10 Best Running Shoes For Women in 2021
Physical strength aside, having the right pair of running shoes is the key ingredient in having an amazing run. For women, there are thousands of options available, which makes the selection part a bit of a drag.
But fret not, this list trims down your options down to the ten best shoes from various categories. We have personally tested all these women’s running shoes to make sure they are worthy of choosing.
Overview of this guide
How we test the best running shoes for women
Our top picks for the best running shoes for women are NOT products of cherry-picking. First, we buy them with our own money. Second, we put them through paces with at least 30-50 miles of test runs.
They also go through a series of tests in our independent RunRepeat shoe testing lab, including:
- Cutting each shoe into pieces to see what’s inside
- Measure its parts in various parameters like breathability, flexibility, softness, strength, etc.
And to see how they rank against other running shoes, we calculate their CoreScore through thousands of expert and user reviews.
Almost reaching its 40th version, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus still remains as our go-to workhorse. That said, we just can’t get enough of it!
If you want a bang-for-the-buck running shoe, this is THE shoe. It’s an all-rounder that gets the job done excellently.
Whether you’re running easy or tempo, clocking up serious miles, or training in the gym, it won’t fail you. Even better, the Peg is available colorways, so you can strut around town in style.
What makes the Pegasus 38 the amazing shoe that it is is its balance of comfort and responsiveness. In our lab tests, we found that it’s 18% softer than the average running shoe, while having some pop, thanks to the Zoom Air pods.
It’s crazy bouncy and propulsive, even though it’s heavier than the average shoe, it doesn’t feel like it. From the initial step to our last, its springiness made our strides come to life.
A plus is its durability. It’s got some touch of stiffness underfoot, it’s hard to even gash it. 30 miles of rough wear testing later, the outsole remains free from scratch.
It’s no wonder why the Nike Pegasus 38 tops this list. It’s a reliable workhorse that doesn’t break the bank. Even better, it’s a serious Nike performer.
Perfecting the blend of comfort and support, Brooks Ghost 14 remains unbeaten in giving our feet all the pampering they could ask for. We don’t even mind wearing it all day long.
Delivering the Ghost’s plush magic was the copious amount of padding it had from top to bottom. Its tongue is even 8.1mm thick (vs. the average 5.5mm). Now, this is what we call luxury comfort!
And the ride took everything a step further. It was soft and flexible, we were blown away. And when we ran our tests, the numbers made us fall more in love with the shoe.
When we measured its flexibility, it turned out that the Ghost 14 only requires 19.2N force to bend while the average needs 40.2N.
It stunned us with its spa-day comfort during easy runs. Despite its weight, the ride was more than terrific when we ran at speed.
Best trail shoe
Grip reigns king in the Salomon Sense Ride 4. Not once did we lose our step during steep climbs. Even better, it paced us.
It’s hard not to love the Salomon Sense Ride. It nails it in the comfort department, it almost even feels like a proper road shoe. The upper is so darn airy and soft, we want to keep it on forever.
But what really won us over was the ride. It’s so lively and peppy, we were as quick AF! And we wouldn’t let the opportunity to run some tests slide. With our durometer, we scrutinized its firmness - the main reason behind its responsiveness - and found that its midsole is 31.7% more rigid than the average.
Trail-ready is not enough to describe the shoe’s outsole. It’s a solid tank. It’s very firm at 81.5HC (vs. the standard 75.1HC), it’s more than ready to take a beating and crush everything underneath.
Despite its toughness, it never taxed our feet, which took us by surprise. More than fast, the Salomon Sense Ride is also a fun shoe.
To top it all off, its traction is a certified winner. On loose, rocky, and hard-packed terrain, we were surefooted as hell.
The Saucony Peregrine 11 ate up all the gnarliest, most unfriendly terrains we paced it through. It’s such a champ in the traction arena, we were even surefooted on soft ground.
Hands down, it’s a terrific shoe for its claw-like grip. On stream crossings (wet and dry), slick mud, snow, it bit its way through. It clung so well, we never slipped nor felt tippy.
Coupled with the shoe’s amazing lockdown, stability has been nothing short of fantastic. Our feet were tucked in place, they never slid around.
And protection is one of the best things about the Peregrine. The slightly stiffer midsole (33.6N vs.26.2N) mutes out all the poking rocks and roots underneath. Because of this, plus the 50% thicker outsole, it’s also extremely durable.
50 miles of putting it through the wringer, we can confirm that the Saucony Peregrine 11 is going to last you 500 miles before you put it down.
Best budget shoe
Brooks Revel 5 is the shoe that proved to us top quality does not always mean expensive. Its comfort is even along the ranks of high-end shoes on the market. Scratch that. It’s even better.
The shoe’s foam is very plush and soft, our feet were kept cozy upon lace-up down to the last mile. And if we had to choose one shoe for our easy runs, picking the Revel up is a no-brainer.
