Last Updated: February 8th, 2021
Zero Drop running shoes are expensive than regular running shoes
You may have heard about its benefits from your friends but just didn’t want to blow a small fortune on it.
Well, you don’t need to.
Below you will get a list of the best cheap zero drop running shoes of 2021.
Some of them like FitKicks Men’s Running Shoes will cost you less than $25.
But don’t get turned off by such a low price, they are a rage among the runners.
Also, don’t forget to check out the FAQ section. It has a lot of helpful information about running barefoot or not.
Our Top Picks
Best Cheap Zero Drop Running Shoes of 2021
Brooks Pureflow 7 is one of the best affordable zero drop running shoes.
It will free up your natural stride and will give you a very smooth and responsive ride.
It will provide support to Neutral to mild over-pronation and is lightweight, flexible, and responsive.
Though you can use it to run on multiple surfaces, it is best suited for the road.
It is being promoted as a zero-drop running shoe. However, in reality, it is a low-drop shoe with a differential of 4 mm.
You will get 3D Fit Print upper technology. This gives the upper strategic stretch and structure and you will get a better fit and feel.
It comes with lace-up closure and will give you a comfortable and secure fit.
The heel collar wraps around your heel and is padded. Also, the interior of this shoe is padded.
Coupled with smooth fabric lining, this offers a great in-shoe feel.
The sock-liner is articulated and removable.
So, you can easily use orthotics if in place of a sock-liner for additional arch support.
This is very helpful for people with flat feet.
Like all other Brooks, this comes with a full-length BioMoGo DNA LOFT midsole.
This makes the shoe lighter and it adapts itself with your every step.
The heel is rounded. This will give you a better alignment and helps to minimize stress on joints.
The outsole is made from blown rubber and you will get a very reliable grip and traction while running.
To give the midsole better flexibility, there are Omega grooves on the soles.
Also, you have Dynamic Flex Grid on the forefoot.
This softens the impact of your landing.
These are the coolest shoes around and looks more like ankle socks than a running shoe.
The upper is made from polyester and has outsole is made from durable rubber.
Though these shoes are minimalist, they have the right amount of protection, where you need them.
In the toe area, they have a protective toe guard that prevents dragging and excessive wear.
They will also protect your toes from getting hurt while running.
The insole has Durable FlexFoam while is much like memory foam.
They will naturally contours to your foot for a free range of motion.
The best part is, you can fold these running shoes and carry them in your luggage very easily during travel.
They take up a very less amount of space.
It has a very easy slip-on design for easy wearing and removal.
They can be worn for multi-sport like exercising, walking, running, beach sports, running, kickboxing and yoga.
The materials used in this shoe is of quick-dry type. So, they will dry very fast even if they are completely wet.
Also, due to the nature of these running shoes, they are very breathable. So, you will not feel hot or sweaty while wearing this.
They are the best budget zero drop running shoes till date and the fun part is, they don’t look like traditional running shoes while performing at per.
The slipper has strong stitching and will not fall apart even with daily use.
Maintaining them is also super easy.
You can hand wash them easily with a non-phosphate detergent and can air dry
The outsole is made from an anti-slip rubber material.
This makes it perfect to run under any condition and on any kind of surface.
Since the rubber is very durable, your feet will remain protected from sharp objects on roads and tails.
You can wear them or any kind of sport like swimming, jogging, fishing, yoga, running, dance, cycling, etc.
If you are going swimming, there are drainage holes on the bottom of these shoes.
This ensures proper water flow out and creates a cooler, drier and healthier shoe environment for you.
Also, this makes them a perfect running companion when you want to run in the rain.
The upper is made from stretched fabric and is very breathable.
This makes the shoes more flexible and comfortable.
Also, the fabric takes on your foot shape and so they fit great.
They will give you exceptional traction in slippery conditions and are very stable even on loose sand and rocks.
You will have to order a size down than your regular running shoes and wider feet will also be very comfortable in these running shoes.
They are well made and very stylish to look at.
It is very comfortable to wear during the summer as these shoes are well ventilated.
Even for long walks/runs or hiking and climbing, you will not get any blisters from these shoes.
They come with laces or cords and you can tighten or loosen them up as per your needs.
This makes them fit securely and you can focus on running.
This is one best inexpensive zero drop running shoes around. They give you a near to barefoot running experience.
