Learn what to look for when choosing from this top class selection of the best hiking boots for women
Walking boots are certainly made for walking and to make sure that’s just what they’ll do, the feet within them need to be the happy kind. So whether you are out for a half hour stroll with the dogs each day or gearing up to tick the next big peak off your list, make sure you treat your feet with the respect they deserve and put them in a pair of the best hiking boots for women available this year.
- What type of hiking will you be doing?
- Technical terms you’ll need to know when shopping for hiking boots
- Key things to consider when trying and buying women’s hiking boots
- Frequently asked questions when buying the best hiking boots for women
- Reviews of the 10 best hiking boots for women
Full details of each pair of women’s boots can be found later in the article. But as a quick reference our comparison table shows the basics of the best hiking boots for women in 2018… what a selection!
|Boot||Type||Weight (per pair)||Uppers||Price|
|Lowa Lady Light GTX||Mid weight for backpacking and trekking||1020g / 2.2lbs||Nubuck leather||$$$|
|Meindl Bhutan Lady MFS||Mid weight for backpacking and trekking||1150g / 2.53lbs||Nubuck leather||$$$|
|La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX||Lightweight for backpacking or fast and light hiking||762g / 1.76lbs||Nubuck leather||$$|
|Ahnu Sugarpine||Lightweight for big day hikes or fast and light backpacking||664g / 1.4lbs||Leather and suede||$|
|Lowa Renegade GTX||Mid weight for backpacking and trekking||1110g / 2.4lbs||Nubuck leather||$$|
|Keen Targhee II Mid||Lightweight for day hikes||804g / 1.77lbs||Nubuck leather||$|
|Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP||Lightweight for backpacking or fast and light hiking||836g /1.8lbs||Nubuck and suede||$$|
|Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX||Mid weight for backpacking and trekking||1020g / 2.25lbs||Nubuck leather and synthetic||$$|
|Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP||Mid weight for day hikes and short multi-day treks||904G / 2lbs||Suede and mesh||$|
|Anatom Q2 Ultralight||Lightweight for day hikes in the hills||930g / 2.05lbs||Nubuck leather||$|
What type of hiking will you be doing?
Like getting to know a new partner, buying new hiking boots is an exciting time! There’s the anticipation of the adventures that they’ll take you on and the comfort and support they’ll provide along the way. And, a little like starting a new relationship, you need to be clear about what you want to get out of them before taking the plunge and making the commitment!
So firstly, consider what you are going to be using your boots forWell, yes, walking hopefully! But what type of walking?
From a quick half hour in the park, to a 10-miler in the foothills, you’ll need a good level of support and traction through the sole. Custom fitting lacing systems enable you to tie in and adjust the levels of support needed according to the terrain you’re on.
It’s likely that you’ll only be carrying a small light pack so a high ankle isn’t totally necessary. But if you envisage short, sharp day ascents with varied and challenging terrain, then good ankle support becomes more important. Equally, if you’re determined to get out hiking with your kids then the weight of your child in a baby carrier will require good stability at the ankles.
Multi-day trekking and backpacking
You’ll need a boot with extra ankle support and a stiffer sole that will withstand the rugged and demanding terrain that big treks will throw at you. And with a heavy backpack on your back only increasing the pressure to your feet, it is best to avoid lightweight boots.
However, racking up the miles and spending hours on your feet each day makes comfort an essential feature not to be compromised for the sake of what technically might be the ‘right’ boot. So make sure you explore all the possible options to get what you need.
With an increasing number of high-end mid-weight boots on the market that all claim ‘out of box comfort,’ you’ll be able to avoid break-in time, giving you the confidence to tackle the challenge ahead with one less thing to worry about.
Technical terms you’ll need to know when shopping for hiking boots
You may know your innersole from your outsole, but do you know all the many other components that make up hiking boots? To save any confusion, and to help you fully understand what your hiking boots offer, we’ve put together a quick visual guide showing the anatomy of a hiking boot.
What to look for when buying the best hiking boots for women
Now that you’re clear on where those walking boots will be taking you and what all the components of hiking boots are, here are a few more things to consider when buying your new boots:
Getting the best value out of your buy is an inevitable part of shopping for anything – and especially for new gear. But if you’re looking to bag a bargain on your next spend-athon, then make sure that boot shopping isn’t on the agenda. Buying walking boots is a long term investment that you shouldn’t scrimp on, and unfortunately, the best hiking boots for women don’t come cheap.
