Best Hiking Boots for Women
After months of testing, we found the best hiking boots for women; photo credit: Matt Granger

The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2021

After months on the trail, we found the best hiking boots for women. Whether you want to head for a local day trip or spend months thru-hiking, we’ve got you covered.

Finding the right pair of boots for your feet is vital. Sure, things like trekking poles or daypacks will enhance your time on the trail. But a good shoe sets the entire foundation. And a poor fit can quickly ruin your plans.

Here we focus on the best hiking boots for women. We have a separate guide if you’re looking for men’s hiking boots or hiking shoes.

From the Rocky Mountains to the hills of Virginia, our expert testers have logged countless miles of testing. We’ve worn these boots on multiday backpacking trips, for quick jaunts locally, and even to run errands. While there isn’t a single hiking boot that will fit everyone, we’ve broken this list into categories to help you find the best fit for you.

There are many other boots we could’ve included, but these rose to the top. These are the boots we wear regularly and that we recommend to family and friends.

Read on for our favorite new hiking boots of 2021. Then, take a hike!

The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2021

Best Overall: SCARPA Rush Mid GTX

scarpa rush mid gtx

With a traditional feel and a modern look, SCARPA’s do-it-all trail-running-inspired Rush Mid GTX ($179) might look light duty, but it has the support and protection of a mid-height, waterproof hiker, with astronomical levels of cushioning.

The magic in the shoe comes from SCARPA’s traction-enhancing, shock-absorbing concave impact zones that compress and absorb energy as you walk. As soon as we weighted the shoe, the impact zones flexed so that the boot’s secondary lugs could bite into the trail for increased traction.

The Rush’s synthetic mesh upper had supportive welded overlays with an over-padded, softly lined collar for lightweight, dynamic ankle support. Its GORE-TEX Extended Comfort lining was dry and breathable.

We wore this boot for speed hikes with and without a pack, and for overnight trips with a pack. It’s versatile and confidence-inspiring with a traditional feel made with lighter materials than we’ve seen in other SCARPA hikers. It runs small.

  • Supportive for a sneaker-like boot
  • Runs small

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Runner-Up Best Overall: KEEN Tempo Flex

keen tempo flex

Made for light hiking, KEEN’s Tempo Flex ($159) makes walking easier with loads of heel cushioning, a soft collar, and ridged bellows at the forefoot flex zone. Because of its low-key look and all-day comfort, this is a boot we often grab for running errands or walking the dog.

The new technology in the Tempo Flex is a soft, ridged plastic zone between the bottom of the lacing and the toe of the boot. Called Bellows Flex, KEEN says it takes 60% less energy to bend than other boots, which also cuts down on break-in and prevents the boot from cracking.

The flex zone was comfortable and didn’t press down on our toes. It did feel more flexy walking than other boots. However, we quickly got used to it and forgot about it, which is the highest form of compliment in shoe comfort. A paper-thin TPU rand around the toe, sides, and lacing of this boot reduced wear and tear.

Directional grip in the sticky soles, ridged toe and heel gripping, and braking zones helped us stay in control while negotiating a technical stretch of Vermont’s Long Trail. Mini lugs in the arch gripped a slippery-looking log.

And on a steep descent off Mt. Mansfield, the heel brakes gave excellent grip when the trail descended steeply. A stability shank inside also prevented pokey rocks from bruising our feet.

The Tempo Flex has a beefy and squishy midsole that’s thickest under the boot’s heel. This took the bite out of hardpacked trails, but it didn’t stride quite as naturally as some other boots.

With the Tempo Flex, KEEN modernizes their look with a less blocky toebox that still left plenty of room to let our foot spread. They also treated this partially recycled boot with an eco-friendly anti-stink treatment to keep them from offending your tentmates.

Does the Tempo Flex solve a pressing problem? I haven’t had a boot crack in the toe in years, and I’m not sure that more flex in the forefoot helped me hike further or faster. But this is still a great boot for light-duty missions.

