Trail running is a wonderful way to get your heart rate going as you escape the rat race and make the most of the scenic routes around you. However, as wonderful as trail running might be, it’s not always as plain sailing as hitting the tarmac. When you’re navigating mud, steep trails and tricky inclines, having a good pair of running shoes can make the world of difference. One thing we’re certain of, you won’t be sure of options when it comes to finding the perfect pair, with hundreds of options to choose from. Thankfully, we’re taking a look at the best trail running shoes for women on the market right now so you can spend less time shopping and more time doing what you love!
We’ve taken a look at plenty of options that are fit for every kind of trail-runner so that we can bring you the very best choices to take your pick from. So, get ready to lace up and escape as you head out on your next run with a pair of shoes that will carry you for miles as you navigate all types of trails with ease.
The Best Trail Running Shoe For Women
You’ll be taking on the trails with no hassle at all in these lightweight and highly cushioned shoes. Breathable, durable and well designed, these flexible running shoes will easily transition you from road to trail as you embark on a middle-distance run. Through a combination of breathable material, a rubber toe cap and quick lace adjustable lace closures, these shoes offer the perfect combination of stability with comfort. The tough contagrip outsole on Salomon XR offers plenty of traction so that you can take on wet or muddy trails with no fear. With three different color choices, you can style out your shoes as you not only look the part but feel it too! If you like exercising with your loved one, check out our guide to the best trail running shoes for men.
Breathable mesh to prevent moisture build up
Combination of durability and comfort
Quick lace system to secure & easy lacing
Foam footbed to reduce friction
- ModelXR Mission W-W
- Weight2.25 pounds
Suitable to flow from roads to trails
Not the best for long distances
If you’re looking for a pair of running shoes that offer a monster grip which will allow you to take on even the most strenuous trails, these might just be the perfect choice for you! These meticulously crafted running shoes are lightweight and highly cushioned to give you the most pleasant experience possible. When you combine the level of comfort with the precise foothold grip, mudguard and anti-debris mesh, Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes are arguably one of the best pairs on the market right now. Not only do they perform well, but these fourth-generation shoes also come in 17 different colours to choose from! If you like running, check out out guide to the best stability running shoes.
Premium wet traction contagrip
Quick lace system for convivence
- ModelSPEEDCROSS 4 W-W
- Weight12 ounces
Water resistant textile
Great for technical trail running
Extensive colour and style options
Best for >2 runs per week
Tackle any terrain in both style and comfort with these stylish New Balance WT410v5 running shoes. These 100% textile trainers have an acteva midsole that will have you taking on even the most difficult trails with no trouble at all. Offering the perfect balance of durability and cushioning, these well-made shoes crafted from breathable mesh and long-lasting rubber will take you from tarmac to trail. Not only do they offer all the features you’d look for in the perfect running shoe, but they also look pretty good too! You can take your pick from the 10 colour options allowing you to go incognito in black or stand out from the crowd in neons! If you have issues breaking in new shoes, check out our guide to the best shoe stretchers.
NB response 2.0 performance insert
All terrain tread
- BrandNew Balance
- ModelCushioning 410v5 Trail Running Shoe-W
- Weight12 ounces
Good choice of colours
Sole could be more cushioned
Maintain traction as you take on all kinds of off-road trails in these totally practical, equally stylish trail runners from one of the world’s most loved sportswear brands. Adidas Women’s Rockadia W Trail Runners are designed with comfort and breathability in mind, whilst utilising strategically placed overlays to provide support where you need it most during your run. With flexible rubber soles, deep ridging and supportive soles, these shoes are sure to take you a long way! Choose your favourite from the 4 four affordable styles and get on your way in no time with these budget-friendly shoes from Adidas. For more great running shoe options, check out our guide to the best zero drop running shoes.
- Weight12 ounces
Sizing comes up a little small
These ultra-lightweight, super supportive and practical running shoes might not be the cheapest or best-looking option featured in our review, but the feedback is pretty good! Made up of a combination of a Vibram outsole, durable materials and breathable mesh lining, Merrell Women’s Glove 4 Trail Runners most definitely do the job when it comes to offering comfortable and practically during your runs. With performance the first priority of this shoe, you can enjoy a zero drop 4MM cushion, trail protect pads and robust laces as you take on a lengthy run. Make sure you also check our guide to the best high tops.
