Heel-toe drop is a popular topic of conversation among many runners. The discussions often include type of footstrike (heel, midfoot, forefoot), running efficiency, and natural running. One view is lower drops are better, particularly if one has a mid or forefoot strike. As such, there are runners who are adamant about buying shoes with a specific heel-toe offset. Based on our sales and search results on our website, the 4mm offset is the most popular low drop platform for consumers (10-12mm is generally considered a traditional drop and 6mm or less is a low drop). Many who tout the lower drop shoe also state that pronation control is not necessary. At the time of this writing, there is not enough scientific evidence for sound conclusions on recommending a specific drop for all runners (the American College of Sports Medicine recommends shoes with 6mm drop or less). Also, we don’t see enough data to confirm whether pronation control is necessary for runners in low drop shoes or in running shoes in general. So, it comes down to some trial and error and what works for you, as an individual.
If you have been considering trying lower drop shoes and you classify yourself as an over-pronator, there are a few options to consider. The Brooks PureCadence 5, Hoka One One Infinite, and New Balance Vongo all have 4mm drops and features to reduce pronation.
The PureCadence 5 uses a Guide Rail system for a small amount of pronation reduction. While most Hoka shoes are inherently stable and work well with some degree of over-pronation, the Infinite is built with a wider platform, higher medial side wall, and a Late Stage Meta Rocker for mild pronation reduction. The Vongo is a much more supportive shoe than the other two. It uses a split midsole/outsole design for lateral release. A varus-wedge inspired shape (higher on the medial side) helps keep the foot tracking along the lateral half of the shoe. More foam is injected into the medial side of the midsole. Concave shapes on the lateral side of the midsole and a “lattice” design on the medial side provide added support. Hence, we classify the PureCadence 5 and the Infinite as minimum support shoes and the Vongo as a maximum support shoe.
The Infinite has the highest volume shape, offering the most spacious fit of the group. The toebox is somewhat deep and the midfoot is somewhat high making the Infinite a better fit for medium to high volume shaped feet. Due to the roominess in the Infinite, some may find a need to go down a half size. In contrast, the Vongo has a lower volume shape. The toebox is shallow and the midfoot is on the lower side. The supportive overlay and bootie construction further contribute to a snugger overall fit, making the Vongo better suited for low to medium volume shaped feet. The PureCadence 5 has the most universal fit of the bunch. Although it skews a little to lower toebox height and midfoot volume, the shape adapts well to a moderate range of foot shapes. In regards to widths, the Vongo is made in both medium and wide, while the PureCadence 5 and infinite are only available in medium widths. The Infinite is roomy enough that most people with a wide foot will find the Infinite can also be a good fit. The wide option in the Vongo will not accommodate an extra wide width but the standard width Vongo will also fit a narrow foot well. The PureCadence 5 does a good job of fitting feet from slightly narrow to slightly wide.
All three shoes fall near the middle of the soft-firm spectrum. The biggest difference among the three shoes is related to the overall stack height (amount of shoe under the foot). Since all three shoes have a 4mm offset, let’s look at the forefoot height. According to our measurements, the Infinite is 26mm, the Vongo is 21mm and the PureCadence 5 is 18mm. With the thicker Infinite, there is a feeling that the foot sinks into the shoe during the ground contact phase. In contrast, the PureCadence 5 feels faster under foot with less give. The Vongo splits the difference. If all three shoes had the same stack height, we believe they all would feel the same or at least very similar.
All of the shoes are fairly light for support shoes, but they don’t necessarily feel light during use. The Vongo is the heaviest (Men’s 10.0 oz / Women’s 8.8 oz), but the Infinite feels heavier. With it’s higher stack height and high volume fit, the Infinite feels like more shoe on your foot. The Vongo feels like an average weight shoe, but considering it’s best suited for runners coming from, say an ASICS Kayano, Saucony Hurricane or even a motion control shoe, it may feel light to those runners. The PureCadence 5 is the only shoe that actually feels somewhat light.