The best running shoes with an 8 – 10 mm heel drop

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

The midsole stack measurements of Asics Novablast 4.

This article has been updated with current models for May 2024. The Asics Novablast V3 and Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 have been replaced with their updated versions. The Asics Nimbus 25, Asics GT-2000 12, Nike Pegasus 40, New Balance Hierro V7, and Nike Wildhorse 8 has been removed. The Brooks Glycerin 21, Nike Pegasus Trail 4, and Puma Velocity Nitro 3 are new additions.

The Asics Superblast on the road.

Also known as the heel-to-toe offset, the ‘drop’ is the difference between the heel and forefoot thickness. For example, if a midsole has an 18 mm thick heel and 10 mm thick forefoot, it would have an 8 mm drop.

The Asics Novablast 3 versus Asics Novablast 1.

When it comes to footstrike patterns, heel drops do not matter as much. There, we’ve said it.

However, getting fixated on just the ‘drop’ isn’t always helpful – even if someone is looking for a midfoot strike-friendly shoe.

There’s a lot more involved in what makes a running shoe compatible with forefoot landings. For instance – what does the heel design look like? How wide is the forefoot? Does the upper heel allow the foot to fit flush against the heel? Is there a heel bevel for smooth transitions? Is the outsole a full-contact type?

We wrote a detailed buyer’s guide examining the various factors that make a running shoe suitable for midfoot or full-contact landings.

Based on our experience and reader feedback, a running shoe with an 8 – 10 mm offset is the ideal sweet spot for a variety of reasons:

An 8 mm offset is the perfect middle ground

There’s a reason why most shoe brands produce running shoes with an 8 – 10 mm heel-to-toe offset. Even Saucony, the maker of the 4 mm drop shoe (aka the Kinvara), focuses on running shoes with a higher heel-to-toe offset. For example, the popular Ride 17 and just-released Triumph 22 have 8 mm and 10 mm gradients respectively.

Asics Kayano 29 outdoors

(Related read: The best running shoes with a 4 mm drop)

The Achilles tendon is less likely to experience soreness

A lower ‘drop’ also lowers the position of the heel, thus stretching the Achilles tendon. Though the human foot has a zero mm ‘drop’, most people aren’t accustomed to footwear without a heel.

Therefore, transitioning from a 12 mm drop shoe to 0 mm may require an adjustment period. An 8 mm drop running shoe needs little to no acclimatization.

It works for all experience levels

An 8 mm offset is versatile enough to be used across all running shoe classes.

New runners can quickly find comfort in this offset range, and so can runners who are shaking off their winter hibernation. With an 8 – 10 mm drop midsole, it’s easy to pick up where you left off.

A higher heel is useful in the gym

The Nike Pegasus 40 on a treadmill.

Not everybody runs on the road. For many runners, the treadmill is where most of their runs take place. That’s also usually preceded – or followed by – strength training.

A higher heel-to-toe offset moves the center of gravity forward. This is helpful during lifts, where a forward bias is desirable. That’s why training shoes that are designed for strength training have a high drop. We reviewed such a shoe (Nike Metcon 7) on this site.

(Related read: The best running shoes for treadmill runs)

Lastly, running shoes with an 8 mm offset are readily available

Even though many running shoes with 0, 4, 5, and 6 mm offsets exist, it’s way easier to find a running shoe with an 8 – 10 mm drop.

The 8 mm offset of the Saucony Guide 15.

And again – it’s not just about the drop, so an abundance of choices also makes it likely to find the right combination of upper fit, styling, and midsole cushioning levels.

For ease of navigation, we’ve split this guide into five sub-categories – everyday trainers, soft running shoes, stability shoes, trail runners, and speed shoes.

Daily trainers with an 8 to 10 mm heel offset

1) Asics Novablast 4 (8 mm offset)

The Asics Novablast 4 is softer and marginally taller than the Novablast 3, so that makes it like a watered-down Superblast.

It’s a deeply cushioned shoe with a lot of pep, thus making it versatile for daily training as well as tempo runs. Our review of the Novablast 4 explains what makes the shoe work so well.

The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole of the Asics Novablast 4.

Asics Novablast 4 in a park.

The Flytefoam Blast+ midsole brings ride comfort with speed-friendly responsiveness together. Add a rocker midsole to the mix, and you have a shoe that makes it easier to ‘roll’ forward. As pointed out in our review, the rocker point is higher than it was on the Novablast 3.

