Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail [2021]

In this article, we will review the best women’s running shoes for road and trail. The same old concrete running route feels a bit, well, old? Good news: trail running is having a well-deserved (and much-needed) time, and we’re here for it. In the past decade, the number of people hitting the road in the United States has nearly doubled, according to analytics firm Statista.

Those smart people are on to something: Exercising in nature calms the part of the brain associated with overthinking, says research published by PNAS. (Can we say “yes please”?!) But what’s even cooler is that you can recreate the calming effects if you’re exercising indoors these days. Studies show that simply looking at pictures of nature while running on a tread makes you happier.

Still, if you can balance it, going outside for a few miles will make your brain and body very good.

Similarly, runner after runner said that hitting the trails helps them unplug, stay present (tripping over rocks is a real problem), and enjoy simply putting one foot in front of the. So, given all the good vibes at stake, the question is: Are you ready for this movement magic? The first step to achieving this is finding a solid pair of running shoes.

Table of Contents

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Brooks Cascadia 14 is a welcome update to an already excellent trail shoe. The concentration and care that was given into the design is clearly visible throughout the construction. The price is also not out of place for what it is.

Shoes have neutral support for those with mid-high to high arches. The fit is a bit narrow, but otherwise, the toe box was roomy enough to give a bit of headroom.

New in version 14 is a redesigned upper with a streamlined design. The overlays keep the shoes stylish and prevent mud and dirt from getting into the shoes. A gaitor lock was also included if you decide to use it.

Traction is where this product succeeds. He took over the trail regardless of the surface. That adds a lot of stability to a career. They are durable and have well-padded collar that provides ample ankle support. A sturdy rock plate protects your feet from sharp objects on the trail.

  • Traction is outstanding no matter the conditions on the road
  • These shoes will last a long time due to their excellent durability
  • We loved the stability they provided on rough terrain
  • We weren’t fans of any of the color options that we thought were over the top
  • Some may find the fit too tight in the midfoot

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4 provides neutral support with lots of cushioning for comfort. Mesh upper is breathable for optimal airflow.

Traction is excellent. You will feel stable when you go to uneven terrain in these shoes. They are durable except for the top lace bows. A stronger material would have worked better for longer wear. That said, it did add a nice touch to the shoes.

Pair is a bit pricey, but it offers a good balance between flexibility and stability. These shoes are very comfortable because of the soft midsole. The toe box is roomy too, making them a good option for longer runs.

  • Traction was pretty grippy on a variety of surfaces
  • These shoes are comfortable from the cushioning to the breathability
  • Lace bows are a major design flaw that causes them to break, especially if you tie them well
  • The size is small

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4 is another maximalist quality offering from Hoka. If you prefer a trail shoe with lots of cushioning, you should consider the Challengers. Comfort is outstanding with great support.

Of course, this style is not for everyone. Extreme cushioning interferes with the feel of the ground. However, it provides incredible support and protection. The breathability is also top-notch and they are lightweight despite having good cushioning.

On the downside, the durability leaves a lot to be desired. That could be a deal-breaker, considering its price. Traction is excellent although stability is a bit lacking. That said, it’s a great option for trail running when the trail isn’t too bumpy.

  • These shoes are possibly one of the most comfortable products out there
  • Excellent breathability
  • They will provide the best shock absorption you can find in trail running shoes
  • Some may find that the cushioning makes the shoes too bulky
  • Additional cushioning detracts from the feel of the ground

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail

4. ASICS GT-2000 6 TRAIL

Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Asics GT-2000 6 Trail is a product aimed at the beginner. It has Asics gel technology that gives it a lot of elasticity to absorb the impact of the road. It has a padded collar that is more than what you will find in some trail running shoes. The back of the ankles is well protected.

Comfort is very good but not superior. Overall stability is excellent with great traction providing plenty of grips. It has a lower profile to give you the freedom of movement you want during a run. The breathability is perfect with the mesh on the upper part. The toe is spacious. They’re lightweight in this total redesign from Asics.

The shoes are not as flexible as we would like and almost border on stiffness. If you need support, that’s a good thing; In fact, the GT-2000 Trail is one of the few trail shoes with built-in stability for overpronators. It is a quality product with good durability.

  • The improved breathability in this model is a welcome update from the previous version
  • They have a good balance between the weight and cushioning
  • The shoes are a bit stiff compared to others we consider
  • Cushioning affects the feel of the ground if that’s important to you

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

Saucony Peregrine 8 is a perfect shoe for both road and trail. It will give you the traction you need at any type of surface. The insoles provide good stability on the trail. Due to the heavy weight, it’s not the shoe you want for a race, but it is surely a good choice in challenging conditions.

