When it comes to women’s shoes, the stereotypical high heel has a reputation of being difficult to walk in and perhaps a little impractical. Women wear them anyway for a variety of reasons, but it’s safe to say comfort isn’t one of them. When it comes to women’s hiking boots, they’re pretty much the exact opposite. Comfort is the most important factor when buying hiking boots. There are a lot of options for women that are practical and comfortable and maybe even a little bit stylish.
There are a lot of factors to think about when buying a pair of hiking boots. The wrong pair can completely ruin a day trip or an extended backpacking excursion. When it comes to hiking boots, women’s boots are more than just a pair of men’s boots in a smaller size. They’re designed to appeal to women and to provide them with the support they need to have a great time out on the trail.
When considering buying a pair of hiking boots, there are some key things to keep in mind. Before we get into our list of the top seven women’s hiking boots, let’s take a look what makes a good hiking boot. But even before that, I just remembered that you might benefit from checking out another review we have for men’s and women’s hiking footwear. Some of the women’s recommendations are similar or the same but we have more to say about them. See what I mean HERE.
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Will you be taking short day trips or long backpacking excursions? The longer and more difficult the hike, the more support you’ll need. A pair of lightweight, water resistant boots with a moderate tread is great for shorter trip. But for longer, more difficult excursions, you’ll need boots that are a sturdier and can support your feet while you’re carrying a heavy pack.
For each trip, the boots you wear should be suited for the harshest terrain you’ll be coming across, but still versatile enough to cover a range of conditions.
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Are you going somewhere local where you’re pretty comfortable predicting the environment and weather on the trail? Or are you traveling to opposite coasts, the mountains, or the dessert where you aren’t really accustomed to hiking.
Basically, the boots you choose need to be able to cope with whatever you think you might coming into contact with. Specifically, you’ll need to think about tread and water resistance in respect to the environment you’re hiking. If you’re going to be going on more established trials in a dry area, you won’t need an aggressive tread. But if you’re going to be climbing steep terrains where there might be a lot of rain or snow, you’ll need boots with an aggressive tread to help cope with the wet environment.
Hiking with wet feet can cause blisters, chafing, and potentially more difficult foot problems depending on the temperature, so it’s important to get waterproof boots if you plan on hiking is a region that is particularly wet. This applies to both rainy environments and trails that will cross creeks and streams or near a river. Also, consider if you will be encountering any snow. If so, make sure your boots not only keep your feet dry but also warm. This could mean either a snug, warm inside or having enough room in your boot to layer socks.
Pay close attention to the tongue of your boots, too. There are two designs, bellowed and gusseted. Bellowed tongues will keep out dirt and debris, but a gusseted tongue is made to also keep out water and is the better choice for longer hikes.
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Parts of a Hiking Boot
Each part of a hiking boot serves a different purpose, so it’s important to know what to look for in each one.
This is basically all of the material that the boot is comprised of except the sole. This part of the boot is typically treated for water resistance and will protect your feet from the elements. It should be breathable and able to stand up to a lot of abuse. Uppers can be made of a variety of materials:
Full-grain leather – This is commonly used in boots that are meant for long, extensive trips. It’s durable, water-resistant, and exceptionally tough. It’s not as breathable as some other options and is pretty stiff right out of the box, so you’ll need a lot of time to break these in before using them on a long trip.
Split grain leather – The inner part of the leather is stripped away and the smooth exterior is paired with mesh or some other synthetic material to make make the upper more breathable. This is also a more affordable option than full-grain leather. Although some of these have waterproof liners, they are a little less durable than full-grain leather uppers.
Nubuk Leather – This is full-grain leather that has been buffed and resembles suede. It’s really durable and water-resistant. It also needs some time to break in before using it for a long trek.
Synthetics – There are a variety of synthetic materials that are used which are lighter and easier to break in than leather. They’ll also dry faster and are much less expensive, but they aren’t as durable as leather and won’t last quite as long.
As we discussed briefly above, there are both bellowed and gusseted tongue options. Both are sewn into the boot so there aren’t any gaps for debris to get in. Tongues also contribute to comfort. They often have additional padding or are made out of materials that can conform to the foot over time.
