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The 7 Best Cross Country Running Shoes [2020 Reviews]

Whether you’re just getting started as a cross-country runner or you’ve been enjoying it for years, you always want to have the best running shoes for the job.

Not only does your shoe size matter when choosing the right shoes for you, the brand, fit, design, budget, and purpose all matter as well.

Does all of this sound overwhelming? We assure you it’s not as complicated as it seems, especially once you know a little bit more about your running style and your body mechanics.

Best Women’s Cross-Country Running Shoes

 New Balance Women’s XC SevenSaucony Women’s Kilkenny XC7Adidas Performance Women’s XCS
editorschoice
Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC7 Cross Country Spike
Pronation:Overpronation, Flat FeetNeutralNeutral
Features:REVlite MidsoleGRID, sole-based cushioningRubber All-Over Shock Web Print
Weight per shoe:6 ounces5.3 ounces5.8 ounces
# of Spikes:646

For more of my recommendations, have a look through these popular Women’s Workout guide links: Runners Belts, Hydration Vests, Running Jackets.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Women’s Cross-Country Shoes

  1. New Balance Women’s XC Seven v2 Spike
  2. Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC5 Cross-Country Spike
  3. Adidas Performance Women’s XCS Cross-Country
  4. Nike Zoom Rival Women’s Track Spike
  5. Under Armour XC Brigade Spike Athletic Shoes
  6. ASICS Women’s Hyper-Rocketgirl XC Cross-Country
  7. Adidas Performance Women’s XCS Spikeless Running Shoes

Our reviews of the top rated women’s cross-country running shoes along with our Buyer’s Guide and Comparison Table will help you prepare for a new sports adventure.

Already an avid cross-country running? It’s time to up your game!


Women’s Cross-Country Running Shoe Reviews

The New Balance XC Seven v2 for women is designed with a traditional fit and feel, a flatter outer sole and a less flexible sole design than other spiked cross-country shoes.

These are all features of the running shoes we’ve seen in the past and many runners enjoy them still today.

The reason some cross-country runners still prefer a more traditional running shoe like the New Balance Women’s XC Seven v2 is that it provides a snug fit paired with a flat inner sole. Newer technology has created a much different feel.

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Even so, you’ll find superior support, especially for those who overpronate. Overpronation is also known as flat feet. Because there is very little arch structure, they cause less discomfort and can even prevent injury for runners with flat feet.

The shoe itself is made from a combination of both natural textiles and synthetic rubbers. This combination helps to create a very durable shoe that will last event after event, especially if taken care of properly.

The synthetic sole provides great traction, so your movements are more responsive. It also stands up to some tough use which is important depending on the type of cross-country events in which you participate.

If you are looking for a cross-country shoe that has no spikes but still has the same performance and durability of this New Balance model, they come in a Spikeless version as well.

 

New Balance Women’s XC Seven v2 Spike at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Overpronators, Flat Feet
  • Unique Tech: REVlite Midsole
  • Weight, per shoe: 6 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 6

Saucony Women's Kilkenny XC7 Cross Country Spike

The Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC7 shoes are technically designed for track and field meets more than cross-country events. However, the design works well through a variety of terrain which is why it made our list.

One feature that makes the Kilkenny XC7 stand out is that it features a low-profile ankle. If you already have an ankle issue due to previous strain or break, this won’t give you the support you need.

However, if you are looking for more flexibility and don’t need that same ankle support, this design is perfect.

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The inner sole is made from compression-molded EVA. EVA, a very elastic but supportive material, helps to cradle your foot inside the shoe. This helps with comfort but also with stability as you make your way to the finish line.

The interior sole isn’t the only part of the Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC7 that is made from high-quality, durable, synthetic materials. The entire shoe is made of synthetic products that are designed specifically to provide cross-country runners with the best performance and best feel.

The Saucony model is to focus their efforts on the fit and feel of their shoes, no matter the style. They also focus on the performance needed for the sport for which the shoes are designed. Their extensive research in biomechanics has allowed them to rise above much of their competition when it comes to performance.

