(This list has been updated for 2018.)
At a very basic level, the current assortment of running shoes can be divided into two halves – one with a firmer medial post, and another without it. This categorization is commonly known and marketed as ‘stability’ (with a medial post) and ‘neutral’ (without a medial post).
But when you begin to wade through the vast selection of stability shoes, you quickly realize that you cannot paint each model with the same brush. Some stability shoes have a small medial wedge while others have a gigantic post which extends from the heel to the forefoot.
Then there are countless other variations, such as the difference in the shoe weight, midsole softness, or the outsole footprint.
Due to the sheer breadth of available features and models, stability shoes can be further divided into sub-categories. Some stability shoes exhibit a noticeable ‘motion-control’ behavior, which means that the outer midsole is easier to compress than the inner side.
Then there are other stability shoes which feel like neutral shoes or lightweight trainers. They lack the prominent sensation of hardness which comes from the medial post.
So why do ‘stability’ shoes exist? All brands which promote stability running shoes claim that the latter minimizes inward foot roll, and how only ‘over-pronators’ should wear the said category of running shoes. We’ve spent enough time discussing this subject in the past, so we’ll skip that today.
Whether a runner likes a stability shoe or not is purely a matter of personal preference. Some like the sensation of a firmer medial post under the foot, and that’s reason enough to buy them. In the same vein, not all stability shoes are the same, so an extremely subjective decision-making process will apply in each case.
What solereview can do to help is to sort popular stability running shoes into three different sub-categories, a step we hope will make your search less arduous.
The first category is what we view as the most popular assortment of stability shoes. These shoes are your daily trainers with mild support features. The medial post isn’t very intrusive, and in most cases, you don’t feel it at all.
The second category is max support. Here, weight and dimensional considerations go out of the window, and brands build the most stable running shoe with no holds barred. Design features like an over-sized medial post, an ultra wide outsole footprint, and a high shoe weight are what commonly constitute such a shoe.
Lastly, there are lightweight trainers with a mild stability treatment. These shoes are fast trainers, but with a difference; the midsoles (except for Mizuno) are fitted with a tiny medial-post.
Here’s our recommended list(s) of running shoes, arranged by stability sub-categories:
Stability shoes – mild support:
1) Asics GT-2000 6
Asics remains one of the few remaining brands which offer multiple medially-posted shoe models. The GT-2000 6 is one of them; it is a mild-stability running shoe with a supportive ride.
The Flytefoam midsole has a firm and stable ride, and the upper is conventionally built – nothing very fancy but gets the job done.
2) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18
The Brooks Adrenaline’s firmer medial post is extremely well integrated into the midsole. This gives the GTS 18’s ride a very balanced character without the intrusive feel of the foam wedge.
As most Brooks shoes are, the upholstery feels plush due to the use of premium materials all around. The GTS series has been solereview’s favorite mild-stability shoe for many years now.
3) Mizuno Wave Inspire 14
The Inspire 14 is a mild stability shoe without a firmer foam post. Mizuno uses a variation of the Wave plate to make the inner side slightly more supportive. Still, the Inspire 14 feels very neutral, not very different from the Wave Rider 21.
There’s plenty of room inside the upper without any sloppiness. The forefoot midsole has a wide base which helps increase the interior room and overall stability.
4) New Balance 860V8
The 860V8 has all what you expect of a traditional stability shoe. There’s a visible medial post under the arch, the comfortable upper uses a mix of synthetic and mesh, and the outsole is generously covered with rubber. There’s even a plastic midfoot shank.
The outer midsole is softer than the medial side, but there’s none of the skewed cushioning. Select colors are available in four different widths, so the 860 should be your go-to shoe for a fine-tuned fit.
5) Nike Zoom Structure 21
The Structure 21 gives you a very firm ride quality with a snappy forefoot. The rear midsole is made of firm dual-density foam and the front has a Zoom Air unit which makes toe-offs responsive.
