Women achieved quite a feat with their feet in 2018 when they tipped the scales in running. Notably, more women than men participated in the sport recreationally, according to The State of Running 2019, a report by RunRepeat. So, that’s the good news, but there’s also a downside.
Along those lines, in a celebratory feature on the science behind female running, The New York Times reported that women are often more prone to heel-strike-related injuries. Heel striking is when your heel hits the ground first, which can increase the adverse effects of the impact, which is associated with an increased risk of injuries (via Healthline). So if you watch your feet and it seems you’re a heel-striker, Sole Review suggests that you’ll want to look for a woman’s running shoe with a drop somewhere in the ballpark of five to 10 mm.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wait, what’s the drop?” Well, there’s actually a lot of science behind running shoes, and the heel-to-toe drop is basically the difference in cushioning between the front and back of the sneaker. So, heel-strikers often benefit from a higher drop, whereas other runners might find a lower drop more comfortable.
So, in addition to the stretches you should do before running, it’s also worth your time to note what part of your foot hits the ground first and start to explore your drop-comfort zone. Although there’s plenty of advice out there, it’s still a decision based on personal preference, so test out different cushioning levels and drops to see what works best for you. And, to help with the decision on your next pair of running shoes, we’re excited to drop this list of the best running shoes for women in 2022.
How We Selected Products
In preparation for the story, we gathered background on how women, specifically, participate in the sport of running — from casual morning jogs to competing in road races. The research included expertise-driven articles from sources such as Outside’s female-focused Women’s Running website and Runner’s World advice for female runners. From there, we also included studies — such as Running Shoes Gurus’ 2018 Running Shoe Buying Habits Study — which provides expert confirmation that Google’s top search results are what women runners are buying most frequently. The study highlights brands such as Asics, Brooks, Saucony, Hoka, New Balance, and other popular women’s running shoes. Lastly, we reviewed supportive information available from sources such as customer reviews, social media statistics, and online trends.
With this data on hand, we searched for the best women’s running shoes and focused on features that impact a shoe’s performance and comfort. However, we also understand that finding just the right running shoe might also involve some trial and error. So, with that in mind, each running sneaker included in this collection lists the heel-to-toe drop, the shoe’s weight, and return policy.
Best Urban Running Shoes
If your feet and knees were savvy, they’d organize and demand better treatment; we can almost hear the ‘heel-strike!’ chants from here. Well, the sneaker engineers at On heard the cries for help and created the Cloudswift sneaker in response. Their signature CloudTec® in Helion™ “superfoam” and increased rear air “clouds” are designed to reduce the detrimental impact of heel strikes, which can include knee, ankle, and back issues (via Run Forefoot).
Amazon customers have enthusiastically ranked the Cloudswift #128 in the Women’s Road Running Shoes category. Comments include references to improved performance and reduced injury. One person, who is new to the sport of running, said, “I started running this year, and my knees were really suffering. I switched to these shoes, and voila! No more knee or hip pain. I can’t believe a shoe can make such a difference. Whether I’m running on the treadmill or outdoors, I always wear these now.”
The ON Women’s Cloudswift Sneakers are available on Amazon starting at $165.95.
Weight: 7.76oz | Drop: 6mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Breathable Fabric Running Shoes
Paris Hilton’s catchphrase, “That’s hot,” should not apply to your running shoes. To clarify, of course, you want your running kicks to vibe with your athletic aesthetic, but that aside, your feet shouldn’t get overheated. So, if your current running shoes make your feet sweat like the Tiger King at a PETA convention — well, it’s time to upgrade.
Nike suggests that one way to prevent blisters is to keep your feet as dry as possible. So, with this in mind, swampy sweat-inducing running shoes are a hard no. Breathability of the fabric is crucial, and the brand’s Zoom Pegasus is designed with increased perforations to release heat and protect feet. The shoe has an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars and stands as the #13 women’s running shoe in the Women’s Road Running Shoes category.
The Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Running Shoes are available on Amazon starting at $52.99.
Weight: 8oz | Drop: 10mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best National Geographic-Inspired Running Shoes
Running allows us to connect with the great outdoors, whether it’s a city park, the suburbs, or a wooded trail. In honor of the many majestic landscapes of Planet Earth, Reebok teamed up with the folks at National Geographic to create this Tundra-inspired running shoe.