It also helps that Saucony is nearly a household name when it comes to running shoes or sport shoes of any kind. If you are looking for lightweight, comfortable performance, the Kilkenny XC7 could be just what you’re looking for.

 

Saucony Kilkenny XC7 Spiked Track Shoe at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Unique Tech: Grid, sole-based cushioning
  • Weight, per shoe: 5.3 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 4

The Adidas Performance line has always been known for the glove-like fit they provide for cross-country runners.

This fit helps to give you the stability you need during events and allows you to feel exactly what your feet, and your shoes, are doing over various terrain.

The superior, flexible fit that the Adidas Performance Women’s XCS Cross-Country running shoes offers is created through the combination of several different technologies.

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The first is the breathable mesh upper that allows for breathability. Then, the rubberized Razorweb mesh is coated in rubber so it’s not only breathable but resists water, mud, etc. The entire upper is designed with a blend of mesh, suede, and rubber.

The upper features an asymmetrical lacing design that mimics the use of therapeutic tape by physical therapists and athletes alike. This tape is used to promote the correct movement of bones, joints, and muscles. Now, your women’s cross-country shoes can utilize the same technology to help prevent injuries.

An EVA insole creates a molded interior, cradling your foot in a comfortable and neutral position. With your foot nested into this poly-rubber insole, you’ll find less slippage inside the shoe as well as out.

Another cross-country running shoe for women that features a low-profile ankle, these shoes are designed for long-distance running more than sprinting events. Lightweight, breathable, flexible, and supportive elements create a hard-to-beat pair of running shoes.

 

Adidas Performance Women’s XCS Cross-Country at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Unique Tech: Rubberized, all-over web print
  • Weight, per shoe: 5.8 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 6

Nike is a name recognized the world over for any type of athletic shoe you can think of. When it comes to cross-country running shoes for women, they have several options. However, our top pick is the Nike Zoom Rival Women’s Track Spike.

While these shoes are designed for track and field type events, the design of the shoe, as well as the spike configuration, make this an ideal option for cross-country sporting events as well.

The biggest reason for this is that the spike plate extends from the forefoot to the midfoot for more structural support.

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This shoe is designed for middle-length running but could be used for short events as well which makes it versatile. It can redirect the impact of each heel or foot strike as well using the Phylon midsole technology now seen in many Nike shoes.

The proprietary Flywire technology helps to increase stability along with the molded heel cup. Creating a snug fit with proper lockdown is also important and this Nike cross-country shoe does it all and does it all very well.

The rubber sole extends the entire outsole, toe to heel, as well as from the bottom of the insole to the tread. Made completely of synthetic materials, you know you are getting a highly durable pair of running shoes designed just for the quick, responsive moves you’ll need to make before making it to the finish line.

In addition to high-quality materials used in their construction, these shoes are available in many colors to help you show off your personality at the meet. If you stand by Nike and are looking for a cross-country option, these are for you. If you’ve never tried Nike running shoes, now might just be the time.

 

Nike Zoom Rival Women’s Track Spike at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Underpronators, Supinators
  • Unique Tech: Flywire, Phylon
  • Weight, per shoe: 6.4 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 7

Under Armour XC Brigade Cross Country Running Shoe

These Under Armour XC Brigade Spike Athletic Shoes are versatile and can be used for many sports in which a spiked shoe is beneficial.

We picked them for our list of the top 7 women’s cross-country running shoes because they offer everything you need in a shoe to get started with the sport.

Did you ever think that the same Michelin technology used on the tires for your car or truck would be used on the tread for your running shoes?

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Michelin Wild Gripper tech helps provide the kind of traction you won’t see with other cross-country running shoes.

When it comes to spiked cross-country shoes, the more spikes mean the more responsive your movement and the more you need to know about your body mechanics and physics in general.

Four spikes are the minimum you will see, and these designs are perfect for beginning cross-country runners.