The lining is primarily there for warmth, comfort, and support. It manages moisture from sweaty feet or any water that manages to get in from the outside. A lot of boots offer antimicrobial linings can control bacteria growth so the boots don’t smell too horrible after a long trip or two. Linings are made of a few different fabrics, some are even waterproof or whisk away water. Lining is also something to pay particular attention to if you’re in a cold environment and need extra warmth.
There are actually three parts to the sole.
Insole – This is the inside part that your foot actually sits on. Sometimes, you can remove these and get customizable ones that are gel or foam and provide additional foot support. This is the only part of the sole that is somewhat customizable.
Midsole – This is the part between the insole and the outsole and provides a lot of support. This is typically made of a plastic foam-like material that is dense and really durable to help support the foot during long trips.
Outsole – Often just called the “sole,” this is the bottom of the boot and the part that makes contact with the ground. This is typically made of hard rubber and designed for stability, shock absorption, and grip. Consider the type of tread and how hard the rubber is. You’ll want something hard and durable with good tread to get the most out of your hikes.
Most hiking boots will have some kind of toe protection, usually in the form of a rubber toe cap. Toe protection will protect you toes from injury and your boot from damage when bumping into rocks and things on the trail.
The laces are important because they keep the boots snugly on your feet and provide support for your ankles. Every hiking boot will have one of the following two choices:
Traditional Laces – There are what we all use on our shoes every day. Strands of various treated fabric woven across the top of the foot using eyelets on either side of the shoe.
Quick Lace Systems – These weave across the top of the foot in the same way, but have a lock at the top instead of a knot. They’re made of a more durable material but are harder to repair if something happens when you’re hiking.
Find a system that feels good on the top of your foot. You want something that will not inhibit your stride and allow you some flexibility while keeping the boot secure.
Now that you’ve considered where you’re going, you can start thinking about what kind of boot best fits that environment. Fit is important, but it is also something that is very individualized. Every boot will fit every person differently and it’s best to try on as many boots as possible in order to find the right one for your foot. Here are some tips:
When you go to try on boots, make sure you wear the same style socks you’ll be using when you go out on the trail.
Pay attention to arch support. Better support will allow you to go longer distances without having foot pain. It also helps keep footing stable to avoid falls or injury..
Can you wiggle your toes? You want some wiggle room but you still want the foot to stay firmly set in the boot so it doesn’t slide around. Ideally, you’ll be able to wiggle your toes but your foot won’t slide forward.
Size up! Try a half to a whole size larger than your walking shoe size because your feet will expand when you’re being active.
When you walk in your boots, there should be no heel lift. You want the boot to support your foot enough so that the upper and laces secure the foot enough that the heel is flush with the sole. If not, you could get blisters or get thrown off balance when out in the woods.
Find something lightweight, but supportive enough to support you while carrying your pack. The lighter the boot, the less work your body will have to do to use them. An extra pound or two might not seem like a lot when you’re trying them on, but miles into a backpacking trip, those few pounds might make all the difference to your energy and speed.
Spend some time in your boots. If you’re in a store, walk around in them awhile before you buy them. If you order them online, try them on at home and wear them around the house for a little while before taking them outside. Make sure nothing is uncomfortable and the fit is as it should be.
Now that we know what to look for when trying to find the right women’s hiking boot, let’s look at our list of the seven best ones for this season.
ARIAT WOMEN’S TERRAIN H20 HIKING BOOT
Ariat makes some of the most advanced hiking boots on the market. They’re made of full-grain leather, have a waterproof membrane, and are durable and lightweight. These are a great choice for long backpacking trips in rainy or wet environments. They even have a moisture-wicking system that guarantees your feet will stay dry and warm.
The rubber outsole has tread that is suitable for even the most difficult terrains while the midsole and leather uppers keep your foot comfortable for hours. It gives good arch support with a narrow heel to make sure your feet don’t slide around when you’re on the go. These boots are stable and will help you keep your footing and are a good option if you suffer from any foot problems, like plantar fasciitis.
They’re easy to get into and stay comfortable around the ankle. The rounded front has a rubber toe bumper and enough wiggle room to make sure the boot won’t be too tight to avoid any chafing or blisters. The laces are long and provide good closure and support.
These boots are great for any hiking condition, with a solid, stable tread and soft, protective leather.
