LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2019
Best Hiking Shoes for Women: Spend More Time on the Trail
The best hiking shoes for women offer three things: style, functionality, and comfort
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON December 6, 2019
There’s a whole lot of trails to conquer out there, and we know you can’t wait to hike them. However, to tackle any trail with ease, you need a pair of reliable hiking shoes. If you pick the wrong shoes, the only thing you’ll be able to focus on when hiking are your feet. This review examines three of the best hiking shoes for women you can wear on your next outdoor adventure.
Put on a pair of these shoes and tackle the most difficult terrain with ease. With outsoles designed to handle technical hikes, they make it easy to hike in wet conditions.
The rubber soles offer good traction on slippery descents and terrain. The shoes have a tough leather exterior that’s paired with mesh fabric to make them waterproof and breathable. Dual-density EVA midsoles give them ample cushioning.
The toe box might be tight, especially for wide-footed users. The inner fabric in newer models tends to wear out rather fast, especially if you use them frequently.
These shoes are designed to keep foot odor at bay after you work up a sweat during day hikes. The Vibram sole provides cushioning, especially when you’re tackling slippery terrain.
The breathable mesh lining of these shoes keeps your feet cool and fresh. They also don’t require a break-in period and feel comfortable from the get-go. The tongue is close enough to the feet to keep the shoes free of debris.
The cushioning on the heels is light and might not provide enough support in heavy impact. The outsole and upper material are not of the highest quality.
If you’re just looking to test light terrain before tackling steep trails, these shoes are a great option. They perfectly balance design, durability, and functionality. You can wear them when hiking, walking, or running.
The outsole is made of aircraft tire rubber for slip-wear resistance and bending resistance. The rubber toe box lowers the chances of abrasion and also protects your toes against impact. The insoles keep fresh air circulating inside.
The shoes are not waterproof, and you will only be able to hike in dry areas. The tread pattern is a bit basic, and the shoes might not offer good traction in steep or slippery terrain.
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Benefits of Hiking Shoes for Women
- High degree of protection. Hiking boots offer more protection than any other type of hiking footwear. They are ideal for wet, muddy, and rocky terrains, where you would otherwise get soaked in water and covered with mud. Hiking boots also protect feet from dirt and twigs. They are a must-have for extreme conditions and rough terrains.
- More stability. One of the main benefits of hiking boots is the extra stability they provide. They securely grip the surface, so you can walk with more confidence. That is especially important when you're carrying a heavy pack and you need more support for the ankles.
- Cold weather. If you're planning to follow trails during the winter, hiking boots are a necessary part of your gear. They keep your feet warm and dry, keeping you safe from catching a cold while on your adventure.
Types of Hiking Shoes for Women
Day Hiking Boots
These are mid-cut or high-cut models of hiking boots designed for day hikes and light backpacking trips. They flex easily, feel light on the feet, and don't require a long break-in time. As long as you're not carrying heavy loads or planning a week-long trip, you'll find day hiking boots ideal for your adventures. They are not the best option for extra support when going over rough terrains.
These are the complete opposite of day hiking boots. Backpacking boots are specially designed for those who are carrying heavy loads or taking long hikes. In order to provide the extra support you need for demanding trips, these have a high cut and wrap above the ankles. They might be quite stiff in the beginning, but they are also highly protective and durable.
Keen was founded in 2003 and is based in Portland, Oregon. It is a footwear and accessories company that quickly gained worldwide popularity. Its products are known to provide incredible comfort, stylish design, and durability. Keen produces everything from boots, shoes, and sandals to laces and insoles. The Keen Voyageur Women's Hiking Shoes made it to the top of our list.
Merrell is a company that offers footwear products. It proves to be one of the first choices among outdoor enthusiasts, providing high-quality products for men, women, and kids. The company was founded back in 1981 and is located in Rockford, Michigan. We find its Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hikers ideal for women who enjoy hiking.
Timberland is another company that focuses on producing high-quality outdoor footwear. It also offers clothing and accessories intended for outdoor use. Timberland is one of the most popular footwear companies on the market. It was founded in 1928 and is located in Stratham, New Hampshire. When it comes to hiking boots, we highly recommend the Timberland Women's White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot.
Hiking Shoes for Women Pricing
- $30-$50: Budget-friendly hiking boots are mostly lightweight and suitable for day hikes. They provide excellent support and more stability but are not highly protective.
