SHOES & BOOTS

Best Hiking Shoes for Women: These Boots Are Made for Walking

Best Hiking Shoes Women
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Women have been on the trails just as long as men. They have embarked on some of the same treacherous journeys as some of the toughest men out there. Putting their minds, bodies, and skills to the test.

How did they manage all of this? Amongst other things, a good pair of hiking shoes was one of the first items on their packing lists. The best hiking shoes for women are going to be tough, durable, and light and they will take you along the trails with no problems.

Hiking shoes are one, if not the, most important item that will go with you hiking or backpacking. They will carry you for miles and miles, through rivers and over mountains and they should be able to do this without making your feet hurt.

Fighting through foot pain on the trail will make the experience much worse than if you aren’t having foot pain. A bad pair of hiking shoes can really ruin a trip. They are the sole source of travel and need to be depended on to do their job and keep you comfortable and happy as you trek along.

Qualities of The Best Hiking Shoes

Before we can even begin to look at which shoes to buy we have to know what factors need to be considered when buying a hiking shoe that can improve your hiking performance while keeping you safe and comfortable at the same time.

Weight

The weight of these shoes is a super important factor. Shoes that are too heavy are a hassle and could be a disaster. They are hard enough to lug around but when you plan to hike up hillsides and through tough brush or foliage, these shoes shouldn’t slow you down. Any number of bad things can happen when you have a pair of shoes that are too heavy.

Women hiking shoes

They could push weight in the wrong directions and cause foot or leg soreness. When you wear a heavy shoe you get much more tired on the trail as well. This could be displayed when picking up your foot will feel like a mountain itself.

When we are tired, exhausted, and suited in a heavy pair of hiking shoes we are less likely to be cautious with our steps and could end up injuring ourselves with one misstep.

Outer Material

The outside material of the shoe is an important factor in a sense of durability and breathability. We want a shoe that will stay dry and comfortable and that won’t rip or tear easily. These hiking shoes need to outlast thick grasses, uneven boulders, and sandy beaches.

Outer Material

They need to be tough so we aren’t exposing our foot to being cut or bruised, but they also need to be breathable enough to wick moisture and offer air flow during long hikes. Many hiking shoes are made from a few basic types of materials for their outer material.

  • Textile: Textile is a fabric that is tough and waterproof. It is a combination of raw materials, material from plants or animals and manufactured materials like polyester and nylon that are combined to make a super tough outer layer for your shoes.
    These are great for outer parts of the shoe because they last, are resistant to water, and stay warm very well. This material is also abrasion-resistant which means it does not tear or rip easily. Another huge benefit to textile is that they are much more lightweight than other materials out there.
  • Leather: Leather is hands down one of the toughest materials out there. Made from cow for a specific reason and it’s longevity is there to prove it is one of the best materials for outdoor apparel.
    Leather brings the combination of durability with flexibility like not other material can. An ideal choice of fabric when you want a hiking boot that is both tough and flexible.
    You know leather can stand the test of time, the same has to be asked of the user. Leather is such a tough material that it does take some time to break it and form to your personal needs.
    Breaking in a leather pair of shoes takes time before you actually hit the trail. It is also one of the heaviest materials that shoes can be made out of. It goes without saying that it might be worth the weight for the protection that a good leather shoe offers but others may disagree and say the weight on their feet isn’t worth the durability it may provide.
  • Synthetic: Synthetic materials are very similar to textiles, but the one varying difference is that there is no raw materials used whatsoever. This material is made strictly from manufactured materials and contains no plant or animal matter such as wool or tweed.
    With these materials, such as polyester and nylon, it offers a lot of the same qualities such as trapping heat, being waterproof, and being durable. There is also a big shift about which material is better in regards to the environment.
    Synthetic materials have proven themselves time and time again that they are a contender and can compete with any natural or other unnatural product out there and are still used because they are one of the lightest materials to use when making outdoor gear.

Inner Material

The inner material is just as important as the outer material. This is the fabric that will be in direct contact with your feet and you want something that will feel like walking on a cloud instead of walking over a field of jagged rocks.

This material is usually in the form of a synthetic fabric and will offer breathability, arch support, gel comfort, mid-sole support and maybe more. There may be additional padding near the toes or near the heel that will give a boot an edge on the competition.