  • Cut between low and mid for support and comfort
  • Flex zone in toe makes walking easier
  • Odor control
  • Beefy heel didn’t roll as naturally as some boots

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Best for Backpacking: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Women’s Wide

la sportiva nucleo high ii gtx

A more traditional backpacking boot, the hi-cut, mid-duty nubuck Nucleo High is big news for La Sportiva because it’s the first hiking boot they’ve made for wider feet. The leather boot was protective in the way that only a leather boot can be. It was also waterproof thanks to a GORE-TEX liner.

The breathability of the Nucleo High II GTX ($199) is enhanced by micro-vents under mesh from the arch of the foot to the ankle along the line of the sole, GORE’s Surround system. A Vibram rubber rand and toecap deflected scuffs and rocks.

And the Vibram sole had steady grip climbing, braking traction on descents, and a slightly rockered shape that made it easier to heel into a step and toe out of it.

Well-padded fabric at the Achilles gave us plenty of pressure-free range-of-ankle movement on steep descents. On rocky trails, a polypropylene stiffener in the midsole protected my feet from bruising.

If you truly have wide feet, this boot will likely be too narrow. While this one is wide for La Sportiva — and it welcomes more hikers than ever to wear the company’s classic European hiking boots — they’re more of a wideish-medium cut.

If you’re lamenting the change of last because you have narrow feet and have always loved how La Sportiva fits, don’t stress. They still offer the Nucleo High in “normal fit” too.

  • Breathability from underfoot
  • Superb braking lugs
  • We wish it was wider

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Best Budget Hiking Boot: Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof

“These hiking boots are made for folks with high arches, and they’re so comfy the first time you put them on,” said one day hiker, who took the pair up gullies, through meadows, and across many streams to treeline.

At 32 ounces for the pair, the Moab 2 ($135) features a zonal arch and heel support, in addition to its EVA footbed, for comfort and security. The breathable mesh upper is reinforced by a suede leather overlay. And despite the mesh, the shoes proved completely waterproof through eight river crossings.

The boots are simple and durable. And we also like that they are super easy to lace up and tighten down. They’re a perennial favorite and one of the best boots you can get for less than $150.

  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Wide fit doesn’t work for narrow feet
  • Bulky

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Most Stylish: Teva Grandview GORE-TEX

teva grandview gore-tex

Looking for a hiking boot that easily transitions from mountaintop to coffee shop? Then it’s time you met the Teva Grandview ($175). This pick offers modern retro styling in a boot that performs impressively well on the trail.

These boots proved comfortable from the very first wear. The wider toebox gave us plenty of room for toes to wiggle and splay out naturally. One narrow-footed tester found them too roomy, so keep in mind your particular foot shape.

We had adequate traction even on wet rocks during a stream crossing. And the GORE-TEX liner kept our feet dry through it all. Even on warmer spring hikes, we didn’t have a problem with our feet overheating.

The Heel Lock strap did provide subtle, yet helpful, additional foot support. Teva claims it helps lock your foot in place and decrease toe pressure on descents. We were pleasantly surprised to find it truly did help.

This boot may not have enough support or traction for technical rocky terrain or extended backpacking trips, but for day hikes and around town jaunts, it’s our new favorite hiker.

  • Stylish
  • Out-of-box comfort
  • Supportive
  • Roomy toebox
  • May be too wide for narrow feet
  • High arches may need aftermarket insole

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Best for Thru-Hikes: Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid

altra lone peak all-weather mid

At 12 ounces, this is one of the lightest hiking boots you can buy. It’s nimble and fast, more like a running shoe with mid-height ankle support.

Altra’s signature ultrawide toebox leaves feet plenty of space to spread out. That helped us hike longer miles without foot pain.

When we wore this hiker in cooler temps, it also helped our toes stay warm because they weren’t restricted and there was space for warm air inside the shoe.

The Lone Peak All-Weather Mid ($169) uses an eVent waterproof bootie to keep feet dry. It blocked puddles and rain from seeping into this shoe. The membrane truly breathes, making this one of the least sweaty waterproof shoes we’ve worn.

