Altra builds all of its women’s shoes around its “Fit4Her” platform—a women-specific last takes into account the wearer’s narrower heel, higher instep, and longer arch. Add to that its zero-drop construction, which encourages natural foot positioning, a characteristic of Altra’s shoes. Compared to the 3.5, the 4 is slightly lighter according to tests at the RW Shoe Lab. For runners who have always wanted to give zero-drop shoes a go, the Torin 4 (or the even cushier Torin 4 Plush) is the perfect shoe to make the transition.
We chose all the shoes in this roundup based on feedback from the women on our test team, as well as test results from our RW Shoe Lab. We also researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and designers to find the best of the best. Every shoe was evaluated over the course of hundreds of miles, with attention given to overall performance, comfort, ride, longevity, value, and yes, even style—because who doesn’t want to feel like they look good, even alone on a trail? Here are our favorite running shoes for women this year.
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.
Altra is known for its Foot Pod design, mapping out the foot and balancing weight and pressure on tendons and bones. This technology married with the comfort and responsiveness of the Altra Intuition 4.5 is what sets it a notch above the rest. The Intuition 4.5 has a 0mm drop, allowing for your body to align properly while feeling the road under your feet. It's a great shoe for a long run, the kind that clear your head.
Mizuno completely redesigned the brand’s midsoles this year with a dual layer of foam in the shape of a wave, plus a full-length third foam level for even more cushioning. In the case of the Waveknit 3, the result is a shoe that feels softer, bouncier, and less stiff—without losing the smooth-riding qualities we’ve loved in Mizunos of yore. A more flexible knit Waveknit upper provides a snug fit with better stretch in the toebox than the Waveknit 2’s mesh upper. The durable rubber outsole is largely unchanged, adding up to a cushioned-but-firm trainer that will float you through your daily mileage.
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.
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