Best women's hiking boots 2022: sturdy footwear for tackling the great outdoors

We rank the best women's hiking boots, for comfort, value, robustness and style

Included in this guide:

Best women's hiking boots: close up of boots as the wearer hikes through the undergrowth
(Image credit: Pexels/PNW Production)

With the best women's hiking boots you'll be ready to take on the trails in footwear that's comfortable, supportive and tough enough to cope with whatever the wilderness can throw at you. We've picked out the very best ladies' walking boots available, from budget boots for gentle strolls through to advanced hiking gear that'll help you tackle the trickiest terrain with confidence.

We've tested boots from all the top brands including Salomon, Scarpa, Merrell, Berghaus, Keen and more, and we've come up with a selection of the best women's hiking boots that'll help you keep going in even the toughest conditions. (Don't feel left out, chaps; our best men's hiking boots guide is separate.)

With the higher cut providing that all-important ankle support, boots are your best bet for any kind of tricky terrain or anything but the gentlest walk. If you just need something for walking the dog, you could consider a pair of the best women's walking shoes instead. And whatever you're going for, one of the best waterproof jackets will keep you reliably dry on your travels, whatever the weather decides to do. 

Our handy shopping tool automatically reviews the best prices, which means you don't need to shop around. Head to the bottom of the article if you need an explainer of the different boot components and technical terms, or read on for our pick of the best hiking boots for women 2022.

How do I find the right size of walking boot?

When ordering online, there are a few tricks to getting the right size boot first time. Start off by using the manufacturers sizing guide. Most boots allow room for the hiking socks you'll be wearing, but do check out any notes or reviews on how they size up in real life as some come out smaller or larger in practice (the boots we tested here sized up true unless otherwise stated). Most retailers will take returns so long as the boot hasn't been worn outside. If you're trying a boot on, do it at the end of the day when you're feet are already tired and naturally a little swollen from use, as that will give you a better indication of fit after a long day on the trails. 

You're looking for a fit that's snug but not tight, supportive around the mid-foot, with no obvious pinching or rubbing. When walking on the flat, climbing and descending, your heel should stay in place and not move up and down inside the boot as that could lead to blisters. The toes should have a little wiggle room, but not enough that the foot moves around within the boot. Once you've found the perfect pair, head to our guide to how to break in hiking boots, and of course how to care for hiking boots so they last for years. 

Best women's hiking boot 2022 ranking

Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Texapore Mid height women's hiking boot in soft grey and blackT3 Award Winner sponsored by Wiggle

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

The best women's hiking boot overall

Upper: synthetic textile
Outsole: Vibram
Waterproofing: Texapore O2+
Reasons to buy
+Grippy Vibram soles+Breathable+Robust and durable
Reasons to avoid
-Too chunky for light summer strolls-Fit is a bit narrow 

If you're more of an intrepid mountain hiker than a relaxed country rambler, you'll need a pair of reliable women's walking boots that can keep up with your adventures. More technical waterproof boots are often prohibitively stiff and heavy – not so Jack Wolfskin's high-performing Wilderness Lite boot, which offers good comfort straight out of the box and doesn't weigh you down even on all-day treks. This model has still got all the factors we look for in a mountain-bound boot – it's fully waterproofed with Texapore technology, has seriously grippy Vibram soles and sports a tough toe box and a high supportive ankle to further protect your feet on rocky terrain. These boots are also reasonably breathable, and will work for hiking from autumn through to spring. The fit is definitely on the narrow side, so the Wilderness Lite may not work for hikers with bunions or wider feet. Head to our full Jack Wolfskin Wilderness Lite Texapore Mid W review for more info.

Timberland Garrison Trail Hiker for women

(Image credit: Timberland)

2. Timberland Garrison Trail Hiker for women

The best women's hiking boots for style and comfort

Upper: leather, synthetic leather and recycled fabric
Outsole: TimberGrip
Waterproofing: TimberDry
Reasons to buy
+Cool designs and colourways+Secure, comfy, flexible fit+Eco credentials
Reasons to avoid
-There are more technical options

Next up in our ranking of the best women's walking boots is the Timberland Garrison Trail Hiker. These score highly in both the comfort and style stakes. The pair we tested delivered a secure fit around the feet, with easy adjustment via the laces. There's plenty of padding and insulation, the compression-moulded EVA-blend foam midsole is supportive and cushioning underfoot, and the design is flexible and relatively lightweight, for comfort straight out of the box. 