The collaboration takes Reebok’s already-established Floatride running shoe and layers in Earth-friendly features such as castor bean-derived cushioning, wood pulp uppers, and natural rubber soles. The Floatride is generally regarded as a solid choice for mid-mileage running. Youtube reviewer Nick, from The Run Testers, says it’s “a good, well-rounded foam for daily training.” Along with their expertise, one Reebok customer chimed in to say, “… love this shoe for conditioning and agility workouts. Foot feels comfortable and does not slide. Super cushioned insole.”
The Reebok Women’s Floatride Energy Running Shoe is available at Reebok for $130.
Weight: 9.7oz | Drop: 9mm | Return Policy: 30 days
Best App-Enhanced Running Shoes
Under Armour’s Flow Velociti Wind 2 Running Shoes have a grip on what’s important. Which is to say, these running shoes offer a nice “grippy” sole, which is great for those slippery, drizzly days or when you’d otherwise be doomed by the morning dew.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the gorgeous design, but it’s the built-in UA MAPMYRUN™ app technology that has us thinking that running every day isn’t as bad as you think. The popular app has over 10 million downloads and 383,000 reviews and is rated 4.7 stars on Google Play. While analyzing performance, it lets you track your mileage, speed work, and goals; the app feedback and shoe design yield significant results. One reviewer raved about improved performance, saying, “If you want to instantly feel like a better runner, invest in a pair of these. Seriously though, they are so comfortable, lightweight, and flowwwwy!”
The Women’s UA Flow Velociti Wind 2 Running Shoes are available at Under Armour for $160.
Weight: 7.91oz| Drop: 8mm | Return Policy: FREE Within 60 days With Proof of Purchase
Best Award-Winning Trail Running Shoes
If the quietude of the woods woos you, a trail running shoe is probably the best bet if you don’t want to face plant. Sure, the squirrels’ laughter will pass, but the scraped-up knees will be around for a while. Just as there’s a difference in running shoes versus walking shoes, wooded runs require preparation. Trail running requires features specific to the terrain, according to REI. For example, running over uneven trails, tree roots, and rocks requires grippy soles and extra stability.
Scarpa has been around since 1938, and their expertise lies in mountain sports. So, that means not only does their Spin Ultra Trail Shoe check all the usual boxes, but it also has features like a hidden lace pocket. This lets you lace up your kicks and comfortably tuck them away, so they don’t get snagged on a root or trail debris. Again, we’ll take all the face plant prevention available, thank you very much. It’s no wonder this shoe earned Outside’s Gear of the Year Award in 2019!
The SCARPA Women’s Spin Ultra Trail Shoes are available at Scarpa for $159.
Weight: 7.9oz | Drop: 6mm | Return Policy: 30 Days
Best Carbon Neutral Running Shoes
Allbirds has joined the running shoe industry, and the second iteration of its Tree Dasher running shoe is as functional as it is eco-friendly. The upper portion of the shoe is created using an FSC-certified TENCEL™ Lyocell — a sustainable eucalyptus material. Sounds great, but you might be wondering what the heck FSC-certification is. Well, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification “ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.”
But, in addition to the carbon-neutral design, the Tree Dasher is wracking up legitimate running shoe reviews. For example, Kieran from The Run Testers, a YouTube channel with over 30,000 subscribers, reviewed the running shoe and mentioned they’re “…a really good fit around the base of the Achilles.” As of the filming of the video, he had logged 60 miles in the Tree Dashers and “found them to be really, really impressive.”
The Women’s Tree Dasher 2 is available at Allbirds for $135.
Weight: 10.3oz | Drop: 7mm | Return Policy: 30 days, No Questions Asked
Best Overall Trail Running Shoes
Picture this — you’re running on a sun-dappled trail. It’s quiet, and you’re in the zone. Unfortunately, your foot slips just as you hit your rhythm, taking you for a nosedive. It begs the question: Is it still painful if a runner falls in the woods and no one is around to see it? Of course, it is; let’s not kid ourselves.
