In this product guide:
- 1. Factors to consider
- 2. Daily trainer with a soft ride: Asics Cumulus 24
- 3. Daily trainer with a supportive ride: Saucony Ride 15
- 4. Daily trainer with a supportive ride: Nike Structure 24
- 5. Daily trainer with a stable ride: adidas Solarglide 5
- 6. Long-distance trainer with a soft ride: New Balance 1080 V12
- 7. Long-distance trainer with a soft ride: Hoka Clifton 8
- 8. Long-distance trainer with a soft ride: Asics Nimbus Lite 3
- 9. Long-distance trainer with a supportive ride: Brooks Glycerin 20
- 10. Long-distance trainer with a supportive ride: Saucony Triumph 20
There are a couple of common misconceptions about feet with high arches.
The first assumes that all runners with high arches – also known as Pes Cavus – supinate or roll outwards during running or walking. Supination is also called under-pronation, the opposite of over-pronation.
That assumption isn’t necessarily true. A high-arched foot will also pronate under certain circumstances.
It is also assumed that high arches do not require footwear with arch support. This assumption is also misplaced.
Under normal circumstances, the arch is meant to help absorb the shock and stabilize the body. So a high arch will redistribute the loading stress to the forefoot and heel.
Thus, having an adequate level of under-arch support and midsole cushioning adds safety to the loading process.
Though many running shoes have a supportive midsole along with varying levels of under-arch support, it might be a good idea to get a custom orthotic or an aftermarket insole. If that’s the route you want to take, read our buyer’s guide on orthotic-friendly shoes.
The running shoes that feature in this guide do two things very well.
They have a cushioned ride that makes landings and transitions go easy on your feet and the arch. At the same time, they aren’t overly structured and do not overcorrect the gait.
The terms ‘cushioned’ and ’softest’ aren’t the same thing – though these terms are often conflated. Excessive softness can cause a shoe to be unstable – and that is undesirable regardless of the arch type.
However, if you want a really soft shoe, give the Nike ZoomX Invincible a try. It won’t go fast, but it is lightweight with soft and deep cushioning. Our detailed review paints a complete picture of the ZoomX Invincible.
None of the models recommended in this guide are excessively soft. Rather, these shoes combine impact-absorbing cushioning with a supportive ride.
Most of them do well in the under-arch support department, but it’s a good idea to get an aftermarket insole for an optimal ride experience.
Recent updates to shoes like the Saucony Ride 15 make them orthotic-friendly. The thick expanded Polyurethane footbed can be removed to accommodate a custom insole.
If your high arches are a source of pain or discomfort, please visit a physiotherapist before reading this shoe guide.
1) Asics Gel-Cumulus 24
If you haven’t already noticed – the Cumulus is improving every year. The previous generation Cumulus 23 was also a competent and versatile daily trainer, and so is the 24.
Taking inspiration from the Nimbus 24, the Cumulus 24 gets upgraded with a bouncier Flytefoam Blast midsole.
As a result, the Cumulus 24 has a smooth and comfortable ride that doesn’t try to correct the gait. In other words, the shoe’s neutral ride character works for most foot types.
The single-piece mesh upper has an excellent fit behavior. Its true-to-size build comes with a smooth interior and no hot spots. The redesigned Cumulus even has an inner gusset – something that the previous model did not.
Being a daily trainer is the best use for the Cumulus, as long as you’re not pushing speeds faster than 4:30 min/km. To know more about the Cumulus 24’s capabilities and limitations, read our in-depth product review.
Also see: The New Balance Fresh Foam 880V12.
2) Saucony Ride 15
By the time 2022 is over, Saucony’s running shoe catalog will look almost unrecognizable – at least for its popular models like the Endorphin Line and staples such as the Guide and Ride.
Speaking of which, Saucony’s popular neutral trainer – aka the Ride – has been completely redone.
Instead of the ultra-firm ride of the older Ride models, the Ride 15 features a thicker midsole stack and cushy Pwrrun+ (E-TPU) insole. The upper, too, is more spacious and breathes better than any of the previous versions.
And while the Ride 14 wasn’t a bad shoe for high-arched feet, the V15 is better.
Here’s why – the thick E-TPU insole has a flared under-arch area for cushioned support, and the support midsole provides ride comfort without any bias. It’s still a very firm running shoe, but there’s this sense of more midsole under the foot. Our full review is here.
3) Nike Zoom Structure 24
A few years ago, if someone told us that the Nike Zoom Structure would feature on this guide, we would be very surprised.
After all, the Structure used to be Nike’s most popular ‘stability’ shoe with a medial post – not exactly the kind of shoe that mixes well with regular neutral trainers.
However, the Structure we once knew no longer exists. In its place is a cushioned neutral shoe with a balanced ride and plush upper. The transformative updates occurred on the last year’s Structure 23, and the 24 is virtually identical to the latter.
Unlike the versions before the Structure 23, there are no ‘stability’ devices that attempt to alter the gait process.
In our detailed review, we called out the Nike Structure’s balanced ride character. It has sufficient ride comfort for long-distance runs while being peppy enough for shorter blasts.
Since both the 23 and 24 are hard to tell apart (except for the minor upper design updates), it doesn’t matter which one you buy. They share the same ride, and have a similar upper fit experience.
Also see: The Nike Pegasus 39.
4) adidas SolarGlide 5
Forget what you thought you knew about the adidas Solarglide, because the V5 is nothing like the 4. Our comprehensive review dives deep into the changes.