- $50 and up: For more protection against twigs, dirt, water, and other elements, you might need to add some extra cash. Pricier hiking boots are heavy, offer more support for those carrying a lot of stuff in their packs, and keep ankles safe in all conditions.
The most important thing when buying hiking boots is to find a perfect fit. You want to ensure comfort every step of the way. If your boots are too small, you'll get blisters after half an hour and find yourself unable to walk. On the other hand, boots that are too big won't be able to provide a secure grip, so you'll feel unstable during your hike.
We recommend getting hiking boots in a size larger than your regular shoes. That's because your feet will get swollen after miles and miles of hiking. You also want to provide the extra space for (winter) socks or aftermarket insoles.
These days, hiking shoes and sandals are very popular because they offer a lightweight design. They are more suitable for multiple-day hikes when more mobility is required. However, heavier models like hiking boots also prove to be beneficial. You might have to put in more effort while walking and get tired faster, but you'll be more protected. Therefore, consider what works best for your needs and then pick the weight of the hiking boots accordingly.
Stability and Support
One of the main things to consider when buying hiking boots is the stability and support they provide. Most other types of hiking shoes are super light to ensure more mobility on longer trips. However, hiking boots are still a favorite for rougher terrains and conditions. They provide excellent protection for the ankles, making you feel more stable and secure, especially when carrying heavy loads.
Still, not all hiking boots are the same. Consider whether you need regular daily ones or backpacking models that offer ultimate support.
While hiking, you'll go over all kinds of terrains, from muddy grounds and water crossings to rocky ridges and scree fields. Therefore, it's crucial to pick a pair of hiking shoes that will provide an excellent grip and prevent slipping. Look for the models with heavy traction to ensure safety on every possible trail. The bigger the thread on the outsole, the better the overall traction of the boots.
Depending on the types of terrain you'll be crossing, you might want to consider the weather protection the hiking boots provide. The waterproof design is a must-have in almost all situations, except when taking light day hikes on hot summer days. In other situations, you want to make sure your feet will stay dry and protected against water, mud, and dirt. Therefore, look for the waterproof protection but make sure that the material is breathable. Your feet need to breathe during excessive physical activities. The mesh flexible materials will ensure that and keep you comfortable at all times.
- Lacing System. The lacing system is usually overlooked, yet it's incredibly important for overall comfort. A poor lacing system might easily loosen up and require frequent readjustments. It might slow you down, make you feel unstable, and even create blisters. Therefore, don't forget to double-check the design of the lacing system before the purchase.
- Break-in Period. Lastly, don't forget to take some time to break-in your new hiking boots before actually wearing them on a hike. You want to make sure they are comfortable. Hiking boots are known to be stiffer than other models of hiking footwear, so it's good to wear them around the house for a couple of days. After the break-in period, they shouldn't cause any blisters and will definitely be cozy on long hikes.
Best Hiking Shoes for Women Reviews & Recommendations 2020
If you're looking for hiking footwear that will help you conquer rough terrains, the Keen Voyageur shoes might be just a perfect fit. The outsoles are specially designed to handle difficult terrains. With them, you can hike in wet and dry conditions with ease.
The Keen shoes offer impressive traction that allows you to walk securely over wet terrain, never worrying about accidental slips. The exterior is made from leather and mesh fabric, which means the shoes are waterproof and breathable at the same time. You won't only feel secure on your hikes, but comfortable as well. Thanks to the anatomic design, the shoes offer arch support and follow the natural contours of the feet, providing a perfect fit. Additionally, the dual-density EVA midsoles protect the feet from impacts.
Still, you might want to consider a couple of drawbacks that come with these boots. For example, some buyers complained about the toe box. It might be a little tight, especially for wide-footed users. Another drawback is in regards to the quality of the inner fabric. It seems prone to damage and wears out quickly, especially when the boots are used regularly.
When it comes to day hiking shoes, Merrell offers a perfect model that comes at an attractive price. This particular model is designed to provide comfort during light trips and prevent odors and other unpleasant feelings. Because of the Vibram sole that provides more cushioning, these shoes also ensure secure steps on slippery terrains.
The thing that makes these special is a highly breathable mesh lining. It's made to keep your feet cool and fresh even during the most demanding hikes. Even better, these shoes offer a perfect and comfortable fit straight from the box. They don't require a break-in period at all.
