The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (2024)

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For adventurous women exploring the great outdoors, selecting the best hiking boots is a crucial decision. According to avid hiker and guidebook author Erin Gifford of GoHikeVirginia.com, the ultimate factor is finding the right fit. “Protecting your ankles, providing proper support, and preventing pesky blisters is paramount, as one wrong step on a tangled tree root can be perilous,” she says.

Weight, durability, and traction are also vital when shopping for hiking boots, as well as breathability, which Gifford believes is a game changer. “Like hiking clothes that help you stay cool and dry, breathability is just as important in hiking boots to keep your feet comfortable,” says Gifford.

Our best overall choice for women’s hiking boots, KEEN Women’s Targhee 2 Mid-Height Waterproof Hiking Boots, ticks all those boxes. These boots are comfortable, lightweight, waterproof, durable, and reasonably priced. We’ve rounded up our top picks for women’s best hiking boots in six categories.

(See our picks for what to wear hiking, from clothing to gear.)

Our picks for the best women’s hiking boots

Best overall: KEEN Women's Targhee 2 Mid-Height Waterproof Hiking Boots
Best waterproof hiking boots for women:Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot
Best lightweight hiking boots for women:The North Face’s Hedgehog 3 Mid Waterproof Boots
Best hiking boots for women with wide feet: Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
Best backpacking boots for women:La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots - Women's
Best affordable hiking boots for women:BEARPAW Women's Corsica

Good hiking boots for women

Best overall: KEEN Women's Targhee 2 Mid-Height Waterproof Hiking Boots

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (1)

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Why we like it: KEEN Women's Targhee 2 Mid Height Waterproof hiking boots receive high marks from consumers. Their moisture-wicking lining and sturdy yet lightweight design, including a roomy toe box, make them both durable and comfortable.

The boots feature a breathable mesh panel to keep feet cool and dry, and a contoured heel lock for a secure fit. They’re also equipped with a robust rubber toe cap for added protection and a rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs for superior traction, which is ideal for tackling muddy and rocky terrain.

Keep in mind: The boots' modest ankle height may leave them vulnerable to moisture infiltration in deep waters or heavy downpours.

Product details: Weight:1.78 lbs | Waterproof: Yes | Materials: Mesh, rubber outsole, ethylene vinyl acetate midsole | Heel height: 2.44 in | Outsole: Rubber | Wide-width sizes available: No

Best waterproof hiking boots for women: Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot

Buy it now atZappos

Why we like it:The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus is a very versatile boot that can be worn for everyday hikes or everyday errands. Its lightweight construction and robust waterproofing also make it reliable in a variety of weather conditions.

Crafted from a single piece of leather, this boot is designed with minimal seams and reinforced toe and heel barriers for added durability. The lacing hooks extend up the ankle, ensuring a snug and secure fit for those carrying heavy packs or prone to ankle twists.

Keep in mind:The traditional all-leather design of this boot can be relatively stiff, requiring a “breaking in” period.

Product details:Weight:1.75 lbs | Waterproof:Yes | Materials:Leather, suede, mesh, rubber outsole, Techlite midsole | Heel height: 1.5 in | Wide-width sizes:Yes

Best lightweight hiking boots for women: The North Face Hedgehog 3 Mid Waterproof Boots

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (3)

Buy it now atZappos

Why we like it: The North Face's Hedgehog 3 Mid Waterproof Boots have a sleek design reminiscent of a trail running shoe. The padding in the heel makes them comfortable for hiking and occasional running. They're best for fast hikes without putting a lot of extra weight on your back.

The boots have impressive traction, and their flexible inner rubber ensures a firm grip on slick surfaces. The boots' high ankle opening has ample coverage for crossing streams or trudging through soggy brush.

Keep in mind:The Hedgehog runs a bit narrow, so consider that if you have wider feet. Unfortunately, this shoe does not come in wide sizes.

