Do you love running off road, but you are afraid of hurting your feet or ankles due to harsh terrain? Also, do you need running shoes that are lightweight and comfortable, yet offer great support and are durable? If so, then the solution for your problems are the best trail running shoes you can find on the market.
Since trail running is a sport that is becoming more and more popular, sport shoe manufacturers have focused on making models that offer the best of two worlds, running and hiking. They are light and comfortable as a pair of classic running shoes, but durable, strong, and offer protection and support as hiking shoes.
Now that we have your attention, let us dive into the world of trail running shoes for women. At the end of this guide, you will know the certain features to check out, as well as feel confident about making a purchase after you see the shoes we review later. Now, let us begin.
Note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article
|Product Name||Weight||Heel to Toe Drop||Shoe Category||Specific Features||Price|
|Salomon SpeedCross 3||20.77 oz||9 mm||Traditional||Stable, good for most terrain||Check price on Amazon|
|Saucony Peregrine 5||18.8 oz||4 mm||Low Profile||Light, versatile, wet terrain||Check price on Amazon|
|La Sportiva Bushido||21.3 oz||4 mm||Low Profile||Toe caps, made for any terrain||Check price on Amazon|
|Altra Lone Peak 2||19.8 oz||0 mm||Minimalist||Light, good protection, cushioned||Check price on Amazon|
|Hoka One One Challenger ATR||17.4 oz||29 mm||Maximalist||Stabile, any terrain, cushioned||Check price on Amazon|
|Asics Gel-Kahana 7||21 oz||10 mm||Traditional||Low price, good protection, toe cap||Check price on Amazon|
|Hoka Stinson ATR||20.1 oz||6 mm||Maximalist||Light, breathes well||Check price on Amazon|
|Brooks Cascadia 10||21.7 oz||10 mm||Traditional||Wide toe box, durable||Check price on Amazon|
|Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 2||7.1 oz||4 mm||Low Profile||Secure, comfortable, good grip||Check price on Amazon|
|Saucony Kinvara TR2||7.8 oz||4 mm||Minimal||Flexible, light weight||Check price on Amazon|
Best Products on Today’s Market
Keep in mind that this list is designed considering our expertise in the area, but some of you may not find their favorite producers here. If this happens, please let us know in the comments.
Also, it is crucial to know that the following products are not ranked by a numeric countdown, they are definitely different, but the first is just as appreciated as the last.
Weight: 20.77 oz
Specific features: Made of textile and mesh, EVA foam, stable
Best use: Technical and/or sloppy trails
Description: The Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoes are an amazing pair of shoes built to withstand almost any type of terrain (except pavement) and especially sloppy, steep, wet and technical terrain. Protection wise, the outsole provides a good balance between stability and rigidity for a well-protected foot over any distance.
A very hard rubber toe cap will prevent stubbed toes and the midsole, which has been injected with EVA foam, can withstand outside impacts on your mid-foot and heel areas with ease. Not to mention that thanks to the textile and mesh of the shoe, debris won’t be a problem.
Wet rocks, sloppy snow, and even slopes of mud, are no match for the rubber non-marking contra-grip these shoes provide. As an added bonus, the widely spaced and deep lugs shed mud like nothing else. With a 9 mm drop, stability is very high on less even surfaces. With that and the help of great traction and precise fit, you will feel low on the ground, despite the fact you are actually being higher.
Are they comfortable? Despite fitting a narrow foot best, they actually are! Thanks to some extra EVA foam in the midsole, and a one-pull quick lace system that makes these shoes feel nice just to put on. And, with a zero days break-in period, they feel more comfortable the more you wear them.
The disadvantage of these shoes is that they are less breathable than some of the other products, which means cold climates are perfect for crossing, but not so much on warm or hot ones. And if they are not properly cleaned, the one-pull quick lace system can get gummed up.
