The 12 Best Trail Running Shoes for Women of 2021

Enjoy your outdoor workout with the right pair of sneakers

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Our Top Picks
"The tough lug pattern on the rubber outsole provides exceptional grip and traction in all terrain or weather conditions. "
"A high-quality option that won't break the bank, it provides stability and stable cushioning for neutral or low-arched feet."
"The shoe’s BioMogo DNA midsole offers dynamic, energizing cushioning that adapts to your feet with every stride."
"Wearable as a running or everyday shoe, it features high-energizing cushioning that won't weigh you down."
"Stay comfortable on long stretches with this option, suitable for hilly and technical terrain as well as asphalt and flat trails."
"The membrane ensures waterproof protection from the elements, while the rubber outsole provides excellent traction."
"Its higher cost comes with extra features including 3D printed overlays for extra support and a breathable mesh upper."
"Easily transition from roads to the trails with this pair, complete with all-terrain tread that make them ready for anything."
"Durable and rugged, they feature Asics’ GEL Cushioning System for superb shock absorption, comfort, and performance."
"Wide and deep enough to fit orthotics or inserts if needed, there's also enough space to support any swelling during hot runs."

More and more runners are discovering the fun and adventure of trail running, which is running on any unpaved surface, whether it’s on flat dirt trails or hilly terrain. Trail running usually involves some running and some hiking, so you need a shoe that gives you plenty of traction and support. With the increased interest, more trail running shoes have hit the market, giving women lots of choices.

Here are the best trail running shoes on the market to give you the comfort and confidence you need on your runs.

Best Overall: Salomon Speedcross 5W Trail Running Shoes

For a durable, high-performance trail runner that can handle rough terrain, it’s tough to beat Salomon’s Speedcross shoes. These lightweight shoes have plenty of cushioning and flexibility to keep you comfortable when you’re hitting the trails. The tough lug pattern on the rubber outsole provides exceptional grip and traction in all terrain or weather conditions.

Rugged and sturdy, these shoes feature a rubber toe cap and mudguard, as well as an anti-debris mesh upper to keep you protected from rocks, roots, and other obstacles. They come in women's sizes 5 to 12 and in wide or medium widths, as well as in a variety of colors.

Best Budget: Asics GEL-Venture 7 Women's Running Shoes

Asics GEL-Venture 7 Running Shoes

If you’re not a hard-core trail runner and don’t feel like splurging on a pair of shoes, there are some quality options that won’t break the bank but still offer excellent support, comfort, and durability. The Asics GEL-Venture running shoes provide stability and stable cushioning for neutral-arched or low-arched feet.

These versatile shoes feature Asics’ popular GEL cushioning system in the rearfoot and forefoot, which helps with shock absorption and allows for a smooth transition. With a rubber outsole and trail-specific lugs, they offer durability and traction for trail running or hiking, but also work well for road running or everyday wear.

Available in women’s sizes 5 to 12, the Venture shoes are an excellent, affordable option for trail running.

Best Cushioned: Brooks Caldera 4 Running Shoes

Brooks Caldera 4 Running Shoes

If you have a history of plantar fasciitis or other foot issues, you could benefit from the ample cushioning in the Brooks Caldera running shoes. The shoe’s BioMogo DNA midsole offers dynamic, energizing cushioning that adapts to your feet with every stride. With its sticky TrailTack rubber sole, the shoe provides exceptional traction on wet and dry trails.

The Caldera’s innovative upper and underfoot construction repels and drains water quickly, keeping you light on your feet. Available in women’s sizes 5 to 12, this durable, well-cushioned shoe is perfect for off-road adventures.

Best Lightweight: New Balance Women's Fresh Foam Arishi Trail V1 Running Shoes

New Balance’s Fresh Foam Arishi trail running shoe features their cutting-edge Fresh Foam cushioning for ultimate comfort and protection on the trails. The shoe’s high-energizing cushioning won’t weigh you down, as these shoes are extremely lightweight.

With an all-terrain tread outsole, the Arishi trail shoes work well on gravel paths, dirt trails, as well as on roads. Available in women’s sizes 5 to 12 and in medium or wide widths, they’re stylish enough to be worn casually, even when you’re not running or hiking.  

Best for Long Distance Running: Altra Footwear Lone Peak 4.5 Running Shoes

For distance running on trails, you need a sturdy, durable shoe that also has enough cushioning to keep you comfortable for long stretches. The versatile Altra Lone Peak trail runner is a great pick because it’s well-cushioned and suitable for hilly and technical terrain as well as asphalt and flat trails.

With a mesh, breathable upper, it keeps your feet cool and dry, no matter how many miles you’re running. The durable rubber outsole and the grippy lugs are designed for solid traction on all types of terrain and conditions.

Available in women’s sizes 5.5 to 12 and several color options, the Altra Lone Peak shoes are a good choice for avid trail runners and hikers.

Best Waterproof: Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R2 GTX Shoes

Conditions can change quickly when you’re trail running or hiking, and these Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R2 GTX trail running shoes keep you prepared for anything. The shoe’s GORE-TEX membrane ensures breathable, waterproof protection from the elements, while the rubber outsole and grippy lugs provide excellent traction for all types of terrain and conditions, including snow.

