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We've bought and tested nearly 50 unique pairs of women's hiking boots over the last 10 years, with 18 of the best models available today in our current lineup. From lightweight hikers to burly beasts, our experts test the top boots year-round and compare them based on their trail comfort, weight, traction, support, and ability to keep your feet dry. Our team of ladies crushed out hundreds of miles for multiple months to parse out each boot's strengths and weaknesses. We then took that data and real-world experience and crafted this detailed assessment of today's best options to help you find the right pair for your needs.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is an exceptional lightweight hiking boot that offers superior comfort, breathable Gore-Tex protection from the elements, and a durable and aggressive lug pattern that will keep you sure-footed when covering uneven terrain. While our testers experienced comfort directly out of the box, we recommend sizing up about a half size in these boots as they run a bit on the small side. They are also available for order in a wide option for a more customized fit.
Besides impressive comfort, the Ultra Raptor also offers a 5-inch shaft and comfort collar that surround the ankle and a durable lacing system that creates stability while in motion. The traction was on par with the best hiking boots that we tested, featuring Frixion XF 2.0 rubber outsoles with an Impact Brake System and Trail Bite heels, allowing for excellent traction and control in various mountain landscapes. Did we mention this high-performing hiker is available at a reasonable price? This boot is an all-around champ.
Lacks ankle support for extended backpacking trips
Lacing system is not very durable
Heavier than other models in this review
The Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP received high marks across many of our testing metrics due to their simple, supportive, and comfortable design and affordable price. The fit is suitable for a wide range of foot shapes (though it particularly favors those with a broader foot) and offers a well-padded ankle and tongue to increase comfort overall. The air-cushioned heel helps make up for the support that the lower ankle shaft lacks, and the EVA midsole, along with contoured insoles, provides extra support for the arch.
While the Moab 3 Mid is one of the heavier boots we tested, it still feels light underfoot. Our testers are also happy to report that the latest version of the Moab has improved Vibram TC5+ traction with 5mm lugs, so we felt more confident trusting our feet even when moving over polished boulders. The lacing system is still secured with mesh, which we imagine could wear out over time, though we had no issues during our testing period. At the end of the day, this improved update is an affordable option for those new to hiking and who aren't primarily focused on top-of-the-line performance.
The Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is an excellent choice for those with a wider foot and those who prefer the agility of a trail running shoe with the support of a hiking boot. This boot is among some of the lightest we tested without sacrificing stability, traction, or superior comfort. The ankle cuff is padded without adding bulk, and the lacing system latches twice over the ankle for maximum stability. Comfortable, yes; however, if you are new to Altras, you may want to allow for some time to adjust to the 0mm drop, which places the heel and forefoot at the same height. This feature encourages better alignment that will benefit your entire body, but you have to work up to longer distances over time.
The TrailClaw feature allows for a sure-footed and very responsive shoe, meaning you can push hard in difficult terrain. Our testers were shocked by the waterproof technology, which kept our feet dry and warm during our submersion tests. That said, the eVent fabric is rather thin and prone to durability issues when snagged on sharp rocks or downed trees. This is also a more expensive option when compared to other trail runners/hiking boot hybrid options. To be fair, every design has a few caveats, especially with the kind of extensive testing we do. Overall, we love this lightweight design for the confidence it inspires on the trail.
Thicker soles and rigid design take some adjustment
The Hoka Kaha 2 GTX is hands down one of the most comfortable and supportive hiking boots we've ever tested. The design is durable, thanks to the Nubuck leather upper and Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, which we found to be highly durable. Our only complaint about the waterproofing is that it performs so well that these boots aren't able to breathe as well in hot summer conditions. The version of Kaha that we tested is a gender-neutral design, an offering rarely seen on the market. We loved this version, but if you're unsure about the All-Gender version, a women's specific model is also available.
While the rigid design and plush comfort offer a solid and supportive hiking boot, we also found it takes some time to get used to having two inches of foam underfoot. Once you've got the hang of it, the swallowtail design on the heel, which extends just beyond the back of the foot, along with the high ankle shaft, combine to provide superior stability and support. The Kaha 2 is a great choice for those who are after top-of-the-line performance and comfort for many burly adventures ahead.
The Teva Grandview GTX Mid is what we consider a contemporary version of a traditional hiking boot, offering the comfort and flexibility of a sneaker as well as the support and stability of a leather hiker. The leather, mesh, and synthetic textile construction is durable, while the waterproof capabilities allow the boot to both keep your feet dry as well as release excess moisture through the mesh in hot conditions. Additionally, this is the boot that garnered the most compliments from friends and strangers alike, and the one we reached for the most often on our day-to-day.