Under Armour’s proprietary ArchFit technology creates a snug lockdown on top of a well-designed arch so your foot is kept in the proper place throughout your run. Keeping your foot in place within the shoe prevents tired feet and foot injuries.

The spike plate for the Under Armour XC Brigade running shoes is uniquely shaped and strategically placed so you get the most out of it even when putting it under the pressure of tough events. It’s also lightweight which helps keep the weight of the shoe to a minimum.

Great ventilation with a breathable and lightweight upper designed with high-quality mesh keep your feet cool and dry. If you’re looking for the best women’s cross-country running shoe for those just starting, we recommend the Under Armour XC Brigade.

 

Under Armour XC Brigade Spike Athletic Shoes at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Overpronators to Natural
  • Unique Tech: ArchFit
  • Weight, per shoe: 5.9 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 4

Made of 100% synthetic materials, the latest in the ASICS Hyper line of women’s cross-fit shoes is one of the lightest on the market. Don’t let the low weight fool you, however.

ASICS has incorporated much of their newest technology into the Hyper-Rocketgirl XC Cross-Country running shoes.

The first of this technology is their Trusstic System. This proprietary system works in two ways, to both reduce the weight of the shoe overall and to support the structural elements. Because of this, you get a very lightweight shoe that still offers stability and durability.

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Stability and durability are vital in cross-country running and even more so when you’ve graduated to the intermediate level. These ASICS cross-country shoes are the perfect pair to move into when you’ve found other shoes just can’t keep up with the types of events you are participating in.

A solid rubber outsole gives you the traction you desire while also acting as the foundation for the stability you need. With 5 removable spikes built into the forefront, you can upgrade the size of them to your liking and depending on the terrain and length of race you are running.

ASICS has been a brand to trust for many years and they haven’t disappointed with their newest in cross-country options. They continue to develop new and innovative shoe designs based on biomechanics and the physics of each sport or activity.

 

ASICS Hyper-Rocketgirl XC Cross-Country Running Shoes at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Underpronator
  • Unique Tech: Trusstic System
  • Weight, per shoe: 4.5 ounces
  • # of Spikes: 5

If you’ve read the reviews above and realized that nearly all of them have a spike design built into the forefoot, you might be wondering if spikes are truly necessary.

Here, we have the spikeless version of the Adidas Performance Women’s XCS running shoes above that are spiked.

Because spikes aren’t there to help with the all-important traction when running, the outsole of this Spikeless cross-country running shoe keeps up with the competition in other ways. Many other areas of the shoe are similar to the spiked version.

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The first traction tech is Addidas’ Adaptive Traxion technology. Adaption Traxion provides all the traction you need on both hard and soft surfaces. This means you can go from the track to the mud and not skip a beat.

With a mesh upper that is then coated in a rubberized print, you can also protect your shoes, and your feet, from mud and other moisture as you push yourself to your limits. The “barefoot feeling” when wearing these shoes also help to improve your performance.

The asymmetrical lacing for optimal lockdown and LiteStrike midsole for impact absorption are similar to the spiked Adidas Performance cross-country shoes for women.

Plus, just like the spiked version, these women’s running shoes are designed with therapeutic athletic tape in mind.

A spikeless cross-country running shoe can have its own benefits, such as being able to walk on surfaces that spiked shoes would ruin. With so much Adidas tech in a lightweight pair of shoes, you can’t go wrong.

 

Adidas Performance XCS Cross-Country Running Shoes at a Glance:

  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Unique Tech: LiteStrike, Adaptive Traxion
  • Weight, per shoe: 5 ounces
  • # of Spikes: None, Spikeless

