The first thing you’ll notice when looking for trail running shoes for women is the myriad of choices that you have. Over 8 million people participate in this activity which has seen a 10.7 percent growth from 2012 to 2015. And it’s easy to see why so many individuals enjoy it.
You have the challenge of a more intense aerobic exercise along with the calming effect of being in nature. But you should consider your footwear carefully because of the uneven terrain you may encounter. Arch and ankle support are paramount to finding the right pair of shoes.
Also, consider the importance of good traction along with the ease of cleaning. These features can affect the durability and lifespan of the product. Remember that running is just as hard on what you wear as it is on your feet. Let’s review our favorites to help you decide which is best.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
1. Brooks Cascadia 14
The Brooks Cascadia 14 is a welcome update to an already great trail shoe. The care that went into the design is obvious throughout the construction. The price isn’t out of line for what it is either.
The shoes have neutral support for those with medium-high to high arches. The fit is a bit narrow in the width, but otherwise, the toe box was roomy enough to give some wiggle room. The cushioning was excellent for a truly comfortable pair.
New to version 14 are a redesigned upper with a streamlined design. Overlays keep the shoes sleek while preventing mud and dirt from getting in the shoes. A gaitor lock was also included if you decide to wear gaitors.
Traction is where this product really succeeds. It gripped the trail no matter what the surface. That adds a lot of stability to a run. They are well made to last for the long haul. The padded collar provided ample ankle support which we loved. A hefty rock plate protects your feet against sharp objects on the trail.
- The traction is outstanding no matter what conditions are like on the trail
- These shoes will last for the long haul because of its excellent durability
- We loved the stability that they provided on rugged terrain
- We weren’t a fan of any of the color choices which we thought were way over the top
- Some may find the fit too narrow in the midfoot
2. Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4
The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4 has a lower profile than we may have expected in trail running shoes for women. Nevertheless, it provides neutral support with plenty of cushioning for added comfort. The upper mesh is breathable for optimal airflow.
The traction is excellent. You’ll feel stable when taking to uneven terrain with these shoes. They are durable except for the top lace loops. A stronger material would have worked better for long-term use. That said, it added a nice look to the shoes.
The pair is a bit on the expensive side, but it offers a fine balance between flexibility and stability. The midsole is soft which makes them comfortable to wear. The toe box is also roomy, making them a good choice for longer runs.
- The traction was quite grippy on a variety of surfaces
- These shoes are truly comfortable from the cushioning to the breathability
- The lace loops are a major design flaw that causes them to break especially if you tie them tight
- Sizing is on the small size
3. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6
The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is another quality maximalist offering by Hoka. If you prefer a trail shoe with lots of cushioning all around, then you need to consider the Challengers. The comfort is outstanding with great support.
Of course, this style isn’t for everyone. The extreme cushioning gets in the way of ground feel. However, it provides excellent protection for your feet. The shoes are lightweight even with all that foam cushioning. The breathability is top notch as well.
On the downside, the durability leaves something to be desired. That could be a dealbreaker, considering its price tag. The traction is excellent though the stability is a bit lacking. That said, it’s a great choice for trail running when the path isn’t too uneven.
- These shoes are arguably one of the most comfortable products out there.
- Breathability is excellent for maximum airflow and comfort
- They will provide some of the best shock absorption you can find in trail shoes
- Some may find the cushioning makes the shoes too bulky
- The extra cushioning detracts from the ground feel
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4. Asics GT-2000 9 Trail
The Asics GT-2000 9 Trail is a product geared toward the beginner. It features Asics gel technology which gives it plenty of spring to absorb the impact from the trail. It has a padded collar that is more than you’d find in some trail shoes. The backs of your ankles are well-protected.
The comfort is very good but not superior. Overall, the stability is excellent with great traction that provides plenty of grip. It has a lower profile to give you the freedom of movement you’d want during a run. The breathability is spot on with the mesh in the upper. The toe box is roomy. They are lightweight in this total redesign by Asics.
The shoes aren’t as flexible as we’d like and almost border on stiff. If you need the support, that’s a good thing – in fact, the GT-2000 Trail is one of the few trail shoes with stability built-in for overpronatrors. It’s a quality product with good durability.
- The improved breathability in this model is a welcome upgrade from the previous version
- They strike a nice balance between weight and cushioning
- The shoes are a bit stiff compared to others we considered
- The cushioning affects the ground feel if that’s important to you
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5. Saucony Peregrine 8
The Saucony Peregrine 8 is an excellent all-purpose shoe that will give you the traction you need no matter what the surface. The soles are grippy and provide welcome stability on the trail. Due to its weight, it’s not the pair you’d wear for a race, but certainly, it’s a good choice in challenging conditions.
The upper is a synthetic material that provides good breathability and airflow. The support is great throughout the construction. Padding is generous around the collar. On the downside, it lacks the responsiveness and ground feel that we prefer in the trail running shoes for women.
The cushioning is decent nevertheless. It will reduce the impact of runs on hard surfaces. The heel is firm to keep it from slipping. The support is good too. Overall, the durability is there. It’s a smart choice for a pair of shoes that provide plenty of cushioning and good traction.
