When it comes to the best women’s walking shoes, we’ve put in the legwork testing and reviewing all the major brands and field-leading products on the market to help you find the right shoes for you.
Two of the best women’s walking shoes we’ve tested are the Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex shoes and the Columbia Women’s Trailstorm Waterproof Walking Shoes; both excel at comfort, protection and support for short walks and long hikes in a range of conditions.
The Moab Speed Gore-Tex shoes are the newest iteration of the Moab, a Merrell classic. Designed for walking, hiking and trail running, they combine a supportive midsole rock plate with waterproof Gore-Tex lined upper. This model sits at the top end of the Merrell range; there is a model without Gore-Tex that sits at a lower price point. The Moab Speed also contains a significant proportion of recycled material.
The Women’s Trailstorm shoes are, as the name suggests, also waterproof but use Columbia’s Omni-Tech waterproof membrane rather than Gore-Tex. These sit towards the middle of Columbia’s walking shoe range in terms of price, but have a list of features and performance that puts it on par with the Merrell Moab Speed shoes.
Both of these are among the best women's walking shoes, and they're ideal for anyone looking for versatile walking shoes that can handle muddy and wet conditions. They are comfortable and supportive, and for anyone who’s planning on spending a lot of time on their feet, the design will keep you feeling fresh and ache-free. If you want one pair that will see you through spring scrambles, long summer hikes and autumn woodland walks in the rain, these are just the ticket.
- Browse the best men's walking shoes instead
- Tackle any terrain with the best women's hiking boots
- The best walking socks for blister-free adventuring
Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex vs Columbia Women’s Trailstorm: design and features
Both shoes offer waterproofing; Merrell uses the industry-leading Gore-Tex waterproof membrane while the Columbia shoes feature its own Omni-Tech membrane. Both were impressively waterproof, preventing water ingress while walking through wet muddy ground, puddles and the occasional stream crossing, although obviously the shoe design means that water can still come in over the top.
However, when it comes to breathability the Merrells just pip the Columbia shoes to the post, and in warmer weather we found them cooler and more temperature controlled, so if you suffer from hot feet this is something to consider.
Alongside weather proofing, a chunky lug and a sturdy sole are two critical elements of a good walking shoe, particularly one that’s aimed at providing secure grip when hiking on muddy ground. Both soles offer this in different formats. The Trailstorm shoes use an Adapt Trax outsole with 4mm lugs, angled and directional to provide traction when climbing and descending. The Moab Speed shoes have a Vibram Traction Lug that provides grip and impact damping, and 4mm lugs in a range of profiles and shapes.
Both soles offered excellent traction in a range of conditions, surfaces and inclines, and there’s little to choose between them. If we had to, though, we like the ever-so-slightly more aggressive tread pattern on the Trailstorm shoes, which came into its own when scrambling up muddy banks.
One area where the Merrell Moab Speed shoes have a clear and outright advantage is green credentials. These shoes are constructed from a significant proportion of recycled materials, such as the recycled laces and the Vibram Ecostep sole with 30% recycled rubber. This is a trend we’d like to see more of, as more outdoor brands are considering the impact their products have on the environment.
The upper on both shoes is primarily synthetic, and in combination with the lace fastening system offers a secure fit with just enough wiggle room in the toe box for comfort. Both shoes use a tab system rather than the usual eyelet, which means the laces lie flat across the top of the shoe rather than vertically, which eliminates the risk of pressure points. While both systems work, we prefer the wider tabs used on the Moab Speed shoes over the finer cord on the Trailstorms.
Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex vs Columbia Women’s Trailstorm: Comfort and performance
In terms of fit, both the Columbia Trailstorm and Merrell Moab shoes sized up a little large, by about half a size. For walking in cooler seasons, this leaves room for thicker walking socks, but for summer hikes where you’re likely to want thinner socks you may want to consider going down a size.
Linked to this, we experienced some heel lift in the Moab Speed shoes. This is probably due to the sizing being a little out plus wearing thinner socks, but it does illustrate why getting the right fit with this pair in particular is important. The movement at the heel was uncomfortable, and we were aware of the horizontal seam that runs around the heel. Interestingly, we didn’t experience the same thing with the Columbia Trailstorm shoes and so these win in the fit stakes.
Comfort is of course a key consideration, and apart from the heel lift experienced in the Moab Speed shoes the fit around the foot and the support and cushioning offered by the in- and midsole on both shoes was great. Both offered great comfort, however the rockplate in the Moab Speed shoes gave a slightly stiffer sole and for longer walks we appreciated that additional support.
The Columbia Trailstorm shoes retail at £80 while the Merrell Moab Speed come in at £125. That’s a significant price difference, partly accounted for by the use of recycled material, the Vibram outsole and the premium Gore-Tex membrane. However, the performance of both shoes is comparable and nearly equal, barring a few specific exceptions listed above, so unless those are major factors in your purchasing decision, the value-for-money vote goes to the Columbia Trailstorm shoes.
Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex vs Columbia Women’s Trailstorm: verdict
When compared side by side, both pairs of shoes perform exceptionally well when it comes to grip, support and protection from the elements. However, when taking into account the comfort and value-for-money elements, the Columbia Women’s Trailstorm Waterproof Shoes are the clear winner. The lower price point doesn’t translate to significantly less impressive performance, and actually if you didn’t know they cost less it would be hard to guess these were the cheaper shoe. We like these so much we’ve started wearing them day-to-day for all our walks, not just our woodland rambles.
That said, if you’re looking for a shoe that has a lesser environmental impact, or want to encourage companies to green their offering using your individual market force, then we did appreciate the recycled material incorporated into the Merrell Moab Speed shoes. Likewise, if you’re planning long distances and prefer a stiffer sole, choose the Merrells.