The upper fits and secure the foot extremely well, thanks to the strap and sleeve based construction.
5) Saucony Guide ISO
The Guide ISO is another mild-stability shoe with a firm ride. The ISO suffix is indicative of the ISOFIT upper design which uses lacing loops to provide midfoot support.
The firm medial post offers support without being intrusive. Saucony uses a sheet of Everun foam under the removable insole so the Guide is mildly responsive. Mind you, the Everun ‘Topsole’ is more effective here due to the firmer midsole underneath it.
If you’re looking for more cushioning than the Guide, consider getting the Hurricane ISO 4.
6) Skechers GoRun Forza 3
Not many stability shoe have a low heel drop. The Skechers GoRun Forza 3 fills that niche requirement with a 6 mm heel to toe gradient. The multi-density midsole is supportive, padded, and delivers a smooth transition.
The upper is a no-frills mesh kind with internal support straps. At just over 9 ounces, the Forza 3 is fairly lightweight for its category.
Stability shoes – Maximum support:
1) Brooks Beast ’18
If there was ever a max version of a stability running shoe, the Brooks Beast ’18 is it. The ultra-wide outsole is topped with a supportive triple-density midsole which makes the Beast super stable yet cushioned.
The upper is very plush, and the Beast ’18 fixes the narrow fit problem of the earlier versions. Still, the shoe is available in three widths if the standard fit falls short of your needs.
At over 13 ounces, this is a very heavy shoe which works favorably towards its stable character.
2) Brooks Addiction 13
As far as the price and the stability part is concerned, the Addiction 13 is placed on a rung lower than the Beast.
That said, the Addiction 13’s broad midsole has all the support and cushioning you need. The mesh and synthetic leather upper has a traditional fit and feel with plenty of interior plushness.
3) Brooks Transcend 5
When the Transcend debuted four years ago, it was said to be an unofficial replacement for the Trance; the Transcend is anything but.
Though it is positioned as a support shoe, it does not have a medial post. The midsole delivers stability through its wide midsole, outsole, and raised sidewalls. The Transcend also has a lot of cushioning despite its support categorization.
Unlike the Beast and the Addiction, the Transcend sells in only a single width. It is probably due to the raised (midsole) sidewall design which gets in the way of a 2E or 4E width.
4) Saucony Redeemer ISO 2
The Saucony Redeemer ISO 2 delivers maximum stability in a 12-ounce package. The wide outsole and midsole provides a planted and cushioned ride experience, and the Everun Topsole provides a bit of responsiveness.
The upper is built on the ISOFIT platform with comfortable interiors, and the heel has an external support frame. Also available in a wide version.
Stability shoes – Lightweight support:
1) adidas adizero tempo 9
If you’re smitten with the adidas Boston but want greater medial side support, then the adizero Tempo 9 is just the shoe for you.
The midsole is a mix of a firmer EVA foam component and Boost foam, a combination which delivers both cushioning and support.
2) Asics Gel-DS Trainer 23
This lightweight stability favorite got updated with Asics’s new Flytefoam midsole material last year. The DS Trainer 23 carries forward the same midsole, so little has changed in the way of the ride experience.
The lightweight upper is modeled on road racers, and the DSP (Dual Stencil Process) outsole has plenty of grip for those fast training runs. The upper is standard Asics issue – snug fit, conventional upper design along with an external heel clip.
3) New Balance 1500 V4
The New Balance 1500 has built quite the reputation as the lightweight trainer, and the shoe deserves it. The superbly fitting upper is a joy to run in, and the small medial post embedded into the midsole isn’t bothersome at all.
4) Saucony Fastwitch 8
The 6.4-ounce Fastwitch is a breathable road racer with a tiny medial wedge for support. It’s also the only trainer with a 4 mm drop on our list, so if the idea of a low-offset racer with mild-stability appeals to you, then the Fastwitch 8 is the way to go.
At a retail price of $90, it doesn’t cost a lot either.