Hiking Shoes Women Inner Material

The inner material is the ground you will literally be walking on and it does a lot of good to take a closer look into what support, flexibility, and breathability a shoe has on the inside as well as the outside.

Sole Material

The material used on the sole will be a make or break experience. The sole of your shoe is the thing that keeps you moving. It should plow through snow, running water, or mud and still retain grip and control over obstacles in each step.

You have to have confidence that the sole of your shoe will keep you stable and safe when the trail gets slippery or wet. Most of the soles of the best hiking shoes will be rubber and that’s one of the most important things to take a look at before buying. It’s like choosing a car without knowing that it has race car tires on it when you expect it climb mountains.

The Best Women’s Hiking Shoes

There are a lot of things to think about before you make your purchase on which women’s hiking shoe to purchase, but let’s use the guide for weight, inner and outer materials, and the material used for the sole to compare and contrast some of the top choices.

Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking Shoe

Ahnu Women's Sugarpine Waterproof Light Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.3 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Fabric

Inner Material: Contoured EVA midsole

Sole: Vibram Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Ahnu Women’s SugarPine hiking shoe has a lot of really neat technology.

To begin, the inside in lined with contoured EVA midsole and is made with Numentum technology that is designed to create a neutral foot position that encourages natural foot mechanics and a stable and balanced stride with every step.

All of this is combined with an adjustable heel strap to get that snug fit and a sole that is both tough and flexible. The outside is made from waterproof leather and fabric and is pocketed with mesh for breathability and mobility.

The bottom has Vibram rubber that will go without slip for the distance of the trail and is matched with a tough rubber toe box for comfort and safety.

Salmon Women’s X Ultra 2 Hiking Shoe

Salmon Women's X Ultra 2 Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.7 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Textile

Inner Material: Gore-Tex

Sole: Contragrip Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Salmon Women’s Ultra hiking shoe is made of tough leather and textile materials to ensure a waterproof, yet breathable protection of your foot. The Gore-Tex inside material is also highly flexible and with a Sensifit upper, it helps cradle and form to your foot.

The Congtagrip sole is a tough rubber sole that will keep you from slipping in any condition but does make this shoe a bit heavy at 1.7 pounds.

However, the double layer of EVA midsole gives your foot additional cushion and will help stabilize your foot while keeping your comfortable. An added bonus to the rubber toe cap for protection, gripping, and further durability where the shoe needs it most.

Merrell Women’s Moab Hiking Shoe

Merrell Women's Moab Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.8 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Fabric

Inner Material: Ortholite Footbed

Sole: Vibram Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Merrill Women’s Moab hiking shoe comes in at 1.8 pounds which is bit heavier than the usual hiking shoe.

However, with its strong leather and fabric combination outer material and the Ortholite footbed along the inside of the shoe make it a strong and comfortable choice despite its weight. It features breathable mesh along the sides to keep moisture from being trapped in by your feet.

The cushioned tongue and collar of this shoe also make a big difference in the comfort and blister-resistant qualities this shoe has. It also features M Select Freshness technology on the inside that will keep the smell of sweat and moisture building up from stinking up your shoes.

This shoe has great arch support and has a small air cushion in the heel to help absorb the shock of each step. It has a tough heel counter along the outside and a tough rubber toe cap for added protection for your feet.

Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse Hiking Shoe

Vasque Women's Grand Traverse Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.6 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Synthetic

Inner Material: Molded EVA Insole

Sole: Vibram Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse hiking shoe is a lightweight shoe but is hardier than you might think. To begin with, this shoe is designed for speed and durability. At only 1.6 pounds, this shoe is one of the lightest based on it’s other features.

It boasts a dual density EVA footbed cushion that will give even more support than the average cushion giving you more comfort than ever.

The leather and synthetic outer material is paired with mesh pockets that will keep moisture out and provide air flow throughout the shoe at all time. The foam inside the shoe’s footbed conforms to your feet over time giving you the perfect shoe that matches your exact footprint.

The sole features Vibram Ibex rubber for mega gripping abilities on some of the toughest terrains.

Keen Women’s Marshall Hiking Shoe

Keen Women's Marshall Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.4 Pounds

Outer Material: Synthetic

Inner Material: Contoured EVA Footbed

Sole: Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Keen Women’s Marshall hiking shoe is another one of our lightest contenders.

