The best trail running shoes for women

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  July 25, 2022

Make your trail runs even more enjoyable by finding your perfect off-road runners. Here's our pick of the best trail running shoes for women

We ask a lot of our trail running shoes. They have to be ready for all kinds of terrains, weathers and temperatures, while also giving us tip top support and stopping us from slipping up. They have to be amongst our best running shoes.

Of course, there is no one trail shoe that is perfect for all trail runners. So, we asked our expert testers which ones they’d recommend for all different types of trail running. Here’s what they said:

Keep reading for our in-depth reviews of each shoe, or scroll down for our Guide to choosing the right trail running shoes.

The best trail running shoes for women

Best for everyday trail running: HOKA Speedgoat 5

HOKA Speedgoat 5 best running shoes for women

HOKA Speedgoat 5 technical details

  • Weight: 234g
  • Sizes: 3.5-10.5
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Price: £130

Why we loved them

  • Excellent all-round trail shoe
  • Great grip
  • Surprisingly lightweight for a grippy trail shoe

Why we didn’t

  • Not as cushioned as other HOKA shoes if that’s what you like about the brand
  • Not super-waterproof

What our testers said

I absolutely loved taking these out for a spin for some off-road running. That initial comfort stood the test of time, as my feet still felt cushioned after several miles, and there wasn’t a blister in sight – these definitely aren’t shoes that you need to wear in. The soft EVA sockliner keeps me snug and supported, but is also nice and breathable. I quickly discover that they’re not entirely waterproof, and a few larger puddles leak through the upper slightly, but the fact that the Vibram sole is so chunky really helps to minimise this. I love the responsiveness, and am suitably impressed by the spring I feel in my toe-off. They’re perfect for tackling my local canal path, which is a little rocky under foot, with the 5mm lugs helping me feel secur

Want to know more? Read Holly’s full HOKA Speedgoat 5 review.

Best for comfort: New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V5 technical details

  • Weight: 299g
  • Sizes: 3.5-8
  • Price: £125

Why we loved them

  • Great all-round performance
  • Ideal for comfort on long runs
  • Can also be used for hiking

What our testers said

This shoe stood out due to its all-round performance. Esther tested this shoe on the hilly trails surrounding Bath: “These shoes are so impressively comfy, especially on longer runs where you rely on internal support for your feet. The cushioning was brilliant, whether it was light trails or more tricky, technical paths, and I enjoyed wearing these on hikes as well as runs. They felt supportive, with lovely non-slip soles and good-sized lugs.” Another high score was given for the Hierro from Tina: “The toe protector felt solid, no matter how rocky it was underfoot, and you feel you have ‘megagrip’ with the Vibram outsole which feels rugged without the lugs being too clumpy.”

Best for mega grip: INOV-8 TRAILFLY G 270

INOV-8 Trailfly G 270

INOV-8 Trailfly G 270 technical details

  • Weight: 270g
  • Sizes: 3-8.5
  • Price: £145

Why we loved them

  • 360-degree comfort
  • Great grip
  • Nice and bouncy

What our testers said

I loved the design and the fit was good; they’re roomy in the toe box area with plenty of space there for me. I do have very narrow/small feet but there was no rubbing, just 360-degree comfort around the foot. The outsole performs really well, even when running downhill on muddy and stony paths. The foam in the midsole also performed well over various terrain, feeling soft and springy. In my opinion, it’s the outsole that is the big seller on this shoe, because serious trail runners need brilliant grip, and the Graphene Grip is really strong! When you get this reliable, strong and durable outsole with the great design, you have a winning shoe. My only criticism is that the upper let in a bit of water; if the front section of the upper was 100% waterproof, they’d be faultless.

Best for waterproof trail running shoes: ON Cloudventure Waterproof

ON Cloudventure Waterproof

ON Cloudventure Waterproof  technical details

  • Weight: 265g
  • Sizes: 3-9
  • Price: £150

Why we loved them

  • Great on trails and road
  • Waterproof
  • Solid feel

What our testers said

A brilliant for rainy days on the trails, which also performed just as well on the road. They are very definitely waterproof, and the upper and outsole can’t be faulted: the construction is unrivalled. The upper is more rigid than many, but on flinty trails this is what you want: they’re solid around the heel and the roll feels strong and sturdy. The elasticated loop for laces is welcome too. You may find the occasional stone gets stuck in the large lugs, but overall they give brilliant grip and impressive cushioning due to those Cloudpods.

