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When we put together our Guide to Stability, we also helped define a segment of running shoes that we felt existed, but wasn't amplified. We ended up coining the term "stable neutral" to help put a name to the trend. Stable neutral shoes have steadily become a growing part of the industry in recent years. Especially as maximal cushioning as gone from a corner of running to the norm, companies have been working to balance these tall stack heights with a variety of design features to create stable platforms. In this feature, we further define stable neutral shoes and offer our current favorites in the market today.

The Best Stable Neutral Shoes
By DOR Editorial Team

What are Stable Neutral Shoes?

Stable Neutral shoes are neutral running shoes that have an above-average level of stability. They do not have an intrusive stability element meant for high-stability users like a post or guidance tools like HOKA's J-Frame or Brooks GuideRails. Those who are sensitive to the above stability measures but still want a stable shoe will do well here. Stable neutral shoes offer mild stability elements integrated into the shoe, but still remain neutral and those who need major stability may need more that what stable neutral shoes can provide. On the other end, the mild structure provided by stable neutral shoes are usually not enough to both those who prefer neutral trainers, creating a versatile user base.

Often it is not just one component, but a series of design elements that help produce a stable neutral shoe.

We always want to encourage people needing light stability to consider a wide range of options to meet their needs as the stability shoe sector can be limiting.

What are Examples of Non-Stable Neutral Shoes?

The line between neutral and stable neutral shoes can easily be blurred. The biggest difference between the two is that there is usually a neutral feature that would deter someone who did have some mild stability needs. For example, the On Cloudsurfer is a softer, more flexible shoe 
throughout with the removal of their Speedboard technology. It has a slightly more narrowed midfoot as well. This creates a very fun, soft ride, but one that may be unstable for those with stability needs. There's nothing wrong with that design-wise, it is just something for runners to be conscious of. There are many runners who don't need any stability elements whatsoever and do perfectly well in a shoe like the Cloudsurfer, but runners who do want a little more structure underfoot may want to consider other options instead.

There are also some shoes that may have stable elements like a wide forefoot or some guidance, but still are neutral due to the softness of the foam or design of the shoe. When you have something like Nike Invincible and its ZoomX midsole for instance, it has some stable elements like a great deal of sole flare and a rocker that lends itself to some guidance, and it all works together to make the shoe runnable. However, it still is not stable neutral due to how soft the foam is and the ensuing demands that are put on the body.

What are Some Typical Elements That Make a Stable Neutral Shoe?

These are a few of the things we often see in a shoe to make it stable neutral. Note, it does not take all of these elements to help make it stable, but there is often a combination of some of these that help achieve a balanced ride.

  • Wide geometry, especially through the midfoot. (Many shoes have a wide forefoot, but a narrowed midfoot)
  • Lateral/Medial sole flare (excess foam that extends past the sides of the platform that the foot sits on. Lateral sole flare is often a good design element for supinators)
  • Gradual rocker design (a rocker can help facilitate some guidance forward for the runner)
  • Lateral heel bevel (this helps provide a cleaner transition in the heel)
  • Firmer midsole 
  • Sidewalls (an extension of the midsole upward alongside the foot. helps act as minor guidance for the runner. Also another good design element for supinators)
  • Full contact outsole (keeps ground contact for the runner and provides a smoother transition forward)
  • Deep central cutout through the length of the midfoot

More on Stable Neutral Shoes

Stable Neutral Running Shoes

Road Shoes (Max Cushion)

Asics Nimbus 25
(Wide sole, rearfoot sidewalls, sole flare and rocker help do an excellent job balancing this ride)
Brooks Ghost Max
(Wide base, slightly firmer sole, sidewalls and minor guidance all contribute to a fairly stable ride)
Karhu Mestari Run (New)
(Karhu's Fulcrum helps guide runners forward while sidewalls and a wide base help provide a stable underfoot)
Hoka Clifton 9
(Sidewalls, width, crash pad and rocker for guidance: classic Hoka stable neutral elements)
New Balance Fresh Foam More v4
(Extremely stable. Wide last throughout shoe, good forefoot flexibility, solid bevel, sidewalls make for a high level of natural stability)

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 | Runshield
(A wealth of non-traditional stability from sole flare to guidance lines and sidewalls help keep this max cushioned shoe stable)

Road Shoes (Traditional Stack Height)

Hoka Rincon 3
(Wide Hoka base with a very centered guidance thanks to a heel cutout. Some sidewalls also reinforce the shoe. Due to wider heel though, care for those who have a narrow foot)
Mizuno Wave Rider 27
(Traditional Wave Rider design with plate in heel offers solid stability in the rear while firmer sole and structured upper help lock runners in well)
On Cloudgo
(Moderate profile shoe meets On's natural stable mechanics - Speedboard for rigidity and guidance line for centering. Slightly wider base. A great beginner choice.)
On Cloudswift 3
(Classic On: Speedboard and firmer sole provide rigidity. Highly rockered heel and guidance line along with Speedboard help propel runners forward easily. Slightly wider base)
Puma Velocity Nitro 2
(Heel counter design helps add some guidance. Firmer heel provides stable rearfoot and full ground contact outsole helps keep shoe feeling stable throughout. Note: v3 is more neutral.)
Saucony Echelon 9
(Wide-fitting option w/ wide-base shoe, guidance, sidewalls, and space for orthotics)

Topo Phantom 3
(Wide platform, good lockdown, sole flaring, and mild rocker all work together to provide a great ride)

Trail Shoes

Hoka Challenger ATR 7
(A firmer midsole with sidewalls and wide base greatly helps guide the runner. It does run narrow though for those with standard to wider feet)
Hoka Speedgoat 5
(A really well-constructed trail shoe that's tank-like, yet nimble. Ground contact outsole, wide base, and lots of structure to keep you steady on trails)

Hoka Stinson 7
(A crossover max cushion shoe with a H-frame design and huge width to help provide a stable base)
New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3
(A real balance of cushion and durability for the trails. Huge sole flare, wide width, and secure upper work to provide that balance for the runner)
Saucony Xodus Ultra 2
(Dual sidewalls with extended heel counter provides moderate guidance at heel. Rock plate provides frontal plane motion resistance at forefoot for stable toe-off)

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