The design isn't overtly outdoorsy – the Timberland Garrison Trail Hikers won't stick out for casual walks around the city, and we especially like the current colour combos. That's not to say there aren't plenty of features that are geared towards 'proper' hikes too: a toe bumper and heel piece made from climbing rubber, a gusseted tongue to keep debris out and a grippy outsole for traction on a range of terrain. There's no GORE-TEX here, but the proprietary TimberDry waterproofing kept out water reliably well in our tests.

This boot also shines when it comes to sustainability – the leather parts come from a sustainable tannery, and both the fabric lining and waterproof membrane are made with minimum 50% recycled plastic. While there are more specialist options in our ranking, if you're after a versatile all rounder that can tackle a variety of terrain, you won't go far wrong with these.

Inov-8 Roclite G 345 women's hiking boot in black with aquamarine details

(Image credit: Inov-8 )

The best lightweight boots for fast hiking

Upper: Cordura mesh, textile
Outsole: G-GRIP
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Super-lightweight+Lower cut offers support but flexibility of movement+Ready to go straight out of the box
Reasons to avoid
-Short on ankle support

The super-lightweight Inov-8 Roclite G 345 trail boot is a pleasure to wear, and will enable you to tackle any trail in double-quick time. The main attraction with Inov-8’s latest trail boots is the graphene-infused rubber grip, known as G-GRIP. Graphene is the strongest material on earth – 200 times stronger than steel yet only one atom thick – so you can imagine the technical prowess it lends to these boots. These are still impressively lightweight (just 345g at size 8.5), and a Gore-Tex liner keeps your feet dry. A Powerflow midsole promises better shock absorption and energy return than a standard midsole, which will help prevent fatigue, and keep you moving fast and light. Finally, the bellows-style tongue keeps stones and dust out of your boots, and the low heel cut strikes the perfect balance of range of movement and support. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite G 345 hiking boot review for more info.

Scarpa R-Evo GTX women's hiking boot in grey with pink and black details

(Image credit: Scarpa)

This classic women's hiking boot is supremely comfortable

Upper: Water-resistant suede and synthetic fabric
Outsole: Vibram Biometric Trek
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+High cut for exceptional support+Shock-absorbing, traction-packed sole+Comfortable and supportive 
Reasons to avoid
-There are lighter options

They've been around a while, but the Scarpa R-Evo GTX WMN are still an excellent choice. These women's boots offer ample support and comfort for a remarkably low weight compared to the other fell and hill walking boots (although they're not the absolute lightest), and are the best-fitting and most comfortable walking boot we've tried in a long while. They mould well to the foot, with great instep support and security at the heel to eliminate heel-lift. The high cut around the ankle provides great support without feeling bulky or awkward.

A chunky Vibram sole helps absorb impact, and decent tread provides grip in muddy conditions. It's a quality design that should last several years anyway, but these boots can also be resoled, extending their life even further. All in all, we were very impressed with these boots. The construction, support and the ruggedness should see you through your backpacking, camping or hill-walking expedition in style and comfort, whatever the weather. For more info, check out our full Scarpa R-Evo GTX hiking boots review.

Columbia Trailstorm mid height hiking boot in pale grey with light blue details

(Image credit: Columbia)

The best summerweight 'sniker' for casual strolls

Upper: Synthetic
Outsole: Adapt Trax
Waterproofing: Omni-Tech
Reasons to buy
+Trainer-like looks+Very lightweight+Flexible and comfy
Reasons to avoid
-Narrow fit-Not enough grip for challenging terrain

