12 Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes for 2018

12 Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes for 2018

Shoes for trail running are as diverse as the trails themselves. Your favorite trail might be a loop around the local park, or a 50-mile wilderness circuit with a 14,000-foot peak at the midpoint. So our list of the best women’s trail running shoes is just as diverse, but survey responses from over 11,000 runners will help you choose a trail shoe to match any run, no matter how ambitious or leisurely the pace, or how well-groomed or rugged the terrain might be.

Number 12

Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4

Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4

Shoes for mountain trails tend to be bulkier and heavier than shoes for road running. Another company with a maximalist approach to cushioning might have created a truly monstrous trail running shoe, but since this is Hoka we’re talking about, the Stinson ATR 4 weighs barely more than other companies’ regular trainers. The Stinson is ready to take on some monster trails though. Hoka’s most supportive shoe puts nearly 4 centimeters of cushioned protection between your feet and the worst the wilderness can throw at you. If an ultramarathon over mountain trails sounds like a fun weekend for you, then you might find the Stinson ATR 4 is one of the best trail shoes for women.

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Number 11

Brooks Caldera 2

Brooks Caldera 2

When they lace up their trail shoes, women are not only looking for a leisurely jog in the woods. Hoka and Brooks each place two entries on this list, and for both companies, one model is more rugged (like the Stinson) while the other is tuned for faster running. The Caldera 2 is Brooks’s faster model. It has a lugged outsole for traction over varying surfaces and technical trail, but it foregoes a rock plate and instead protects your feet with 28 mm of heel cushioning. If your goals for your next trail run include kicking down your cross-valley rival, you’ll appreciate the weight savings, as well as the aggressive 4 mm heel-toe offset and the high energy return of Brooks’sBioMoGo DNA midsole material.

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Number 10

Altra Paradigm 4.0

Altra Paradigm 4.0

Welcome to the Altra show, also known as the best trail running shoes for women, 2018 edition. Just like track racing is part of the Nike tradition and fashion design is in Adidas’s DNA, Altra designs trail shoes even when it’s not trying to. When runners choose their favorite shoes for running trails, fully half of the top ten models are from Altra, including shoes not specifically designed for trail running. With the Paradigm 4.0, Altra only thought it was creating its most cushioned zero-drop trainer for road running. But 31 mm of cushion from heel to toe also do a fantastic job of protecting your feet from hazards underfoot so that you can run to the trailhead, and then keep going in your Paradigms.

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Number 9

Altra Lone Peak 3.5

Altra Lone Peak 3.5

Of course, when Altra puts its mind to it, it can also create an excellent trail shoe by design. The Lone Peak 3.5 is a moderately cushioned trail shoe that’s ready to take on any surface for any distance. Think of running through the wide streets near Altra’s headquarters in Logan, Utah, into the forested slopes of the Bear River Mountains, and then onto the rocky trails up to Logan Peak. It’s all in a day’s work for the Lone Peak 3.5.

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Number 8

Brooks Cascadia 13

Brooks Cascadia 13

If you’re looking for Asics trail shoes, your best option on this list might actually be from Brooks, since the Asics trail models didn’t make the top 12. If you like the traditional 10 mm offset and excellent stability of the GT 2000, the Cascadia 13 offers trail runners a smooth and stable ride, and its lugged outsole offers reliable traction over varying terrain. While Brooks’s Caldera reduces weight wherever possible, the Cascadia’s sole includes a rock plate to keep your toes out of harm’s way.

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Number 7

Salomon X Mission 3

Salomon X Mission 3

The other shoes on this list are from running shoe companies that also make trail shoes, but the X Mission 3 is from a mountain company that also makes running shoes. Salomon has nearly 70 years of experience with travel over ice and snow, and the X Mission is outfitted with lugs and multi-density tread to keep your feet anchored to the road, trail, dirt, rock, snow, ice, or some indescribable mixture of all of the above. With a shape designed especially for women’s feet and materials to wick away moisture, the X Missions may be the best women’s waterproof running shoes.

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Number 6

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4

With the Challenger ATR 4, weighing just 8 ounces in a women’s size 8, we now turn to the lighter side of our list. Like the Cascadia and Caldera from Brooks, Hoka’s Stinson and Challenger form a trail-running duo, with the Challenger being the fleeter of the two. Although it’s a whopping 2.5 ounces lighter than the rugged Stinson, the Challenger still provides a grippy sole for off-road versatility and an extended toe-cap to protect your foot from lurking dangers—not to mention the protection of 31 mm of cushion under your heel.

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Number 5

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4

Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4

Nike’s Terra Kiger 4 weighs in just a tenth of an ounce less than the Challenger, but it’s a very different kind of trail shoe. The flexible and responsive sole with an integrated Air unit in the heel is similar to Nike’s road shoes, and the Flymesh upper with Flywire cables is nearly identical to the system used on recent Pegasus models. On fire roads and maintained trails, the Terra Kiger is prepped for flight.

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Number 4

Altra One V3

Altra One V3

If the Terra Kiger sounds like a good choice for a trail race, the Altra One presents a more radical option. At just 6.7 ounces and with a firm sole, the One is designed as a performance shoe for intense workouts and road races from 5K on up. But runners have decided that feeling light and fast on your feet is a perfect match for their trail running as well.

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Number 3

Altra Intuition 4.5

Altra Intuition 4.5

Altra understands that men’s and women’s feet tend to have somewhat different structural needs, and the Intuition 4.5 is built specifically for women (the equivalent model for men is the Instinct 4.5). Fans of Altra’s zero-drop soles and roomy toe boxes especially like the versatility of the Intuition, which does well on any surface and at any speed—which makes them great ladies’ trail running shoes in the eyes of a lot of Altra fans.

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Number 2

Altra Superior 3.5

Altra Superior 3.5

For trail runners, a key difference between routes is how “technical” they are. What makes a trail technical? It’s the difference between loping along enjoying nature, and concentrating on precisely where each foot lands and the angle of the placement so that you can continue forward motion as efficiently as possible. Altra designed the Superior 3.5 with technical trails in mind. The cushioning was kept moderate to reduce weight, while the sole provides the traction and precision that technical trails demand.

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Number 1

New Balance Minimus 10v1

New Balance Minimus 10v1

While most of the shoes on this list are designed to protect your feet from the trails, the Minimus 10v1 is meant to help your feet experience the trails. Its firm and flexible sole separates you from the ground by only 15 mm at the heel and 11 mm in the forefoot. At just 6.4 ounces, the Minimus is also the lightest shoe on this list, making it a great option for faster running and trail races.

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