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The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

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.

Best Hiking Boots for WomenAfter months of testing, we found the best hiking boots for women; (photo/Matt Granger)
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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 or dream adventure.

It takes time to sort through all the brands and models of boots out there, so we’ve done all the grunt work for you. Since 2021, our team of testers has been on a constant hunt for the best boots on the market today. We put 15 of them to real-world use, logging dozens of miles from the Rocky Mountains to the hills of Virginia and the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. We’ve worn these boots on multiday backpacking trips, for quick local jaunts, and from the trailhead to around-town errands or travel legs — in a range of conditions from dry to mud-ridden. 

Each boot was measured and compared via a series of metrics such as fit, breathability, stability, materials, and support — to give an extensive look at where each stood out or fell short. We considered details such as the tread of each boot, cuff height, and waterproofing — all to help you understand the features you might be looking for. 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.

Read on for our favorite new hiking boots of the year, 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, FAQ, and comparison chart.

Editor’s Note: We refreshed this article on April 19, 2024, by adding two new products to our lineup: the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, a classic leather hiker, and the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Mid GTX, a lightweight workhorse. We also updated our previous review of the Hoka Anacapa GTX to reflect our testing of an updated, more sustainable version, the Hoka Anacapa GTX 2.

The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024


Best Overall Hiking Boot for Women

SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing 2-layer GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable laminate
  • Upper Synthetic fabric/welded polyurethane
  • Weight 1 lb. 8.2 oz.
  • Available in wide No
Product Badge The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Supportive for a sneaker-like boot
  • Offers great protection in rocky terrain with updated torsion control feature
  • Vegan upper is a bonus for some hikers

Cons

  • Pricey
Best Budget Hiking Boot for Women

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof

Specs

  • Height Ankle
  • Waterproofing Waterproof membrane
  • Upper Pigskin leather/mesh
  • Weight 1 lb. 13 oz
  • Available in wide Yes
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Works for folks with high arches
  • Great traction

Cons

  • Not as waterproof as the more expensive GORE-TEX version
Runner-Up Best Hiking Boot for Women

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX

Specs

  • Height Mid and Low
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper PU-coated leather; textile
  • Weight 1 lb. 11.2 oz
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Agile
  • Good waterproofing

Cons

  • Run large
  • Doesn’t have great ankle support
Best Women's Hiking Boot for Backpacking

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing GORE-TEX waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper Nubuck leather
  • Weight 1 lb. 6 oz.
  • Available in wide Yes
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Superb braking lugs
  • Outsole offers good grip
  • Ankle movement isn't restricted

Cons

  • Get an extra set of laces — these ones wear out fast
Best Women’s Hiking Boot for Lightweight Backpacking

Salomon OUTpulse Mid GORE-TEX

Specs

  • Height Mid
  • Waterproofing GORE-TEX
  • Upper Synthetic
  • Weight 1 lb. 7 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Very lightweight boot
  • Nimble and easy to maneuver
  • Feel like trail running shoes
  • Good price

Cons

  • Roomy in the ankle
  • Toe cap doesn’t come up far enough for the most protection
  • Textile upper could be prone to abrasion
Most Stylish Hiking Boot for Women

Teva Grandview GORE-TEX

Specs

  • Height Ankle
  • Waterproofing GORE-TEX waterproof breathable bootie
  • Upper Leather/synthetic/textile combo
  • Weight 1 lb. 11 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Out-of-box comfort
  • Supportive

Cons

  • May be too wide for narrow feet
  • High arches may need aftermarket insole
  • Lacks traction and support for longer, more advanced missions
Best Women's Hiking Boot for Thru-Hikes

Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing eVent waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper eVent fabric
  • Weight 1 lb. 8 oz.
  • Available in wide No (already is!)
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Supportive
  • Sheds mud

Cons

  • Not as much rock protection as some shoes
Best Women's Hiking Boot for Technical Terrain

Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX

Specs

  • Height Ankle
  • Waterproofing GORE-TEX waterproof breathable liner
  • Upper Stretch fabric, suede
  • Weight 2 lbs. 2 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • To-the-toe lacing
  • Footbed options included

Cons

  • Only GORE-TEX version available
Most Sustainable Hiking Boot for Women

Jack Wolfskin Terraventure Texapore Mid

Specs

  • Height Mid and Low
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper recycled and PFC-free synthetic
  • Weight 1 lb. 14.7 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Ample cushion
  • Sustainable design

Cons

  • Tongue requires some nurturing to lie flat
  • Bulky laces
Best of the Rest

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid

Specs

  • Height Mid
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper Nubuck leather
  • Weight 2 lbs. 2 oz
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Supportive
  • Durable

Cons

  • Overbuilt for day hikes and shorter outings
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Mid GTX

Specs

  • Height Mid
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper Mesh and synthetic
  • Weight 1 lb. 10.2 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Wide
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • A bit stiff
  • Might be too wide for narrow feet

HOKA Anacapa 2 Mid GTX

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing Yes
  • Upper Waterproof Nubuck leather
  • Weight 1 lb., 13.4 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Sustainably made
  • Ample cushion
  • Sticky outsole with unique lugs give great traction
  • Over-the-ankle protection
  • Waterproof materials

Cons

  • Runs large

Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped

Specs

  • Height Mid
  • Waterproofing Omni-Tech waterproofing
  • Upper Full grain leather or suede
  • Weight 1 lb., 7 oz.
  • Available in wide Yes
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Comfortable out-of-the-box
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Less breathable than boots made with synthetic uppers
  • Rubber outsole not as grippy as more technical boots

KEEN Terradora II Waterproof Boot

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane
  • Upper Performance ripstop mesh/TPU
  • Weight 1 lb. 5.7 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Contoured, women’s specific design
  • Light arch support and cushion for all-day comfort
  • Made with ethically sourced and recycled materials

Cons

  • Beefy heel doesn't roll as naturally as some boots
  • Overall shape and cushion less suited for technical mountain terrain

Oboz Sawtooth X Mid

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing Yes, B-DRY waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Upper Nubuck leather and CORDURA mesh
  • Weight 2 lbs.
  • Available in wide No (also available in a low style)
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Awesome traction
  • Better lugs than previous models
  • Comfortable and snug fit

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof but enough for most uses

The North Face VECTIV Exploris 2 Mid Futurelight

Specs

  • Height Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproofing 3-layer Futurelight waterproof-breathable membrane
  • Upper Textile
  • Weight 1 lb. 11.1 oz.
  • Available in wide No
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Stable
  • Zone-specific lacing

Cons

  • Rockered profile takes some wearing to get used to

Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

Specs

  • 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
The Best Hiking Boots for Women in 2024

Pros

  • Holds ankles very securely
  • Shields ankles from debris and brush
  • Deep lugs

Cons

  • Overkill for mellow day hikes
  • Not flexible enough in the ankle for routes with scrambling

Women’s Hiking Boots Comparison Chart

Hiking BootPriceHeightWaterproofUpperWeight
SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX$219Over-the-ankleYesSynthetic fabric/welded 
polyurethane
1 lb. 8.2 oz.
Moab 3 Mid Waterproof$150AnkleWaterproof membranePigskin leather/mesh1 lb. 13 oz.
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX$175Mid and LowYesPU-coated leather, textile1 lb. 11.2 oz.
La Sportiva Nucleo
High II GTX
$239Over-the-ankleGORE-TEX waterproof breathable membraneNubuck leather1 lb. 6 oz.
Salomon OUTpulse
Mid GORE-TEX
$160MidGORE-TEXSynthetic1 lb. 7 oz.
Teva Grandview 
GORE-TEX
$175AnkleGORE-TEX waterproof breathable bootieLeather/synthetic/textile combo1 lb. 11 oz.
Lone Peak ALL-WTHR
Mid 2
$190Over-the-ankleeVent waterproof
breathable membrane
eVent fabric1 lb. 8 oz.
Salewa Alp Trainer
2 Mid GTX
$229AnkleGORE-TEX waterproof breathable linerStretch fabric, suede2 lbs. 2 oz.
Jack Wolfskin Terraventure
Texapore Mid
$185Mid and LowYesrecycled and PFC-free synthetic1 lb. 14.7 oz.

Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
$255MidYesNubuck leather2 lbs. 2 oz
Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Mid GTX$180MidYesMesh and synthetic1 lb. 10.2 oz.
Hoka Anacapa Mid 2 GTX$195Over-the-ankleYesWaterproof Nubuck Leather1 lb. 13.4 oz.
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped$100MidOmni-Tech waterproofingFull Grain leather or suede1 lb. 7 oz.
KEEN Terradora II Waterproof$165Over-the-ankleKEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membranePerformance ripstop mesh/TPU1 lb. 57 oz.
Oboz Sawtooth X Mid$175Over-the-ankleYes, B-DRY waterproof/breathable membraneNubuck leather and CORDURA mesh2 lbs.
The North Face VECTIV
Exploris 2 Mid Futurelight
$179Over-the-ankle3-layer Futurelight waterproof-breathable membraneTextile1 lb. 11.1 oz.
Salomon Quest 4
GORE-TEX
$230Above-the-ankle/lower calfGORE-TEX waterproof/breathable membraneLeather/textile2 lbs. 6.4 oz.
_DSC1978
Contributor Morgan Tilton testing hiking boots and backpacking gear in Southwest Colorado; (photo/Eric Phillips)

How We Tested Women’s Hiking Boots

Our GearJunkie crew has tested dozens of hiking boots (since May 2021) and whittled them down to a list of the best to help make your decision-making process a streamlined affair. Staff writer Morgan Tilton is a lifelong hiker from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, a passionate summiteer of the Centennial State’s 14,000-foot peaks, an adventurous backpacker, and an international trekker.

A gear tester for 4+ years, and an avid rock climber and hiker, Miya Tsudome lives in Bishop, Calif., in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Right outside her front door are endless trails from rocky desert slopes to aspen-lined switchbacks, where she logged many miles in the boots she tested. 

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 footwear comes along, they stand out.

Our final list of recommended women’s hiking boots is the combined result of thorough firsthand experience across the globe and various conditions. Using a variety of metrics, from performance, quality, durability, fit, comfort, protection, ergonomics, unique features, and value — we were able to come to objective conclusions about each boot’s strengths and weaknesses.

Our testers made sure to hike at least 3 miles in each model, with and without weight on their backs, and over varying terrain to best imitate real-life applications. We added five new boots to this most recent update, and are continuously on the lookout for new boots that could be worthy for our next round. 

The top picks also factor in the most popular, timeless, highly rated, innovative, and well-acclaimed products. Ultimately, these hiking boots and shoes serve a range of athletes, environments, objective goals, and budgets. If you’re looking for more of a hiking shoe, check out our guide to Best Hiking Shoes for Women.

Women's Hiking Boots
Each of the boots in this guide was thoroughly tested on real-world adventures; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy a Hiking Boot

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.

Fit

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 picks in this guide that offer a wide version of the design, such as the Nucleo High II GTX, the Moab 3 Mid Waterproof, and the Columbia Newton Ridge hiking boots. 

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

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)

Ultimately, it’s extremely helpful to go to a local retailer to get your feet professionally measured and 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.

The Salomon OUTpulse Mid GORE-TEX boots were incredibly comfortable right out of the box, as were the KEEN Terradora IIs.

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 feel smushed or graze at the top end of the toebox. Otherwise, you might end up with toe bang, especially after a descent and while wearing a heavy pack.