The wide toe box, cushioned footbed, and adjustable ankle support of the Grandview provide comfort right out of the box with no break-in period necessary. Our testers were especially impressed by the Vibram Megagrip rubber, which has excellent traction even while encountering well-traveled and polished boulders. Despite the unique heel lock straps that improve the support and adjustability of this hiker, this isn't the most technical boot and not the one we recommend for long trips or overly heavy packs. However, the Grandview is an impressive boot with head-turning aesthetics and one we love having in our closet for more casual outings.
The La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX offers all the features and support of a traditional hiker but with a modern twist. Thanks to Gore-Tex Surround membranes, these hiking boots truly stand apart from the rest due to their unbeatable waterproofing. The Nubuck leather upper and 3D Flex Ankle Hinge also provide excellent comfort as the leather is stiff enough to provide support and flexible enough to mold to the shape of your foot for a more customized fit.
The leather which attaches to the lacing system of the Nucleo High is built to last, making this one of the most durable boots we tested. Perhaps the only downsides to these modern hikers are their heavy weight, lack of breathability, and price tag. To be fair, many of the boots that we tested are trails runner/hiking boot hybrid and are focused on high performance in a less durable design. Also, leather is a more expensive and durable material than synthetic mesh. Bottom line, our testers are confident that the features will make the price tag entirely worthwhile in the long run. These boots are excellent for the local trails or extended backpacking trips in wet conditions.
In the past decade, we've tested nearly 50 different pairs of women's hiking boots. For this review, we spent 250+ hours on the trail, evaluating the performance of each boot in the most demanding conditions. Breaking in dozens of pairs of hiking boots over the past five years has given us plenty of experience in evaluating each model's overall comfort and support. Our lineup of boots went on overnight searches looking for lost hikers in remote corners of Yosemite National Park, assessing traction and stability. Stream crossings and slushy, early-winter snowstorms were great grounds for testing these boots' ability to keep feet dry and gain purchase on varying surfaces. We even wore the less comfortable boots for miles to report our findings, so you don't have to discover a boot's discomfort the hard way. From remote locations near Zion National Park to all over the Eastern Sierra, through burnt and decomposing soil to boulder hopping in the alpine, we hiked till we dropped to clearly discern the pros and cons associated with each model. We hope our findings help you to identify the best hiking boot for your next adventure.
Our hiking boot testing is divided across six rating metrics:
Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
Support (25% weighting)
Traction (15% weighting)
Water Resistance (15% weighting)
Weight (10% weighting)
Durability (10% weighting)
This review is brought to you by Jane Jackson and Trish Matheny. Jane has traveled hundreds of miles on foot across the world. From trekking in Nepal to trips into the Wind River Range, the Tetons, and the Sierra Nevada to working as a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, Jane has put her time in on the trails. All this hiking has given her plenty of time to experience blisters, bunions, and hot spots, so she is no stranger to the range of suffering that can occur with ill-fitting footwear. After growing up in Oklahoma, Trish has spent the last fifteen years of her life primarily in the wilderness, traveling to many of the same locations as Jane. She cut her teeth in the Wind River Range, Tetons, Beartooths, Absarokas, and the Eastern Sierra Nevada, just to name a few of her favorites. Trish primarily learns through trial and error and is happy to share her successes and failures when it comes to finding the best boot to support your hiking experience.
Analysis and Test Results
After extensive field testing and online research, we are confident in our evaluation of the hiking boots in this review. We've summarized all of our findings below to help you gauge which one is the right hiking boot for you. Our scoring method involves comparing each product relative to the others in this review.
In addition to all of our testing criteria, most of us factor a product's cost into our purchase decisions. We often wonder if something is "worth" what we are paying and if a larger price tag equals better quality. Frequently, a higher price does correlate to better quality materials, craftsmanship, and design, but sometimes solid performance can be acquired for less. Often it is the addition of brand-name materials such as Gore-Tex waterproof liners and Vibram rubber outsoles that will tack on extra cost for the manufacturer and, subsequently, you. Some manufacturers have started using a proprietary rubber or waterproofing material to cut down on these costs. Though the name-brand components have proven very effective in our tests, we've also been thoroughly impressed with most brands' proprietary waterproof liners and outsoles.
Synthetic running shoe and hiking boot hybrids like the Salomon Outpulse Mid Gore-Tex offer ample comfort, support, and waterproof capabilities in exchange for a reasonably low price tag. We're also pleased to see that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II rings up much lower in price than several other models in this review while performing at the highest level. The Merrell Moab 3 Mid WP is another tried and true boot with a very reasonable price tag, though it's less technically-inclined. If there's one thing we've learned over the years testing boots and outdoor gear in general, it's that price alone does not guarantee performance or satisfaction. Allow price and our detailed assessments to help guide you to the right boot for you and your wallet.
