Blaze the Trails in Style With These Seriously Cool Women’s Running Shoes

·9 min read
Photo credit: Stocksy
Photo credit: Stocksy

Whether you’re lacing up a pair of running shoes for a first-time jog or are an experienced marathon runner, having the right kicks and accessories are essential for a comfortable run — or walk, or hike — at any pace. Finding one that also takes all your specific podiatric needs into consideration is also key.

To help find the best running shoes for women, we tested and researched the most popular models from both leading and lesser-known brands. We focused on finding shoes at a range of price points, styles, and fits. In addition, we included women’s running shoes for various activities, from the trails to marathons to cross-training. So whatever kind of runner you are, you’re sure to find a great pair on this list that checks all your boxes.

The Best Women’s Running Shoes

What to Consider

It’s helpful to know a few basics about shoe fit and design before you lace up decade-old sneakers and head out the door. Regardless of your running experience, investing in quality running shoes can make the difference between a healthy cycle and injury or pain. Here’s what you should take into consideration before you buy your first pair of women's running shoes:

1. Support

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Most feet naturally pronate (aka roll inward) to some extent when running. Feet with high arches pronate just a little, but no added support in your footwear is needed — for this, a neutral shoe is best. A medium to low arch overpronates, so you'll want to get shoes that have added medial arch support — those are called stability shoes. Foot supination occurs when the foot rolls slightly outward, but this is pretty uncommon.

2. Cushioning

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

This is up to personal preference, but it’s generally understood that more cushioning provides better impact absorption, which protects your joints better. A shoe with maximum cushioning is ideal for longer distances when your body will take more of a beating. On the other hand, a sneaker with less cushioning may be lighter and faster, but the insole won’t be quite as soft and comfortable.

Knowing your preference for support and cushioning is a good starting point.

3. Fit

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

To avoid uncomfortable blisters or bruised toenails, it’s important that your running shoes fit your whole foot comfortably. Many shoes offer different widths, so if you know that you have a wider foot or a bunion, look for a shoe with a wide toe box to give yourself plenty of room. It’s also helpful to take a close look at the shoe size chart. Every brand sizes a bit differently, so measuring your foot is the best way to find your exact size. And don’t forget to account for socks!

Whether you’re jogging around the block before work or adventuring across town and back, check out our picks for the best beginner running shoes for women — some are best-selling models from trusted brands, some are favorites of pro athletes, and some are in our gym bag or on our feet right now.

Best Overall

Key Specs

  • Weight: 7.8 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 2

This shoe is a solid standby for every kind of runner. What it lacks in flashy design it makes up for in durability and comfort. This version of the Saucony Ride is made with the brand’s PWRRUN material, which is lighter than previous models but offers more cushioning. The forefoot area is also more pliable, which helps you get the maximum push from each step. The design and specs of this sneaker make it a great choice for anyone running the sub-half marathon distances, including new runners. It comes in two width options, so everyone can find their perfect fit.

Most Sustainable

Key Specs

  • Weight: 10.3 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 1

The sustainable shoe brand has moved into the running category with these great-looking and highly functional sneakers. The shoes boast super breathable and easy-to-clean materials made from eucalyptus tree fiber, sugarcane-based foam, and recycled plastic bottles. In fact, these springy shoes are entirely carbon neutral — not to mention functional.

The shoes are incredibly comfortable and have a wide foot box, so even though there is only one width option, they will fit most feet. During our tests, they were easy to put on and take off, never slipped or caused blisters, and had just the right amount of cushioning for mid-distance runs.

Best-Looking

Key Specs

  • Weight: 8.9 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 1

It’s no surprise that Lululmemon’s first pair of women’s running shoes will have you looking your best. These sneakers come in some of our favorite color combinations, from pink and lime green to black with a neon yellow stripe. Plus, the name says it all: These shoes are incredibly comfortable. Though there’s only one width option, women with wider feet can go up a half size to find their fit.

The shoes have a lightweight moisture-wicking upper material that keeps your feet cool and comfortable on hot days. The sole is also designed to optimize for traction, so you can also sport these sneaks on snowy or rainy days without slipping.

Most Cushion


Key Specs

  • Weight: 8.11 ounces

  • Stability: Maximum

  • Width Options: 1

Long-distance runners looking for some extra spring in their step are in love with On Cloudmonsters. Though these shoes are far from delicate, all of that cushioning helps ease pressure and pounding on your joints as you chase your goals.

