The Best Trail Running Shoes for Women Review

Are you the kind of woman who loves to veer off the roads, get on the trails, and explore the beauty of your own backyard on foot? Our updated review compares 11 of the best women's trail running shoes side-by-side. We ran high alpine, temperate rainforest, and desert trails with a different shoe on each foot. We submerged and compared each shoe to see which ones held the most water. We even trudged through heavy mud, soggy snowfields, over wet slippery rocks, and other nasty surfaces to figure out which shoes had the best traction. Then, we rated each shoe based on its foot protection, stability, traction, comfort, sensitivity, and weight. The range of shoes that we cover includes transitional, traditional, and a new exciting category - the maximalist shoe.

Our in-depth review will explore the best women's trail running shoes and how to buy them in a saturated market, as well as other critical information that will help you choose the shoes that are right for you. Read on to learn more, and to see which models took home our top awards. For the guys out there, check out The Best Trail Running Shoes Review.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Trail Running Shoes - Women's Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's
Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's
Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's
Read the Review
Brooks Cascadia 9 - Women's
Brooks Cascadia 9 - Women's
Read the Review
HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's
HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's
ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
Editors' Awards  Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award    Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Street Price Varies $75 - $125
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Varies $100 - $110
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Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $160 - $199
Compare at 3 sellers
Varies $71 - $75
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Awesome traction, precise fit, quick fit lacing system, great foot protection, winter-ready, sheds mud, fantastic colorsLightweight, breathable, rockplate, low profile, wide toe box, extremely versatile, bright color combinationsComfortable, great traction, rock plate, stylish, rugged, no-sew technologyUber comfort, lightweight, quick-fit lacing system, breathableSturdy construction, good traction, wide toe box, excellent value, moldable midsole upon break-in
Cons Fits narrow foot best, less breathable uppers, quick fit lacing system gets gummed upOutsole is slippery on wet rocks, lack of flexibility, mesh lets small particles in, noted wear and tearSigns of wear & tear, uncomfortable tongue inseamUnstable, narrow fit, mesh does not keep the trail out, not fashionableSlippery sole when wet, little breathability, shallow toe box, overall look
Best Uses Sloppy surfaces, high mountain trails, mellow and less technical trails, winter runningEVERYTHING! racing, short to ultra distances, transitioning to barefoot running, mellow to technical trail terrain, cross-over shoe, around townMellow to technical trail running, road running, casual wearLong to ultra-distances, mellow to moderately technical trails, roadsEasy to moderately technical trails, cross-over shoe, hiking
Date Reviewed Aug 25, 2014Aug 25, 2014Aug 25, 2014Aug 25, 2014Aug 25, 2014
Weighted Scores Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's Brooks Cascadia 9 - Women's HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's
Foot Protection - 25%
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Traction - 20%
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Stability - 20%
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Comfort - 15%
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Weight - 10%
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Sensitivity - 10%
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Product Specs Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's Brooks Cascadia 9 - Women's HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's
Upper Water and Abrasian Resistant Textile FlexFilm Synthetic, No Sew Technology Sythetic Mesh; No sew technology External Monomesh & Airbase Technology; No sew upper Synthetic Mesh
Midsole Molded EVA Powergrid foam cushioning with GRID technology New! Blended BioMoGo DNA Full Length HIP CMEVA Dual Density, spEVA (prevent sole breakdown), Rearfoot Gel Cushion Technology
Outsole Non-marking ContraGrip Rubber High Traction Hard Rubber Medium-Hard Rubber High Abrasion/Lightweight Rubber High Abrasion Rubber
Weight (per pair for size 9) 21.0 oz 18.6 oz 23.1 oz 20.1 oz 21.0 oz
Water Held (per pair for size 9) 9.3 oz 9.4 oz 9.4 oz 6.7 oz 12.5 oz
Shoe Type Traditional Transitional w/ rock plate and gaiter compatible Traditional w/rock plate Maximalist Traditional
Heel-to-Toe Drop 9 mm 4 mm 10 mm 6 mm 10 mm
Lacing System One - Pull Quick Fit Lacing System with Lace Pocket Traditional - Flat Traditional - Flat One-Pull Quick Fit System; Traditional Flat Laces are also included. Traditional - Flat
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 12 6.5 - 12 5 - 11 6 - 12
Colors Available Orange/Red/White & Black/Gray/Blue & Blue/Yellow/Teal & Magenta/Yellow/Black & Magenta/Green/Blue Blue/Teal/Gray & Orange/Purple/Citron Blue/Red & Light/Dark Blue & Magenta/Gray Grey/Coral/White & Plum/Grey/Fuscia Grey/Mint Green/Blue & Titanium/Lightning/Plum