Women’s Cross-Country Running Shoe Comparison

Product PronationUnique TechWeight, per shoe# of SpikesRating
New Balance Women’s XC Seven v2Overpronation, Flat FeetREVlite Midsole6 ounces65.0 / 5.0
Saucony Women’s Kilkenny XC7NeutralGRID, sole-based cushioning5.3 ounces44.1 / 5.0
Adidas XCS Cross-CountryNeutralRubber All-Over Shock Web Print5.8 ounces65.0 / 5.0
Nike Zoom RivalUnderpronation, High ArchesFlywire, Phylon6.4 ounces73.9 / 5.0
Under Armour XC BrigadeOverpronation to NeutralArchFit5.9 ounces44.5 / 5.0
ASICS Hyper-RocketgirlUnderpronation, Flat FeetTrusstic System4.5 ounces54.4 / 5.0
Adidas Performance Women’s XCSNeutralLiteStrike, Adaptive Traxion5 ouncesNone5.0 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Cross-Country Running Shoe for Women – Buyer’s Guide

cross country running shoes for women

Those reviews of the 7 top cross-country running shoes for women contain a lot of information and now it’s time to learn just how to use that information to pick the perfect pair for you. Be sure to continue past the Guide to our FAQs and Tips sections to learn even more!

Overpronation & Underpronation

The terms overpronation and underpronation are fancy words for having flat feet or high arches. In the middle of the two, you have a neutral gait.

A neutral gait means your arches are perfectly shaped and don’t roll inward when taking a step. While very few runners have a truly neutral step, many are close enough to it that a neutral shoe works well for them.

However, if you overpronate then you will need a shoe that doesn’t have high arch support. High arch support forces a flat foot into what is an unnatural position for it. If you still have some arch, just not enough, be sure to look for a shoe that has a little arch support but is mostly flat.

Underpronation means that you have very high arches. This may cause you to walk on the outside edges of your feet. It’s important to support your high arches with arch support that is also high. With the added support, you can reduce the chances of long-term damage to your knees and ankles.

Lockdown

Lockdown refers to how well your foot is locked down into the shoe once it’s properly laced. If you’ve laced up a shoe and your foot is still moving around inside it, or if only some areas of the show feel locked down, then that isn’t the cross-country running shoe for you. Because lockdown is so important for cross-country runners, the ones we’ve reviewed above provide excellent lockdown.

best womens running shoes for cross country

Cushion vs. Stability

Compared to road running, where you are constantly running on a hard surface like asphalt or concrete, cross-country running doesn’t require nearly as much cushion. For cross-country running shoes, it’s all about stability. This is why you may find that running shoes for cross-country running focus on molded soles, unique lockdown systems, and lightweight technology rather than adding in unnecessary cushion.

Spikes vs Spikeless

Whether you choose to go with a spiked or spikeless cross-country running shoe, it will take some time to get used to. While the majority of runners prefer the added traction that spiked shoes can give them, many feel they are a hassle. Consider your lifestyle, where and how you run, etc. to determine whether spikes are important to you or not.

Materials

Natural materials like textiles or natural rubber are often not seen in the construction of cross-country trail shoes. This is largely because synthetic materials can be made much more durable, much lighter, and even much more affordably.

Men’s & Women’s Styles

When searching for women’s cross-country running shoes, that’s exactly what you should shop for. While some brands and styles could have different color options or even a size that would fit you in the men’s line, there are many other factors of comparison between men’s and women’s shoes.

Not only is the sizing different but so is the shape of the foot, the weight the shoe is designed to carry, and more. Stick with women’s shoes if that’s what you wear normally.

FAQs About Cross-Country Running Shoes

Still have questions about cross-country running shoes for women? We have answers! If we haven’t answered your question below, be sure to ask in the comments so we can answer as best we can.

Q: Why is there such a large range in prices for cross-country running shoes?

A: There are a couple of reasons for this. First, a model of shoe might be last year’s model. For example, the New Balance Women’s XC Seven v2 is the second version of this style of shoe that New Balance has created.

If you were to search for the original, version 1, then it would most likely be a little cheaper. Some of the shoes we’ve reviewed here are last year’s model because their quality and comfort are better known or just because we, and other reviewers, have found that the newer model just isn’t as good as last year’s.

