On one hand, snug-fitting running shoes have their place in a rotation. Let’s say you’re running track intervals or racing a 5K distance. In both cases, an upper with a reassuringly secure fit is a prerequisite.
But for long-distance runs or daily training, a shoe fit that allows the foot to splay works far better. The feet tend to swell during long runs so having an accommodating upper makes the ride experience enjoyable.
So how does one go about finding a running shoe with a spacious upper?
Some brands do a great job of offering optional widths. New Balance, in particular, offers at least a wide (2E) for most of their running shoes. Brooks comes a close second.
Though adidas now sells widths in some of their lower-priced products, and Nike does the same for a few of their popular models, the big two come nowhere close to New Balance or Brooks in the matter of widths.
The problem with offering only a single width is that it is based on the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. That’s one of the reasons why it is so frustrating to find a shoe that fits and feels right; the very nature of footwear purchase is highly personalized.
And even if you found a pair that hugged your foot in secure comfort, that might change with the next year’s ‘redesign.’ We’ve seen this story played out so many times.
There’s a similar guide on how to find suitable running footwear for narrow feet, and we’ll stick to the same format. In other words, we’ll split our list of recommended products into two groups.
The first set has running shoes with a standard width that is slightly more accommodating than the norm. The shoes in the second group have a spacious regular fit and are also sold in at least a 2E (wide) and/or 4E (extra wide) sizing.
You should know that some retailers also mention 2E and 4E as EE and EEEE. Or they’ll simply use the terms ‘standard’, ‘wide’, and ‘extra wide’ instead of alphanumeric sizes. Don’t get confused; all these mean the same thing.
There is one difference between this and the narrow shoe guide. It is usually easier to find standard (D) width running shoes with a snug fit than it is to discover regular width shoes with a roomy forefoot.
It makes sense, though. After all, a running shoe with a baggy interior isn’t a good one. Having too much space inside a standard D fit doesn’t lock down the foot securely.
And we’re talking the forefoot width here and not the stick length. Many shoes fit a half size larger (in the front) than they should, but that does not necessarily make the shoe wider.
At times, even 2E or 4E widths aren’t what they seem. For example, if a D width shoe is based on a very narrow last, the regular width should be 2E. The previous generation Brooks Beast or the Transcend are good examples of ‘size up and sideways’ purchases.
Though this guide features ‘D’ width shoes with a relatively easygoing fit, it is best that you explore 2E and 4E options if you have wide feet.
But first, here are our chosen running shoes that have an easy-going fit in their standard ‘D’ width. Sorted alphabetically for your reading pleasure.
Category 1: Running shoes with a roomy D (regular) fit but no widths.
1) Mizuno Wave Rider 23
Mizuno is the first brand that comes to mind when the subject is interior space. Except for their speed trainers or road racers, daily trainers from this Japanese company have a relaxed fit.
Though the Wave Rider 23’s toe-box is slightly pointer than the 22 due to the internal toe-bumper, the all-mesh forefoot does a good job at accommodating most foot types.
2) Mizuno Wave Inspire 16
The Inspire’s fit is very similar to the Rider, and the changes on the new V16 mirrors that of the Rider. The toe-bumper is now a concealed type, thus making the front a tad pointy than the last model.
Nonetheless, there are no overlays on the forefoot constricting the foot. So you have a decent amount of splay room inside the Inspire 16’s forefoot. The logos have been updated to a fused type – meaning that the insides are smoother than ever before.
3) Saucony Kinvara 10
On the Kinvara 10, a sleeve-free lightweight upper works together with the last to create a comfortable fit.
No widths are offered on the Kinvara but its standard upper fit should accommodate most foot types.
4) Skechers GoRun Ride 8 Hyper
The Skechers GoRun in its Hyperburst midsole avatar is a running shoe with plenty of forefoot room. Even the earlier GoRun Ride’s had generous amounts of room. The sizing also runs a bit long, though.
This is a guide about wide uppers, so we’ll not get into the ride experience. That’s something to be talked about in our upcoming review.
Category 2: Running shoes with a just-right ‘D’ (regular) fit along with optional 2E (wide) and/or 4E (extra wide) sizes.
1) Asics Gel GT-2000 8
The GT-2000, just like most Asics shoes, has been a safe, please-all kind of a stability shoe. That safe character also covers the upper fit.
In its stock D (regular) width, the engineered mesh forefoot offers a just-right interior volume. For runners with wider feet, Asics sells a 2E (wide) and 4E (extra wide) in the GT-2000 8.
2) Brooks Ghost 12
Forefoot room was never an issue on the Brooks Ghost, and that doesn’t change for the 12th model.
The upper is devoid of a full inner sleeve or forefoot overlays, thus making its regular ‘D’ width comfortable for most feet shapes. Available in an optional wide and extra wide.
3) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
Here’s a stability running shoe with a just-right forefoot fit. And if that doesn’t fit, then there are 2E and 4E widths in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 to your rescue.
Just like the Ghost, the Adrenaline’s upper last, the perforated mesh, and the lack of layering create a relaxed fit inside the forefoot. It sells in a wide as well.
4) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36
Nike’s popular neutral trainer comes standard with an upper fit with adequate foot splay room.
And if you feel the pinch, the good ol’ Peg is available in an extra-wide size.
5) New Balance 890V7
Though New Balance offers a wide version of the 890V7, the standard fit is very relaxed for a lightweight trainer.
The non-stretchy knit upper will take various foot widths in its D width avatar. If not, a wide size is optional.
6) New Balance 1500 V6
If you found the 1500V5’s interior fit to be accommodating for a racer, wait till you step inside the V6.
The latest reworking of the popular 1500 series uses a knit upper that frees up a lot of room. Having absolutely no overlays over the forefoot creates the most spacious 1500 to date.
But if you have wide feet, you’re in luck – not only is the standard width generously roomy, but there’s also a 2E available for purchase.