Zero drop 4MM cushion
Trail protect pad for additional underfoot protection
- ModelTRAIL GLOVE 4-W
- Weight3 pounds
Multiple colour options
Not the best-looking shoes
If you don’t already know about Saucony, you’re about to find out why they’re one of the world’s most respected brands when it comes to running shoes, they really know their stuff. Saucony Grid Excursion TR12 shoes have made no compromise when it comes to both fashion and functionality, offering even the trendiest runner the best of both worlds when taking to the trails. The rugged and durable TR12’s feature supportive overlays that will lock your foot into place as the trail-tested outsole will keep you from slipping as you hit the ground running and take on all types of terrains. If you love sports shoes, check out our guide to the best basketball sneakers.
Sole based stability and grid cushioning
Trail-specific mesh material
- Weight3 pounds
Advanced design technologies used
Laces are thin
A step up from Altra’s original trail shoe, the 4.0’s feature some fresh new updates that make them better than ever! Not only are the new and improved trainers more breathable, but they’re surprisingly more durable and secure so that you can strike out on a run in ultimate comfort. Through a combination of a static webbing inch strap, a textured toe cap and improved drainage holes, Altra has developed their finest shoe yet. The outsole has also been subjected to a complete makeover. Although you might think all these bells and whistles will make the shoe heavier, these are Altra’s lightest and most dynamic pair yet. So even if you have one of the previous models, Altra AFW1855F will feel like a whole new running companion for you! Our selection of the best white sneakers offers some amazing footwear for those who like minimal looking shoes so check them out.
Designed for low-impact form
Foot shape toe box
Zero drop platform
- Weight1.26 pounds
Improved flexibility and dynamic
One of the priciest options
Sizing comes up large
There’s no denying that Adidas manufacture some of the best-looking trail running shoes on the market, and Terrex Tracerocker W are no exception. If you’re looking for an affordable shoe that will take you from tarmac to trail, these might just be the ones for you. Not only do they look great, but these runners will have you feeling ultra light on your feet as you take to the trails. This design comes complete with abrasion-resistant material and a Traxion outsole for the ultimate comfort and grip as you work up a sweat. Take your pick from 7 on-trend colour options that are sure to match any outfit. Be sure to also check out our list of the best soccer cleats for more great items like this.
Breathable abrasion resistant material
Lightweight EVA midsole
A perfect blend of stability, style and comfort
- Brandadidas outdoor
- Weight12 ounces
One of the best-looking shoes
Multiple colour options
Could use better insoles
Much like the previous pair featured on our review, Adidas Women’s Terrex Agravic Speed Shoes are also very aesthetically pleasing. Of course, these aren’t just made for the fashion conscious, they perform as well as the leading options too! The shoe is carefully designed and constructed to resemble a sock so that you get a snug fit for the ultimate comfort throughout your run. Throw in the abrasion resistant material, perforated EVA mesh covers and lightweight midsole and you get a pair of shoes that offer long term cushioning paired with an extraordinary grip so you can take on any trail. If you like training, our guide to the best cross training shoes.
Breathable sock-like construction
Abrasion resistant material
Perforated EVA with mesh for ultimate comfort
- Brandadidas outdoor
- ModelTerrex Agravic Speed W
- Weight1.01 pounds
Multiple colour options
Deeply ridged soles for extra grip
Sizing runs large
Some colour options are pricey
If you know about Saucony, you probably won’t be surprised to see another pair of their running shoes on our list. Over the years, Saucony has earned the rights to become one of the most respected names in shoes thanks to innovative design, extensive options and trademark performance. Of course, Peregrine 8 are no exception. Through the blend of advanced technologies like grid; the first sole-based cushioning and stability system and attractive styles, Saucony have earned their stripes when it comes to footwear for athletes of all types. Our handy guide to the best crossfit shoes features more great products like this.
Flexible rubber sole
PWRTRAC outsole and midsole
- Weight12 ounces
6mm outsole lugs
Breathable yet supportive
Limited colour options
Sizing runs small
The reviews for Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 aren’t as a glowing than some of the other options, but we think they deserved to make it onto the list. If you’re looking for a pair of super on-trend running shoes that are good to wear for all occasions, these are a good choice! Granted, they’re not the best choice if you’re heading out on lengthy runs 4 times a week, but they most definitely do the job if you’re taking on gentle trails. These trainers are probably a little more favourable for shoppers opting for fashion over functionality, but still, they’ll do the job. Layers of textiles are carefully coordinated to create a supportive shoe, as fly wire cable laces keep your foot stable and form insoles offer added cushioning. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best s0hoe protection spray.
