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Best Women’s Hiking Boots of 2023

Find the perfect pair of hiking boots for your feet with these tips and recommendations.

Looking for the best hiking boots for your feet? In this blog post, we compare different styles of hiking shoes and what to consider before buying, including trail conditions, distance & more. We also include a list of the best women's hiking boots based on what we are currently wearing on the trail.

With hundreds of hiking boot 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. To help you find your sole-mate (sorry, we had to!), here are our favorite 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 shoes plus advice on how to choose the right ones for you.

Note: Bearfoot Theory is an ambassador for Oboz Footwear, so you’ll notice several pairs of Oboz hiking boots on this list. We are huge fans of the brand and have tested out a variety of Oboz models over the years, but we’ve also included some other hiking boot brands for women who Oboz isn’t a good fit for.

Best Women’s Hiking Boots at a Glance

Please note that many retailers are currently experiencing delays in shipments and product availability may fluctuate. If an item appears out of stock, keep checking back to see when a new shipment arrives.

Women’s Hiking Boots Comparison Table

See the comparison table below for a quick summary of each of the best women’s hiking boots. You can click on the columns to sort by what’s most important to you.

https://bit.ly/31HgyCTOboz SypesMid-ankle27.6 ozYes$165
https://bit.ly/30HHCTdOboz Bridger Over-the-ankle32.4 ozYes$180
https://bit.ly/3gqTNL5Zamberlan Vioz LuxOver-the-ankle55.5 ozYes$350
https://bit.ly/3tI1WPULa Sportiva Nucleo High II GTXOver-the-ankle25 ozYes$209
https://bit.ly/3ejoOh8Merrell Moab 2Mid-ankle32 ozYes$135
https://bit.ly/3rBOb7mKeen Targhee IIILow-ankle25.2 ozYes$165
https://bit.ly/3MLuvFyOboz Sawtooth XLow-ankle28.2 ozYes$150
https://bit.ly/3d2EqFvSalomon OUTline GTXLow-ankle21 ozYes$130
https://bit.ly/3d527xYAltra Lone PeakLow ankle17.4 ozNo$140
https://bit.ly/3n86TPWMerrell MQM Flex 2Mid-ankle23 ozYes$160
https://bit.ly/3JiXqz1Brooks Cascadia GTXLow ankle18.8 ozYes$160

Best High Ankle Hiking Boots for Women

If you’re looking for a pair of sturdy hiking boots that are suitable for all kinds of terrain and provide maximum support, then high top hiking boots that fit over the ankle are a good choice.

This style will provide the most stability and the most ankle support on the trail. High top hiking boots also tend to be more durable and rigid than a low hiking shoe or a trail runner.

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
Photo of women's legs and high-ankle hiking boots standing on rock overlooking alpine lake with snow-covered peaks in the background
High-ankle hiking boots provide the most stability and support and are a great choice for backpacking trips and long hikes through variable terrain (Photo: Wearing the Oboz Bridger B-Dry Hiking Boot)

Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Best High-Ankle Hiking Boot

Key Features

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 2 lbs, 0.4 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $180

Check Price: REI / Backcountry

Grey Oboz Bridger mid ankle hiking boot

Great For: Rocky Trails, Backpacking Trips, Hearty Day Hikes, Wet Climates

Pros: Supportive insole, excellent traction, very waterproof, ankle support, heel pocket that hugs, quick break in period, come in normal and wide options

Cons: Run slightly small

I have had a lot of foot issues in the past and I absolutely love Oboz women’s hiking boots because they don’t cause pain or discomfort on the trail. The Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots are my go-to for any adventure that requires something super sturdy and supportive.

I’ve worn these on a 10-day backpacking trip in Alaska and a 4-day backpacking trip in Olympic National Park. On both these trips we encountered non-stop rain, but my feet stayed completely dry, warm, and blister free. I’ve also worn them on a 5-day backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park where the terrain was very steep and rocky, and I carried a relatively heavy pack. I found them to have a sturdy sole, supportive insole, and great ankle support for a heavy load. The top hits about 1 inch above my ankle bone. They are moderately stiff which helps on uneven trails while still being comfortable.

I have relatively flat, narrow feet and these fit me perfectly. I really love how they back of the boot cups my heel so it doesn’t move on the up and downhill sections. If you have wider feet, they also come in a wide option. I suggest sizing up a 1/2 size to give your toes a little extra room in the toe box.

