Looking for the best running shoe for you on the internet can be frustrating, what with the terminology and all the different options to choose from.
Most likely by you landing on this article, you’ve already accustomed yourself to the jargon of the running world and know exactly what sort of running shoes you’re after.
A shoe with a wide toe box for running comes with a variety of benefits for the runner. They can help with blisters and the formation of bunions, as well as help with the pain if you’re feeling like it’s tight in your pair of running shoes.
If you have a swell or inflammation it also allows more wriggle room for your feet to move. So having a running shoe with a wide toe box is just a personal preference of some runners who are experiencing these nuances with running.
Best Wide Toe Box Running Shoes Compared And Reviewed
1. ON Cloudstratus
Reasons to buy
- Maximum cushioning
- Good traction on any surface
- Great for wet and dry conditions
- Recycled and breathable mesh upper
- Roomy toe box
Reasons to avoid
- Might be too heavy for others
- Not recommended for speed runs
Neutral runners and runners who like to train should consider buying the ON Cloudstratus running shoes. Aside from a wider toe box, this product has incredible features such as an 8mm heel-to-toe drop, a combined polyester and CDP upper, EVA midsole and a rubber outsole. Runners can get this performance shoe with a few color variations and sizes available for both men and women.
ON has marketed the Cloudstratus as a max-cushioned running shoe which has been lauded by many runners due to the level of comfort it provides on the road. However, at 305g, runners who look for a lighter shoe for speedwork might need to look for other pairs.
Most users have tested and proven these shoes to have good traction on any surface but as ON have suggested, the Cloudstratus is still best on road running for mid to long distances. The upper unit has a durable and breathable mesh upper made with recycled polyester.
For extra support, this product features inner socks attached on the sides of the tongues. ON has also designed the Cloudstratus with a wider forefoot section to provide more room on the toes. The Star lacing system has been described by runners as secure and supportive without restricting the feet.
The midsole of the Cloudstratus now has a double-layer of CloudTec for softness and comfort that helps distribute pressure whenever you land on your feet and also offers better energy return. The updated bottom unit has multi-directional tread that is great for wet and dry conditions. The exposed Speedboard deck is also highlighted on this product that adds responsiveness on the shoes.
2. Brooks Ghost 14
Reasons to buy
- Great for runners experiencing supination
- For neutral runners
- Great for varied distance and terrain
- Good traction on slick surfaces
Reasons to avoid
- No motion control to lessen overpronation
Aside from a wider toe box, if you are the type of runner who is big on comfort and support when looking for a pair, Brooks’ Ghost 14 is another great contender. Released just last July of this year, the Ghost 14 is great for runners with medium to high arch and prone to supination because of its 12mm heel-to-toe drop.
This neutral running shoe is also best for various distances and terrains. The upper unit of this was engineered to be stretchy and breathable. Most importantly, it offers more foot room with its wide toe box that helps ease pain and enhance runners’ stride. Support is also provided with the Segmented Crash Pad on the heel and toe sections for shock absorption.
Brooks’ Ghost 14 has an updated midsole now with 100% DNA Loft cushioning for added softness and comfort. The underfoot has been described by many runners to be comfortable and flexible, however, it is less responsive. The outsoles are made with blown rubber with 5mm thickness which is stable.
The traction of this neutral running shoe is exceptional even on wet and slippery roads. It also lands flat on each impact to provide runners stability. Lastly, it is important to note that the Ghost 14 has no motion control, which is critical in reducing the degree of overpronation lessening the chances of injury.
3. Altra Torin 5
Reasons to buy
- Four options for toe box shapes to cater to more foot shapes
- Durable and responsive
- True to its size
- Breathable mesh
Reasons to avoid
- Tongue padding has a tendency to rub on the ankle and lower shin
The Altra Torin 5 is a lightweight performance running shoe that offers premium comfort and promotes midfoot and forefoot strikes. Runners with wide feet will like how Altra now offers four different toe box shapes to accommodate a wide array of foot shapes.
The Torin 5 is true to its sizing, thus, runners should be able to easily pick their Torin 5 based on their usual size with a 257g weight. This product features a low profile with a 0mm drop which makes it comfortable on almost any surface.