Phylon foam midsole
Rock plate in the forefoot to protect feet
Nike Zoom Air unit in the heel
Fly wire cable laces
Trail Running Shoe For Women Buying Guide & FAQ
When it comes to performance, the majority of running shoes featured in our review are all pretty on par. The major differences are largely down to style and budget opposed to functionality and fit. For us, it was pretty difficult to find a front runner, although our choice may not be the best looking pair of shoes, they offer all the features and innovation that will take you a long way. That being said, the Salomon XR’s only just took the top spot, with a number of the other options giving them a serious run for their money. There are plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets, all without compromising on performance so that you can look great and feel great before, during and after your run.
How We Chose Our Selection Of Trail Running Shoes For Women
As always, even though we think we’ve done a pretty good job of picking out the best options on the market right now, we always like to let you know how we made our choice so you can decide for yourself. When it comes to trail running shoes, there are a number of brands that dominate the market, so this was one of our major considerations. However, we know there’s a lot more to it than the brand when it comes to finding the perfect pair of shoes, so we narrowed down our choices based on features, price points and user reviews to bring you the best insight into the endless options on today's market.
Features To Look For In Trail Running Shoes For Women
As mentioned, the features are a key player when it comes to selecting the best trail running shoes that will serve you well for a long time, and there is a whole lot that you need to consider. After all, if you’re heading out for a six-mile run three times a week, you ought to be pretty particular about what you’re putting on your feet to not only ensure you’re comfortable but to navigate the trails safely.
Grip - When you’re taking on rocky, muddy, sometimes slippery trails, the grip on your shoes is very important. The tread/grip on your shoes what differentiates trail running shoes from road running shoes.
Typically, the deeper the cleats on the outsole, and the wider spaced they are, the better traction a shoe will give you.
If you plan to head out for runs on a lot of muddy trails, the stronger the grip, the better. However, it is advisable to opt for a tread that’s less than 6mm in height as they can be uncomfortable to run with on firmer terrains. If you are planning to head out on rocky, gravel trails that are harder, an ideal grip is between 2-4mm to optimum comfort.
Comfort - It kind of goes without saying that comfort is key when it comes to finding the perfect running shoes for you, particularly if you’re wearing them a lot. Of course, if your shoes are a little uncomfortable, you can try out different insoles to help, but we think that comfort isn’t something you want to compromise on.
The phrase ‘one size fits all’ most definitely doesn’t apply to running shoes, it can be a case of trial and error with a number of brands running large or small. Some brands like Saucony have developed shoes that are tailored to the fit of a women’s fit, with most leading brands offering additional support and cushioning in a bid to create a comfortable and supportive shoe.
With cushioning, the ideal amount can depend on your preference of trails. You might find that more cushioning is best suited to you if you plan to run on hard-packed trails and tarmacs for long distances. Whereas if you want a shoe that is good for soft, smooth trails and short distances, slightly less cushioning can offer a slightly more nimble, close to the ground feel. For runners that struggle with joint pain, a heavily cushioned shoe is likely your best bet as they can reduce impact.
Size - When narrowing down choices, size is also a deciding factor. If you find it difficult to find the perfect fit, you’ll want to choose a style that runs in half sizes. Although most brands size this way as standard, some don’t. If your runners don’t fit properly, you won’t get the support that you really need to take on the trails, so rather than getting a size that isn’t quite right and wearing them in or popping in a cushioned pad, it’s best to get it right from the offset.
Weight - No one wants to be wearing a pair of clunky running shoes, no matter how comfortable they are. When shopping around, it’s important that you consider the weight of a shoe as this can have a significant impact on the dynamic and flexibility that you’ll require as you set out on a lengthy run.
Stability - When you’re taking on rocky, steep and muddy trails that can often be a little difficult to navigate, stability from your running shoes is essential to avoid injury. Thankfully, A lot of running shoes in today's market are reinforced with additional layers and supports that provide a little extra support that will have you enjoying scenic trails with no fear.
Waterproof - Mother nature can be a little unpredictable, so even if you head out in the sunshine, there’s a chance you might be returning with muddy shoes if you’re caught in the rain. However, waterproof trainers can often lack breathability, something which you will most definitely be glad of in warmer climates. So, when you’re picking out your running shoes, take the time to consider whether or not a waterproof option is best suited to the conditions you plan to head out in.
