Shoes are one of the most important items you’ll bring on your drum corps tour this summer. Members and staff, alike, will be getting tens of thousands of steps per day from spring training through Finals Day. One of the best ways to improve comfort while you’re on your feet, and decrease risk of overuse injury is selecting the right shoes for you!
You may wonder, “how did Marching Health come up with this list?” We have employed our team of sports physical therapists, athletic trainers, and visual instructors to try out a wide number of shoes over the last few years. Several of these models and brands have stood out above others. We also have partnered with two running shoe stores, a marching band shoe manufacturer, and a leading orthotics company to go in-depth on the make-up of each shoe to learn more about why these models are successful in the marching arts. If you follow our social media accounts, you’ll soon see videos of our team testing different shoes by marching in them and discussing their features (stay tuned!).
We want this list to SERVE AS A GUIDE for you in your search for quality shoes. Trying on these shoes and those similar will give you a better understanding of what shoes fit your feet. The #1 rule when selecting shoes for marching is that the shoe must feel good on YOUR feet. Lists of “Top Shoes” do not necessarily mean this shoe is great for you personally, so, please, do not buy a shoe that does not feel good on your foot just because you saw it on our list.
You will need more than one pair of shoes over the course of the summer. We recognize that this list is one with higher-end prices. Your feet are worth the investment over the summer. However, if you need to find more budget-friendly shoes, stay with these brands that are known for their reliability. Trying some of these shoes on, even if you don’t intend to buy, will help guide you to the feel of shoes that work best for the marching activity.
Before we dive in, take a quick look at this shoe diagram to familiarize yourself with shoe anatomy and terminology. The obvious parts of the shoe are the “lower” cushioning and the “upper” of the shoe. “Drop” is a term used to describe the difference between the height of the heel cushioning and that of the forefoot. Variations in “toe box” describe the width across the forefoot of the shoe, which allows your toes room to spread. “Midsole” is the area between the Upper and Outsole where additional support may be added.
Anatomy of a Shoe
Without further ado, here is our list of Top Shoes for 2023!
Brooks Ghost 15:
The Ghost provides firm support, but also with enough cushioning to be very comfortable. This is often an excellent choice for those who feel good in a shoe with a mid level of stability and control. The ghost is a neutral shoe and has a high drop at 12 mm. Some of our staff have worn the Ghost for many years and consider it a reliable and time-tested shoe.
Diadoro Volo 3:
The Volo is another neutral shoe that is very lightweight, but has a layer of synthetic fat which gives a level of cushioning and impact absorption for long rehearsals. The Volo has a roomy upper which accommodates wider feet. This shoe has a stable neutral platform, but enough flexibility in toe off when performing a roll step. This shoe may be a good fit for hornline members who need a comfortable, durable, yet lightweight shoe.
Diadoro Vigore 2:
The Vigoro is a stability shoe, but of note, has more medial stability which could benefit those who tend to overpronate in the gait cycle or have lower arches. Like the Volo, it also has a layer of synthetic fat which provides cushioning without sacrificing energy return.
Nike Pegasus 39:
The Pegasus, named after the Greek horse-god, is another lightweight shoe on our list which can be a nice element on long rehearsal days. It also has breathable mesh in the upper which can assist with cooling the foot in the hot summer. It has flexibility allowing for toe off while marching, but it is still considered a stability shoe.
New Balance 880:
The 880 is a neutral shoe with a 10 mm drop and is one our staff favorite picks! The 880 is a mid-cushion and mid-stability shoe that can fit a variety of feet. It has a sturdy, yet soft feel with forwards and backwards marching and can handle long rehearsal days comfortably.
The Altra is a shoe that has a low- to zero drop and a wide toe box, which makes it different from the other shoes on our list. This shoe may not be for those who are used to a more traditional running shoe, as it may take some getting used to. Again, it is about how YOU feel in the shoe. However, the low drop and wide toe box may be helpful for drumline members who are crabbing and on the platforms of their foot primarily while marching. The width of the toe box increases the spread of the toes which could increase stability with side-to-side movement.
Hoka Clifton 8:
The Clifton is one of the most lightweight shoes on our list, but provides a significant amount of cushioning for comfort. The cushioning doesn’t compromise the quickness of the shoe and will keep up with marching even at fast tempos. The Clifton has a rocker midsole which creates a smooth heel-to-toe marching pattern. The upper has good ventilation and fit security which can provide more comfort when rehearsing outside in the heat.
Saucony Triumph 20:
The Triumph has a smooth heel to toe roll with maximum cushioning, however this level of cushion may feel unstable if someone has less ankle stability. This shoe feels cushioned, but with also a good energy return during push-off when tested with jazz-running.
The Kinvara is an incredibly lightweight, breathable shoe that does have increased cushioning on the 2023 model compared to previous models. It has excellent heel-to-toe flexibility without sacrificing medial-to-lateral stability. One caution is that it may not be as durable as some other models. Again, please make sure you are going into this summer with multiple pairs of shoes so they will last all season.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22:
The Adrenaline has made our list again and for good reason! The Adrenaline is another stability shoe that offers a moderate amount of stability and cushion provided by Brooks’ GuideRail system. This system offers support when you need it especially as fatigue sets in during rehearsals. The adrenaline has a 12 mm drop and our staff felt that this was good for a roll step with marching because it pushed them forward with movement. The heel counter is firm which does increase stability and can help with ankle control. This shoe is a classic and could be a good fit for many feet.
Innovate F-Lite 245:
This Innovate is made as a cross-trainer, and is a very different style of shoe than the highly cushioned running shoes on this list. We included it as an alternative for those who may already use more minimalistic, low drop shoes. Drumline members may like the low drop and feel of a cross-trainer when crabbing compared to the high drop that more cushioned shoes feature. One con to Innovate, and trail shoes, is that the increased grip can start to tear off if your ensemble is practicing a lot on asphalt. These should be worn more frequently on grass and turf fields.
The Monster is another high cushion shoe which feels extremely comfortable when on your feet for long periods of time. Of note, there is even a notable amount of cushion in the toe which felt comfortable with backwards marching when our staff tried this on. This could be a good shoe for hornline members, but may be somewhat unstable for those with a history of ankle instability. Front ensemble and drum majors would likely love this shoe for its soft, cloud-like feel while standing stationary.
Remember, these shoes are great for certain people but may not be the ideal shoe for you. This is not an exhaustive list of the great options that shoe companies have to offer. Other top brands, like Asics and Adidas, have excellent shoes that we did not get to research. Shoe companies are always adapting technology and are trying to offer the best shoe for your money. Go and try on some shoes at your local running shop, or a store where a knowledgeable associate can analyze what your feet need. Happy marching!
Disclaimer: Marching Health intends this material for educational purposes only. Marching Health is not liable for any injury, loss, or damage due to use of information from this content.