Elastic knit uppers are a ubiquitous sight today, but it wasn’t always so. Adidas and Nike turned knit uppers into the new industry standard, so it’s now easier to find running shoes for 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 loose for narrow feet. Sometimes you found a running shoe that hit the sweet spot of upper fit, but that was only after a long search.
Thankfully, those days are behind us. Today, it’s possible to 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 (and B in women’s shoes) is also known as the standard width, the default fit for all running shoes. A ‘B’ width is one size narrower than D. It is more common for brands to offer wide (2E) and extra-wide (4E) widths than a narrower B size. The exceptions are brands like New Balance and Brooks that offer B widths, whereas most do not.
There are four categories of running shoes in this guide.
The first group has shoes with regular D widths with an inherently snug fit. This category includes stretchy knit uppers that can accommodate 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 are not narrow in their standard ‘D’ fit, but there’s an optional ‘B’ (narrow) width.
However, if you’re located in an area where the full range of widths (including a B) isn’t available, we recommend sticking to the first or fourth category.
The third section has narrow shoes for faster runs. Here, you’ll come across models such as the adidas adizero adios 6 and the Skechers Horizon Vanish 2.
Lastly, we’ve featured a few affordable narrow-fitting shoes that cost less than $100 at retail.
Here’s a hack if you happen to have small feet – say, like a size US 7 or under. It is not 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.
Here are a few examples of boy’s running shoes that also sell in small adult sizes up to a 7Y:
We hope that was a helpful little digression; here’s our curated recommendation of adult running shoes for narrow feet.
Category 1: Cushioned daily trainers with a standard snug upper fit.
1) adidas UltraBoost 21
Ever since we reviewed the first Ultraboost model, we’ve found its upper to be shallow and narrow. As our detailed review proves, the UltraBoost 21 is more of the same.
However, the narrow upper isn’t uncomfortable. The stretchy Primeknit mesh upper accommodates various foot types while delivering a secure yet soft fit experience.
Below the snug upper lies a high-volume Boost midsole that makes all-day wearing very comfortable. This is a heavy shoe with an easy-going lacing system, so it’s best utilized for relaxed runs and such.
2) Asics Gel Nimbus Lite 2
This is our favorite narrow-fitting daily trainer. The Flytefoam midsole has the essence of the regular Nimbus, but minus the bulk and excessive softness.
Despite the soft ride, the Nimbus Lite 2 feels pretty nimble for its class. The comfortable cushioning makes high-mileage runs less harsh without slowing you down.
The snug upper is partly the reason why the ride feels efficient. The narrow upper secures the foot down over the midsole for a better power transfer during the gait cycle.
As noted in our detailed review, the insides are extremely comfortable. The plush tongue is attached to an EVA foam-padded sleeve (yes, unusual, we know) to make the interior smooth and soft.
In the rear, a quilted heel lining keeps the heel locked in for a stable ride.
3) Asics Novablast 2
Just like the first version, the Asics Novablast 2 has a long and narrow fit, so it’s a great ‘fit’ for this buyer’s guide.
Narrow-footed runners will love this cushioned trainer for several reasons. In many ways, the Novablast is the Japanese version of the Hoka Clifton, but with a higher heel-to-toe offset of 8 mm. (The Clifton 8 has a 5 mm offset)
One of the many things we like about the Novablast is its ability to balance a sense of speed with a soft ride. The Flytefoam FF Blast midsole excels at blending long-distance cushioning with swift transitions.
The rocker profile of the thick forefoot produces quick turnovers, whereas the high-volume midsole provides ample comfort for high-mileage runs.
Though the upper fits narrow, the Novablast 2’s interior makes for a nice foot covering. The padded tongue, heel, and engineered mesh form a cohesive upper that feels smooth and comfortable on the inside.
Category 2: Neutral and stability running shoes available in a B (narrow) width.
1) Brooks Ghost 14
This very dependable neutral trainer sells in four widths; a narrow ‘B’ size is one of them. However, not all colors are made in a B width – only the ‘safe’ colors.
So if you want something tighter than the standard ‘D’ width of the Ghost 14, then the B sizing should do the trick. As always, the upper is made of quality trims and upholstery to create a comfortable and secure interior.
Last year, the Ghost 13’s single-density midsole ditched the dual-density design with a separate crash pad; the Ghost 14 is also based on a similar set-up.
The single-density stack of foam does a better job of blending distance-friendly cushioning with smooth transitions and stability. Be it everyday runs or distance cruising, the Ghost 14 does it all.
2) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Except for the raised midsole edges and (more) supportive upper, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 feels like the Ghost 14.
Just like the latter, the midsole is mostly single-density without a medial post, and the only firm piece of foam is the ‘Guiderail’ under the arch.
This means that the Adrenaline GTS 21 is closer to the Ghost than ever before. We’d go as far as to say that the GTS 21 is a Ghost 14 with raised midsole sidewalls.
Other than that, the levels of cushioning softness and support are nearly identical to the Ghost. This is no longer the firm, medially-posted Adrenaline GTS that runners once knew.
There’s nothing to nitpick about the comfortable and well-constructed upper. Buying the optional ‘B’ width will provide a tighter fit that narrow-footed runners want.
3) New Balance Fresh Foam 880 V11
Just like the Brooks Ghost 14, the New Balance 880 has always been a safe and somewhat conservative do-it-all neutral trainer. By ‘conservative’, we refer to its sweet spot of the ride and fit quality that appeals to most runners regardless of their skill level.
