How fast can you go on technical trails? The Antora is a trail-running shoe for runners who want to get a little crazy in the woods, with a soft ride but lightweight and responsive feel that makes navigating rocks and roots at PR pace a heck of a lot less terrifying and more fun. The shoe uses Merrell’s new Q-Form 2 midsole, which is made from compression-molded EVA engineered specifically for women’s feet. The design places softer zones of cushioning in the heel and forefoot that keep form true when fatigue sets in, while extra air pods at the heel maximize shock absorption. Our testers found that the water-resistant upper protected their feet through rain and puddles while maintaining breathability and lightweight flexibility.
The best running shoes for women share the same class-leading features with the best shoes overall—they’re light, comfortable, cushioned, and just supportive enough where you need it most. But that locus of support is where some of the biggest differences between men’s and women’s running shoes can be found. Check out quick reviews below of five of our top picks, or scroll deeper for more in-depth reviews of these and other options, plus buying advice.
While a minimalist running shoe might be all the rage, it may not be the best selection for you. This is why making a selection based on your foot type is crucial for a smooth and pain-free shoe. If you have higher arches, then look for a running shoe that gives extra support in the midsole. This will ensure that your feet don’t roll inward when they strike the ground.
I'm in my running shoes a lot: I've set out to run a marathon in 30 different countries, raising money for local organizations in each one. Running race after race, I look for comfort and reliability in a shoe. I want to be sure every day that I'm getting the same fit as I did the week before, and that my feet are happy after 18 months of travel and running.
For just $1.99 for the first 6 months, you can receive incredible discounts on many of the products we sell-not just shoes. You'll start saving 10% on everything we have to offer from the moment you sign up! In addition, you can take advantage of our 90-day guarantee; if the shoes you select don't work out for any reason, you have up to 90 days to return them and swap for a pair that fits you better-just pay the difference.
Studies on foot shape have shown that women’s feet aren’t just smaller, narrower versions of male feet—there are differences in overall shape that affect shoe fit. Women’s feet tend to be comparatively wider in the forefoot, with a narrower heel. Running shoe makers take this statistical difference into mind when designing their shoes, and generally build their shoes with different heel shapes and sometimes different heel materials between the two models of the same shoe. Companies like Altra, with its Fit4Her technology, specifically design shoes that anatomically mirror a woman’s foot.
Researchers have also found that because women tend to have wider hips than men, our feet are more likely to strike the ground toward the outside of our shoe soles. The inward rolling of the foot that results from this is known as pronation, which explains why more women are believed to overpronate than men. Some women’s running shoes account for this increased tendency with different materials used for support through the sole.