TOP 19 Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes Reviewed 2020

Nothing makes you eat the trail like a decent pair of trail runners.

Maybe your current shoes are ready to be retired, or maybe you’ve been using road runners until now?

Either way, this list will make it a whole lot easier to find your next pair of trail running shoes.

Keep reading for the 19 best trail running shoes for women of 2020! Or skip to the bottom if you want some more guidance first.

TOP 19 Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes 2020

Dynafit Women's Alpine Pro

Review: This Alpine Pro trail running shoe has too much good stuff. The Alpine Pro has extreme grip thanks to the Vibram sole, as well as invisible laces, an 8mm drop and a rockered midsole that propels you forward.

My favorite feature?

The carbon shield in the midsole is your knight in shining armor, protecting you from jagged rocks and sticks that might penetrate the sole.

Pros

  • Carbon shield in the midsole protects feet from sharp objects.
  • Rubber heel and toe bumper take a beating so your feet don’t have to.
  • Stretchy mesh covers the laces keeping them secure and outta your way!

Cons

  • At the pricey end.

Takeaway

This will become your daily trail training shoe, and is my choice for the best women’s trail running shoes of 2020.

Salomon Women's Speedcross 4

Review: These highly cushioned stability shoes are a good choice for overpronators. They are designed for running on softer, more technical trail conditions, not jagged rocks or more rugged trails.

The lugs are 6mm, in a chevron shape, and far enough apart that they easily release mud and dirt while being able to really dig into soft terrain so you won’t slip.

They have a super strong quick lace that you can tuck away so it stays out of the way. And, they have a fine mesh cover which ventilates your feet without letting dirt, dust, and debris inside.

Pros

  • Excellent traction for muddy and soft terrain, loose gravel and dirt.
  • Quick Laces 4 times as strong as standard laces.
  • Very comfortable.

Cons

  • Run narrow – but wide sizes are available.

Takeaway

Best women’s trail running shoes for overpronators and soft trail terrain.

Merrell Women's Glove 4 Trail Runner

Review: These zero-drop, minimalist shoes keep your feet in touch with the ground and offer excellent feedback.

They are a great barefoot-style trail running shoe that provide just enough protection to cushion you against rocks and sharp parts of the trail, while still allowing you to connect with the ground and adopt a barefoot running style.

Pros

  • Roomy toe box for proper toe splay.
  • Flat, zero drop, allows for totally natural foot motion.
  • Vibram rubber sole is grippy and wears well.

Cons

  • Limited life in terms of durability.

Takeaway

Best women’s trail running shoes in a minimalist style.

Hoka One One Women's Challenger ATR 3

Review: The Hoka Challenger ATR3 is a good trail running shoe for supinators (under-pronators). Their pod-like 4mm lugs provide traction and support, and they are really well cushioned so you will not feel every root, rock or branch you hit as you fly down the trail.

My favorite feature?

They are designed with a meta rocker that rockets you forward as you run, so you feel light and bouncy as you move forward.

Pros

  • Great trail running shoe for supinators.
  • Meta rocker design, drives you forward.
  • Great arch support.

Cons

  • Mesh top is vulnerable to tearing.

Takeaway

Like running on clouds, these are the most comfortable women’s trail running shoes.

Altra Women's Lone Peak 3.5 Shoes

Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes are comfortable and have a really good grip. They also have “Stoneguard” underfoot protection, so you can run in rough terrain with peace of mind, drainage holes for letting out puddle water, and a gaiter trap to keep out stones and debris.

The Altras are light, have a stretchy outer that fits comfortably, and the mesh is very well ventilated so your feet really stay cool.

Pros

  • Maxtrac trailClaws Canted Sole lugs offer excellent traction.
  • Stoneguard protects your foot from rocky sharp terrain.
  • Drainage holes and gaiter traps.
  • Fit designed specifically for the female foot.
  • Well ventilated.

Cons

  • Fits wide.
  • Not at all water-resistant.

Takeaway

Great women’s trail running shoes for wide feet.

La Sportiva Women's Wildcat Trail Runners

Review: This neutral trail running shoe is well cushioned with aggressive traction. Ideal for rocky and technical conditions, you will love the support, stability and comfort you get from these La Sportiva wildcat running shoes.

Not only is the traction above par, but these shoes have a break system built into the outsole so you can stop quickly if you need to. The fine mesh uppers are also lightweight, breathable and effective at keeping debris out.

Pros

  • Lots of cushioning.
  • Stable, neutral running shoe.
  • FriXion AT sole for grip.
  • Impact Brake System built into sole.

