Finding the best women’s running shoes is our main focus at Fleet Feet.
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just wanting to get outside for a few miles, we want to find you the best running shoes for your feet. To do that, we research and test as many women’s running shoes as we can to ensure we recommend the right pair.
We also break down any differences between the women's models and the best running shoes for men if shoe designers tuned them specifically for each gender.
Of course, there is no one best pair of women’s running shoes for every runner. But based on our own experiences in these shoes and our database of fit id® scans, with think these are the best women’s running shoes for most female runners and most types of runs:
[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2020. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
There are very few things the Brooks Ghost 12 can’t do. It’s comfortable, cushioned, lightweight and a perennial best-seller, making it our recommendation for the best women’s running shoe for most runners.
Brooks built the well-rounded women’s Ghost 12 to be a dependable everyday training shoe for veterans and new runners alike. The democratic fit works for most foot shapes as our testers found in the Brooks Ghost 12 review, and Brooks makes the Ghost in wide sizing for anyone who needs it.
Beneath the shoe, Brooks used a combination of two foams to cushion the ride: DNA Loft and BioMoGoDNA. DNA Loft is Brooks’ softest foam composition, so designers used it in the heel for easier landings. The more responsive BioMoGo DNA foam pads the rest of the shoe for a more explosive takeoff.
With its comfortable fit and well-cushioned ride, we feel confident in recommending the Brooks Ghost 12 as the best women’s running shoes for most runners.
You’d have a hard time finding a women’s running shoe with more cushion and a smoother ride than the women’s HOKA Bondi 6.
HOKA built the Bondi with best-in-class cushioning, making it the most-cushioned road running shoe in their impressively stacked lineup. The women’s Bondi rides on a 31 mm stack height in the heel and 27 mm in the forefoot, which gives the shoe a supremely soft step throughout your entire transition.
Fleet Feet testers said in the HOKA Bondi 6 review the shoe is well-suited for mellow runs or walking, and it makes a great office shoe for a stand-up desk or for professions that require lots of walking, like hospital work.
Despite the big bed of foam, the women’s HOKA Bondi 6 feels relatively light. The women’s model weighs just 8.6 oz.
The On Cloud X is made to move in any direction, making it a great all-around running and training shoe for women.
On built the Cloud X on top of a lightweight Zero-Gravity foam midsole that won't weigh you down, and they gave it a molded heel counter to help lock your foot into place. The knit engineered mesh upper is strong, light and breathable, which helps keep you cool when your workout heats up.
Plus, the Cloud X has the same minimalist design as all On running shoes, so you know it'll look as good at the gym as it does at the coffee shop.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 is a wild departure from the 1080s of the past—and every part is better than it was before.
We spoke to shoe designers as part of the New Balance 1080v10 review who said they still wanted the 1080 to be a full-cushioned running shoe, but it had to be lighter, smoother and more flexible, too. They achieved all of that with a new upper manufacturing process and Fresh Foam midsole.
The completely redesigned women’s New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 is a premium, max-cushion training shoe with an aggressive stance and speedy flare. A dynamic upper creates precise zones of support and stretch, and tweaks in organic shapes add a sense of cushion or structure.
Reliability and comfort are priorities no matter how far you're running, and the Saucony Ride ISO 2 delivers plenty of both.
The Ride ISO 2 is lighter than ever, weighing only 8.8 oz, but it packs multiple layers of cushion for a soft ride. An EVERUN topsole provides comfort and pressure relief, while a thicker PWRFOAM midsole soaks up impact and responds to your stride.
With a roomy mesh upper and improved heel cup, the women's Saucony Ride ISO 2 is an outstanding running shoe for most women.
Karhu used 3D scans of real feet to design the last that shaped the Ikoni, which makes it a comfortable fit for most women.
Designers used the scanning data captured during Fleet Feet's fit id® outfitting process to developed a shoe that fits comfortably for a wide range of foot shapes, while still delivering a performance-minded ride. Testers in the Karhu Ikoni 2020 review said Karhu nailed both.
The newest Ikoni is an excellent women's running shoe for up-tempo days on the track, Sunday long runs and walking around the neighborhood.
Altra's FootShape toe box prioritizes comfort, and that's what makes the Escalante 2 one of the best running shoes for women.
Altra designed the toe box to match the real shape of your foot—wider through the midfoot and forefoot with a more squared-off toe. That shape lets your foot splay naturally when it lands and push powerfully when you take off.
For the second version of the Escalante, Altra developed a more flexible midsole and outsole, and they draped it in a new knit upper for improved comfort.
Nike made big updates this year to its best-selling running shoe of all time, including female-specific details to give women a better feel.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is the same lightweight and snappy everyday trainer it has always been, but designers this year updated the midsole and Zoom Air unit for a faster ride.
Nike swapped out the Cushlon foam midsole from the previous version for a React foam midsole in the Peg 37. React is a proven performer in other Nike running shoes, like the Epic React Flyknit 2 and the React Infinity Run, and it now brings its bouncy, durable ride to the Pegasus family.
Inside the new midsole, designers used a single Zoom Air unit in the forefoot instead of the full-length unit in the previous Pegasus. The Air unit is shorter, but Nike doubled the thickness to create greater rebound than ever before.
This is also where Nike used feedback from its female testers to create a unique ride. Women who tested the Pegasus 37 wanted a less stiff feeling, so Nike tuned the Air unit to roughly 15 psi—a little softer than the 20 psi unit in the men's model.
Nike made the big changes to the midsole but kept the Peg's same low-profile silhouette and lightweight feel that makes it a great women's running shoe.
Whether you're logging serious miles or hitting the track for some speedwork, the women's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 remains a versatile and speedy performance running shoe.
The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 is a classic. With more than two decades of experience packed into the latest version, the Nimbus is better than ever.
ASICS used two GEL cushioning units—one in the heel, one in the forefoot—to create a soft landing and smooth transition, and they used Flytefoam Propel foam to give the Nimbus a responsive feel.
Additional reinforcements come from ASICS' Trusstic technology, which helps mitigate twisting and provides strategic arch support. Whether you're logging easy miles leading up to a race or hammering out your longest run yet, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 22 is up for the challenge.
Chances are, you know someone who runs in the Mizuno Wave Rider—or maybe that person is you. The women's Wave Rider 23 is the latest shoe in one of the most popular running shoe lines on the market today, and it's just as good as advertised.
Mizuno built the newest Wave Rider for a quick, snappy ride, but they didn't skimp on cushion. The Rider has Mizuno's signature Wave Plate technology that disperses impact and stabilizes the shoe, and it's protected by U4ic and U4icX foams for a softer feel.
Women who want comfort and consistency will find plenty of both in the Mizuno Wave Rider 23.
The best women’s running shoes for you won’t always be the best shoes for your sister or mother or woman in your running club. There are so many factors and preferences that go into deciding which shoe is actually the best one for you.
So our choices for the best running shoes for women are not the absolute. Instead, we try to pick the best running shoes for most women, most of the time. These running shoes have the most accommodating fits and wide sizing where available; they’re generally comfortable; and they excel at the task they’re created for.
If you’ve tried one of these shoes and it didn’t work for you—or you want to try on any shoes before you buy—stop by the nearest Fleet Feet location to get expert one-on-one advice and go through our fit id® outfitting process.
We used data from our fit id® outfitting process, interviews with designers and real-life wear testing to determine the best women’s running shoes for most runs and the most runners.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.