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(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Women’s Running Shoes of 2016

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From road to trail and back again. 

(Skechers)

Skechers Gorun 4

This soft, low runner has a stretchy knit upper and a vibe that’s so slipperlike, you’ll be tempted to ditch your socks. (The shoe was designed for it.) Given the lack of structure and floppy heel cup, the fit is easygoing, if a bit less secure than the other roadies on this page. Think of it as a minimalist trainer for midfoot strikers who want more smoosh than slap. 4 mm drop

Price $105  Weight 5.2 oz
 
(Mizuno)

Mizuno Wave Catalyst

We can’t figure out if the brand-new Catalyst is a low-riding speed shoe or a lithe, stable trainer. We love it either way, especially for medium-long runs. The firm heel sacrifices plushness for a ton of energy return, and the midfoot shank adds structure without slowing things down. Best for mild heel strikers who value efficiency and protection without the weight. 10 mm drop

Price $110  Weight 8 oz

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(Salomon)

Salomon Sonic Pro

The Sonic Pro brings the formfitting last, snappy forefoot, and quick-pull laces of ­Salomon’s trail shoes to the road. It’s quick and responsive, thanks to new midsole ­materials, though the shoe felt firmer and less forgiving than we expected. Still, we loved the low-weight, quick-stepping giddyup. 8 mm drop

Price $140  Weight 6.7 oz

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(Pearl Izumi)

Pearl Izumi Trail N1v2

Pearl has one of the best trail lines going, and the N1v2—its lowest-profile neutral option—is among our favorite all-terrain shoes. We credit the seamless upper and ­moderately low, rock-plate-reinforced ­midsole, which is both lively and protective enough for a 50K. Even on steep, technical descents, the N1v2 felt secure and rolled smooth. 4.5 mm drop

Price $115  Weight 8.4 oz

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(Hoka One One)

Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 

The Challenger is a blimp that’s surprisingly quick, with deep, leg-saving foam. It’s an ­effortless high-mileage and recovery shoe that moves fluidly on pavement or dirt. The narrow, snug-fitting midsole on the second-gen Challenger boosts its technical chops, although it’s still better for all-afternoon comfort than all-mountain agility. Its genius truly shines on epics. 5 mm drop

Price $130  Weight 7.8 oz

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(ASICS)

ASICS Gel-Fuji Endurance

At first the FujiEndurance wooed us with its narrow fit, low ride, and water- and mud-shedding upper. Rock hopping, especially, was a blast. But the relationship wasn’t without drama: the ride felt clunky at times (a plastic heel cradle can be constrictive for heel strikers), and the thin tongue tended to bunch. Buy this shoe if you mostly run technical trails. 8 mm drop

Price $180  Weight 9.9 oz

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From Summer Buyer’s Guide 2016 Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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