The Lone Peak All-Weather Mid has a springy insole that gives the boots a running shoe feel and will put some spring in your step. And the sole’s directional V-shaped lugs were grippy on rocks and roots but didn’t get packed with mud.

The sole extends slightly longer than the body of the boot in the back, which made rolling through each step feel natural and smooth. A gusseted tongue kept water out when I misjudged the depth of a puddle. It also kept out fir needles, leafy debris, sand, shale, and everything else that tried to creep in on various hikes.

The 25mm stack height felt lower in the heel than others we tested, which was super comfortable over many days and miles of wearing them.

  • Light
  • Fast
  • Supportive
  • Sheds mud
  • Not as much rock protection as some shoes

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Best for Technical Terrain: Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX

salewa alp trainer 2 mid gtx

Made for best-in-class protection in rocky, technical terrain, Salewa’s mid-height Alp Trainer ($200) brings together the best features of a climbing shoe with the best features of a hiking boot for traction, precision, and comfort on rocky, technical trails.

This hiker has a very secure and highly adaptable fit. To-the-toe lacing let us tune the fit to our feet throughout the day as our feet swelled. Its upper is 1.4mm-thick leather that deflected rock abrasion on a backpacking weekend in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

The Alp Trainer’s zonal traction Vibram sole was able to cruise through any terrain or weather we encountered from sweaty summer peak-bagging to a wintery mix when scouting ski lines in New York’s Adirondacks.

A stiffer, smoother zone in the toe was precise and grippy when we took a shortcut that required a short stretch of technical climbing moves.

Salewa’s 3F System, which wires the heel of the boot to the upper, is a signature Salewa technology that continues to deliver superb ankle stability and a connected feeling. Salewa wraps a wire around the boot’s Achilles and locks it into the top lace.

A wire also links the arch to the top lace. The 3F system made the boot feel like an extension of my foot, not something we were wearing.

The Alp Trainer Mid’s ankle flexibility was enhanced with a padded fabric cutout in the Achilles. The design gives the ankle more forward-backward motion, which was comfortable on steep downhills on Vermont’s Long Trail without compromising the Alp Trainer’s support.

The boots come with an additional footbed insert — part of Salewa’s Multi Fit Footbed system. Swap the insoles or combine them for a personalized fit.

The boots fit our tester perfectly with the insole that came in the shoe. A hiker with a lower volume or narrower foot will appreciate the options.

  • Blister-free adjustable fit
  • To-the-toe lacing
  • GTX only

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Best for Travel: ECCO Outdoor MX

ecco outdoor mx

With a motocross-inspired tread and a stealth technical upper, the MX let us feel the terrain underfoot while it protected feet from fatigue and abuse.

The Outdoor MX’s ($120) upper is bonded, not glued, to the single-piece, direct-injected midsole and outsole. This made these hikers durable over many miles, and the midsole/outsole was springy and energetic.

Shoe stability was enhanced by a TPU shank inside. Broad, flat lugs in the sole had plenty of traction for any walk we wanted to go on, although they were slippery on a wet floor.

A padded neoprene cuff kept trail debris out of the shoe. Most of the upper is suede. Lacing holes are cut into the suede so that each criss-cross is independently adjustable.

The upper cradled our foot without compressing it. And the microfiber lining wicked moisture out of the shoe, getting the sweat out. Neoprene and leather together kept these shoes looking clean and new longer than fabric hikers we’ve worn.

The Outdoor MX is best for easy to moderate terrain. We also loved them for travel. There’s nothing flashy about these shoes. You can easily dress them up or dress them down, with no need to dash back to the hotel room to change.

When one tester found a cool trail on the edge of town to explore after a morning of café stops and seeing the sights, she refilled her water bottle and was ready to go.

  • Do-everything
  • Well-cushioned
  • Not suited for technical terrain

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Best of the Rest


Women's Speedgoat Mid 2 GTX

Half trail runner, half boot, HOKA’s Speedgoat 2 Mid ($170) is one of our favorite fast hikers. HOKA took the design of its popular, grippy trail runner — the Speedgoat — and upgraded it with more cushion, more ankle support, and a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane to protect you on the trail.