The Novablast 4 also works better as a forefoot striker’s shoe, which only proves that its 8 mm drop is of little consequence.

The single-piece mesh upper fits securely, but with a high level of interior smoothness and comfort. Because of the redesigned heel, it fits tighter than the previous model.

2) Puma Velocity Nitro 3 (8 mm heel offset)

The word ‘Velocity’ in the shoe’s name can be a bit misleading. This isn’t a speed shoe per se, but a versatile everyday trainer. The Velocity Nitro 3 can be a speed shoe if you want it to, but that’s not the best use case for it.

The thick midsole combines Puma’s Nitrogen-infused foam with a layer of firmer EVA under it.

The dual density midsole of the Puma Velocity Nitro 3.

This setup loads the ride comfort into the upper midsole, and closer to the foot – where it matters the most. The firmer layer complements the soft Nitro layer by making the loading process more efficient. The balanced midsole also makes the ride very stable. It takes a few runs for the firmer EVA base to break in, so the Velocity Nitro 3 gets better over time.

But here’s the thing – the Nitro foam isn’t overly soft. In terms of softness, it’s somewhere between the Brooks DNA Loft V3 and the older New Balance Fuelcell formula. That makes it just right for most kinds of runs. The dual-density midsole is ideal for everyday runs and steady-state training, but without the sense of slowness that plagues many daily trainers.

The Pumagrip outsole of the Puma Velocity Nitro 3.

The Puma Grip outsole offers excellent traction and adds miles to the shoe’s lifespan.

The true-sized upper fits snug and runs warm during summers, so it’s best paired with thin running socks. The Velocity Nitro 3 is also very reflective, making it ideal for dawn and dusk runs.

3) Asics Superblast (8 mm offset)

Running shoes like the Asics Superblast are a rare breed, because it’s not often that you come across a shoe that truly is capable of everything. Make this your everyday trainer or your race-day shoe; the Superblast can do it all.

There’s a lot of clever design at play here; the lightweight Flytefoam Turbo foam is stacked over a thinner (and firmer) base. Not only does this cut down on the weight, but this midsole also makes the Superblast comfortable yet quick enough for a marathon. The rocker midsole also propels the foot forward.

Midfoot striking in the Asics Superblast.

The Superblast is also very user-friendly. The 8 mm midsole requires no learning curve, and in most cases, the shoe is ready to go right out of the box. The snug (and true to size) upper combines ‘fast shoe’ elements like a racer tongue while retaining a padded heel for interior comfort.

4) Brooks Glycerin 21 (10 mm heel-to-toe offset)

One thing that runners like the most about Brooks is their consistency. Among all the running shoe brands, Brooks is least expected to spring a surprise with a radically redesigned model. This Seattle-based brand values consistency and incremental changes.

The Brooks Glycerin is a good example. It has never been a super-soft running shoe (despite Brooks claiming otherwise) in all its years of existence; the Glycerin has been a supportive and cushioned trainer with a relatively firm ride.

The Brooks Glycerin 21 uses the same DNA Loft V3 (a kind of Nitrogen-injected foam) as before, but dials up the softness. While it’s still firm when compared to competing foams, the 21 is softer than the 20.

From a usage perspective, the Glycerin 21 hasn’t changed.

It’s a dependable everyday trainer for easy runs; this is no speed demon. It’s going to give you all the support, durability, and padding you need, but it’s not happy when pushed too hard.

The true-sized upper is plush as always, and comes in an optional wide.

Soft running shoes with an 8 to 10 mm heel offset

1) Nike Invincible 3 (9 mm heel drop)

If you want the softest and plushest running shoe of all, look no further than the Nike Invincible 3.

The thick and wide midsole is made of 100% ZoomX foam – the same compound that powers the Vaporfly. It’s responsive, lightweight, and extremely comfortable for long-distance runs. It’s fitting that the cushy midsole is matched with a spacious upper and plush interior. If you want to know more, read our detailed review.

The heel view of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3.

The high-volume ZoomX midsole makes the Invincible 3 extremely comfortable, regardless of the distance.

The Nike Invincible 3 on the road.

However, there’s a caveat – the Invincible 3 is best used for easy cruising rather than speed runs.

Even though the shoe has the same ZoomX foam that makes the Vaporfly a fast shoe, there’s no Carbon plate inside the Invincible Run. This is also a very high-volume midsole that adds to the shoe’s 11-ounce weight, so it’s nowhere as agile as Nike’s signature plated racer.

The fabric lasting of the Nike ZoomX Invincible Run 3.

