If you're an adventurous woman who would rather hit the trail than the pavement, then you need a good pair of trail shoes to go with you. Having the best trail running shoes can make a big difference in your trail running experience.
When you're on the trails, you tackle all kinds of terrain. From steep, rocky slopes to muddy streams, you're going to want a shoe that is as tough as you are. A study from Tulane University School of Medicine found that 60% of female runners stumble upon some sort of running injury because of the wrong running shoes.
Because we don’t want you to get hurt, we’ve spent hours testing and researching hundreds of the best trail running shoes designed just for women. We considered how comfortable they are, the way they fit around your foot, their breathability, traction, and whether or not they are worth the price. The ones we found are the absolute best.
And, if you happen to need a pair for paved roads, be sure to check our list of the best running shoes. Now, on to the list.
Unbeatable cushioning and vibrant colors at an affordable price.
These shoes tend to slip on flat, wet rocks which can be dangerous. And they're not very flexible.
Comfort and fit: Thanks to the Rearfoot GEL cushioning pad these shoes are extremely comfortable right out of the box, which means you don't have to break them in. This lightweight shoe is designed for long hours of wear on trails and the cushion helps reduce the impact caused by the ups and downs of rougher terrain.
Traction: The soles of these shoes are made out of hard rubber. Because the rubber soles are designed for durability and strength, they are not as flexible as other running shoes on the market. So runners who need the flexibility for arch support may find that they don't like these shoes.
Breathability: A breathable and waterproof mesh makes up most of the upper portion of this shoe. It has an open design, therefore allowing air to enter the shoe which makes it a well-ventilated environment for your foot (and no blisters).
Price: Our favorite part about these is the price. They're the best cheap women's running shoes we've found. Comfort, breathability, and great colors for under $60? Now that's a steal. If you are looking for a comfortable trail running shoe that won’t weigh you down, ASICS GEL Venture is the perfect option.
Cushioned inside with a rugged, waffle outsole makes this shoe ideal for any terrain.
The tongue is attached to one side of the shoe making it uncomfortable and bothersome.
The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4 was made for you to channel your inner Kiger Mustang. Named after the fastest of Oregon's wild mustangs, the Terra Kiger 4 has impressive traction capabilities, lightweight support, and provides a decent amount of shock absorption. This version is just like the Terra Kiger 2, with a few awesome upgrades.
Comfort and fit: We heard over and over from reviewers how comfortable these shoes are. It must be because of the Phylon midsole and molded sockliner. Another thing to love is the toe box. Human feet fan out at the toes and Nike is on the forefront of industry revolution, finally getting the shape right. As a result, your toes will no longer be painfully pressed together thanks to the wide, square toe box. The shoe also features a 4mm drop from heel to toe, so if you are used to more cushioned, higher-profile shoes, you might need to ease yourself into running in these. And, expect some sore calves.
Traction: The Nike Terra Kiger has a superior grip when conquering the trails. The studded, waffle-print outsole is grippy on all surfaces, including grass and rocky trails. As a bonus, the design won't let small pebbles get lodged in.
Breathability: An area where this shoe is lacking is its breathability. Although it does have mesh upper, it can become hot in warm temperatures.
Price: Ouch. These Nikes are a bit pricey but not too much more than the average. They're not cheap, but if you're willing to spend the extra dollars, you'll have sexy feet on the trail.
Barefoot-style trail runner in mesh with traditional laces, breathable mesh lining, and Vibram sole. This featherlight trail shoe has 0mm cushioning with 0mm heel-to-toe drop.
The minimal sole may not be for everyone. Bland design.
The Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe was designed to unleash your natural side. It's for those of you who want to feel like you're actually running barefoot. We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw that they come with a zero-drop ground contact. If that doesn't blow you away, maybe the Vegan friendly materials will. We loved the sock-like fit that conforms to your feet allowing for extreme flexibility. However, since these lightweight shoes give your feet the "barefoot" feel, you may be want to be careful with those long runs. We don't want you getting any injuries.
Comfort and fit: The fit feels like you're wearing a sock with a sole, literally. If you don't like a lot weighing you down, you'll definitely love these shoes. In fact, these shoes only weigh 5.4 ounces. Now that's impressive. The sizing for the Vapor Glove is slightly larger than expected, so size down .5 or one entire size for the best fit. We love how soft the inside is, which means you can wear these runners sockless. The simplistic design includes a zero heel drop which means that your feet will have full foot-to-ground contact.