Product details: Weight:1.19 lbs | Waterproof:Yes | Materials:Leather, faux leather, mesh, rubber outsole, ethylene vinyl acetate midsole | Heel height:8 mm heel/toe offset |Wide-width sizes:No

Best hiking boots for women with wide feet: Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (4)

Buy it now atZappos

Why we like it:The design of the Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot fits a wide range of foot shapes. With its combination of leather and mesh, the boot provides sufficient breathability, as well as improved Vibram traction and well-padded ankle support.

The extra room in the toe box makes these boots a great choice for those with wider feet, and Merrell sells a wide version for those seeking even more room. The boot contains the Merrell Air Cushion, a feature that absorbs shock when encountering debris on the trail.

Keep in mind: While the boot is well-padded at the ankles, some customers note that the boot could use additional cushioning in the Achilles area, which is vulnerable during lengthier hikes.

Product details: Weight: 2.06 lbs | Waterproof: Yes | Materials:Leather, mesh, rubber outsole | Heel height: 2 in | Wide-width sizes:Yes

Best backpacking boots for women: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots - Women's

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (5)

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Why we like it: La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boot is a fantastic all-season hiking boot, ideal for extended backpacking trips. Its Vibram Nano XS-Trek sole and impact brake system provide excellent traction and grip.

The Gore-tex Surround membrane protects feet from wetness while allowing them to breathe and release excess moisture. In addition, the combination of compression EVA-molded midsoles and the Ortholite 4mm insoles provides exceptional support and padding in the heel and forefoot.

Keep in mind: Customers have noted that the laces could be more durable and easier to replace. The boot is also on the heavier side, expensive, and can take a long time to dry compared to other models.

Product details: Weight:2.14 lbs | Waterproof:Yes | Materials:Leather, rubber outsole, ethylene vinyl acetate | Heel height:1.6 in | Wide-width sizes: Yes

Best affordable hiking boots for women: BEARPAW Women's Corsica

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (6)

Buy it now onAmazon

Why we like it: BEARPAW Women's Corsica hiking boots offer great value. They're also waterproof and treated with BearCoat Rain & Stain Repellent for added protection. Customers note that the boots feel very supportive, lightweight, and comfortable right out of the box.

Keep in mind: Shoe sizes run small, so it’s best to order a half-size to a size up. Traction could also be better.

Product details:Weight: 3.375 lbs | Waterproof:Yes | Materials: Suede, nylon, faux leather, rubber outsole, ethylene vinyl acetate midsole | Heel height:1.5 in | Wide-width sizes: Yes

How we chose the best hiking boots for women

The following factors informed the selection process for the best hiking boots for women.

  • Third-party reviews: I turned to third-party reviews, seeking authentic and unbiased opinions from women and product testers who hiked in various settings. Their insights provided a wealth of information beyond the manufacturer's description.
  • Brand reputation: Established brands often have a track record for quality, which can be a proxy for a product’s expected performance. A reputable brand typically sells higher-quality products and has better customer service.
  • Weight:The ideal boot balances being lightweight, minimizing fatigue, and providing enough substance to safeguard and support the foot.
  • Material: The materials used in boot construction affect waterproofing, breathability, and durability.

(Read why outdoor adventure is important for women—especially as they age.)

Tips for buying women’s hiking boots

Comfort

Comfort is paramount as it can determine the overall hiking experience. Ill-fitting boots may cause blisters or discomfort, leading to a less enjoyable hike or injury. Women should look for a boot with ample room in the toe box, a snug fit around the heel, and adequate arch support to prevent discomfort over long distances.

Support

When selecting a hiking boot, supporting the ankles and the sole are key considerations. The boot should include sturdy ankle protection to reduce the risk of sprains, which is particularly important when carrying a heavy backpack or traversing uneven terrain.

Traction

Consider a boot’s outsole’s pattern and material. Deep, multi-directional lugs made of a sticky rubber compound provide the best traction on different surfaces and also aid in stability.

Water resistance

Water-resistant hiking boots keep feet dry and prevent conditions such as trench foot, which can occur when feet are wet for extended periods. While Gifford doesn't believe any boots can be entirely waterproof, she contends that breathability is critical, stating, "If I do end up crossing any streams when I hike, I want my hiking boots to be able to dry quickly with airflow through my boots.”