Breathability - As mentioned above, breathability is important when it comes to trail running. Even if you don’t live in a warmer climate, after a few miles your feet will inevitably get hot and sweaty. The majority of the running shoes on offer a hybrid of breathable mesh and reinforced textiles for a combination of comfort and support, but it’s just another feature to be mindful of.
Toe Protection - When you’re out running long distances your toes can often be the source of any pains as they fall victim to blisters. Although most running shoes come complete with an added layer of rubber protection on the toes, a number of styles also come with extra cushioning to support your toes. If you opt for a pair of running shoes that aren’t so kind to your toes, you can always buy inserts, however, if you struggle with blisters and corns, it’s worth noting that this is a feature you should look for.
Rock Plates - As you know, trail running isn’t always plain sailing, that’s why some trail running shoes come complete with a rock plate or nylon shank that’s built into the midsole in order to protect your foot against any potential rock bruising. If you plan on heading out on rocky or gravel trails that are slightly more technical, it’s worth looking for a shoe with this kind of protection. However, it’s worth noting that this kind of feature will add unnecessary weight to your shoe if you tend to run on soft, smooth trails. Although it’s not a huge added weight, if it’s not essential, it’s better to go without those extra few ounces.
Lacing System - There’s nothing worse than finding your rhythm as you hit up a trail to find yourself tripping over your shoelaces. Of course, if your laces aren’t the best, you can easily swap them out for another pair, but there are some running shoes that come complete with fly wire cables or reinforced laces to make your life easier.
Heel-to-Toe Drop - Heel-to-toe drops were not a consideration in mainstream running shoes just a matter of years ago, but as innovation improves this feature, which is sometimes is referred to as the drop has become more important. The heel-to-toe drop refers to how many extra millimetres of cushioning are in the heel versus to the toes. Typically, a drop is usually around 10mm-12mm which is ample cushioning for runners that tend to heel strike, for runners that prefer a midfoot strike should opt for a lower drop. It’s worth being aware of the fact that the lower the drop, the harder your Achilles will have to work, especially when running uphill.
Now that we’ve covered all of the features that you should look for in the perfect pair of trail running shoes, it’s about time we answered those burning questions so that you can enjoy browsing armed with all the information you need to know!
Trail Running Shoe For Women FAQ
Q: What is the difference between trail running shoes and running shoes?
A: The main difference between trail running shoes and standard/road running shoes is the traction on the sole. Trail running shoes are designed with deeper ridges for a bigger surface area to add more traction than a standard sole would. Because of the makeup of the soles of trail running shoes, it means they can be uncomfortable if you wear them on flat or hard surfaces regularly, so it’s important that you make this decision beforehand. Trail runners typically have a lower offset, and the heel to toe drop is shorted so the shoe is relatively flatter, offering a much more stable platform to run on.
Q: Is it OK to use trail running shoes on the road?
A: As mentioned above, it can be uncomfortable to wear trail running shoes on a road. At the end of the day, it’s down to personal preference, but it’s not advised. If you have a read over the key features to look for when buying the perfect shoe, you’ll find that you can get a hybrid option, although you need to be mindful of the heel-to-toe drop, the outsole and the cushioning in the shoe of your choice. If you know that you’ll be using your shoes for trail running, it is most definitely favorable to invest in a pair that are designed specifically for that so that you can reap the benefits.
Q: Why are trail running shoes generally not waterproof?
A: If you’re hitting up your local trails for a lengthy hike, the first feature you’ll likely be in search of is waterproofing, however, this isn’t the case when it comes to trail running shoes. The majority of the running shoes on the market today are designed to be waterproof at best. There are waterproof options available, but only if you’re prepared to sacrifice breathability, weight and flexibility in return. With these being three of the key factors that make up the performance of your shoes, it’s probably best to settle for water resistant.
Q: What is a rock plate?
A: A rock plate is a flexible piece of plastic that sits across the forefoot/midsole part of your running shoes to protect your feet. The strategically placed feature is designed to protect your feet from rocks and stones on the ground for a more comfortable and balanced run to assist in avoiding injury.
There you have it, everything and anything you could possibly need to know about women’s trail running shoes along with our top picks on the market right now. As always, we do the research so that you can go off and shop for the very best options with the peace of mind that you can make an informed decision before parting with your hard earned dollars. Once you’ve done the difficult part of choosing the right shoes, you can head out and do what you enjoy (/endure) most. Happy trail running!