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product
Trail running shoes are designed to take you off the pavement and get you into the backcountry. Once off-road, there are a variety of surfaces you may encounter, ranging from soft and easy terrain to sloppy mud and snow to sand, gravel, or slickrock. Your trails of choice might vary from wildly steep mountainside to dreamy flat single track. So, what do these conditions demand from a trail running shoe?

Well, there are many types of shoes built for a variety of different purposes. If you're like most trail runners, you're probably looking for a shoe that offers superior foot protection from sharp and uneven surfaces; a shoe that has a rigid midsole to keep your feet protected from pounding impervious surfaces; and of course, a shoe with great traction that will hug sharp and slippery turns. Having all this in combination with a lightweight feel, balancing good sensitivity would be dream!

So how do these "wishlist requirements" compare to your typical road running shoe? Well, the big difference between road and trail running is the surfaces that you encounter. Road runners are designed for flat pavement surfaces as opposed to uneven, technical terrain. As a result, they prioritize efficiency, breathability, and speed. The complex tread patterns, stability features, and foot protection offered in traditional women's trail running shoes are not common in regular road running shoes. Some road shoes cross over, integrating some stability features or additional foot protection.

It's important to recognize that there are so many types of shoes out there, with different purposes. As a consumer, you need to think about the surfaces you will be running on, the environments you are running in, and the distances you plan on conquering, since all these considerations will help you decide which type of trail running shoe fits you best in the backcountry. Since every person is different, there is no right shoe for everybody. Take some time, reflect on these questions, read on, and see what you need to know to become the educated consumer. To start, let's take a look down trail running shoe type lane!

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Admiring the Cascade Mountains. This is where all of our shoe testing took place.
Credit: Jared Vilhauer

Types of Women's Trail Running Shoes
As we study our running in association with stride, cadence, and foot striking patterns, lots of trail running movements have emerged. If you go to a local race, you will see all sorts of different trail running shoes on people's feet. Everything from little flimsy pieces of rubber that fit around each toe, like the barefoot shoes offered by Vibram, to ginormous soled shoes like the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR. As every person is different, there are a variety of shoes out there that cater to all these individual needs. As an overview, we have outlined the primary shoe types that you may encounter in the buying market, and touched upon each advantage and disadvantage to better help you decide what shoe category you fit into based on your trail running demands. Breaking it down, we have designated four different shoe categories; barefoot, transitional, traditional, and maximalist.

For a more in-depth look at types of shoes and advice on buying trail runners, we welcome you to check out our buying advice article, How to Choose the Best Trail Running Shoes for Women.

