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Best Trail Running Shoes for Women – Our Top 7 Picks

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women – Our Top 7 Picks

We’ll dive right into our list of best trail running shoes for women. Once you’ve had a chance to browse our picks, take some time to read on below for our tips on finding the right fit and appropriate features for your own specific type of trail running.

Here you go…

1. Salomon Speedcross 5

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women salomon

  • Shoe Type: technical
  • Weight: 9.9 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 9.9mm (33mm heel, 24mm forefoot)
  • Use: training and trail racing

Pros: This Speedcross style is built for training, racing, and adventuring. It has great traction for soft, sloppy, and wet surfaces and for technical rocky terrain. This shoe has slightly larger outsole, which provide for improved fit and flexibility. Its deeper heel allows for more rearfoot stability and better heel-toe transitions.

Cons: The laces are a quick-lace system. Some people are less fond of this type of lacing for several reasons. The lace is a non-forgiving wire-like material that can cause pressure points over the foot if not properly laced.

With a quick-lace system, it is more difficult to tighten or loosen specific areas on the shoe. It also requires some time to work the laces tight, from toe to ankle. Additionally, the extra lace material is difficult to tuck back into the shoe comfortably and does not stay in place indefinitely while you run, requiring constant readjustments and re-placements.

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2. La Sportiva – Bushido II

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women la sportiva

  • Shoe Type: technical
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (19mm heel, 13mm forefoot)
  • Use: training and trail running

Pros: The Bushido II provides a great combination of cushion, stability, traction, protection, and responsiveness. It is a great shoe for moderate to technical terrain. It has a flexible rock plate in the semi-firm midsole, an enhanced frame, and versatile traction on the outsole lugs that wrap the midsole to provide extra traction and stability.

Cons: La Sportiva generally runs smaller and fits about a ½ size smaller than most other brands.

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3. Saucony – Peregrine ISO

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women saucony

  • Shoe Type: all-terrain
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (25mm heel, 21mm forefoot)
  • Use: training and trail running

Pros: The Peregrine ISO is best for trail and grass. It has a neutral pronation and a normal arch support. Its ISOFIT construction adapts to the foot across all terrain types. It is well known for its cushioning, durability, and traction. This shoe also comes in different widths, better for accommodating more foot types.

Cons: It is not water resistant, which may pose limits to some types of trail running terrain.

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4. Hoka One One – Torrent

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women hoka one one

  • Shoe Type: technical
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (29.2mm heel, 22.7mm forefoot)
  • Use: trail races and all-terrain speed

Pros: Hoka One One is known for being a very cushioned shoe while still providing productive agility. The Torrent model has slightly less foam than other Hoka models. It has a lightweight midsole and provides a gentle landing and a responsive toe-off. The mesh construction is breathable, quick drying, and supportive.

This shoe has a wider design and is great for runners who have wider feet. It is stiff and a comparable trail running shoe. The foam used in the cushioning of the shoe is called Profly. Profly is softer at the heel and firmer through the forefoot. It helps to dampen the shock upon each strike and to propel you forward with each push.

Cons: The heel is high and may pose a threat to those who are susceptible to rolling their ankles.

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5. Altra – Superior 4

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women altra

  • Shoe Type: less technical and minimalist
  • Weight: 6.6 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm
  • Use: off-road runs, minimalists thru-hikes, lightweight day treks

Pros: The Superior 4 is a favorite among the wide footed runners. It has zero drop and minimal cushioning, providing for a more barefoot running experience. It is lightweight and is deemed a great minimalist thru-hiker shoe. It has a rock plate to provide extra protection.

Cons: The lack of cushion can cause discomfort for those not used to it. It has a thin sole and which can irritate those with sensitive feet.

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6. Brooks – Cascadia 13

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women brooks

  • Shoe Type: trail running
  • Weight: 10.6 (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (31.2mm heel, 21.6 forefoot)
  • Use: dry trail running

Pros: The Cascadia 13 has a neutral moderate support with a medium to high arch. It comes in a Gore-Tex version, which is waterproof and breathable. It is a stiffer shoe with firm cushioning.

Cons: This shoe is best for dry trails. It is slippery when running on wet surfaces or while running in the rain. It also has a more narrow toe box than some of our other suggestions.

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7. On – Cloudventure

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women cloudventure

  • Shoe Type: technical
  • Weight: 8.9 ounces (women’s size 7)
  • Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (29.5mm heel, 20.2mm forefoot)
  • Use: training, trail, and long-runs

Pros: The Cloudventure is firm but manages to keep its flexibility. It has very good traction on dry trails. The offsets are higher than most other trail running shoes. The mesh on the shoe is a two-layer mesh with water-repellant treatment and it provides for ventilation.

