Trail running shoes are designed to help you tackle rough and rugged terrain in all kinds of weather.
In addition to providing excellent traction, they should offer stability and support for a comfortable run on uneven trails.
Finding the best women’s trail running shoes to fit your needs isn’t always easy. There are heaps of designs on the market, so choosing a pair capable of dealing with a variety of outdoor conditions can be tough.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 8 best trail running shoes for women, chosen for their durability and comfort in any terrain.
But first, let’s take a look at the factors to consider when choosing the perfect pair of shoes for off-road running.
What to Look for in Trail Running Shoes
You may think that waterproofing is essential in trail running shoes, but that’s not necessarily the case.
One problem is that running shoes can never be truly waterproof – there is always the chance of water running down your legs and seeping in around the ankles.
The other issue is that waterproof shoes are not always very breathable. That means that they can feel very heavy if water does leak in – and may take ages to dry.
Nevertheless, some trail runners find waterproof shoes invaluable in preventing blisters from damp socks. Others prefer the fact that non-waterproof shoes drain easily and dry quickly. So it really is a matter of personal choice!
Other things to think about include the following:
Look for a shoe with cushioning to support the shape of your foot and enough room for your toes to spread a little.
Your feet may swell with long-distance trail running, so consider buying running shoes at least half a size larger than your regular footwear.
Think about the thickness of your socks, too, and whether you plan to use aftermarket insoles. Make sure that your shoes can accommodate these.
When running off-road, you are likely to encounter everything from loose rocks to gnarly roots – all of which can be tough on your footwear.
For longevity, choose shoes that offer nylon or rubber reinforcements around the upper, toe box, and heel.
The best trail running shoes for women tend to be designed for specific types of terrain, so think about whether you’ll be doing most of your running on flat woodland trails or steep rocky paths.
This will influence the types of lugs you need – the spikes on the outside of the shoe that give you traction.
For everyday trail running, short lugs – around 2 to 4 mm – will be fine, providing the grip you need along with plenty of flexibility.
If you regularly run on steep or muddy trails, then look for shoes with longer lugs of 5 mm or more.
Whilst they will give you some extra grip, they are likely to feel more rigid. So that’s something to bear in mind when making your choice.
The 8 best Trail Running Shoes for Women in 2022
#1. ALTRA Women’s Lone Peak 6
– MaxTrac outsole, Altra EGO midsoles for a soft ride, and canted lugs for extra grip
– Provides a natural fit
With their unique FootShape design, these are the best trail running shoes for women who prefer a spacious toe box.
This technology, coupled with the wide-lacing system, allows you to move naturally and comfortably, even downhill or over long distances.
The traction provided by the multi-directional TrailClaw lug pattern is superb.
Meanwhile, the balanced cushioning and zero heel-to-toe drop encourages better alignment and takes the impact out of your landings, although this won’t be ideal if you have a tendency to heel strike.
The uppers are not waterproof but are made from a reinforced lightweight mesh. This is breathable on hot days and dries quickly should you get caught in a downpour.
#2. New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam X Hierro V7
– Lightweight, wide forefoot base, and a grippy Vibram outsole
– Best choice if you’re new to trail running
The latest iteration of New Balance’s Hierro is around 20% lighter than its predecessors, making it ideal for extended runs and great for beginners.
It feels incredibly comfortable, with the wide forefoot base and supportive midsole providing the stability you need for even the sharpest turns.
The reinforced toe box protects your toes from debris on the trail and gives you plenty of wiggle room, although we did notice a slight lack of cushioning in the forefoot.
The traction is great, enhanced by the updated lug pattern on the Vibram outsole.
The tongue is gusseted – attached to the side of the shoe – so it stays firmly in place as you run. We also like the padded upper, although it may feel a little warm on hot summer days.
#3. Saucony Women’s Peregrine 12 Sneaker
– Improved rock plate for protection, lightweight, and with PWRTRAC rubber on the sole
– Best choice for superior traction
The latest edition of the Peregrine performs well on all types of terrain, from muddy trails to rocky mountain paths.
The 5mm PwrTrac rubber lugs are well patterned and allow you to run with confidence, whilst the Pwrrun cushioned midsole makes them feel both comfortable and secure.
These shoes look sleek, although the fit will likely be too narrow for wide-footed runners.
The support base is also fairly streamlined, so it will offer better stability if you have a narrow foot.