Cons

  • None!

Takeaway

Best trail running shoes for ladies who like extra cushion.

Newton Women's BOCO Running Shoes

Review: The Newton BOCO trail running shoe is an excellent option for winter running, with great traction and a breathable but debris-proof mesh upper.

They weigh in at a scant 8.7 oz and have a low 3mm drop to keep things natural.

The multidirectional lugs give you traction on uneven trail surfaces, and the rubber bumper protects your toes from impact with rocks and other trail obstacles.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Roomy toe box.
  • Low heel to toe drop, close to the ground feel.
  • Action-reaction lugs return energy to every stride.
  • Lightweight and responsive.

Cons

  • Not suited to road running (in case you’re looking for versatility).

Takeaway

Light and responsive, excellent women’s trail running shoes.

Saucony Women's Xodus ISO 3 Sneakers

Review: Light, flexible and nimble are three words I would use to describe the Saucony Women’s Xodus ISO 3 trail running shoes.

These trail runners contain Saucony’s famous Everun midsole for comfort and great energy return.

These shoes also sport the Saucony PWRTRAC technology, a tacky rubber sole that resists wear and affords great traction.

Pros

  • Everun energy return midsole.
  • Sticky PWRTRAC outsole.
  • Trail-specific ISOfit upper with rubber melt overlay to keep dirt out.

Cons

  • The attached tongue makes it a little hard to put the shoe on.

Takeaway

Protective shoe with ample cushion and traction.

Nike Women's Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4

Review: The Nike Terra Kiger 4 is designed with trail running at its core. The flymesh upper is light and breathable, the lugs on the sole are large and made from sticky rubber to give you footing on the trail, and there is a rubber cap that covers the toe and protects your toes from rocks and other trail hazards.

Pros

  • Light breathable upper.
  • Zoom air midsole puts some bounce in your step.
  • Waffle lugs and sticky rubber give traction in wet conditions.

Cons

  • Runs a bit small.

Takeaway

Sturdy women’s trail running shoes, great for wet conditions.

These Zoom Air Kiger’s are perfect for the trail, but Nike also makes some great all-around running shoes.

If you are looking for everyday running shoes we have a specially curated list of the best running shoes for women here.

Columbia Women's Alpine FTG Sneakers

Review: These shoes, from hiking brand, Columbia, allow you to Feel The Ground (hence the name, FTG) beneath your feet, without cutting your foot on a rock, of course.

The lower half of the upper is enclosed in a TPU wrap to help keep out ground-level water while the rubber lugs provide excellent traction. The soles won’t protect you against really sharp rocks, but they’re well suited to softer, more technical trails.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Sticky 4mm rubber lugs.
  • Middle ground between cushioned and minimalist.
  • Great ground feel.

Cons

  • May not be enough protection for some people.

Takeaway

These trail runners are a little more waterproof than most, being a great option for wet runs.

Speaking of being all wet, don’t neglect hydration on the trail pick up a hydration pack and never lug around an awkward water bottle again.

Asics Women's Gel-Kahana 8 Trail Runner

Review: These Asics Gel-Kahana shoes have ample space in the toe box, a snug-fitting heel, and good support for runners with Plantar Fasciitis.

The shoe has a rearfoot gel pad in the midsole for comfortable cushioning, and a rubber sole made for the trail – so you stay secure and sure-footed on the trail.

Pros

  • Reversed lugs for traction both up and downhill.
  • Rearfoot gel absorbs shock.
  • Duomax support sole – good for Plantar Fasciitis.

Cons

  • Can be a little warm.

Takeaway

Best women’s trail running shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.

Altra Women's Superior 3.5 Sneakers

Review: These shoes are a popular choice with trail runners for a simple reason – they perform well on the trail.

These Superior 3.5 women’s trail running shoes are lightweight, wear well, and give you mountain goat like traction – no joke!

These shoes match the shape of a woman’s foot without chafing or causing blisters and have a nice roomy toe box for a good amount of toe splay.

Pros

  • Zero drop.
  • Well-cushioned shoe.
  • Large toe box.
  • Excellent traction.

Cons

  • Runs small.

Takeaway

These women’s trail running shoes have great traction on the trail.

La Sportiva Women's Bushido II

Review: The La Sportiva Bushido II women’s trail running shoes are great for running in sharp, rocky terrain thanks to the dense EVA midsole layer that protects your feet from rocks and roots.

In addition to protection, they have great traction too. They are well suited to scrambling, and tough, technical terrain.

