Heel drop is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new pair of running shoes. Getting a shoe with a drop that is not suited to your natural stride can increase your risk of injury. A drop that is not adapted to your natural stride will push you to adopt a different stride, and abnormally and suddenly increase the strains on your tendons and muscles.
The heel drop (also known as Heel-to-toe drop, shoe offset, toe drop, heel differential) of a shoe is the difference in height between the material under the heel and under the forefoot. It’s measured in millimeters, ranging from 0 to 14mm. So, for example, if the height under the rearfoot is 24mm and if the height under the forefoot is 20mm, then the heel drop will be 4 mm (24mm-20mm = 4mm).
Based on the heel-to-toe drop, running shoes are split into 4 classes:
- Zero drop (0mm),
- Low drop (1-4mm),
- Mid drop (5-8mm), and
- High drop (8+ mm) shoes.
This article offers reviews for the best 4mm drop running shoes for men and women. If you are a road runner or a trail adventurer, you will find the proper shoes that fit your needs.
Low drop (minimalist) running shoes are designed with heel drop ranging from 1 to 4mm. Running shoes with 4mm drop are the most common shoes in the low drop shoe category. They are usually more down to the ground than traditional running shoes with a higher drop, and they also have less cushioning, less stride-controlling structure, and a lower heel-to-toe ramp angle.
What are the Benefits of 4mm Drop Running Shoes?
It’s essential to be aware that the benefits of 4mm drop running shoes are only available to people who have the right running form to start with.
The most commonly advocated benefit is that 4mm drop running shoes promote less reliance on the shoe itself and more dependency on strong muscles of the legs and feet, which will help improve feet stride, body posture, and overall performance.
Other benefits include:
- A more efficient stride is caused by significantly increased sensory information delivered to your feet.
- Encourages a transition to a midfoot and forefoot landing style and apart from painful heel striking.
- Low drop shoes help to improve cadence as it allows for the step length to be shorter. A shorter running stride commonly develops, which can minimize impact forces.
Top Best 4mm Drop Running Shoes for Roads- Reviews
If you are a road runner and look for the best road 4mm running shoes to start your workouts, below are the top-recommended low drop running shoes with 4mm offset for men and women.
Saucony Women’s Endorphin Shift
Endorphin Shift works best for those with mild overpronation and are searching for a low drop, durable, and stable daily trainer to use primarily on roads. The shoe includes features and technologies that do not drastically alter your stride. However, the shoe strongly promotes a midfoot strike, which may need some time to adapt to.
Endorphin Shift has a low drop of only 4 mm as the heel height is a whopping 38 mm, and the forefoot is 34mm. In addition, these shoes were manufactured to be forgiving and allow you to slow down from your hard workout paces. For doing that, Saucony placed a ton of cushion on the shoe.
The shoe features a very simple, light, engineered mesh upper that works for its needs and provides lots of breathability windows. In addition, the shoe’s sole unit is made exclusively of Saucony’s newest foam, PWRRUN; it is responsive and soft.
Saucony Endorphin Shift is one of the best 4mm drop running shoes with tons of cushion.
Nike Men’s Air Zoom Alphafly Next%
The Nike Alphafly Next% is a very responsive and lightweight racing shoe engineered to take down your personal bests in the next race, from 5k to marathon. This shoe is designed for supinated runners who want to feel plenty of cushion between their feet and the running surface.
This shoe is an amazing option to run on the streets as the grip is excellent, assuming you land on the forefoot where the largest amount of rubber outsole is. The stack height is 39mm in the rearfoot and 35mm in the forefoot, giving a 4mm drop.
The shoe comes with an upper that is made from AtomKnit. The AtomKnit upper is featherweight, and the open knit means you can see through it, so the shoe is very breathable.
The toe box also has a strengthened section at the front, which will prevent it from wearing down or even tearing in that area. In addition, the toe box is wide enough to allow ample flexibility and movement.
The forefoot practically pops with the new Air Zoom pods made of Nike exclusive ZoomX foam and used throughout the midsole. That foam is the main part of the success of Nike’s carbon-plated running shoes, but making the forefoot in the Alphafly firmer with the Air Zoom pods adds a more propulsive feel to your toe-off.