The Invincible 3 gets a fabric lasting covering the midsole – something that the V2 did not have. As a result, the cushioning is firmer.

The Invincible 3 has a couple of changes that make it firmer than the Invincible 2. By adding a lasting fabric over the midsole, the foot no longer has direct access to the ZoomX foam. Secondly, the groove on the midsole sidewalls makes them firmer than the Invincible V1 and V2.

Stability shoes with an 8 to 10 mm heel offset

1) Asics Kayano 30 (10 mm heel-to-toe offset)

This had to happen eventually. The Kayano 30 finally lost its medial post – a harder wedge of foam that was supposed to control the inwards roll of the foot.

In its place is a cushioned trainer with a wide and supportive 10 mm drop midsole. The Kayano 30 feels like an updated version of the Kayano Lite, a shoe that had a brief run of three years.

On the road, that design translates into a cushioned ride that excels at daily runs and long-distance training. At the same time, stability features like the hard heel counter and wide base make the Kayano supportive.

The comfortable engineered mesh upper is offered in multiple widths, as well as a reflective ‘Lite-Show’ version.

2) New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo V6 (8 mm heel drop)

As a stability shoe, the Vongo V6 does something novel. While you can’t see it from the outside, the soft dual-density midsole hides a stiff plate. The said plate has large windows (or holes) on the outer side, whereas the inner half (when viewed longitudinally) is solid.

This unique construction makes the inner midsole more supportive than the outer side. Meaning, when loaded, the midsole is easier to compress on the outer side, thus giving the Vongo V6 a noticeable cushioning bias.

Other than that, the Vongo V6 is a comfortable do-it-all trainer. The reformulated Fresh Foam midsole and articulated outsole work together to make it the softest Vongo ever, a trend that we’ve also seen on the redesigned 1080V13.

Trail running shoes with an 8 to 10 mm heel offset

1) Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (10 mm heel drop)

The Nike Pegasus Trail 5 has just been released, so this is a good time to pick up a pair of the Pegasus Trail 4 for less money.

The Pegasus Trail 4 is what we call a ‘soft-roader’ in these parts. Meaning, that it’s not a running shoe that works well on technical off-road trail, but manages unpaved flats and roads equally well. In short, it’s a road-trail hybrid.

The Nike Pegasus Trail 4 on the road.

The cushioned midsole offers a high level of on-road comfort.

The build quality takes the abuse from running on asphalt well, whereas the React midsole provides the comfort of a regular trainer. The Pegasus Trail 4 comes in two variants – there’s the standard model as well as the waterproof Gore-Tex variant. We reviewed the latter here, and also explained how the two differ.

The midsole stability isn’t great, so running in the Pegasus Trail on uneven surfaces is best avoided.

Speed-friendly running shoes with an 8 to 10 mm heel offset

1) Saucony Endorphin Speed V4 (8 mm heel drop)

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 isn’t just any running shoe with an 8 mm heel offset.

The lightweight PEBA midsole (8.2 oz/33 gms) is perfect for high-mileage speed work; the springboard effect under the heel and the rocker forefoot make the Endorphin comfortable yet fast at the same time.

The inner midsole of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4.

The Winged design of the plate adds support.

The heel counter of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4.

The winged design of the plate and flared midsole make the ride more supportive than many other plated racers of this category. The 36 mm (rear) and 28 mm (forefoot) stack heights keep the feet fresh over a long-distance race.

Most Saucony uppers are very comfortable, and the Endorphin Speed 4 doesn’t disappoint. The soft and breathable mesh shell breathes extremely well while securing the foot over the midsole.

We just wish that both the Saucony Speed and Pro didn’t stink so much – their midsoles (or paint) emit an unpleasant industrial smell.

2) adidas adizero adios 8 (8 mm heel drop)

The adios 8 is a forefoot strike-friendly racer with an 8 mm heel drop. The Continental rubber outsole provides plenty of traction and stability for forward landings and transitions. Here’s our full review to find out more.

The adidas adios 8 on treadmill.

While the adios 8 has been completely redone, it continues to be a speed-friendly shoe for races and tempo runs alike. A combination midsole (Lightstrike Pro and Lightstrike EVA foam) infuses cushioning comfort into the low-profile midsole.

This is also the roomiest adios yet. Sure, it’s snug based on any given yardstick, but there’s more room for the toes to splay. And just like all the previous adios models, the lightweight upper breathes very well.

Do you own any of these shoes? Improve this review by sharing your insights – submit a review here.

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