If you're sorted for sturdy, technical boots and in need of something lighter and more casual, try the Columbia Trailstorm Mid Waterproof walking shoe (yes, Columbia likes to refer to it as a shoe). This design falls into the 'sniker' – boot/sneaker hybrid – category. As such, it combines the fit and comfort you'll find in a pair of trainers, but adds the technical features and ankle support of hiking boots. While for tricky trails you'll need to pick something sturdier from our list, these are ideal for low- to mid-level hikes, and come with trainer-like styling that won't look out of place in a city. The Trailstorms are very lightweight, with a bouncy rubber sole and cushioned insole providing plenty of comfort. The mesh upper is breathable and flexible (but waterproof!) and there's a solid toe box for a bit of extra protection from bumps. The fit is small and narrow – we recommend sizing up at least half a size, and if you have wide feet, check out the Keen Terradora II Mid waterproof below, for a similar style but a more generous fit. Head to our Columbia Trailstorm Mid review for more info.

Ariat Skyline Summit hiking boots in tan colour

(Image credit: Ariat)

6. Ariat Skyline Summit Gore-Tex

Superbly comfortable leather hiking boots

Upper: Full-grain leather and nylon
Outsole: Dual-density Duratread
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly comfortable straight out of the box+Lightweight for leather+Flexible underfoot
Reasons to avoid
-Shallower lugs aren't great on slippery ground

The Ariat Skyline Summit is a high-performing, smart-looking and reliable leather boot. Although its the riding boot brand's first foray into adventures of the two-legged variety, Ariat has managed to dodge many of the issues you typically find with leather. For one, our tester didn't need to break these in – they're incredibly comfortable from the moment you take them out of the box, and nice and flexible underfoot too. They're also impressively lightweight for leather, weighing in at around 538g per boot.

On the waterproofing front, you've got a double-whammy of naturally waterproof leather and technical Gore-Tex to make absolutely certain your feet stay dry even in a deluge. The Ariat Skyline Summit boots are only let down slightly by their shallower lugs, which mean they can lack grip on very slippery terrain. Also, as leather isn't that breathable, we'd recommend these for hikes in autumn through to spring (you might find them rather sweaty in the peak of summer). To see how they compare to another classic leather boot, head to our Hanwag Banks Lady GTX vs Ariat Skyline Summit Gore-Tex article.

Meindl Women's Bhutan MFS GTX ladies walking boots in tan colour

(Image credit: Meindl)

7. Meindl Women's Bhutan MFS GTX

A premium, sturdy and supportive boot for big hiking adventures

Upper: Nubuck leather upper
Outsole: Multigrip sole unit with Vibram
Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Vibram in the sole helps absorb impact+Excellent breathable waterproof membrane+Supportive memory foam around ankle
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy in weight

A premium choice that's durable, comfortable and high-performing, the women's Bhutan MFS boots from Meindl are a great choice for the avid hillwalker and hiker. Blending comfort and performance, the boots have lots of features to ensure you won't be focussed on your feet; a breathable Gore-Tex membrane for waterproofing, cushioned support that moulds to the shape of the ankle and a lacing system that's designed to distribute pressure over the foot for secure, comfortable support. Sturdy rubber with Vibram and chunky tread provides reliable traction in slick wet conditions, and also helps cushion the foot on hard, uneven ground by absorbing some of the impact force. 

Hanwag Banks Lady GTX women's hiking boot in grey

(Image credit: Hanwag)

8. Hanwag Banks Lady GTX

This classic design is one of the most comfortable women's hiking boots

Upper: Nubuck leather, suede, synthetic material
Outsole: Vibram Endurance Pro outer
Waterproofing: GORE-TEX
Reasons to buy
+Quality construction+Great weather resistance
Reasons to avoid
-Need to be broken in properly

Bavarian-born Hanwag has been in the business of making walking boots since 1921, and is known for its quality construction and classic styling. The Banks Lady GTX might have modern technology and looks but you can see the DNA of traditional walking boots shining through in elements like the cast metal lace hoops. Designed for hut-to-hut hiking in the Alps, these boots have a low-cut ankle which provides a good blend of light support for the joint with enough freedom for plenty of movement, which is good news if there's a lot of hiking up and down involved. 