Saucony Men’s Kinvara 10
The upper of the Kinvara 10 is manufactured from Flexfilm engineered mesh with 3D printed overlays to offer you a comfortable and seamless feel. In addition, Saucony employs high-quality materials in the upper of Kinvara 10, so they can use fewer layers to guarantee a lightweight feel that runners will fall in love with.
The shoe features a midsole with an EVA, which makes these shoes super flexible, providing you with the ability to move your feet as naturally and freely as possible. The shoe also features an EVERUN topsole which will give you superior cushioning and a highly responsive ride for extra comfort that you can appreciate.
The shoe comes with two heel pads placed at the sides of your feet a little below your ankle, which will help keep your feet locked into place and offer you additional support.
There are two friction pads positioned on the bottom of the sneakers, one on the inner side of the toe box and the other on the outer side of the heel. The pads are located in the high friction areas and provide you with an additional layer of rubber to help prevent premature wear and tear.
Saucony Men’s Kinvara 10 uses a guidance system that is positioned in the middle of the outsole. It is formed on the outsole beginning at the heel, splitting around the middle of your foot, and ending at your toes. The guidance system plays a significant role in keeping your shoes straight when you hit the ground and gives you a more flexible toe-off.
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam More v3
New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 is a daily trainer that offers a cushy and impact-absorbing ride. The shoe is a heavily cushioned and plush trainer with a stable, wide platform designed for runners searching for impact dampening and ultimate comfort. If you’re a heavier runner with wide feet or training for upcoming races, you should buy this shoe. The stack height is 33mm in the rearfoot and 29mm in the forefoot, giving a 4mm drop.
This shoe has plenty of Fresh Foam X in the midsole. Although fresh Foam X is soft and responsive, the shoe offers an incredible ride that doesn’t feel squishy at all and is still pretty responsive.
Fresh Foam More v3 shoe’s rocker also plays a role in making transitions smooth. It is crucial mainly due to the thickness in the midsole. This shoe also has excellent flexibility, which makes toe-offs feel great.
The shoe features a premium, stylish engineered upper that delivers a much better lockdown than the previous shoe model. The heel counter is also more made up to improve the overall structure and prevent heel slippage.
The midsole and the upper offer all the comfort you’ll need on recovery runs or any long run. If you’re a lover of maxed cushion and the weight doesn’t irritate you, I would recommend this shoe for everyday runs.
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Bondi 7 is a comfy running shoe. It is a maximalist shoe made for runners looking for a soft ride with maximum cushion and comfort. It’s made specifically for long runs and recovery runs, as well as building up the mileage. Therefore, you would want to keep this footwear as part of your rotation for recovery runs and long runs.
Hoka One One Bondi 7 is the king of the maximum comfort and cushion. The midsole has a 33 mm stack (with a 4 mm drop). That means MAX cushioning. In addition, Bondi 7 signature Meta-Rocker supports the heel-to-toe movement. These shoes have a nice plush, pillowy feel, but they provide some rebound while running.
The engineered mesh upper got a lot of appreciation for its rigidity and overall structure. It improves the fit, feels thin, and doesn’t collapse in on itself. Thin overlay strips offer the toe box and midsole additional structure.
The outsole features deep lugs and rubber in all the right places to enhance traction. It’s made for roads and works on well-maintained trails because of the supportive outsole of the shoe. The thick layer of foam kept me from feeling the ground, but you’ll indeed have a grip below your feet.
Hoka added memory foam in the collar of the shoe molds to your foot, adds more security and a personalized feel. It gives this shoe that extreme plush feeling and feels like the memory foam hugs the heel.
Top Best 4mm Drop Running Shoes for Trails – Reviews
If you are looking for the best trail low drop running shoes with 4mm offset, below is a list of the most recommended shoes for men and women. In addition, the list offers multi tester reviews for the selected shoes.
Saucony Women’s Peregrine 11
The Peregrine 11 is one of the best 4mm drop running shoes for trail events from 5K to half marathon. The Peregrine 11 is a versatile, confidence-inspiring, neutral-oriented trail running shoe.