- The traction is nothing short of outstanding
- The shoes are well-made and worth the price
- The shoes do not run true to size
- You’ll have to check the tread occasionally to dislodge the rocks that get caught in it
- Your feet will get wet because of the porous upper
6. Altra Lone Peak 4.0
The Altra Lone Peak 4.0 is a shoe that tows the line between one with lots of cushioning and a pair for a minimalist experience. It has plenty of padding for comfort and a low profile and zero drop platform that gives it a good ground feel and responsiveness.
The upper fits snug with plenty of padding around the collar. The mesh does a good job balancing breathability with keeping out the dirt and dust. The toe box is extremely wide – it feels great, but can feel sloppy for runners with narrow feet.
The shoes have gaiter attachments which was a pleasant surprise for those who use them. It was one of the only ones that we reviewed that had them. You do need to use Altra’s gaiter for those attachments.
The stability and cushioning were top notch. The zero drop does require getting used – especially if you run on smooth surfaces or mix in some road. But for technical trails, you won’t notice the zero drop.
- The traction provided the right amount of grip in a variety of conditions
- The cushioning is a great improvement from the previous model
- Very comfortably due to the wide toe box
- The shoes run on the small side
- The durability of the heel could use a design upgrade
7. Altra Timp Trail 2.0
The Altra Timp Trail 2.0 is an excellent choice if you want a compromise between the maximalist and minimalist styles. It provides ample cushioning without going overboard. That gives it a sleeker profile for a versatile shoe that you can wear on the trail or pavement.
It is responsive with a good ground feel. It provides excellent arch support. These shoes feel comfortable right out of the box. The durability is excellent too. We can’t say that we were fans of any of the available colors. They all struck us as odd choices or something you’d find on sale.
The ride of the shoes is smooth. You’ll enjoy wearing them. That said, the traction on them leaves something to be desired especially for technical runs. Despite the heavy lugs on the outsole, they’re better suited for light dirt and gravel conditions.
- They strike a nice balance between responsiveness and cushioning
- The support and stability are excellent
- We didn’t like any of the available color choices
- Traction isn’t the best for sloppy trail conditions
- They don’t run true to size, erring on the small side
8. Hoka One One Speedgoat 2
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 is a maximalist shoe with all the cushioning you expect from a Hoka. It features a rocker style which can improve your stride once you get used to it.
The cushioning is outstanding. It provides incredible support and comfort, especially through the ankle. Surprisingly, it’s quite lightweight despite all the padding. It’s also responsive. The product is durable and holds up well to heavy trail use.
The traction is grippy which we liked for rugged terrain. Its stability is excellent too. Unfortunately, the comfort takes a hit with a narrow toe box. It’s definitely a deal breaker if you have wide feet.
- The support is superior throughout the shoe’s construction
- Traction is excellent for a variety of trail conditions
- Some may find that the toe box is too narrow to the point of being uncomfortable
- The tongue could use some extra padding or a rework of the design
9. Brooks Caldera 5
The Brooks Caldera 5 is a low drop shoe that offers neutral arch support. It has a mesh upper that provides good breathability. It has a rocker style to aid your running stride. The stability is excellent, especially when combined with its exceptional traction.
You’ll feel secure whether you’re running on mud or even snow. The tread is grippy. The toe box is a wee bit narrow, but otherwise the fit was spot on. They’re not the best-looking pair of shoes, but they’re more than adequate for a daily runner.
The support is outstanding with ample padding around the collar. It gives a smooth ride with fatiguing your legs over the long haul. It’s a high-quality product that is well made. It’s durable and will last.
While the Caldera lacks a rock plate, the cushioned ride should provide plenty of protection against trail obstacles.
- They provide plenty of grip on slippery trails
- The cushioning and support are excellent
- There are limited color choices
- The shoes are pricey
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10. Salomon Sense Ride 4
The Salomon Sense Ride is an affordable and versatile pair of shoes that you can use on the trail or for a walk in the neighborhood. It has a lot of things going for it starting with comfort. They feel great with lots of cushioning just where you need it.
The shoe has a good-looking profile and comes in a good range of color choices. The dense toe bumper provides great protection. The upper is breathable and dries quickly. Traction is good but not the best for wet trails. Instead, the Ride excels on rocks where it was one of the stickiest shoes we tried.
They are a nice value for the price. They’re comfortable and suitable for non-technical runs. The lining provides excellent support and comfort.
- These shoes are very comfortable while being lightweight
- They are affordably priced
- Sizing runs big
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11. Salomon Speedcross 4
The iconic Speedcross 4 has a snug fit that cradles your foot while providing superior traction in wet and muddy conditions.
The upper is breathable but resists dirt and dust. Waterproof options are available if you think you’ll be in really muddy conditions. The midsole provides nice cushioning but no rock plate – so you’ll have a flexible but protected ride.
The Speedcross 4 really shines in its outer sole. Tons of grip is provided from the aggressive lugs, ideal for wet, muddy, or snowy conditions. The lugs are also designed to provide maximum traction on the ball of your foot – for times when you are going uphill – and excellent braking when you are going down steep downhills on your heels. It’s for this reason that the Speedcross is one of the most popular trail shoes for Spartans and other mud-event races.
The Salomon Speedcross 4 is available is a ton of color options. It’s unique look works well for casual wear as it does for heavy-duty trail running.
- Awesome traction in mud and wet conditions
- Great for Spartan races
- Good grip on rock even with the big lugs
- Sizing runs big
- Some runners find them too narrow