Hiking is a brilliant way to keep fit if you hate the gym, and provides the perfect escape from stress and the demands placed on us by work, family and friends. Wear the wrong type of footwear, however, and your life-affirming hike will turn into a blister-fest – unless you're kitted out with the best women’s hiking boots.
While you might be tempted to hit your nearest outdoors shop and pick out the cheapest pair of waterproof boots you can find, that's not a great idea...
'You get what you pay for' has never been more true than in the case of hiking boots, and while they are definitely some decent budget buys to be found, especially during seasonal sales, it really is worth investing in a well-made pair that will last you years.
Each of our the shoes featured in our best women's hiking boots guide have been chosen not for their price (be it high or low), but because of how well they actively support and protect your feet on the trail. That includes keeping the rain off during wet weather adventures, and protecting you from blisters and raw skin. Ouch!
Our expert pick
- The best women’s hiking boots are waterproof, supportive and comfortable to wear, regardless of whether you’re embarking on a short day hike or venturing out for longer on a multi-day trek. They should also offer a superb fit – snug but never tight – and provide decent protection around your heels and toes. For those reasons, our current top pick is the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.
- These hiking boots are ideal for those of you who want to experience sheer comfort when hiking, and not have to worry about wet feet when crossing streams or trekking through slush. Salomon’s high-performance technical boots feature Gore-Tex for waterproofing and have a high degree of breathability, ensuring excess moisture is quickly wicked away from your feet.
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 breathable too. This keeps sweat and other moisture to a minimum.
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.
Which type of boots do you need?
In this buyer’s guide to the best women’s hiking boots, we’re focusing on day hiking boots and backpacking hiking boots. If you’re looking for lightweight hiking footwear, you’ll find them and more in our best women's walking shoes guide.
Day hiking boots are, as the name suggests, designed to boost your comfort and stability on day hikes or shorter backpacking trips where you aren’t carrying loads of extra gear. They come in mid- and high-cut models, and are intended for day hikes or short backpacking trips where you’ll be carrying lighter loads. Bonus: you’ll be able to break them in quicker.
For longer hiking trips, where you’ll be carrying heavy loads in your backpack, backpacking hiking boots are necessary. These heavy duty technical boots offer supreme support on and above the ankle, with stiffer midsoles enhancing stability.
How to buy the best women’s hiking boots for you
Let's start with material. Durable and long-lasting, leather feels undeniably luxurious, but is generally harder to break in, and therein lies the rub—literally. Not so long ago, leather boots were generally more durable, while boots made with synthetic materials were lighter.
Advances in technology mean there's now less difference between these boots, although models made with manmade materials are often harder to clean, and leather boots are generally less breathable. Leather boots will often last longer and tend to offer better protection from the elements. Speaking of which, Gore-Tex or ngx waterproof liners are brilliant at keeping feet dry.
You’ll also want to ensure the fit is snug all over, without feeling tight. Check to ensure there’s enough wiggle room for your toes. The best time to try on boots is at the end of the day, once your feet are swollen and have reached their largest. This helps you avoid buying boots that are too small.
The best women’s hiking boots to buy now
1. Salomon Women's Quest 4D 3 GTX
The best women’s hiking boots overall
Reasons to buy
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.
Our top pick for the best women’s hiking boots is 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.
Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.
2. Inov-8 Roclite 335
Tough yet super-lightweight trail-loving boot with immense grip
Reasons to buy
The lightest hiking boot in this round-up, Inov-8’s hotly anticipated Roclite 335 trail boot is a pleasure to wear. Whether you’re hiking along a stone and leaf-strewn trail or ambling upon wet sand, these technical boots will help you stay upright.
At only 335g you’ll hardly notice them on your feet. We wore them with light hiking socks and had zero issues with rubbing or blisters. In fact, despite wearing them for nine hours+ on the first day of testing, we experienced much less foot fatigue than with other more expensive, heavier hiking boots we’ve tried in the past.
The Inov-8 Roclite 335 are flexible enough to accommodate any swelling in your feet too, which is good news towards the end of a long hike or walk. While they’re water-resistant, they’re not fully waterproof, so don’t submerge them completely in puddles or streams.
Of course, 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.
We maintained a steady balance on the frost and ice of late winter during initial testing, and felt continuously sure-footed thanks to the impressive grip and traction enabled by those G-GRIP soles. The PrimaLoft insulation adds extra warmth for cold weather hikes and walks too.
Elsewhere, the boot cut design is comfortable around the ankle, offering ample padding without encouraging a build-up of sweat. PrimaLoft’s breathable properties comes into play again here, keeping clammy feet at bay.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a lightweight yet hard-wearing trail boot, and you don’t mind that they’re water-resistant instead of being fully waterproof (the Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX boots are waterproof), then slip into these pronto.
3. Hoka One One Sky Kaha
Enjoy marshmallow-like comfort with these high-rise hikers
Reasons to buy
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.
Looks aside, we’re digging the Sky Kaha’s because they’re so comfortable; walking on marshmallows doesn’t even come close to describing the sheer pleasure of wearing these. And despite their size, they’re not heavy either.
