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

The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2022

After months on the trail, we found the best hiking boots for women. Whether you want to head out for a local day hike or spend your summer 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 across rocky, hilly, and steep terrain in a range of conditions from dry to mud-ridden. We’ve worn these boots on multiday backpacking trips, for quick local jaunts, and from the trailhead to around-town errands or travel legs. While there isn’t a single hiking boot that’s perfect for 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 designs rose to the top. These are the pairs we wear regularly, and the ones we’d recommend to family and friends for happy days on the trail.

Read on for our favorite new hiking boots of 2022, or jump to the category you’re looking for. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide and FAQ.

The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2022

Best Overall: SCARPA Rush Mid GTX

women's SCARPA Rush Mid GT hiking boot
Exploring Colorado hiking routes in the women’s SCARPA Rush Mid GTX; (Photo/Eric Phillips)

With a traditional feel and a modern look, SCARPA’s do-it-all trail-running-inspired Rush Mid GTX ($199) might look lighter-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 shifted our weight in the shoe, the impact zones flexed, and the boot’s secondary lugs bit into the trail for increased traction.

The Rush’s synthetic mesh upper has supportive welded overlays with an overpadded, softly lined collar, giving it lightweight, dynamic ankle support. Its GORE-TEX Extended Comfort lining was dry and breathable. Reinforced toeboxes lessen the possibility of blowing through the front, even with sustained use.

We wore this boot for speed hikes with and without a day pack and for overnight trips with a heavier load. The versatile and confidence-inspiring design provides a traditional feel, but the shoe is made with lighter materials than we’ve seen in other SCARPA hikers. If you’ve got wide feet or are in between sizes, keep in mind this shoe runs average width and a bit small.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper: Synthetic fabric/welded polyurethane
  • Weight: 1 lb., 8 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Supportive for a sneaker-like boot
  • Offers adequate protection in rocky terrain
  • Vegan upper is a bonus for some hikers
  • Runs small

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Runner-Up Best Overall: KEEN Tempo Flex

keen tempo flex

Made for light hiking, KEEN’s Tempo Flex ($170) 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 walking the dog or hitting the trails in addition to back-to-back errands.

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, it takes 60% less energy to bend than other boots, which also cuts down on break-in time and prevents the boot from cracking.

The flex zone was comfortable and didn’t press down on our toes. It did feel softer 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 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.

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 hard-packed trails, but it didn’t stride quite as naturally as some other boots.

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

Does the Tempo Flex solve a pressing problem? Our testers haven’t seen a boot crack in the toe in years. We’re also not sure whether more flex in the forefoot helped us hike further or faster. Overall, this is still a great boot for light-duty missions mixed with time around town.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper: Performance ripstop mesh/TPU
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Cut between low and mid for support and comfort
  • Flex zone in the 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

la sportiva nucleo high ii gtx

A more traditional backpacking boot, the high-cut, mid-duty nubuck Nucleo High is big news for La Sportiva. After specializing in narrow-lasted boots for years, it’s the first hiking boot they’ve made for both average-width and wide feet. The leather boot is protective and sturdy in the way only a leather boot can be, and thanks to a GORE-TEX liner, it’s also waterproof.

The breathability of the Nucleo High II GTX ($209) 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. The Vibram sole also provided steady grip climbing, enhanced braking traction on descents, and the slightly rockered shape 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 our feet from bruising, and the arch support is excellent.

Overall, the Nucleo High stands out among its contenders for long backpacking trips where your feet will thank you for having ankle support, good traction, and the ability to stomp through streams with ease.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper: Nubuck leather
  • Weight: 1 lb., 6 oz.
  • Available in wide: Yes
  • Superb braking lugs
  • Outsole offers good grip
  • Ankle movement isn’t restricted
  • Get an extra set of laces, because these ones wear out fast

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Best Budget Hiking Boot: Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof

women's Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof hiking boot
On a day hike in the Southwestern U.S. while wearing the women’s Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof boot; (photo/Eric Phillips)

These hiking boots are made for folks with high arches, and they’re comfortable from the moment you first put them on. We took this pair up gullies, through meadows, and across many streams all the way to the treeline. The 5mm-deep lugs provided great traction on the trail, too.

