Best Running Shoes for Women 2022

Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet

By The Fleet Feet Editors Updated on
Shop All Women's Running Shoes

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.

We use millions of data points from our fit id® outfitting process to figure out how shoes uniquely fit women, and we research and test as many running shoes for women as we can to ensure we recommend the right pair. Then we test and review shoes to ensure they're up to our standards (and yours).

Some brands even account for biomechanical differences between women and men. Where a brand's running shoes for women differ from their best men's running shoes, we make note of that, too.

We brought together our database of fit id® scans, designer notes and feedback from the ladies of the Fleet Feet review team to determine the best running shoes for women. All of these shoes are great for everyday training, but some attributes of each model stand out. Here are the women’s shoes we think are best for (almost) every situation:

Got more questions? Check out these FAQs.

[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2022. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]

Best Shoe for Beginner Runners: Brooks Ghost 14

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Attributes: Comfortable, accommodating fit, cushioned

Versatility is what makes the Brooks Ghost 14 one of the best women's running shoes on the market today.

Brooks designed the Ghost to work for most women. To do that, designers made it comfortable, cushioned and lightweight, so you can wear it for an easy mile or light exercise—or a grueling marathon. The versatility makes it the perfect shoe for beginner runners, so they can focus on the road ahead and forget all about their shoes. Plus, it's roomy enough for a wide variety of foot shapes, and it comes in wide sizing for runners who need it.

New this year, though, is a more generous helping of Brooks' DNA Loft foam. By using more of one of the softest foams in Brooks' lineup, designers gave the Ghost 14 a cushier underfoot feel and smooth transition.

With an easier ride and accommodating fit, the women's Brooks Ghost 14 gives you everything you need to start running or walking your way to your goals. Read more in our Brooks Ghost 14 review.

Best Cushioned Shoe: HOKA Bondi 8

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Attributes: Max cushioning, very soft ride, lightweight feel

Considered by many to be one of the best cushioned shoes around, the ultra-cushioned Bondi 8 provides pure joy on your run. HOKA amplified the Bondi’s core features with a generous bed of ultralight and resilient foam that keeps each step soft and bouncy, while a smooth rolling sensation transitions you effortlessly from heel strike to toe-off.

The big bed of foam underfoot uses HOKA’s early-stage Meta-Rocker shape and an extended heel geometry to give you a buttery smooth transition from heel to toe. Plus, with a 31 mm stack height in the heel and a 27 mm measurement in the forefoot, you'll never bottom out while you’re pounding the pavement.

The softness and comfort of the Bondi 8 are perfect for easy runs, high mileage weeks and recovery days. It's also ideal for people who work on their feet all day, like nurses and doctors (HOKA even makes the women's HOKA Bondi SR with a leather upper and slip-resistant outsole).

If you're looking for the best women's running shoes with the most cushion, the HOKA Bondi 8 is a game-changer.

Read more in our HOKA Bondi 8 review.

Best Overall Workout Shoe: On Cloud X 2.0

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Attributes: Lightweight, responsive cushioning, stylish

From PR-busting 5Ks to AMRAP workouts in the gym, the women's On Cloud X 2.0 can handle it all.

On engineered the Cloud X 2.0 to move in any direction, thanks to responsive cushioning and lightweight materials. The shoe's Helion foam midsole works with On's signature Speedboard to energize every step, whether you're running in a straight line or hitting the floor for another burpee.

The flexible and durable engineered mesh upper gives you confident support while maintaining breathable performance during sweat intervals. Weighing just a hair over 7 oz, the Cloud X 2.0 feels light on your feet through your entire workout.

Even though the second version of the Cloud X delivers versatile performance, the best part might just be the minimalist design. Lace-up the Cloud X 2.0, and you won't look out of place at the gym or at the coffee shop.

Best Shoe for Overpronators: New Balance 860v12

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Attributes: Medial posting for stability and overpronation, roomy toe box and padded heel collar, soft ride.

The women’s New Balance 860v12 is known for providing stable, reliable support with an accommodating fit and smooth ride.

New Balance uses its soft, lightweight Fresh Foam in the 860v12 to give it a smoother and more comfortable ride. For women who have low or flexible arches or tend to overpronate, the firm medial post guides the foot away from overpronation.

The sleek, refreshed look and padded heel collar give this shoe a more secure lockdown and fits a variety of foot shapes without irritating the Achilles.

Fleet Feet runners said the roomy fit and super smooth ride make the 860v12 one of the best stability running shoes for women on the market today. Read more in our New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 review.

Best Treadmill Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

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Attributes: Bouncy ride, lightweight, straightforward fit.

The women's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 is a light and nimble workhorse for your running and training.

Nike packed the legendary Pegasus with a full-length React foam midsole that can go the distance. React foam is a popular choice, used in many of the best Nike running shoes, because it's lightweight, bouncy and durable.