That took us by surprise, actually. We mean, look at them! 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 latest head-turning hikers (available for women and men). An eVent waterproof bootie kicks things off, keeping you dry through rain and snow. 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, but we did have a teeny meltdown to begin with when trying to loosen up the stiff laces for better fitting. Hopefully you’re more patient than us.
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.
4. Merrell MQM Flex Mid Gore-Tex
Chuck ’ em on and move fast and light over those mountains
Reasons to buy
When it comes to the best women’s hiking boots, there are some brands that crop up time and time again, they’re that good. Merrell is one of those brands. We’ve tried and loved many of their low- and mid-cut hikers, with our current fave being the funky MQM Flex Mid Gore-Tex.
We’ve taken these hybrid boots out on many day hikes now and recommend them for easy, fast and light walking. They’re sporty, breathable and rock a barely there feel on the feet compared to heavier duty women’s hiking boots.
Another bonus: the MQM Flex Mid required zero break-in time during our initial testing, and continued to deliver high comfort on subsequent hikes. Especially when we teamed them with our favourite Smartwool merino wool hiking socks (a blissful combination if ever there was one).
These Merrell’s are pretty rad at protecting key areas of your feet from impact, too. That’s due in large part to the Air Cushion in the heel, which also enhances stability. You’ll need both when you’re roughing it off-road.
Grip is massively important, of course, and the MQM Flex Mid won’t skip out on you here. While we wouldn’t recommend them for very icy or wet scree-laden trails, or for backpacking where you’re carrying heavy loads and need maximum ankle support, we’d heartily recommend them as a lightweight and waterproof choice for spring, summer and autumn.
5. Berghaus Women's Expeditor Ridge 2.0
A rugged, long-lasting boot providing fantastic grip on uneven terrain
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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.
6. Scarpa Peak GTX Boot
Beefy women's hiking boots for taking on big adventures
Reasons to buy
Dire weather? Pah! This durable, waterproof Gore-Tex boot laughs heartily in the face of rain, mud and snow. Because of its high-cut design, it also offers ample ankle support, which is great during any backpacking trips where you're carrying heavier loads on your back.
The Biometric Trek outsole delivers enhanced grip on a variety of slippery terrain, making them a solid choice for anyone who's nervous about walking outdoors during winter when everything is slick and icy.
7. Grisport Lady Glide High Rise Hiking Boots
Simple yet effective for recreational walks and gentle hikes
Reasons to buy
If you want a pair of comfortable, fuss-free women’s hiking boots to see you through the seasons, Grisport has just the ticket with its classic-looking Lady Glide.
With a Vibram rubber sole, they’ll appeal to anyone wanting to stay sure-footed on muddy cross country rambles in the rain, as well as on sunnier day hikes.
The waterproof Lady Glide boots are made from waxed leather and sport a padded collar and toe-joint, as well as a triple-density cushioned midsole, keeping blisters to a minimum and walking comfort at a maximum.
8. Keen Terradora Waterproof Boot
Breathable women's hiking boots that don't mind rainy days
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
This stylish women’s hiking boot is beyond good-looking — it’s also the best boot for wet weather. Owners of the Keen Terradora Waterproof Boot have been known to wax lyrical about just how waterproof it is, so there’s no need to fret at an unexpected stream (unless it means you’re really, really lost).
The adaptable soft mesh material is ideal if you don’t have time to devote to breaking in, and looks the part no matter which shade you choose. A great investment, but not the best for very small feet.
9. Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boot
Sturdy, durable and designed to last you many a year
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
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 extremely well, so you’ll be sure to get years of walking out of them, and the interiors have been praised for their comfort, resulting in dry feet even after a long day’s walk.
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.
10. Karrimor Ladies Hot Rock Waterproof
On a tight budget? Slip your feet into these
Reasons to buy
You may be thinking that buying boots on a budget is a one-way ticket to painful blisters, but we don’t mind telling you that, in this particular instance, you’d be wrong. The Karrimor Ladies Hot Rock Waterproof Boots have been praised for their balance of comfort and durability, especially at such a budget price.
They have thick soles for exploring rough terrain, and a soft outer for easy movement with no rubbing. If you’re after years of faithful service, these aren't the ones. But for semi-regular walking without breaking the bank, they're a winner.
The final word:
There are plenty of good hiking boots for women, but few that truly excel in all areas that matter: comfort, waterproofing, support, stability and style. The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX continues to impress us, and should be top of your list to check out for multi-season hiking.
We also recommend the Inov-8 Roclite 335 trail boots, designed with a G-GRIP graphene infused rubber grip to deliver immense grip and traction. They're incredibly lightweight too, and flexible enough to accommodate swollen feet when you're out on the trail.
About the authors:
Claire Davies is Senior Content Editor at T3 and routinely tests hiking and walking gear, and camping tech, for the Outdoors channel.
Tamara Hinson is a travel and outdoors journalist who regularly enjoys hiking and walking, among other outdoor pursuits.