Trail tumbles hurt. They’re messy and may cause injury. So, let’s avoid that altogether and think strategically about trail running. Case in point, REI outdoor running experts suggest looking for a trail running shoe with grip, durability, and extra supportive structure. With that in mind, the Salomon Alphacross 3 running shoe is known for its grip and gentle-yet-firm foothold.
No matter what chaos the trail has in store for you, these kicks are up to the task. And the best part? They’re ranked #53 in Amazon’s Women’s Trail Running Shoes category, with frequent mentions of “the grip and stability of these shoes.”
The Salomon Women’s Alphacross 3 Trail Running Shoes are available on Amazon, starting at $85.45.
Weight: 9oz | Drop: 10mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Running Shoes Under $60
If you’re looking for a running-related club, check out the fan club surrounding this internet-favorite running shoe. The ninth edition of the Under Armour Charged Asset is ranked #9 in Amazon’s Women’s Road Running Shoes category. Add to that nearly 4,000 reviews, and this women’s running shoe scores an impressive 4.6 out of 5 stars. Of course, it can also be worshiped via either of the brand’s Instagram accounts; the original has over 8 million followers and 915,000 on Under Armour Women.
So, what’s all the hubbub? This runners’ favorite boasts excellent cushioning, durability, and ventilation. Reviewers often mention comfort, saying it “fits perfectly.” The well-respected shoe brand earned the instant loyalty of one reviewer who said, “I’ve been waiting to buy a pair of Under Armor sneakers for a while now. I heard they were like walking on a cloud. Well, the reviews were right. I’ve never had a shoe that fit perfectly and felt so nice.”
The Under Armour Women’s Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe is available on Amazon starting at $45.90.
Weight: 8.15oz | Drop: 10mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Minimalist Running Shoes
Are you team minimalist? Well, you may want to explore barefoot running, which the Cleveland Clinic says might help plantar fasciitis. In fact, folks that opt for a barefoot or minimalist approach to running embrace the potential benefits, but say it’s just downright fun. The folks at Xero Shoes agree wholeheartedly and want to remind you of “being a kid on a warm summer day [and] kicking off your shoes, feeling the earth under your feet.”
It’s a feeling that plenty of runners embrace because Xero’s YouTube community is quick to post review videos each season. One video, published by the brand itself, encourages runners to “feel the world” and has logged 35,000 views. If you’re feeling a little deja vu, it’s likely because the brand was also featured on Shark Tank. These days, the Zelen Road Running Shoe is one of their popular options and garners rave reviews which call out that it’s “… is a great road running shoe. [And] that they look classy enough that [you] can also wear them in jeans and around town. Plus, it’s made from eco-friendly materials!”
The Zelen Women’s Eco-Friendly Road Runner Shoes are available at Xero Shoes for $129.99.
Weight: 6.5oz | Drop: N/A | Return Policy: 45 Days (Brand New, Unworn)
Best Splurge-Worthy Running Shoes
These running shoes are more than just athletic-leaning eye candy; they’re legit contenders. The spider web-patterned design is created with APL’s TechLoom Ziplines, which provide 360-degree dynamic foot support. But there’s more than what meets the eye; those supportive bands are hollow, which keeps the running shoe light and increases flexibility.
Along with the physiognomy, its unique design offers a slew of running rewards such as traction and the comfort of its proprietary Soufflé sockliner. But the uniqueness of the brand is also gaining traction through Instagram love from The Strategist, Elle, Vogue, and even Fast Company. It’s safe to say that it’s more than just hype since the brand’s founders, Ryan and Adam Goldston, are Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees.
In an interview with Gear Patrol, the co-founders explain the vision behind their Zipline running shoe saying, “The thing about ziplining that’s so exciting is that you feel free, but know that you’re secure. As we were developing the TechLoom Zipline, that was the feeling we were trying to recreate.” Of the many splurge-worthy features the shoe offers, a sense of freedom is priceless.
The Women’s TechLoom Zipline Running Shoe is available at APL for $320.
Weight: 7.7oz | Drop: 8mm | Return Policy: 10 Days (Brand New, Unworn)
Best Speed-Focused, Eco-Friendly Running Shoes
Runners all have different goals, and those goals will change depending on the day or their training plan. If you’re at a place where performance is in the spotlight in your running goals, Veja’s Marlin is vying to be your go-to running shoe for speed workouts.
