The best running shoes for women—for casual jogs, long runs and beautiful trails

Our round-up of the best running shoes for women will help you make the right decision before parting with your cash

grid of the best running shoes for women
(Image credit: Future)

Investing in a pair of the best running shoes for women will allow you to make the most out of your workout, whether you're an avid runner or a 'Couch to 5k' beginner.

Owning the right running gear, from the best women's running shoes to one of the best fitness trackers and a pair of the best workout leggings, is essential to improve your overall performance. Not only will the best running shoes for women provide you with the correct support to ensure you're looking after your body properly while you're exercising, but they can even give you the comfort and stability you need to work that little bit harder and hit a new personal best.

To help you with your search, we tried and tested a range of trainers from some of the best running shoes brands, including Salomon, Saucony and New Balance. While all the women's running shoes in our round-up fared well in our tests, it was the Salomon Supercross Blast GTX W trainers that came out on top. 

But, for those who aren't quite ready to splash out on an expensive pair of trainers, don't worry. We've also got some great budget options, to help you kickstart your running journey. 

How we tested and selected the best running shoes for women

From the moment we unboxed the running shoes, we considered how well they fitted and performed, and how they benefited us during each workout. All trainers were tested several times during different workouts from long and short runs to at-home workouts, to see how well they supported us doing a range of activities.

Putting top brands through their paces, we looked for all the key features good running shoes have to bring you this round-up of the best running shoes for women that supported us to no end as we ran. The key features we looked out for and that you should keep in mind when shopping too, include: 

  • A good-sized toe box: “Fashion over function has become the motto of many shoe companies over the years,” says Vikash Sharma, a Doctor of Physical Therapy at New York City’s Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. “As a result, the toe box on shoes has been getting narrower, altering the anatomy of the foot and decreasing its functionality. When selecting a running shoe, toes should be able to sit in the shoe without being crowded.”
  • Good fit: “If your foot can sit on top of the insole without spilling over the edges of the insole, you have a shoe that fits,” says Vikash. “You should never think that a running shoe can be 'worn in’ to fit your foot – it should fit well on day one.”
  • Suitable stack height: “This is the distance between the ground and the bottom of your foot (how thick the sole of the shoe is),” says Vikash. “If you have a thick cushion between the ground and your foot, you are greatly reducing the ability of your foot to respond to its environment.” This is often a personal preference, so try a few trainers with different stack heights to see what level suits you best.
  • Good cushioning: Running can have a huge impact on our bodies, in fact, Saucony’s Jonathan Quint reveals, “When we land during a run, we’re putting up to three times our body weight through our lower limbs and back, so good cushioning will help protect against this impact."
  • Extra arch support if needed: “As long as your foot is functioning as it should, there is no need for increased arch support,” says Vikash. “But, if your foot is unable to get into and out of pronation, you may need to use a shoe with arch support until this can be resolved.” Speak with your doctor or physician for further information if you are concerned about your arch support. 
  • Lightweight: "Running shoes need to be as lightweight as possible," says Olly Law from On Running. “You run more efficiently in lighter footwear, which lets you run more naturally. You should choose the lightest shoe, which still provides enough cushioning.”
  • Breathable material: “Sweat build-up can actually cause blisters, so the more breathable your shoes, the more you can reduce the chance of blisters occurring,” says Ashley Scott, a technical representative supervisor at Brooks Running.

The best running shoes for women as chosen by our experts

Salomon SUPERCROSS BLAST GTX W running shoe for women


(Image credit: Salomon)

1. Salomon Supercross Blast GTX W

Best running shoes for women overall

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 3.5-10.5
Offset: 10mm
Terrain: Muddy and soft
Waterproof: Yes, Gore-Tex
RRP: $130 / £120
Reasons to buy
+Great grip+Very supportive
Reasons to avoid
-One-pull laces-Poor breathability

Of all the trainers we tested, the Salomon Supercross Blast GTX W trainers came out on top as our overall best running shoes for women. Lightweight, comfortable and with great grip even in treacherous conditions, these running shoes tick all the right boxes, especially when it comes to exercising outside.

In fact, the grip is so good you never have to worry about slowing down or losing focus again. Plus, thanks to the Gore-Tex technology, these running shoes stay 100% waterproof, whatever the weather. With just the right amount of arch support, your feet won’t slip around and your ankles will stay cushioned and supported throughout workouts. Currently available in either black, green or pink, the colors are muted and mature instead of garish, so you could wear them with jeans post-workout and wouldn’t look out of place.

The only thing you’ll have to get used to is the one-pull laces but, over time, you’ll never want to go back to manually tying them ever again.

See our full Salomon Supercross Blast GTX review

361 Strata 4 running shoe for women


(Image credit: 361 Strata)

2. 361 Strata 4

Best premium running shoes for women

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 3-9
Offset: 8mm
Terrain: Road
Waterproof: No
RRP: $155 / £135
Reasons to buy
+Great for long distance+Comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-Irregular sizing-Not waterproof

Stop running when your feet start to hurt? Then the 361 Strata 4 running shoes are the pick for you. Yes, they are slightly more expensive than the rest, but you are paying for comfort, especially if you want to run further. 

