Whether you’re chasing elevation on exposed high-desert slopes or winding through muddied pine-forest trails, hiking is nourishment for the soul. I’m sure you know, though, ladies, that the wrong gear can easily turn a delightful jaunt into one you wish was over.
Especially when it comes to hiking footwear, having quality boots and shoes that can handle whatever terrain and weather is thrown your way is paramount. It’s a simple equation: happy feet equal happy trails.
If you’re bogged down with options, fret not. I’ve compiled my top reputable picks so you can pick the best of the best.
My Review Process
Hiking isn’t just a sporadic pastime for me. It’s my weekly cure-all for mind, body and soul. The past decades of consistent adventuring outdoors have taught me that there’s no better way to reset and reconnect.
Thousands of trail miles logged will also teach you a thing or two about proper hiking shoes. Am I guilty of making poor footwear choices on some trips? You bet. Those lessons, though, have left me with a prevailing sense of what really matters when it comes to outfitting our indispensable metatarsal structures.
So what features should you prioritize when selecting a new pair of hiking boots? Comfort, breathability, and a model that provides sufficient support are crucial. Lightweight boots with superb traction are equally important. I’ve highlighted other key features in the Buying Guide below.
Looking for a comfortable daily driver and a pair of boots capable of tackling rocky ridgelines deep in the backcountry? The Salomon’s X Ultra’s are a solid choice, ladies.
These multifaceted midweight boots excel on technical trails and mellow backyard strolls alike. I especially love that the midway ankle cuff design adds key support for rugged terrain without sacrificing flexibility. Aggressive traction only further provides sure-footed, controlled steps.
Are the Salomon X Ultra’s built to handle lots of water crossings? The ClimaSalomon membrane does a good job with wet conditions, but honestly: they’re not meant to swim in. That said, they are reliably breathable in varying weather and dry quickly. An easy pick for my best overall hiking boots. They strike the perfect balance between foot protection, comfort and versatility.
Are you the kind of female chasing sunny alpine strolls and soggy day hikes equally? Charging through rainstorms, water crossings and muddy sections of trail like it’s nothing? If the answer’s yes, you need a reliable waterproof boot that will keep up and keep wet feet at bay. Enter the perennial fan-favorite: the Keen Targhee III Mids.
Combined leather and mesh upper construction allow plenty of ventilation, while a toe and mud guard adds extra durability on rugged terrain. I also love the contoured sole and snug fit of the Targhee III. It provides a secure, locked-in feeling on the steepest downhill sections, without any hot spots or discomfort.
The updated design does feature a narrower toe box than previous models, but it’s not a deal breaker unless you have a wide foot or need the extra space. If your priority is a comfortable waterproof boot at a friendly price, though, the Keen Targhee III Mid will elevate your all-weather trailblazing.
Clocking in at under a pound, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mids are the lightest hiking shoes on my list. And one of the best trail runner hybrids out there, period. They’re my top choice for nimble hikers wanting a responsive, lightweight hiking shoe made to perform in uneven terrain.
I can personally vouch that these babies are more than just a pretty face and popular name. They’re flexible, have excellent traction, and I’m convinced the zero-drop design makes my feet stronger and my body better-aligned. For those used to traditional hiking boots with ankle cuffs, the higher rise of the Altra Lone Peak Mids gives enough stability for confidence on tricky, technical trail routes, too.
Like most trail runners, lighter weights do generally imply lighter loads. So if you tend to carry a maxed-out, heavier pack, Altras may not be the most supportive design for you. But for gals hiking light, far, and fast: the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mids will open up a new world of possibility.
If weak ankles are your kryptonite, the Zamberlan VIOZ Lux GTX are the four-season armor your feet need to feel confident in the mountains.
Sure, they're backpacking boots built for rugged alpine treks. But believe me: these workhorses are just as befitting on tame trails as on technical terrain. Italian-made with quality leather uppers for unmatched durability, their tried-and-true original design speaks for itself.