Traction: The Vibram sole is smooth enough for road running, yet provides enough traction for trails as well. It is broken up into four different places to provide the most possible flexibility including the big toe, small toes, midfoot, and heel. As a bonus, the treads are deep and act like little cleats when you run uphill or downhill through the trails.
Breathability: This shoe is very breathable. You can easily feel air through them, even while in motion. However, because these shoes are so well ventilated, you may not be able to wear them in the winter.
Price: The $85 price is somewhat on the competitive side, of course, but these lightweight shoes are definitely worth it. If you are a zero drop enthusiast, these are worth a try.
All terrain-tackling, short-to middle-distance trail runningshoes designed for women. Flexible enough to transition from road to trails.
Some aren't a fan of the lace design.
The Salomon Women's XR Mission Running Shoe takes the win for the best overall trail running shoe we could find. This lightweight shoe has shed some serious weight while maintaining it's stability on the trails. We also appreciate the Sensifit and Sensiflex technology which gives you the most comfortable ride. There's plenty more to enjoy with these colorful shoes too, including a simple lacing system and rugged grip.
We're not the only ones who loved the Salomon XR. The Running Shoes Guru stated that anyone looking for a quality middle distance trail shoe would not be disappointed with the XR mission.
Comfort and fit: Ultimately, women's trail running shoes are about comfort and fit. You can't really enjoy a scenic run if your feet are constantly in pain. But, not to worry since these come with foam insoles and are extremely comfortable. Not to mention, they come with a simple lacing system which lets you tighten laces in one pull for a customized fit. There is even a lace pocket that keeps laces secure and out of your way. Not only do these shoes give you a comfortable ride, but they may just increase your speed as well. They are noticeably lighter than others. In fact, they weigh only 11.5 ounces.
Traction: These Salomon XR Mission features a chevron Contagrip tread lets you run quickly while providing traction on slippery terrain. As a bonus, these shoes have a protective toe cap to protect you against bumps and ensure you have a strong foothold at all times.
Breathability: These top rated women's running shoes are made with breathable mesh ensuring your feet are well venilated and less sweaty during those long runs. You'll appreciate the water resistant nylon which keeps your feet dry, especially if you frequently run through streams and mud.
Price: The price on these trail running shoes is fantastic compared to others. It's easy to spend upwards of $120 these days, even on brands such as Nike and Adidas. So for $85 on a pair of Salomons, you can't really make a better purchase. We think your feet will be very happy!
We recommend these running shoes for any woman serious about trail running.
Keep in mind, your standard running shoe size is typically a half size bigger than your normal, everyday shoes. Your running shoes should fit snug in the heel and midfoot with enough room for your toes to wiggle around. A good test is to press your thumb down around your toes. Your toes should be between a half thumb and full thumb’s width from the top of your shoes. If you are still unsure about what size shoe you should get, you can always get sized. Many running stores have experts who can size you. Some even let you take the shoes on a test run around the block. How cool is that? There are also some great tutorials that show you the best way to fit your shoes properly.
For comfortable, injury-free running, your running shoes should be slightly larger than your normal, everyday shoes. Your feet should be able to wiggle around but it should still feel slightly snug in some areas. There should be a glove-like fit around your midfoot. This area should be snug while still being comfortable. And, there should be little or no slipping at the heel. A shoe that is too loose or too tight at the heel will leave you with blisters after even a short run. The bottom line: you shouldn’t have to break in your running shoes. They should feel comfortable the moment you put them on.
Most people think they can keep running in their shoes until they essentially fall apart. However, this isn’t the case. The cushioning in your running shoes is made of air cells that absorb the impact while you run. Eventually, these air cells run out of air. This means that as you run, your feet are no longer protected upon impact. You may as well run barefoot at this point. Running without some sort of protection can cause serious injuries, like stress fractures.
So, how do you know it’s time to swap for a brand new pair? Just like a car, it’s important to keep track of your mileage on your running shoes. Sound crazy? It’s not. Most running shoes last anywhere between 300-500 miles. So if you run 15 miles a week, a decent pair of shoes should last you 6 months.
This question is frequently asked (and frequently debated). The short answer is: yes you can wash them. Sweat, dirt, and mud accumulates after every run, eventually you have to wash them (especially if they start to smell). However, it’s important not to wash them often. This can cause your shoe to breakdown faster.
