Trail running takes your normal running regime up another level by moving your typical running workout into nature. Whether it be through the woods, or near the water, trail running fuels our human desire to be outdoors.
Runners are flocking to the trails due to various reasons, including less stress on the body than running on asphalt, and the surreal connection to the great outdoors.
Although trail running is typically thought of as an individual exercise, trail running races, and group trail running has experienced a recent increase in popularity.
Quick Answer: The Best Trail Running Shoes For Women
- Salomon Women’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe
- Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 2 Barefoot Trail Running Shoe
- La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Mountain Running Shoe
- ASICS Women’s GT-2000 4 Trail Running Shoe
- Women’s Olympus 2 Trail Running Shoe
Here is a feature overview of my 3 favorite trail running shoes with full reviews and our buying guide below.
Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes
Trail Running Shoe Reviews
The Salomon Speedcross 3 trail running shoe combines lightweight, fit and a durable design. The Speedcross 3 is water resistant, with wide heel for better surface contact.
The midsole is lower to the ground than traditional running shoes, which reduces the risk of injury, and the outsole boasts better grip. With OrthoLite insoles and chevron shaped lugs on the bottom to grip rocky terrain, this shoe is ideal for comfort, safety, and protection.
These Salomon trail shoes are top performers and runners flock to them with repeat business. These shoes are easy to break in, provide substantial arch and ankle support, and are made of fine craftsmanship.
Perfect for sensitive feet, or for difficult or rugged trails, the Salomon Speedcross 3’s are the best trail running shoes for hiking.
The Merrell Vapor is a very different shoe than the others from our list. Unlike to the others with a thicker sole, these are “minimalist” shoes and are designed to feel like you are barefoot. They can be worn without socks and in fact you are better off not wearing them while running in these shoes.
The mesh upper and footbed of the shoe has been treated to prevent the build up of microbes that would normally cause odors while wearing them without socks. They have no cushioning and while this sounds like a bad thing, new research shows it’s actually best thing for your feet.
When they need to the be cleaned you can just toss them in the washing machine and either dry them on a gentle cycle or better just let them air dry. They mesh design of the shoes will dry quickly and is breathable to keep your feet cool and dry while you are running.
I really like these shoes, it feels like you are not wearing anything on your feet and they are super comfortable! These are my top pick for the best women’s trail running shoes.
This all terrain shoe is built for long distance and unpredictable trails. The Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Lacing Harness and TPU Transkinetic Heel Stabilizer provide strong foot support. Sticky FriXion rubber outsoles provide unmatched grip on the ground and unmatched traction.
These trail running shoes for women are ideal for runners who have high arches, narrow heels or wide, square toes. Runners love these shoes because they require little to no effort to break in, and provide safe performance in wet or slippery conditions.
The Ultra Raptor Mountain Running shoe is sturdy, long lasting, and with important features like rubber toe guards, and leather heel slip pads, you can be sure that these shoes will provide long term comfort. The Raptor’s are on the short list for best trail running shoes for women.
ASICS is known for its mission to create footwear that connects the body and the soul in comfort, and this shoe certainly lives up to those expectations. This shoe is modeled after the natural heel strike to toe off motion of the foot. The Fluid Ride technology cushions the foot and provides lightweight durability.
Perfect for reducing shock during impact, providing perfect midfoot support, this shoe is made to power through all conditions.
Runners have flocked to this shoe because of its perfect stability and balanced level of comfort. Many find that the shoe is so comfortable that it has transitioned to their shoe for everyday use.
One of the most popular features of this shoe is the “bunion windows” which allow the runner to have additional space and comfort in the bunion area. For a shoe that combines comfort and bounce, the ASICS is an unmatched women’s trail running shoe.
This heavy duty shoe is ideal for maximum traction and maneuverability. The prime feature of this trail running shoe is its unmatched comfort. Soft and flexible upper support, and a ‘bound bottom’ layer cushion the foot throughout all types of terrain.
The GaiterTrap technology prevents build up underneath the shoe ensuring an efficient, and relaxed running experience.