Weight

While heavier boots may provide more support and durability and are suitable for more challenging terrains, lightweight boots can offer ease of movement, less fatigue, and more hiking enjoyment.

Durability

Durability is essential because it ensures that the boots can withstand the rigors of the trail. Consider boots made with leather for maximum durability and weather resistance, though they may require longer break-in time and can be heavier. Synthetic materials, however, are lighter and often more breathable but may offer a different level of protection or longevity than leather.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots?

Hiking shoes, often resembling reinforced running shoes, are generally lighter and more pliable than hiking boots. They typically have a low-cut design that does not cover the ankle. In contrast, hiking boots have a higher cut that typically extends above the ankle. The construction of hiking boots is generally more robust than hiking shoes, often incorporating more durable materials for waterproofing and resistance to abrasion.

Do you size up or down for hiking boots?

While everyday shoes are often selected for a perfect fit, hiking boots must provide additional support and moisture-wicking properties. One key reason is that feet swell during prolonged walking, especially in warm conditions or on long hikes.

Usually, it's advisable to consider boots that are half a size to a full size larger than one's average shoe size. However, this isn't a universal rule, as the shape of the boot, the volume of one's foot, personal preference for tightness, and the specific brand's sizing can all influence the best fit.

Is it better to have loose or tight hiking boots?

The best fit for hiking boots is neither tight nor loose but snug enough to provide support while leaving room for natural foot expansion and movement. A boot that is too tight can cause blisters, restrict circulation, or lead to numbness, while boots that are too loose can result in inadequate support, leading to rolled ankles and insufficient grip.

A well-fitting boot should have enough room to wiggle the toes while holding the heel firmly in place. The laces should provide adjustable tension to accommodate foot swelling, typically during longer hikes. Before purchasing, Gifford recommends trying boots on with hiking socks to make sure they hug your feet and allow you to wiggle your toes.

Taryn White is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics for publications including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, and more. Follow her on Instagram.

*Although we are sharing our personal opinions of these experiences or products with you, National Geographic is not endorsing these experiences or products on behalf of anyone. It has not performed product safety testing on any of these products, did not manufacture them, and is not selling, or distributing them and is not making any representations about the safety or caliber of these products or experiences for individual consumers. Prices and availability are subject to change from the date of publication.

The best hiking boots for women in 2024 (2024)

FAQs

The best hiking boots for women in 2024? ›

What is the difference between trekking shoes and hiking boots? Trekking shoes meet tougher requirements for hiking. Trekking boots are more robust and stronger, but also heavier. Those who do not hike for several days or weeks in the wilderness are better served with a classic hiking shoe.

What shoes do women wear for hiking? ›

Our Team's Women's Hiking Shoe Picks
  • Best Overall Hiking Shoe: Merrell Moab Speed 2.
  • Best Lightweight/Cushioned Hiking Shoe: Hoka Speedgoat 5.
  • Best Budget Hiking Shoe: Merrell Moab 3.
  • Best Supportive Shoe for Backpacking: La Sportiva Spire GTX.
  • Best Hiking Shoe for Off-Trail Scrambling: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II.
May 8, 2024

What is the difference between hiking boots and trekking boots? ›

What is the difference between trekking shoes and hiking boots? Trekking shoes meet tougher requirements for hiking. Trekking boots are more robust and stronger, but also heavier. Those who do not hike for several days or weeks in the wilderness are better served with a classic hiking shoe.

How many miles before replacing hiking boots? ›

Generally speaking, the average shelf life of a quality hiking boot ranges from 600 to 1,000 miles (for heavier mountaineering models). In other terms, if the average hiker scales roughly 8 miles a day, her boots will last her a little over 4 months, provided the trail and terrain remain the same.