Barefoot Running Shoes, like the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport - Women's, are designed to mimic running barefoot. Running barefoot means…well…running barefoot. No added comfort or stability components. The philosophy goes that after proper training, the stabilizing muscles in your feet and legs will become stronger, and your body will fall into a more natural running position. This running position means striking with your midfoot as opposed to your heel. The theory is that as a result, your body suffers less impact, and thus potentially creates less injury. Also, with your toes free to wiggle, they can splay out to give you better balance and stability on the trail. We did not review any barefoot/minimalist shoes in this review, but you can learn more about the barefoot philosophy and see the top scoring models by reading The Best Barefoot Shoes for Women Review.
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A top view of the very basic yet functional TrekSport.
Credit: Sarah Hegg
Maximalist shoes, like the award winning HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR, are on the other end of the spectrum. These offer ample midsole cushioning (between 30-35mm in comparison to the normal 20-25 mm!!). They may also host meta-rocker technology designed to boost you forward. This is a new category of shoe that has recently been introduced over the last few years and exploded on the market. The extra cushion is said to help alleviate impact for both heel and midfoot strikers alike.
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HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR.
Credit: Amber King
Traditional shoes are the classic models that we've grown up with. These typically boast extra cushion in the heel, and have heel-toe drops of 5 mm or greater. These shoes are also typically designed to accommodate both heel and midfoot strikers. Examples that fall into this category include Brooks Cascadia 9, ASICS GEL-Venture 4, ASICS GEL-Kahana 7, Salomon Speedcross 3, Adidas Vigor TR 4 - Women's, and Saucony Excursion TR8 - Women's.
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Traditional Shoes Tested. From left to right: ASICS Kahana 7, Adidas Vigor TR, Saucony Excursion TR8, ASICS Venture 4, Salomon Speedcross 3, Brooks Cascadia 9. All feature heel-toe drops of more than 6 mm and thus more cushion in the heel and a more narrow toe-box that doesn't really let your toes splay like a barefoot shoe.
Credit: Amber King
Transitional shoes fall in between traditional and barefoot running shoes. They are quite minimalistic with a teeny tiny bit of cushion in the heel and forefoot. Typically, they provide little foot protection and are very lightweight. These are commonly used to transition into barefoot running. By offering little cushion in the feet, transitional shoes force the runner to strike the ground with the midfoot more often since hitting the ground with your heel hurts if there is no cushion. They also have a heel-toe drop of 0-4 mm. The Keen A86 TR, New Balance Minimus 10 Trail, Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2, and Saucony Peregrine 4 are all examples of transitional shoes in this review.
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Transitional shoes tested in this review. The Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 and Saucony Peregrine 4. Each have a 4 mm drop and have less cushioning then traditional or maximalist shoes.
Credit: Amber King

Criteria for Evaluation

Foot Protection
Since your feet are hitting the trail, it's important that they are protected for long periods of exposure to uneven running surfaces and hazards. When evaluating each trail running shoe for foot protection, we considered a few micro-metrics. We ran all nine shoes over technical terrain that would normally beat up any runner's feet. While doing this, we paid specific attention to the rigidity of the shoe's midfoot, protection from impact (i.e. cushioning in the midfoot and heel), the rigidity of the upper material and how it encompassed the foot, and whether debris was able to get past the uppers on longer runs. Taking each of these micro-metrics into consideration, while comparing shoes side-by-side, we were able to decipher which shoes had the best foot protection.
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All the shoes tested in the review have hard toe caps that protect your foot from stubbed toes. The HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR and Salomon Speedcross 3 had the hardest toe caps, providing the best protection in this way on the trail.
Credit: Amber King

The HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's and Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's scored the highest in this category; they both offer ample foot protection, but in different ways. The Stinson ATR scored the highest as its incredibly thick midfoot completely protected the feet from all hazards encountered on the trail. While running over rocks and other debris, the midsole was soft enough to wrap around the obstacles, maintaining a flat plain, without feeling the sharp objects of obstacles that lay below.
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HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR showcasing it's uber-sized midsole that provides impeccable cushioning and protection on the trail.
Credit: Amber King
The Salomon Speedcross 3s offered similar protection, but with added sensitivity. They boasted a rigid midfoot, with comfortable uppers and insoles that cradled the foot on the trail. The cushioning in the uppers and midfoot helped alleviate impact, while the pull-string lacing system kept the shoe snug for little movement and added protection. Both these women's trail running shoes also feature very hard toe boxes that protected our feet while accidentally kicking rocks and roots on the trail. The last thing you want to deal with is a stubbed toe on trail!
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The hard toe cap provides extra protection on the trail.
Credit: Amber King

The Saucony Peregrine 4 performed the best in foot protection among the transitional shoes, thanks to its rock plate and extremely rigid midfoot. Others that scored well included the Brooks Cascadia 9 - Women's, which offers a nice rock plate and great cushion. The Adidas Vigor TR did really well at keeping any type of pesky debris out of our socks.