Best for technical trail running: INOV-8 X-Talon G 235

best trail running shoes - INOV-8 X-Talon G 235

INOV-8 X-Talon G 235 technical details

  • Weight: 235g
  • Sizes: 3-8.5
  • Price: £140

Why we loved them

  • Large studs for ultimate stability
  • Great for fast trail running
  • Responsive

What our testers said

Extremely comfortable, these shoes give you the confidence to tackle tough terrain. With the 8mm studs you feel like they are clawing through soft ground and holding firm on harder stuff. They are brilliant for fast shingle reps and beach dunes. Weighing in at just 235g and designed with lightweight, non-water absorbing materials they feel airy and fit snugly. They also feel responsive to the ground and have a 6mm drop. For those who love bold colours for training kit, they are a zesty orange. Overall the fit is slightly narrow, but without feeling uncomfortable, and they have made the spring trails such a joy.

Best for trail PBs: HOKA Tecton X

best trail running shoes - HOKA Tecton X

HOKA Tecton X technical details

  • Weight: 196g
  • Sizes: 3.5-9.5
  • Price: £175

Why we loved them

  • Carbon plates gave an extra speed push
  • Super lightweight
  • Ideal for race days or PBs

What our testers said

These are HOKA’s first foray into trail shoes with a carbon plate, and they certainly put a spring in my step. TMI, but on my first run in them, I’d just gotten my period and expected to be very sluggish. Reader, I was not sluggish and I’m crediting the shoes for that. The shoe coped well with all the terrain I covered in both damp and dry conditions. Its Vibram® Megagrip Litebase outsole gripped the paths well. I would say that these shoes are ideal for racing, or a speedy parkrun on rough terrain. They’re definitely PB material!

Read Laura’s full review of the HOKA Tecton X

How to choose the right trail running shoes

Trail running shoes usually come with a lot of technical info that can be tricky to understand make your shoe choice even harder. Here’s our guide of what to look for in a trail running shoe, and what all those terms mean.

Terrain

First of all, where will you be running and what will the ground be like? Trail running shoes are usually designed with a certain type of terrain in mind, whether that’s everyday woodland trails or technical rocky or steep runs. Work out where you’ll be doing most of your running, then read on.

Fit

Trail running shoes offer all the same options as road running shoes (width, heel-to-toe drop, etc). When in doubt, pick a trail shoe with similar specs to a road running shoe that you know fits you well. Your foot tends to move around more in trail running shoes due to the uneven terrain, so make sure that you don’t have too much extra room – you want to feel secure.

Laces

Trail running shoes often offer more in terms of laces. There are standard, tie-up laces, and these usually offer extra traction than their road running counterparts to keep your shoes on securely. Some brands, like Salomon, offer pull-tight laces, with a little section to tuck the spare length away. These can be really helpful in wet or muddy conditions, and can help you get the shoes on and off more easily – very helpful if they’re caked in mud!

Lugs

These are the thick spikes on the outsole of the shoe. They give you grip in muddy or wet conditions. When it comes to trail shoes, size maters!

Shorter lugs (2mm-4mm) will be best for the everyday trail runner. They offer a decent amount of grip, but are short enough that the shoe is still quite flexible and comfortable. They’re also usually better at handling on-road running, which is hard to avoid at the beginning and end of trail running routes.

Longer lugs (5mm+) are better suited to runners who will be tackling very muddy, steep or technical trails. The extra length offers much more grip, but can cause the shoe to become quite rigid, which can be uncomfortable on easier sections or on longer runs.

Carbon plates

Carbon plates started life in the race and road shoes category, but they’re now popping up in trail running shoes from bigger brands like HOKA and North Face. Just like in their road shoe counterparts, they offer extra propulsion. This sounds great, for sure, but it offers an extra challenge when trail running. If you’ve been trail running for a while, and you’re quite nimble on your feet, you’ll appreciate this extra bounce. If you’re a more beginner or cautious trail runner, the plates may give you a little bit too much of a pep in your step to place your foot correctly.

To waterproof or not waterproof?

This is an age-old question in trail running. The bottom line is, even the most waterproof of trainers aren’t going to protect you completely from the elements. Every pair has a big hole – where your foot goes in! That being said, waterproofing technology is improving all the time, and some of today’s trail running shoes offer really good protection.

Some trail runners swear by waterproof shoes, saying they prevent blisters from soggy socks and keep you light on your feet. Others reckon that waterproof shoes are less breathable and don’t drain water as well if it does get in. Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice.

Want to know more? Check out our guide on buying the right running shoes that has all the info you need to know.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

Meet the team

We use cookies to give you a better experience on womensrunning.co.uk. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it