Most shoe brands also have several models of shoes for each activity category. Each model will have its pros and cons. But you will see at least two options, one for a tighter budget and one for cross-country enthusiasts. Each will have different features and some of those can raise or lower the price

If you are comparing two pairs of shoes, be sure to look at their specs side-by-side to see just what is the same and just what’s different. You may find that the more expensive shoe doesn’t justify the price or you might realize that paying that few extra bucks will make a huge difference.

Q: What is EVA and why is it used in running shoes?

A: EVA is the acronym for ethyl vinyl acetate. It’s a manmade material that can have better properties than natural rubber in many instances. It starts as a foam and is then compressed tightly with heat to create the exact shape needed for that part of the shoe. Due to its lightweight nature, specialized running shoes often include EVA materials.

Q: Can I wear track and field shoes for cross-country meets?

A: The only real answer is maybe. It depends on the style of your track shoes and what you intend to do with them during cross-country meets. However, we recommend that if you participate in both activities, that you have a separate pair for each.

best cross country running shoes

Q: Are spiked shoes necessary for cross-country?

A: As you can see from the New Balance Women’s XC Seven spikeless and the Adidas Performance Women’s XCS spikeless, there are plenty of options for those cross-country runners who don’t prefer spikes. If you’d like to try a shoe without spikes first, or if you’ve tried spikes and don’t like them, try one of these options!

Top Tips for Cross-Country Running Shoes

As a runner myself who enjoys the occasional cross-country meet when time permits, I have some tips for you. Not only will these tips help you choose the right shoes for you but also care for them properly so they last as long as possible.

Tip #1: Clean Your Running Shoes Properly

First off, you should never put your cross-country shoes, spiked or unspiked, in the washer or dryer. It’s worth it to take a little bit of extra time to clean them properly so they last.

With a slow stream of luke-warm water, take a clean toothbrush and a mild detergent to gently scrub around the outside of the sole. This can be used to spot clean the uppers as well. To make it easier to handle, place your hand inside the shoe and move your hand to adjust the shoe’s position.

Try not to get the interior of the shoe wet, or at least not soaking wet. The best way to clean the inside of your shoes is to use a shoe powder or spray that can neutralize odors by removing bacteria.

Tip #2: Don’t Practice in Your Cross-Country Shoes

Your cross-country running shoes will need some breaking in so it’s okay to use them the first few times you practice once you have them. But they can wear out fast when used consistently, like for practice and training. Try investing in both the spiked and spikeless versions of one type of shoe so you can have the spikeless ones to train and practice in while you save your spikes for the meet.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Shoe for the Right Events

Not all cross-country running shoes are designed for every type of cross-country event. Some are great for hurdles and sprints and wouldn’t do very well during a marathon or even half-marathon. If you participate in both long and short cross-country events, then you’ll want a pair for each. You also want to make sure that your shoes are designed for mud and other wet terrains if that is part of the course.

Tip #4: Always Look at the Sizing Guide

Every shoe brand designs their shoes differently. You usually can’t pick up two different makes of shoes in the same size, try them on, and they both fit the same. Therefore, the sizing guides are important to follow.

Be sure that when measuring your foot, you are standing tall. You’ll have to have another person with you to read the measurements so you can stay standing upright. Movement on your part can change the measurements, which means you may not get the right size.

women's cross country running shoes sizing chart

Ready to leave the sidewalk behind and head cross-country? The right shoes help!

Which of the 7 best women’s cross-country running shoes that we featured above are you considering? Which features that we talked about are most important to you? Do you have any questions about these shoes? Or other shoes? Let us know!

Once you have the right pair of shoes, there will be nothing slowing you down until you get to that tape. And maybe not even then!

Comfort
Style
Value

The New Balance Women's XC Seven v2 is our Editor's Pick for style, value, comfort, durability, and more. Plus, there are spiked and non-spiked versions!

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Krysha Thayer

Krysha starts her day with yoga and takes every opportunity to enjoy physical activity throughout the day. Her favorite activities are jogging, tennis, volleyball, and swimming.

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