At 11.3 ounces per pair, these hiking boots are a great choice for backpacking and other fast hiking endeavors. And while it’s definitely on pace to function as a trail runner (with a little extra protection), it functions great as a hiker too.

In terms of a hiking boot, the Speedgoat Mid has everything you could want: ankle support, cushion, good traction, and a lighter-weight, flexible design that moves with your feet as you go. A GORE-TEX membrane bootie wraps the shoe, keeping you protected from water, mud, and any other wet-weather terrain.

Our testers loved the fit and noticed the boot wasn’t too stiff upon breaking in. It’s also perfect for varied, multisurface terrain. It’s also ideal for trails that involve more technical elements, like hiking through boulder fields, scrambling, or making small stream crossings. The HOKA Speedgoat Mid can handle most everything.

If you are looking for a less traditional “boot,” and more of a shoe that will work for trail running and hiking and anything in between, the HOKA Speedgoat 2 Mid is a great option.

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Great traction and grip (5mm lugs)
  • Versatile
  • Not the most breathable
  • Some found issues with sizing

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North Face VECTIV Exploris Mid Futurelight

north face vectiv exploris mid futurelight

If you’ve ever felt like you run out of energy mid-hike, this could be the shoe for you. North Face’s VECTIV Exploris Mid Futurelight ($169) hiker literally rolls you into your next step, helping to keep you moving and conserving your energy as you stride along the trail.

The energetic feel of this shoe comes from a rockered midsole that propels you forward with each step. It’s paired with a 3D plate between the midsole and sole that wraps up the sides of the boot for lateral stability. It also protected my feet from rocks and uneven trails.

Although the VECTIV Exploris is rockered, we felt stable and confident in this shoe. Plenty of hiking shoes and boots have protective plates in the midsole. By extending that plate up the shoe’s sidewalls and also wrapping it around the heel, we never feared rolling our ankles.

The VECTIV Exploris’s Y-shaped lugs had zonal traction. Harder lugs on the perimeter of the forefoot gave this boot extra bite when conditions were soft or rocky.

The heel had aggressive braking lugs that helped us control the descent. The sole is anatomically scored, which made rolling through each footstep fluid.

The VECTIV Exploris’ meshy upper is lined with The North Face’s Futurelight waterproof, breathable fabric, which kept my feet dry and comfortable even on warm days.

The boot’s lacing doesn’t look like anything special. But the lace guides lock in the laces every time they cross the tongue of the boot, making the lacing zonal.

  • Stable
  • Tunable lacing
  • Conserves energy
  • Rockered profile takes some wear to get used to
  • Black only

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Columbia Escape Summit OutDry

columbia summit outdry

More of a high-cut sneaker than a midheight boot, Columbia’s Escape Summit OutDry ($150) has loads of cushioning. It also has a fun look for light and fast missions where you want a little extra support.

Despite the Escape Summit’s barely ankle-high cut, on the trail, it kept us rubber side down. A Sturdy TPU overlay cupped our heel and tied into the boot’s lacing, midsole, and everywhere else. The seamless mesh upper is overprinted with a TPU matrix for structure that’s light and not overbuilt.

Webbing lace guides add even more of a secure feeling to this waterproof no-sew boot by tying into the midfoot and locking the foot firmly in place. The heel cup continues around the base of the shoe upper, acting as a protective rand on the sides of the foot and in the toe.

The low-profile sole was is ramped to make walking natural. It gave us a nudge forward as we walked down the trail. However, the forward roll into the next step wasn’t as dramatic as in some boots.

The boot sole has octagonal lugs combined with horizontal ridges, placed under the ball of the foot and in the heel for enhanced traction in those zones. The sole rounds upward on the perimeter of the shoe for best-in-class grip on off-camber terrain, whether it was wet or dry.