The trail running shoe that scored the lowest for foot protection was the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 - Women's. Being a transitional shoe with a more minimalist feel, it is not meant to provide a whole lot of foot protection. Instead, this shoe has a lightweight design, with no extra materials for protection, other than a somewhat rigid sole and protective, glove-like upper.
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Both transitional shoes have a heel-toe drop of 4mm. Though the Saucony Peregrine 4's (right) have a lot more cushioning in the midsole, as can be seen from the comparative shot with the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 (left).
Credit: Amber King

Traction
When you're trodding over technical terrain, good traction will help you trust your shoes and enjoy your run! Depending on where you run and what you are running on, your traction requirements may change dramatically. Perhaps you stick to the roads and veer off to the trail every now and then. If that's the case, you should look into a cross-over shoe like the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR, or ASICS Venture 4. Maybe you get high in the mountains, running into a variety of surfaces along the way; that might require a beefier shoe like the Salomon Speedcross 3. Or perhaps you like to go fast on single track terrain through the foothills or woods; here, weight is important, and you should consider a shoe like the Saucony Peregrine 4 or Nike Zoom 2. Whatever your preference, it is important to identify the surfaces that you encounter on your runs to figure out the traction that you need for your trails and lifestyle.
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Amber King using the Speedcross 3s as a means of traversing a wet, slippery snow slope in the Northern Cascades.
Credit: Jared Vilhauer
As the world of trail running evolves, the types of surfaces that runners encounter begin to get bigger, steeper, and more slippery. Among both elite and recreational runners, different sports like hiking, mountaineering, and even rock climbing are sometimes integrated into trail running. As a result, we considered these mega adventures and tested our women's trail running shoes over everything from breezy, dirt-packed, single track trails to high alpine mountain ridge lines. With this in mind, we tested traction not only on trails, but on rock surfaces as well. We rated traction with the following micro-metrics: performance on heavy mud, wet boulders, sloggy steep snowfields, gravel over slabs, slab scrambling, edging on cliffs, steep broken scree slopes, steep trails, hot desert sand, dirt-packed single track, pavement, and even a little racing around the ol' high school rubber running track.
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Testing out the Cascadia on low angle slab scrambles. This requires a certain amount of sensitivity and traction that this shoe definitely offered.
Credit: Frank Sosa

For all you technical trail runners
If you are looking for a trail running shoe with awesome traction for the technical and slippery trail - so good that it tests poorly on pavement - we recommend taking a look at the deep and widely spaced tri-tipped lug system offered by the Salomon Speedcross 3, our Top Pick for Sloppy Terrain. This system provided the most trusted traction on steep and flat terrain and all the backcountry surfaces tested in this review. We were surprised how the soft non-marking contra-grip rubber performed on wet and rocky surfaces, as well as snow. Even with the deep lugs, they still clung to granite slabs and did pretty well edging on rock climbs. We were surprised!
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The tread pattern is multi-directional, featuring deep lugs that will literally stick to anything. Deep nasty mud? No problem. Slippery rocks? No worries. This traction earned this model our Top Pick for Sloppy Terrain.
Credit: Amber King
The Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's, our Editors' Choice winner, was a very close runner up in our traction metric. The complex and multi-directional tread design binds to most surfaces for trusted traction when rounding corners or bounding over boulders. We found that the rubber used in the soles of these shoes was a little harder than the Salomon, and these shoes did not grip wet rocks or do as well while scrambling over granite. In fact, none of the shoes tested did well here, except for the Salomons. Our Editors' Choice winner also did not shed mud as well as the Salomons; however, they performed a little better than the Salomons when edging on rock climbs and climbing uber steep snow slopes.
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The Saucony Peregrine 4's are a transitional shoe that can literally go anywhere. The 'Run Anywhere' logo on its tongue truly means it. Take these on fast flats, steep technical terrain, or even try them out on the roads.
Credit: Amber King

