The Best Women’s Hiking Boots of 2020

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

With hundreds of options available, at some point every hiker wonders about how to choose the best women’s hiking boots that will be the most comfortable for them. From leather to mesh, to ankle stability or that barely-there feel, the market is full of different styles of hiking shoes and boots that look like they can get the job done. So, how do you choose?

To help you find your sole mate (sorry, we had to), here are the best women’s hiking boots in a variety of categories, from full-on high ankle hiking boots to low ankle hiking shoes and lightweight trail runners. We also include the top factors to consider when buying a hiking boot that will hopefully last you lots of miles of wear and tear on the trail. 

Here are the best women’s hiking boots and how to choose the right ones for you.

The Best Women’s Hiking Boots

The best women’s hiking boots are sturdy but not stiff and will keep you comfortable and supported without weighing you down. Since the type of hiking boot you’ll want can vary depending on the type of hiking you’ll be doing, we’ve included a breakdown of the best hiking footwear in four different categories as follows:

  1. The Best High-Top Hiking Boots
  2. The Best Low-Top Hiking Shoes
  3. The Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes
  4. The Best Trail Runners for Hiking

The Best High-Top Hiking Boots for Women

If you’re looking for a pair of sturdy hiking boots that are suitable for all kinds of terrain, then high top hiking boots are a good place to start. This style will provide the most stability and the most ankle support. High cut hiking boots also tend to be more durable and rigid than a low hiking shoe or a trail runner.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

Go with a high-ankle hiking boot if:

  • You’ll be hiking in variable conditions like muddy, steep or rocky terrain
  • You’re going on a multi-day hike
  • You’re carrying a heavy load on your back
  • You want more support for your ankles and knees

Here are the best high-top hiking boots for women.

Oboz Bridger Premium BDry Hiking Boots

I have had a lot of foot issues in the past, and I absolutely love Oboz women’s hiking boots. The Oboz Bridger Premium BDry Hiking Boots are my go-to for any adventure that requires something super sturdy. They are what I took to Alaska on my 10-day group backpacking trip last summer where we were hiking in very wet conditions. My feet stayed warm, surprisingly dry, and blister-free. They have a sturdy sole and are moderately stiff, but were pretty easy to break in. The Oboz Premium Collection supports Yellowstone Forever, a nonprofit devoting to ensuring Yellowstone National Park remains for generations to come.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 2 lbs, 6.4 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $210
Oboz Bridger BDry Women's Hiking Boot // One of the best hiking boots for women

Check Price: REI


La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX Hiking Boots

The La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX Hiking Boots are on the lighter-weight side for a high-ankle hiking boot making them a great option if you want the stability without the weight. They are comfortable right out of the box with no break-in period and they provide firm ankle support without all the stiffness.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 10.9 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $200
La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX Women's Hiking Boot // One of the best hiking boots for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw


Keen Targhee III Hiking Boots

The Keen Targhee Hiking Boots have been around for a long time and the third-generation version of these boots are built to be tougher and lighter weight. They’ll keep your feet dry and warm even in snowy conditions. These also come in a non-waterproof version if you prefer breathability over waterproofness.

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 12.4 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $150
Keen Targhee Women's Hiking Boots // One of the best hiking boots for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw / Road Runner Sports


Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots are a great budget-friendly option. They’re not quite as high as the Bridger Premiums or the LaSportiva’s mentioned above, but still provide good ankle support. These also come in a non-waterproof version.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 14 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $135
Merrell Moab 2 WP Hiking Boots // One of the best hiking boots for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw / Road Runner Sports


The Best Low-Top Hiking Shoes for Women

Low top hiking shoes tend to be more lightweight and flexible than high-top hiking boots. They provide less ankle support and are generally a good choice for day hikes.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

Go with a low-ankle hiking shoe if:

  • You’ll be using them for day hikes
  • You’ll be carrying only a light load on your back
  • You’ll be on well-worn and flat trails with a well-defined surface
  • You do not need ankle or knee support

Here are the best low-top hiking shoes for women.