At 2 pounds for the pair, the Moab 2 ($145) features a zonal arch and heel support in addition to its EVA footbed for comfort and security. Up front, the toebox offers plenty of room. Also, the breathable mesh upper is reinforced by a suede leather overlay. Despite the mesh, the shoes proved completely waterproof through eight river crossings.

The boots are simple and durable, if a bit clompy. And we also like that they’re 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.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproofing: Waterproof membrane
  • Upper: Suede leather/mesh
  • Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Available in wide: Yes
  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Work for high arches
  • A handful of hikers upgraded the insole

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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? It’s time you met the Teva Grandview ($175). This popular 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 that in mind if you have particularly narrow feet.

We had adequate traction 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 provided subtle yet helpful additional foot support. Teva claims it helps lock your foot in place and decrease toe pressure on descents, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it held up to these claims.

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.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX waterproof breathable bootie
  • Upper: Leather/synthetic/textile combo
  • Weight: 1 lb., 11 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Stylish
  • Out-of-box comfort
  • Supportive
  • May be too wide for narrow feet
  • High arches may need aftermarket insole
  • Lacks traction and support for longer, more advanced missions

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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.

The Lone Peak All-Weather Mid ($180) also uses an eVent waterproof bootie to keep feet dry. It blocked puddles and rain from seeping into this shoe, and the membrane truly breathes, making this one of the least sweaty waterproof shoes we’ve worn.

When cranking out mileage is your primary concern, these shoes rise to the challenge. Altra’s signature ultrawide toebox leaves plenty of space for the toes to spread, which helped us hike longer miles without foot pain. When we wore this hiker in cooler temps, the roomy toebox also helped our toes stay warm. When the toes aren’t restricted, there’s more space to retain heat from movement.

A springy insole 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. Also, 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.

The All-Weather Mid’s 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 we 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 only real downside to this boot is that it lacks the sturdy rock protection found in some other hikers, which is a tradeoff for weight.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: eVent waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper: eVent fabric
  • Weight: 1 lb., 8 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Lightweight
  • 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

Designed for best-in-class protection in rocky, technical terrain, Salewa’s mid-height Alp Trainer ($200) is up to the challenge. This boot melds the best features of a climbing shoe with the best features of a hiking boot for traction, precision, and comfort on rocky, technical trails where falling isn’t an option.

This hiker has a secure and highly adaptable fit. The 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.

To-the-toe lacing let us tune the fit to our feet throughout the day as our feet swelled. And the upper, a 1.4mm-thick leather, deflected rock abrasion on a backpacking weekend in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

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 without sacrificing feel. Salewa wraps wires around the boot’s Achilles and arches, and locks them into the top lace. The 3F system really made the boot feel like an extension of our foot.

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 without compromising support, which was comfortable on steep downhills along Vermont’s Long Trail.

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.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX waterproof breathable liner
  • Upper: Stretch fabric, suede
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • To-the-toe lacing
  • Footbed options included
  • Only GORE-TEX version available

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Best of the Rest

Oboz Sawtooth X Mid

Oboz Sawtooth X Mid hiking boot
Hiker taking in the view while wearing the Oboz Sawtooth X Mid women’s hiking boots; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Oboz Footwear’s Sawtooth collection of hikers has been around for 10 years. In that time, the Sawtooth has only gotten very minor updates (like the ones made in 2019 in the Sawtooth II).

But now, 10 years later, Oboz decided to make some big upgrades to its classic hiker. It’s worth noting the Sawtooth X ($165) comes in low and mid styles, but we tested the mid-rise.