Additionally, Oboz plants a tree for every pair of shoes sold, which we love!

Kristen hiking on trail wearing backpacking pack and holding hiking poles in remote area of California's Sierra Nevada mountains
Wearing the Oboz Bridger B-Dry Hiking Boot on a backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

Best Lightweight Hiking Boot

Key Features

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 9 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $209

Check Price: REI / Backcountry

Leather La Sportiva high ankle hiking boot for women

Great For: Lightweight Backpacking Trips, Hearty Day Hikes

Pros: Lightweight yet supportive, comfortable right out of the box, grippy sole

Cons: Lack of cushion around ankle bones, low quality laces

Before I switched to Oboz I had the previous version of these boots.The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots are an award-winning hiking boot for their comfort, durability, and support. These boots are on the lighter-weight side for a high-ankle hiking boot, making them a great option if you want stability without the weight. I found them to comfortable right out of the box with no break-in period. These are waterproof and offer excellent traction thanks to the Vibram sole.

The two issues I had with these boots is that my (very skinny) heel slipped out the heel pocket on the inclines. Second, the rim of the boot doesn’t have much cushioning, and it dug into my ankle when I flexed. With the new model, people also complain about the shoe laces being poor quality.

Kristen sitting on rock ledge in Utah taking a photo out over canyon
Wearing the La Sportiva Nucleo High I GTX Hiking Boots while hiking on slick rock in Moab

Zamberlan Vioz Lux GTX RR Hiking Boots

Best Heavy Duty Hiking Boot

Key Features

  • Height: Over-the-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 3 lbs 7.5 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $350

Check price: REI / Backcountry

Heavy duty leather Zamberlan hiking boot

Great For: Big Backpacking Trips, Extra Rocky Terrain, Off Trail Traversing, Wet Climates

Pros: Handcrafted, comfortable right out of the box, supportive in all kinds of terrain

Cons: Very expensive, heavy

The Zamberlan Vioz Lux GTX RR Hiking Boots are the most pricey boot on this list, but they are very well made and will last a long time. They feature a waterproof leather upper and provide excellent support around the ankles for long backpacking trips. The Vibram soles are grippy and will give you confidence on a wide variety of terrain.

If you’re looking for a 4-season hiking and backpacking boot that is comfortable, durable, stylish, and will last you many seasons, these are a great option.

Best Mid-Ankle Hiking Boots for Women

Mid-ankle hiking boots still provide great ankle support but aren’t quite as high and offer a bit more flexibility and nimbleness on the trail. They’re a great choice for hikers doing both longer day hikes and overnight trips with a heavy pack.

Go with a mid-ankle hiking boot if:

  • You need ankle support, but also want a lighter and more flexible hiking boot
  • You want to move quickly through rugged terrain
  • You will be doing longer day hikes or multi-day hikes with a backpacking pack
Kristen wearing mid-ankle Oboz Sypes hiking boots on rocky trail in Montana. Pine trees and mountain ranges in the background.
A mid-ankle hiking boot is great for longer day-hikes as well as overnight backpacking adventures (Photo: Wearing the Oboz Sypes)

Oboz Sypes Mid Hiking Boots

Bearfoot Theory Team Favorite

Key Features

  • Height: Mid-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lbs, 11.6 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $165

Check Price: REI

Tan colored Oboz Sypes mid ankle hiking boot

Great for: All but the rockiest of terrain, hearty and light day hikes, backpacking trips, wet climates

Pros: Made with recycled and eco-friendly materials, comfy right out of the box, lightweight and flexible, comes in a wide version

Cons: Not as durable as the Oboz Bridger Mid boots

Offering the same supportive insole as the Oboz Bridger Mid boots above, the Oboz Sypes Mid hiking boots are a much lighter and more flexible hiking boot than the Bridger. These are currently my favorite boot for everyday hikes and best of all, they’re comfortable right out of the box with no break-in needed.

Despite being a bit softer than some of the beefier hiking boots on this list, the Sypes provide superior grip, great ankle support without being too stiff, and the heel cups keep your foot in place. The boot literally fits my foot like a glove. There is no weird rubbing or hot spots, and my toes don’t jam into the front of the boot when I’m hiking downhill. I’m also able to pull the laces tight enough so my ankle feels really secure.

