Love the outdoors, but need new shoes to tackle the trails? Here are my top picks for the best women's hiking shoes and boots.
Love to hike?
And over the years, I've found that one thing can make or break a hiking trip.
Bad shoes can make your hike painful. They can even ruin your trip.
Sadly, if you don't live near a major outdoors store (like REI), women's hiking boots can be tricky to find in stores, and shopping online without recommendations can be frustrating.
This collection of my favorite women's hiking shoes and boots will give you a place to start when you're ready to shop.
This isn't just a collection of reviews from other sites — I've worn all of these shoes!
What Makes the Best Women's Hiking Shoe?
Keep in mind that everyone's feet are different, so my favorite shoes and boots might not work perfectly for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop.
- Look for a wide toe box, especially if you'll be hiking downhill often. If your shoes touch your toes, it can cause rubbing or blistering when you hike downhill.
- If you tend to twist your ankle (or have badly sprained an ankle in the past), look for a mid-rise boot for extra ankle support.
- Flexible shoes are great (and they're my preference), but if you're carrying a heavy backpacking pack a rigid-bottom shoe will provide more support for your legs and back.
- If you're hiking over rocky terrain or rock scrambling, make sure to buy a shoe with excellent traction so that you don't slide around on the trail.
- If you're planning on hiking on ice and snow, you might want to invest in a microspikes or a pair of crampons. For the best fit, crampons should be worn with mountaineering boots, not standard hiking boots.
What's the Best Hiking Shoe/Boot Brand?
The answer is — the one that makes shoes that fit your feet the best! Some well-known brands include: Keen, Merrell, Lowa and Salomon.
Most of our recommendations are for Keen shoes and boots, because those are the boots that fit our team the best.
We found that Merrell boots typically had a higher instep than we preferred, but if you have a high arch they might be perfect. However, Merrell makes a handful of minimalist and barefoot style shoes that we love!
The Lowa boots we tried were gorgeous and sturdy, but didn't have a wide enough toe box for our preference. Lowa boots are high quality (and pricy), and if they fit your foot well are likely worth the investment.
Best Women's Hiking Sandal
Among all the options for the best women's hiking shoes, don't forget that sandals can sometimes be a great option.
I take these Keen Newport sandals with me on almost every hiking or camping trip.
They're comfortable, have excellent grip, and fit easily inside a hiking day pack.
They're my favorite campground shoes, are perfect for giving your feet a break from hiking boots at the end of a long backpacking day, and (even though they aren't quick-drying) I use them as water shoes when hiking through streams.
Plus, Keen sandals are well-made. I've been using mine for several years and they're still in great shape!
Here are some thoughts on other good hiking sandal options!
Best Women's Trail Runner
If you love barefoot-style shoes, you'll love these Merrell Vapor Glove trail runners, a minimalist, zero-drop trail running shoe.
I have two pairs of these quirky sneakers, and wear mine running in the park (and on a treadmill) and they're perfect for hiking over easy terrain.
These Merrell Vapor Glove shoes double as a casual shoe, and are perfect if you go out for dinner after a hike!
Keep in mind that these are warm weather shoes. When the ground is cold you'll feel it straight through the shoe!
Best Hiking Boots for Short Hikes
Are you looking for a hiking boot that's less clunky and can double as a sneaker?
I own the Keen Terradora, and like that it's less clunky than a more heavy-duty hiking boot. I also like that it comes in a leather finish for under $150 (that's rare!).
Keep in mind that these boots have a somewhat narrower toe-box than other Keens I own.
These boots are also quite flexible, so they fit more like a hightop sneaker than a hiking boot.
I recommend these boots for shorter hikes, but found them to be a little uncomfortable with long, multi-day hikes or with heavy packs.
Best Minimalist-Style Hiking Boot
Are you a fan of zero-drop, minimalist shoes? If so, you might prefer a more minimalist-style hiking boot like the Merrell Altalight.
These boots are sturdier than a barefoot shoe (they aren't zero-drop, but they're much closer than a standard boot), so they'll protect your foot more than the Merrell Vapor Glove.
At the same time, they're lightweight, have exceptional grip, and a wide toe-box.
Keep in mind that, as with barefoot shoes, you'll be able to feel the ground beneath your feet. That can be a good thing if you're used to it, but it can make your feet tired at first.
Best Leather Women's Hiking Boot
Want an all-leather boot that both looks great, is comfortable for long hikes and has fantastic traction?
Try my current favorite boot, the Keen Pyrenees.
The only reason it's not my number one hiking boot is that the price point is a little bit higher than Keen's classic women's boot, the Keen Women's Targhee.
But the Keen Pyrenees is what I'm currently wearing on most hikes.
Best Overall Women's Hiking Boot
The Keen Women's Targhee is a classic hiking boot with a wide toe-box and excellent tread.
Just like the other Keen boots on this list, these shoes are comfortable, well-made, and have a relatively low built-in arch support.
These boots are sturdier than the Terradora boot with a more rigid shoe-bottom, and they work well even with a moderately heavy backpack. Since they're made with both leather and other fabric, they're also slightly cheaper than the all-leather Keen Pyrenees.
My husband wore the men's version of these shoes for years, and they were a reliable boot for all kinds of different terrain. In fact, they made the list for our favorite outdoor gear for men.
Do you have other suggestions for the best women's hiking shoes? Let us know in the comments!