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoes

The Oboz Sawtooth’s have been my low-ankle hiking shoe of choice for years. They are sturdy and waterproof with a grippy bottom that gives you plenty of traction for hikes in all types of conditions and trails. These also come in a non-waterproof version.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 12.4 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $140
Oboz Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoes // One of the best hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw


Merrell Moab 2 WP Low Hiking Shoes

The Merrell Moab Low Hiking Shoes are a great budget-friendly option. They’re comfortable out of the box and don’t require any break-in period. The come in a non-waterproof version as well if you want something with more breathability for hot temps.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 12 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $125
Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Shoes // One of the best hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw / Road Runner Sports


Keen Targhee Low Hiking Shoes

The Keen Targhee Low’s are the low version of the Keen hiking boots mentioned above. These hiking shoes are known for providing good arch support. They also come in a non-waterproof version for more ventilation.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 9.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $140
Keen Targhee Low Hiking Shoes // One of the best hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Road Runner Sports


La Sportiva Spire GTX Low Hiking Shoe

The La Sportiva Spire GTX Low Hiking Shoes are the lightest weight in this category yet still pack a punch with solid midsoles that provide good structure and a study, grippy outsole. The gore-tex surround keeps your feet dry while vents channel internal heat and moisture away.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 8.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $190
La Sportiva Spire GTX Low Hiking Shoe // One of the best hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw


The Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes for Women

Imagine a shoe that’s somewhere in between a classic low-top hiking shoe and a trail runner. That’s where these lightweight hikers come in. They’re lighter and more flexible than the best women’s hiking boots and low-ankle hiking shoes on this list but are a little more rugged and durable than trail runners. They generally have mesh uppers rather than heavy-duty leather with more flexibility for movement compared to the firmness of other hiking shoes.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

Go with a lightweight hiking shoe if:

  • You want something lightweight and flexible
  • You want something more durable than a trail running shoe
  • You don’t need or want ankle support

Here are the best lightweight hiking shoes for women.

Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes

A new addition to my gear closet, the Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes are quickly becoming my favorite for day hikes, camping trips, walks around the neighborhood, and everyday outings. They’re comfortable right out of the box and are lightweight and breathable. The sole is durable enough for the rockiest of trails with plenty of traction and the toe caps prevent stubbing. These also come in a waterproof version. For more on these, read my full review of the Oboz Arete.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 1 lb, 5.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $125
Oboz Arete Low // One of the best lightweight hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI


Arc’teryx Aerios FL Low GTX Hiking Shoes

The Arc’teryx Aerios FL Low GTX are a minimalist lightweight hiking shoe that will allow you to be nimble on the trail while still providing stability and protection. The soles are grippy and durable and the toe cap guards against stubbed toes.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 5.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $170
Arc'teryx Aerios FL Low GTX // One of the best lightweight hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI /


Salomon OUTline Low GTX Hiking Shoes

The Salomon OUTline Low GTX Hiking Shoes are another great lightweight option that’s flexible yet rugged. These hiking shoes allow you to be agile on the trail while still providing protection against stubbed toes and other trail obstacles.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 5 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $130
Salomon OUTline Low GTX // One of the best lightweight hiking shoes for women

Check Price: REI


The Best Trail Runners for Hiking

Some folks will make the argument that trail running shoes are just as good an option for hiking. Since they’re so lightweight, many thru-hikers, like those on the John Muir Trail & Pacific Crest Trail, choose to hike in trail runners. They aren’t for everyone though as some feel that they need more ankle support when carrying a heavy backpack. Also, trail runners won’t last as long as durable hiking boots or shoes so you’ll need to replace them more often when they wear out to protect your feet from injury.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

Trail runners are good if:

  • You’ll be hiking in very hot weather
  • You want very lightweight shoes
  • You want versatile shoes
  • You don’t mind having to replace them more often
  • You don’t mind not having as much ankle support and stability

Here are the best women’s trail runners for hiking.

Altra Lone Peak

We know more than a few thu-hikers who swear by the Altra Lone Peak trail runners as their go-to women’s hiking shoe. Altra is known for having a spacious toe box to provide plenty of room for your toes to move. They also have gaiter tabs to secure gaiters should you choose to use them to help keep dirt and debris out on the trail.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 1 lb, 1 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $120
Altra Lone Peak // One of the best women's trail running shoes for hiking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw / Road Runner Sports


Brooks Cascadia GTX Trail Running Shoes

The Brooks Cascadia GTX Trail Runners are another favorite of many a thru-hiker. And these are waterproof so if you get caught in the rain you’ll be able to keep your feet dry. These trail runners have gaiter tabs as well and the outsoles are designed to provide traction in both wet and dry conditions.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 4.6 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $160
Brooks Cascadia GTX // One of the best women's trail running shoes for hiking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Road Runner Sports


Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoes

Salomon’s trail runners are also known as a good option for hiking among the long-distance hiking crowd and the Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX Trail Running Shoes are no exception. They have the most rugged outsole of all the trail runners listed here, with a design that digs deep into mud and snow providing ultra non-slip traction. They’re also waterproof.