The combination of a naturally water-resistant leather upper with the GORE-TEX liner give these shoes a clear advantage in wet weather. They've fended off a downpour or two and sploshing across the odd stream, and our feet emerged the other side nice and dry. A shock-absorbing Vibram sole combined with a grippy lug design gave us justified confidence when tackling a range of terrain, from rough rock-strewn paths to muddle slopes. The boots do need to be broken in a bit before heading off on any big hiking adventures, so give yourself a few days and a few local walks to get that sorted. Once you do, they'll form nicely to your foot and give you all the support you need. 

To see how they compare to another excellent all-rounder, head to our Hanwag Banks Lady GTX vs Ariat Skyline Summit comparison.

Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC boots in brown leather

(Image credit: Vivobarefoot )

The best women's hiking boots for a barefoot experience

Material: leather
Sole type: Michelin ESC sole
Waterproof technology: hydrophobic leather
Reasons to buy
+Great grip on tricky terrain+Light and freeing +Very comfortable
Reasons to avoid
-Not fully waterproof-Wide fit can be unweildy

Sick of hot and heavy hiking boots? Lace on a pair of Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESCs and join the barefoot movement instead. 'Barefoot' shoes and boots are designed with soles that are thin and flexible but that still protect your feet from rocky ground, and perhaps the most well known brand in the arena is Vivobarefoot. One downfall of this style of boot is that it can lack grip (we found this with the Vivobarefoot Tracker II boots), but the Tracker Forest ESCs remedy this with a robust and grippy sole designed in collaboration with Michelin.

These boots are part of Vivobarefoot's 'Extreme Survival Collection', and as such are designed to be that much hardier and able to tackle challenging conditions. Don't worry though – they still include all the features barefoot disciples will love, including a pared-back design of water-resistant soft leather, a super flexible sole and wide toe that helps you connect with the ground. While they won't be for everyone or for every trip (the wide fit lacks some precision, and the flexible sole means your muscles are doing more work to support you, which can get tiring over long distances), they deliver a freeing feeling you just don't get with most hiking boots. Head to our Vivobarefoot Tracker Forest ESC review to find out more.

Keen Terradora II Mid waterproof women's hiking boot in lilac-grey

(Image credit: Keen)

10. Keen Terradora II Mid waterproof

A light, breathable boot for warm weather walks

Upper: Performance mesh upper with overlays
Outsole: KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber
Waterproofing: KEEN.DRY
Reasons to buy
+Breathable and super-comfy+Cool, summery colourways+Good for wider feet
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for challenging treks

Looking for a summer-friendly boot? Take a look at the Keen Terradora II Mid, a waterproof yet breathable boot that's available in a variety of fresh colourways. Like the Columbia Trailstorm above, this falls more into the 'sniker' camp of boot. The lightweight build and bouncy sole offer excellent comfort straight out of the box, and the roomy fit is great for those with wide feet. There's a breathable mesh lining to keep your feet from getting sweaty, and Gore-Tex for waterproofing, although really we wouldn't choose these for cold or rainy walks – they're built specially to keep feet cool and comfortable on hot days. To see how this boot matches up against another summerweight 'sniker' in our Keen Terradora II Mid vs Merrell Bravada Mid comparison.

Hi-Gear Snowdon II women's hiking boot

(Image credit: Hi-Gear)

11. Hi-Gear Women's Snowdon II walking boots

The best budget women's hiking boots

Upper: full-grain leather
Outsole: high-traction rubber
Waterproofing: natural leather protection
Reasons to buy
+Robust and durable leather outer+Rugged sole that provides good grip
Reasons to avoid
-Can feel too warm in hot conditions

Leather walking boots are a great choice as, with a little looking after, they can last for years and years (or miles and miles). The Snowdon II boots from Hi-Gear represent excellent value for money, and are a brilliant budget choice for walkers - great for everything from weekend wanders to muddy dog walks, Duke of Edinburgh expeditions or mountain hikes. The leather outer provides natural waterproofing which will require a bit of TLC in the form of leather wax every so often to keep it in tip top shape. A cushioned EVA footbed offers comfort with a breathable liner which helps wick sweat away. However these aren't as breathable as fabric-based hiking boots, though the weather protection and insulation is a boon in cold conditions and a rubber outsole with chunky lugs provides plenty of grip. 

