cushioning and/or responsiveness in the heel, and while it might be a great shoe, it can be a frustrating experience for a forefoot striker to run in a shoe that’s aimed at heel strikers. That’s why all the shoes on our list have a focus on the cushion and responsiveness of the forefoot.

Final Thoughts on the Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

There are many other great shoes out there for forefoot runners, but these are the ones that stood out for us, and we know that somewhere on our list there is one that will work for you.

If we’ve given you too many options, just go with our best overall, the Saucony Kinvara 13. We’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t like them.

I would like to add at least another 5 of these to my collection, but for now I’m loving my zero-drop Altra Torin 4.5 Plush.

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