Please note that as of our most recent round of testing (conducted on December 7, 2022) we have revised our suggested footwear. Our updated shopping links take you to stores that still stock older models, many of which are currently on sale because newer versions are imminently being released.
Just like the best shoes in general, the best running shoes for women are lightweight, breathable, cushioned, and supportive where you need it most. Where the shoe provides its most stability, however, is where men's and women's running shoes diverge most markedly. Browse our top picks down below, or read on for in-depth analyses of the footwear that proved most popular among our female reviewers. In addition, you can find professional recommendations for your next pair of shoes.
Ten of the Finest Athletic Shoes for Ladies
It's a common misconception that the only difference between men's and women's feet is that the latter are narrower and smaller. However, there are other structural differences between the sexes' feet that can make it difficult to find shoes that Women's feet are typically narrower at the ankle and wider at the forefoot. Manufacturers of women's running shoes account for this disparity when creating new styles. It's not uncommon for men's and women's versions of the same shoe model to feature distinct design details, such as a heel shape or material.
- Women's Top-Rated Nike Running Shoes
Because women typically have wider hips than men, studies also show that their feet tend to land on the outer edges of their footwear. Pronation refers to the inward rolling of the foot that occurs as a result of this, and it is widely held that women are more likely than men to overpronate. Women's running shoes have evolved to accommodate this shift by employing novel, more supportive sole materials.
As spoken by Lakota Gambill
Created with Women in Mind
Despite the fact that most shoe companies have been making women-specific models ever since Nike released the Lady Waffle Trainer in 1978, there has been a recent surge in the number of new shoes aimed squarely at female consumers.
A new women's last was developed for the Adidas Ultraboost 22 by compiling information from 1 A female-only design team used data from 2 million scans of feet (male and female) as inspiration. Women runners were instrumental in the development of Skechers' GOrun Persistence. Lastly, Puma has released a women-specific running shoe called the Run XX Nitro, which has been validated by a study conducted by independent researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
All of the aforementioned evidence shows that companies are making a concerted effort to design footwear that is tailored to the unique anatomy and needs of women's feet. Companies are not only researching and collecting data, but also responding to the needs of female runners by incorporating their suggestions into new and existing products.
The 250 women on our wear-test team, the knowledge of our test editors, and the mechanical data from our RW Shoe Lab informed our final decision on each of the running shoes featured in this roundup. At least a hundred miles were put on each pair of shoes to determine how they performed in terms of overall performance, comfort, ride, durability, and value. Our research and testing indicate that the following pairs are the top choices for women's running shoes in 2022.
FAVORABLE EVERY-DAY WORKOUT
Blissfeel by Lululemon
- Designed and constructed around the shape of a woman's body.
- High rebound and moderate cushioning.
- Extra arch support was requested by some reviewers.
Lululemon's first running shoe is the Blissfeel, and it's made with women in mind. For example, the heel angle is eight degrees, which is ideal for a woman's heel strike (the average heel strike angle for a man is fifteen degrees). The shoe has a flexible sole, a snappy feel during toe off, and generous padding. One reviewer likened this innovative sneaker to the legendary Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, a cushioned workhorse trainer. The outsole is constructed with a soft, blown rubber in the forefoot and a harder, more durable rubber in the heel. The midsole is a single piece of dense foam. Featuring a molded heel collar that rests quite low on the ankle, the upper is breathable and flexible.
THE MOST COMFORTABLE
This is a 20 oz bottle of Brooks Glycerin.
- Its new midsole is more comfortable and responsive.
- Easy-to-wear top
- Short by a hair's breadth in length
The Glycerin, which was formerly thought of only as a cushioned recovery shoe, is now a go-to shoe for all of your runs. Wear-testers' and our own impressions from miles logged as both long runs and speedwork lend credence to this claim. The DNA Loft v3 midsole in the Glycerin 20 is an upgrade from previous Brooks foams in terms of comfort, durability, and responsiveness.