Last year, the 880V10 got a new ride – aka the Fresh Foam midsole. This made the cushioning smoother, and features like the heel clip and forefoot foam wedge added transitional stability.
The Fresh Foam 880V11 is very similar to the V10, and that includes the four widths that the smooth, engineered-mesh upper sells in. So regardless of whether you’re narrow or wide-footed, there’s an 880V11 width that will fit.
4) New Balance Fresh Foam 860V12
The New Balance 860V11 got ‘Fresh-foamed’ last year, and the 860V12 is based on an identical chassis. In other words, the ride quality hasn’t changed.
Just like the 860V11, the 860V12 has a small wedge that is visually integrated into the midsole. As a result, there’s only a slight hint of motion control in the ride character.
The Fresh Foam 860V12 is a good daily trainer pick for runners who crave the medially-posted ride experience. Despite its Fresh Foam midsole, the cushioning is firm as it gets. A firm midsole is a stable one, and isn’t that what the 860V12 is supposed to have in the first place?
One of the things we disliked about the V11 was its flared heel cup design.
Thankfully, the V12 makes amends and reverts to a normal-looking heel design that delivers a predictable grip. The upper design is also softer and visually clean due to the redesigned single-piece mesh shell.
The option of sizing widths is where the New Balance 860V12 shines. Included in the three optional widths is a narrow ‘B’ size.
5) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11
And if you’re not familiar with the 1080, it is New Balance’s popular max-cushion shoe that works best for long-distance runs. The Fresh Foam stack provides distance-friendly cushioning without feeling mushy.
Like most New Balance running shoes, the Fresh Foam 1080 V11 is offered in four widths, ranging from narrow to extra-wide.
That said, its snug upper will fit most narrow-footed runners even in its stock (regular) width. The soft knit mesh is stretchy and wraps around the foot to deliver a custom fit.
Category 3: Affordable narrow-fitting shoes below $100.
1) Nike Winflo 8
By chance or design, Nike’s budget running shoes usually have narrow interiors. In the Zoom Winflo 8’s case, the forefoot is both narrow and shallow.
The non-stretch upper, when combined with the (concealed) Flywire lacing and toe-box overlay, makes the interiors suitable for narrow feet.
Besides the fit, the Winflo 8’s dual Zoom Air bags make it an excellent and versatile daily trainer – think of it as a watered-down Nike Pegasus, if you will.
2) Nike Renew Ride 2
As far as Nike shoes go, the Renew Ride 2 is excellent value. Its $75 sticker price includes a cushioned ride with sufficient comfort for everyday runs of shorter distances.
The midsole isn’t made of anything special – it’s an EVA-blend foam that gets the job done. There’s no fancy React or ZoomX foam inside this shoe.
The narrow upper is the reason why the Renew Ride 2 shows up on this list. The insides are smooth, breathable, comfort-oriented, but the forefoot is pointy and short-sized. The pointy profile is accompanied by narrowness; that’s a positive if a snug-fitting shoe is what one needs.
Category 4: Speed trainers and racers with a standard snug upper fit.
1) adidas adizero adios 6
Throughout its history, the adidas adizero adios has always been a narrow-fitting shoe.
Even with the slew of recent updates, the adios 6’s upper is more of the same – the narrow mesh and suede upper creates an ultra-secure fit.
There’s a reason why the upper fits narrow. The adizero adios 6 is a road racer, so the upper needs to lock the foot down during high-speed runs.
The new Lightstrike EVA and Lightstrike Pro midsole pack sufficient cushioning for 5K to 10K speed runs. The traction from the new reconfigured Continental rubber is good as it gets.
2) Skechers Horizon Vanish V2
If you’re looking for an ultra-narrow fit, the Skechers Horizon Vanish 2’s upper is an excellent place to find it.
Most road racers fit very tight, as the upper needs to keep the foot planted over the midsole for an efficient power transfer to the midsole. However, the Vanish 2’s fit is narrower than the norm due to three reasons.
Besides the narrow last, the non-elastic mesh and internal layers also make the fit tight. For a racer, this is actually a good thing – most speed-focused shoes have little to no extra room inside. Football and other field shoes are good examples.
The Vanish’s cushioning delivery is unique within the Skechers assortment. Instead of the firmer Hyperburst foam used on shoes like the Speed Elite, the Horizon Vanish uses a softer EVA blended foam.
Also see: The Skechers Razor 3, Brooks Hyperion – not the Tempo or Elite, just the Hyperion
3) adidas adizero Boston 10
The adizero Boston is one of adidas’s most popular speed trainers, and the German brand went back to the drawing board to redesign the Boston 10. Our in-depth review is here.
The 9th and 10th versions of the Boston share very little in common – except for the narrow upper fit that’s typical of speed shoes. Despite the new Boston 10’s transformation to a cushioned tempo shoe, the upper retains an old-school styling with simple mesh and suede exterior.
Inside, the sleeve adds a seamless smoothness to the narrow upper. Most speed shoes are snug for a good reason; the conforming upper keeps the foot fixed over the midsole for a quick touch and go.
Speaking of which, the Boston 10 still remains a credible speed trainer. It may no longer have the low-profile minimalism of the older Bostons, but the Lightstrike EVA and Lightstrike Pro foams mesh together with the ‘Energy rods’ to make the transitions smooth and quick.