- Great tracking
- Good protection
- Quick lace system
- Do not breathe well
- For narrower feet
Related: While hiking the trail, you will need supportive clothing. The Under Armour Women’s Armour Mid Sports Bra is a supportive sports bra that comes in many colors for a great price.
Category: Low profile
Weight: 18.80 oz
Specific features: Synthetic, rubber sole, includes rock protection
Best use: Technical trails, pavement, mellow single track, and everything in between
Description: The Saucony Peregrine 5 Trail Running Shoe is versatile, lightweight, great for sloppy terrain, and even good as a crossover shoe that does pretty well on pavements (believe it or not).
They promote a flexible upper to keep your feet in place, a rigid outer and midsole along with the integrated nylon mesh, and a sturdy rubber toe cap. Beware that the outsole can be slippery on wet rocks.
A set of deep, multi-directional lugs with a complex pattern makes this pair perform extremely well up/down steep, on slippery slopes, on mud, and snow. The only issue is that the rubber can get very cold, very fast, so they are a bit more pleasant to wear in warmer weather.
If you combine their low profile design with the rigid outsole, the lightweight rock plate and the 4 mm drop, you get a pair of shoes that fall low to the ground making them very stable. The flat lacing system adds to the stability, but unfortunately it also takes away some of the flexibility.
Due to their low profile design, the lack of cushion makes them comfortable to wear on either short or long distances. The plus side is that thanks to the mesh, these shoes are incredibly breathable. Also, they hold very little water, and drying them takes no time at all. However, small particles such as mud and sand tend to seep in through the mesh on longer runs so you could get back home with heavier shoes.
- Breathes well
- Rock plate system
- Wide toe box
- Not very flexible
- Slippery on wet rocks
- Dirt gets in the mesh
Related: If you want to stay hydrated or in a hiking race, you can use the UltraAspire Alpha 2.0 Race Vest. You have full range of motion and it includes a 2 liter bladder inside.
Category: Low profile
Weight: 21.3 oz
Specific features: Synthetic and fabric, high performance, AirMesh uppers
Best use: Any terrain
Description: The La Sportiva Bushido Trail Running Shoes are rigged with a very rigid outsole and a midsole rock plate that not even sharp rocks can tear. Even more, they are equipped with one of the hardest toe caps to keep you well-protected. And no dirt, sand or mud can get passed through that mesh! These are truly a pair of shoes made for any terrain!
The traction on these is also great. Boasting deep, multi-directional lugs made of an extremely sticky rubber, the shoes are great for rough surfaces. They didn’t perform as well in heavy mud compared to other surfaces and didn’t shed mud as well as some of our other entries, but they are still great nonetheless.
You can forget about turning ankles with these shoes! They boast a versatile lacing and a thermoplastic urethane frame with light, tight uppers.
Also, the 6 mm drop, gives the Bushido lots of stability. While being very breathable and a quick dryer, this pair also has a fabulous fit, but it is best suited for narrow feet. Because of their rigidity they feel less comfortable than some of the other shoes on this list.
- Quick dry
- Somewhat pricey
Weight: 19.8 oz
Specific features: Rubber sole, cushioned, breathes well, nice toe box
Best use: Any terrain except pavement
Description: For a minimalist, Altra Women’s Lone Peak 2 Trail-Running Shoe are really comfortable. The sturdy toe cap and a moderate cushioning give you good protection overall and the lightweight synthetic upper does a good job keeping small particles and sand out. Just beware of the small rubber flippers at the back of the shoe that tend to throw sand back.
The Lone Peak 2 has superb, but a bit limited tracking. Featuring “trail claw”, a hard and deep lug pattern that can grab any surface, they are limited in the sense that the lugs have a durability of about 80 miles.
When we discuss stability, the zero-drop technology and a wide toe box (for better toe spreading) make them one of the best on the market. Having a low profile design, a wide toe box and moderate cushioning is a big plus for comfort.