This shoe is a little different than the traditional, tight running shoe fit you might be used to. The thick sole and “neutral” style is ideal for those with high arches, or those who require little support.
Popular for their ability to reduce pain from shin splints and bunions, these shoes are the perfect option for those who want the best trail hiking shoes for women.
How to Choose the Best Trail Running Shoes For Women
- Considerations For Trail Running Shoes
- How Can I Start Trail Running?
- What Are The Benefits Of Trail Running?
- Trail Running Safely
- The Time to Start Is Now
Considerations For Trail Running Shoes
While trail running is a great way to improve your overall health, there are some things to keep in mind. Primarily, run smart! Only begin running after a thorough warm up and stop if you feel any pain. Running is repetitive on the joints, and can strain the body if not performed properly. It is imperative to have sturdy, well-fitting shoes, remain hydrated, and a commit to stretching before and after your workout.
Be on the lookout for signs of new injuries including irritation in the joints or pulled muscles. Most running injuries are signs of overuse or improper form. With any type of running program, it is important to keep a lookout for the following symptoms:
- Pain in the knee
If you experience pain in the knee when performing bending motions such as going up stairs or squatting, can indicate a condition called ‘Runner’s knee’.
- Pain in the shins
Pain along the front of the leg, below the knee, and extending towards the feet can indicate shin splints. Shin splints are common among those with flat feet, and frequently occur when you increase workout intensity or duration.
- Pain in the heels: Sharp pain in the heels can indicate a bone spur. Pain is frequently felt first thing in the morning, or walking after a long period of rest. Pain can also appear when one has been on their feet too long.
- Piriformis syndrome
Irritation or damage to the piriformis muscle, located between the groin and buttocks, can lead to a more severe condition called Piriformis syndrome. If you experience pain in this location, you must take a break and pursue stretches and home rehab options to heal the muscle.
If you ‘push through the pain’ it can lead to a potentially permanent condition. The condition is extremely painful and due to its location can also cause irritation to the sciatic nerve.
How Can I Start Trail Running?
The first major step in trail running is obtaining the right equipment. Special trail running shoes are available, and differ from traditional running shoes in many ways. “Trail shoes” are designed to hug the terrain through the use of textured bottoms made of lugs, and protect the feet better than road running shoes. They have stronger mesh, and better design around toes for added protection. They are built to last longer and endure harsh use.
Because running in the outdoors can be messy, it is important to choose apparel that you don’t mind getting dirty. Flashlights, water bottle, insect repellant, basic first aid items, and carrying cases for personal items are also great tools for trail running.
Your next step is to choose a trail. Find a trail in an area you know well, and stick to terrain that suits your fitness level. You can find trails that vary in level and distance. Finding a short trail to start with is ideal. Carefully map out the area, and learn about any potential dangers including animals, plants, and obstacles.
As with any exercise, it is important to begin slowly. This is especially important for those who are beginning trail running after a long period of sedentary, or minimal activity levels.
When it comes to running, the goal is to build up stamina over time and prevent injury, so it is key to start at short, slow intervals. Even walking through the varied terrain is a great start to building up to running.
Video: How to avoid common mistakes trail running.
Practice proper running technique and listen to your body. Although the goal of running is to stretch the limits of the body, but you should never feel pain or extreme discomfort. Take short, deliberate strides, at a manageable pace, and keep the body weight over your feet.
Always scan the ground in front of you for potential dangers, and only run in clear weather and daylight- though trees often shield the sun in large parts of the trail.
Keep in mind that trail running differs immensely from running on a typical road. Trail running is practiced on rapidly changing terrain, and you must get in the habit of lifting your feet significantly higher than if you were running on asphalt. Lifting the feet higher allows you to avoid any potential debris on the trail, and gives you extra time before your next step to avoid potential hazards.
Experienced runners will also find it imperative that they begin running at a slower pace than usual when transitioning to trail running for the first time.
The ground will feel differently and your body will need practice getting used to the changes. Since the terrain can change quickly on the trails, it is important to learn when it is necessary to hike instead of run. Steep inclines and rapid drops are frequent on some trails, so don’t expected an uninterrupted run.
