Elastic knit uppers are a ubiquitous sight today, but it wasn’t always so. Before adidas and Nike made their knit uppers the new industry standard, it was hard to find a running shoe that fit narrow feet.
In the old days, footwear choices were mostly binary. You either had a snug upper fit or a standard sizing that was too baggy for narrow feet. Sometimes you found a running shoe that hit your sweet spot of upper fit, but that was only if you struck gold after several days of search.
Those days are far gone. Today, you can enter any running shoe store and walk out with a pair that fits narrow feet.
Let’s establish what ‘narrow’ means here.
A ‘D’ sizing (B for women) is also known as the medium width, the default setting for most running shoes. A ‘B’ width is one size narrower than D. It is more common for brands to offer a wide (2E) and extra-wide (4E) than a narrower B size. The exceptions are companies like New Balance and Brooks who offer B widths whereas most do not.
There are two categories of running shoes on this guide. The first have regular D widths that inherently fit snug. This includes stretchy knit uppers that accommodates a variety of foot shapes. Regular mesh uppers with a conforming fit are also grouped into this category.
The second category has running shoes that do not fit narrow in their standard D guise, but compensates by offering a B (narrow) sizing.
However, if you’re located in a region where the full range of widths (including a B) isn’t available, we recommend sticking to the first category.
Here’s a hack if you happen to have small feet – say, size US 8 or under. It isn’t a bad idea to get a boy’s model or even women’s running shoes in neutral colors. Buying a boy’s model will get you a narrower fit with 20-30% of price savings over the adult version.
Category 1: Neutral and stability running shoes available in a B (narrow) width.
1) Brooks Ghost 12
The Ghost 12 is a dependable neutral running shoe that strikes the right balance between upper fit and ride comfort.
This staple features a dual-density DNA foam midsole for multi-use cushioning along with a plush upper that also sells in a narrower B width.
2) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
The Adrenaline GTS 20 is very similar to the 19. That means that the firmer medial-post is absent, and this is less of a traditional stability shoe than it once was. Regardless, the GTS 20 has a cushioned ride with a supportive undertone – so this is a ‘stable-neutral’ running shoe of sorts.
There’s a B width option for this shoe. If you want a supportive ride minus the medial post, then the Adrenaline GTS 20 gives you that.
3) New Balance Fresh Foam 880 V10
Most New Balance shoes are switching to the Fresh Foam platform, and it’s the 880’s turn this time. The new midsole swaps the multi-density set-up for a simpler Fresh Foam cushioning.
Though the knit upper fits true to size, a narrow (B) width makes the interiors tighter.
4) New Balance 860V10
There is a striking visual difference between the 860V9 and the V10, yet the updated 860 sticks to its stability shoe roots.
A firmer medial post is integrated into the midsole using tonal colors to make it appear less conspicuous. In essence, you still get a similar level of inner midsole support. The T-beam shank is gone now, so the midfoot is slightly more compliant.
Like all other New Balance shoes with the molded heel design, the fit character can be temperamental. The standard D width is snug but a narrow ‘B’ sizing will make it even more so.
5) New Balance 1080 V10
New Balance’s 1080 is in the best phase of its life. The Fresh Foam midsole and the outsole have been tweaked to increase ride comfort for long runs. The foam is soft without being mushy, and the split outsole works effectively with the midsole to enhance the overall cushioning experience.
And you can have all of this cushy goodness in a narrow B width too. It also helps that even the standard ‘D’ width fits snugly.
Category 2: Cushioned daily trainers with a standard snug upper fit.
1) adidas UltraBoost 20
adidas Primeknit uppers – like the one used on the UltraBoost 20 – have a snug fit due to the built-in mechanical stretch. adidas doesn’t offer widths but this shoe will fit most narrow-footed runners.
It helps that the redesigned upper uses softer midfoot panels that make the fit more comfortable than the 19. The Boost cushioning hasn’t changed so you get the same ride comfort that is suitable for easy runs or casual-wear use.
2) adidas SolarBoost 19
Though the new SolarBoost isn’t as narrow as the 2018 model due to the upper design tweaks, it still has a narrow fit.
Along with the snug upper, you also get the full-length Boost midsole that delivers responsive and durable cushioning. And the Continental rubber outsole that lasts a long time.
3) Saucony Triumph 17
There are times when shoe models go without a drastic makeover for years. However, the Triumph ISO 5 evolving into the Triumph 17 is anything but.
The latest version shares very little in common with the previous shoe, and that includes the upper fit. The Triumph went from an overly roomy fit in 2019 to a snug upper on the 2020 model.
And it’s not just the ride that has changed. The Pwrrun+ midsole is noticeably softer than Everun; the reworked design also packs in more volume. The result is a markedly cushy ride that feels lively over long distances.
Speed trainers and racers with a standard snug upper fit.
1) adidas adizero Boston 8
One of adidas’s credible performance trainers, this lightweight and speed-friendly running shoe’s narrow upper has a secure fit.
A ‘B’ width isn’t required here; the very nature of shoes in this category calls for a snug fit. And that’s what the Boston delivers.
A limited run Boston 9 has been released, by the way.
Also see: The adidas SL20.
2) adidas adizero adios 5
Throughout its history, the adidas adizero adios has always been a narrow-fitting shoe. The adios 5 is more of the same. The spacer mesh upper fits narrow, especially on the small toe side.
There’s a reason why the upper fits narrow. The adizero adios 5 is a road racer, so the upper needs to lock the foot down securely during high-speed runs.
3) New Balance 1400 V6
The New Balance 1400V6 is one of our favorite road-racers. The Revlite midsole feels fast while offering a cushioned layer for protection from the road.
As with most racers, the mesh upper has a secure fit that suits runners with narrow feet.
4) Skechers GoMeb Speed 6 Hyper
Though the GoMeb Speed 6 is marketed as a racing flat, it is a lot of shoe. Nearly 20 mm of Hyper foam cushioning separates the foot from the ground. And it’s a 4 mm drop shoe. So a true flat the Speed 6 is not, but a capable speed trainer it certainly is.
However, there’s one thing that the Speed 6 has in common with racing flats, and that is the uber-snug upper fit. If you’re a narrow-footed runner looking for a low-profile trainer capable of speedy training runs or races, the GoMeb Speed 6 is worth a fit trial.