However, they still are minimalists, so some training may be required for you to feel comfortable in them. And not to mention that, because of their class, they are not made for heel strikers. The only thing left to warn you about is that rocks enter rather easily in these shoes.
- Wide toe box
- Not for heel strikers
- Rocks get in easily
- Lacks lug durability
Related: Be sure to have some good socks to wear on the trail. The injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Xtralife Socks are made of polyester, nylon and lycra and have a moisture management system.
Weight: 17.4 oz
Specific features: Stable, comfortable, woven outer shell
Best use: Wet and dry terrain
Description: The Hoka One One Challenger Atr Running Shoes are some really big shoes, but they are a bit low to the ground (for their category). This means better stability. Also the comfort-meter is at an all-time high since the amount of protection is defined by the amount of cushion built into them, which is a lot. They also offer a nicely and tightly woven outer for your feet as well as a hard toe cap.
The large number of deep lugs means the Hoka One One can and will run smoothly on any type of terrain. They are good, but not the best, at gripping and seem to have traction perfect for sandy, muddy, rocky, and steep surfaces. The stability of these shoes is quite high considering their class and the fact that their stack height of 29 mm is combined with the responsive upper and great fit.
Comfort is one of their greatest assets, with ample amount of cushion, a good fit and wide toe box. They even breathe well, are quick to dry, and hold very little water. The bad side is that they seem to fit the narrow foot best and they degrade pretty fast. You can actually see some wear and tear after just 20 miles.
- Won’t hold water
- Light and comfortable
- Erode quickly
- Made for narrower feet
Related: If you need more cushion, the Superfeet Green Heritage Insoles will help, especially for high arches. Comfortable and affordable, your feet will stay happy.
Weight: 21.0 oz
Specific features: Comfortable, cushioned, hard toe cap
Best use: Hiking, trail running
Description: Asics GEL-Kahana 7 Trail Running Shoes are almost a bargain! Having a low price and serving well in almost all categories, from good protection, to a nice stability, the GEL-Kahana 7 will take you from the roads and up to the hills feeling like a winner.
As mentioned earlier, these shoes provide good protection for your feet, thanks to a hard toe cap and a rigid and cushioned midsole. So you don’t need to worry about sharp rocks or stubbed toes. They also implement the Rearfoot GEL cushioning system for added protection in favor of the heel strikers, and the mesh keeps out the sand and dust from your shoes very well.
Traction-wise, they behave well against most surfaces like mud, roots, and rocks, keeping a firm grip. However, when they become wet, the sole tends to be a bit slippery, especially on snow. Still, they make for a great crossover option.
Boasting a wide toe box, 10 mm drop, foam fitting uppers, a rigid and yet flexible forefoot, these shoes are extremely stable. The ASICS DuoMax support system they feature also adds to stability.
The downside is represented by the round laces which are a bit annoying, as they seem to come undone after longer runs. Also they will keep you warm in cold temperatures, but are not very breathable, so you may reconsider them for those hotter days. And the toe box seems a bit shallow, which can cause discomfort.
- Great tread
- Wide toe box
- Slippery on wet surfaces
- Doesn’t breathe well
- Toe box is shallow
Related: Be sure your laces are secure by using Lock Laces. These help you not have to tie your shoes and come in many colors to match your running shoes. Easy to use, you will love this!
Weight: 20.1 oz
Specific features: Foot protection, arch support, deep foot frame
Best use: Terrain where extra tread is needed, various trail types
Description: The Hoka Stinson ATR Running Trail Shoes are built for nearly all types of terrain, including roads and pavements, this lightweight and breathable pair will make your journeys a walk in the park. Still, the price tag is a bit inflated so you may want to wait for sales season.
Thanks to the oversized CMEVA midsole, the rigid sole and the hard toe cap, your feet are well protected. In addition to that, the upper in combination with the quick lace design gives even more protection and stability. The bad news is that some of the smaller sand particles will get in your shoe through the breathable mesh.