This model is the first in Oboz’s lineup to incorporate sustainable materials. Just like all of their shoes, Oboz also plants a tree for every pair sold.

My only complaint about the Sypes is the material on the toe area scuffs pretty easily, so they didn’t stay looking new for very long. While these come in some fun colors (I have the Slate), I’d probably get the Peppercorn next time. The darker Slate ends up looking pretty dusty after a day out on the trail.

Kristen sitting on rock pile wearing Oboz Sypes hiking shoes at summit of hike holding puppy with backpack beside her
Wearing the Oboz Sypes Hiking boots (Color: Slate) on top of Handie’s Peak, a famous Colorado 14er

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots

Best Budget Hiking Boot:

Key Features

  • Height: Mid-ankle
  • Waterproof: Waterproof and Non-waterproof available
  • Weight: 2 lbs (pair)
  • MSRP: $135

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

Merrell Moab 2 mid hiking boot

Great for: everyday hiking, drier climates, well-packed trails, people with high arches

Pros: come in a wide version, no break-in period required, budget-friendly

Cons: not as waterproof as other boots on this list

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots are a great budget-friendly option and are a very popular choice among women hikers. They come in both normal and wide versions, making them a great choice for women who have wider feet. These boots come to mid-ankle, so they still provide decent ankle support. The toe box on the normal width is a bit narrow, so consider sizing up a half size.

Some reviewers complain that these boots leak when wet even though they are advertised as waterproof. These also come in a non-waterproof version. Not sure if you need a waterproof boot? Check out our post on Waterproof vs Non-Waterproof boots.

Merrell MQM Flex 2 Mid GORE-TEX

Vegan Hiking Boot Option

Great for: Day hiking, drier climates, going quick, vegans

Key Features

  • Height: Mid-ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $160

Check price: REI

Black and green Merrell MQM Flex 2 hiking shoe

Pros: vegan-friendly, lightweight, come in fun colors

Cons: not as waterproof as other boots on this list, stiff at first and requires some break-in time, not a ton of arch support

The Merrell MQM Flex 2 Mid is the perfect lightweight shoe for anyone looking for a vegan-friendly hiking boot. This boot combines all the best features of a trail runner and a hiker into one and offers mid-ankle support.

BFT’s content coordinator, Courtney, tested these boots on day hikes and backpacking trips throughout California, Washington, and Arizona and found that they were great for hiking in rocky, uneven terrain due to the grip of the mountain-grade rubber outsoles, and the mid-ankle height provided enough support to feel secure while still allowing for a full range of motion. However, the MQM Flex 2 didn’t hold up as well in wet conditions. On a rainy hike in Olympic National Park, water seeped in through the shoelace eyelets and she ended up with wet socks.

These boots are a little stiff at first so give them some time to break in. Courtney has a high arch, and after a few trial runs in these boots, she ended up adding insoles to provide more arch support. These are her go-to hiking boots for dry climates and rocky terrain, but she’d leave these at home for rainy, wet hikes. You can find the low-ankle version of this boot here.

Best Low Top Hiking Boots for Women

Low top hiking boots tend to be lighter and more flexible than both high-ankle and mid-ankle hiking boots. However, they don’t provide the same ankle support. Low hiking shoe options tend to be a good choice for day hikes and well-worn trails when you aren’t carrying a heavy load or tackling lots of rocks and roots. Experienced female hikers might also choose these on rocky trails so they can be lighter and quicker on their toes.

Go with a low 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
Close-up photo of woman wearing low-top Oboz hiking boots standing on rock ledge with mountain ranges in background
Low-cut hiking boots are a great choice when you want a shoe that is light and fast for day-hikes on well-worn trails (Photo: Wearing an older model of the Oboz Sawtooth X Low Hiking Boots)

Oboz Sawtooth X Low Hiking Shoes

Best Low Top Hiking Shoe

Key Features

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Waterproof and Non-waterproof available
  • Weight: 1 lb, 12.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $150

Check Price: REI

Oboz Sawtooth X

Great for: All-day hiking terrain, easy backpacking trips, wet climates

Pros: lightweight yet sturdy, come in regular and wide options, Oboz plants a tree for every pair sold

The Oboz Sawtooth’s have been my low top hiking shoe of choice for years and the new X model (released in 2022) has improved traction and durability for rainy days. They are sturdy and waterproof with a grippy bottom that gives you plenty of traction for hikes in all types of conditions and trails. Another cool feature of these shoes is that they have an asymmetric collar around the ankle to accommodate unique ankle bone positions, which I find helps prevent chafing and rubbing. I’ve hiked steep Colorado 14ers, backpacked the Trans-Catalina Trail, and done a ton of easier day hikes in these. I also like wearing these around camp on chillier nights. I honestly don’t have any negative to say about the Sawtooths.