Pros

  • Breathable and comfortable stretch mesh upper.
  • Impenetrable rock guard shield underfoot.
  • Tacky rubber outsole affords an excellent grip.

Cons

  • Runs a little small.

Takeaway

The best trail running shoes for women for 2020, for rocky and technical terrain.

Nike Women's Air Max Zoom Wildhorse 5

Review: This Nike trail running shoe is the 5th iteration of the Wildhorse line. This version is snugger up front, and a little lighter too.

Paired with the zoom technology that puts a bounce in your trot as you take on the trail, and a rock shield that ensures you are not stopped in your tracks by a rock or twig underfoot, they are a lightweight and fast trail shoe.

Pros

  • Rock shield prevents pain from stepping on wayward rocks and roots.
  • Zoom air technology will have you flying down the trail.
  • TPU meld overlays keep sand and dirt out.

Cons

  • This shoe is tighter than other versions. Good for narrow feet.

Takeaway

Best trail runner for narrow feet and people looking for a fast ride.

Adidas Women's Terrex Tracerocker

Review: The Adidas Terrex Tracerocker’s standout feature is the fact that they are engineered specifically for a woman’s foot.

They also have sticky, multi-directional traction so you can stop on a dime and maintain your footing in precarious terrain. In addition to that, they are breathable and very comfortable.

Pros

  • Traxion multi-directional super sticky grip.
  • Comfortable and breathable mesh upper.
  • Made, ergonomically, to fit a woman’s foot.

Cons

  • The insole may feel a little hard.

Takeaway

Women’s trail running shoes with the best grip.

Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Aero Shoes

Review: Go all out with these Merrell All Out Blaze trail running shoes. These shoes are designed to dry quickly in wet conditions.

Merrell shoes are known for being comfortable, durable and having great traction. They are also extremely breathable and ventilated, allowing heat and moisture to escape so you stay comfortable.

Plus the shoe is designed with M Fresh Technology to prevent bacteria, germs, and odor from creeping up. Gross, I know, but good to know if you are trail running in wet conditions. Right?

Pros

  • Super-fast drying and lightweight.
  • M Fresh Technology prevents odor and bacteria growth.
  • Unifly midsole protects from rocks and other trail hazards.

Cons

  • Not very padded – but that allows them to dry faster.

Takeaway

If you run in wet conditions like crossing creeks & wet grass, these are for you!

La Sportiva Women's Mutant Backcountry

Review: OK, these mutant shoes do look like they are from another planet, but I think they look pretty darn cool.

The heel loop and the Spyraltongue lace guard/hiding place contribute to the unique look.

The FriXion XF sole allows you to stop and start or change direction without losing traction, and the impact brake system helps you stop on a dime.

I’d say these shoes are out of this world!

Pros

  • FriXion XF sole for max traction.
  • Fashion-forward look.
  • Hidden laces.
  • Incredibly lightweight.

Cons

  • Narrow in the toe box, better for narrow feet.

Takeaway

This is one mutant you will want to keep in your closet. Fantastic trail running shoes.

New Balance Women's WT10v1 Minimus

Review: This very popular minimalist shoe is a good choice if you want to hit the trails and feel the ground beneath your feet.

The tactile feedback is sensational, while the lightweight foam, midsole wrap, and Vibram rubber outsole make sure the run is not a painful one if you are running over rocks and other trail debris.

The Vibram sole is engineered with flex grooves to allow your foot to move naturally and give you the traction you would have running barefoot.

Pros

  • Vibram rubber outsole, flexible with superior traction.
  • Foam midsole wrap for protection and comfort.
  • Minimalist barefoot style.

Cons

  • Runs small.
  • Can feel rocks and pebbles underfoot.

Takeaway

An excellent minimalist style women’s trail running shoe.

If you’re interested in more minimalist options, check out this article.

Inov-8 Women's Roclite 290 Trail Runner

Review: The energy-returning Powerflow midsole and graphene rubber grip soles will have you digging these women’s trail running shoes. The tread digs into any terrain giving you unbeatable grip in mud, rocky gravel or even hard-packed trails.

The shoe is flexible and well-cushioned, for ladies who want a little support from their trail runners.

Pros

  • Graphene grip helps you get traction on wet or rocky terrain.
  • Powerflow energy returning cushioned midsole.
  • 4 mm drop, natural stride.

Cons

  • Runs small.

Takeaway

Good traction, ample flexibility and plenty of cushion. One of the best trail running shoes for women out there.

Best Trail Running Shoes for Women – a Quick Buyers Guide

Trail running shoes get put under different pressures compared to road running shoes.

So, it follows that they should have different traits that are important when making your selection.