Cross-over Traction
Now, if you're a road runner looking to get on the trails, or if you are a trail runner that likes to get on the roads every now and then, you're not going to need all the fancy bells and whistles of deep lugs and super complex tread patterns.
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Girls just wanna have fun! Amy Kerker (left), Amber King, and Sarah Buman (right) showing off the best crossover shoes for each category. On the left is the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR (Maximalist). The best cross over shoe of all categories. The middle is the ASICS Kahana 7 (traditional), and the right is the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 (transitional)
Credit: Mike Hughes
Instead, consider a cross-over shoe that boasts great traction on the trail, but not so much that it hinders your performance on the road. The best cross-over shoes include: the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR, ASICS Kahana 7, ASICS GEL-Venture 4 - Women's, and Adidas Vigor TR. All four performed well for traction on all surfaces except for the snow slopes and the nasty sloppy stuff.
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HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR lug pattern that works great on both roads and trails!
Credit: Amber King
Of these four models, the maximalist shoe, the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson performed the best on both the pavement and trails. Boasting deeper lugs, this shoe still felt fast on flats, but got the traction we needed on the steeps. The result? These make great cross-over shoes that performed the best on roads and less technical terrain. The added breathable uppers and lightweight design is what makes these the best, and sets them apart from the other traditional cross-over shoes.
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A look at the lug pattern that does well on most surfaces.
Credit: Amber King
Among the other three traditional cross-over shoes, the ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's performed the best on trails and roads. The lugs were deeper then that of the Vigor TR 4 and Venture 4. They also had the best multi-direction traction on stickier surfaces.

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A closer look at the less aggressive, multi-directional lugs that make the ASICS Venture 4 great crossover shoe.
Credit: Amber King
The ASICS Venture 4 performed the best on the track and roads. This shoe hosts the smallest and least aggressive lugs of all the shoes tested. Thus, it is the best option if you are looking for a shoe to just wear around, and occasionally get out onto the the trail with. If you're looking for a minimalist or transitional shoe that does well as a cross-over, check out Nike Wildhorse Zoom 2 and the Saucony Peregrine 4. They both offer great grip on flat and less technical trails, and have exactly what you need for road running.

Stability
It is important to feel stable on the trail. Constantly encountering uneven surfaces and obstacles means that a stable trail running shoe will keep your foot safe and happy. A lot of other metrics contribute to stability, including foot protection, sensitivity, and traction. As a result, when considering stability, we took into account the following micro-metrics: lug design, lacing system, shoe height, ability to feel the ground, whether tripping or ankle rolling occurred during testing, the foot platform width, and simply how comfortable our running team felt while testing out these shoes.
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Middle of the outsole tread. This is a close-up of one of the stability features offered by Brooks Cascadia. They have 'pivot' posts that are deeper and set in 4 crucial areas of the sole - two outside of the heel, and two on the outside of the forefoot.
Credit: Amber King
Once again, the Salomon Speedcross 3s performed top in the stability category. With sensitivity, traction, and a precise moldable fit, these trail runners felt close to the ground and super stable, suited for a foot with a narrow fit. A close second was the Saucony Peregrine 4, which has a tight - yet relaxed - fit; a nice wide toe box, allowing the pigs to wiggle while you run; and fantastic sensitivity. Other women's trail running shoes that performed well in this category included the ASICS Kahana 7 and Brooks Cascadia 9. The HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR scored the lowest in this category. In our tests, there were a couple of ankle-rolling events, and a lack of sensitivity that resulted from the ample cushioning offered. As a result, this model earned a lower score for stability. The stability that this shoe does offer comes in the way of a welded support foxing that pulls around the foot for a precise fit.
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The Salomon Speedcross 3s in action. Trodding over moderately technical terrain.
Credit: Amber King

Comfort
Everybody wants to be comfortable on the trail - whether you are running an ultra-marathon, marathon, 5K or just getting out after work. When looking at comfort, we considered the shoe's breathability, amount of cushion, versatility for orthotics, and break-in period.