Good for any terrain
A little expensive
KEEN TARGHEE II MID WP WOMEN’S HIKING BOOT
Keen makes some of the most popular outdoor shoes around, and their women’s hiking boots are no exception. They’re another good choice for long backpacking trips because they’re lightweight, really comfortable, breathable, and waterproof. They tend to run a little narrow so may not work well for anyone with wide feet.
It has an aggressive sole and can handle any kind of terrain, though it is exceptionally suitable for wet, rugged regions and great at handling steep slopes and even some rocks. It’s extremely sturdy and supporting with shanks to stabilize the foot up to the ball and a cushioned ankle. The laces are stable and tight and lock the foot in place and the toe bumper helps keep you safe from any foot injuries.
The upper show is made of nubuck leather with some mesh details. They’re exceptionally comfortable, especially considering how durable and solid they are. The insole provides substantial cushioning to help when carrying heavy packs. Combined, they weigh less than two pounds, making them an even better choice for long trips.
Suitable for any terrain
Especially great for wet environments
AHNU SUGARPINE HIKING BOOT
The Sugarpine hiking boot from Ahnu has a casual look and comes in a variety of different, fun color combinations. It’s also one of the lightest, most effective hiking boots for women.
These shoes are extremely lightweight because of it’s mesh material and lightweight laces with only four eyelets on each side. In fact, the pair of them weighs a little less than one and a half pounds. Your feet won’t tire quickly when you’re wearing these boots. They have a slimmer profile than some other hiking boots on this list, but they’re just as strong and functional.
While they run a little narrow, they’re exceptionally comfortable. The lining wicks away moisture and the insole padding and lining help keep these boots super comfortable. The soles are flexible but supportive with adequate arch support.
The tread is simple but effective and helps the shoe get enough traction to perform well on downhill grades or gravelly paths. These shoes are versatile enough to wear casually and on long, moderately intense hikes but may not be able to handle exceptionally rough, wet terrain as well as some of the other choices on our list.
They’re waterproof, though some users feel it would be more fitting to call them water resistant as they will allow in some water in extreme conditions.
The look of these shoes makes them a great buy because they’re not exceptionally rugged looking and the available color choices allows you to add a little more style. You could very easily wear these for a long weekend hiking in the forest then come home and wear them while doing errands and still feel stylish.
Water resistant but not waterproof
May not be able to handle more intense terrain
LOWA WOMEN’S RENEGADE GTX MID HIKING BOOT
The Lowa Renegade is a great choice if you’re looking for a boot that can withstand a lot of water. The upper leather is water resistant and the inner liner is also waterproof while still being breathable. The Renegade is great for even the most difficult conditions while still being lightweight and comfortable.
The support that this boot offers is pretty impressive. The midsole has special monowrap technology to provide greater protection and shock absorption while adding to the Renegade’s durability. Some women have worn their Lowa boots for up to five years. They last a long time.
The uppers are made of nubuck leather which extends their lifespan, but they aren’t as comfortable as some synthetic materials right out of the box. All this means is you’ll have to take some time to break them in. When you consider how long these boots could end up lasting, spending a few days breaking them in isn’t such a big deal.
These boots come up high on the ankle for extra stabilization while, inside, there’s thick, waterproof padding to support the foot even more while also keeping it exceptionally comfortable. The high ankle also means this boot is safe to use in water about four and a half inches deep and you can cross streams or hike through a few inches of snow without worrying about getting your feet wet.
While these boots are on the expensive side, keep in mind that they may save you money in the long run. Typically, hiking boots last about two years and these promise to last five.
Will last up to 5 years
HI-TEC WOMEN’S BANDERA MID-RISE WATERPROOF HIKING BOOT
Hi-Tec has been in the hiking boot business for a long time. Over the past 70 years, they’ve built a solid reputation for themselves. While some other entries in this list looked a little less technical and were also appropriate for casual wear, the Hi-Tec Women’s Bandera looks like what it is: a solid, dependable hiking boot.
The upper is made of waterproof suede and mesh and comes in a variety of color combinations. The lining wicks moisture away from your feet and can handle even moderate downpours and still keep our feet dry.
Comfort is a very important characteristic of hiking boots and Hi-Tec knows it. These come with a foam contoured insole that can be removed if you want to replace it with one you prefer. The inside of the ankle and the gusseted tongue are also cushioned but designed so that the laces will still keep the right amount of stability.