Compared to the Pegasus 38, designers reduced the weight of the upper and added two Zoom Air units in the forefoot for a more responsive and lively ride. The unique heel shape and thick, responsive foam are designed to optimize your landings and create an effortless heel-to-toe transition with each stride. Plus, a breathable and lightweight upper has extra padding at the tongue and collar to keep your feet comfortable and blister-free.

Perfect for your runs, workouts and HIIT classes, the women’s Pegasus 39 can do it all.

Best Road Racing Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

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Attributes: Composite plate, snappy ride, airy mesh.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is a great shoe to pick up the pace and race your best.

With a winged nylon plate in the midsole, this shoe provides similar spring and energy without the stiffness of a carbon-fiber plate. Saucony’s Speedroll technology will have you rolling through the miles with smooth, fast transitions and the PWRRUN PB Foam is lightweight, plush and propulsive to help you to run your best.

The Endorphin Speed 3 uses a lightweight engineered mesh upper for a barely-there feel that keeps your foot secure throughout the heel and midfoot. Read more about the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 in our review.

Best Fitting Shoe: Karhu Ikoni

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Attributes: Perfect fit, plush, anatomical lacing

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 develop a shoe that fits comfortably for a wide range of foot shapes, while still delivering a performance-minded ride. Female testers in the Karhu Ikoni review said Karhu nailed both.

A bed of lightweight Aerofoam feels super plush and responsive and is supported by a half-length Fulcrum rocker in the midfoot. This combination helps to roll the foot through its heel-to-toe transition and makes runs and walks feel effortless with each step.

As a bonus, Karhu designed the same Ikoni with a higher-volume (HiVo) fit. The Ikoni HiVo accommodates larger or wider feet while providing the same peppy ride (and the same look) as the standard version.

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.

Best Trail Shoe: Altra Lone Peak 5

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Attributes: Wide toe box, grippy for uneven terrain, rock plate

Altra’s Lone Peak is continuously on the list of the top trail shoes—and for good reason.

The wide toe box that Altra’s shoes are known for is great on trails because it allows your toes to splay, providing better stability on uneven surfaces. The MaxTrac™ outsole provides the perfect combination of grip, traction and durability on all types of terrain. Plus, it contains an updated StoneGuard™ for extra protection that has drainage holes so that water does not stay in the shoe after any creek crossings.

Altra also takes into account the biological differences between women and men when designing the women’s Lone Peak. Altra's Fit4Her™ technology in the Lone Peak caters to the specific form of the female foot, which has a narrower heel and midfoot, a higher instep, a longer arch and unique metatarsal spacing.

Tackle the trails in the Women’s Altra Lone Peak 5.

Best Shoe for Long Runs: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24

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Attributes: Gel cushioning, comfortable fit, premium feel

The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 is the newest member of a classic collection. 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. This version adds FF BLAST PLUS foam that makes it lighter while promoting a smooth heel-to-toe transition. ASICS designers also used FlyteFoam in the midsole to give the Nimbus a responsive feel on top of plush cushioning.

With a softer and more comfortable upper that includes a thin, stretchy tongue, this is one of the most comfortable iterations of the Nimbus. Whether you're logging easy miles leading up to a race or hammering out your longest run yet, the ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 is up for the challenge. Read more in our women’s ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 review.

Best Everyday Trainer: Mizuno Wave Rider 25

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Attributes: Springy, durable, knit or mesh upper

The women's Mizuno Wave Rider has long been one of the best-selling running shoes on the market, and the Wave Rider 25 is sure to maintain its spot on the list.

Mizuno updated the women's Wave Rider 25 with Mizuno Enerzy foam to give you the bounciest, most cushioned ride yet.

A reshaped Wave Plate helps disperse impact forces and leads to a smooth transition, while a generous amount of rubber underfoot adds traction and durability.

In the Wave Rider 25 review, Fleet Feet runners say they appreciated having different options for the upper. Some runners like the mesh, while others prefer the knit.

Women looking for a comfortable and consistent running shoe will find it in the Wave Rider 25.

FAQs

How should running shoes fit? + -

A good rule of thumb to determine that you’re wearing the right size is to keep a thumb’s width of space between the end of your toes and the tip of the shoe. Your foot should feel secure from heel to toe, without any squeezing or pinching. Pay attention to the way your foot aligns over the midsole to determine if you need a wide size shoe

How do women run differently than men? + -

Multiple studies have found that, on average, women have wider hips than men. Because of this, women tend to overpronate slightly more than their male counterparts, leading to uneven wearing of the bottom of their running shoes. Shoe designers address this by often including higher density foams at key points in the midsole.

What should women look for in running shoes? + -

Ultimately, finding the right running shoe for you comes down to your personal foot shape and gait pattern. Based on the surface (road or trail), mileage and feel you want underfoot, you can determine if a neutral, cushioned or stability shoe would be best for your body.

How We Picked the Best Women’s Running Shoes

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.

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