For long hauls, it doesn’t cut corners on protection. It absorbs impact so well, our feet and legs didn’t even need recovery after. It even felt like we could push another mile!
For such a plush ride, we weren’t expecting it to perform in tempo runs. But it’s got some tricks up its sleeve. It had some pep, it was easy to push forward.
At 8.7 oz, it’s way lighter than other running shoes (average at 9.4 oz). It weighs like a feather, we completely forgot about it on the run.
And if you think it swears off strength, the Revel 5 is here to change your mind. At 79HC firm, the outsole is made to last.
If we didn’t know its price, we’d think it’s one of the advanced running shoes.
The Saucony Axon is billed as a tempo speedster. And through the series of test runs we conducted, we can confirm it’s a great speed shoe. It paced us with its smooth and fast transitions.
When you lace it up, prepare for takeoff. It will bolt you forward and will keep you up on your toes.
What makes it a standout among all the other tempo trainers we have on our roster is its forgiving ride. It’s not rigid nor stiff, it never strained our feet. You don’t even have to break it in.
We love to put our shoes to the test to see how long they’ll last. And the Brooks Revel 5 is no exception. And to our amazement, it still runs and looks brand-new, we’re expecting it to clock up 400-500 miles before retiring in our closet.
It’s not the lightest shoe on paper. It weighs 9.75 oz, which is a wee bit more than the standard 9.4 oz (in our lab test). But on the run, it’s almost completely weightless, making it a full-fledged speedster.
Best for overpronation
Overpronation, if not aided with the right pair of stability shoes can be a nightmare. And if you’re looking for the best of the best among all the support shoes in our arsenal, nothing comes close to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21.
It’s not your typical stability trainer. They tend to be firm and stiff, becoming overbearing to the feet. But not the Adrenaline. It hits the sweet spot between comfort and support, even neutral runners can enjoy it.
From the bottom up, this shoe has stability written all over it. The upper conforms to the contours of the feet, they remain locked in place. The sidewalls only took everything up a notch. It guided our feet and knees, keeping everything centered for a wobble-free run.
Like a true Brooks, the Adrenaline GTS 21 is tough. It’s so sturdy, you can get 400-500 miles out of it.
At 10.2 oz, it’s a hefty shoe. But with all the perks it comes with, we don’t mind one bit. And as opposed to its precursors, it’s a commendable weight loss. Safe to say, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is heading in the right direction.
The Kayano is a well-loved classic among stability trainers. A lot of runners swear by it, and with the 28th version, we can’t help but hop in.
The Asics Kayano has been so awesome for the past decades, it’s become a household name among runners in need of support shoes. We tried its past iterations, but this one right here is a gold mine.
It blends both comfort and stability so well, it wasn’t obtrusive to the feet. Even better, it’s a fun ride. The Kayano 28 is a touch more flexible, it brings some spring to our run, making our strides feel alive.
And of course, it’s a true Kayano. It’s plenty durable, it will take you some miles and time to even scratch it.
The greatest update it gets? It’s a trimmed-down Kayano. It shaves off some weight at 10.6 oz, which is half an ounce less than its predecessor.
Best for race
When it comes to racing flats, the Asics MetaSpeed Sky is king. Of all the race-day shoes we’ve tried, nothing beats it to this day.
It’s as elite as elite can be. Everything about it just screams fast. It has a carbon-fiber plate that literally launched us forward, and a bouncy midsole that pushed us to our next step.
And the fit is downright awesome. From the rear to the midfoot, our feet were locked securely in place. Up front, we had ample room for our toes to wiggle.
Even after some foot swelling, we never felt restrained in the shoe.
Whether it’s an easy or fast-paced run, it’s a solid 10/10 in stability. And our lab test results only proves this further. In our durometer test, it showed that it’s 22.5 HA firm. Meaning, it’s a touch rigid, making our runs surefooted, despite its insane bounce.
We love to get down to the nitty-gritties. But even to the tiniest details, the Asics MetaSpeed Sky has perfected everything. And if you want to outrun the competition, we can’t recommend it enough.
The Endorphin series is Saucony’s premium line of running shoes. And if there’s a superlative of premium, it’s the Endorphin Pro 2.
We loved the first version of the Endorphin Pro, and we’re swooning over its second edition. It didn’t just make us feel like one of the elites, it ran like it too. It was super fast, we were zooming through the blocks.
The midsole is extremely springy and light, we didn’t have to push the shoe to the next step. It pushed us. Add in the flawless transitions, running with speed is an easy feat with the Endorphin Pro 2.
It’s not the most flexible running shoe on the market, which is why it’s not for everyone. In our lab tests, we’ve gathered that at 94.3N, it’s stiffer than the Vaporfly (83.7N) and MetaSpeed Sky (62.9N). But for all the responsiveness it provided, it’s more than justified.
Ultimately, the Endorphin Pro 2 from Saucony is a speed monster that will pace you. Heck, it can let you win the competition.