- Top 10 Best-Selling Hoka Running Shoes
Nitro 2 Puma Devinci
Nitro 2 Puma Deviates
- Better heel-to-shoe fit
- Less rigid
- The toe box is narrow, making it uncomfortable for those with wide feet.
If you overpronate, the Deviate Nitro's narrow waist and ultrasoft, bouncy midsole may make you feel unbalanced. But those with a lack of aversion to motion on their feet were happy to trade a bit of shakiness for such a thrilling and energizing ride. The upper layer of TPE-based, nitrogen-injected foam has been replaced with the premium, Pebax-based Nitro Elite foam found in Puma's top-tier racing shoes. As a result, the carbon-composite plate benefits as well. To improve the shoe's landing, Puma rounded off the plate's outer corners at the heel and widened the fork at the toe. (Perhaps this is why some testers reported feeling less stable in this version, even as they praised its greater flexibility during landing and toe-off.) The Deviate is a seriously impressive and reasonably priced top performer, especially now that the price hasn't changed at all.
DURABLE AS HELL
Boost 22 Adidas UltraBoost
Reduced by 40%
- Increases energy return by 4% compared to the Ultraboost 21
- Traction-rich outsole
- The saddle area of the upper was stiff because of the lace cage.
The famous Ultraboost now turns 22 years old. Female runners, biomechanists, and designers collaborated on this iteration's ladies' version, which is based on an analysis of foot scan data from all over the world. The result The shoe company Adidas designed a new last with a narrower heel and lower instep for women. Because women have a higher Q angle, they tend to overpronate more than men, but a reinforced rubber patch in the medial part of the outsole can help counteract this. (The Q angle, which influences pelvic, leg, and foot alignment, is formed by the quadriceps and patella tendon. There is a gender difference in Q angle size, with women typically having larger angles than men. Adidas claims that the Ultraboost 22 has a higher rate of energy return than its predecessor by 4%.
The ULTIMATE IN STABILITY
Tempus by Saucony
Shoes by the brand name Saucony Tempus
Sneakers by Saucony®, model Tempus
- Superior, yet subtle, new stability technology
- Smooth acceleration and deceleration thanks to the speedroll rocker profile.
- The tongue and collar have very little padding.
Last spring, the Axon 2 proved to be an unexpected hit amongst the testing community. Behind it is Saucony's newest stability shoe, the Tempus, which has also been well received. When compared to the Axon 2, which retails for an unbelievable $100, the Tempus's price tag of $160 represents the floor for a high-end fitness trainer. Reason being, it inherits some features from Saucony's Endorphin line in its updated stability technology. Similar to the brand's "superfoam" found in the Endorphin Pro, Pwrrun PB can be found at the heart of the Tempus as well.
Although stability is still a dirty word among runners, both neutral and overpronating testers found the Tempus to be a supportive shoe. The primary element of support is the curved EVA-based Pwrrun frame that begins above the Pwrrun PB in the heel. Both the midsole and the upper are formed to aid in stability and propulsion.
TOP PICK FOR NO DROP
This is the second edition of the Altra Rivera
Discounted by 28%!
- Cushioned and lightweight thanks to the Ego midsole
- The Altra Footshape is crafted with women in mind.
- Some of the beta-testers complained that the new snug fit was too restrictive.
The Rivera 2 maintains the same tacky and grooved Footpod outsole (my fall was due to reckless running, not poor traction) as its predecessor. The foot-shaped form, or "last," is the same as Altra's carbon fiber-plated Vanish Carbon, another shoe. Thus, it is similarly aerodynamic to the race car. In contrast to the short Vanish Carbon, the Rivera 2's toebox is generously sized. The Ego midsole remains, which our reviewers praised for providing an amazingly cushioned platform in such a lightweight shoe.
MOST DISTINCTIVELY SLIM
The New Balance Fuel Cell SuperComp Pacer
- Propulsion is provided by a carbon fiber plate.