The upper unit has a breathable mesh upper that helps the shoes dry quickly once soaked. The tongue has a bit of padding that stays in place, however, a reviewer from Running Shoes Guru has mentioned that it tends to rub against his ankle and lower shin.
The Altra Torin 5’s insides have heel cups that are comfortable enough even with the 0mm drop. The midsole has the Altra Ego Max cushioning that makes the shoes flexible and offers great energy returns. The toe box has the FootShape technology which allows for a natural toe splay and keeps your big toes in a straight position.
On the other hand, the outsoles of the Torin 5 has the FootPod technology which promotes natural movement of the feet on each step. It offers good and sufficient grip on wet and dry surfaces. Overall, runners have lauded the durability, responsiveness and ample softness the Torin 5 offers.
4. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11
Reasons to buy
- Multiple width choices
- Provides a snug fit
- Great cushioning
Reasons to avoid
- Heavier than predecessors
- Midsole foam is not great for cold days
- Stiff upper except for the toe box section
- Padding on ankle collar causes heel slips
For extreme comfort on the run, New Balance released their latest model from the Fresh Foam lineup earlier this year with its 1080V11 model. This running shoe has an 8mm drop and a 264g weight. New Balance marketed this model with a combination of support and cushioning on the run.
Fresh Foam features include an ankle-tall footwear height, a lace-up closure, a synthetic and mesh upper. It can provide runners with multiple width choices that range from Narrow to X-Wide to serve just about any type of foot shape. Runners can snatch a pair of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11 with different colors and sizes available for both men and women.
The upper unit of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11 features a no-seam stretchy upper that allows a snug fit on the foot. However, some noticed that the stretchy upper only covers above the toe box and the rest are already stiff due to the welded overlays and the logo itself.
It also has a partially gusseted tongue described to be short and lightly padded by reviewers which helps in securing the weight down and adds to the breathability of the toe box. The midsole accentuates the Fresh Foam system for a cushioned and comfortable run.
The insides have an Ortholite Premium insole for added cushioning and arch support. Some raved about the outsoles of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11 that have flex grooves and lugged design that was proven to have great grip on the road, cement, and even wet surfaces.
Some runners find this product to be lightweight, however, some find it heavier when compared to its previous models. Wearers noticed that the foaming system made the shoes a bit too soft and slightly unstable after testing.
The midsole foam is also temperature intolerant which might not be great for running on cold days. Lastly, there are also some who noticed heel slips issues since there is no padding on the ankle collar.
5. Topo Ultraventure 2
Reasons to buy
- Breathable quick-dry mesh upper
- Great for long-distance running
- Extra comfort from the cushioning
- Provides good protection and structure on the feet
Reasons to avoid
- Can slip on wet rocks
- Mud build-up
If you are interested in purchasing a pair of running shoes that provides not only a wide-toe box but also extra underfoot cushioning, you may consider the Topo Ultraventure 2. Runners who need support for heel and forefoot strikes will also be safe in choosing the Ultraventure 2 even with the 5mm drop.
Designed for running long distances (hence, the name), this running shoe offers runners protective comfort and reliable support on their runs. The upper unit of this product has a multi-layered mesh upper that gives runners breathability on their feet. It also helps the shoes dry quickly when dampened. Along with this runs a microfiber belt that connects the midfoot to the heel.
The midsole of the Ultraventure 2 is built with a 3-piece injected EVA and a stack height of 30mm on the heels and 25mm on the forefoot. Combined with these are the inserted Ortholite insoles that make up a plush ride for long runs. Another great feature of this product is the external TPU heel counters boost the security of the feet and add structure on the shoes.
The outsole features a stiff Vibram XS Trek Evo which runners have been raving about due to its superb grip or traction. It has multi-directional 6mm lugs that makes the shoes versatile on any type of surface. The heel braking lugs also support runners for maneuvering and movement transitions. However, some have noted that the outsole has a tendency to slip on slippery rocks and build up mud.
6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Reasons to buy
- Great stability
- Great for runners prone to overpronation
- Soft and cushioned
- Lighter vs previous models
- Has 4 toe box width offering
Reasons to avoid
- Not for shallow feet
- Some might find it too stiff
One of the well-known running shoes offered by Brooks is the soft and supportive Adrenaline GTS 21. With recognitions such as PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and APMA Seal of Acceptance, the Adrenaline GTS 21 has been described by many runners to be cushioned, roomy and provides great support. Runners who experience overpronation are big fans of this shoe.