Kieran from The Run Testers reviewed the shoe on YouTube and described it as “…easily Veja’s best running shoes to date.” And he goes on to describe the eco-friendly foam as providing more of a foot-to-the-ground feel, which is a benefit for those who like the idea of barefoot running but still need support. In addition to performance, the Marlin gets a lot of attention — including from Forbes and WWD — for its eco-friendly design, which yields a shoe comprised of 62% recycled materials.
The Marlin LT V Knit Purple Ultraviolet Jaune Fluo Running Shoe is available at Veja for $185.
Weight: 10.2oz | Drop: 6mm | Return Policy: 28 Days (Brand New, Original Packaging)
Best Running Shoes To Harness The Luck Of The Irish
First of all, let’s get the fan-girl moment out of the way. Not only is Brooks serving up some fresh four-leaf clover kicks, but that green-to-gold gradient has got us feeling pretty fortunate to be dodging potholes in these beauties from the brand’s Run Lucky campaign. But then there’s the business end of things. So, how do they perform?
The answer is near perfection, according to Amazon reviewers who’ve awarded the shoe 4.7 out of 5 stars. With well over 6,000 reviews, the shoe is beloved by competitive amateurs and casual runners alike. If the idea of running on marshmallows sounds like a utopian vision, one reviewer confirms these shoes are a dream come true. “I found them. I found the marshmallow shoes…Now?! Now, I’m obsessed. I’m thankful. I could cry tears of joy for finding these.”
The Brooks Women’s Ghost 14 Neutral Running Shoe is available on Amazon starting at $121.34.
Weight: 10oz | Drop: 8mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Running Shoes For Comfortable Performance
Altra is a major player in the run-shoe realm, boasting a quarter of a million followers on Instagram. They understand the assignment, which they make very clear by posting, “Our mission is to unleash human potential by inspiring the world to move naturally.”
Well, runners agree the brand is delivering on that promise. One online reviewer shared just how much of a game-changer the Altra Provision 6 shoe has been, saying, “I have consistently suffered from shin splints, and for the first time ever, I don’t have even a slight concern after my first long run of the season in these shoes. Also — fabulous arch support.” In terms of performance strategy, the shoe incorporates Altra’s GuideRail™ design, which encourages more natural foot dynamics. The combination of engineering, design, and performance has earned the Altra Provision a Runner’s World 2022 Shoe Award.
The Women’s Provision 6 Running Shoe is available at Altra for $140.
Weight: 8.3oz | Drop: 0mm | Return Policy: 30 Days
Best Running Shoes If You Love Colorway Options
Here’s a women’s running shoe with a less than $100 price tag, over 40 colorways, and a stay-put fit to ensure a comfortable ride — the New Balance Fresh Foam Roav V1. In addition, its “ultra-heel” is a little larger than average, adding to its smooth, dynamic cushioning.
Running shoe reviewer Cow Free Kicks posted a detailed review with over 80,000 views. In the video, he pushes the foam to its limit in what he calls “the curb test,” where he evaluates the bounce-back of the foam by crushing it against the hard edge of a curb. After a bit of a crush-a-thon, he concludes, “I’m a big, big fan of the Fresh Foam [it has] great responsiveness.” He’s not alone in his enthusiasm either. New Balance has over 6 million followers on Instagram, and its signature Fresh Foam cushioning remains a celebrated feature in their ever-evolving running shoes, according to Women’s Running.
The New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam Roav V1 Running Shoe is available on Amazon starting at $38.09.
Weight: 9oz | Drop: 8mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Lightweight Running Shoes
How does a running shoe company achieve a lightweight sneaker while still incorporating the very best cushioning and support? That’s one of the biggest topics in the industry, and Saucony has cracked the code. The Kinvara is an absolute workhorse with all the glitz of a show pony, so you’ll get a fast-yet-supported ride — and look hella fierce grinding it out.
This is an excellent kick for someone who leans minimalist and wants The Wired Runner’s suggestion of a lower heel-drop rating. It weighs in at just 6.5 ounces, so significantly lighter than most women’s running shoes, which often hover in the eight to 10 ounce range. The sole is supportive yet reactive, and it’s flexible enough to allow the foot to feel connected with the running surface for a feeling of surefootedness and natural reactivity — perfect for race day or everyday runs alike.