However, the cushioning on the heels feels too thin. If you're looking for high support and more protection for demanding hikes, this might not be the best option. The other thing that might bother you is the quality of the outsole and upper material. They might wear out quickly.
TFO shoes are ideal for those who are looking for multi-purpose footwear. If you're all for getting shoes that combine amazing design, functionality, and durability, we highly recommend this model. It's perfect for walking, running, outdoor exploring, and light hiking.
You'll find these TFO shoes are very comfortable and stylish at the same time. They also have a lot to offer when it comes to quality and durability. The outsole is made of aircraft tire rubber, which means it prevents slips on wet terrains and resists bending. The rubber toe box protects the toes against impacts and works against abrasions. Also, the insoles are breathable and ensure the circulation of fresh air, keeping your feet cool at all times.
The thing that this design doesn't provide is water resistance. TFO shoes are not waterproof, so you'll only be able to use them in dry areas and in hot weather. They don't provide high traction either. Because they are made for a variety of light activities, these shoes don't offer enough support for challenging hikes.
Columbia Sportswear produces high-quality and budget-friendly hiking equipment. This particular model of hiking boots is highly popular among outdoor enthusiasts. They find that its unique design provides excellent protection during outdoor adventures and perfectly complements the gear.
The boots feature a leather and suede exterior, ensuring more protection from impacts, bumps, and other hazards on the trail. Still, the strong material doesn't influence the overall breathability of the boots. Because of the quality mesh fabric, the boots allow high air circulation, keeping your feet fresh and cool.
We also noticed that a durable midsole and extra cushioning makes these boots cozy even on extended wear when you want to conquer the most challenging and rough trails. The advanced-traction rubber sole also helps with support and stability, so you can move without dangerous slips on wet surfaces.
However, you'll want to break-in these boots before wearing them on hikes. The toe compartment is tight and will probably cause discomfort on the first couple of uses. Another thing to keep in mind is the size. These Columbia shoes usually turn out to be larger than expected. It's better to stick to regular sizing than ordering a size up.
Timberland is always the first stop for outdoor enthusiasts. Because the company offers quality footwear and clothing, hikers are likely to find everything they need on Timberland shelves. For example, this model of mid-ankle boots proves to be ideal for heavy hiking and backpacking. With them, you can conquer any trail in any weather.
The boots' exterior is made of 100 percent leather, offering more support for the ankles and protection against twigs, dirt, water, and more. They are, in fact, waterproof and suitable for all grounds, including muddy and slippery ones. The shock-absorbing cushioning is also a nice touch as it absorbs impacts and bumps you would otherwise feel on rocky terrains. Lastly, you'll love the rubber lug outsoles that enhance traction and the rugged-style design that complements the gear.
Now, although these Timberland boots are indeed comfortable and supportive, the arch support is not the best. You might need to add some inserts. Another thing to keep in mind is that the material in the ankle area is thick and might cause blisters. Therefore, we recommend breaking in these boots before wearing them on hikes.
If you're looking for heavy-duty boots you can wear everywhere, from work to hikes, the Ariat model might be a perfect fit. These boots are made to withstand rough terrains, impacts, and overall, heavy abuse. You'll find they are incredibly protective and durable.
The Ariat boots are made of quality leather and feature rubber soles. The oiled full-grain leather is waterproof and tough enough to keep your feet safe from bumps and rocks. Along with the breathable fabric, the inner moisture-wicking lining is there to provide superior comfort in long-term use.
The thing you might find is missing is the arch support. It's not a deal-breaker because you'll find the boots highly supportive, but it still might bother you. The bigger issue, however, is in regards to the outsoles. They might be a little slippery on rocky and wet terrains, so you'll have to be extra careful. As long as you're hiking in dry weather, you won't have any issues with them.
Those who are looking for highly-supportive shoes will be thrilled with this model from Hi-Tec. These hiking boots are not only ideal for different terrains and super protective, but are stylish too. With them, you can keep your feet safe and complement your gear at the same time.
These Hi-Tec hiking boots feature a leather and synthetic exterior. There's also mesh fabric to keep the air flowing through the interior, along with a waterproof suede. The Hi-Tec shoes are completely protected from water and able to keep your feet dry and warm. They also protect against mud, dirt, and other hazards.