So keep an open mind about your budget and you’ll come away with a great fitting and comfortable boot, that won’t leave you desperate to take them off at the end of your hike.
You can read reviews all day long but nothing will give a better idea of what feels good than trying them on. Here are a few tips on what to look for when fitting hiking boots:
- Socks – take a pair of your own walking socks with you to wear whilst trying on the boots, and don’t be tempted to make it fit by wearing a second pair!
- Toes – you shouldn’t feel your toes pressing against the front of the boot, and once securely fitted, there should be room in the toe-box for some wiggling and movement.
- Heels – there should be no heel-lift or rubbing in the heel area. Make sure you try walking up stairs to test this.
- Length – push your toes to the front of the boot and if you can squeeze your finger into the boot behind your heel, then the length is about right.
- Width – the midsole of your boot won’t soften over time in the same way that the uppers of leather boots will, so this part of the boot should fit your foot width closely, but not tightly, with little room for movement.
- Trying time – schedule your shopping trip in for the afternoon when your feet will have expanded slightly. This will replicate how they will be after a day walking in the mountains.
- Lacing – make sure you fully lace up each boot you try on. Walk on a downhill slope to test for comfort and fit, and if the shop doesn’t have the ability to help with this, then go elsewhere. Also, be careful of rope burn on your hands! Pulling laces over and over can get pretty uncomfortable.
- Carpet wear – before you commit to taking the boots outside, walk around your house as much as possible to make sure the fit is right. Don’t be afraid to take them back if they’re not perfect.
03Weight and durability
When you’re already struggling to lug your heavy legs and overladen backpack up the final ascent of the day, the last thing you want is to be carrying extra pounds on your feet. But choosing a light boot can often compromise its durability. If you don’t want to have to replace your boots every couple of years, then going for durability over weight might be the better option.
Boots with high ankle support and stiff soles are key features for backpackers and trekkers carrying heavy packs. The low-cut options will suit those who prefer a little more freedom through the ankle and don’t require the robust stiffness offered by heavier boots. That said, many fast and light backpackers are ditching their hiking boots and opting for lightweight hiking shoes instead. There are plenty of arguments as to why this is and isn’t a good idea! If you like the idea of shoes but don’t want to commit, then opt for a mid cut hiking boot like the Keen Targhee II.
Simply put, the more aggressive the tread pattern, the better the grip. Tread patterns with closer and shallower spacing are less adept at pushing out accumulated dirt and mud, thus lessening their grip and traction. If excellent grip in all conditions is a must then look for deep lugs. Vibram soles are also renowned for their superb traction, but often at a higher price.
06Water resistance and breathability
As a rule, leather boots, although fully waterproof, offer less breathability than boots with synthetic uppers. So if you are going to be doing most of your hiking in dry summer conditions, avoiding leather might be a good option. Most synthetic boots have a waterproofing system, such as Gore-Tex, that offers the same protection as leather but with extra breathability, and all of the leather options on our list also have a Gore-Tex (or similiar) membrane to help with breathability.
07Synthetic vs leather
Whilst leather boots often weigh in a few grams heavier, they are more likely to last longer and rack up more miles than their synthetic equivalents. All of the options on are list are part or all leather. If you are looking for something that is synthetic, then there are some really excellent boots in our vegan hiking boots article.
Frequently asked questions when buying the best hiking boots for women
10 reviews of the best hiking boots for women in 2018
Good for: Backpacking and trekking
Weight: 1020g / 2.2lb
Lighter weight than the Meindl Bhutan, but with the same high levels of technical attributes, put the Lowa Lady Light GTX hiking boots in the runnings for a great all-rounder choice. The women specific design includes a more spacious toe box making it one of the best hiking boots for women with bunions. The deeply notched back provides greater freedom in the calf area, and, coupled with minimal seams to limit abrasion and pressure points, raises the comfort rating even further.
The LOWA Trac Lite II outsoles ensure excellent grip and durability, both on and off the trail. The price tag is still on the high side, but for a high-end nubuck leather boot that is both flexible and lightweight, it is worth the investment and will help you comfortably tackle most types of demanding terrain without having to upgrade every few years. If it’s super comfortable, blister-free hiking you are after, then the Lowa Lady Light GTX hiking boots are the ones for you, and are an excellent choice for women with sensitive feet.