Keen Revel IV Polar High women's hiking boot balanced on a tree stump

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)

The best winter hiking boot for women

Upper: Leather, mesh and recycled insulation
Outsole: Keen.Polar Traction
Waterproofing: KEEN.DRY
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof and snowproof+Grippy on ice+Made with recycled materials
Reasons to avoid
-Not breathable enough for warmer conditions

Take on the grimmest of weather conditions in Keen's Revel IV Polar High, which works brilliantly as both a winter hiking boot and a snow boot. There's a hefty 400g of insulated packed into the Revel IV Polar, and Keen reckon these boots will keep your feet cosy down to a seriously Baltic -40°C. We tested the boots at -5°C as well as in rain and snow, and were impressed with how warm and dry they kept our feet even when we were out hiking in the elements all day, or when working outside for hours at a time. Keen's own-brand Polar.

Traction soles offer good grip on ice, too. These boots are admittedly heavy due to their thick soles and plentiful insulation, but in return you get reliable warmth and grip. While these boots are surprisingly comfortable, they aren't breathable, and are definitely too warm and heavy to work for balmier weather – save them for winter hikes, Alpine snow adventures or just for freezing morning dog walks. Head to our Keen Revel IV Polar High review for more info.

Berghaus Women's Expeditor Ridge 2.0 women's hiking boot

13. Berghaus Women's Expeditor Ridge 2.0

The best ladies' hiking boots for providing ace grip on uneven terrain

Material: leather and synthetic
Sole Type: OPTI-STUD
Waterproof technology: AQ waterproof lining
Reasons to buy
+AQ waterproof lining+Odour control
Reasons to avoid
-Runs a bit small

These excellent all-rounders are packed with features designed to keep you hiking all day, including shock absorbing EVA mid soles and Berghaus's extra-grippy OPTI-STUD technology. Rest assured, these boots will go the distance: the hard-wearing leather is made in a tannery certified by the Leather Working Group (which assesses the performance capabilities of leather products) and the upper has a scuff-resistant coating. These hiking boots for women will also keep your feet odour-free, thanks to the use of breathable mesh panels in key areas. 

Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX women's hiking boot

14. Salomon Women's Quest 4D 3 GTX

These hi-tech boots offer plenty of support and comfort

Material: Textile
Sole Type: Contragrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic grip +Waterproof+Snug fit
Reasons to avoid
-May feel a bit heavy

These highly technical boots, and a T3 Award 2019 winner, have a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort waterproof liner, making them safe to wear during the autumn and winter, as well as during the summer months when you might be walking across streams and brooks. Salomon’s Quest 4D 3 GTX offer a huge amount of support and comfort, yet aren’t as heavy as they might appear. We’re not saying they’re featherlight, but they won’t weigh your feet down either. These hiking boots for women also offer a superb fit, with an adjustable lacing system to give you a snug feel that enhances support in high-impact places: toes, heels, arch. 

The boots are infused with running shoe tech and sport an Advanced Chassis, there to increase the amount of cushioning and the level at which the boots absorb shock from impact (your feet repeatedly hitting the ground). This tech also works to reduce fatigue, helping you to hike comfortably for longer. These women’s hiking boots are ideal for backpacking holidays, and for throwing on when you’re heading into the mountains for a day hike. Salomon’s High Traction Contagrip will ensure you stay upright and stable on various types of terrain, including ice and scree.

Hoka One One Women's Sky Kaha GTX women's hiking boot in blue

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

Enjoy marshmallow-like comfort with these high-rise hikers

Material: Full grain waterproof leather
Sole Type: Vibram Megagrip outsole with rubberised foam sole
Waterproof technology: GORE-TEX
Reasons to buy
+Innovative sole design supports natural gait+Supremely comfy underfoot+Megagrip sole
Reasons to avoid
-Looks won't be for everyone (we're fans though!)-A bit warm for summer hikes

If hiking boots and flatforms had a baby, the Hoka One One Sky Kaha would be it. Can't see the resemblance? Wait until you see these curvaceous beauties in the flesh. Some of our team reckon the Sky Kaha’s look like moon boots, but we adore the look, even if it is on the fuller side. In fact, we think they look ace worn with technical leggings. So there.

