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.
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!
At the pricey end.
This will become your daily trail training shoe, and is my choice for the best women’s trail running shoes of 2023.
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.
Roomy toe box for proper toe splay.
Flat, zero drop, allows for totally natural foot motion.
Vibram rubber sole is grippy and wears well.
Limited life in terms of durability.
Best women’s trail running shoes in a minimalist style.
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.
Great trail running shoe for supinators.
Meta rocker design, drives you forward.
Great arch support.
Mesh top is vulnerable to tearing.
Like running on clouds, these are the most comfortable women’s trail running 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.
Maxtrac trailClaws Canted Sole lugs offer excellent traction.
Stoneguard protects your foot from rocky sharp terrain.
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.
Lots of cushioning.
Stable, neutral running shoe.
FriXion AT sole for grip.
Impact Brake System built into sole.
Best trail running shoes for ladies who like extra cushion.
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.
Light breathable upper.
Zoom air midsole puts some bounce in your step.
Waffle lugs and sticky rubber give traction in wet conditions.
Runs a bit small.
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.
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.
Sticky 4mm rubber lugs.
Middle ground between cushioned and minimalist.
Great ground feel.
May not be enough protection for some people.
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.
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.
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.
This shoe is tighter than other versions. Good for narrow feet.
Best trail runner for narrow feet and people looking for a fast ride.
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.
Graphene grip helps you get traction on wet or rocky terrain.
Powerflow energy returning cushioned midsole.
4 mm drop, natural stride.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.