Finding the right running shoes can be a pain. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to narrow them all down. Don’t worry, though — we’ve got you covered.
We spent months researching and testing all manner of running shoes. Testing included intense mountain runs, moderate trail runs, adventurous day hikes, runs along cement and pavement, plenty of treadmill miles, and a few fitness classes. We wore them through rain, snow, mud, and sun on adventures around the world. And we even tossed in some errands around town, because everyone wears their shoes for more than just running.
Below, you’ll find shoes separated into three categories: road running, trail running, and minimalist shoes. Of course, some could fit in more than one category, and this list doesn’t cover every women’s running shoe out there. But these are some of our favorites, and we’ll keep this list updated with new releases. And if you’re not sure how to choose, check out our handy buyer’s guide at the end of this article.
Best Road-Running Shoes for Women
Whether pounding the pavement training for a marathon, jogging in the neighborhood, or walking around town, these are the best shoes for road running. And we know plenty of women who use them in the gym, at the office, and tackling errands on the daily.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 25: $160
Designed with stabilization in mind, the GEL-Kayano 25 is a favorite among both long-distance runners and casual joggers. These shoes manage to provide adequate cushioning without feeling like you’re on stilts.
For long runs, we were happy with how the FlyteFoam offered plenty of cushion and absorbed shock while still providing adequate rebound. The heel fits snug, without rubbing. And while the toe box has enough room that our feet never felt squished, it’s not as wide as brands like Altra. Overall, though, this is a solid do-all shoe. It easily transitions from road running to light hiking to grabbing groceries in town.
And if overpronation is your problem, the ASICS GEL-Kayano 25 should be a top contender. The padded outsole and grooved insole provide excellent stabilization. This shoe has a lot of drop at 13 mm heel-to-toe, so it’s not a great choice for those who want a flat landing.
Weight (per pair): 18.2 ounces
Drop: 13 mm
Best for: Managing overpronation
Brooks Ghost 11: $100
This versatile shoe doesn’t weigh feet down and still provides plenty of support. And at just $100, it’s a great value, too. The mesh uppers have just enough stretch to comfortably fit most any foot. Built with segmented “crash pads,” the Ghost 11 really does adapt to your foot strike and provide cushion no matter the type of stride. it’s worth noting that this shoe has a lot of heel-to-toe drop at 12 mm, so those wanting a flatter shoe should look elsewhere.
Anyone looking for a light, neutral running shoe will be happy with the Ghost 11. It offers plenty of cushion and energy return without feeling heavy on your foot. We found the regular sizes to be great for narrower feet, but they may be too snug otherwise. Luckily, these are also available in wide sizes.
Weight (per pair): 19 ounces
Drop: 12 mm
Best for: Support during road runs
HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6: $130
For those times when you need some extra cushion, the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6 is your answer. It’s no surprise this a majorly popular shoe amongst marathoners. The full-compression EVA midsoles provide maximum cushioning and comfort for long days pounding the pavement. And while the iconic oversized sole (with small 5mm heel-toe drop) may take a while to get used to, the pillowy comfort is worth it for a refreshing change.
For 2019, the Clifton 6 has been updated to reduce weight and create an even smoother ride. The upper has a new embroidered design that improves lockdown without adding any weight. We found the changes slight — but positive. Even if it doesn’t become your all-the-time running shoe, it’s a great option for really long runs and post-race padding. One GearJunkie contributor loves having these in her quiver as a go-to recovery shoe, and we know many marathon runners, long-distance walkers, and nurses who swear by them.
Weight (per pair): 14.7 ounces
Drop: 5 mm
Best for: Long runs when you need extra cushion