- Spacious toe box is good for bunions
- Good for those with sensitive feet
- A little on the heavy side
Good for: Demanding low level mountain hikes
Weight: 1150g / 2.53lbs
For years, the Meindl Burma has been the popular choice for female hikers. But the new Meindl Bhutan Lady MFS walking boot has taken all the good things that the trusty Burma offered and improved them without, the jump up in price. The MFS (Memory Foam System) is the most notable change, offering a greater degree of custom-fitting comfort right out of the box, which is often compromised with stiffer boots. There is also extra padding around the ankle and a new lacing system to further add to the cosiness in which your feet will sit. Although not insulated, these are the best option on our list for winter hiking and, when coupled with waterproof gaiters, are well suited to hiking in deep snow.
Together with the highly durable Vibram sole, the mid-stiffness of the Bhutan MFS offers a high level of support for tough trekkers. It is the heaviest boot in our review but the durability certainly makes up for it; with leather uppers and Gore-Tex lined inners, this is a boot that is built to last and will make your feet a happy part of your lifetime of trekking.
Check out this full review of the Meindl Bhutan Lady MFS walking boots.
- Memory foam inners for a customised fit
- Highly durable
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Good for: Backpacking or fast and light hiking
Weight: 762g / 1.76lbs
Waterproof: Gore-Tex Surround
Another superbly lightweight hiking boot option is the La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX. It is the second lightest on our list below the Ahnu Sugarpines and is another great option for fast and light hiking. Where they step up above the Sugarpines is in the aggressive lugs of the exceptionally grippy Vibram Nano Soles. They are also one of the most supportive hiking boots on our list with good arch support and high ankles. They are wonderfully comfortable and feel more like a running shoe than a high top hiking boot, providing your feet are on the narrow side. For those with wide feet the comfort and support can end up feeling more like stiffness. So if comfort is high up on your priority list (and you don’t have narrow feet!) you may want to consider the Hoka One One boots.
The nubuck leather uppers offer really great durability above boots like the Moabs, yet don’t compromise on breathability due to the Gore-Tex Surround Technology which gives 360º of breathability and waterproofing! Clever stuff.
A really great all rounder and one of the best lightweight backpacking boots on our list.
- Super comfortable
- Highly breathable
- They run narrow
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Good for: Big day hikes or fast and light backpacking
Weight: 664g / 1.4lbs
Weighing in at only 664g / 1.4lbsn the Ahnu Sugarpine boots are one of the best lightweight hiking boots for women on our list. They are over 100g lighter than the La Sportiva Nucleo boots, and are also a good deal cheaper making them an excellent option for those looking to stay nimble on their toes without forking out the associated cash that often goes with lightweight hiking boots.
The leather and suede uppers provide good waterproofness and use the same eVent waterproof membrane as the Hoka One One boots. Their aesthetics, however, could not be more different! The Sugarpines are sleek and stylish and work very nicely as everyday wear hiking boots. They are also very well suited to wearers seeking boots that encourage natural biomechanical movement through the foot. Their Numentum Technology aims to keep a neutral position, and although the removable EVA footbed provides a good amount of heel and arch support for regular feet, those with high volume feet may need something more supportive like the Keen Targhee II.
Whilst the Vibram soles do a good enough job in most moderate hiking scenarios, their lugs are not as aggressive as other options, making these a superb choice for big day hikes.
- Super lightweight
- Very stylish
- No very deep lugs on the outsoles
Good for: Multi-day adventuring
Weight: 1110g / 2.4lbs
As one of Lowa’s most popular hiking boots for women and men alike, the Renegade GTX performs excellently in a variety of conditions. Although the second heaviest women’s hiking boot on our list, it is one of the lighter mid-weight boots around, keeping you moving easily on challenging terrain. It compares very well with the lighter weight Keen Targhee II when it comes to snug, form-fitting comfort, but provides more support through the ankle. It also steps up very well to the challenge of hiking with heavy loads on multi-day hikes, keeping up with heavier weight boots like the Meindl Bhutan.
The nubuck leather uppers are complete with a breathable and fully waterproof Gore-tex membrane, and the uppers feature an integrated construction web which further reduces the weight of the boots. This Lowa MONOWRAP also aids in stabilising the foot in areas where support is especially needed. And with deep lugs in the Vibram rubber Evo outsole, these robust and versatile midweight boots will see you skipping over most terrain with ease and confidence.
Also available in a narrow fit.
