If your idea of a good time is a long hike and you don't let a little thing like changeable weather conditions or muddy ground stop play, then the Columbia Women's Trailstorm Waterproof Walking Shoes will be right up your street. One of the best women's walking shoes out there, they offer great grip, waterproof protection plus a secure and comfortable fit.
The Women's Trailstorm shoe sits towards the lower mid-point of the Columbia shoe range, but despite that there seems to be little to no compromise on technical features, performance or looks. In fact, we were surprised when we discovered the low RRP, as it feels and performs like a much pricier shoe.
These are also available in men's (head to our best men's walking shoes roundup for more options there), as well as a 'mid' variant that's higher on the ankle – head to our Columbia Trailstorm Mid Waterproof hiking boot review for more on that one. Alternatively, read on for our full Columbia Trailstorm Waterproof Walking Shoe review.
Columbia Trailstorm review: design and features
The Columbia Trailstorm shoe certainly packs in the features! The waterproofing is provided by Columbia's own Omni-Tech membrane, which is formed into a seam-sealed bootie-type layer within the shoe. The rest of the upper is predominantly synthetic with a tough synthetic fabric that's abrasion resistant, and a rubber-reinforced forefoot area that adds protection to the toe box.
Columbia has opted for a ghillie-style lacing system, which means the laces lie flat against the shoe, and are cushioned by the upper and tongue. The midsole is Columbia's Techlite+ which offers just the right amount of cushioning and stability, with a degree of stiffness.
The rubber outsole has arrow-shaped chunky lugs which are multi-directional, designed to provide traction on climbs and descents. The layout and orientation of these lugs is clever; the lugs on the forefoot are oriented to provide traction on climbs, since that part of the foot is more load-bearing on ascents, and vice versa with the lugs on the heel area oriented to provide traction on descents. A combination of larger, deeper, 4mm lugs with smaller, shallower lugs make for an impressive array that certainly does come through when grip is needed.
There are a choice of three colourways: Black, Red Coral/Peach and Graphite/Dolphin.
Columbia Trailstorm review: performance and comfort
The Omni-Tech waterproof membrane isn't as highly waterproof as the market leader, Gore Tex, however it's more than up to the task of keeping the worst of the weather out when walking on sodden ground or through the odd puddle. Unless you're wearing gaiters, shoes will let the water in through the top anyway, so for general use we found the waterproof performance perfectly fine here.
The multi-directional design of the lugs on the sole gave noticeable grip on climbs and descents, and provides confidence-inspiring traction when conditions are slick. We felt secure and stable moving over wet grass, mud, frozen ground, dry ground and gravel paths alike. We definitely felt the benefit of that toe cap too, especially on rockier or more scrambly terrain where are plenty of opportunities to stub a toe.
The Trailstorm is also impressively comfortable. The combination of a supportive sole with enough stiffness to keep feet feeling fresh and supported with just the right amount of flex to provide movement and grip, along with the supportive upper which kept the foot in place, was just right. We experienced no heel-lift, the foot remained in place in the shoe with no movement, and there was a nice amount of room in the toe box for wiggle room without the shoe feeling loose. The shoe also comes up true to size, so you can feel confident ordering the size you'd usually wear for non-walking or hiking shoes. (As always we'd recommend adding a pair of the best walking socks just for an extra layer of protection.)
One slight downside is that the combination of waterproof membrane and padding gives these shoes insulating properties that are great in wet and cold conditions, but are just a bit too much in warmer temperatures. We found our feet got uncomfortably hot when hiking on warm, dry days, particularly when exercising ourselves. If hot feet isn't something that bothers you, or if on the flipside your feet tend to run cold and you like a more insulated shoe, then this insulation actually turns into a plus point for you.
Finally, while this isn't a primary consideration for us when choosing a walking shoe, we did like the aesthetics of the Trailstorm. It's stylish enough to work with jeans for general use, and in fact because it's so comfortable and supportive, we have been wearing it for day-to-day use as well as actual hikes.
Columbia Trailstorm walking shoe review: verdict
The Columbia Women's Trailstorm Waterproof Walking Shoe is a very reasonably priced shoe that outperforms its price tag. Perfectly suited to hikes and walks in the winter and transitional seasons, it offers protection from the elements via it's waterproof membrane, insulation that keeps feet toasty, and the grip and traction on wet and dry ground offered by its cleverly lugged outsole. While they aren't as grippy as the Invo-8 Roclite shoes we've also tested, they are more than up to all-round hiking in a range of conditions.
We liked the comfort provided by the cushioned Techlite+ midsole which offered an impressive blend of cushioning, stability and comfort and kept our feet feeling fresh even after hours on our feet in a range of conditions over rough terrain. No aching feet here!
The fit of the upper over the top of the foot is also pleasingly supportive, with the ghillie-style lacing system and Navic Fit System keeping the foot securely in place without hot spots or pressure points; the foot and shoe move together with no internal movement or friction that could cause blisters.
The only real downsides to the shoe are the fact that the waterproof membrane plus padding means they aren't particularly breathable and also feel quite warm. In winter, spring and autumn, this is a positive but for summer or hot-weather hiking they feel too hot, so for these conditions we'd opt for the Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX Shoe or even the Merrell Choprock shandels.