We also like the EVA rubber cup outsole. It offers excellent traction even on the most challenging terrain, and you'll be able to walk with confidence. Furthermore, the contoured footbeds are removable, so you can swap out insoles according to your needs.
The boots do run smaller than expected, though. You might want to consider getting a size larger than regular to avoid discomfort. Also, be prepared to break in these boots before wearing them on hiking trips. They might initially cause blisters, especially in the ankle area, where the material is rather stiff. The boots do soften after you wear them several times, but you'll need to give them time.
Here, we have another model of hiking boots from Merrell. It's a model that makes an excellent companion during demanding hikes when you need as much protection as you can get. One thing is certain—with Merrel hiking boots, you'll get the necessary support to tackle all kinds of trails.
The thing that makes these boots special is a nice balance of breathability and durability. The leather exterior and mesh upper provide excellent ventilation to keep your feet cool and fresh. In addition, the rubber sole ensures stability, durability, and slip-resistance. Therefore, you'll walk comfortably and with great confidence.
Regardless of the overall comfort, though, you might want to go for the next size up when ordering these boots. They run smaller, so you'll probably need a bigger model, depending on your feet. Also, these are rather heavy and chunky. If you need something light for day hiking, they might not be the perfect option.
We had to include another Merrell model of hiking shoes on our list. This one is very similar to the previously reviewed pair, but there are some significant differences. For example, these boots offer mid-cut instead of low-cut, providing more support for the ankles. They also have some other extra features to make hiking more enjoyable.
These boots have a suede leather exterior and feature a mesh upper part. That means they are highly protective and breathable at the same time. Another beneficial thing is the removable insole you can adjust according to your needs. The air cushion in the heel is also one of the favorite parts among buyers because it absorbs shocks and ensures stability. Additionally, these boots have a protective rubber toe cap and a molded nylon arch shank.
However, the shoelaces are not of the best quality. They tend to loosen up rather easily and might come untied frequently. This can be so annoying that you’ll probably end up buying new laces. Another thing to keep in mind is that these are quite lightweight. They might wear out quickly if used on rough trails and terrains.
Salmon offers a pair of hiking boots you'll want to check out if you're up for some heavy hiking. These are designed to keep your feet well-protected and comfortable and make you feel more confident while following trails.
The boots are made of a synthetic material and have a rubber sole. They offer the ultimate ankle support, which is especially useful when carrying heavy loads. Even more important, the shoes are specially designed for women's anatomy. They follow natural foot contours to provide more comfort on extended periods and make you feel more stable. Therefore, you won't experience fatigue when going over rugged terrains and will be able to cross more miles. The boots also have excellent traction thanks to the patterned sole and give you more control while walking.
The boots do have a couple of drawbacks that might bother you a lot. For example, they run small, and you might find them too tight to be comfortable. Getting the next size up will solve that issue, though. Another inconvenience comes from the lack of padding in the tongue area. Depending on your feet, the inside part could cause hot spots, so using an insert of some kind might be necessary.
- Consider the climate of the area in which you’ll be hiking before deciding which shoes to wear. Breathable hiking shoes are great for hot areas, while water-tight hiking shoes are ideal for wet areas.
- Light hiking shoes do not provide much support against ankle rolls. However, they are perfect for expert hikers who are less likely to experience this issue, even on medium-difficult trails.
- Wearing tightly laced shoes all day can harm your feet. Take periodic breaks and remove your hiking shoes and socks, especially after long hikes.
Q: How do I make sure my feet stay dry in wet conditions?
A: As long as your feet aren’t submerged in water during your hike, they will stay dry if you have waterproof hiking shoes. You can also take extra precautions and wear plastic bags as secondary socks.
Q: Are hiking boots better than hiking shoes?
A: Hiking shoes and hiking boots have their upsides and downsides. Hiking shoes are excellent for trail running, mid-difficulty hiking, and day walks. Boots come in handy during more demanding hikes.
Q: Can I add custom insoles to hiking shoes?
A: If you want more foot support, you can get thick custom insoles. However, it is important to check with a health professional before getting them. The insoles might also affect the fit of the shoes.
For their excellent traction, impact absorption, and overall comfort, we recommend the Keen Voyageur Women's Hiking Shoes.
However, the Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hikers are excellent for technical climbs.