Note your socks. Take your most-used hiking hosiery with you to try on your hiking boots whether that’s a minimal, well-cushioned, lightweight, mid-weight, or heavyweight hiking sock. To that end, make sure you’re choosing the best hiking sock for the trip you plan to take and according to the season. We generally like merino or merino blends for a good balance of breathability and protection against cold while also helping to fight odors, especially for back-to-back days.

women's SCARPA Rush Mid GT hiking boot
Make sure to pair your new hiking boots with solid, reliable hiking socks; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Hiking Boot vs. Hiking Shoe

In general, hiking boots are more built-out compared to hiking shoes. They offer more rigidity, traction, and protection from the outsole and tread and around the upper. Often, hiking boots have more material around the ankle but the height can range from low-cut to mid to high. Some hiking boot uppers are full-grain leather while others are a hybrid of leather and nylon mesh or nylon mesh and plastic overlays for reinforcement.

Typically a hiking shoe is low-cut, and the shoe is less rigid, offering more comfort for cross-over use. The upper is typically made of synthetic materials (versus leather) and is breathable. The tread and outsole are more moderate compared to a built-out boot.

Also, there’s been a surge of hiking boot designs that are running-shoe inspired, such as the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX, the Salomon OUTpulse Mid GORE-TEX, or the Altra Lone Peak All-Weather Mid, offering a more flexible upper with a more rugged sole — it’s the best of both worlds with a hiking boot and shoe blend.

Hiking boots are a great option if you plan to carry more weight on your back, travel big miles, or venture through rocky or variable terrain where you need the protection and support of a built-out boot. If you are likely to travel through a range of weather conditions, such as snow and rain, or creek crossings, a boot can serve as a strong shield. The more rugged boots in our lineup include the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX and the Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots It also comes down to personal preference and if you feel more comfortable and protected in a boot versus a hiking shoe.

Women's Hiking Boots
The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof is a classic example of a pair of hiking boots with waterproofing, ankle protection, and a leather/mesh upper blend; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Hiking shoes are a good choice if you enjoy hiking fast when you’ll want more aeration and light so you might not need as much support. Some hikers opt for a hiking shoe because they prefer the minimal, close-to-ground feel — even with weight in a pack.

Others opt for a hiking shoe because it can be a good versatile crossover for trail running or everyday walks, for instance. In general, hiking shoes also dry out faster and pack down well, so they can be a good choice for airplane travel or to use in combination with a hiking sandal, especially in hot, humid environments.

At the end of the day, some hikers might prefer a narrower, athletic, precise-fitting hiking shoe for more freedom of movement versus a bulkier, sturdier, and higher-tread boot.

Since hiking shoes don’t offer quite as much support as boots — particularly around the ankle — it’s important to train up the muscles around your feet before setting off on any long hiking trip with shoes.

Hiking Boot Height: Low, Mid, or High

Hiking boot height is a matter of personal preference and is influenced by the terrain you’ll be wandering in. A higher-reaching boot is created through a taller collar or cuff, which is typically padded and some are more rigid than others.

  • Low-cut: Ankle bone is exposed, greatest range of motion
  • Mid-cut: Cuff rises above the ankle bone, offers ankle bone protection from abrasion, a hybrid of stability and mobility
  • High-cut: Cuff rises a few inches above the ankle bone, the sturdiest design

A higher boot collar will offer more ankle support, such as security when traversing loose rock or protection against abrasive vegetation. The higher profile the boot, the better it may do at keeping debris or moisture out. And most people will recommend a tall boot if you’re backpacking a heavy load.

Women's Hiking Boots
The Salomon OUTpulse Mid GORE-TEX cover your ankles and are light on your feet to boot; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

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. Taller socks will be more comfortable with a higher cuff.

For hiking in technical terrain, we recommend the Salewa Alp Trainer 2 Mid GTX, and for top-notch, locked-in ankle security, go for something like the Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hikng 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 Pacific Crest Trail quests.

