Featuring a wholly new type of cushioning, the Energy Boost employs energy-returning Boost™ technology. To provide the most resilient midsole material ever manufactured, Adidas relies on a layer of 2,500 tiny thermoplastic polyurethane pebbles in just one shoe. Add to that a lightweight construction and you have a neutral shoe that will literally add spring to your step.
Asics’ top neutral option, the Nimbus, employs a combination of foam and gel in the rearfoot and forefoot to fully cushion each step. What’s more, Asics relies on a gender-specific cushioning design by utilizing a lower-density top layer in the midsole of their women’s models to allow for more effective midsole compression. Thanks to its FluidFit upper technology that combines a multidirectional mesh and stretch reinforcements, the Nimbus features a customized fit for a wide variety of foot types.
A newer player in the running market, Skechers has recently gained traction thanks to their sponsored athlete, Meb Keflezghi, winning the Boston marathon. Touting a lightweight, super soft midsole construction, the GOrun Ride 3 is sure to be a hit among neutral runners. With the help of M-strike technology, this model promotes a mid-foot strike, as well as a proper toe off. With 360-degree flexibility to allow your foot to move more naturally, this is a great shoe for a runner who doesn’t need much support, but loves a plush ride.
Weighing in at just 9.1 ounces, it’s hard to believe this light and responsive shoe is a max-cushioned option. Eva-Bound cushioning helps not just to protect each footfall, but also to guide your foot and keep it from collapsing inwards. Altra’s signature foot-shaped toe box and zero-drop platform make this a great choice for runners who need a bit of cushioning, but still desire a more natural ride. Paired with its flexible outsole, which is mapped to the bones and tendons of the feet, this shoe will help ensure a smooth transition from strike to toe-off.
With a midsole that is entirely comprised of Saucony’s PowerGrid technology, the Triumph 11 offers a unique approach to cushioning. By adapting to your weight and footstrike, the PowerGrid effectively cushions each footfall by filling in the grid according to how much you compress the shoe upon each step. Thanks to an updated saddle design, your feet are more securely locked into place within the shoe, allowing for the most seamless landing and toe-off.
If you aren’t into a bouncy feel, Brooks high-end neutral shoe, the Glycerin, is a perfect choice. While still highly cushioned, it offers a bit more controlled ground feel for discerning runners. What’s more, an ingenious 3D Fit Print overlay used to create the upper of the Glycerin allows structure to be maintained and weight reduced simultaneously. Having removed the midfoot shank in this iteration, the Glycerin promises optimal ground contact and smooth transition no matter your footstrike.
In debuting Fresh Foam technology in their 980 Road shoe, New Balance unveiled a new approach to EVA cushioning. If you look closely, the midsole is made out of varying hexagonal patterns, both concave and convex, to give optimal cushioning in the places a runner needs it most. Although these shoes sport a significant stack height, they offer a natural ride thanks to a scant 4mm heel-to-toe drop. A no-sew breathable mesh upper contributes to making this one of the lightest options in this category.
Set apart from its competitors by its plastic wave, the Wave Creation is a popular neutral option from Mizuno. An alternative to traditional foam cushioning, this shoe’s new Infinity Wave Construction relies on a special figure-8 Wave Plate. While this will feel somewhat foreign if you are accustomed to more common cushioning technologies, it provides superior energy return in a fairly lightweight package for such a highly cushioned shoe.
A high mileage neutral shoe, the EM Road N2 is part of Pearl Izumi’s Project Emotion series, which are focused on providing a smooth transition from landing to takeoff. With a 4mm drop and deeply cupped heel in the insole, they tout great ground feel and control, all while remaining a well-cushioned neutral shoe. Adding to the midsole technology, its seamless upper relies on bonded technology, making it one of the most durable options around.