Every detail has been thought through carefully. If you find you stop running to reposition the tongue on your shoe, you'll be glad to hear the 361 trainers have it integrated with the laces (via the Morphit lacing system), so it won’t move at all. These trainers are ultra-versatile too, and great for protecting joints no matter what sport you're doing, from road running to burpees. Plus, they’re definitely not too clunky for the treadmill. 

Looks-wise, these running shoes are more about practicality than being bang on trend, but being sleek, and not overbranded or brash means you won’t need to upgrade for a long time.

See our full 361 Strata 4 review

Merrell trail running shoes

(Image credit: Merrell)

3. Merrell Antora Gore-Tex Trail Running Shoes

Best trail running shoes for women

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 2.5-8.5
Offset: 8mm
Terrain : All
Waterproof : Yes, Gore-Tex
RRP: $140 / £120
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly comfortable+Very adaptable to different terrains
Reasons to avoid
-Perhaps more support in the heel needed-Some trail runners may not like the ‘barefoot’ feeling of the shoe

Slipping on the Antora Gore-Tex shoes from Merrell feels akin to putting on a slipper. The trainer is incredibly soft, comfortable and lightweight, especially when compared with other shoes. 

The Antora is made with a Vibram outsole and a foam insole, so your foot is well protected. It feels almost as if you’re running with a sock on – but with all the security and cushioning of a trail shoe. For those who enjoy the foot-to-ground barefoot feeling while running the trails, this could be the pick for you.

What's more, they are very adaptable to different terrains. We were just as confident running in the woods as we were on the grass, and even on the pavement. A little more support in the heel might have helped, but this is a very small concern and something that other runners may not even notice. There is very little movement of your foot within the shoe, leaving you feeling protected and ready to jump between hills, pavements and grass. 

These trainers are the best trail running shoes for women and ideal for those who want to get out on the trails and tackle an off-road run.  

New Balance Fresh Foam running shoe for women


(Image credit: New Balance)

4. New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo

Best running shoes for shin splints

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 3.5-9
Offset: 6mm
Terrain: Firm
Waterproof: No
RRP: $110 / £110
Reasons to buy
+Well-cushioned +Stylish+Lightweight 
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-Sizing not accurate

Often experience shin splints when running? The main selling point of the ultra-light New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo is the Fresh Foam midsole cushioning. This basically compresses each time your foot hits the floor to help protect against the force of the impact. So, however hard the terrain, joints will feel supported and comfortable. The attention to detail (even down to the padding on the heel to combat rubbing) makes this pair worth spending your money on. The design is exceptionally stylish to the point where they’re not just running shoes, but also a fashion statement post-workout. 

The only downside is they're not waterproof and, although the traction is good, it’s not amazing. Therefore, it’s probably best to stick to paths, pavements and the treadmill, instead of any terrain that’s too treacherous. 

See our full New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo review

Saucony Ride 13 yellow running shoe for women


(Image credit: Saucony)

5. Saucony Ride 13

Most comfortable running shoes for women

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 3-10
Offset: 8mm
Terrain: Neutral
Waterproof: No
RRP: $130 / £125
Reasons to buy
+Responsive+Great flexibility
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof-Expensive

If you pick a pair of Ride 13’s in Citron Mutant, then everyone will know about it. Not just because the bright yellow design is outrageously loud (yet strangely appealing), but because you won’t stop telling every runner who will listen how great they are. 

Yes, they are comfortable – which is largely thanks to the Formfit, but they don’t just allow your feet to melt away inside. These trainers are flexible and responsive, so the cushioning actually helps power each stride. Sleek and stylish, with a large toe box for wiggle room, they easily secured a place in our best running shoes for women guide, however, they are more on the premium side when it comes to price. But, if you're happy to invest in these durable running shoes, you can expect the same support mile after mile.   

See our full Saucony Ride 13 review

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38, best Nike running shoes

(Image credit: Nike)

6. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 women’s running shoes

Best Nike running shoes for women

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 2.5-9.5
Offset: 10mm
Terrain : Road
Waterproof : No
RRP: $120 / £105
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for elite and everyday runners alike+Comfort is key with this Nike bestseller
Reasons to avoid
-May be out of budget for some-Some customers find they come up a little small

Nike running shoes are often a go-to for many. The brand sells some of the best running shoes for women on the market, so it's no surprise the Nike Pegasus trainers have been a best seller for almost a decade. There's a reason why loyal customers keep coming back to these trainers, they are practical, comfortable, and ideal for running in - making them some of the best running shoes for women. 

The updated version, the Air Zoom Pegasus 38, features a Zoom Air bag placed in the forefoot of the shoe, which is designed to cushion your step and improve responsiveness in the trainer. The foam sole also keeps you light and springy as you run, ensuring you don’t feel weighed down when hitting the trails. 

Some customers find the Pegasus running shoes to be a small fit, so it might be worth trying a size up in these trainers before you hit the pavements.