Best women's hiking boots in 2021: tackle any terrain comfortably

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

best women's hiking boots: Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX
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(Image credit: Vasque)

The best women's hiking boots in 2021 should offer the perfect combination of durability, support and comfort. It's easier than ever to find a good pair of women's hiking boots on sale these days, but finding the right footwear we feel takes a bit more effort – especially if the outdoors is where you feel most at home.

Whether you are looking for basic hiking boots for strolls in the nearby nature reserve or the latest hi-tech footwear to help you to tackle the trickiest of terrain, our guide aims to give you the best options available. From lightweight, breathable boots perfect for summer walks to tough and insulated winter boots, this guide covers it all.

We've tested boots from top brands including Salomon, Scarpa, Merrell, Berghaus, Keen and more, and have come up with a selection of the best women's hiking boots that'll help you keep going in even the toughest conditions. So whether you're looking for the best women's hiking boots for flat feet, wide feet, or just a good set of comfortable hiking boots in general, our list is sure to provide a great option for you.

Once you've got your new pair of boots on the way, be sure to check our guides on how to break in hiking boots. Doing this ensures your new boots provide the most comfort and support before you take them for a spin. We also have a handy guide to help you learn how to care for hiking boots as well.

Looking for something more versatile? Take a look at some of the best women's walking shoes available today!

The best women's hiking boots to buy in 2021

scarpa r-evo gtx wmn grayT3 Award

(Image credit: Scarpa)

The best women’s hiking boots overall

Specifications
Material: Water-resistant suede and synthetic fabric
Sole Type: Vibram Biometric Trek
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+High cut for exceptional support+Shock-absorbing, traction-packed sole+Comfortable and supportive about the foot
Reasons to avoid
-Laces are a little short

Scarpa's R-Evo GTX WMN are the best hiking boots for women right now, offering ample support and comfort for a remarkably low weight compared to the other fell and hill walking boots we've tried. These are some of the best-fitting and most comfortable hiking boots we've tried in a long while. They form 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 resolved, extending their life even further. All in all, we were very impressed with these boots. The construction, support and ruggedness should see you through your backpacking, camping or hiking expedition in style and comfort, whatever the weather.

Read our full Scarpa R-Evo GTX hiking boots review.

inov-8 roclite g 345 blackT3 Award

(Image credit: Inov-8 )

The best lightweight boots for fast hiking

Specifications
Material: Cordura mesh, textile
Sole Type: G-GRIP
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Super-lightweight+Lower cut offers support but flexibility of movement+Ready to go straight out of the box

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 12.2oz at size 8.5), and a Gore-Tex liner keeps your feet dry (if this isn't a priority for you, check out the water-resistant Inov-8 Roclite 335, which will save you some cash). 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.

merrell ontario 85 wool mid waterproof tanT3 Award

(Image credit: Merrell)

A comfy women's hiking boot with cool, retro design

Specifications
Material: Leather, wool
Sole Type: Vibram MegaGrip
Waterproof technology: M-Select DRY waterproof breathable membrane
Reasons to buy
+No break-in time needed+Appealing retro look
Reasons to avoid
-Less ankle support-No wide option

An ode to the classic hiking boot look, the Merrell Ontario 85 Waterproof Mid Wool is another high scorer in our women's hiking boot roundup. With cushioning support and great traction, this boot is comfortable for a full day's worth of hiking. A great boot especially for colder weather hiking with full waterproof technology and wool upper materials. These boots are comfortable and soft right out of the box and require no break-in time, feeling more like a running shoe once on, rather than a hiking boot. While we love the look and feel of these boots for day hikes, we'd be more inclined to reach for the sturdy and higher hiking boots for multi-day backpacking trips. 

jack wolfskin wilderness lite texapore mid w grayT3 Award

(Image credit: Jack Wolfskin)

An excellent weatherproof hiking boot designed with hillwalkers in mind

Specifications
Material: Synthetic textile
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: 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 hiking 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.

vasque breeze at mid gtx tanT3 Award

(Image credit: Vasque)

A study workhorse of a hiking boot

Specifications
Material: Nubuck leather, air mesh
Sole Type: Vibram Contact Grip Megagrip rubber
Waterproof technology: GORE-TEX
Reasons to buy
+Versatile, sturdy boot+Excellent fit
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively heavy-Ankle might be too stiff for some

The Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX is a real workhorse of a women's hiking boot. With a comfortable footbed and a supportive higher ankle, the boot stood up to all of our traction testing on various terrain including slippery scree. Waterproofing technology thanks to Gore-tex liners keeps feet dry, and the upper air mesh allows for hot air to escape the boot, leaving feet at a comfortable temperature. The Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX is available in regular and wide width, and our team found the three color options to be appealing for outdoor adventures. For hikers and backpackers looking for one pair of boots that will comfortably take them on any hike, regardless of length or difficulty, the Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX is a great choice.

keen revel iv polar high boot grayT3 Award

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)

The best winter hiking boot for women

Specifications
Material: Leather, mesh and recycled insulation
Sole Type: Keen.Polar Traction
Waterproof technology: 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 cozy 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 a 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.

topo athletic trailventure wp hiking book blueT3 Award

(Image credit: Topo Athletic)

A lightweight hiking boot with a roomy toe box

Specifications
Material: Ripstop nylon mesh
Sole Type: Vibram Megagrip
Waterproof technology: eVent DVdryLT inner
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight, supportive boot+Especially roomy toe box
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for narrow feet-Lower ankle support

With a pair weighing in at only 12.1 ounces, the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP is feather-light for fast hiking. With a mid-cut, it provides stable ankle support on the trail with incredible underfoot cushioning. Topo Athletic excels in running shoe design, and built the Trailventure with a similar blueprint, but built it up to provide more support, traction and stability for off-road adventures. One of the most comfortable arch supports we tested, the Topo Trailventure excels in a cushy footbed and proves plenty of room in the toe box. The lacing system locks at the point that curves to the ankle, so you can customize the fit of the boot with two different lacing tensions. Fully waterproof, these fast and light boots are airy on the trail no matter what the weather or terrain.

merrell mqm flex 2 mid gore-tex gray

(Image credit: Merrell)

Chuck 'em on and move fast and light over those mountains

Specifications
Material: Mesh, TPU
Sole Type: EVA, M Select Grip (outsole)
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight hybrid design+Good shock absorption+Zero break-in time
Reasons to avoid
-Not as specialized for technical activities-Not much protection for very rocky terrains

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 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 compared to heavier duty women’s hiking boots, but that does mean the levels of cushioning do fall slightly behind other boots here.

Another bonus: the MQM Flex 2 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 favorite Smartwool merino wool hiking socks (a blissful combination if ever there was one). These Merrells 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 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, they're fine as a lightweight, waterproof, throw-on choice for spring, summer and fall.

hoka one one sky kaha gtx lueT3 Award

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

Enjoy marshmallow-like comfort with these high-rise hikers

Specifications
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 said the Sky Kaha's look like moon boots, but we adore the look, even if it is on the fuller side. 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 hiking 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, cozy hiking and campsite dressing come fall and beyond.

Read our full Hoka One One Sky Kaha GTX hiking boots review

vivo barefoot tracker ii gray

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)

The best women's hiking boots for a barefoot experience

Specifications
Material: Wildhide Leather
Sole type: Firm Ground Sole
Waterproof technology: Hydrophobic leather
Reasons to buy
+Light and freeing +Let your feet feel the ground+Supple, comfortable leather
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of cushioning isn't for everyone

Sick of hot and heavy hiking boots? 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. They work surprisingly well as hiking boots if you're sticking to more established trails, as they're so lightweight and comfortable you'll barely notice that you have them on, but they still offer great grip and protection. Our pick of the best barefoot hiking boots are Vivo Barefoot's Tracker IIs.

These boots feel light as anything – great if you hate the heavy, clunky feel of more traditional boots – and are very flexible underfoot as well as being far more breathable than other leather boots we tested, making them handy for summer walks or for taking on your travels. The supple leather is naturally water-resistant and still warm enough to work in colder weather. These handsome boots are also very versatile – perfect for more casual day-to-day use. Head to our Vivo Barefoot Tracker II hiking boot review for more info.

inov-8 roclite pro g 400 black

(Image credit: Inov-8)

The best ultra-tough women's hiking boots

Specifications
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 tires 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 downside we found is that the ceramic-coated fabric seems prone to staining or going moldy if not dried out properly, so you'll need to be meticulous with your boot care.

columbia trailstorm mid waterproof blue

(Image credit: Columbia)

The best summerweight 'sniker' for casual strolls

Specifications
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.

