Choosing the best women’s hiking shoes for your trail expeditions is a matchmaking process. You should determine how often you plan on hiking, where you plan on hiking and how you are going to be hiking; whether that is high endurance running such as trail running, or just taking a leisurely hike. Even though there are many different types of hiking shoes, they all have features that provide durability, stability, comfort and some are even water resistant.
Things to Consider
Buying a hiking shoe takes a lot of thought because there are questions that you need to answer according to how you plan on hiking. Where do you plan on doing most of your hiking? What will the terrain be like? Will you be walking or running? Answering these questions can help determine what hiking shoe is best for you.
There are many different types of hiking shoes available that are designed to help with different types of hiking.
- Trail Running Shoes
These shoes are very versatile and are built to handle multiple types of terrain from dirt trails to granite, uneven or flat. Although they do not have the ankle support that most hiking shoes are equipped with, they do have durable soles with traction to help with slippery surfaces. These shoes are agile and are best for light hiking or backpacking.
- Medium Hiking Shoes
Medium hiking shoes is a hiking shoe that is made with the durability of a support hiking boot and the agility of a trail running shoe. They have rubberized toe caps to protect your feet and intricated traction designs to support you on any type of surface. These shoes are best for moderate backpacking, long distance lightweight hiking, and day hikes.
- Hiking Boots
The difference between medium hiking shoes and hiking boots is all in the support that is located above the ankle. Made with a durable construction these shoes provide you with stability, but they also are packed with layers of cushioning and comfort. Hiking boots are make best for hiking off trail or backpacking with heavier loads.
- Mountaineering Boots
This type of hiking boot is for the experienced and hardcore hikers that like to take their hikes to the high-altitude levels. Perfect for winter hiking they have full shanks covering the ankle and part of the calf as well as stiff soles to keep you stable and layers of insulation for hiking in cold climate conditions. Mountaineering boots are best for hiking on mountains or in winter conditions.
The key to know what type of hiking shoe you need is to know where and how you plan on hiking or where you plan on hiking. These answers can determine what hiking shoe to purchase for your expeditions.
Depending on your destination can determine what features you need to find in the best hiking shoes. Certain destinations can have climate conditions that require a certain feature to help protect your feet.
- Water resistance: if you plan on hiking some place that is always wet you need a hiking shoe that can keep your feet dry. Wet feet can cause blisters or discomfort and injuries.
- Tread on shoes: This feature can be found on the sole of the shoe, you would need this type of traction pattern if you plan on hiking off trail or on loose terrain.
- Insulated: When hiking in colder temperatures the biggest concern for people is that they will suffer from frost bite. To avoid this, you need to purchase a pair of hiking shoes that are well insulated and can keep your toes and feet cozy and warm.
Many people believe that because hiking shoes are durable and sturdy that they are also heavy. But with today’s new technologies found in hiking shoes it is easy to find a pair that are only a couple pounds but still provide the durability and comfort level you need to have a comfortable and durable pair of hiking shoes. A lighter shoe can have the same aspects as a heavier hiking shoe and can allow you to move faster on the trails.
Knowing what type of shoe you need for hiking is only the beginning when making this type of purchase. When looking for the best hiking shoes for women it is important to know all the aspects of a hiking shoe and where to look within the shoe for the best comfort and durability. Learning the anatomy of the hiking shoe is the best way to determine where to find the comfort, durability, and fit.
Anatomy of Hiking Shoes
- Lacing System: One of the most important features of the hiking shoe is the lacing system because it is how the shoe will fit correctly on your foot. When looking at the lacing system of a hiking boots you want to look at the eyelets or holes that appear on both sides of the tongue. These should be lined with metal grommets, rings, or hooks to provide the most durable positioning of the lacing system.
- Upper: This refers to all the material that is located above the rubber sole. More than likely you will want an upper that provides circulation to keep your feet cool and dry, but also consider water resistance if you are hiking in wet terrain. Depending on the material of the upper can determine if your hiking boots need a break in period; shooting for a mesh material can eliminate this break in process.
- Lining: the inside of the shoe is lined with a material that provides comfort and support. You want a lining that has antimicrobial technology to reduce odors and bacteria, but you also need one that can protect, comfort, and insulate your foot. You want the lining to conform to your foot comfortably, but not too tight that it causes circulation issues.
- Toe Box: The toe box needs to provide protection to absorb shock and keep your toes safe from any hard debris. But there also needs to be enough room in the toe box that you can wiggle your toes around.
- Tongue: The part that lies under the lacing system is called the tongue. To provide the best comfort you want a tongue that is padded, but also one that will keep any water or debris out of your shoes. A longer tongue is best for hiking shoes.
While reading descriptions on the anatomy of different hiking shoes may help you determine which shoe to purchase, the best way to find the best hiking shoe is to physically try one on in the store. Every shoe is made differently and every foot and gait varies. To ensure that you are purchasing the right shoe visit a local shoe store and try these shoes.
Best women’s hiking shoes
Read more: best hiking shoes for men
1. Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking
The Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine hiking shoe features breathable technology that keep your feet cool during, which reduces odor and bacteria. They are also waterproof which gives them more versatility for multiple climate conditions. With slip resistant lugs on the bottom they have a great traction for slippery surfaces. And if these features aren’t enough they come in multiple colors to suit anyone’s style.
