Gear

6 Top Stable Road Running Shoes

A new breed of stability shoes are sleek, springy and suitable for all runners.

Stability used to mean clunky and controlling. No more.

These six new models vary in how they create support and the level of control they exert, but all are lighter, springier, sleeker and downright faster than yesterday’s stability training models. And they’re not just for over-pronators anymore—most of these models’ stability devices stay out of the way if you’re a neutral runner, and some of them increase the shoe’s responsiveness, appealing to all runners.

PHOTO: Hannah DeWitt

Altra Provision 4.0

Weight
10.5 oz (M) 8.2 oz (W)
Drop
~0 mm
Price
$130

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At a glance: The overhauled Provision provides subtle support and balanced cushioning for a stable ride without controlling.

If you went for a run in the Provision without knowing anything about it, your reaction would likely be similar to that of one of our neutral, fast testers: “Good road feel, springy, helped increase my cadence, responsive, light.” What is missing is any reference to “stable.” While the Provision does provide several stability features, they are so unobtrusive you never notice them until you need them.

Those stability features include an arch wrap that runs from all the way under the foot up to three tabs which tie into the laces. On the outside, a molded “GuideRail” extends up from the midsole, cuing your foot to reduce pronation when you drift too far inward. Plus, the foot-shaped design—inherent to all Altras—that allows the toes to splay and engage in active support provides the most important stability feature.

Testers noted that the shoes made them feel both connected and a bit coddled, the 27 mm of foam (an increase of 2 mm from previous versions) providing a nice middle-ground layer of cushioning. Several mentioned that the shoe helped improve their cadence and smooth their stride, likely due to the balanced heel-toe cushioning. And the massaging ridges on the insole were a hit.

PHOTO: Hannah Dewitt

Brooks Bedlam 2

Weight
11.6 oz (M) 10.3 oz (W)
Drop
~8 mm
Price
$150

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At a glance: Bouncy meets guidance in a comfortable package that makes long miles secure and fun.

The Bedlam combines the uber-bouncy DNA Amp midsole of the Levitate and the GuideRails of the new Adrenaline to create a shoe that nearly every runner can appreciate. The GuideRails, made of firm foam, surround the perimeter of the foot in a donut shape on top of the midsole, providing support whenever your foot starts to stray too far from upright, but mostly staying out of the way.

In the Bedlam, the result is to not only provide pronation support but a control for the almost-too-bouncy DNA Amp material, cradling the foot and creating a stable frame to land and push off from. “The contouring of the cushion really worked for my foot, hugging it and holding it in,” said one neutral tester. Another, who needs support, raved, “This shoe made me feel like my footstrike was inline for the first time ever and I could just focus on running instead of what my troublesome feet were up to.”

Updates on this second version of the Bedlam were minor and focused on the upper. The engineered knit upper is thinner and more flexible, with a redesigned tongue and heel collar, wrapping the foot better. “Felt like my foot was really secure and in place all over.”

PHOTO: Hannah DeWitt

HOKA Arahi 4

Weight
9.8 oz (M) 8.6 oz (W)
Drop
~5 mm
Price
$130

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At a glance: A shoe that manages to be both stable and speedy, the Arahi 4 is a fast-rolling, max-cushioned model without the slop.

HOKAs, in general, tend to be fairly stable, thanks to their wide base and the cockpit-like cradle of elevated midsole that surrounds the foot. The Arahi enhances that inherent stability with a straight last that fills in under the arch (HOKA calls it “Flat-waisted geometry”), and a “J-frame” of firmer foam that wraps the heel and extends up the arch side all the way to the ball of the foot.

In the Arahi, the stable platform combines with an early-stage rocker that speeds your stride forward, a feeling enhanced by the shoe’s light weight. That low weight is due to the light foam, minimal outsole rubber and the streamlined upper, made more breathable and adaptable in this version. Testers found that while the upper is narrow, it accommodated wider feet adequately, and one deemed it had an “awesome fit!”

Testers were most impressed with how the shoe balanced cushioning, stability and responsiveness—a combination that made even some neutral testers appreciate the model. “Provided a medium amount of cushioning that felt really good and supportive. Seemed responsive in all the right places,” said one. “They’re nice and soft but didn’t feel like they’d collapse or sway when changing directions, like some of the other HOKAs I’ve tried,” said another. “They made me feel fast, fun and excited to run,” one raved. “I felt comfortable and like I could trust my shoe to keep me from getting injured.”

