The 4 Best Women's Running Shoes of Summer 2012

Hayasa Single Track shoes (Courtesy of The North Face)
Hayasa Single Track shoes

The North Face Single Track Hayasa

BEST FOR: Mixing road and trail runs. THE TEST: The North Face’s light (and minimally cushioned) Hayasa made testers happiest on less demanding trails where flexibility and comfort trumped grip and protection. Several commented on how much they liked the Hayasa’s breathable, soft upper, and everyone was impressed by how easily the shoe transitioned between well-maintained trails and roads. “A great all-around shoe,” said one. THE VERDICT: As long as you avoid really rugged terrain, you won’t need another shoe in your closet. 8.3 oz

Salomon XR Mission

XR Mission running shoes
XR Mission running shoes (Courtesy of Salomon)

BEST FOR: Long trail runs in rough terrain. THE TEST: Salomon’s XR Mission was at home on firm, dry trails, where testers said the solid toe bumper and firm cushioning deflected rocks and kept their feet planted on uneven stretches. Testers found the Mission to be on the stiff side, but still “really responsive” when navigating singletrack switchbacks. Rubber lugs offered plenty of grip in dry, sandy conditions as well as on shoulder-season slush but weren’t quite big enough to grab hold in the mud. THE VERDICT: An ideal shoe for trail runs on the slipperiest terrain. 9.8 oz

New Balance 890v2

890v2 running shoes
890v2 running shoes (Courtesy of New Balance)

BEST FOR: A cushy ride on up-tempo runs. THE TEST: We loved the 890v2’s soft, pillowy feel, which made speed work and faster road running a joy. Heel- and midfoot-striking testers said the mild eight-millimeter drop (which makes this the flattest of the shoes here) struck the right balance and allowed for both types of strides, and at 7.4 ounces the 890v2 could easily double as a workout or race shoe. While the soft, flexible upper was comfortable, it didn’t offer weather resistance, and the rubber outsole didn’t grip well in the rain. THE VERDICT: A comfortable, lightweight, fair-weather road shoe for (almost) any gait. 7.4 oz

Pearl Izumi Kissaki

Kissaki shoes
Kissaki shoes (Courtesy of Pearl Izumi)

BEST FOR: High-mileage marathon training and racing. THE TEST: The Kissaki’s crazy color combo was the first thing testers noticed, but they were most struck by how well it handled long, hard runs out on the asphalt. Although a few testers wished for a little more flex through the midfoot, most reported that the responsive Energy Foam rubber in the heel and forefoot never felt squishy or deformed, even after 90-minute runs—impressive for a shoe that weighs only 8.3 ounces. Pearl Izumi’s claim that the upper is “seamless” isn’t exactly right (there’s a long one connecting the tongue to the upper), but it was certainly comfortable. THE VERDICT: A neutral road shoe that won’t quit on long runs—although for $130, it should really do the running for you. 8.3 oz

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