Finding the best women's walking shoes that fit your feet perfectly will make a big difference to how much enjoyment you get from exploring paths and trails, and the better each experience is, the more you will want to get out and go for hikes. In this guide, we've reviewed a wide range of options from leading brands to make sure there's something for everyone and every budget (of course, we have a guide to the best men's walking shoes as well).
We think best women's walking shoes at the moment are the Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo Hiking Shoes. They're extremely cushioned and comfy, as well as being light enough to keep you happily striding along for several hours at a time. Grip is slightly limited though, so if you want something more hardcore, you should check out the Salomon X Ultra 4, which is all-round a more rugged proposition.
The benefit of the best hiking shoes is that they're lightweight, offer freedom and flexibility. Many also have subtle enough styling that they won't look out of place on urban strolls, either, making them a good option for walking-heavy city breaks. A lot of our picks are comfy to wear straight out of the box, but we'd still recommend donning a pair of the best walking socks to help prevent blisters before they happen.
The obligatory PSA before we start is that if you are taking on a tougher walk or heading up any mountains, you should opt for a pair of the best women’s hiking boots (or even some approach shoes for climbing/walking style trails), because shoes can't provide the ankle support you really need for that kind of thing. At the other end of the scale, if it's mild weather and flat, short routes, you could try a pair of the best walking sandals. Decided walking shoes are the best option for you? Read on for our top picks.
The best women's walking shoes aren't a cheap investment. Prices vary enormously, but right now it's well worth checking out our guide to the upcoming Black Friday Sales (opens in new tab) to see if you can walk away with a pair of the best women's shoes for hiking (as listed below) for a bargain price.
The best women's walking shoes 2023, reviewed
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If comfort's your top priority when you're shopping for walking shoes, the Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo should be high on your list. These lightweight walking shoes are super-comfortable right out of the box, with deep, cushioned inner soles that feel like they mould instantly to your foot as soon as you put them on. They also feature breathable Gore-Tex waterproofing, making them shoes that you can happily wear all day, even if the weather's on the turn.
They're great all-rounders, however the grip's a little limited, which means that they're better suited to established trails than rough mountain terrain. If you're planning to spend plenty of time on groomed trails throughout the summer months and into the autumn, you won't go far wrong with these. Find out more in our Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo hiking shoe review.
The Salomon X Ultra 4 are supremely comfortable to wear thanks to a softer ankle and heel cuff, they're waterproof and, despite their lightweight build, impressively rugged. The firm rubber sole delivers fantastic grip on just about any surface, and a mesh layer means you won't find stones and other debris making their way in. The quicklace system is nice and easy to use, although depending on foot shape you might find the tongue shifts around a bit in wear. If you're looking for a reliable and comfortable shoe that'll see you through walks in any season, you'll have a tough time beating these. Head to our Salomon Women's X Ultra 4 walking shoe review for more info.
The Inov-8 Roclite 315 was already an impressive and flexible shoe, aimed at trail runners but also brilliant for walking. Lightweight and with plenty of grip, the latest version adds a Gore-Tex membrane to stop water getting in and making it an even more versatile choice. The Gore-Tex prevents water from getting in through the sides, however you wouldn't want to submerge it completely. The inner incorporates a Powerflow midsole, designed to deliver 10 per cent better shock absorption than standard midsole units to give a smoother walking experience overall. There's also padding to cushions and hold the heel in place and help the shoe move with the foot to reduce the chance of rubbing.
A seriously chunky tread give these superior traction, making these perfect for anyone who feels nervous walking over trickier terrain. The large toothed lugs are spaced out enough that they won't get choked up with mud. One niggle is that the laces are finer than on other walking shoes we tested, but overall we were seriously impressed with these women's walking shoes. They offer a great balance of comfort, support and flexibility, and will help you tackle varied and unpredictable terrain with ease. Head to our Inov-8 Roclite 315 review for more info.
The Columbia Trailstorm is a reasonably-priced option if you're after a waterproof women’s walking shoe suitable for hikes and walks in transitional seasons. Its Techlite midsole offers an impressive blend of cushioning, stability and comfort and the upper is supportive without adding pressure-hot spots. The ghillie-style laces and Columbia’s Navic Fit system keeps the foot snugly in place, with shoe and foot moving together and therefore avoiding any blister-causing friction. The only real downside is that it's a little too well padded and not very breathable, which makes for hot feet when the temperatures rise. You'll find more on the results of our testing in our Columbia Trailstorm walking shoe review (this shoe has a higher cut sibling, too, which you can find out about in our Columbia Trailstorm mid hiking boot review).