While the original Sawtooth models were largely popular, some big complaints were the fit around the ankle and the narrow fit in the sides and toes. It seems as if Oboz has set out to solve this with its design of the Sawtooth X, which has a markedly different heel shape, as well as a slightly wider toebox for a more comfortable fit.

The new model also includes a different midsole material (rubber-blended foam), and a new rubber on the outsole called True Tread for better traction.

We’ve taken this hiking shoe out on some very technical, scrambly hikes here in Colorado specifically to test the new traction. The multi-directional lugs (it seems like there are more of them!) perform great on both loose, packed, and rocky terrain.

The last new feature? Recycled PET in the laces — which so far have proven durable when yanking on and lacing up these boots.

Things that remain the same in the hiking boot from previous models include the Nubuck leather on the upper, Oboz’ B-DRY waterproof breathable membrane, and O FIT insoles.

Already, we think the fit is great (better than other Sawtooths) and the added CORDURA in the upper definitely increases the durability of this boot.

  • Height: over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: Yes, B-DRY waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Upper: Nubuck leather and CORDURA mesh
  • Weight: 2 lbs. per pair (women’s size 7)
  • Available in wide: no (also available in a low style)
  • Awesome traction
  • Better lugs than previous models
  • Comfortable and snug fit
  • Not fully waterproof but enough for most uses

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The North Face VECTIV Exploris Mid Futurelight

north face vectiv exploris mid futurelight

If you’ve ever felt like your feet might run out of energy mid-hike, this could be your shoe. The 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 our feet from rocks and uneven trails.

The meshy upper is lined with The North Face’s Futurelight waterproof, breathable fabric, which kept our feet dry and comfortable even on warm days. And while the boot’s lacing doesn’t look like anything special, the lace guides lock in the laces every time they cross the tongue of the boot, making the lacing zonal.

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, but by extending that plate up the shoe’s sidewalls and also wrapping it around the heel, we never feared rolling our ankles.

The Y-shaped lugs on the VECTIV Exploris 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, and the sole is anatomically scored, which made rolling through each footstep feel fluid.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: 3-layer Futurelight waterproof-breathable membrane
  • Upper: Ripstop mesh
  • Weight: 1 lb., 7.8 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Stable
  • Zone-specific lacing
  • Rockered profile takes some wearing to get used to

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Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots - Women's
Hiker and gear tester wearing the women’s Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots; (photo/Eric Phillips)

If you’re looking for the traditional 360-degree ankle support of a completely leather boot in a lighter, more flexible and breathable package, here’s your winner.

The Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots ($230) blend a comfortable, pliable upper with a rigid chassis that wraps around the ankle to help reduce fatigue under pressure from high mileage with a heavy load. With added protection and stability, it feels similar to an ace bandage buffering the ankle, which is just what some hikers need.

The burly, deep lugs help deliver traction, preventing slippage in variable conditions. Whether you’re hiking through mud, at a river crossing, or under a downpour, the waterproofing works — plus, it’s PFC-free.

With tiny pebbles or vegetation flying around, the gusseted tongue helps keep those discomforts out. And the laces feature a setback hook on either side of the ankle that helps you lock in the tightness you prefer on the lower half of the foot before snugging up the remaining two notches up the ankle.

If you’re looking for a boot that works well for dog walks and walking around town between trailheads, this boot is too much. The design is just right for hikers in need of extra protection that’s not too stuffy or rigid.

  • Height: Above-the-ankle/lower calf
  • Waterproofing: GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Upper: Leather/textile
  • Weight: 2 lbs, 6.4 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Holds ankles very securely
  • Shields ankles from debris and brush
  • Deep lugs
  • Overkill for mellow day hikes
  • Not flexible enough in the ankle for routes with scrambling

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Black Diamond Mission Leather Mid WP

women's Black Diamond Mission Leather Mid WP hiking boot
Testing the women’s Black Diamond Mission Leather Mid WP hiking boot on rocky terrain; (photo/Eric Phillips).