inov-8 roclite pro g 400 black

(Image credit: Inov-8)

The best ultra-tough women's hiking boots

Specifications
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 tires 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 downside we found is that the ceramic-coated fabric seems prone to staining or going moldy if not dried out properly, so you'll need to be meticulous with your boot care.

hanwag banks lady gtx blackT3 Award

(Image credit: Hanwag)

14. Hanwag Banks Lady GTX

A classic, classy and comfortable women's hiking boot

Specifications
Material: Nubuck leather, suede, synthetic material
Sole Type: Vibram Endurance Pro outer
Waterproof technology: 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 gives 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. 

inov-8 roclite 335 blueT3 Award

15. Inov-8 Roclite 335

Tough yet super-lightweight trail-loving boot with immense grip

Specifications
Material: PrimaLoft Gold Eco
Sole Type: G-GRIP
Waterproof technology: water-resistant
Reasons to buy
+Super-lightweight+Impressive grip and traction
Reasons to avoid
-Only water-resistant

The super-lightweight Inov-8 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 come 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.

berghaus expeditor ridge 2.0 brown


16. Berghaus Women's Expeditor Ridge 2.0

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

Specifications
Material: leather and synthetic
Sole Type: OPTI-STUD®
Waterproof technology: AQ waterproof lining
Reasons to buy
+AQ waterproof lining+Odour control

These excellent all-rounders are packed with features designed to keep you hiking all day, including shock-absorbing EVA midsoles 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 odor-free, thanks to the use of breathable mesh panels in key areas. 

keen terradora waterproof boot blue

17. Keen Terradora Waterproof Boot

Breathable women's hiking boots that don't mind rainy days

Specifications
Material: Textile
Sole Type: Non-marking rubber
Waterproof technology: KeenDry
Reasons to buy
+Extremely waterproof+Girly colors
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best for narrow feet

These stylish women’s hiking boots are a firm favorite among hikers as they are wet weather-friendly and easy to wear. We always team ours with breathable hiking socks for enhanced comfort. The adaptable soft mesh material is ideal if you don’t have time to devote to breaking in new boots, and looks the part no matter which shade you choose. A great investment, but not the best for very small feet as, in terms of fit, they do tend to come in on the larger side.

karrimor hot rock boots black

18. Karrimor Ladies Hot Rock Boots

The best cheap women's hiking boots

Specifications
Material: Leather/textile
Sole Type: DynaGrip
Waterproof technology: Weathertite Extreme
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-Not as durable as pricier alternatives

You may be thinking that buying boots on a budget is a one-way ticket to painful blisters, but that isn’t the case here. The Karrimor Ladies Hot Rock Waterproof Boots offer comfort and durability, at a budget price. Are they as comfy and durable as the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX or AKU Trekker Pro? No, of course not, but in relation to their low price tag, the Karrimor are fine. They have thick soles for withstanding rougher 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. 

lowa renegade gore tex id boot brown

(Image credit: Lowa)

19. Lowa Renegade Gore-Tex Mid Boot

Sturdy, durable and designed to last you many a year

Specifications
Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-tex
Reasons to buy
+Keep feet dry +Long-lasting soles

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.

columbia trailstorm mid waterproof blue

(Image credit: Columbia)

The best summerweight 'sniker' for casual strolls

Specifications
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.

Buying advice: which type of women's hiking boots do you need?

There are dozens of outdoor brands out there, and most offer many different types of hiking 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 hiking, 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 backpack, or going on a multi-day hiking 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. 

Best women's hiking boots

(Image credit: trail on Unsplash)

The best women's hiking boots: 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 hiking 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 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' hiking 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 that can provide breathable or insulating properties without adding to the weight of the boot. 

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

How do I find the right size of walking boot?

There are a few tricks to getting the right size boot on the first try. Start off by using the manufacturer's sizing guide. Most boots allow room for the 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. For reference, the boots we tested here sized up true unless otherwise stated. 

If you can try the boots on in person at a store, it's worth doing. If that's not possible, many retailers will take returns as 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 your 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 a flat surface, 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. 

What are the best women's hiking boots for wide feet?

Most brands of women's hiking boots are offering more options when it comes to hiking boots for those of us with wider feet. Merrell and Columbia have some great options to choose from, but obviously these will come at a bit of a higher price tag.

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.

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 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.