The springy midsole gave these hikers their sneaker-like feel. The dual-density cushioning felt bottomless, but the thin lugged sole overlay got us down any trail.

We used the Velcro tab at the heel and the D-ring at the base of the laces to attach a gaiter to keep out weather and debris.

  • Like a sneaker on steroids
  • Best for cool weather
  • On warm days, my feet got too hot in these boots

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Asolo TPS 520 GV EVO

Asolo TPS 520 GV EVO

These boots have lasted our tester nearly 10 years. She’s taken them on numerous backpacking trips throughout the West, including the Tetons, Wind Rivers, Glacier, and Sawtooths. They’ve proved comfortable, durable, and supportive throughout.

They are a stiffer boot and require a break-in period. But once they’re broken in, the Asolo TPS 520 ($340) feels like an extension of your body.

The deeply channeled outsoles provide excellent traction and reduce the buildup of debris. And the padded ankle collar is comfortable and useful at keeping rocks out.

We have read some complaints of the sole coming off, but have never experienced this ourselves. And in doing some research, it seems that most complaints of sole failure are from boots that are 10-plus years old. It’s worth noting that these boots can be resoled, which generally costs around $100.

  • Super durable
  • High quality
  • We’ve never even had to replace the laces
  • Color
  • Takes some time to break in properly
  • Reports of soles coming off

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Merrell Ontario Mid Waterproof

merrell ontario mid waterproof

This hiking boot’s ($170) full-grain leather upper and nostalgic aesthetic makes it classic yet modern. The Ontario weighs in at 267 ounces. And it’s comfortable out-of-the-box, due to an EVA midsole, air cushion in the heel, and the contoured, flexible insole. The rise comes just above the ankle, so tiny rocks stay out.

“During days on trail with multiple stream crossings of various widths and depths the boots never got water in them,” said one tester. They found the boots (which have a membrane that seals out water) supportive, breathable, and comfortable for all variations of day hikes, regardless of how rocky, dusty, wet, muddy, or inclined the trail.

We found the laces through the D-rings are difficult to tighten down toward the toes, so the fit feels roomier over the top of the foot. The laces toward the metal hooks are easy to tighten down, which helps prevent heel slippage.

One drawback: There’s no heel-hook to pull on the boot, so the process can be a bit cumbersome.

  • Comfortable out of box
  • Clean aesthetic
  • No heel hook
  • Grip isn’t aggressive enough for technical terrain

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SCARPA GTX Moraine Mid

Scarpa GTX Moraine Mid

“As soon as I saw the Moraine Mid ($169), they reminded me of approach shoes—especially with the rand protection over the toe—except these have a higher cuff height, which is rad,” said one tester, who took the boots on day hikes in the high alpine over rocks, dust mounds, logs, creeks, and fast-flowing rivers.

The design is easy to tighten down for a custom fit — which is helpful for those with narrow ankles and feet. However, the hourglass figure of the boot creates a roomy feel around the toes. We also love how waterproof yet breathable the suede-mesh upper is.

In short, this SCARPA boot is not super built-out or cushioned for heavy pack trips. But it’s an excellent lightweight hiking shoe — 30.6 ounces for the pair — for day trips or lightweight overnight trips.

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Not enough support or cushion for heavy backpacking trips

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Salomon Outback 500 GTX

salomon outback 500 gtx

The Outback ($210) excels at being featherlight yet durable. The pair weighs only 28.2 ounces due to a unique CORDURA textile upper. Although mid-height, the cuff’s sculpted collars rise a tad higher above the ankle compared to other boots in that category, our testers found.

“The mix between the deep lugs, thick outsole, and toe protection really contrasts with the feeling of a malleable textile upper. But once I hiked in them and they took river crossings, mud, and rocks like a champ, I realized these Salomon boots are really protective and durable for long days on trail and a heavy pack,” said our tester.

The midsole features EnergyCell foam, but overall, the shoes feel stiffer and more supportive than other pairs tested. 

