Which hiking boots for women are best?

Clean air, the feel of the sun on your face, the soft murmur of a babbling brook: these are some of the pleasures of hiking. Spending time on the trail is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but it’s hard to lose yourself in wonder when your feet are aching. The best hiking boots for women cradle your feet in comfort and allow you to focus on being where you are.

For versatility, protection on the trail and superior comfort, the Keen Women’s Voyageur Mid Hiking Boot is the best choice.

What to know before you buy hiking boots for women

Materials

Women’s hiking boots are available in a variety of materials, each with its pros and cons.

  • Leather: Choose from full-grain or split-grain leather. Both offer good protection, but boots of full-grain leather are heavier. On the other hand, split-grain leather is not as durable and is less waterproof. 
  • Synthetic material: Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are lightweight and breathable, great for fast hiking. They can also be lined with a waterproof membrane or extra insulation for dry warmth in wet and cold climates. They are not as durable as leather boots, but they are often more affordable.
  • Mixed materials: Some of the best hiking boots for women feature a mix of both leather and synthetic materials. Leather offers protection in the areas around the toes and heels, mesh and synthetic fabrics around the insoles and tops at the foot mean more breathability and flexibility in the boot. 

Hiking boot varieties

Hiking boots are available in a variety of styles, including:

  • Shoes: These are low cut and flexible for speedy day hikes.
  • Day hiking boots: These are also flexible but with a higher cut and more support for the ankle.
  • Backpacking boots: These are heavier and sturdier, as they are built for long treks over treacherous terrain.

When and where you’ll hike

If the majority of your hikes take you into dry, hot climates, waterproofing is going to be less of a concern for you. The opposite is true at higher altitudes or in rainy spots. You’ll need heavier boots with more insulation, grippy soles and waterproofing. 

Consider when you’ll be hiking (i.e., which seasons) and where (including climate and altitude) when selecting the best women’s hiking boots for you.

What to look for in quality hiking boots for women

Support features

Everyone could use a little support on the trail, starting at their feet. Ankle shanks are a must for those who hike on rocky or uneven terrain. These offer stability and support against a turned ankle.

Inside of your shoe, insoles keep your feet feeling comfortable and strong. Some of these insoles, like EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) midsoles, are built-in to absorb the shock of the ground. EVA midsoles are more flexible and affordable than their stiffer counterparts made from polyurethane. EVA is a good choice for day hikers, but polyurethane offers the support that backpackers and thru-hikers need most.

If you are plagued with plantar fasciitis or other types of heel pain, look for hiking boots with built-in heel support, too. This will keep your feet comfortable no matter where the trail leads you.

Durable outsoles

All hiking boots feature outsoles made of rubber. Some of these have carbon added for stiffness and support, but they should all be durable, with good tread that lasts. Look for a lug pattern on the outsole with thicker bumps for good traction and easy mud release.

Outsoles may also have a heel brake, separate from the rest of the foot. A heel brake helps you to control your speed on steep descents.

Waterproof

Waterproof boots are key for extended hikes and overnight trips. Seams should be sealed, and a truly waterproof boot will not have mesh inserts or any area where water can enter. 

How much you can expect to spend on hiking boots for women

Hiking boots for women are an important investment. Expect to spend $60-$600. 

Hiking boots for women FAQ

How do you get the perfect fit?

A. Every hiking boot will fit slightly differently, so it’s important to try them on and walk around to get an idea of what feels best for you. Make sure to wear the hiking socks you’ll use on the trail when you try them on.

To start, slide your foot into the hiking boot and leave it unlaced. With your toes touching the front of the boot, you should be able to slide your finger in between your heel and the back of the boot comfortably. Wiggle your toes to make sure there is enough room in the front.

When you lace up your boot, the tongue on the top of your foot should feel like it is hugging the center of your foot. If the pressure feels excessive, it’s not a good fit. 

Finally, take a walk around the room. The boot should not wiggle too much side to side or slide up and down on your heel as you walk. 

Do all hiking boots need to be broken in?

A. Most hikers find that regardless of the flexibility of the hiking boot, there is at least a short period of breaking in. This period varies depending on the material of the boot. For example, an all-leather hiking boot is going to feel stiff and needs a longer break-in period than a flexible synthetic boot. 

No matter how long it takes, it’s crucial that your boots feel good on your feet when you hike. Start with short walks around the house and neighborhood before gradually increasing the distances on the trail. Your feet will thank you.

What are the best women’s hiking boots to buy?

Top hiking boots for women

Keen Women's Voyageur Mid Hiking Boot

Keen Women’s Voyageur Mid Hiking Boot

What you need to know: These are lightweight, versatile and perfect for warm-weather hikes.

What you’ll love: Feet stay cool with mesh inserts for breathability, and ankles stay safe with shanks for stability. The all-terrain rubber outsole provides great traction on slippery trails, and the suede upper is water-resistant.

What you should consider: They run small, so size up half a size (a full size if you prefer wearing thick socks).

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Backcountry and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top hiking boots for women for the money

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot

Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot

What you need to know: Choose this option for more casual hikes in easy terrain.

What you’ll love: The mesh/leather upper provides protection and comfort, as does the supportive footbed and Vibram sole. Heel cushioning is great for hikers with heel pain and other issues with their feet (e.g., plantar fasciitis).

What you should consider: This boot is not water resistant, and some hikers found them to be stiff.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Backcountry and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Timberland Women's White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot

Timberland Women’s White Ledge Mid Ankle Boot

What you need to know: This is a heavy-duty boot designed for heavy-duty hikes.

What you’ll love: They have a waterproof leather upper that is seam-sealed. The boot features an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) footbed that cushions as it resists both heat and cold. Lug soles provide excellent traction in all trail conditions.

What you should consider: These are heavy — a single boot weighs nearly 1 pound.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.