Running shoes have, for the better part of history, been solely designed for male feet. The problem with that is twofold: A) women’s performance footwear sales started outpacing men’s in 2021, according to data from The NPD Group Inc, and B) it’s been known since at least 2009 that “female feet … are not algebraically scaled, smaller versions of male feet, as is often assumed,” thanks to a study in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Enter: Hilma, a new company designing running shoes specifically for women.
The facts are, women tend to have wider forefeet and narrower heels than men, roll their feet inward slightly more than male runners and experience less impact during foot-strike because they’re generally lighter than men. All of that warrants a slightly different shoe design and fit than what’s offered in men’s shoes. Brands like Lululemon, Adidas, Under Armour and Puma are slowly starting to address those needs, but Hilma is the first shoe brand to target just women.
Hilma’s first shoe is dubbed The Everywhere ($159) because it’s meant to go, well, everywhere. It’s marketed as a running shoe, but it’s “also good for: weekend morning wandering, last-minute day trips [and] multi-hour walks with friends,” according to the website. As a marathon runner, running coach and shoe reviewer, I wanted to see how Hilma stacked up to other running shoe brands. After several weeks of testing, here’s what I think.
Hilma is the first and only company with running shoes targeted specifically at women. We especially like The Everywhere because it uses a personalized quiz to find you the perfect fit from its 45 (yes, 45!) different sizes. Best for shorter runs, 3 miles and under, we also appreciated the shoe's versatility.
What we liked about them
The number of fit options
Most running shoe brands typically offer 10ish sizes per shoe style. But Hilma offers 45 sizes, with each size — from 5 to 12, with half sizes in between — available in one of three lasts (a last is a mold around which a shoe is built). It all starts with the brand’s fit predictor, a questionnaire the digs into what other brands fit you best, how comfortable the width of your regular shoes is, whether your heel slips, whether your second or third toe is longer than your first, how your arch looks, how often you wear your shoes and more.
After I answered all the Qs, I was told my best fit would be “The Two” in a size 10 (my standard shoe size), and having tried all three now, I would agree. While I have a pretty standard sized foot, “The One” felt just a little too long and narrow overall, while “The Three” was way too wide (it was built to accommodate a foot with more volume, whether due to longer second toes or bunions or something else). Meanwhile, “The Two” had the same narrower heel and midfoot holds as “The One” but a wider toe box that gave my forefoot a little more room to breathe and spread over the course of a run.
The Everywhere was designed as a neutral, cushioned road-to-trail shoe. It’s made from eco-based materials, including a sugarcase-based EVA midsole that’s firm but snappy. There’s a 6mm drop between the heel and the toe, which is enough to absorb the impact when your heel hits the ground without putting too much stress on your foot and ankle, but isn’t so high (as is trendy today) it overloads your knees. Overall, the amount of cushioning underfoot was comfortable, especially during shorter distances. Plus, the shoe is meant to perform on varied terrain, with 4mm lugs that are shallow enough for the roads but still provide solid traction on non-technical trails (I found them to be super helpful on Denver’s icy winter streets). At 9.7 ounces, it felt a little heavier than my average running shoe, but certainly not in a way that slowed me down.
What we didn’t like about them
Going the distance
Even though Hilma calls The Everywhere a running shoe first and foremost, I’d argue that it’s better for the other scenarios the brand touts on the site than it is for longer or more intense runs. While I did feel comfortable on easy, short (think: 3 miles or fewer) runs, this shoe isn’t going to replace my regular running shoes on longer outings anytime soon.
On my longer runs (about an hour), the comfort just didn’t stand up to some of the more advanced foams and technology being used by brands like Asics, Adidas and New Balance, and I didn’t feel like I could tap into faster speeds (which isn’t the point of this shoe, but it’s still nice to know you could pick up the pace if you wanted to). That said, its versatility — road! Trail! Hiking! Walking! — makes it great for casual runners and traveling.
How they compare
Last year saw a number of big-name shoe companies finally release women-specific running shoes; see: the Lululemon Blissfeel ($148), Adidas Ultraboost 22 ($190), Under Armour Synchronicity ($140) and Puma Run XX Nitro ($130). While these shoes each have features designed to support women’s feet — based on large studies and years of testing — none offer the kind of sizing diversity Hilma does. And though Hilma was founded by ultramarathoner Brooke Torres and ex-executives from brands like Nike and RunKeeper, these other companies come with brand-name recognition and years of industry experience compared to the start-up.
Running shoes are incredibly subjective, because what works for one runner might not work for another. But whenever a brand is offering more fit options, especially ones that are specifically geared toward women, all runners benefit — because the more options there are, the more likely every runner can find an ideal fit.
The Everywhere is a comfortable, versatile sport shoe, which easily justifies the relatively affordable price. While I likely won’t be replacing my go-to running shoes with The Everywhere on a regular basis, I love a brand that supports personalization, and I’m excited to see what other options Hilma comes out with in the future.