It is a low drop, heavy-duty trail shoe with grip, performance, and durability. This shoe is a perfect choice for people who want to smash trail regardless of the terrain and yells from the trailhead, “ground feel be damned!”
The shoe comes with PWRRUN midsole cushioning, which assists in returning a bit more energy than a lot of other trail running shoes. The PWRRUN midsole also makes the shoe feel softer.
The outsole has aggressive, 6mm directional lugs manufactured of a new sticky rubber compound. It has a reasonable level of cushioning, sufficient to keep trail debris and sharp pointy obstacles at bay, but not too much to inhibit a proprioceptive feel for the ground.
Read more: top outdoor running shoes for flat arches
The knobby array of outsole lugs give superior traction on muddy trails, wet grass, and wet, sloppy terrain. In addition, the Peregrine 11 has a customizable outsole with 12 designated ports. These could be drilled through for improved drainage if you often run in sloppy conditions. Alternatively, they could be applied to add screws for better winter traction on snow and ice.
Brooks Caldera 5
Brooks Caldera 5 is a perfect 4mm heel offset running shoe with an oddly minimal lug pattern for those looking for a bouncy trail shoe with a bit of care for the ground feel. Brooks Caldera 5 is a heavily cushioned trail low drop running trainer created to roll over terrain without any concern.
The upper of the shoe features an engineered mesh with plenty of welded synthetic overlays to help keep debris and water out. The synthetic panels are set in key spots such as the toe box and along the sides of the feet to keep your socks away from mud and moisture when running in wet weather conditions. In addition, the stretchy mesh panels along the top of the foot move hot air up and away to help your feet breathe and stay dry. The shoe also comes with a gaiter attachment and a heel-loop, which is helpful if you use the Caldera on an adventure or off-trail run.
The shoe features a BioMoGo DNA midsole made of durable EVA foam, molding to the runner’s foot, offering a cushioned ride with high energy return. Using a thicker layer of the midsole material works double duty to provide sufficient cushioning to provide an amazingly luxurious ride while also working to protect your feet.
The structure of this high-performance and insanely durable outsole is manufactured for the trails. It features TrailTrack rubber that has a tacky finish so that you stick to the trails. So whether you are running on slick leaves or gravel surfaces, the sticky pattern of this high-endurance rubber sticks to the trails; you don’t need to slow down when you begin to lose grip under your feet.
Hoka One One Men’s Speedgoat 4
The Speedgoat 4 is a great running shoe for many runners, from beginners searching for comfort as they build up to their first trail race to the experienced veteran aiming to knock out their next big training block. The combination of comfort, relatively low weight, traction, and durability offered by this shoe makes it a fantastic option as a daily trainer.
If you are new to the Speedgoat world, you are more likely to be blown away by the softness of this midsole. However, the Speedgoat 4’s midsole compound is updated from the previous iteration of the Speedgoat, so long-time Speedgoat users might see that this model feels just less mushy and slightly firmer than the previous iterations.
That is to say, while the shoe is somewhat firmer, it is still a true Speedgoat, with all the soft cushion that is included. In addition, the shoe helps make our strides surefooted with its intense focus on stability.
Related article: best running shoes 2022
The shoe features a Vibram Megagrip outsole with a stepped 5mm lugs deep. I can’t speak to how much the stepped lugs develop the Speedgoat 4’s grip, but I can say that I was excited by the shoe’s outsole overall. In my opinion, the outsole structure is an area where the Speedgoat 4 distinguishes itself from some other maximalist trail running shoes.
The Speedgoat 4 features a high stack height of soft foam —32 mm in the heel and 28 mm in the forefoot, to be exact.
Heel drop is the difference in height between the materials placed under the heel and under the forefoot. Heel drop is essential to support the stride of your feet. Shopping for a running shoe with improper heel drop may lead to severe issues such as Achilles tendinitis.
Most brands offer running shoe models with different heel-to-drop measures to make sure that the runner has the opportunity to pick the right shoes that suit his/her needs. In this guide, we have discussed and reviewed the best 4mm drop running shoes.