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 when it comes to 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.’
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.
A few retailers also mention 2E and 4E as EE and EEEE. They might also use the terms ‘standard’, ‘wide’, and ‘extra wide’ instead of alphanumeric sizes. Don’t be 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 the foot down 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 will fit like a 2E. The 2014 Brooks Beast or 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
1) Hoka One One Clifton 7
If you’re surprised to see the Hoka Clifton, we can understand. For many years, the Clifton wasn’t exactly the shoe with a roomy toe-box.
Though the Clifton 6 wasn’t bad, the status quo gets demolished with the Clifton 7. The new Clifton has an accommodating toe-box that is also comfortable. The interior is soft, smooth, and well-ventilated – thanks to the(nearly) single-piece mesh design. The Clifton 7 is sold in a wide too.
Need it to be said that the Clifton 7 is the near-perfect shoe for cushioned long-distance runs? Or that rocker-shaped midsole gives the Clifton a sense of quickness?
2) Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Mizuno is one of the first brands that come to mind when discussing interior space. Except for their speed trainers or road racers, daily trainers from this Japanese company have a relaxed fit.
The Wave Rider used to be a lot roomier before the 23 due to an external toe-bumper. Last year, the Mizuno Rider 23 switched to an internal toe-bumper that made the forefoot a mite pointy. Despite that, the all-mesh forefoot does a good job at accommodating most foot types.
The Wave Rider 24 has a softer midsole and a smaller Wave plate, so the ride is softer than before. Though the midsole still has the unique ride signature of the plastic Wave plate, the shoe doesn’t require a break-in period as it did before.
3) Mizuno Wave Inspire 16
The Inspire 16’s fit is very similar to the last year’s Rider 23, and the changes on the new V16 mirrors that of the Rider. The toe-bumper is now a concealed type, thus making the front pointier 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.
4) Skechers GoRun Ride 8 Hyper
The Hyperburst-based Skechers GoRun Ride 8 is a running shoe with plenty of forefoot room. This is not unique to the GRR8; even the earlier versions had a generous amount of room. The sizing also runs a bit long, though.
This is a guide about uppers fit, you should know that the Ride 8 is a markedly different shoe than the 7, thanks to its firm and responsive Hyperburst midsole.
Category 2: Running shoes with optional 2E (wide) and/or 4E (extra wide) sizes.
1) Asics Gel GT-2000 9
The GT-2000 has always been a safe, please-all kind of a stability shoe with a medial post. The ‘safe’ character also applies to 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 9.
2) Brooks Ghost 13
The forefoot room was never an issue with the Brooks Ghost, and that doesn’t change for the 13th model either.
The upper is devoid of a full inner sleeve or forefoot overlays, thus making its regular ‘D’ width comfortable for most feet shapes. The Ghost 13 is also available in an optional wide and extra wide.
For this year, the Ghost 13 gets a new midsole that makes the ride smoother and softer than the 12. The midsole no longer uses a separate heel crash pad. The entire midsole is made of a softer foam that leads to the said changes in the ride quality.
Regardless of the redesign, the Ghost 13 continues to be a daily trainer with excellent versatility.
3) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Here’s a ‘supportive neutral’ running shoe with a just-right forefoot fit. If the standard ‘D’ sizing doesn’t fit, the optional 2E and 4E widths will help get you out of a tight spot.
Just like the Ghost 13, the Adrenaline’s last, perforated mesh, and the lack of layering create a Goldilocks fit inside the forefoot.
You should know that the Adrenaline GTS hasn’t been the same since the 19th edition. Brooks removed the medial post of the V18 and substituted it with a ‘Guiderail’. Here, the midsole has raised sidewalls that cup the foot on either side.
The Adrenaline GTS 21 has been updated with a softer midsole that no longer uses a separate crash pad. In essence, the GTS 21 is exactly like the Ghost 13, but with the raised ‘Guiderails’.
4) New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V10
Though New Balance sells the 1080 from a B (narrow) to 4E (extra wide) widths, even the standard width will accommodate most foot types. The toe-box is just right, broad, and the mesh upper wraps the foot in softness.
Offering multiple widths isn’t the only trick up the 1080’s sleeve. This max-cushion trainer makes short work of long-distance runs; the ultra-thick and responsive midsole minimize foot fatigue. The rocker shape of the 1080 also promotes smooth transitions.
5) New Balance 1500 V6
If you found the 1500V5’s interior fit to be too roomy 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.
If you ask us, the new 1500 has too much room for a road racer.
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.
6) Saucony Kinvara 11
The Kinvara 10 was featured on the last edition of this guide because of its well-ventilated and accommodating upper.
The Kinvara 11 has a similar upper profile, except that the newly-introduced layering over the midfoot feels gratuitous. But the upper fit is still far from narrow and will take most standard foot shapes without presenting a problem.
Just that you know, the Kinvara 11 is also available in a wide.
This popular neutral trainer is very versatile due to its 4 mm drop midsole that is both cushioned and tempo-friendly. Use it as a daily trainer or the long-distance cruiser; the Kinvara 11 delivers without complaining.