Black Diamond finally makes hiking boots. The Mission Leather Mid WP is an over-the-ankle style, waterproof boot, built with the same high-performance sticky rubber as many of BD’s climbing shoes. Other than that, the Mission Leather Mid is pretty different: with secure support around the ankle, a fully padded and gusseted tongue, a new midsole, new upper materials, and more.

If you mostly hike steep, rocky, or technical trails, you should give these boots a try. With an ultra-durable exterior, a secure and comfortable fit in the toebox (but especially around the ankle), a sturdy lacing system, and sticky rubber for days, they excel on scree, in boulderfields, and on steep and rocky ascents. The shoe is complete with a wide rubber toecap and rubber heel rand for protection in just those places.

Ever wish your favorite hiker was more like your approach shoe, or vice versa? With Black Diamond’s Mission Leather Mid ($175), it can be.

  • Height: over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: Yes
  • Upper: Nubuck leather
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs. per pair (women’s size 8)
  • Available in wide: no
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Great traction
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Pricey
  • Heavier than most

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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 27 ounces. Due to an EVA midsole, air cushion in the heel, and the contoured, flexible insole, these boots are comfortable right out of the box. The rise comes just above the ankle, which keeps tiny rocks and debris out.

During days on trail with multiple stream crossings of various widths and depths, the boots never took on water. We 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, however, which helps prevent heel slippage.

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

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing: Merrell Select Dry membrane
  • Upper: Full-grain leather
  • Weight: 1 lb., 11 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Comfortable out of the box
  • Clean aesthetic
  • No heel hook
  • Grip isn’t aggressive enough for technical terrain

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ECCO Outdoor MX

ecco outdoor mx


With a motocross-inspired tread, the MX let us feel the terrain underfoot while protecting our 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 gave the midsole/outsole a springy and energetic feel.

Shoe stability was enhanced by a TPU shank inside. Broad, flat lugs in the sole had plenty of traction for any low-key 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, with lacing holes cut into the material 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. The combination of neoprene and leather kept these shoes looking clean and new longer than other fabric hikers we’ve worn.

The Outdoor MX is best for easy to moderate terrain. We also loved them for long travel days. There’s nothing flashy about these shoes, and the muted pastel color schemes look sharp with any outfit. You can easily dress them up or dress them down, with no need to dash back to the hotel room to change.

  • Height: Below ankle
  • Waterproofing: No
  • Upper: Oil nubuck leather and textile
  • Weight: 1 lb., 9 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Do-everything
  • Well-cushioned
  • Not suited for technical terrain

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Columbia Escape Summit OutDry

columbia summit outdry

More of a high-cut sneaker than a mid-height boot, Columbia’s Escape Summit OutDry ($113) 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 firmly on our feet. 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 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 and didn’t throw us off.

The Escape Summit OutDry’s 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.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproofing: OutDry construction
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Weight: 1 lb., 4.4 oz.
  • Available in wide: No
  • Like a sneaker on steroids
  • Best for cool weather: on warm days, our feet got too hot in these boots

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Woman sits in tent and tightens up hiking boot laces.
Getting booted up in the tent vestibule at a dispersed, LNT-friendly backcountry campsite; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

Our GearJunkie crew has tested dozens of hikers and whittled them down to bring you the best. To point, staff writer Morgan Tilton is a lifelong hiker from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, a passionate hiker of the Centennial State’s 14,000-foot peaks, an adventurous backpacker, and an international trekker.

Then, hailing from Montana, reviewer Kylie Mohr is an avid, lifelong hiker from day hikes in her home state of Washington and the Olympic Peninsula to backpacking in the Tetons of Wyoming. Like many, Mohr struggles to choose between lighter, faster pairs and boots with more ankle support. So, when the holy grail of hikers comes along, they stand out.

The final list of recommended women’s hiking boots is the combined result of thorough firsthand experience across the nation and various conditions. Beyond our field tests and personal experience, we determined the best hiking boots based on a variety of metrics including performance, quality, durability, fit, features, and value.