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 4.5 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $150
Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX // One of the best women's trail running shoes for hiking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry


How to Choose Hiking Boots

How to choose the best hiking boots (or shoes) depends largely upon what kind of hike you’ll be taking. The climate and terrain, length of the hike, how much you’re carrying, and what activities you’ll be doing are all factors in determining what sorts of hiking boots or shoes to buy.

To help you make the best decision here are a few basics to consider before you choose hiking boots.

Length & Terrain of the Hike

The length of your hike matters when it comes to footwear. So does the type of terrain you’ll encounter out there. A multi-day backpacking trip will require sturdier boots with better tread and ankle support than an easy to moderate trail on flat ground would need. We tend to wear high-top hiking boots on backpacking trips and low-top hiking shoes or lightweight hikers on day hikes.

Weather & Climate

The weather conditions and climate of the area will play a large factor in determining what kind of hiking boots or shoes to wear. If it’s cold and rainy or you’ll be trekking through streams and snow, waterproof boots are a must to not only keep your feet dry but also warm. Typically we recommend a Gortex-type boot or shoe for most mountain hiking. On the other hand, mesh paneling and ventilation is better for when you are hiking in a hot and humid climate – like Hawaii or Central America.

Activities You’ll Be Doing on Your Hike

Different types of boots and shoes are suitable for different types of activities. The high-top hiking boots listed above will have high ankle support and more rigid soles that don’t allow for as much flexibility to help you stay steady when carrying a heavy pack. Others, like low top hiking shoes, lightweight hikers, and trail running shoes will provide less ankle stability on rocky terrain but allow for more movement.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

Hiking Boot Sole

Every hiking boot has a sole — three of them to be exact: an insole, midsole, and outsole. Each of these three soles help to support your foot while walking, and you can find a variety of options depending on what activity you are doing.

The insole of a shoe is that soft and cushioned portion that you feel right beneath your foot when you slide your shoe on. It can be removed and replaced with one that better suits the shape of your foot, so, make sure you know how much arch support (if any) you need and what kind of insole supports your foot best. Collapsed arches or an arch that’s too high doesn’t help evenly distribute the weight while walking and can cause wear and tear on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. While you’re out on the trail for days at a time carrying a heavy pack, this is not a good problem to have, so make sure you do your research beforehand and even try on some different insoles in the store if you need more or less support.

The midsole is the second layer of cushion placed in between the insole and outsole to help absorb the shock of walking of hard and rocky surfaces. Most times the midsole is attached to a piece called the shank that provides extra sturdiness and is often made out of composite or steel. You won’t find this in very light and flexible trail shoes, but you will definitely find it in a hiking boot.

The outsole is the thick, rubbery outer portion on the very bottom of your shoe or boot. Most hiking boots have dense outsoles with treads (also called lugs) that make for good all-terrain footwear thanks to the traction and grip they provide on granular or slippery surfaces. You’ll want to have bigger treads for better traction – like Vibram, a patented form of treads that are found on a lot of brand name hiking boots. Hearty tread is important for multi-day backpacking adventures and trails with hard-to-walk on or slippery surfaces.

Break-In Period

A high-top hiking boot is generally constructed from heavier and sturdier materials than low top, lighter weight hiking shoes. Whether they are made of all leather or are a mix of leather, mesh, and suede, they are more durable, can withstand wear and tear, and are built to last longer. For this reason, the heartier the hiking boot the more time it will take to get broken in and mold to your foot.

You’ll want to break the most heavy-duty hiking boots in gradually and overtime to prevent painful blisters. If you’re breaking in all leather boots, start by taking short walks around the house, the block, and eventually on short hikes about a week or two before you wear them out on the trail to soften the material. If your boot has a mixed material construction, they will be more flexible to begin with and break-in should only require a couple of short walks. And nowadays, some hiking boots don’t have a break-in period at all and are comfortable out of the box.

However, you never want the first time you wear a hiking boot to be the first day of your multi-day backpacking trip. Even if the hiking boots or shoes you purchase don’t have a break-in period, it’s important to try them out beforehand so you can work out any kinks and make sure they’re comfortable before taking them out on a multi-day trip.