These shoes are relatively light weight, coming in at around one and a quarter pounds. The ankle has a steel shank support to help keep the foot stable. The midsole is designed with good impact control while the outer sole contains air pockets that give extra support and cushioning.
These boots are great for mid level hiking on trails that are well maintained. They’ve been designed for short day trips but don’t have the bulk to be a good backpacking shoe.
Good choice for beginners
Not the best choice for long, rugged backpacking trips
ZAMBERLAN WOMEN’S 996 VIOZ GT HIKING BOOT
The Zamberlan 996 Vioz is a durable boot that’s ideal for long trips and backpacking. The upper is made from full grain leather coated with a waxlike treatment so it repels water, and the comfort liner wicks moisture away from the foot. This is a boot you can safely wear in a downpour or through a stream without worrying about you feet getting wet.
These women’s boots aren’t just men’s boots in a smaller scale. They’ve been designed especially for women’s feet and are made for serious hiking. The insole is supportive but stuff to provide adequate support when carrying a heavy pack. They fit snugly and well padded without being restricting and can handle rough terrains.
The padded heels and tongue make this boot even more comfortable. The ankles are well supported and protected with soft collars, woolen panels, and a leather tongue that conforms to the foot the more these boots or worn.
The tread is great for all kinds of surfaces, wet or dry. They’re made well and can stand up to a lot of abuse.
The ankles are well protected by the soft collars. The heel padding and plush tongue bring additional comfort. As such, you can wear this boot for extended periods without bruising your feet. The boots have top quality traction. They provide firm grip on all forms of surfaces whether slipper, rocky or wet.
Great for long backpacking trips
Solid, strong tread
OBOZ WOMEN’S BRIDGER B-DRY HIKING BOOT
This boot is completely waterproof and ready to wear right out of the box without any need to break them in. You can wear these and carry a fifty pound pack comfortably over all kinds of hiking conditions.
The support in this boot is exceptional. There’s a full length nylon shank and a hard plastic frame under the arch and midfoot. The uppers are completely leather both the toe and the heel have a rubber rand for grip and protection. The outsoles are made of hard rubber with deep lugs for stability on a variety of terrains.
The well defined foot arch gives significant support, plus the dual density midsoles will give great cushioning and shock absorption. The nubuck leather uppers are soft and comfortable. In addition, they’re waterproof and breathable. Your feet will stay dry and odor free.
These boots have an aggressive tread along with great foot support that can take you and your pack on a long hike on both rugged and well kept trails. These will last you a really long time.
Great for rugged trails and backpacking
And that concludes our list of the seven best hiking boots for women. As you can see, there’s a wide variety of choices that fit any foot and terrain.
The Ariat Women’s Terrain H20 Hiking Boot is waterproof, durable, and lightweight. They can handle any kind of hiking condition and are a great choice if you’re looking for something more versatile.
The Keen Targhee II Mid WP Women’s Hiking Boot is a great backpacking boot from a reputable outdoor brand. These boots are lightweight, durable, and waterproof with an aggressive tread that can go just about anywhere.
If you’re looking for something functional but a little more stylish, try the Ahnu Sugarpine hiking boot. It’s a great, lightweight boot that will serve you well on short, light day trips while also begin stylish enough for casual wear. There are several color combination available.
For a boot that will last you a really long time, there’s the Lowa Women’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot. It can withstand a lot of water and tackle difficult conditions while still being lightweight and comfortable. This boot from Lowa can last a really long time, often up to five years, an exceptionally long life for any shoe.
The Hi-Tec Women’s Bandera Mid-rise Waterproof Hiking Boot is solid boot for day trips made by a company that’s been in the business for 70 years. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and stable.
If you’re looking for a boot to use on a long trip with a heavy pack, try the Zamberlan Women’s 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot. It’s uppers are treated with a wax like finish to make sure they’re water repellant and the wetness wicking liner helps keep you dry during downpours and while walking across streams.
Finally, the Oboz Women’s Bridge B-Dry Hiking Boot is another great, waterproof option for a trip where you’ll need to carry a fifty pound pack. This boot has exceptional support and aggressive tread and is perfect for someone who spends a lot of time outdoors.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to women’s hiking boots. Everyone’s foot is different and everyone is looking to have a different experience out on the trail. The most important things are to find a boot that’s comfortable and will keep you dry. With our buying guide and list of suggestions, you should have no trouble finding the hiking boots that are ideal for you.
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