For traction, you have hi-abrasion-resistant lightweight rubber that will grid over almost all surfaces. The combination of the lugs, tread, and depth of the midsole will keep you in place and stable, and as a bonus, the sole is moldable to fill in the cracks and absorb the trail around you.
They only lose stability when they get wet and become slippery. Now, let’s face it, with a stack height of 30 mm, loss of stability is expected, even though the three-layered weld support frame and rigid uppers do provide a precise fit. So these are some of the least stable pairs on the list.
Comfort-wise, they receive a 10. There is lots of cushioning to alleviate the impact and are very breathable, so much so that you can almost see through the mesh. A minus could be that they seem to fit a narrow foot best.
- Breathes well
- Quick lace system
- Dirt gets inside
- Not for wet surfaces
- Fit narrow feet best
Related: Stay comfortable on the trail with the Coofandy Hooding Raincoat. It offers protection from wet weather for a nice price, and comes in many colors.
Weight: 21.7 oz
Specific features: Comfortable, durable, made of mesh and synthetic fabric
Best use: Various trail types, good and bad weather
Description: The Brooks Cascadia 10 Running Shoes are one of those Jack-of-all-trades shoes that are versatile and perform well at any distance. Their protection factor comes from the sturdy and durable forefoot, rigid rock plate sole, and the BioMoGo/DNA blend in the mid-foot area.
The traction comes from their medium-hard rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs, which will make mud puddles, wet snow, and pretty much any surface easy to grab and traverse. A plus on stability coming from a combination of four integrated stability posts, located on the outside of the mid-foot and heel along with the BioMoGo/DNA blend midsole, and a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop.
The Brooks offer ample comfort, with lots of cushioning, and a wide toe box for any kind of distance. However, they do take a while to break-in, and seem to be pretty heavy for the first few times. Overall, this is a great shoe for the trial that will fit well and offer a long life.
- Wider toe box
- Offers protection
- Get heavy if wet
- Takes time to break them in
Related: Keep the music flowing with some headphones while you run. The Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones connect wirelessly and are adjustable and easy to use.
Category: Low profile
Weight: 7.1 oz
Specific features: Sharp lugs, rubber sole, mesh fabric
Best use: Trails, places where traction is needed
Description: Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 2 are great shoes for crossover and all kinds of terrain, very secure with great fit, and with a great upper design meant to be very comfortable. However, they are not that great on the grip.
Offering single density midsole, a regrind rubber on the outside rubber piece, and welded overlays for the toe box, these shoes keep your feet safe, although the toe box is a bit thin. Tracking-wise the sticky sole does a good job on almost any surface, but the outer sole is lacking durability and wear can be seen after only 10 miles.
Stability comes mostly from the sharp, rigid, midsole which is enough to make you feel secure and safe. Also, the soft heel collar and firm foam cushion make them comfortable for their class, but not by a lot. Users like these shoes because they are comfortable, light in weight, and affordable.
- Fit well overall
- Loses traction over time
- Toe box is thin
Weight: 7.8 oz
Specific features: Synthetic fabric, HydraMAX collar, flexible
Best use: Any terrain except pavement
Description: The Flex-firm upper and the low profile design, give the Saucony Kinvara TR2 good protection and the Power Grid system in the midsole will absorb a lot of the impact.
The forefoot protection wears down quite easily though. They are very stable as the thin yet firm midsole and the Flex-firm upper do a great job in making you fell down on the ground and in control.
The cushioning is just enough so that you can run for long distances and not sacrifice stability and flexibility. Also the ComfortLite Sock Liner for the heels adds for a more comfortable ride.
We like these shoes because they are not only comfortable, but they also have a good rubber sole and a durable outer shell that keeps water out of the shoe. You can choose your color selection from red, gray and white to gray, blue and citron and black, blue and pink.
