12 Best Women Natural Running Shoes for 2018

12 Best Women's Natural Running Shoes for 2018

Pssst. Hey, over here. Yeah, you with the worn-out running shoes. I know they’re your favorite shoes ever, and the fit is absolutely perfect. And yes, I know some corporate accountant decided to fiddle with the fit and the cushioning and the colors in the new version, and you can’t find another pair of the old kind anywhere. But your left big toe has worn a hole in the upper, the tread is so worn down you’re hydroplaning on rainy days, and your quads are complaining after every run. Time to face the facts: You need a new pair of running shoes. But if you’re unexpectedly or even unwillingly on the market for a pair of neutral trainers, I have some good news. There are a lot of great options out there, no matter how fast or how leisurely your pace. Keep reading for the full list of the best women’s neutral running shoes as decided by the votes of thousands of women runners.

Number 12

New Balance 1400 v6

New Balance 1400 v6

If racing 5Ks and 10Ks is your game, the New Balance 1400 is the clear favorite among the models on this list. At just 6.2 ounces in a women’s size 8, it’s a half ounce lighter than its nearest competitor. The 1400 v6 has the sole of a racing shoe, with a moderately cushioned heel that transitions to a firm forefoot. The 10 mm offset between heel and toe will be gentle on your calves during longer race efforts, giving the 1400 v6 fantastic versatility in a racing shoe. The 1400 v6 may even be the best women’s neutral running shoes for marathon runners with light frames and efficient strides.

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Number 11

Hoka One One Vanquish 3

Hoka One One Vanquish 3

Good things come in twos. In this case, it’s the Vanquish 3 and the Bondi 6 from Hoka One One. These highly popular trainers have become increasingly similar in recent models, but runners aren’t complaining about the similarity of these entries on the list of the best women’s running shoes. They both put an astounding 37 mm of luxurious cushion between your heel and the pavement, and almost as much (32-33 mm) under your toes. The Vanquish 3 will set you back a few dollars more, but it’s also slightly lighter in weight. Runners especially praise the Vanquish’s responsive and stable ride.

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Number 10

Hoka One One Bondi 6

Hoka One One Bondi 6

The Bondi 6 and the Vanquish 3 belong together on our list of best rated women’s running shoes, but despite their similarity, choosing one over the other doesn’t come down to a coin flip (or to saving $20). With an extra millimeter of sole in the forefoot, the Bondi 6 cushions the ball of your foot and your toes just slightly more than the Vanquish. Runners who are looking for unmatched cushion and protection from the concrete may prefer the Bondi 6.

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Number 9

Brooks Ghost 11

Brooks Ghost 11

Good things come in twos...again. The Ghost and the Glycerin from Brooks are two of the most popular neutral trainers in use today, and both enjoy a well-deserved reputation for perfect fit, quality materials, reliable cushion, and durability. The Ghost 11’s new DNA Loft midsole provides a springier but still stable ride, and at over an ounce lighter than the Glycerin, the Ghost is a better choice if you plan on running faster workouts. The Ghost is a perennial favorite for Runner’s World Editor’s Choice awards, and the Ghost 11 continues the tradition. If you need the best women’s running shoes, neutral feet will be happy in the Ghost 11.

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Number 8

Brooks Glycerin 16

Brooks Glycerin 16

If you’ve had to learn the hard way what your sesamoids are—or any other obscure component of your foot physiology—then you’ll know why the Glycerin 16 earns on spot in our neutral women’s running shoes review. The Glycerin is more expensive than the Ghost and an ounce heavier, but when your feet are hurting in places you didn’t know existed, those are minor concerns. The Glycerin has 32 mm of plush, luxurious cushion under the heel, rivaling even the maximalist Hoka models. So when you want you to be able to think about running instead of thinking about your sesamoids with every step, the extra ounce of premium cushion in the Glycerin may be just what you need.

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Number 7

Hoka One One Clifton 5

Hoka One One Clifton 5

With four models on this list whose average heel stack is 32 mm of impact-absorbing foam, it’s a safe bet that the best neutral cushioned running shoes for women are from Hoka. For several years now, the Clifton has been one of Hoka’s most popular shoes, and it’s earned a reputation for combining support and cushioning in a light-weight package. Earlier models were lighter and targeted at faster workouts or even racing, but the Clifton 5 is now more of a daily trainer. If you’re looking for Hoka’s signature cushion and a smooth ride but don’t need the bottomless padding of the Vanquish or Bondi, the Clifton is an excellent choice.

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Number 6

Saucony Freedom ISO 2

Saucony Freedom ISO 2

The models on the list so far break fairly neatly into daily trainers or racing shoes, but for Saucony, neutral running shoes like the Freedom ISO 2 target everything from easy running to all-out racing speed. With an aggressive 4 mm heel-toe offset and a full-length Everun sole for energetic bounce, the Freedom ISO 2 is ready to go as fast as you want to take it. But on easy days, the Freedom’s responsive cushioning will let you forget about the road.

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Number 5

Newton Gravity 7

Newton Gravity 7

The Newton Gravity 7 weighs nearly the same as the Clifton 5 and the Freedom ISO 2, putting it in the sweet spot for a daily trainer/uptempo crossover shoe. The Newton doesn’t just have the lighter weight, springy midsole, and efficient energy return that make a responsive uptempo trainer. The Gravity’s sole also transitions smoothly from a soft heel to a moderate forefoot (similar to Nike neutral running shoes like the LunarEpic) for a snappier toe-off and a faster ride.

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Number 4

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2

Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2

Speaking of Nike, runners have voted the LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2 as the best women’s Nike neutral running shoes. While the combination Lunarlon/Phylon sole is nearly as substantial as that of the Brooks Ghost, the material scientists at Nike have kept the LunarEpic a full ounce or more lighter than the Ghost or the uptempo crossover shoes from Hoka, Saucony, and Newton. Pair the standout sole with the form-fitting, no-slip comfort of the LunarEpic’sFlyknit upper, and you have an incredibly versatile trainer that’s ready for nearly anything.

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Number 3

Hoka One One Tracer 2

Hoka One One Tracer 2

The sturdier format of the Clifton 5 doesn’t leave Hoka without a racing shoe. If you need women’s running shoes for neutral-arch feet and like the Hoka feel, the Tracer 2 delivers Hoka cushion but in a format just a half-ounce heavier than the New Balance 1400. That gives you a lot of cushion under your feet for faster workouts and races, but without putting extra weight on your legs.

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Number 2

Brooks Levitate 2

Brooks Levitate 2

Brooks lands three models among the best-rated women’s running shoes, but its highest rated shoe isn’t one of its classic lines like the Ghost or the Glycerin. Instead, the Levitate 2 is all about bounce. The DNA AMP midsole material has outstanding energy return, so even with its plush, impact-absorbing landing, you get a return bounce on every step. At 8 mm, the heel-toe offset is also tuned slightly faster than Brooks’s traditional trainers. Caution: some runners report experiencing sudden acceleration andunexpected bouts of exhilaration.

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Number 1

Altra Escalante 1.5

Altra Escalante 1.5

Brooks and Hoka went head to head in the battle for the best women’s running shoes for neutral pronation, but honors for the top model go to Altra, an upstart running shoe company headquartered in Logan, Utah. Altra has been a pioneer of true zero-drop running shoes, and Altra’s EGO foam rivals Brooks’s DNA AMP and Saucony’s Everun for bounciness. The Escalante combines all of that in a lightweight package barely heavier than the Hoka Tracer and the New Balance 1400, converting thousands of runners to the zero-drop philosophy with an excellent blend of cushioning and responsiveness in a shoe for uptempo workouts and races.

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