And our favorite all-around light-yet-sturdy hiking boot with ankle protection is our top pick, the SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX. And we love the Salomon OUTpulse Mid GORE-TEX for lightweight backpacking adventures with their trail-runner-type feel. 

Breathability

Hiking boots, being more built-out and typically more water-resistant than hiking shoes, can vary in their breathability. In general, if this is an important consideration for you, we would recommend you go with a hiking shoe with breathable mesh upper materials. But that’s not to say that some of the hiking boots in our lineup aren’t breathable as well.

Women's Hiking Boots
It’s important to wear boots that have a good degree of breathability if you’ll be trekking through hot, arid environments; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

While hiking boots like our top pick, the SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX, come with a synthetic mesh upper for enhanced breathability, it is also made with GORE-TEX waterproof material, which is the best on the market at keeping your feet dry. Our testers found that boots made with GORE-TEX, like the Rush Mid GTX, the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX, or the Teva Grandview, are always going to sacrifice breathability to some extent. While a synthetic mesh upper does help, boots that are the best at keeping water out won’t compare to light trail runners with thin membranes that are guaranteed to keep your feet cooler in the long run. 

Our testers found that the Lone Peak All-Weather Mid boots, however, did surprisingly well at keeping our feet from getting that swampy feeling that tends to happen with waterproof boots. The eVent upper material of these trail-runners-turned-hiking-boots kept our feet from overheating in the height of the summer while also having great waterproofing capabilities, making them a good choice for those looking for a more breathable hiking boot. 

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, and what stabilizers and reinforcements have been built into the boot upper.

Outsole (Tread)

The underside of the hiking boot or shoe is the outsole, or tread, which contacts the ground. It’s made of rubber. Each pair has its own lug pattern, which provides varying degrees of traction in different trail conditions and terrain.

_DSC2060
Hiking boot lugs differ in shape, size, and arrangement; (photo/Eric Phillips)
  • Shallower lugs: Good for pavement, dirt, grass, crushed gravel, fallen leaves, fairly flat (easy to moderate steepness)
  • Moderate lugs: Best for looser terrain such as mud, gravel, scree (moderate or greater steepness)
  • Deep lugs: Ideal for the most supple surfaces like mud, snow, loose rock, mixed terrain, typically on mountaineering or backpacking boots (best for steep slopes)
  • Wider-spaced lugs: Improve friction for an enhanced grip, such as on rock, and more easily discard debris like mud
  • Angled (versus round) lugs: Shaped like a V, these lugs provide even more bite than round lugs (good for steep hikes)

The heel, also called the heel brake, is where there’s a shelf in the back of the boot, beneath the heel of the foot, that helps provide traction, too.

Midsole

The midsole is the layer of materials between the outsole (the outermost part of the boot) and the upper (the material that wraps around the top of your foot). The midsole influences overall comfort through cushion and shock absorption. It also adds buffer against whatever you walk over including rocks or roots.

Women's Hiking Boots
The comfort and cushion of a midsole varies from boot to boot; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

In some cases, hikers prefer less cushion and more stiffness or a closer-to-ground feel, especially if the terrain is super uneven or rocky. In which case, too much cushion can lead to a bowling ball feeling where your feet aren’t as stable.

Midsole materials break down over time. Pay attention to when that midsole starts to crumble or crack, which means the support you need is gone and it’s time for new hiking shoes.

The materials are typically EVA, which is plush and lightweight, or polyurethane, which is more dense. EVA tends to break down faster and costs less.

Upper Materials

The upper is the area that covers the top of the foot and attaches to the materials beneath the foot including the midsole and outsole. The materials that comprise the upper part of the boot or shoe range from rigid to soft.