The outsole is made from durable rubber. This gives you a proper grip and you will have a very stable running experience.
Also, due to the nature of these running shoes, they are very responsive.
The lugs of these outsoles are circular. They will give you grip on all directions.
This makes them very responsive even on the unpredictable terrains.
The insoles are removable. So, you will be able to use orthotics inside these shoes.
This will give your arch additional support if you have flat feet and you will not end up injured.
Also, since these are zero drop shoes, your body will not be at an angle with the ground.
This will cause your weight to be transferred over the ball of the feet.
Thicker top-line wrapped perfectly around feet, which make shoes not fall off during exercise.
It complements the foot’s anatomy and gives you a very comfortable running experience.
The fabric of the upper is of air-flex type and is very durable.
So that the running shoes fit you more securely you have two types of closure.
Velcro and lace. They come with moderate arch support with TPU panels and molded PU arch shank.
However, since the insoles are removable, you will be able to replace them with orthotics.
This will provide you with additional arch support if needed.
The toe box is wider and gives your toes a lot of wiggle space.
Watch the 360 degree view of this running shoe before making a purchase decision.
The upper of the shoe is made from a soft lightweight material and has a more open stitch on the top of the foot.
This gives these shoes more breathability and keeps your feet cool and dry.
Nike Free RN sole is like that of minimalist running shoes. It moves with your feet and expands and contracts with it.
This gives you a more natural feeling as you land and push off.
The Flywire cables are ultralight and provide you with more secured support.
It has the traditional lace-up closure and can be tightened and re-laced to accommodate your specific foot condition.
A set of cables has been removed from the top lace to allow for a smoother, less restrictive feel when you bend the forefoot.
The heel is rounded. This will roll with the ground as you stride.
This is a Zero-Drop Cross-Trainer shoes designed for barefoot performance and outdoor trail activities
This running shoe is true to size. So you need not order a bigger pair of shoes.
Offers barefoot feel of the terrain that stimulates and develops the bottom muscles the of foot for better stability.
Dura Nylon Band for instep support and a enhanced tight fit.
Outsoles feature excellent grip and resistance against slips.
Dirt Proof Flyknit Upper wil keep dusts and stains away while assuring breathability.
1. What are zero drop running shoes?
Zero drop as the name suggests is zero difference in height of the heel and the ball of the foot.
Altra is the pioneer in zero drop shoes and have even coined the term zero drop.
Recently other brands also have started to manufacture zero drop shoes and they have become a rage in the market.
However, most of these companies promote minimalist shoes as zero drop.
But this is not completely true. Any shoe that follows the above definition is a zero drop shoe.
Image curtsy Altra
2. Why is it good to run in a zero-drop running shoe?
When you stand on the ground both your heels and the balls of your feet touch the ground.
Essentially they are at the same height and not at an angle.
So, when you are wearing a running shoe which is zero-drop it maintains your natural motion.
This is very healthy and helps you to avoid a lot of stress related injuries.
However, if you have flat feet and you overpronate, then you should choose a zero drop shoe that is not minimalist.
Altra TIMP Trail Running Shoe can be a good choice for you.
3. Do Zero Drop shoes help plantar fasciitis?
Before I answer that, let’s understand what is plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia is a piece of connective tissue that connects the heel of your foot with your toes.
It is a piece of tissue that is designed to take constant stress.
So, it is able to provide you with all the required arch support that you may need.
However, if you add extra strain to the tissue it develops small tears.
This gives you a burning or stabbing pain near the heel area.
You will be able to feel it more in the morning or if you sit for a long time.
The real reason why plantar fasciitis occurs is actually unknown.
However, some strenuous exercises such as running, weightlifting, etc. can cause you plantar fasciitis.
Another reason may be the type of arch you have.
If you have flat feet, then you are more prone to developing this foot condition along with others like a bunion.
However, you can prevent or improve your condition with the help of proper footwear.
According to Dr. Ray McClannahan of www.correcttoes.com footwear with a raised heel, narrow toe box and “toe spring” (where the toe of the shoe curves up) restricts the blood flow and increases stress on foot muscles at the bottom of the foot.
This can cause plantar fasciitis. However, if you are wearing a shoe with a wide toe-box, zero drops, and a flexible sole, you are actually strengthening your foot muscles. This way you can prevent plantar fasciitis or improve your condition.