- Versatile – good all rounder
- Excellent support and stability
- A little on the heavy side
Good for: Day hikes and short treks
Weight: 804g / 1.77lbs
For those who prefer the comfort of a low cut hiking shoe but need that little extra bit of support, this is the boot for you. The ankle height is lower than most heavier weight boots adding versatility to their use. Keen have also developed their own waterproofing system, KEEN.Dry, offering a comparable level of breathable protection to Gore-Tex, which contributes to the excellent value that this sturdy little boot offers.
At around 400g per boot, the Targhee II are amongst the best lightweight hiking boots for women. The patented toe protection design and aggressive multi-directional lugs, give the lightweight properties of the Targhee II license to step up to short treks and backpacking trips, without the huge dent to the bank account. These boots are also a great bridger for those wanting to make the move from the full support of high cut boots to less supportive lighweight hiking shoes.
- A good bridger from full boots to hiking shoes
- Excellent tow protection
- Great value
- Low cut can be a negative for some
Good for: Backpacking, hiking and trekking
Weight: 836g / 1.8lb
If you’re looking to put an extra spring in your step on your next hiking trip then look no further than the super comfortable and mega bouncy Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP. This trail running shoe inspired design is one of the most comfortable women’s hiking boots around, and one of the most unusual looking too! The signature cushioning of Hoka One One footwear can at first feel a little on the cumbersome side. But once you’ve gotten used to the extra bulk of the EVA and RMAT® footbed, you’ll just love how comfortable these boots are.
Their high cut provides excellent stability through the ankle which is complemented by the super sticky, hi-traction Vibram MegaGrip outsole making them one of most unique backpacking boots around! They are also super lightweight, have an eVent lining that is waterproof and breathable, and laces that extend right down to the toes to create an even more comfortable fit for the individual. To top off their uniqueness, these nubuck and suede hiking boots are available in a variety of fun and bright colours that are guaranteed to turn some heads on the trail!
- Super comfortable
- Sizing comes up bigger than expected
- Their looks aren’t to everyone’s tastes!
Good for: Multi-day adventuring
Weight: 1020g / 2.25lbs
Another favourite amongst the women specific designs and one of the best hiking boots for women with narrow feet is the Quests. Salomon have taken the best of their trail running technologies to create this lightweight boot that performs as nimbly as a running shoe, but with the protection and support of a robust mid-weight walking boot, including a Gore-Tex membrane and toe guard.
The Quests are the ideal choice if you are partial to a bit of off-roading and clambering about the place. And in case you are worried that all that hot-footing around will leave your feet sweaty and damp, then rest assured that the Ortholite foam inner is there to help create a cooler, drier and cosier bed for your feet to play on.
- Good for those with narrow feet
- Women specific fit
- Not good for wide feet
Good for: Day hikes and short multi-day treks
Weight: 904G / 2lbs
Waterproof: M Select DRY
The ever-popular Mother of all Boots, Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP offers excellent value for most types of hikers, and is one of the best women’s hiking boots at its price point. Its slightly lower cut ankle makes it comparable to the Keen Targhees, but it is slightly heavier with a more ‘standard’ looking finish. Like Keen and Anatom, Merrell has developed its own M Select DRY waterproof and breathable membrane, which helps to keep the price more reasonable than its Gore-Tex cousins. This has also helped the Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP boots in the popularity stakes, as has their superbly comfortable air cushioned heel. This adds stability to the wearer and absorbs shock when leaping your way around the mountains on the Vibram rubber outsoles! This, together with a contoured footbed that provides zonal heel and arch support, makes these great value women’s hiking boots an ideal entry level option that offers almost as much as higher end hiking boots.
- Exceptional value
- Vibram outsole
- Not as light as other mid cut boots
Good for: Day walks in the hills
Weight: 930g / 2.05lbs
This stylish and classic looking boot is designed with the hill and fell walker in mind. The Ultralight has the long lasting quality of a traditional leather boot, without the bulk, weight and stiffness. No break-in time is required thanks to the soft nubuck leather upper and calfskin collar combo, and with the luxury of Anatoms Bioform Ultralight Footbed as the innersole, it’s no wonder. Anatom use their own waterproof and breathable Tri.Aria membrane which, combined with the leather uppers, does a great job at keeping your toes dry. It also helps to keep the price down making this one of the cheaper options on our list.
If it’s a casual walking boot that you’re after, then these will go the distance from day one to the end of the road.
- Casual low cut
- Great value
- Not as much support as higher boots
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