Using a baby wipe or damp cloth, wipe the outside of your shoes to remove any tough dirt or grime. Before throwing your shoes into the washing machine, you want to make sure to remove the insoles and liners, too. It’s best to wash them separately. You can also choose to remove the laces or keep them on. Sometimes removing the laces cleans them more effectively because the entire lace can be cleaned. To wash your running shoes, you can place them directly into the washing machine with detergent. No, we’re not kidding. Just be sure to wash them on the shortest, most gentle, cycle. And, don’t even think about putting them into the dryer! Instead, stuff your shoes with paper towels or a cloth, and let them dry for a couple of hours. Stuffing them helps keep the shape of your shoe.
There are a few running shoe brands that consistently stand out from the rest. Their reliability has earned them trustworthy reputations among passionate runners everywhere. According to The Active Times, Asics, Brooks, New Balance, and Newton are some of the best. The best brand for you really depends on the needs of your feet. If you are looking for a minimalist shoe, Newton is the best in this category. For those with wider feet, New Balance is a good option because of the big toe box design. For the rest of you who are somewhere in between, try either Brooks or Asics. Brooks is known for their reliability and consistency while Asics is known for their comfort.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 17 Lightweight Women’s Running Shoe are the perfect long distance shoe for neutral runners who want a lightweight shoe. This lightweight long distance shoe has shed some serious weight making it lighter than ever before. We also appreciate the new FluidRide midsole and extended Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL-Cushioning system, which improve the already comfortable ride. The nearly seamless FluidFit upper aids in preventing blisters which sets these babies apart from the crowd. So, you can appreciate a blister-free run.
The lightweight GEL-Cushioning in these shoes reduces the shock during impact and toe-off phases, allowing for a smooth transition throughout your stride and less chance for injury. A good portion of the top of these top rated women's running shoes is made with breathable mesh ensuring your feet are well ventilated and less sweaty during those long runs. These shoes come with FluidFit upper technology, which uses a combination of multi-directional stretch, mesh and stretch reinforcements to create a glove-like fit.
Not only do these running shoes come in half sizes, but they also come in three different widths: narrow, medium, and wide. However, they do run a bit small so be sure to order up a half size. The $101 price is somewhat on the competitive side, of course, but these lightweight shoes are definitely worth it. ASICS is best known in the running community for being extremely dependable and made with quality.
However, if you are someone who loves running trails, you are better off with a shoe made for trail running.
The ASICS GEL-Kayano 21 are supportive and stable without all of the bulk. These are the perfect running shoes for women with flat feet. Mild to moderate over pronators love this secure and stable shoe, especially if you have flat feet. ASICS integrated their Trusstic System, which significantly reduces the weight of the shoe while retaining the structure. To top it off, these shoes include the famous GEL-Cushioning System, which in our opinion, is the best cushion on the market.
The cushion in the heel is unbeatable and a great shock absorber. This is especially helpful to over pronators because it offers a beneficial platform that helps maintain a more neutral step. ASICS has also integrated a ComforDry™ X-40 sock liner, which provides moisture management and a high level of breathability.
These shoes do run a bit small in the toe box. The good news is, you can order a half-size up and choose from three different width options. The $110 price is competitive to most running shoes out there. ASICS is the best brand on the market, so we think the price is fair and definitely worth it. Many reviewers mentioned, "Completely worth the money, plantar fasciitis is getting better".
The Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Running Shoe have a snug fit, are extremely lightweight, and have a stylish look that you can wear anywhere. This shoe comes in more than 50 different colors. If that doesn't blow you away, maybe the environmentally friendly rubber outsole will. We loved the sock-like fit that conforms to your feet allowing for extreme flexibility. However, since these lightweight shoes give your feet the "barefoot" feel, you may be want to be careful with those long runs. A molded sock liner mimics your foots shape for added support and comfort. The mesh material that these shoes are made of is soft and breathable which allows air to continuously flow through the shoe. This is a good thing because hot, sweaty feet can cause unwanted blisters.
The fit feels like you're wearing a sock with a sole, literally. If you don't like a lot of bulk weighing you down, you'll definitely love these shoes. These Nikes are a bit pricey but not too much more than the average. They're not cheap, but if you're willing to spend the extra dollars, you'll have endless color options and sexy looking feet.
The Adidas NEO Women's Lite Racer is lightweight, comfortable, and super affordable. The tops of these best-selling shoes resemble a honeycomb and feature a mesh upper for maximum breathability. Inside is the Fit FOAM removable cushioned insole that’s made of elastic rebound foam. This insole conforms to your foot providing comfort and stability. The NEO running shoe is available in ten colors including: black, white, navy, coral, and even multi color. The best news of all is these shoes will only cost you $60. Which are a lot more affordable than other running shoes on the market.