4. Are all Altra Zero Drop?
Yes, all Altra is Zero Drop shoes.
They combine three essential ingredients to make their shoes so that you get a very natural and comfortable running experience.
They are called Altra Core 3. These three components are:
- FootShape™ toe box
- Zero Drop™
- Fit4Her™ (For Women’s shoes)
You can get more detailed information here Altra Core 3
5. What are low drop running shoes?
Shoes with a drop of a heel-to-toe drop of 6 mm or less is a low drop shoe.
They became popular in the 1990s when the minimalist running shoe wave was gathering steam.
Those minimalist shoes had a drop of 4 mm with a forefoot height of 9-12 mm or less.
Traditionally this height is somewhere between 20-22 mm.
However, these minimalist shoes didn’t satisfy many runners as they felt the forefoot protection is not good.
So, when Saucony released Kinvara, it was like a dream come true for many runners.
They were like traditional running shoes but with a low drop of around 4 mm and a forefoot height of 18 mm.
Seeing the popularity of these shoes, many other companies introduced their own line of low drop shoes.
And Altra went one step further and came out with well-cushioned ‘zero-drop’ running shoes.
6. Is it better to run barefoot?
Barefoot running is the most natural way of running.
You are directly in contact with mother earth.
However, no matter how good it may be for your body, there are some significant drawbacks.
Your foot will not have any protection and may get injured by any irregularities or sharp objects on the running tracks.
Additionally, if you are running on trails you may get bitten by some bug or insect.
Also, if the weather is too cold outside or its snowing, you may get frostbites and will have to endure a lot of pain.
So, think twice if you want to run barefoot.
A happy compromise can be to run wearing a Vibram Five Fingers
7. What is a heel-toe drop?
Heel-toe drop is one of the best ways to select a running shoe.
Let’s say the stack height of the heel of your running shoe is 25 mm from the ground.
Also, assume that its forefoot stack height is 15 mm from the ground.
In that case, your heel-toe drop will be 25-15 = 10 mm.
When selecting a running shoe, you should look for something that will give you a near-natural running experience.
So, the lower the heel-toe drop, the better it is for you.
Here’s are some popular heel to toe drop difference:
0-mm: This can be the most natural running experience that you can have.
When you stand, your forefoot and your heel are at the same height from the ground.
So, the differential of height is essentially 0 mm. So, you can choose a running shoe that is zero drops.
Another benefit will be, your running posture will improve. You are more than likely to become a forefoot striker.
Best shoes in this category come from Altra. However, they are a bit expensive.
4-mm: These kinds of running shoes will also feel very flat for most of the runners.
They are the best for the midfoot strikers. They will also give you a near-natural running experience.
One of the best running shoes with 4 mm drop is Merrell Vapor Glove 3
8-mm: This is the heel to toe drop that most of the running shoe companies are targeting.
If you’re trying to develop a more natural gait these types of running shoes will definitely help you.
This caters to most of the runners and was pioneered by Saucony.
In 1990 when low drop shoe was becoming a craze, many runners were unsatisfied.
They felt the foot protection was not great.
To address this concern among the runners, Saucony came up with Saucony Kinvara and took over the market.
12-mm: Here the heel is more prominent. Typically your running shoe will get cushier.
If you have a tendency for a heel strike, then these shoes will definitely protect your heels.
One of the best running shoes with a 12 mm drop is Brooks Ghost 11.
16-mm: These shoes are designed specially to protect your heels.
If you are a heel striker, then these shoes will protect your heels as the most padding is in the heels.
However, due to the nature of the shoe, you may not be able to become a forefoot striker.
And just in case you don’t want to transition to a forefoot striker, New Balance Running Shoes will be your best bet.
8. Do you run faster barefoot?
Technically you should. No matter what your shoes will have some weight.
So, when you run barefoot you are lighter and hence you should be able to run faster.
However, there is no scientific evidence that can prove that you will be able to run faster barefoot.
Also, running barefoot can get you to injure more easily.
So, assuming you gain in speed, you may have to spend a lot of time out of the track due to injury.
At the end, it is not worth it.
Zero drop shoes are expensive.
If you just want to check if it suits you or not then blowing $150 on it may not be a good idea.
In the above list, you will find the best cheap zero drop running shoes of 2021.
All of them are good but I liked Brooks PureFlow 7 the most.
It is a good shoe to start with. So go ahead and conquer the tracks.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
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