  • Lightweight
  • Supportive
  • Takes more time to break in
  • Stiffer feel

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Hoka One One Toa

These over-the-ankle boots feel more like high-top sneakers or one of the brand’s cloud-like trail running shoes than a set of hiking shoes. The malleable upper — a ripstop mesh material — forms to the foot rather than creating a rigid casket. In true HOKA style, the midsole cushion is super responsive and noticeable.

“When I felt how comfortable the squishy the shoe was under my feet, I wasn’t sure how they’d perform on variable terrain,” said one tester, who took the shoes on uneven, dusty, and rocky singletrack through pine forest and fast-moving creeks to an 11,000-foot meadow.

“I was surprised. Despite multiple complete river submersions, the Toas ($170) were completely waterproof, due to the eVent Waterproof bootie. The multidirectional lugs held rough surfaces super well. And the shoes felt breathable and lightweight,” she said.

The pair weighs 26.6 ounces, which is one of the lightest-weight pairs in the test pool. With the Toa’s neutral stability, it shines best as a day hiker versus for backpacking or carrying heavy loads extensive distances. 

  • Lightweight
  • Cushion
  • Stable
  • Cushion may be too extreme for some

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Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy a Hiking Boot


The main reason to buy a women-specific hiking boot is the fit. Most women have narrower heels than men, and many women have smaller and narrower feet than men.

It’s also common for women to have a higher arch. Women-specific hiking shoes and boots are all built on a last that takes into consideration what’s specific about women’s feet.

But, as with anything, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. If you have a wider foot, a larger foot, or a broader heel, a unisex or men’s boot might be a better choice.

Fit is the most important consideration when buying a boot. While all hiking boots break in to some degree, a boot should feel comfortable in the shop. Plus, your heel should not slip up and down. If it does, choose another boot or you’re bound to end up with blisters.

Best Women's Hiking Boots
Testing waterproof hiking boots during a stream crossing in Colorado. Photo credit: Abigail LaFleur-Shaffer

Waterproof, or Not?

If you’ll be wearing this boot when it’s rainy, snowy, cold, or in variable conditions, get a waterproof breathable boot. It will keep moisture out, which will keep your feet comfortable regardless of how many miles you’re ticking off.

If you’re hiking primarily or exclusively in hot, dry conditions, don’t get a waterproof boot. A membrane-free boot will keep your feet cool and dry.

Low, Mid, or High?

Hiking boot height is a matter of personal preference. A hiking boot will have more ankle support than a hiking shoe. But not everyone needs a lot of ankle support.

A taller-cut hiker may do better at keeping debris or moisture out. And most people will recommend a tall boot if you’re backpacking a heavy load. But plenty of thru-hikers wear hiking shoes on their Appalachian Trail or PCT quests.

In addition to boot height, a boot or shoe’s stability depends on what’s underfoot, how the boot is structured in the heel, as well as what stabilizers and reinforcements have been built into the boot upper.


What Are the Most Comfortable Women's Hiking Boots?

The most comfortable women’s hiking boots are ones that feel good when you put them on before your hike — and that still feel good when you take them off at the end of your hike.

A very soft boot might feel great to slide into at home, but it might not have enough support or protection to leave you feeling great after a long day on the trail.

Are Shoes or Boots Better for Hiking?

Whether you hike in shoes or boots is a personal preference. Hiking boots give more ankle support, so if you’re carrying a heavy load backpacking, they’re a great choice. But many thru-hikers wear hiking shoes for big adventures, like the Appalachian Trail.

Structure underfoot matters as much as how high the boot is. Choose a boot or shoe that feels good to wear, and that gives you confidence when you’re hiking.

Should I Buy Hiking Boots a Size Bigger?

Buy boots that fit, and wear them with only one pair of high-quality socks. We like merino or merino blends. Do not buy hiking boots a size bigger.

What Are the Best Lightweight Hiking Boots?

The best lightweight hiking boots are the ones that fit your foot. Check out Altra’s Lone Peak All-Weather Mid. We loved them for their featherweight, superb support and their roomy toebox. If you don’t need a waterproof boot, choose one without a membrane.

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