- Having a very low mass
- Very little padding; not as much support
Due in large part to New Balance's "Energy Arc" technology, the Pacer provides a responsive ride while still feeling much more cushioned than traditional racing flats like the 1400 v3. Between two layers of compression-molded EVA foam, they've inserted a carbon-fiber plate shaped like an arch. A test subject commented, "I liked the carbon fiber." "It seemed to assist in lifting my foot off the ground, which in turn allowed me to run faster and achieve a higher rate of turnover." This carbon-fiber feature was missing from my previous pair of New Balance racing flats, and it makes a world of a difference. ”
IDEAL FOR RUNNING ON TRAILS
New Balance 574
Shoes: Saucony Peregrine 12
S. P. 12 Saucony Peregrine
- Easy mud release from 5mm lugs
- "Soft Terrain" variant also available.
- Some participants in the usability tests preferred a more forgiving padding.
For a long time now, Saucony's Peregrine series has been widely recognized as a fast trail shoe that is suitable for a wide range of runners and a wide range of terrain. It works just as well for novices taking their first steps on a muddy trail as it does for vert-chasers protecting their feet from sharp rocks on a singletrack. And our team has given it multiple awards for the many uses it provides across different terrains, different types of feet, and long distances without making a dent in their wallets. All those features remain, but the shoe is much lighter and more nimble than last year's Peregrine thanks to a redesign by Saucony. The upper and the topsole are primarily responsible for the shoe's reduced weight. There is no longer any need for multiple layers of protection thanks to a more durable, sleek mesh. The TPU beads that originally made up the topsole have been removed by Saucony and repurposed as the sockliner. Even though the less responsive Pwrrun foam is still used for the midsole, a new rock plate with slightly improved flexibility has been integrated into the design.
HIGHLY RATED HYBRID VEHICLE FOR BOTH STREET AND TRAIL USE
Extreme Sports Topo 4
The Topo Athletic Adventure 4
Challenge 4: Topo Athletic Runthrough
- We've updated the stitching on the back of the heel and the ball of the foot to make them even more snug.
The Runventure provides adequate shock absorption to protect your feet from infrequently occurring trail obstacles. The absence of a rock plate in the midsole allows this trainer to weigh significantly less. The majority of our reviewers appreciated the shoe's responsiveness to the ground, though some wished it offered more protection on rougher surfaces. The Vibram XS Trek Evo rubber outsole was praised by reviewers for its superior traction on both smooth and uneven terrain. Because the lugs aren't overly aggressive, you can go from the road to the trails with ease.
Review in Its Entirely
Narrow, rocky paths are where you'll have the most fun.
Hoka One One Mafate 4
- The cushioned midsole allows for stress-free runs of any length.
- The aggressive tread of the outsole grips stony and muddy terrain.
- Roomy fit
- There are some people who might not like the layout.
Although the Speedgoat has more fans, we believe that the redesigned Mafate Speed is the superior Hoka trail running shoe at the moment, especially for trails that call for a high level of comfort and adaptability. Running up and down Whiteface Mountain in record time with the shoe allowed us to confirm this for ourselves.
This newer version features a number of noteworthy upgrades, such as a two-layer foam construction, that make it more manageable and comfortable to run in than its predecessor. The Profly midsole features a lightweight and responsive foam underfoot, increasing comfort and giving the shoe a lively feel even on hard pavement. The bottom layer is tough and firm enough to crush over relatively large rocks, keeping your foot safe as you walk.
An Editor for Tests
Since 2013, Amanda, a test editor at Runner's World and a former professional baker with a master's in gastronomy who fuels up on snickerdoodles, has run the Boston Marathon.
To the best of my knowledge, Jeff Dengate
Jeff is Runner's World's Runner-in-Chief, where he oversees the publication's coverage of running shoes and other gear. More than a decade have passed since he hasn't spent that time testing and reviewing shoes; he is a true shoe dog. In 2017, he used 285 pairs of running shoes, including a string of 257 consecutive days in which he used a different make and model.