The upper part is made of synthetic material that provides good breathability and airflow. Support is excellent throughout construction. The padding is generous around the neck.

However, the damping is decent. It will reduce the impact of racing on hard surfaces. The heel is firm to prevent it from slipping. Support is good too. In general, the durability is there.

  • Traction is nothing short of outstanding
  • Good shoes at such price
  • Shoes do not fit true to size
  • You will need to check the tread from time to time to dislodge any rocks that get trapped in it
  • Your feet will get wet due to the porous upper

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Altra Lone Peak 4.0 is a shoe that toes the line between one with a lot of cushioning and a pair for a minimalist experience. It has plenty of padding for comfort and a low-profile, zero-drop platform that gives you a good feel and responsiveness on the ground.

The top fits perfectly with lots of padding around the neck. Mesh does a good job of balancing breathability while avoiding dirt and dust. The toe is extremely wide, it feels great, but maybe sloppy for runners with narrow feet.

The shoes have gaiter attachments, which was a nice surprise for those who wear them. It was one of the only ones we reviewed that had them. You need to use the Altra gaiter for those accessories.

Stability and cushioning were top-notch. Zero drop takes some getting used to, especially if you’re running on smooth surfaces or getting mixed up on any road.

  • Excellent traction
  • The cushioning is a huge improvement over the previous model
  • Very comfortable thanks to the wide toe
  • Shoes run on the small side
  • Heel durability may need a design upgrade

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Altra Timp Trail 2.0 is a great option if you want a compromise between maximalist and minimalist styles. Provides great cushioning without being over the top. That gives it a sleeker profile for a versatile shoe that you can wear on the trail or the pavement.

Respond with a good ground feel. Provides excellent arch support and comfort. Durability is excellent too. We can’t say we were fans of any of the available colors. We all found them strange options or something you would find on sale.

The walking of the shoes is smooth. You will enjoy putting them on. That said, the traction on them leaves something to be desired, especially for technical races. Despite the heavy lugs on the sole, they are best suited for light dirt and gravel conditions.

  • They strike a good balance between responsiveness and damping
  • Support and stability are excellent
  • We didn’t like any of the available color options
  • Traction is not the best for rough roads
  • They don’t run true to size and err on the small side

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 has the expected cushioning. It has a rocker style that can improve your stride once you get used to it.

The cushioning is outstanding which gives an incredible comfort and support. Surprisingly, it is quite light despite all the padding. It also responds. The product is durable and withstands heavy trail use well.

Traction is grippy, which we liked for rough terrain. Its stability is also an excelled entity. Unfortunately, comfort suffers from a narrow toe box. It is a deal-breaker if you have wide feet.

  • Excellent support
  • Superior traction for various trail conditions
  • Some may find the toe box to be too narrow to the point of being uncomfortable
  • The tongue may need additional padding or design modification

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Brooks Caldera 3 provides neutral arch support with a low drop. It’s upper is a mesh to give ideal breathability. It has a rocker style to help you run. It also has exceptional traction and stability.

You will feel safe whether you run in the mud or on the snow. The tread is grippy. The toe is a bit narrow, but otherwise, the fit was perfect. They are not the most attractive pair of shoes, but they are more than suitable for a daily runner.

Support is outstanding with ample padding around the neck. Take a Smoo The walk will tire your legs in the long run. It is durable and will last.

While the Caldera lacks a rock plate, the padded ride should provide plenty of protection against trail obstacles.

  • They provide a great grip on slippery trails
  • The cushioning and support are excellent
  • There are limited color options
  • Shoes are expensive

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The Salomon Sense Ride is an affordable and versatile pair of shoes that you can wear on the trail or for a walk around the neighborhood. It has many things going for it, starting with comfort. They feel great with plenty of cushioning right where you need it.

The shoe has an attractive profile and comes in a good variety of colors. The dense finger bumper provides great protection. The upper is breathable and dries quickly. Generally traction is good but not for wet trails. Instead, the Ride sticks out on the rocks where it was one of the stickiest shoes we tested.

They are good value for money. They are comfortable and suitable for non-technical races. The lining provides superior comfort and support.

  • These shoes are very comfortable and light
  • They have an affordable price
  • Size is big

Best Women’s Running Shoes For Road And Trail


Best Women's Running Shoes For Road And Trail

The iconic Speedcross 4 has a snug fit that cradles the foot while providing superior traction in wet and muddy conditions.

The upper is breathable but resistant to dirt and dust. There are waterproof options available if you think it will be in a very muddy condition. The midsole provides good cushioning but without a rock plate, so you will have a flexible but protected tread.