Need a pair of shoes that'll serve you well on walking trips but which you can also wear to the office? You need Ariat's Skyline Low walking shoes; they're versatile all-rounders with reliable waterproofing and fantastic leather looks, so you can literally take them anywhere.
Their waterproof membrane will repel light rainfall but we wouldn't really want to get caught in a torrential downpour while wearing them; these are more shoes for summer adventures than all-weather expeditions. And while the grip's good on dry ground, it's not so hot on slick wet surfaces, making these shoes more suitable for country trails and paths. They're surprisingly light considering their leather construction, but you might find that they're lacking in breathability compared with fabric shoes. And while they fit true to size, we found them to be a little on the wide side; if you have narrow feet we'd recommend you try them on at before taking them out for the day. Get all the details in our Ariat Skyline Low waterproof walking shoe review.
The Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX Mid is slightly higher cut than your average walking shoe (if you really want a shoe shoe, there's a lower version (opens in new tab) with most of the same features). That in-between cut delivers an extra bit of ankle support and protection, but there's still excellent freedom of movement. The sole is flexible and responsive, while the laces ensure a snug fit that inspires confidence on tricky terrain – for our Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX Mid review, our tester wore these on a scramble hike, and they performed extremely well. For a 'fast and light' option (the FL of the name), they feel pretty rugged, thanks to tough nylon upper, toe bumper and reinforced heel. We found the 5mm lugs delivered good grip on softer, boggier ground as well as rock, and the GTX kept water out effectively in our tests, although a few other reviewers found the waterproofing less reliable. And of course, because it's Arc'teryx, they look super stylish too.
Designed to bridge the gap between walking shoes and running trainers, the 361 Camino WP is a sporty-looking option that combines the sleek look and feel of sports shoes with the sort of rugged and bouncy soles that you need when you're out walking. And while those hefty soles rule the Camino WP out for distance running, for everything else they're a great fit, especially if you're not really looking for a traditional walking shoe.
The WP in the name signifies waterproofing, and we'd take that with a little pinch of salt; we'd suggest that they're water-resistant rather than waterproof, and best suited for summer walks with maybe a risk of slight rain. You wouldn't want to rely on them to keep your feet dry in a downpour. Beside that though there's a lot to like about them; they're light and comfortable and provide an impressive amount of grip, even on challenging terrain, and they look great too. Need to know more? Our 361 Camino WP walking trainers review can fill you in on all the details.
If you want all-day comfort as well as plenty of grip and waterproofing for adventures in less clement conditions, the Adidas Terrex Skychaser XT shoes would be a top choice. Their Gore-Tex lining will keep the wet out, whether you're walking through damp grass or taking a short cut across a stream, while staying breathable enough to keep your feet cool when it's warmer and drier. A Continental Rubber sole with chunky, directional chevron lugs provides plenty of confidence-inspiring traction on a variety of surfaces from rocks to mud to wet grass.
User-friendly features like a wide opening tongue and quick-lace system make getting the shoes on and off nice and easy, which is particularly handy if you struggle with laces or fiddly dials. There’s even a little strap to keep the laces from flapping about and getting caught. Comfortable for long walks, we almost forgot we were wearing them (in a good way) leaving us to focus on the wonderful landscape we were walking through. Head to our full Adidas Terrex Skychaser XT hiking shoes review to find out more.
Taking performance cues from trail running shoes, the Merrell Choprock Sieve dish out impressive grip via a Vibram Megagrip sole, high levels of support and welcome breathability. They're the perfect walking shoes for those days on the trail where you need to move fast and light. We've worn them on rocky trails slick with rain water and moss and the Choprock held their ground, keeping us upright without any issue. Sling them on and you'll be able to customise the fit a little via Merrell's integrated webbing loops. Toes are protected too, courtesy of a rubber toe bumper.
They're not waterproof, but instead are designed with channels to direct water out of the shoe quickly and 'water-friendly' materials that dry fast – although for proper amphibious footwear, you should head to our best water shoes guide. These women's walking shoes are a bargain price and regularly on sale, so definitely ones to pick up for year-round walking and hiking comfort. Check out our Merrell discount codes to find a price cut.
Based on one of Keen's most popular walking boots, the Targhee III is a walking shoe that delivers durability and and performance in all manner of conditions. It has a deep, wide fit, making it a great choice for anyone with broad feet or who uses insoles or orthotics (however if your ankles sit low you might find that the shoes rub a bit). Speed hook lacing allows you to secure the upper nicely around the midsection of the foot while a wide toe box gives toes a nice amount of wiggle room. The rubber outsole has a decent tread which offers good grip in wet conditions, and a dual-density EVA foam footbed takes the force out of foot strikes keeping feet feeling fresh and warding off fatigue.