The uppers are made with a breathable Airmesh that uses recycled materials. If you’re looking for a waterproof version, check out the Peregrine 12 Gore Tex Running Shoe instead.
#4. Joomra Women’s Trail Running Barefoot Shoes
– Zero drop, wide toe box, and a thicker topline for a snug fit
– Best minimalist trail running shoe
If you want to emulate the experience of walking barefoot but with protection and grip in rough terrain, Joomra’s shoes are a great option.
The rubber soles provide traction and durability whilst running or climbing, with drainage ports at the bottom to keep your feet comfortable in all conditions.
Extremely lightweight and breathable, the shoe is designed to fit the contours of your foot – a feeling Joomra compares to wearing a glove for your foot!
These are no-tie shoes that you simply slip on and off and secure with a drawstring and Velcro.
They feature a reflective strip on the heel for visibility at night and removable insoles for arch support.
#5. Brooks Caldera 5
– Adaptable grip, superior cushioning, and gaiter attachments at the front and back
– Built for long-distance trail running
This is a shoe that will keep you well-protected and comfortable over miles of unpredictable terrain.
The high stack and mudguard help keep out debris, and the option to add gaiters is useful. Meanwhile, the tough outsole runs all the way to the tip of the TPU toe cap for complete coverage.
The upper is made from engineered mesh for added protection and durability. However, this does feel stiff at first and needs a bit of breaking in.
The traction is superb, with the TrailTack rubber outsole and lug pattern coping well with either uphill or downhill runs on wet or dry surfaces.
The BioMoGo DNA midsole is designed to adapt to a range of factors, including your weight, stride, speed, and terrain. The result is excellent stability throughout your runs.
#6. Topo Athletic Women’s Ultraventure Pro
– Rear gaiter attachments, 5mm heel drop, and balanced cushioning
– Designed for harsh and rugged terrain
Designed specifically for rough and rocky trails, the Ultraventure Pro is equipped with a protective rock plate, grippy Vibram outsole, and canted lugs.
Obstacles like tree roots and debris are easily dealt with thanks to the external TPU heel counter that provides the ankle stability you need for sharp turns and lateral movement.
The toe box is roomy and there is plenty of underfoot cushioning to keep you comfortable.
The multilayered mesh upper does a good job of keeping out sand and other fine particles. It’s water-resistant, too – although not waterproof – and dries quickly.
#7. Salomon Women’s Speedcross 5
– Standard width, stable heels, and a completely welded upper
– Great in muddy or snowy conditions
Salomon’s Speedcross series uses the company’s proprietary Contagrip Mud Sole Unit. This sets it apart from the rest in wet and wintry weather.
The lug pattern is similar to that you’d see on a tractor tire, with wide channels between the pronounced lugs to clear mud with every stride.
Meanwhile, the tread compound is soft, giving you a better grip on slippery surfaces or in soft snow.
The upper features an anti-debris mesh to keep out loose dirt, whilst the fit is snug and secure.
This is thanks to the support from the SensiFit™ technology combined with Salomon’s Quicklace™ one pull lacing system.
#8. La Sportiva Womens Bushido II
– Mesh upper reinforced with microfiber overlays, with stability features for mild overpronation
– Most durable option for rugged trails
With a rubber toe cap to protect you against unexpected rocks or roots and a particularly tough sole, this is a shoe that will see you through many miles of off-road running.
Highly responsive and providing a moderately cushioned ride, the Bushido II also has a rock plate to protect against debris underfoot.
The outsole provides incredible grip on both wet and dry surfaces and the fit is snug, with a lightly padded rubber tongue that sits comfortably around the contours of your ankle.
Shoes from La Sportiva tend to run narrow, and this one is no exception. You get a lot more length options than with other brands, but the sizes still seem to come up small. If in doubt, we’d recommend sizing up by a half size.
The best Trail Running Shoes for Women: Key Takeaways
The best women’s trail running shoe for you will depend very much on where you do most of your running.
Tough trails will need a tough shoe like Topo Athletic’s Ultraventure Pro, whereas a great all-rounder like New Balance’s Hierro V7 might be a better choice for less demanding runs.
And if you enjoy running off-road as a family, be sure to check out the 6 Best Trail Running Shoes for Kids.
How to Stop Blisters from Ruining Your Runs
Blisters are painful, and almost all runners experience them at one time or another. But there are steps you can take to stop them from forming and ways to deal with them during your run.
Find out more in our article: Blisters For Runners – How To Prevent And Treat Them!