A full-grain leather (also plainly referred to as leather) is stout, durable, and weather and water-resistant. Nubuck leather as found on the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX resembles suede and is full-grain leather that has been buffed. These boots are more traditional in style and require more break-in time (nubuck leather can feel a tad more flexible). They also don’t provide as much breathability as other materials.

Women's Hiking Boots
Upper materials of boots impact breathability and durability; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Uppers can also be a blend of synthetic materials including mesh and plastic overlays that provide reinforcement and stability such as on our top pick, the SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX. Synthetic uppers generally are a blend of nylon and polyester but synthetic leather is an option. They break in easier, are more malleable, offer more breathability, and dry quickly when they get damp or wet. However, they do not typically last as long as full-grain leather and can tear or wear holes much faster. That’s visible in the price, as they don’t typically cost as much.

Hybrid uppers (also known as split-grain leather) like on the Teva Grandview GORE-TEX can feature both leather and synthetic materials, so you get more breathability and stability. These designs still aren’t as durable as full-grain leather boots.

Waterproof Upper

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? Consider going waterproof. Lots of options in this guide stood up to creek crossings galore, like the SCARPA Rush 2 Mid GTX or the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof.

woman's hiking boots walking through shallow water
Testing waterproof hiking boots during a stream crossing in Colorado; (photo/Abigail LaFleur-Shaffer)

It’s also important for your overall health and safety to consider if you need waterproof protection. When your feet are wet or damp for extended periods of time, especially if they are also fighting cold (but above freezing temperatures), your feet can be at risk of trench foot, which can lead to sensations such as persistent itching, prickliness, or other severe symptoms. That’ll do more than end a trip.

Consider choosing a boot made with GORE-TEX materials to ensure the best waterproofing, like found on the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX’s.

So consider the climate and topography where you’ll be hiking and what time of year you like to hike. Check in with other backpackers or hikers that have experienced that climate or trail, or call a local outdoor retailer to ask if waterproof boots are recommended for that objective. If you’ll be wearing this boot when it’s rainy, snowy, cold, or in variable conditions, we generally recommend opting for a waterproof boot. It will keep moisture out, which will keep your feet dry, protected and comfortable regardless of how many miles you’re ticking off.

Alternatively, if you’re hiking primarily or exclusively in hot, dry conditions, a waterproof boot will likely be stifling and cause your feet to perspire more, especially on summer days. A membrane-free and treatment-free boot will keep your feet cool and dry just fine.

Women's Hiking Boots
You don’t always need a waterproof boot if you know you’ll be primarily hiking over dry terrain; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

Some hiking boots have an integrated waterproof/breathable membrane, like GORE-TEX or eVent or Texapore Ecosphere, and no topical treatment. Other footwear is (or can be) treated with a waterproof treatment product for waterproofness. If you do go with waterproof, be sure to read the product’s instructions about any required waterproof treatment application or upkeep.

Arch Support

Arch support is something that is highly individualized. Hiking boots can vary widely with how supportive their arches are, and if you suffer from any particular pain in your feet, hips, or knees from hiking we always recommend buying some third-party insoles to better support your feet. 

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof feature a zonal arch and heel support made for folks with high arches. These shoes were made with support in mind, and since our arches support much of our body weight while walking or hiking, we appreciate that Merrell incorporates this into their design.

The KEEN Terradora II come with light arch support and are contoured to fit a women’s foot, making them one of the most comfortable shoes in our lineup. “Women’s foot” almost always means a narrow foot, with a more curved inner and higher arch. Of course, women’s feet can be wider with low arches as well, but some boots like the Terradora II aim to provide support and comfort for the prototypical female foot.

The Altra Lone Peak boots feature a zero-drop design, which means that there is no height change between the heel and forefoot. This lack of support is supposed to encourage more natural foot movement and build foot strength, but is not for everyone and can take some time to get used to. 