Adding to the shoe’s overall comfort is the lightweight EVA midsole and cushioned textile footbed. A bungee lace-up system allows for quick and easy adjustment and protection from debris on the trails. The Terrex Swift GTS comes in women’s sizes 6 to 12.

Best Splurge: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Trail Running Shoes

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 Trail Running Shoes

For exceptional comfort and protection, the Hoka One One Speedgoat trail runner doesn’t disappoint. With a symmetrical bed of cushion, these shoes provide a stable and comfortable base for tackling the trails. The shoe’s 3D printed overlays increase the midfoot support and lockdown for a more secure feel.

The breathable yet rugged mesh upper allows for some airflow while still keeping out trail debris. Available in women’s sizes 5 to 11 and in widths medium or wide, the Speedgoat costs a bit more than some other trail running shoes, but are worth every penny for their comfort and performance. 

Best for Road to Trail: New Balance Nitrel v4 Running Shoes

Another quality pick from New Balance, the Nitrel trail running shoes are ideal for runners who want a shoe that easily goes from roads to trails. The all-terrain tread provides versatile traction, making these shoes ready for anything.

The shoe’s high-energizing cushioning is lightweight yet still very responsive, so you get excellent performance and protection without a lot of bulk. They’re available in women’s sizes 5 to 12 and come in medium or wide widths, so they can accommodate foot inserts or custom orthotics.

Best for Overpronators: Asics GEL-Kahana 8 Running Shoes

If you need a stability running shoe that can easily go from roads to trails, check out the Asics GEL-Kahana running shoe. Durable and rugged, they feature Asics’ GEL Cushioning System for superb shock absorption, comfort, and performance. The shoe’s dual-density midsole system provides the stability and support you need, as well as protection from rocks and roots.

With a rubber outsole and reversed lugs, the Kahana delivers excellent grip and traction, keeping you steady regardless of the conditions. They’re available in women’s sizes 5 to 12.

Best for Wide Feet: New Balance Women's 510v4 Trail Running Shoe

New Balance shoes are known for accommodating wide feet and their 510 trail running shoe is an ideal choice for those who need some extra room. They’re wide and deep enough to fit orthotics or inserts if you need them in your shoes. Plus, there’s enough space for those who find that their feet swell during long, hot runs.

With New Balance’s plush Abzorb cushioning, a superior blend of foam cushioning and rubber, these shoes can help you go the distance in comfort. They’re available in women’s sizes 5 to 12 and in medium or wide widths.

Best for Narrow Feet: Merrell MTL Skyfire Trail Running Shoes

If you have narrow feet, it can be tough to find a shoe with a snug enough fit to leave you feeling confident on any terrain. The Merrell MTL Skyfire trail running shoe hugs your foot for a secure, stable fit and provides exceptional traction, even on rugged, rocky, or wet trails.

With a firm rockplate and slightly stiff EVA midsole, the shoe offers exceptional protection, stability, and responsiveness. The Skyfire’s molded TPU heel counter and internal sock-like bootie deliver additional stability and comfort, while the upper’s tear-resistant fabric enhances overall durability. They’re available in several attractive colors and in women’s sizes 5 to 11.

Best for High Arches: La Sportiva Bushido II Running Shoes

With an ideal balance of responsiveness, stability, and comfort, the La Sportiva Bushido trail running shoe is a great pick for runners with high arches. Ready to handle even the most technical terrain, they feature a rubber outsole and aggressive lug pattern to provide excellent traction across both wet and dry surfaces.

The shoe’s midsole construction allows for a responsive, springy ride while keeping your feet supported and comfortable through longer distances. Plus, the shoe has a breathable, durable upper that keeps your feet snug and locked in. These shoes come in women’s European sizes 36 to 42, which converts to about 5.5 to 10 in American sizes.

Final Verdict

With the features and performance you want in a trail running shoe, the Salomon Speedcross Trail Running Shoes earn their spot at the top of our list and are a solid choice for those looking for high-quality, dependable shoes. If you’re not ready to invest a lot in a pair of trail running shoes, the Asics GEL-Venture 7 Running Shoes are an affordable, versatile pick that can easily go from roads to trails.

What to Look For in Trail Running Shoes for Women

Cushioning:

Those who run long distances on trails or have had foot issues in the past will want more cushioning to counteract all the pounding on uneven ground and to provide support. Of course, a highly cushioned shoe will be heavier and bulkier. Runners who want to stay light and fast on the trails should look for shoes with lightweight cushioning.

Support:

Since running on trails involves a shorter, more varied stride, trail running shoes should be stiffer than regular running shoes to prevent excessive foot rotation. Look for a rigid outsole for protection and a firm toebox to push off of. “If you have ankle instability, a mid-rise or high-top running shoe is a good idea,” said podiatrist Ami A. Sheth, DPM, FACFAS.

Grip:

A high-grip rubber outsole with lugs will help you stay safe on slippery surfaces and wet conditions. “Something with a little more ‘teeth’ is helpful in maintaining your balance,” said Dr. Sheth.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a long-time running coach, marathon runner, and fitness writer, Christine Luff has researched, tested, and recommended many running shoes through the years. For trail running shoes, she suggests getting fitted for the right ones and sticking to reputable brands such as Asics, Brooks, Merrell, New Balance, Salomon, Adidas, and Hoka One One.

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