Cons: None that we’ve found so far

Kristen hiking on rocky trail in Colorado with tall mountain ranges in the background
On the summit fo Greys Peak, a Colorado 14er, wearing an older model of the Oboz Sawtooth X Low Hiking Boots

Keen Targhee III

Best Hiking Shoe for Wider Feet

Key Features

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb 9.2 oz
  • MSRP: $164.95

Check price: REI / Backcountry

Keen Targhee III Hiking boot for women

Great for: Women with wider feet, day hiking in hot or wet climates

Pros: wide toe box, durable and built to last, thick toe guard

Cons: The insole is a little stiff

Keen’s are a popular choice for women who need a wider toe box. Their low-cut Targhee III hiking boot has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It has a loyal following that is due to its durability, comfort, and ability to tackle all types of terrain.

The flexible upper is breathable while still being waterproof and the Targhee III features Keen’s iconic rubber toe protection to keep your feet protected on even the roughest of trails.

These women’s hiking boots have great arch support but may feel a little stiff right out of the box. After a few break-in hikes, they should be comfortable.

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.

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
Photo showing legs of woman hiking down steep rock slab wearing lightweight hiking shoes and setting sun in background
Lightweight hiking shoes offer more flexibility and nimbleness on the trail but lack good ankle support

Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoe

Key Features

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Waterproof and Non-waterproof available
  • Weight: 1 lb, 1.6 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $125

Check Price: REI / Backcountry

Oboz Arete lightweight hiking shoe

Great for: vegans, everyday wear, light day hikes, camping trips, van life, neighborhood walks

Pros: Lightweight and verstaile, flexible, roomy toe box, came in a waterproof and non-waterproof version, fast on a variety of terrain

Cons: Less support than more sturdy hiking boots

The Oboz Arete Low Hiking Shoes have become my favorite lightweight hiking shoes for day hikes, camping trips, walks around the neighborhood, and everyday outings. They come everywhere with me. They’re comfortable right out of the box and are lightweight and breathable.

For how light they are, I’ve been surprised by their durability. I’ve owned the same pair for two years and worn them hundreds of days, and the sole is just starting to wear. When hiking, I’ve found the sole to be durable enough for rocky trails with plenty of traction. I have the non-waterproof version, which is great for warm desert hikes. If you hike is wetter climates, these also come in a waterproof version. These are a great choice for vegans as they aren’t made with any products that come from animals. For more on these, read my full review of the Oboz Arete.

Low shot of hikers legs and feet wearing Oboz Arete hiking shoe
Hiking in foothills of Salt Lake in my Oboz Arete Hiking Shoes

Salomon OUTline Low GTX Hiking Shoes

Best Trail Runner for More Rugged Terrain

Key features

  • Height: Ankle
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lb, 5 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $130

Check Price: REI / Backcountry

Grey Salomon OUTline Low GTX hiking shoe

Great for: everyday wear, quick and light hiking, narrow feet

Pros: protective toe guard, large lugs on the sole allows for great traction, comfortable right out of the box

Cons: may not work for women with wide feet, not as waterproof as other boots on this list

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, stream crossings, and other trail obstacles. These are on the narrow end of the spectrum, and we recommend that you size up a half size in these.

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.

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 need ankle support
Woman hiker wearing pink jacket and purple shorts lying on back behind sign made of wood and sticks reading '2000'. This marks mile 2,000 of her Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike.
Our former Bearfoot Theory Community Manager, Kim Vawter, wore Altra Lone Peak trail runners on her thru-hike of the PCT

Altra Lone Peak 6

Best Trail Runners for Hiking

Key Features

  • Height: Low Ankle
  • Waterproof: No
  • Weight: 1 lb, 1.4 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $140

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

Bland and green Altra Lone Peak trail running shoe

Great for: Light and fast hikers, day hiking, experienced thru-hikers

Pros: ultra light, they can attach to gaiters, wide toe box, come in regular and wide options

Cons: no waterproof version

We know more than a few thru-hikers who swear by the Altra Lone Peak trail runners as their go-to women’s hiking shoe. Altra is known for having a wide 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. These are “zero-drop” which means your foot and heel are the same distance above the ground. This keeps your foot in its natural position.