The top picks also factor in product ratings, online reviews, design accolades, and new technologies. Ultimately, these hiking boots serve a range of athletes, environments, objective goals, and budgets.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy a Hiking Boot


The main reason to buy a women’s-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’s-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. There are also several boots among our top picks in this guide that offer a wide version of the design.

Boot sizes are not universal. The length, width, and volume vary across each brand. That’s why you might find some boots to be particularly narrow or roomy compared to others.

Ultimately, it’s extremely helpful to go to a local retailer to try on at least one boot model per brand, to get an idea of the size that works for you as well as the overall compatibility of the last with your foot shape and needs.

Fit is the most important consideration when buying a boot. While all hiking boots break in to some degree — it’s always smart to wear them around your house or around town before hitting the trail all day — 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. Likewise, your toes should not graze the top end of the toebox. Otherwise, you might end up with toe bang, especially after a descent, which is painful bruises on the toes or toenails.

woman's hiking boots walking through shallow water
Testing waterproof hiking boots during a stream crossing in Colorado; (photo/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. Also, consider the climate and topography where you’ll be hiking and what time of year you like to hike.

Love getting after it in the spring when snowmelt is rushing off the mountains? Live in the soggy PNW? Hate switching to sandals when you’re backpacking? Go waterproof. Lots of options in this guide stood up to creek crossings galore, like the SCARPA GTX Moraine Mid or the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof.

But 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 just fine.

Hiking Boot vs. Hiking Shoe

In general, hiking boots are more built-out compared to hiking shoes, offering more rigidity, traction, and protection from the outsole and tread to the upper. Often, hiking boots have more material around the ankle but the height can range from low-cut to mid to high.

Typically a hiking shoe is low cut, and the shoe is less rigid, offering more comfort for cross-over use.

Also, there’s been a surge of hiking boot designs that are running-shoe inspired, offering a more flexible upper with a more rugged sole — it’s the best of both worlds with a hiking boot and shoe blend.

Low, Mid, or High?

Hiking boot height is a matter of personal preference. A greater height will offer more ankle support such as security when traversing loose rock. The higher profile the boot, the better it may do better at keeping debris or moisture out. And most people will recommend a tall boot if you’re backpacking a heavy load.

The tradeoff is that a higher-cut boot won’t be as flexible. This may not be ideal if you’re scrambling on rocks beside the trail and you need more ankle articulation, or if you need to crouch down to tend to kiddos or pets. Higher ankle support also generally holds in more heat with less airflow around the ankles.

For technical terrain, we recommend the Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX, and for top-notch ankle security, go for something like the Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots. Not everyone needs a lot of ankle support, so don’t be afraid to experiment with more flexible options if you’re unsure.

Also among the over-the-ankle heights, we liked the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Women’s Wide best for backpacking. Though plenty of thru-hikers also wear hiking shoes on their Appalachian Trail or PCT quests.

Footwear Stability

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. There are also many hiking boot designs that are running-shoe-inspired, offering a more flexible upper with a more rugged sole.

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 in your favorite terrain.

woman jumps from rock to rock in hiking boots
GearJunkie editor scrambling on rocks on a day hike in the Black Diamond Mission Leather Mid; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

What Material Is Best for Hiking Boots?

It depends on how you plan on using your hiking boots. Leather gets high marks for its durability, and hiking boots made from quality leather can often withstand tough trails and be resilient to abrasion over time.

Waterproofing is where you make sacrifices — if you waterproof leather boots, you lose any breathability. Leather can be more expensive than synthetics, and also heavier.

Synthetic materials sometimes get a bad rap for durability, but often breathe better too. It’s all about tradeoffs.

Nubuck leather (holds up to abrasion, is more breathable and water-resistant) can thread the needle between the benefits of full-grain leather (tough, durable) and synthetic materials like polyester and nylon (less expensive, need a waterproof membrane to deal with moisture).

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