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 22
Ever since we reviewed the first Ultraboost model, we’ve found its upper to be shallow and narrow. The UltraBoost 21 was more of the same, and so is the Ultraboost 22 – since both the versions are nearly identical.
However, the narrow upper isn’t uncomfortable. The stretchy Primeknit mesh upper accommodates various foot types while creating a secure yet soft interior environment.
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. The Ultraboost 22’s lacing is a wee bit better than the 21 due to the newly-introduced speed loops for the first row of lacing.
2) Asics Nimbus 24
We never imagined that the standard Nimbus will appear on this list, but now it does – thanks to its tight toe-box and forefoot. Making that happen is a thick upper mesh and stretchy midfoot sleeve/tongue that produces a narrow-fitting interior.
Unlike the Nimbus 23, the Nimbus 24 has an ultra-elastic sleeve that increases the level of fit security, but no longer has the relaxed fit of the previous model.
Nonetheless, the Nimbus 24 is still the shoe to buy if you want a soft and comfortable ride for a variety of runs. The new model has an updated midsole foam (Flytefoam Blast Plus) and midfoot shank (Trusstic) that appears to act as a mini-plate of sorts.
These changes, when combined with the snug fit, increases the ride versatility and transitions manners. Our in-depth review covers all.
3) Asics Gel Nimbus Lite 3
The Nimbus Lite 3 is one of our favorite narrow-fitting daily trainers. The Flytefoam midsole has the essence of the regular Nimbus, but without the bulk and easygoing nature.
Despite the soft ride, the Nimbus Lite 3 feels pretty nimble for its class. The balanced cushioning makes high-mileage runs less punishing while feeling relatively peppy.
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. Even though the Nimbus Lite 3 ditches the EVA foam-filled tongue of the Lite 2, the upper retains the snug fit character.
In the rear, a quilted heel lining keeps the heel locked in for a stable ride. Even the standard Nimbus 24 is also an option because of its stretchy knit tongue that creates a snug midfoot fit.
4) 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.
5) The Nike Free Run 5.0
Two things make the Nike Free Run 5.0’s fit narrow. First, it’s the slim last profile that hugs the foot with a slight bit of stretch. Secondly, the loop-based lacing on the midfoot creates a secure fit that can be adjusted with the lacing pressure.
Just know that there’s not a great deal of cushioning available in the flexible midsole. This makes the narrow-fitting Free Run good for short runs up to 10K and treadmills runs.
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 22
In its standard ‘D’ width, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 doesn’t fit narrow. In fact, the interiors have a just-right proportion that’s designed to fit most runners.
Having said that, buying the optional ‘B’ width will provide a tighter fit that narrow-footed runners want.
The sleeved upper is comfortable as always; the plushly-padded heel and tongue provide a comfortable and secure fit. The spacer engineered mesh has a sponginess that feels soft against the foot.
Powering the cushioning is a firm foam stack with a firmer Guiderail on the arch side. Though the Guiderail design isn’t perfect, the firm midsole is supportive yet cushioned for most runs. A plush removable insole provides a layer of step-in softness.
Just know that the Adrenaline GTS 22 is a firmer version of the 21, so if the ‘Guiderails’ bothered you on the 21, it’s better to skip the 22. Our in-depth review of the GTS 22 can be read here.
3) New Balance Fresh Foam 880 V12
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.
Wait. Doesn’t the Fresh Foam X midsole makes a difference? Not really. Sure, the forefoot is a mite softer and smoother due to the re-arranged stack, but the ride quality feels very familiar. The Fresh Foam X midsole feels like an EVA-based foam, so the cushioning delivery is predictable.
The Fresh Foam 880V12’s smooth, engineered-mesh upper is also offered in four widths. So regardless of whether you’re narrow or wide-footed, there’s an width that will fit.
However, you should know that the 880 V12’s upper doesn’t have a tongue gusset.
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 V12
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 V12 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.
Our in-depth review will follow shortly.
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 forefoot Zoom Air bag 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 continues to be 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.