Brooks Cascadia GTX Trail Running Shoes

Best Shoe for Long-Distance Thru-Hikes

Key Features

  • Height: Low Ankle
  • Waterproof: Waterproof and Non-waterproof available
  • Weight: 1 lb, 2.8 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $160

Check Price: REI

Pink and black Brooks Cascadie GTX Trail running shoe

Great for: everyday wear, trail running, smooth trails

Pros: Gaiter tab on heel, waterproof and non-waterproof options, vegan friendly

Cons: May not work for narrower feet

The Brooks Cascadia GTX Trail Runners are another favorite of many a thru-hiker and are more traditional (not zero drop). 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. They come in a non-waterproof style if you don’t need the extra protection.

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. I 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 are better for when you are hiking in hot and humid climates like in the desert, 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 in order 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.

Kristen on hiking trail on Catalina Island off the coast of California with ocean in background. She's wearing a sun hat and has hiking poles.
When choosing the best hiking boots for you, think about what kind of environment and terrain you’ll be hiking in the most

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 on 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. A 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 to prevent painful blisters as they can be a little stiff at first. 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.

Kristen hiking up steep stone steps carrying backpack. Two other hikers with large backpacks hiking beside her.

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 women’s hiking shoes or boots for your foot. There are a few key factors to be aware of when you are trying on hiking boots 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.

Have you found the best women’s hiking boots? Which ones are your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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.

  3. 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

    1. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. Right now my favorite boots are the Lowa Lady Light boots. I’ve had numerous foot surgeries, and currently have a ruptured tendon in my right foot, that my orthopedic doctor and me have decided not to repair (apparently where it’s located, surgery could make it worse). The tendon used to ache horribly by the end of a hike, and for days afterwards. With the Lowa boots, it hasn’t bothered me at all.

    1. We’re so glad to hear that you’ve found comfortable hiking boots that work for you! Lowa makes great hiking boots.

  8. Any comments on hiking a class 1-2 Colorado 14er in approach shoes? I have a nicely broken in pair of La Sportiva TX3s that I wear on my climbing trips and local easy hikes. I am hoping these are appropriate for a 14er too and I don’t have to buy a new pair of shoes just for the 14er (only because I am not sure how often I will get to do one or something similar). Thanks!

    1. Hi Crystal! It really depends on the details of the 14er hike you have in mind, and I’m not sure how comfortable approach shoes would be for a longer more challenging hike. You might be more comfortable in something with good tread and more ankle support. If you don’t see yourself using a new pair of hiking shoes or boots for any other hikes, then maybe give your approach shoes a try on a shorter, easier 14er hike and see how it goes.

  9. My Achilles’ tendon starts hurting after about a mile or two. It never bothers me when I walk in my Brooks or Hoka. Any recommendation of a mid boot that I can use for hiking and snowshoeing?

    1. I wear Hoka mid gore for hiking and they are very comfortable! I’ve had reconstructive surgery on my left foot and the Hoka have great support and cushion.

  10. So much great info! So we’re trying to hike the Kalalua trail in Hawaii in March. Warm humid environment but with lots of streams crossing. We’ll be backpacking in for an overnight stay. Should I go heavy duty waterproof? Or lighter mesh?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Amy! Kristen recommends the lightweight and breathable Astral shoe in her Hawaii Packing Guide post-https://bearfoottheory.com/hawaii-packing-list-hikers-outdoor-enthusiasts/. It sounds like it would be great for the Kalalua Trail!

  11. Hi there! Do you have any experience or feedback on Timberlands? I wore a friends pair for some hikes in Mob and really liked them so I’m looking at getting my own pair, but am not seeing much for reviews on them. Thanks!

  12. I use Vasque high top with a full shank. Having injured my feet early in life the full shank provided excellent support. They are a bit heavier than most however the ones I purchased have sewn on soles – no gluing… my first pair lasted over 8 yrs and too many miles to count. I always clean and brush away debris. I believe many would benefit from the discussion of full and half shanks as well as sewn on soles for durability. The soles are Vibram which has been reliable as well.