The Merrell Moab Speed GTX isn't a perfect hiking and walking shoe for women; we experienced a little too much heel-lift for our liking and found the sizing to be a little on the large side (we'd suggest going down a half-size). Beyond these niggles, though, this a great all-round shoe with strong environmental credentials thanks to its used of recycled materials. The shoe combines lightweight, a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining, plenty of out-sole grip thanks to rubber and a chunky lug design, and a fit that keeps feeling fresh on long walks and rough terrain, though they’re equally comfortable for the daily dog walk. Head to our Merrell Moab Speed GTX walking shoe review to find out more.
The On Cloudventure Waterproof shoes are officially trail running shoes, but there are plenty of features that make make these a great choice for hiking, too. First up, the lugs are well cushioned, to provide comfort and absorb impact on rough terrain. There's also a reinforced core to support the foot, which makes these stiffer than many running shoes, and should help stop your feet from fatiguing quickly on longer hikes.
A combination of chunky and finer tread ensures excellent grip, even on slick surfaces, and the ON waterproof membrane will keep your feet nice and dry when it's damp underfoot. ON Running says they're good in the snow, and although we couldn't test that, we'd say these are particularly well suited to colder conditions, because they do keep your feet warmer than other walking shoes on this list. One final thing to note is that we found these sized up a little small – we had to go up a half size for the perfect fit. Head to our On Cloudventure Waterproof shoe review for more info.
How to choose the best women's walking shoes
When it comes to walking footwear, you can find everything from trail-ready trainers to shandals – perfect for hot weather hikes – to waterproof shoes that will get you across rain-soaked moors in comfort and safety. The deciding factors should be what type of terrain are you going to be using these shoes for predominantly, and what type of hiking or walking you want to do. For longer distances, rough ground, mountainous terrain and if you need good support for your feet, then choose a more traditional approach or hiking shoe. These will typically have a stiffer sole, a supportive upper made from leather or synthetic material, and insulation and cushioning to keep the foot comfortable and warm.
If you prefer something more akin to an off-road trainer, want something that can grip well in slick conditions, is light and breathable and/or allows a more flexible foot movement, a trail shoe with flexible sole, lightweight synthetic and quick drying upper and technical features should be your port of call. These are best suited to shorter and/or faster walks, scrambles and even trail runs, and don’t offer a lot of impact protection on rough ground. There is usually a compromise to be made depending on your priorities, but we’ve tested shoes that cover the spectrum of products on offer and bring you the best choices with the best all-round performance.
What features should I look for in walking shoes?
There is so much choice when it comes to walking shoes, and the avid rambler will be able to find something perfectly suited to their needs, whether you prefer lightweight, trainer-style shoes for scrambling, walking and running or wants something more traditional with a sturdy upper and stiff, supportive sole.
The key features to look for when you’re deciding what shoe to go for are:
Look for a sole that suits the type of walking and terrain you prefer. At one end of the spectrum you have shoes with flexible soles that allow you to move quickly across trails, though these can cause fatigue to the feet as there’s not a lot of support. For longer walks or hikes on rougher terrain, choose a shoe that has a stiffer, more supportive sole but a degree of flex at the forefoot.
Walking shoes have uppers designed to suit all conditions, from water-resistant and supportive leather through to quick-drying and super-light technical synthetic material. Look for waterproof membranes such as GORE-TEX which help keep your feet dry no matter the season
If you’ll be doing a lot of walking on grassy, muddy or boggy terrain and are concerned about traction and grip, then choose a pair of walking shoes that have deep, chunky lugs. These will dig into the ground and provide plenty of grip so you can be confident you won’t slip over. If you’re planning routes that are more based around rocky or paved paths, opt for something with a shallower tread.
Tongue and collar construction
There are few things worse than getting your shoes nice and comfy only to have to take them off to remove assorted pebbles and grit that has worked its way inside. If you’ll be walking where there will be loose material, opt for a shoe that has a ‘bellows’ tongue, which means it’s joined to the rest of the upper shoe with additional fabric as this stops debris ingress while you’re walking.
Do I need walking shoes or something more robust?
Technology, materials and innovation have developed so much that walking shoes are a viable option for everything from urban rambles to mountain missions. While the design means they don’t have the same level of ankle support as a boot, they are no less feature-packed, with premium waterproof membranes, quality construction, soles that are suited to rough mountain terrain or moving fast and confidently over wet ground and any other type of use you can think of. If you’re not sure whether to go for walking shoes or hiking boots, check out our walking boots vs walking shoes guide, which runs you through the key differences between these types of footwear, to help you decide.