It has features that provide ample structure for flat to medium arched runners. The upper unit of this product has a no-seam synthetic and mesh upper with 3D Fit Print that ensures fit and keeps the weight down.
It also highlights a stretchy gusseted tongue and crash pad aids. The Adrenaline GTS 21 is available in 4 widths: narrow, regular, wide and extra-wide, however, some users have noted that it is not as wide as Altra or Topo shoes.
The midsole of the Adrenaline GTS 21 has a dual foam system with a DNA Loft Crash Pad running on the outside edge and BioMogo DNA on the inside for a smoother transition whenever your foot rolls. It also has a plush collar on the stiff heel counter.
A higher and firmer foam on the outside of the shoe aids in preventing your foot from rolling outwards but it might become uncomfortable for runners with shallow feet.
The outsole has a durable rubber that is built to last for running hundreds of miles. Along with the segmented crash pads, Omega Flex Grooves are designed on the outsole for smoother transition from initial midfoot strike to toe-off.
Lastly, the Adrenaline GTS 21 has the GuideRails Holistic Support System wherein plastic GuideRails are inserted in between the midsole at upper that helps realign the feet when overpronating.
How to Choose the Best Wide Toe Box Running Shoes
Runners who need a wider toe box should educate themselves on what to look for in their next purchase. It is best advised for you to know what other features should go along with a wide toe box. We have listed down below some key factors you should consider when buying your next pair:
A pair of running shoes with a wide toe box does not necessarily equate to fit a wider foot shape. A wider toe box indeed has advantages such as more comfort and stability but some running shoes with a wide toe box diminishes on the midsole towards the heel.
It is best advised for wide feet runners to check out the sizing system of their preferred brand since some offer multiple width choices such as the New Balance Fresh Foam and the Brooks Adrenaline.
When you look at the durability, you can depend on your foot mechanics and how intense your runs are. For runners who take short daily runs, most quality shoes are just enough for their needs.
On the other hand, for intense and long runs, trail running or marathons and for runners who experience overpronation, running shoes that offer top quality and premium durability should fit them since they are going to be harder on their shoes and these will offer them longer wear outs.
You should also look into pronation or how your foot strikes on landing the ground. Runners who experience neutral pronation should opt to buy a pair of neutral running shoes, while runners who experience overpronation should seek a pair that offers stability to refine and boost their strides.
Wide running shoes have a different sizing system compared to the typical length sizing of other shoes. Instead of numbers, they use letters to determine which one is narrow and wide for men and women like for example AA is women’s narrow while B is men’s narrow and women’s medium.
The men’s extra wide is EEEE and the widest is the EEEEEE which is uncommon and typically hard to find.
Orthotics are medical devices prescribed by professionals for runners to wear inside their shoes to repair any biomechanical foot issues they have such as with how they walk or run.
Aside from understanding the sizing system of wide-toe box running shoes, you should also consider the space and room orthotics take up on running shoes as it greatly increases and affects your typical shoe size even with taking the insoles out.
So if you frequently get an AA size of wide-toe box running shoes and were prescribed orthotics, you should take the device with you and wear them when you are trying out sizes because there will be a great chance you have advanced from your typical AA sizing.
Frequently Asked Questions
A running shoe with a zero heel drop promotes a natural movement of the feet making your feet move flat on the ground. In other words, it should be able to copy the way you would run barefooted.
However, it can be unnecessary to get a zero heel drop since some shoes listed above still have heel drops albeit lower than other shoes and they offer a wide toe box with a low heel drop that can still provide the support and comfort you need on the run like the Topo Ultraventure 2.
A wide toe box means the top section or the space where your toes are has more room to provide toe splay, usually for the comfort of the runner. On the other hand, wide width shoes offer more space and room in the entire shoes instead of just on the toe box.
If you are looking for a running shoe that offers both a wide toe box and a range of wide-width options, consider checking out the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11 and the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21.
‘Bunions can give you agonizing pain at the base of your big toe and a wide toe box can help you with that problem by giving you more space to breathe on your toes. As per Karen Langone, a podiatrist, “the widest point of your foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe”, thus, making a wide toe box perfect for runners who have bunions.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.