What are the best arch support hiking boots? ›

Keen's Targhee III Mid Hiking Boots are our top recommendation, thanks to their exceptional arch support and cushioning that help keep plantar fasciitis at bay. During test hikes, we were impressed by the boots' rugged, durable design.

Are Hoka good for hiking? ›

I've been hiking, street-walking and jogging in Hokas most of this spring, and I agree that they provide all of the above benefits. Despite their larger footprint (some folks compare them to wearing clown shoes), they only weigh a slight bit more than standard runners.

Should hiking shoes be light or heavy? ›

My rule is to go as lightweight as I can get away with, but without sacrificing comfort and jeopardizing sufficient foot and ankle support. For groomed or maintained trails, a lightweight, low-cut, breathable pair of running shoes are the winners.

Is it OK to wear hiking boots for walking? ›

Hiking shoes can be quite versatile. While they are primarily designed for hiking, they can also be used for other outdoor activities like walking, trekking, or light trail running.

Is it better to have loose or tight hiking boots? ›

Your boot or shoe should feel comfortably snug and supportive, but not tight. Be sure there's enough room in the toe box for you to wiggle your toes, but not so much that your foot slides or shifts around. Adjust the lacing to get just the right snugness—numb or tingly feet can mean your laces are too tight.

Are hiking boots good for everyday use? ›

Can hiking boots be worn casually? Hiking boots have many properties that make them a great choice for everyday wear. They are comfortable with many options offering excellent ankle support; many styles have waterproof technology to keep your feet dry all year round.

How do I know if my hiking boots are good? ›

The best hiking boots will fit your feet perfectly, holding your foot securely without constriction or hot spots. Also consider the flex of the boots, breathability, outsole tread, and weight. For great support in your hiking boots or shoes, we recommend Pace insoles.

Should my toes touch the end of my hiking boots? ›

While the boots are laced, stand up, and wiggle your toes. If your big toe is close to the front, but not touching, you should be fine. However, if your toe is at, or more than a thumbs distance away from the toe box, the boot is too big.

Which food makes a good hiking snack? ›

3. For a Hike or Day Trip...
  • Trail mix.
  • Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs.
  • Fresh, whole fruit that doesn't require refrigeration such as apples, bananas and oranges.
  • Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies.
  • Energy bars, chews or gels.
  • Granola or granola bars.
  • Ready-made tuna salad pouches.
Jul 5, 2022

What hiking shoes do podiatrists recommend? ›

Some recommended hiking shoes and boots includes Oboz Sawtooth Low, Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator, La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX, and perennial favorite, Vasque Breeze III.

Is Merrell a good brand? ›

All told, Merrell isn't as much at the forefront of innovation as Salomon, but they're a comfort-focused brand with good prices and a committed following among day hikers and casual backpackers.

What shoe company has the best arch support? ›

The best shoes for arch support, at a glance
  • Best Overall: Nike Air Max, $130.
  • Most Stylish: New Balance 327, $99.
  • Best for Plantar Fasciitis: On Cloudrunner 2, $150.
  • Best for Flat Feet: Brooks Ariel GTS 23, $160.
  • Best for Running: Asics Gel Kayano 31, $115.
  • Best for Standing All Day: Brooks Glycerin GTS 21, $160.
Jun 18, 2024

Is it OK to wear running shoes for hiking? ›

If it's a paved nature trail, even a pair of city sneakers can handle it. If you expect to hike in cold, wet conditions, you might prefer the warmth and protection of a sturdy boot with a waterproof membrane, but you can find waterproof trail-running shoes as well.

Can I wear normal shoes for hiking? ›

If you don't have any special hiking footwear, go with your most comfortable sneakers. Some people swear by hiking sandlals in hot weather. I used to use Chacos and they're great, but switching to a breathable trail runner eliminated the need for sandals. If you get a leather hiking boot, you will need to break it in.

Are hiking shoes different from walking shoes? ›

The very clear differences in hiking shoe and walking shoe construction mean that they're specifically intended for different terrain. Hiking shoes are designed to take on hills, mountains, slippery boulders, loose gravel, and unexpected thunderstorms.

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