What Are The Benefits Of Trail Running?
Trail running is one of the best ways to improve your overall health. Not only does it boost your metabolism if weight loss is your goal, it builds overall strength and cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that a systematic running program improves immunity, lowers risks of blood clots and heart attacks, prevents osteoporosis, and has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.
Running not only helps your physical health, it boasts many mental health benefits as well. Running allows our brains to release hormones called endorphins that fight off depression and anxiety. This release of endorphins has a natural, positive impact on our brains leaving us feeling focused and refreshed.
Running is also a great stress buster and ideal mechanism for regulating our bodies. Studies reveal that those who run on a consistent basis have better sleep and increased energy levels. Though running has many benefits, running on flat terrain for long periods of time on a daily basis can also be harmful to your joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Trail running provides a unique experience because of the varied terrain. The changes in terrain force your body to switch between rigorous short spouts of running, to strenuous climbing—all with intentional balance.
This balance comes from focusing closely on the in particular changes. This deep concentration contributes to an increased over-all feeling of well-being.
Additionally, many trails have spots of picturesque views to take in while you run. Best of all, it increases leg strength more efficiently than traditional running, due to the more varied terrain of the trails.
Trails are also more shock absorbent on the feet than asphalt, making trail running a better option for your joints. The attention to balance adds extra emphasis on building your core, which creates over-all strength and chiseled abs.
Arguably, one of the best benefits of trail running is that it gets you out in nature. With all of the hectic demands in our day to day lives, it is important that we reconnect with the outdoors.
The July 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter reveals that being outdoors increases the level of natural Vitamin D in our bodies. This is important because studies show that Vitamin D is responsible for proper bone health, including fighting off osteoporosis, and contributes to good immune and cardiovascular health as well.
Vitamin D deficiency is a significant problem in Americans. Some people raise their vitamin D levels in the summer, but by the time late fall rolls around, they have already depleted the stored up vitamin D—making them more susceptible to colds and the flu virus.
Trail Running Safely
Communicate clearly with others when you are leaving, where you will be, and what time you expect to return. Though it is ideal to trail run with a partner, sometimes that may not be an option. If you go alone, make sure to let someone know where you are and when you expect to be done and then, check back in with them.
Since trails are often secluded, it is important to consider safety and always be aware of your surroundings. Although music is tempting to drown out the silence, leave headphones at home, so that you are always well aware of your surroundings.
If you have a dog, consider bring them along, for added safety. Large dogs in particular are easy to train on the trails and usually do well adjusting to the changing terrain. Even though it is not always ideal to carry items with you while running, it is important to at least have your cell phone and ID in case of an emergency.
Bringing mace or a small defense weapon can be helpful, but it also important to know general first aid and basic plant and animal identification for the area. Always stick to the trails and keep an eye out for tree roots or unpaved areas that might signal dangerous terrain.
If you think trail running is a great option for you to reap all of the great benefits of running, and spend some quality time outdoors, the first thing you need is a great pair of shoes! Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for your first pair:
- shoes with unstable laces or upper components
- discomfort in the toes (this will only increase when running downhill),
- shoes that have too much movement between the heel and heel padding
- shoes without lugs or overly narrow lugs on the bottom
- shoes that are too lightweight (this suggests the shoe may have less support and protection)
- shoes with sturdy laces
- shoes that are designed to fit your style of foot (may require professional fit)
- snug but not tight
- supportive midsoles
- shoes that work well with added supports like shanks, plates, or absorbent socks and orthopedic inserts.
The Time to Start Is Now
Trail running is a great opportunity to improve your health and connect with the outdoors. Although it seems comparable to traditional street running, trail running requires specialized equipment, changes in technique, and important safety considerations.
Being informed is the best asset you can begin with as a trail runner, and once you learn all of the required introductory information, you will be able to supplement your fitness routine with a method that improves not only your physical, but mental health as well.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best trail running shoes for Women to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of shoes I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and enjoy your workout!