Best women's hiking boots US 2020: Rugged walking boots for any terrain

Your definitive guide to the best women's walking boots, including what features to look for and how much to spend

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

We've laced up and tested dozens of pairs of boots on a quest to find the best women's hiking boots around right now. If you’re preparing to head out on the trails soon, a comfortable hiking boot is essential to enjoying the trip. All of our picks in this guide will ensure your trip is all about the adventure, sights, and sounds of a great hike. Your trail conversations will not center around heel blisters forming, but rather that awesome waterfall you just saw.

Women's hiking boots are designed specifically for female feet, so can be narrower at the heel and offer a slightly different fit to men's boots. They're often also available in different size ranges, designs and colors. However, you might find you don't need boots designed specifically for women, and you're fine with a pick from our general guide to the best hiking boots (feet aren't all that different, after all).

Our top pick for the best hiking boot for most women is the Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX. A versatile boot that will take you through a hiking or backpacking adventure of any mileage, we think these boots perform exactly the way hikers hope a boot will.

However, they might not suit everyone, so browse our full list for plenty of options with different features and prices. Here's comprehensive reviews of the best women's hiking boots. Our handy tool will pull in all the best prices, so you can be sure you're not overpaying. And once you've got your new pair of boots, be sure to check our guides to how to break in hiking boots (tip: don't forget to pick up a pair of the best hiking socks) and how to care for hiking boots.

The best women's hiking boots to buy now

Image 1 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Scarpa R-Evo GTX WMN

(Image credit: Scarpa)
Image 2 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Scarpa R-Evo GTX WMN

(Image credit: Scarpa)
Image 3 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Scarpa R-Evo GTX WMN

(Image credit: Scarpa)

1. Scarpa R-Evo GTX WMN

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

Scarpa's R-Evo GTX WMN are the best women's hiking boots 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 resoled, extending their life even further. All in all, we were very impressed with these boots. The construction, support and the 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.

Image 1 of 4

best women's hiking boots: Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

(Image credit: Vasque)
Image 2 of 4

best women's hiking boots: Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

(Image credit: Vasque)
Image 3 of 4

best women's hiking boots: Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

(Image credit: Vasque)
Image 4 of 4

best women's hiking boots: Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

(Image credit: Vasque)

2. Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX

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.

Image 1 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)
Image 2 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)
Image 3 of 3

best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)

4. Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

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 requires 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. 

Topo Athletic Trailventure WP Womens hiking boot

(Image credit: Topo Athletic)

5. Topo Athletic Trailventure WP hiking boot

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.

best women's hiking boots: Hoka One One Women's Sky Kaha GTX

(Image credit: Hoka One One)

6. Hoka One One Women's Sky Kaha GTX

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, cosy hiking and campsite dressing come fall and beyond.

best women's hiking boots: Hanwag Banks Lady GTX

(Image credit: Hanwag)

7. 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 give 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. 

Best women's hiking boots: Inov- Roclite 335 in Blue and Black

8. 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 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.

Best women's hiking boots: Merrell MQM Flex Mid Gore-Tex in black with purple and blue trims

9. Merrell MQM Flex Mid Gore-Tex

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

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 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 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.

Best women's hiking boots: Berghaus Women's Expeditor Ridge 2.0


10. 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
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. 

Best women's hiking boots: Keen Terradora Waterproof Hiking Boots

11. 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 colours
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best for narrow feet

These stylish women’s hiking boots are a firm favourite 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.

Best women's hiking boots: Karrimor Ladies Hot Rock Waterproof

12. 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. 


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 which 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. 

How do I find the right size of hiking boot?

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 is 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.