What's the difference between a mens and a womens trail running shoe?
As much as it's been debated and challenged over time, there is no doubt that men and women have different requirements when it comes to trail running shoes, and in fact, all footwear.
There is plenty of science behind explaining the differences but we'll keep this nice and simple.
Primarily it's the actual shape of the shoe that's different, with womens shoes having a wider forefoot and a narrower heel, this is purely reflective of the difference in gender foot shapes.
Men are also typically larger and heavier, on average carrying 15% more muscle mass, so require a shoe design to accomodate this through the midsole. It's also common for womens shoes to utilise design features, such as grooves or channels, allowing for easier flexion of the midsole, necessary again due to their lesser weight, making the midsole harder to flex as needed.
Women generally have wider hips than men which can cause pronation where weight is either transferred disproportionately to the inside of the foot, placing extra pressure on the big toe (over-pronation), or the opposite, disproportionate weight transfer to the outside of the foot (under-pronation). Both of these can cause pain and injury, especially over time, so these factors are taken into account in womens shoe designs too. The science behind this is referred to as the Q-Angle, or the angle of the knee-cap to the quad muscle.
Although this is a very simplistic explanation and far from in depth, if you thought that there was some gimmickry behind mens and womens shoes then rest assured this is not the case, they are very different for very good reasons! So to all the women out there that are looking at buying some trail shoes, we'd highly recommend choosing one of the womens specific options, then again if you are a women who has tried both and successfully uses a mens (or unisex) trail running shoe we'd love to hear from you!