Over-the-ankle coverage provides bombproof stability, while dual-density supportive soles with full length shanks really aid with heavy packs. All while maintaining a cushioned feeling underfoot.
Yes, all these perks do come at a cost. It’s a heavier boot with a heavier price tag. But the Zamberlan VIOZ Lux GTX’s are worth thousands of stable trail miles and decades-worth of confidence in the outdoors. And that’s a worthwhile investment. Rest assured: if ankle protection is a prime concern, the Zamberlan VIOZ will be love at first step, for decades to come.
Your search is over, snow angels and winter ramblers. Frigid temperatures and frosty conditions will never hold you back with the Scarpa Rush Polar GTX boots on your feet.
Part traditional hiking boot and part mountaineering boot, the Scarpa Rush Polar offers maximum insulation and extra protection against cold, wet conditions. A high ankle cuff provides a key one-two punch for winter, too: keeping out snow while providing excellent ankle support for rough terrain. Aggressive traction is another plus, instilling trust on those iced, slick sections of trail.
So what’s the catch? As the name suggests, the Scarpa Rush Polar is winter-specific footwear, so not the most versatile piece of outdoor gear. If cold-weather hiking trips are your golden ticket, though, there’s no better pair of boots to go that snowy distance with.
Multi-day hikes and longer backpacking trips place a completely different strain on our feet. Having a pair of hiking boots that supports —and elevates!— you through whatever tough terrain and weather you encounter, then, is paramount. The Asolo Falcon GVs are fit for the task.
At just over two pounds, they’re a midweight boot with springy soles that feel flexible but stable. That zippiness really helps keep the momentum going on those seemingly never-ending sections of trail. The top-notch waterproofing is another fundamental feature, as extended trips mean more chances for unexpected weather events.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the high price of Asolos. No surprise for a brand with such a longstanding reputation amongst outdoor pros, though. The Asolo Falcon GVs are a stake in the future of your feet, and they’ll put you in a flow state when trudging those long distances.
When logging trail miles, a fashion-forward hiking boot doesn’t always take precedence. For the gals that champion versatility, however, and want a solid pair of hiking shoes that can seamlessly transition from trail to town, I’ve got you covered. The Danner Mountain 600’s look and feel just as good on tough terrain as on city streets.
With both craftsmanship and durability at the forefront of their design, the Danner Mountain 600’s leave no stone unturned when it comes to performance. Quality leather upper material not only provides a sleek look and resistance to water and abrasion, but ensures moisture can escape naturally. They’re also criminally comfortable, with a supportive sole that provides just the right mix of cushioning, energy-return, and foot protection.
Like many leather boots, your feet may get a bit hot in very high temps. But even so, their breathability is quite impressive considering the traditional boot burliness. Consensus is: for being so versatile and so easy on the eyes, they’re one of the finest in the boot market.
Looking for a pair of hiking boots that offers the holy hiking trinity of support, comfort and durability, all at an unbeatable price? Meet our choice for budget-minded female hikers (and a very close runner-up for most fashionable,) the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus.
Whether you’re heading out for a light adventure or a demanding trail route to push your limits, the Newton Ridge Plus —one of Colombia's most popular boots— is an excellent choice for hikers wanting it all. Breathable boots? Check. A good balance of weight and support? Yep. Stylish boots? I mean, just check out those color options!
Some ladies may find the sizing small, especially those used to a wide-fitting boot. Size up, and your problem is solved, though! Once you find that magic number, these midweight hiking boots will be ready to tackle any adventure without a break-in. And without breaking the bank!
Women’s Hiking Boots Buying Guide
Ever hear the adage that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear? Well, the same goes for quality footwear, ladies. Every hike can be a great hike if you have the right hiking boots or shoes. Here’s what to look for when choosing the best boots for your upcoming outdoor ventures.
Hiking Boot Weight
No guesswork here; a heavy hiking boot requires more energy to hike. Tack on a loaded pack, and you’re looking at a lot of extra weight on your already-hard-working feet. Weight is an important feature to check because you’ll move faster and more efficiently with the lightest boots.