The Speedcross 4 shines on its outsole. The aggressive studs provide great grip, ideal for wet, muddy, or snowy conditions. The studs are also designed to provide maximum traction on the ball of the foot, for times when you go uphill, and excellent braking when descending steep slopes with your heels. It is for this reason that the Speedcross is one of the most popular trails running shoes for Spartans and other mud races.

The Salomon Speedcross 4 is available in a ton of color options. Its unique look works well for casual wear as well as heavy-duty trail running.

  • Incredible traction in mud and wet
  • Great for Spartan races
  • Good grip on the rock even with the large studs
  • Size is big
  • Some corridors find them too narrow

Buyer’s Guide


One of the most important characteristics of the best trail running shoes is the grip and traction of the sole (bottom). Sticky rubber and deep studs are key features of high-traction shoes. But it is also important to consider the space between the lugs. Shoes with widely spaced cleats remove mud more efficiently than cleats that are closely spaced. This is not of much importance if you frequent dry and rocky trails.


In general, shoes that are stiff through the sole provide greater stability than super flexible trail runners. In some shoes, this is due to a plastic or nylon insert that is placed between the midsole and the sole. Other factors that affect stability are stiffness in the upper, especially in the ankle and heel area. And also the degree of support in the arch of the shoe.


When you run on uneven and unpredictable terrain for miles and miles, your shoes must protect your feet and help you fly. The best trail running shoes should provide some degree of protection for the toes, even if this is just an extension of the outsole that curves around the front of the toes. Some shoes take this a step further with additional layers of durable material.

In addition to toe protection, most trail running shoes have rock plates inserted between the midsole and the sole. These vary from shoe to shoe and the level of protection you choose depends on how much you want to “feel” the trail while running. Sensitive soles are on good on technical trails. But repeatedly jumping over sharp rocks and roots without much protection through the sole can also be a negative!

Heel to Toe Drop

This is the difference in height between the heel and toe of a trail running shoe. It varies a lot from shoe to shoe and can have a great effect on your running technique.

Shoes with a large heel-to-toe drop are designed to guide users toward the mid or forefoot strike. High-performance trail running shoes for alpine and mountain races tend to drop more.

Zero drop designs mean there is no height difference between the heel and toe of the shoe. This style of trail shoe promotes a natural running style and is good for those who want to transition to running barefoot.

Most trail running shoes for moderate terrain and general use tend to have a medium drop from heel to toe (around 5mm).

The level of heel-to-toe drop you choose largely comes down to your personal preferences, what you’re used to, and what feels comfortable for you. Despite the small degrees of difference in drop height between different shoes, jumping from one to the other and assuming there will be no initial problems is not recommended. Different muscles are used for each height, so start with short runs if you are making a change.


The level of cushioning provided by the best trail running shoes varies greatly. Choosing a heavily cushioned shoe, like the Hoka One One Challengers, is an attractive option for those looking for some cushioning for their joints. A lot of damping is also a good idea if you hit tough, unforgiving trails.


For those facing long-distance trail racing, or those who want to boost their speed on the trails, low-weight trail running shoes are essential. And even if you like to trudge relatively short distances, heavy shoes will soon start to weigh you down.

Fortunately, trail running shoe technology advances rapidly with each new stock season. This means that most high-end shoes are mega-light without having to sacrifice performance.

Of course, there are minimalist trail shoe designs that are incredibly lightweight and compromise on certain performance characteristics. Just as there are much heavier options that also have many functions.

Therefore, choose something c Using a balance of low weight (ish) and high performance is probably the best way to go unless you have a very specific need for trail running!

Water Administration

Most running shoes are not waterproof. That does not mean that they do not exist; There are many options with breathable GoreTex membranes that keep water out. One of the problems with this, however, is the lack of drainage. If (and when) water gets into the top of your shoes during river crossings or in the snow, it won’t be able to get back out if there’s a waterproof membrane. The result is very uncomfortable running and soft feet.

Therefore, many trail runners opt for shoes that are not waterproof (this also makes them more breathable) so that the water can easily get out. And to keep your feet dry (especially good in cold conditions) wear waterproof socks or gaiters.


There are two lacing options available in running shoes for road and trail:

  • Quick Laces: Great if you don’t need a custom fit. They tend to stay still and don’t slack off while you run.
  • Regular Laces: This is the best option if you need to adjust in specific places. They are the most common style of laces.

That’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re new to off-road driving. So when in doubt, the best trail running shoes for you are the ones that are most comfortable for you. You can always update later. But staying comfortable from the start will make you fall in love with the trail and give you a chance to find your style and preferences over time.

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