Marmite looks aside, we're digging the Sky Kahas because they're just so comfortable. And despite their size, they're surprisingly light. Boots that big, and made with full grain leather, no less, should weigh a ton, but these don't. There are lots of notable features to dig into with Hoka One One's head-turning hikers (available for women and men). The eVent waterproof lining has been upgraded to GORE-TEX on the latest version, which will keep you dry through rain, snow and sludge. A Vibram Megagrip sole and multi-directional lugs keep you steady on your feet regardless of the terrain you're ploughing over. Elsewhere, an adjustable lacing system provides a custom fit.

Super-soft, mega supportive and with looks that'll stop traffic (either because you love them or think they’re laugh-out-loud hilarious or just plain odd), the Sky Kaha are one of the most unique women's hiking boots we've tested so far. We have other low-cut hikers that we prefer for warm weather hiking, but these will be top of our list to break out for comfy, cosy hiking and campsite dressing come autumn and beyond. Head to our full Hoka One One Sky Kaha GTX hiking boot review for more. 

Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boot

(Image credit: Lowa)

16. Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boot

Sturdy, durable and designed to last you many a year

Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-tex
Reasons to buy
+Keep feet dry +Long-lasting soles
Reasons to avoid
-A little on the heavy side

Durable, comfortable, and reliable, it’s unsurprising that Lowa’s women's hiking boots are some of Europe’s best-sellers. Trusty Vibram soles wear well, so you’ll be sure to get a lot of walking out of them. The Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid sport a narrower fit, which is good news for walkers with smaller feet. Due to their nubuck leather construction they'll require some breaking in as standard, and they are heavier than most other hiking boots in this round-up. Still, if you want a plain women's hiking boot that goes with everything from jeans to walking trousers, Lowa's option is a good match.

Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 women's hiking boot

(Image credit: Inov-8)

The best ultra-tough women's hiking boots

Material: Fabric upper with Schoeller ceramic coating
Sole Type: Graphene
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Ready to go straight out of the box+Supportive and comfy+Excellent grip+Very light
Reasons to avoid
-Overkill for many-Ceramic upper fabric needs to be dried out properly after use

The Roclite Pro G 400 features Inov-8's pioneering Graphene outsole as well as a ceramic coating on the upper fabric that's designed to protect feet in the most extreme conditions. Inov-8 has even recruited former Special Forces operator Jay Morton to provide his stamp of approval. A tread inspired by sports car tyres disperses water to improve grip on wet ground and increased stack height means more cushioning and protection underfoot. Gore-Tex is also present to help ward off water ingress while hiking in wet conditions. One down-side we found is that the ceramic-coated fabric seems prone to staining or going mouldy if not dried out properly, so you'll need to be meticulous with your boot care.

Quecha Women's Waterproof Mountain walking Boots MN100 MID

(Image credit: Decathlon Quecha)

18. Quecha Women's Waterproof Mountain walking Boots MN100 MID

The best super-cheap ladies hiking boots

Material: Polyester and leather upper
Sole Type: Rubber outsole with 4mm lugs
Waterproof technology: Generic waterproof membrane
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for short, wet walks+Waterproofing keeps feet dry and warm+Great budget choice
Reasons to avoid
-Not suited to long walks or big mountain hikes

Quecha, the in-house brand from Decathlon, is known for producing outdoor kit that's low in price but high in value. These waterproof walking boots might not have all the whistles and bells that pricier choices do, but if you want something that will make muddy forest walks and Saturday rambles comfortable then they're a great choice. A waterproof membrane keeps feet dry and warm, and the blend of synthetic and leather upper with rubber sole provides good support and traction. 

Which type of ladies' hiking boots do you need?

There are dozens of outdoor brands out there, and most offer many different types of walking boot. So where do you start? One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best boot for you is the environment and terrain you'll be using it in.

For general countryside walking, lowland hills and rambling, a lightweight boot with a flexible sole and good grip would be ideal. These will see you through walks of a few hours on moderate terrain. If you'll be walking on rough ground or tackling steep, long climbs, then you'll want boots that have a stiffer sole and more ankle support. These boots often need to be 'broken in' before they really start to feel comfortable, which just means it gives the boot a chance to stretch and form around your foot. Make sure you leave time to do this before heading off on any big walks, as it often isn't a comfortable process! This type of boot is the one to go for if you're heading into the mountains, carrying a heavy hiking backpack, or going on a multi-day or hut-to-hut walking trip. 