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Three shoe categories. Left - transitional with minimal midsole height. Middle - Maximalist shoe with HUGE amount of cushioning. Right - traditional shoe with a good amount of cushioning. The maximalist shoes offer the highest level of comfort, while transitional shoes tend to lose points in this category.
Credit: Amber King

We were really impressed with the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR in this category! So impressed that we awarded a Top Pick for Comfort award as a result of its amazing performance. When asking a fellow tester to grade the comfort on a scale of 1-10, she asked if she could give it an 11! Why not? The ample cushioning in the midfoot offers a trail ride that we had never experienced before. Fitting those with a narrow foot best, the Stinson ATR is like running on a cloud. You can't feel the trail under you as you careen your way through technical terrain. As a result, joints were left happier and our feet felt better - especially on longer runs with a lot of descent. The uppers are the most breathable tested and dry quickly after going through puddles. They also performed very well in hotter weather. In comparison, the Salomons were awarded two points less as a result of the less breathable uppers and a sensitivity forefoot that left your feet hurting after 18 miles. The trade-off for good sensitivity normally lives in the cushioned comfort.

On the end of the scale, the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2, a minimalist transitional shoe scored the lowest in comfort as it does not boast any sort of extra cushion or comfort components. Though, this was how the shoe was designed. A trade-off for being lightweight and minimalist.

When measuring breathability, we started off by simply wearing all our trail running shoes out in hot weather to determine which offered the most airflow. In terms of breathability, through our tests we found that the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR and Saucony Peregrine 4 performed the best. Both have breathable uppers that, when you hold them up to the light, you can actually see through. We would recommend both for hot summer days, but not cold winter nights. The Adidas Vigor TR and ASICS Kahana 7s performed the worst for breathability, making them a good option for cold weather running. These shoes both held the most water during our drench test.
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The upper air-flow mesh is so breathable you can see through it! As the most breathable mesh of all the shoes tested, we urge you to take them for a spin on hot days.
Credit: Amber King

Sensitivity
Being able to feel the trail under your foot is really important for a lot of trail runners. Sensitivity allows you to feel the uneven surfaces and readjust your body to ensure a healthy foot strike and position. Typically, shoes closer to the barefoot or transitional category scored the best in this category. While rating sensitivity, we specifically looked at whether we could feel the trail underfoot and whether we could feel small rocks and/or roots, or if there was no connection to the trail.

The Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2, Keen A86 TR - Women's, and New Balance Minimus 10 Trail - Women's scored the highest in this category. All shoes have a very thin midfoot that does not feature a lot of cushion, allowing you to feel the trail as you move along. Following closely behind was the Saucony Peregrine 4. It offers exceptional sensitivity but has a little bit more cushion and sole between the ground and foot. On the other end of the spectrum was the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR. As mentioned in the comfort section, the HOKA ONE ONE hosts extreme cushion, not allowing for much sensitivity on the trail.
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Designed without sensitivity in mind, running on terrain like this makes everything feel flat with the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR.
Credit: Amber King

Weight
Having a lightweight shoe on the trail can make a whole world of difference for all trail runners. If you're an ultra-runner, a couple of ounces feel heavy after 50 miles. If you're a recreational runner, the lighter weight may give you more speed and help you feel liberated on the trail. Though, you need to ask yourself, how important is weight to you? To evaluate weight we did two things. We weighed each model while it was dry (per pair of size 9 women's). Then we dunked each one in water for 30 seconds to compare how much water the shoe held when wet.

Water Held = Wet Weight-Dry Weight

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The drench test showed that the ASICS Kahana 7 held the most amount of water in comparison to the other shoes tested.
Credit: Amber King

We felt that wet weight and water held was important for folks who run through streams and rivers, or who live and train in areas of the world that get a lot of rain - like the Pacific Northwest. We averaged the dry weight and the water held to formulate our weight scores.