So what’s the magic number? I recommend keeping hiking boots under three pounds. Technical, extra supportive, or all-season boots will usually be the heaviest boots, while low-rise boots or trail runner-inspired models will range between 1-2 pounds.
Foot & Ankle Support
The amount of support you need in a hiking boot depends on the type of terrain you’ll be hiking in, and your comfort in that type of terrain.
If you plan on lugging 50+ pounds for a week-long backpacking traverse over rocky terrain, consider boots with extra arch and ankle support. This usually means a stiffer boot, with a higher rise and cushioned-but-strong midsole. For those with weak ankles or existing foot issues, added support is also key.
What if you’re a seasoned, fast-paced hiker, or merely venturing on five-mile frolics with a daypack? If you feel confident moving in the mountains, I suggest you focus more on overall comfort and boot weight.
Boot Cut / Rise
From ultralight, modern low-rise models to traditional high-tops, hiking boots come in a motley of styles. Boot cut is very similar to ankle and foot support, in that your carrying weight and terrain should be the main deciding factors.
You should also consider a low-rise boot provides more freedom of movement and flexibility on the trail. That’s ideal for nimble hikers moving light and fast. If you crave that extra stability or need to fortify fragile feet —be it from injury or some recurring issue— a higher rise will make you feel more protected, especially on more technical terrain.
Hiking Boot Material
The material of your hiking boots plays a huge part in breathability, a core feature in any hiking boot. Hiking boots are typically made with either leather or synthetic materials, and each has its pros and cons.
Leather is a classic choice. It’s durable and naturally water-resistant, both absorbing and diffusing moisture without extra membranes. Synthetic materials, like polyester or nylon, tend to be more lightweight, quicker drying, and provide better ventilation. They typically don’t require a break-in period, but also don’t last as long as leather.
If you are buying leather hiking boots, check out our guide to breaking in new boots.
Hiking Boot Brands
Will brand-name hiking boots make you a better, faster hiker? Not exactly. But they will add a certain level of assurance that your boots have been made with durability, efficiency and a certain standard in mind.
Most hiking-centered companies have been in the business for several decades and pioneered features and styles that are tried and true. From backcountry heavyweights like Keen, Scarpa and Asolo, to genre-bending stars like Salomon and Altras, their quality truly does back their name.
There are pros and cons to waterproofing treatments in hiking boots. If you’re a regular in wet weather or snow or plan on forging water crossings often, a waterproof layer will truly come in handy. Pro tip: just make sure it’s a quality, breathable membrane, like Gore-Tex.
Since boots with waterproof layers and membranes do come at the cost of less breathability, I suggest being pragmatic in your choice. If you’re based in the desert or somewhere with little to precipitation, you’ll be fine with a non-waterproof hiking boot. Your feet will breathe better and sweat less without a waterproof layer.
Traction, or tread, is one of the most overlooked features when choosing new hiking boots. Those outsole lugs are key to maintaining grip and stability in variable, rough terrain, and their depth, patterns, and makeup really makes a difference. I suggest choosing one suited to your local topography.
In most cases, softer and shorter lugs are the grippiest. If you’re scrambling on slippery rock or trailblazing in exposed areas, they’ll make all the difference. In contrast, deeper, wider lugs come in handy when encountering loose, slick and uneven terrain, like mud, scree, or snow. Want to do it all? Fret now: multi-terrain tread is also common, and caters to versatile landscapes.
Want a lightweight boot for day hiking, longer backpacking trips and short-but-technical trails alike? My Best Overall pick, the Salomon X Ultra Pioneer Mid CSWP Hiking Boots, are chameleons of the outdoors.
If you’re a regular in rough terrain and need that extra protection for precarious downhill sections or rocky ridgelines, I suggest the Zamberlan VIOZ Lux GTX’s or Asolo Falcon GV’s. Weak ankles and hikers with heavier loads will also benefit from these workhorses.
Looking for an even lighter weight to tackle distances with maximum efficiency? It doesn’t get much better than the lightweight trail runner hybrids on our list, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid’s.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.