There's also the option of walking shoes, which have some of the same features as hiking boots but without the ankle support. They're popular for shorter distances and less rugged terrain, for where speed and flexibility are the priority or for those looking for a shoe for all-round use on and off the trail. We have separate recommendations for the best women's walking shoes and the best men's walking shoes – or if you're still not sure which is best for you, check out our walking boots vs walking shoes guide. 

women hiking along a trail to a lake

(Image credit: trail on Unsplash)

Key features to look for

Boots are one piece of kit that it's really worth investing in. Your feet bear the brunt of a long days' walk, and ill-fitting or substandard boots can result in injury, achy feet, and even the best hiking socks won't protect you from the dreaded blisters. So while budget is important, this is one area where spending more will mean you get a better quality walking boot, with features that will make the whole experience more comfortable and therefore more fun – like waterproof membranes, shock-absorbing soles, breathable fabrics and supportive insoles. 

There are a few key elements it's worth paying attention to before you make your final selection. 

First up, the sole. A boot with a stiff sole and a reinforced mid-section provides good support for steep climbs and rough terrain, while a more flexible sole particularly towards the toe is better for less challenging terrain or fast and light hikes. A deep, chunky tread on the sole will help get good traction on slippery, wet or muddy ground, and some brands incorporate specific types of rubber designed to give extra grip in certain conditions, for example on rocks. 

Next, the upper. Boot uppers can be cut high or low on the ankle. High cut boots provide plenty of support for the ankle joint, which can be useful if you'll be moving over steep or rough terrain or if you have an existing ankle injury, whereas low cut boots allow greater flexibility of movement. 

The outer part of the upper can be constructed from leather, suede, synthetic materials or a combination of all three. For example, 'classic' walking boots were and still are often constructed from leather, which is naturally waterproof when treated regularly with wax or other products. Modern boots often use synthetic materials which can provide breathable or insulating properties without adding to the weight of the boot. 

Most walking boots will have some form of waterproof membrane incorporated into the outer liner, the most common being GORE-TEX. Finally, the vast majority of walking boots do up with the classic bootlace, a system that's hard to beat and easy to fix. 

Women's hiking boots: The main components

Uppers: this is the uppermost part of the boot that protects your foot. The best women’s hiking boots feature waterproof uppers, or at the very least water-repellent ones, and they’re highly breathable too. This keeps sweat and other moisture to a minimum, so your feet don't get all clammy in your hiking socks.

Uppers come in a range of materials, from full-grain leather to synthetics such as polyester and nylon. Generally speaking, the heavier the material (like leather), the heavier the boot. The specific material used for uppers also has an impact on breathability and water resistance. 

Midsoles: these provide cushioning for your feet and determine the boot’s stiffness. When choosing women’s hiking boots for longer hikes over tougher terrain, stiffer boots can deliver enhanced comfort and stability. 

Common materials for midsoles include EVA, for improved cushioning, and polyurethane, for increased stiffness and durability. EVA is often found in entry-level women’s hiking boots, as it’s cheaper, with polyurethane finding its way into the more pro-level models.

Outsoles: there to absorb and redirect shocks from the impact of your foot on the ground. Again, look through our women’s hiking boots list and you will see that rubber is a common material for outsoles. 

Other important factors when it comes to outsoles are the lug pattern – those little bumps on the sole that aid better traction (grip) – and the heel brake, there to reduce the chances of your slipping on the trail. 

Crampon connections: this is an important consideration to make if you’re planning on buying hiking boots for use during mountaineering or snow and ice-laden hiking. Why? Crampons are attached to the bottom of compatible boots to increase grip on ice and snow.

Ruth Hamilton
Ruth Hamilton

Ruth runs T3's Outdoors editor (think camping, hiking, mountain biking and adventure sports) as well as running the site's Wellness channel (covering sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing). She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and will talk at length about them to anyone who'll listen.