The main things you want in a good trail running shoe are durability, traction, breathability, drainage, and protection from sharp objects on the trail.

close up of an women's feet wearing trail running shoes on rocky terrain trail

Durability

This probably goes without saying, but durability is really important for trail shoes.

The soles themselves don’t need to be too much harder wearing than road shoes because trail surfaces actually create less friction between the sole and the ground.

But the overall construction and strength of the upper needs to be tougher as running over uneven terrain puts more stress on the shoe as a whole.

Traction

This is another factor that is probably pretty obvious, but there are different kinds of traction to think about.

Some trail shoes come with pretty deep lugs which makes them better suited to softer, muddier trail surfaces.

Other shoes have smaller lugs and more of a grippy rubber focus so they’re well suited to rock scrambling and harder surfaces.

Think about what kind of trail running you’ll be doing and also whether you want your shoe to be able to handle a little bit of asphalt on the side.

If you are looking for a shoe that will handle both trail and road, have a look at our list of the best running shoes for women – you might find more suitable hybrid options there.

Breathability/Drainage

Highly rated trail running shoes should have plenty of fine mesh through the uppers so that your feet can stay cool and ventilated, sand and debris can be kept out, and if you run through a creek or a puddle, they’ll drain and dry out quickly.

Waterproof shoes are less useful on the trail as your feet will more likely get hot, and unless you’re pairing your shoes with gaiters, water will easily enter the cuffs of your shoes anyway and then won’t be able to get out.

If trail running gaiters are something you think you might be interested in, check out our list of the best trail running gaiters before you start your search.

fitness woman runner trail running

Protection

This is a little more of a preference thing. Protection from rough trail terrain is a compromise against ground feel. The more protected you are, the less you’re in touch with the ground.

If you’re a fan of minimalist style shoes, ground feel will be a priority but you have to be more careful to avoid sharp objects in your path.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a pair of work-horses that will keep your feet safe and snug, you’ll be well-protected but sacrifice ground-feel.

General Factors

Then, of course, there are more general factors that apply to all running shoes, but that are still really important.

How much cushioning do you like? How wide are your feet? What kind of support do you need?

If you’re used to running in shoes with arch support, your trail shoes should be no different. There are some great stability trail shoes on this list, but if you’re interested in more, we have a list of the best trail running shoes for flat feet that will definitely shorten your search.

Bearing all these factors in mind, you should have no trouble picking a great trail running shoe that fulfills your requirements.

FAQ

woman trail runner running with hydration backpack

What is the Best Trail Running Shoe for Women?

There is no single best trail running shoe for women. The best trail running shoe for you is the model that best fits your feet, matches your support (or lack of) and drop requirements, and matches the kind of trail running you’ll be doing.

All of the shoes on the list above are excellent options.

Do I Really Need Trail Running Shoes?

No one is going to force you to exclusively wear trail running shoes on the trail.

However, if you use your road running shoes, the traction likely won’t be as good and they’ll probably wear out faster.

Can I Use Trail Running Shoes on Road?

This depends on the kind of trail running shoe. Some trail shoes can be used on the road a bit, but most tend to be a little too stiff and firm to be comfortable when road running.

You may also find that if your shoes have really aggressive tread with deep lugs, they won’t be comfortable on the road.

What is the Difference Between Road Running Shoes and Trail Running Shoes?

Trail running shoes are designed for running on trails so they tend to be more durable, a little stiffer, a little heavier, and with better traction.

Road running shoes are designed for fast runs with minimal terrain change or obstacles so they can afford to be lighter and less durable, but also tend to have slightly softer cushioning.

Are Trail Running Shoes Good for Walking?

Trail running shoes are great for walking. But, in all honesty, walking shoes don’t need to be as technical as running shoes so you could save yourself some money by just buying walking shoes.

When Should I Replace My Trail Running Shoes?

The general consensus is to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles (don’t know how many miles you’ve run? Maybe you need a trail running watch!) depending on how worn out they are. Road running shoes that need to be replaced are easier to spot because the soles will be worn out.

In trail running shoes this won’t be as obvious so it pays to be in touch with your body so you can feel when you’re not quite getting the cushioning or support you need.

I can usually tell when my shoes need replacing as my knees start to get a little uncomfortable after long runs.

Well, ladies, it seems we have reached the end of the trail.

This wraps up the best women’s trail running shoes quick guide.

Hopefully, this list of the 19 best trail running shoes for women contains your perfect pair.

Now all you need is to find a pair of women’s running shorts that don’t chafe or give you a wedgie.

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