- Comfortable insole
- Not durable in the forefoot
- Somewhat pricier than others
Related: Having a fitness tracker can keep your goals in sight on the trail. The Garmin VivoFit Band can be worn all the time, has a long battery life and keeps you in line for your fitness goals.
Things to Consider Before Buying
To be sure you choose a pair of shoes that are a perfect fit for your needs, you need to know which features to keep an eye on before making the actual purchase. Here are the most important features:
This is the most important feature for any type of footwear. You want your new trail running shoes to be comfortable so that you don’t experience pain or discomfort while you are running. Furthermore, having a pair of really comfortable running shoes, will allow you to cover longer distances.
Find something that has the type of lacing system you like, with enough padding in the insole and some great tread. Doing so will mean that your feet are happy and you can stay on the trail longer.
When it comes to the type of fabric your new shoes are made of, you want something that’s going to be waterproof as much as possible because you could be running into the wet ground or even streams and puddles.
Also, having water in your shoes is bad because it’s going to cause blisters. Furthermore, the material should also be breathable because if your feet don’t have enough air circulation, they will get pretty hot, fast, and that is one reason for blisters to pop out. Finally, the material needs to be strong enough, so that the rocks and sticks can’t scratch your shoes.
This is the part of your shoe that hits the ground when you’re running or walking. Outsoles provide traction as you go over different surfaces. For example, when you run on slippery ground or even ice, high-quality outsoles will make sure that you don’t slip and fall or get injured.
This is especially important if you’re moving quickly and you don’t have time to watch your step on slippery surfaces. You want shoes with outsoles that will allow you to trust them to do all the step watching for you.
This is actually the main difference between the tennis shoes and trail running shoes. The latter provide different, more complex lugs that offer you a much higher terrain versatility.
Lugs are the same thing as those patterns on car tires. The larger they are, the easier you can run across different surfaces and get the same traction as if you were walking on level ground. Again, just like with tires, for better traction, the lugs need to be deeper.
Types of Running Shoes
Not all trail running shoes are of the same type. Meaning, you can’t use one type for every occasion. You should keep the following types in mind when making the final choice:
This first category of footwear has a unique design which stands apart from any type of conventional shoes, mainly because they are designed to mimic the lack of footwear, offering little to no stability and comfort. These shoes are said to feel more like a pair of very protective socks.
On the other hand, those who are interested in these kinds of shoes can benefit from them by training the muscle in their feet for overall stability and giving you a more “natural” run. These must be one of the most interesting types of shoes out there, but they are also one of the hardest to come by.
These ones have the lowest heel-toe drop shoes, usually within the range of 0 to 6 mm. They offer moderate protection, but most of the times with very high stability.
The most popular type of trail running shoes is the one that most people choose. These are your Jack-of-all-trades types of shoes. Offering a moderate protection with a drop of 8 mm or higher, a comfortable fit that comes from the layer of cushion added to the heels, and good stability overall.
Being comfortable and suitable for most of our running needs, it’s no wonder that these shoes are the preferred choice for athletes and are the go-to solution for many hiking enthusiasts.
Have you ever wondered how it would be to run on clouds? This is how you feel with these shoes on! With a drop of 30 mm or more, comfort is at a maximum with these ones. With so much foam between your feet and the ground you know they are very protective, not only for the sole of your foot; they offer protection to your ankles as well. Their best feature is that with all that comfort, you can run for much longer distances compared to the other types.
And so we’ve reached the end of our list. We hope you now have a better understanding of what these shoes are about and maybe even chose your pair, so that you may perform your favorite activity with the right gear. The shoes we’ve discussed are unique in their own way and none are better than the other, and so we believe all of them deserve a minute of your attention.
We sure hope that you have found this guide helpful and are confident enough to pick out a great new pair of trail running shoes for yourself that you can enjoy for many hikes in the future! Now that you are armed with information, you are ready to make the purchase!
Now it’s time to hand over the mike and ask: what do you think? Are there any products that you think deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments, and happy shopping!