In what’s a top-to-bottom update, the 2022 Solarglide 5 gets a brand new midsole and outsole that makes it more stable, cushioned, and heavier than the 4.
The redesigned LEP shank also forms a supportive ‘wing’ over the forefoot and heel.
The sleeve-free upper is breathable and smooth on the inside. The absence of an inner sleeve and raw tongue edges is puzzling. The soft edges tend to fold over the foot, and the tongue tends to slide. Shoe brands work in mysterious ways.
Having said that, there are several reasons why the Solarglide 5 is an excellent pick for high-arched runners. For starters, the removable insole cups the foot on either side.
The high-volume Boost midsole adds plenty of cushioning that doesn’t interfere with the inward roll of the foot. It’s also very stable, thanks to the extension of the LEP shank over the midsole.
5) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12
The 1080 V12’s high-volume midsole is ideal for running longer distances in cushioned comfort.
Making that possible is a soft midsole and a split outsole design that flexes together with the Fresh Foam stack. It’s not mushy though – just soft enough to be extremely comfortable, but minus the lazy feel.
This midsole design delivers a very neutral ride experience without any motion-control effect – and that makes it a good fit for this list.
The stretchy and soft mesh upper hugs the foot without being either sloppy or constrictive. The internal gusset holds the tongue in place. This shoe is also sold in narrow, wide, and extra-wide widths should you need one.
6) Hoka One One Clifton 8
Hoka has the distinction of being the original maximal cushioning brand, and the Clifton is one of its most popular ambassadors.
Unlike the bulkier Bondi 8, the Clifton 8 hits the sweet spot between max-cushioning and lightweight build, thus giving it a versatile character that very few possess. The Clifton 8 is excellent for easy daily workouts and comfortable long-distance runs alike.
Its high-volume midsole produces a superbly cushioned and lively ride, yet feels agile and supportive. The credit goes to the wide base that creates a supportive foundation during runs. The rocker shape allows the foot to roll forward faster during the push-off phase.
The cushioned neutral-ness of the Clifton makes it a worthy pick for most runners, regardless of foot-strike or gait patterns. We reviewed the Clifton 8 in detail here.
The comfortable upper of the redesigned Clifton 8 is a bonus. The mesh material is updated, and the tongue gains additional plushness. In the rear, the heel collar now uses a dual-fabric construction for a gentler fit.
7) Asics Gel Nimbus Lite 3
We find the Nimbus Lite 3 to be more versatile than the Nimbus 24. That’s because the Nimbus Lite 3’s midsole is an excellent blend of smooth transitions, a comfortable ride, and midsole stability.
Missing on the midsole are traditional Asics features like a visible Gel unit and midfoot shank; the Nimbus Lite 3 relies on a simple design that just works.
A supportive Flytefoam stack provides 99% of the cushioning, and it’s more supportive than the Nimbus 24. Making that happen are the flared sidewalls that make the loading process smoother.
The upper fit is another factor that makes the ride stable. The plush upper fits tighter than the regular Nimbus, thus bringing the foot closer to the midsole for better feedback and power transfer.
All these aspects work together to produce a ride character that works for most runners, regardless of how their arch is shaped.
8) Brooks Glycerin 20
The Glycerin has been Brooks’s neutral running staple for nearly two decades. Its balanced ride is one of the reasons why it’s been around for such a long time.
And that hasn’t changed, even though the Glycerin 20 has a brand-new midsole that’s made of DNA Loft V3.
It’s a material that’s similar to the kind used on the Hyperion Tempo, but softer and somewhat heavier. For perspective, our US 11 Glycerin weighs over 11 ounces. Our comprehensive review takes a closer look at the Glycerin 20’s ride character.
The ride isn’t super-soft or super-plush as Brooks’ marketing would have you believe. When compared to truly soft shoes like the New Balance 1080, the midsole is still in the medium-soft territory. The full-contact outsole fills in the transitional gaps for a smooth ride.
This ride behavior makes it suitable for most runners looking for a daily driver – high-arched or not.
It’s worth noting that the Glycerin 20 does not have an inner sleeve as the Glycerin 19 did. As a result, the interiors are more spacious and breathable than the outgoing model.
Also, the Glycerin 20 GTS is worth considering.
It’s nearly the same shoe as the Glycerin but with raised midsole sidewalls, aka the Guiderails. It’s worth mentioning that the Stealthfit variant has a bootie upper with a lower heel padding position. Though it’s a matter of personal taste, we prefer the upper fit of the standard Glycerin 20.
Also see: The Brooks Ghost 14.
9) Saucony Triumph 20
Thanks to the numerous updates, the Saucony Triumph 20 is easily the best version in the last decade.
And no – the Triumph doesn’t get a Pwrrun PB midsole, but the same material as before. That said, the Pwrrun+ midsole cushioning feels different this time. It’s softer and lighter due to the reformulated Pwrrun+. On the road, that translates into a higher level of ride comfort and engagement.
Besides the obvious benefits, the high-volume midsole is wide under the heel and forefoot.
This form factor appeals to runners of all classes for long-distance runs or everyday runs. The rubber outsole has a generous surface contact area for optimal traction and durability.
The previous-generation Triumph 19 got rid of unnecessary layers, and the 20 continues to build on that. The visually clean exterior is comfortable and secure on the inside; the midfoot strapping system helps achieve a custom fit.