Get the scoop on the best women's hiking boots, lightweight hiking shoes, and trail runners and learn how to choose the best hiking boots for you.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

Having the right fit and feel is of course one of the biggest parts of how to choose the best hiking boot (or shoe) for your foot. There are a few key factors to be aware of when you are trying on hiking boot and shoes:

  • As a good rule of thumb, always try your shoe on at the end of the day when your foot is the largest and slightly swollen
  • If you wear insoles, make sure to bring them along when you try on boots in-store
  • Bring your favorite pair of hiking socks along to try on with the boots or shoes you’re shopping for
  • You should have enough space in the toe box to slightly wiggle your toes
  • You want the shoe snug enough that your heel won’t lift up when hiking up and downhill, but you also don’t want your foot to feel squeezed
  • You should be able to slide a finger inside of the shoe behind your heel to make sure you have enough space for your foot to move around and to account for swelling

Also, make sure you wear wool socks that are breathable and durable enough to protect your feet and keep you comfy. A pair like Darn Tough wool hiking socks (our favorite!) will do a great job of regulating the temperature if your feet get sweaty and cold on a hike.

Some hiking boots are narrower while some are more spacious. Some provide more arch support and some work well for flat feet. If it’s your first time buying hiking boots or shoes, we highly recommend trying a few on in-store and walking around in them a bit to see what feels most comfortable to you. Shopping for hiking boots online is easier if you have an idea of what type of hiking shoe you’re looking for and what brand fit works well for you.


What are your favorite hiking boots? Leave a comment below or join the discussion in our Bearfoot Theory Outdoor Adventurers Facebook Group.

There are 12 comments on this post.

About the author

Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

12 Comments on “The Best Women’s Hiking Boots of 2020

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  1. This is a lot of great information you’ve laid out here! Really appreciate the thorough post and recommendations.

    Thanks for pointing out that the boots must be mixed in materials because it will be more flexible. With that in mind, I will be checking the material to choose a good pair of boots for my boyfriend. It is just the gift that I wanted to give him because I heard him one time that he would love to style himself with such footwear.

    Hi, what is your oppinion on tje solomons woman x ultra 3 boot? We have a 6 day hik coming up and i am unsure! The other boots you spoke about is not in SA

      Hi Christy, personally I’m not a huge fan of Salomon only because my mom snapped her laces on her Salomon hiking shoes and we haven’t been able to get replacement laces that work with the shoes. My mom really loved them before they broke but I’m hesitant to try them since durability is a big deal to me while in the backcountry. They do have good reviews online though and I have friends that swear by Salomon.

    Great review, thanks for sharing your tips! Definitely will start looking at these for my next set of walking boots…

    Hi Ladies,
    Thank you so much for the information. It is challenging knowing the right/best boot to buy when your local stores do not carry a variety and therefore you rely on opinions or articles. We are planning a trip to Glacier/Banff/Jasper in early September. I’m looking for a second pair of hiking shoes to take along with my Merrel Siren Edge which performed well in the Utah National parks. We typically do easy-moderate trails up to 5 miles at any one time. I had been thinking about Brooks Cacsacdia 13 or now Keen Terradora low or mid. I don’t think I need mid or heavy hiking boots but welcome any opinions. I really want something that is lightweight (size 10.5). Thanks

      I loved my Brooks and still wear them regularly. Have you tried Altras at all? Keens were my first ever hiking books and I loved them. Keens traditionally have a bigger shoebox which is similar to Altras, I recommend giving them a try!

    Hello
    Thank you for article
    I have flat feet, narrow ankle wider foot foot
    I have tried all the ones on you mentioned
    The closest was the Oboz – they felt really hard underfoot and stiff. Do they soften with time?

    So much great info! It’s so hard to find hiking shoes I absolutely love.

    Thank-you for your advice on hiking shoes. We just do mild to moderate trails and comfort is very important. I think I will try to go in and try shoes on as you recommend.

    How often would you recommend replacing hiking boots? I bought my Keen Targhees in 2016 for a trip to Banff NP, and have used them since on trips to Shenandoah NP, various parts of New Mexico, and Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce NPs. I have not put a ton of miles on them since we only did day hikes on each trip, but between trips they’ve been unworn and stored in my mud room which can be damp, so I’m concerned about degradation of materials. They’re the most comfy shoes I’ve ever worn and have never bothered me, so I’m hesitant to replace unless necessary.

      Hi Kristen – it sounds like you’re spot on. If they’re in good condition and they’re still comfortable, there’s really no need to replace them. Once you notice that your comfort level is being affected, it’s time to replace them. This may become apparent if you notice new aches and pains or if they’re simply not as comfortable as they once were. In the event that you do decide to get a new pair of hiking boots, if your old boots are in good condition you can likely find a gear library or non-profit to donate them to. Happy hiking!

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