Made of a tough but super lightweight synthetic material allows this shoes to be one of the lightest in its class and the synthetic material gives the same durability just without the weight. The inside of the shoe is built with your comfort in mind as well.

There is a high rebound midsole along a contoured EVA footbed that will give you the comfort you deserve for the long hike ahead. The outer material is matched with mesh sides that give moisture and sweat a way out and clean cool air a way in.

This shoe features a wide toe box that will help with stability and balance along uneven terrain. With the heel lock for added safety and stability and a sticky rubber sole, this shoe won’t give up easily.

Merrell Women’s Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Women's Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.4 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Synthetic

Inner Material: Ortholite Footbed

Sole: Vibram Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Merrill Women’s Siren Sport 2 hiking shoe is light and mean. The combination of leather and synthetic materials make it lightweight and extremely tough.

With mesh throughout the sides and a tongue specially designed to keep debris from the trail from entering your shoe are just a few of its many qualities.

This shoe features the M-Select Freshness system on the inside which ensure that your sweat and any moisture in the shoe do not stick around long.

The insides are sweat-resistant, moisture-wicking, and padded with a comfortable cushioning Ortholite footbed that will keep your feet comfortable during the duration of a trail. With added arch support and an air-cushioned heel under the footbed, this shoe has it all.

Salmon Women’s Ellipse Hiking Shoe

Salmon Women's Ellipse Hiking Shoe

Weight: 1.6 Pounds

Outer Material: Leather & Textile

Inner Material: Gore-Text Footbed

Sole: Contagrip Rubber

Best Use: Hiking, Backpacking, Trekking, Sports & Outdoors, Camping

Description: The Salmon Women’s Ellipse hiking shoe is a light 1.6 pounds but it has a lot to talk about. To begin with, the leather and textile combination as the outer material make this shoe waterproof and abrasion-resistant.

A connected tongue on the outside keeps sand and rocks from getting inside the shoe on the varying terrains you may be hiking on. As for the inside, the Gore-Tex footbed is there to give you a personal fit while it conforms to your foot.

It also boasts asymmetrical Sensiflex technology that allows for more diverse foot patterns to find comfort in this shoe. This shoe is made for everyone! It has a breathable inner material that is quick-drying and features a foam layer under the heel for shock absorption.

The tough heel cap also provides stability while the toe cap adds more protection to your feet for tough climbs.

Time To Get Walkin’

With so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Starting with the basic functions of shoes is the best way to begin your search. Using the criteria above and looking at the weight and materials will give you an idea of what the shoe is made out of. From there, it comes down to individuality.

Choosing a shoe that will be worn for hours at a time over rugged terrain is not an easy decision. Having a bad pair of hiking shoes may ruin a hiking trip for you which should be avoided at all costs.

Choose your Hiking Shoes

Choosing a shoe that’s not right for you could lead to serious injury as well. You need a shoe that is durable, weatherproof, and comfortable to take on the trails near you.

What hiking shoes do you have? Which are your favorites? Have you tried any of these shoes before? Tell us what you thought of this article by leaving a comment.

Share a story about your favorite hiking shoes or tell us about a bad experience we can all learn from. If you thought this was helpful, share this article so that even more people can use this to help them find the right hiking shoe before they hit the trail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Ursula Mari

    Merrell hiking shoes are very stabilizing. I’m very pleased. They have good space in the toes, also, fit and arch support is great! They are so comfortable. I really like how they look, too! I wanted to spend my money very wisely and was looking for a shoe that was worth the money. And I wasn’t wrong, Merrells are excellent shoes!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Thanks for sharing your valuable input Ursula. Do you hike that often? If you do, then Merrel hiking shoes give the best performance. It also has an all around breathable mesh so your feet can be comfortable. It’s a bit heavier compared to the other products in the list Ursula. Did you find it comfortable to use?

  • Abbie Knight

    I currently wear a pair of the Merrell Moab’s. They’re perfect not only for hiking but for other more mundane tasks like walking the dogs and general day-to-day walking around where I live. Stylish too; just the other day someone complimented me on them and asked where they could get a pair! Like you alluded to in the article, I was slightly wary of the weight and how comfortable they would be as a result but there really is no need to worry – an extremely comfy boot!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Yeah, my girlfriend has the Merrel Moab and inspite of the weight, those shoes are really made for walking. It has superior support and the leather material is also excellent.

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