Cons: The shoes squeak when they get wet.

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Tips On Choosing The Right Fit and Features

Now, on to our thoughts on getting the best fit and deciding on appropriate features…

Trail running shoes are built for running on craggy, off-camber mountain terrain. Trail running shoes are light, flexible, and allow for amendable running on dirt or gravel and over roots and rocks.

They are built to be worn on various terrain elements, not just on paved roads. Trail running shoes require a harder shoe sole, protective toe caps, and they need to be breathable but durable. The more advanced shoes will have a rock plate embedded in the shoe sole to add extra protection along the trail.

Proper Fit

Each shoe brand has multiple designs that fit a variety of different types of feet. The best shoe on the market is the shoe that fits your foot the best.

When fitting trail running shoes, it is advisable to have extra space throughout the shoe. You should have an extra ½ size fit in the toe box (make sure you can wiggle your toes) to provide space for running downhill. If the shoe fits too tight, it will cause pressure on the toes and lead to pain while running. Feet change with weight, height, age, and even by hour.

Account for any conditions such as bunions or hammer toes, which may require a wider forefoot shoe design. Additionally, constant activity, especially on those longer runs, will cause feet to naturally swell. Having a looser fit in the shoe will ensure that your feet will be happy throughout your run.

The best advice is to get fitted. Visit a running retailer store and have a sales associate watch you run. They will properly fit the shoe to your height, weight, stride, running posture, foot strike, and trail running style. Store associates can help you determine your running mechanics and explain where your wear patterns are on your shoes – whether natural pronation, over-pronation, or supination (under-pronation).

Some stores will record your feet while you run on a tread mill and then replay it back to you in slow motion, going over your movement. This is a unique experience as it helps you to understand why they suggestion certain shoes over others.

Remember, while some colors are cooler than others, the right shoe is going to be the one that works best with your feet. Take the time to walk around the store or run up and down the block to test the shoe out before making the purchase. This will help to pinpoint any pressure points or discomfort the shoe fit may have on your feet.


Trail running shoes have excellent traction on the outsole. Lugs, which makes up the bottom of the shoe’s traction, are made out of a rubber. A softer rubber will have better traction in wet conditions or along damper ground but it will wear out faster. A harder rubber holds its grip on dry grounds and lasts longer but can be slippery on wet surfaces.

The lugs are arranged in an array of directions on the sole of the shoe and are a variety of shapes and sizes to provide for the best traction.


Trail shoes are made to be flexible while maintaining durability and stability. Shoes are designed so that the formation of traction does not hinder the overall flex of the shoe.


Although an attractive feature, lightweight may not be the best fit. Heavier shoes with greater traction are better equipped for snow, mud, and inclines while lighter shoes tend to have less traction overall but are more efficient for racing.

Decide what type of running style you most prefer and then buy shoes with features that best suit it. There may be trade offs like the more foot protection you seek in a shoe, the heavier it may be. For example, a shoe that has rock plates and is waterproof will add weight but will allow for longer and more comfortable runs.

Rock Plates

Rock plates are inserted into the shoes’ outsole to provide more protection from terrain features like sharp rocks and sticks. The plates may be a thin and flexible foam or a stiffer shank. And not all shoes even have rock plates.

Also read: What Is A Rock Plate In Trail Running Shoes?

Heel-Toe Offset

Heel-toe offset, or the heel-toe drop, is the drop of the shoe from the heel to toe. The difference between the heel height and the tow height is typically between 0mm and 12mm (close to a ½ inch). The purpose is its effect on how the foot strikes the ground when it lands. A lower heel-to-toe drop (0-8mm) promotes a forefoot or mid-foot strike.

A high-drop shoe (10-12mm) promotes a heel striker. A higher heel drop will have better cushioning for the heal but may cause the foot to push forward against the front toe box on declines. A lower heel drop provides for a comfortable mid-foot or forefoot strike.

Cushioning Widths

No cushioning, also known as barefoot, has a more natural running experience. You can feel every rock, stick, and root under foot. With a minimal amount of cushioning, you can still feel the trail features beneath your foot, but also have some midsole cushioning for protection. A medium amount of cushioning gives stability and protection, but less feel for terrain obstacles under foot.

The maximum amount of cushioning provides for complete protection from the terrain features but has the risk of affecting the efficiency of running because the ground is not easily felt.


Read Next: 

15 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

33 Must Watch Documentaries For Trail Runners

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