The thick heel cushioning and rocking design will literally propel you forward, so each stride has natural momentum that can feel effortless. And despite the heel height, these shoes are surprisingly light, so you can comfortably wear them throughout a marathon training cycle. Under all of that cushioning is On’s Speedboard sole, which flexes for soft landings and bouncy rebounds — so you really feel like you’re running on clouds.

Best for Long-Distance

Key Specs

  • Weight: 7.2 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 2

This latest version of one of Hoka’s most popular running shoes is engineered to offer the softest ride yet. First of all, they are lighter by 15%, thanks to a new formulation of the midsole foam. The upper materials are also super light and breathable, plus the shoes couldn’t be easier to take on and off, thanks to a stretchy pull tab. The heels have extra rubber padding that minimizes damage and helps keep your shoes in tip-top shape as long as possible. Though these aren’t Hoka’s highest-rated stability shoes, they do have the brand’s signature flat design and ample cushioning that makes them great for anyone from first-timers to people recovering from injury to marathon runners.

Best for Light Workouts

Key Specs

  • Weight: 9.8 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 2

These super stylish, modern sneakers are designed to form to the shape of a woman’s foot by founder and track star Allyson Felix. They’re snug, comfortable, and great for light workouts and beginner runners. I like to wear mine at the gym for a treadmill warm-up and cross-training.

In addition to the lightly cushioned bottom, the shoes also have a bit of cushioning on the tongue that reduces pressure on your feet and adds an extra touch of comfort to your ride. The shoes come in four attractive colors and can be wiped clean to keep them looking fresh.

Best for Trails

Key Specs

  • Height: 3 inches

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 1

These shoes are designed with rugged trail conditions in mind: They provide the support and stability of a structured hiking boot without the weight or high ankle coverage, so you can move confidently and comfortably on the trails.

Despite their technical design, these shoes also look good enough to sport on the streets. They are also highly breathable, from the mesh lining to the polyurethane footbed that allows for air circulation from all sides. These sturdy sneaks will last for miles and miles on the trails.

Best Race-to-Street Style

Key Specs

  • Weight: 11.7 ounces

  • Stability: Neutral

  • Width Options: 1

Adidas has done it again with the Ultraboost 22 — a women’s running shoe that performs just as well as it looks. The midsole is made from Adidas’ Boost capsules, which compress and expand with each step to enhance your power. The shoe has a soft, stretchy upper that makes a snug, sock-like fit that won’t rub or cause irritation. The upper’s Primeknit 360 is quite breathable, too, so your shoes will stay odor-free even if you put them to good use.

Sure, the Ultraboost 20 is pricier than many other women’s running shoes, but this is a pair that you can wear comfortably and confidently whether you’re cruising through a 5K or sipping on a brunch mimosa.

Best for Overpronators

Key Specs

  • Weight: 9.1 ounces

  • Stability: Stable

  • Width Options: 1

If you have low arches, overpronation can cause pain and injuries, which takes the fun out of running. To protect your muscles and joints, a shoe built for stability is a must. These sturdy sneakers are made with added mid-arch support to reduce overpronation and promote more natural mechanics.

The Gel Kayano is built to correct overpronation, thanks to a low-profile external heel counter that provides extra support towards the back of the foot. This helps keep your feet and ankles level and moving forward, rather than collapsing in towards each other. The shoes also have Asics’ FF Blast cushioning in the sole, which supports and softens the impact of each step by absorbing shock.

Because these shoes are a bit heavy (9.1 ounces), their sweet spot is up to the half-marathon range, so they should suit most beginner runners who aren’t yet game for a full marathon.

Best for a Fast Race

Key Specs

  • Weight: 5.8 ounces

  • Stability: Stable

  • Width Options: 1

Once you’ve done all the hard work of training for a goal race, why not give yourself the extra edge with a shoe built for PRs? The ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 is the newest model in Nike’s line of high-performance racing shoes. These are designed to deliver excellent energy return, thanks to a lightweight carbon-fiber plate that runs the length of the sole. This makes for an incredibly light and highly responsive shoe.

This version also has added foam under your toes for longer-lasting comfort and support. The last thing you want to have to worry about during a race is uncomfortable chafing or pressure on your feet, so Nike also added light padding on the tongue to protect your skin from the laces. Though these shoes come in one width, they have a roomy toe box that’s comfortable for wide-footed runners, too. I personally have run every marathon and half marathon PR in my Vaporflys and love that the high cushion and rocking design help propel me forward, even during the toughest moments.

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