PHOTO: Hannah DeWitt

New Balance 860 v10

Weight
11.8 oz (M) 9.7 oz (W)
Drop
 ~10 mm
Price
$130

At a glance: A traditional New Balance stability shoe with a light, quick ride and modern, foot-wrapping upper.

Nearly everything about the 860 is traditional, from the 10 mm heel-toe drop to the large medial post and tapered toe. What isn’t traditional is the sleek fit of the engineered mesh and 3D molded, sculpted, asymmetrical heel cup. That upper stood out for our testers, all of whom praised the “sock-like” fit from the light, breathable mesh and the subtle support around the heel.

The feel underfoot is responsively firm, providing cushioning with little displacement, which makes the ride surprisingly quick and light despite the nearly 12 oz weight of the men’s model. “Great balance of support and cushioning,” said one tester. “Felt like it really cushioned me effectively—not soft enough to feel ‘squishy.’” Another called them, “Pretty responsive. Just enough cushioning for a faster road shoe—but wouldn’t use it for super long runs.”

The firm post under the arch is always present and noticable, providing strong support for those who need it—and too much control if your foot wants to pronate. In sum, look no further if you prefer a shoe that delivers a stable underfoot platform and still makes you feel fast and look good.

PHOTO: Hannah DeWitt

Newton Motion 9

Weight
8.8 oz (M) 7.4 oz (W)
Drop
~3 mm
Price
$175

At a glance: Newton, the original energy-return shoe, creates a shoe with full-foot stability and a flexible, breathable, foot-wrapping upper.

Before there were energy-return foams, there were Newtons. The brand’s name is a play on Isaac Newton’s third law of motion: in this case the bounce-back reaction of the forefoot lugs after being compressed into the cavity covered with a trampoline-like membrane that backs them.

What you need to know is that this system provides generous cushioning with no loss of responsive push off, a distinctive springy ride that lasts the duration of the shoe. While the shoe doesn’t force a forefoot landing—it has a heel-cushioning pod and a 3 mm drop—you garner the full effect of the forefoot lugs when you get your weight balanced over your feet with a push-off, high-cadence stride. Testers confirmed that the shoe felt a bit awkward at first, then there’s a transition—“when you’re light on your toes and moving fast,” where suddenly—aha!—running feels easier and you’re going faster.

The Motion is Newton’s stability model, with a large medial post that extends all the way forward to past the ball of your big toe. As such, it seems to enhance the responsiveness, providing a firmer push off than the neutral Gravity model, and didn’t get in the way even for some neutral testers, while some thought it made the shoe “clunky.” The flexible, snug-fitting, engineered upper drew high praise from all for being simultaneously “pared-down” and comfortable, as well as moving with the foot.

PHOTO: Hanna Dewitt

Salomon Sonic 3 Balance

Weight
8.9 oz (M) 7.6 oz (W)
Drop
~8 mm
Price
$130

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At a glance: The best road shoe we’ve seen from Salomon, the Sonic 3 Balance delivers a smooth, balanced ride with pop.

If you think of Salomon as only having good trail shoes, this newest batch of their road shoes should change your mind. Their unique ride stems from the sole, which pairs a bouncy, elastic base with a viscous, shock-absorbing heel pad. Salomon says the combination, which they call “Optivibe,” damps vibration and reduces fatigue.

Several testers seem to agree with Salomon, praising the ride. “Great, springy, elastic-type sole provides fantastic cushioning that really helps on the roads,” said one. Another said the shoes felt like they ran lighter than their actual weight, and “seemed to increase efficiency and reduce fatigue as the pace picked up.” But the tuning wasn’t right for everyone: One forefoot-striker felt like the sole “absorbed more than it rebounded.”

Salomon creates stability in a novel way, using deep grooves in the midsole to decouple sections of the foot and reduce rotational torque. On the Sonic 3 Balance the main groove is fairly centered, but with more of the sole falling on slightly-flared arch side, creating a feeling of support without an intrusive hard post. For more stability, you might want to opt for the Sonic 3 Confidence, in which the decoupling groove runs even farther outside, leaving a larger chunk of foam under the arch side.