The women's trail running shoes that earned the best scores in our weight metric were the New Balance Minimus, Keen A86 TR, Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 and HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR. The New Blanace Minimus and Keen A86 TR had the lightest dry weights, making you want to fly on the flats. Through the dunk tests, the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR held the least amount of water, while the Nike Zoom Wildhorse 2 held just a little bit more. This makes them both good options if you are considering terrain where you might encounter a lot of water.

On the other end of the spectrum, the heaviest shoes tested were the Adidas Vigor TR then the ASICS Kahana 7. Both were already on the heavier end while dry, but when we dunked the shoes in water for 30 seconds, we found that they also held the most water of all their competitors.

Editors' Choice Award: Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's
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Saucony Peregrine 4 earned our Editors' Choice award! We loved it for all different types of terrain - from technical mountain trails to pavement!
Credit: Amber King
The Saucony Peregrine 4 - Women's is a low profile shoe (4 mm heel-toe drop) with exemplary versatility. This women's trail running shoe balances great foot protection and sensitivity and can easily cross over from roads to trails. With its lightweight design, you feel fast on both the roads and dirt flats. If you feel like getting into more technical terrain, don't hestitate! As our most breathable shoe, it will keep your feet cool and well protected. The superior foot protection comes in the form of a rock plate in the midsole that protects from extended impacts on the trails. The Saucony Peregrine 4's logo "Run Anywhere" is true to the shoe…you really can go anywhere, and it performs well. That is why we awarded it this year's Editors' Choice award.

Best Buy Award: ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's
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With superior comfort and stability, the ASICS Kahana 7 is a traditional shoe earning our Best Buy Award. We wouldn't recommend these for extremely technical trails, but they are great for getting out on mellow to moderately technical terrain and back to the roads again for a low price of just $85.
Credit: Amber King
If you are looking for something that gives you great quality without breaking the bank, we highly recommend the ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 - Women's, which rings up at just $85. In a tight race with the Saucony Excursion TR8, the Kahana performed well in all categories. We really liked the thin, rigid uppers in combination with the Duo-max gel pods, which added extra comfort in the midsole. This women's trail running shoe wicks water well and still performed well as a cross-over from the trail to the pavement. It provides good traction on nasty surfaces and it's lightweight enough to be race ready, as long as it's not wet. Furthermore, its construction is high quality and did not exhibit any wear and tear throughout the duration of testing. As a result, we are proud to announce the ASICS GEL-Kahana 7 as our Best Buy award winner.

Top Pick Award for Sloppy Terrain: Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's
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The Salomon Speedcross 3 is a high performance surface slayer! Here, they are posed in the North Cascades after bringing us up a steep snow slope to the base of Early Winter Spire.
Credit: Amber King
We loved how the Salomon Speedcross 3 - Women's performed on technical and casual terrain. This was our go-to trail running shoe for all sorts of adventures, including long high alpine ridge runs and quick and short single track. The deep, multi-directional lugs stand apart from any of the other shoes tested. In fact, this was the only shoe that could really handle super wet, slippery, and rocky surfaces. Wearing a shoe like this on the trail will have you comfortably trusting the technical terrain, and plowing through the gnarly elements you are bound to meet with as a trail runner in the mountains. This is why we couldn't help but give the Salomon Speedcross 3 our Top Pick for Sloppy Terrain.

Top Pick Award for Comfort: HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's
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HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR
Credit: Amber King
This is hands down the most comfortable shoe that we have ever worn. Especially well-suited for long or ultra-long distances and crossing over to pavement, the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR - Women's kept our feet, joints, and body happy. This shoe features up to 50% more cushioning than traditional trail running shoes, boasts an active foot frame in the insoles to help with stability, and also contains a meta-rocker to almost launch you forward as you run. The uppers are thin and extremely breathable, and the shoe offers ample foot protection on the trail. Not only that, but they are lightweight and retained the least amount of water in our dunk tests. We just had to give the HOKA ONE ONE Stinson ATR a top pick award. The amount of cushion offered is truly novel, and something that a lot of runners are beginning to get into. All that said, be sure to read our full review of this product to learn about a few of its flaws.

Amber King
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