- Lightweight 11.6 oz
- Waterproof mesh, leather, and suede upper
- Rubber toe protector
- A little pricey
2. KEEN Women’s Presidio Shoe
These waterproof shoes come in a variety of colors. With a supportive lacing system, these shoes fit snug to your feet without causing any complications. The cushioned foot bed and collar provide comfort for day hiking and light backpacking. Plus, the traction on this rubber sole give you the gripping support you need for hiking on uneven terrain.
- Rubberized traction lug soles
- Run a high size big
- Lacks arch support
3. Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator
The Merrell Moab Ventilator hiking shoes are one of the best on the market. They provide comfort, support, and durability, plus they do not need a break in time which is great for avid hikers. With patented Qform cushioning, these shoes are comfortable for an all-day hike and make your feet feel like they are walking on clouds. These shoes also get their name “Ventilator” because they have a constant natural air flow, or ventilation keeping your feet cool and dry.
- Breathability keeping your feet dry and cool
- Qform Cushioning for comfort
- Not waterproof/water resistant
4. Salomon Women’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Shoe
Salomon is a high quality outdoor shoe brand that continues to make hikers happy with new models, and the X Ultra Mid 2 GTX does not disappoint. These shoes are incredibly versatile and great for most hiking conditions. They have an intricate lug pattern on the sole to provide great traction as well as a waterproof lining and breathability. The support of this shoe can be found in the arch area as well as the ankle, allowing your foot to be protected.
- Ankle Support
- Sizing run big
- Not ideal for long hikes
5. Merrell Women’s Siren Sport 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe
The Merrell Siren Sport 2 hiking shoes are waterproof and provide flexibility as well as support. The firmness that can be felt in the sole will require a little bit of a break in period, but it is well worth it because these hiking shoes are great for day hikes. The arch support is great for people with both semi-moderate and low arches, but the insoles are removeable for people who have a higher arch. And surprisingly the traction on the bottom of these shoes worked well in most types of terrain, including; muddy conditions, pebbles, loose dirt, and granite surfaces.
- Antimicrobial and breathable lining
- Minimal padding
- Lining can cause blisters when wearing thin socks
6. Ahnu Women’s Montara II Hiking Shoe
The Ahnu Montara II hiking shoe is one of the most comfortable hiking shoes you can buy. With extra padding found in the collar and the heel these shoes prevent any blisters or hotspots, keeping your feet happy and your adventures fun. These shoes are designed to conform to your feet and require no break in period so you can hit the trails the moment you purchase them. Weighing light at only 1 pound 13 ounces, these shoes provide support in all the right areas and stabilization on uneven terrain. Even the terrain can withstand multiple types of terrain, including loose gravel, steep hills, or rocks.
- Water resistant
- Small Toe box
- Lacks ankle support
7. Danner Women’s Mountain Light Cascade Hiking Boot
Made from full grain leather, the Danner Mountain Light Cascade hiking boot are a top-notch hiking shoe perfect for long and high endurance hikes. Because they are made from leather there is a break in period required, but it is well worth it for these shoes to fit comfortably to the shape of your feet. The sole has great traction for most trail types and will keep your feet protected. And although the Danner Cascade hiking boots are a little pricey, they are well worth the investment.
- All around boot for hiking and backpacking
- Lacing system keeps shoes on feet as well as debris out
- Very Pricey
- Long break-in period required
8. Columbia Women’s Redmond Mid Waterproof Trail Shoe
Columbia Redmond Mid Waterproof Trail shoe is one of the easiest hiking shoes to break in. Because they are made with a techlight lightweight midsole these shoes have plenty of comfort and cushioning from the first day of wear to the last. The traction on these shoes work best for loose dirt and gravel, but do not perform as well on granite slabs. And since these shoes are so lightweight they do lack a little support in needed areas such as the ankle. But overall, these shoes would be best for day hikes.
- Wide toe box with plenty of wiggle room
- Quick break-in period
- Lacks support
- Not very durable
9. KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Boot
The upper part of the Keen Voyageur is made completely of mesh, making this shoe highly breathable and great for hiking in hot desert like climates. Although not incredibly light, weight 1.66 pounds these shoes are lighter than most hiking boots are still provide the comfort of a light weight hiking shoe. The toe cap on the front of this shoe provides durability and keeps your feet safe from debris or shock issues, and the multi directional lugs on the sole give traction on most dry terrains.
- Comfortable and durable toe box
- Not waterproof/water resistant
- Sole does not last long
10. Clorts Women’s Suede Hiking Shoe Waterproof Trail Shoe HKL831
The Corts suede hiking shoe is both waterproof and breathable. The insole has a sanitized actifresh technology that will allow your shoes to stay odor and bacteria free. The one-piece tongue and lacing system conforms the shoe comfortably to your foot and keeps any dirt, water, or gravel out. Plus, the anti-twist in the ankle collar and rubber outer sole eliminates your risk of injuries. These shoes run a little small, but provide all the comfortability and support needed in a hiking shoe.
- Superior cushioning
- Run small (order ½ size larger than normal)
Overall, choosing what type of hiking shoe depends on many personalized factors. If you are only into lightweight hiking, then choose a shoe designed for that. If you are an avid hiker that spends most their time on the trails, then shoot for a shoe that is versatile and comfortable.
The most versatile and best bang for your buck is the Salomon Women’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Shoe. These shoes are waterproof, offer great arch and ankle support, and a slip resistant traction. They are great for any type of hikes for most different terrains, and are worth the price paid for them. If you are looking for a hiking shoe that provides you with versatility then the Salomon Women’s X Ultra Mid 2 GTX are the best hiking shoes.