The Kinvara 12 is ranked #68 in Amazon’s Women’s Road Running Shoes, and reviews confirm, “If you like shoes that you can barely feel its weight, this is your shoe.”
The Saucony Women’s Kinvara 12 Running Shoe is available on Amazon, starting at $49.90.
Weight: 6.5oz | Drop: 4mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Trail Running Shoes Under $60
If you’re running with any frequency, you need a reasonably deep collection of gear — and the purchases can add up over time. Sure, you can do laundry every day, but, eew.
As an alternative, you’ll need to maximize your budget without sacrificing quality. So, let the Asics Gel-Venture 8 be the foundation of your gear plan. You’ll get an under $60 running shoe with reliable gel-style cushioning and money’s worth of durability. In addition, this is a great shoe for everyday training since it offers good traction and breathability.
It also happens to be #1 in Amazon’s Women’s Road Running Shoes category, based on its 4,700 reviews.
The ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 8 Running Shoes are available starting at $44.82.
Weight: 8.9oz | Drop: 10mm | Return Policy: Free Returns with Prime Membership
Best Circuit Training Running Shoes
Being a runner doesn’t require logging massive weekly miles. If you’re a cross-training runner who toggles between short runs as part of a multi-level workout plan, you might consider the Adidas Retrorun Sneaker. It hits that sweet spot of grip, comfort, and style. The shoe has over 1,000 5-star reviews on DSW, with an overall 4.6 out of 5 stars.
This is the shoe to wear on days that you’ll be working out at lunch and don’t want to lug a ton of stuff to work. The crisp, stylish look is perfect for a casual chic work environment, and the structure is great for a quick interval-style workout. Reviewers love the versatility — even for long days on their feet. Many mention comfort while working out and long days of traveling or even work that require long days of standing. For example, one reviewer said, “I work in a hospital and am on my feet all day, and I’ve never had sore feet wearing these.”
The Adidas Retrorun is a perfect union of the brand’s performance-driven and lifestyle prowess, both of which contribute to the fact that the brand has over 26 million followers on Instagram.
The Women’s Adidas Retrorun Running Shoes are available at DSW for $59.99.
Weight: not listed | Drop: not listed | Return Policy: 90 Days
Best Female Foot-Specific Running Shoes
Rounding out the best women’s running shoes is a shoe designed explicitly for women. Leave it to Lululemon to craft a shoe that’s sole purpose is to support the female form! The Blissfeel is aptly named since it’s bouncy and breathable. In addition, it offers flexibility without sacrificing traction or support, making it a great everyday running shoe.
Blissfeel has over 600 reviews on the brand’s website, and comfort is a standout feature, without a doubt. One customer raved that she “…was excited but skeptical to try these and can now confirm they are as good as everyone says! A super comfortable running shoe and versatile for all kinds of surfaces.” But it’s not just online reviewers who’ve taken notice of the athleisure giant’s contribution to the running scene. PopSugar editor Maggie Ryan compared Blissfeel to Brooks brand running shoes — high praise, indeed!
The Blissfeel Women’s Running Shoe is available at Lululemon for $148.
Weight: 8.9oz | Drop: 9.5mm | Return Policy: 30 Days
Best Reinforced Toe Trail Running Shoes
If you’ve ever had a big-toe blowout, this running shoe is for you. These beauties are designed with a reinforced toe rand — and 10,000 cool points to you if you know what the heck that is. For us mere running mortals, here’s the scoop. According to Advnture, the toe rand is basically a layer of super durable protection in the front of the shoe — perfect for weather protection. Trail kicks will usually have this feature, which — as a bonus — helps with wear and tear in the big toe area.
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 is built for (spoiler alert) speed! It’s grippy and light, and ready to tackle the trails. It’s a fan-favorite, with more than 15,000 likes on a recent Instagram feature. This is the fifth iteration of the shoe, and one could argue that the Speedgoat is, in fact, the GOAT. One fan commented, “My favorite Hoka is the Speedgoat 3 and these might be my new faves!”
The Hoka Speedgoat 5 running shoe is available on the Hoka website for $155.
Weight: 8.5oz | Drop: 4mm | Return Policy: 30 Days, No Questions Asked