Women's Hiking Boots
A supportive arch can greatly boost the comfort of a hiking boot; (photo/Miya Tsudome)

In the end, arch support is a very personal feature, and will change from foot to foot! The good thing is that you can remove the insoles of any boot and add in your own to make them work best for you if necessary. 

Adding Insoles to Your Boots

Most hiking boot insoles are made of basic foam materials which easily flatten out over time and add little protection or arch support. If you know you have a certain arch type, suffer from plantar fasciitis, or often experience knee or hip pain after logging some miles, then you might benefit greatly from adding some insoles to your hiking boots. Not only will this increase comfort, but it can also help to prevent injuries and improve joint function and stability. 

We definitely recommend taking your hiking boots with you to a store where you can try on different types of insoles so you find the best fit for your foot as well as the ones that will best fit your boot. Hiking boots are typically high-volume shoes, so can accommodate a variety of insoles and arch sizes, but you won’t know for sure until you try them out for yourself.

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Editor Mary Murphy testing hiking boots in Colorado; (photo/Eric Phillips)

FAQ

What are the most comfortable women’s hiking boots?

Everyone’s foot shape and foot health needs differ, so there’s not a “most comfortable” boot for every hiker.

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

A 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.

Ultimately, some hikers might prefer a boot with more rigid and firm support versus a plush and cushioned design. Also some hikers might prefer a narrower, athletic, precise-fitting hiking shoe for more freedom of movement versus a bulkier, sturdier, and higher-tread boot.

Are shoes or boots better for hiking?

Whether you hike in shoes or boots is a personal preference and influenced by your surrounding terrain.

Hiking boots are a great option if you plan to carry more weight on your back, travel big miles, or venture through rocky or variable terrain where you need the protection and support of a built-out boot. If you are likely to travel through a range of weather conditions, such as snow and rain, or creek crossings, a boot can serve as a strong shield. It also comes down to personal preference and if you feel more comfortable and protected in a boot versus a hiking shoe. There are also many hiking boot designs that are running-shoe-inspired, offering a more flexible upper with a more rugged sole.

Hiking shoes are a good choice if you enjoy hiking fast when you’ll want more aeration and light so you might not need as much support. Some hikers opt for a hiking shoe because they prefer the minimal, streamlined, close-to-ground feel – even with weight in a pack. Hiking shoes can offer more freedom of movement. Others opt for a hiking shoe because it can be a good versatile crossover for trail running or everyday walks, for instance. In general, hiking shoes also dry out faster and pack down well, so they can be a good choice for airplane travel or to use in combination with a hiking sandal, especially in hot, humid environments.

Many thru-hikers even wear hiking shoes for big adventures because the more breathable upper helps prevent hot spots and blisters for day after day miles. The mesh upper can also be easier to clean (and dry).

Structure underfoot — the shoe’s midsole and outsole — matters as much as how high the cuff of the boot is. Choose a boot or shoe that feels good to wear and gives you confidence when you’re hiking in your favorite terrain.

Should I size up when buying hiking boots?

Buy boots that fit and wear them with only one pair of high-quality socks. Take your most-used hiking socks with you to try on the boot. Make sure you’re choosing the best hiking sock for the trip you plan to take and according to the season. Do not buy hiking boots a size bigger.

You do, however, want to leave enough room that your toes do not feel smushed and do not graze the top end of the toebox. Your heel should not slip up and down. If it does, choose another boot or you’re bound to end up with blisters.

What are the best lightweight hiking boots?

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

Generally, the lower the cuff height, the less robust and more lightweight a boot will be. Hiking shoes are generally lighter than hiking boots.

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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If you’re looking for the best hiking boots, look no further. We’ve tested dozens of hiking boots over hundreds of miles to help you stay happy and comfortable on the trail.

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The Best Hiking Shoes for Women of 2024

We hit the trail and traveled over everything from ice to sand to find the best hiking shoes for women. Whether you’re looking to go on short treks or weekend-long adventures, we’ve got you covered with women’s hiking shoes for every budget.

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