Comfort is typically the most important consideration for boots. If you sense discomfort in the fit, sizing, or performance of a pair of boots when you first put them on, it might be worth trying some different options. A comfortable boot for one person can be a living nightmare for another. Someone with a narrow foot might never get a good fit (and therefore feel discomfort) in a wider cut pair, like the Keen Targhee III, the Altra Lone Peak, or the Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 WP. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex has plenty of room in the forefoot for wide-footed hikers, as well. We have rated each pair of boots based on overall comfort while noting potentially uncomfortable design features. We focus on padding, supportive comfort, materials, lacing systems, and how our feet felt after many miles on the trail.
While we recognize the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid for its phenomenal support, this unique zero-drop boot is also one of the most comfortable options in our review. In most cases, comfort and support go hand-in-hand. The cushioned sole that provides a stable base also offers unparalleled comfort. We also like how the lacing system and the upper design work together to pull everything snug against the ankle. That said, this design, while comfortable right out of the box, might also take some getting used to, as the 0mm drop places the forefoot and heel at the same height. This creates better alignment for your body, but it's also very normal to feel some soreness in the calves while getting used to this profile, as many shoes are not constructed this way.
One of the highest performers in this metric is the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX, which features over two inches of thick and durable foam underfoot. When standing on our feet all day for work obligations or taking on more committing backcountry objectives, this quickly became our go-to. The Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is impressively comfortable but has a more streamlined, sleek profile conducive to hiking through talus and alpine terrain. While less burly than other boots we tested, we appreciated the immediate comfort of the Teva Grandview GTX Mid, which gave us a spring in our step thanks to excellent cushioning underfoot and a design that offers support without being rigid.
A lot of our assessment of comfort comes down to personal preference, but construction, materials, and design all play a strong role here, too. Some people find that stiffer soles provide more comfort, while others prefer a more flexible ride. For the most part, this comes down to the type of terrain you plan on traveling most in your boots (i.e., talus, smooth trails, mud, steep and rocky, etc.). On a smooth dirt path, a boot with a thin sole will likely be sufficient. However, in rocky terrain, a thin sole and flexible forefoot may cause pain and sensitivity over time. Difficult terrain generally calls for stiff soles, while smoother terrain is best matched with a softer, flexible sole.
Adjustability in the lacing system factors into our comfort evaluation as well. Being able to lock your foot into place within the boot can increase comfort in difficult terrain, and some lacing systems are better at this than others. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid has an adjustable lacing system that can be tweaked to provide more support in the ankle than the foot. There's a locking mechanism at the flexing part of the foot that leads to more comfort. The Salomon Quest 4 and the La Sportiva Nucleo also feature this lace lock and some seriously substantial laces. On a wide foot, the Oboz Sapphire Mid felt less comfortable because the laces are not adjustable toward the shoe's toe-box and the widest part of the foot. Again, having this adjustability in the midfoot is key for wide-footed hikers, so make sure to check the range of the boots you're considering if your foot shape requires it.
Boot support is determined by sole stiffness, midsole construction, arch support, and forefoot flexibility. The height of the boot also lends support to the ankles and feet — the higher the ankle shaft, the more stable and supported the ankles will feel. This ankle height is the main difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe regarding support. For rugged trails where the ankle is prone to roll, boots with relatively high ankle heights are optimal, along with effective lacing systems. Stability is another important aspect of this metric. All of the boots in this review have a stiff sole that limits flexion under the ball of the foot and lateral flexibility through the midsole.
Overall, boots like the Hoka Kaha 2 GTX and the Altra Lone Peak Mid provide more support for the feet and ankles than almost any other models we tested. The Kaha features padded ankle support and a rubberized EVA midsole, while the Lone Peak offers the Altra EGO midsole and a 5mm cushioned footbed. Both lacing systems are incredibly durable and run from the forefoot to the top of the mid-rise padded ankle allowing for two durable laces that cross over each other, stabilizing the ankle while in motion. While the 0mm drop Balanced Cushioning of the Lone Peak can take some getting used to, the Altra EGO midsole achieves the responsiveness of a trail running shoe with the support and stability of a hiking boot. Differently, the 2+ inches of foam in the Kaha 2 design take some adjustment over time, teaching our testers to lift their foot higher when stepping over debris to avoid tripping.
The Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof was also a high performer here, thanks to nylon shanks and thermoplastic urethane forefoot plates. We felt very little side-to-side movement, and no matter the terrain, we felt safe and secure. Thick ankle padding and soles, coupled with rugged toe caps, make for an impressive hiker when the going gets rough.
Another high achiever in this category is the La Sportiva Nucleo, which offers the support of a more traditional hiking boot but with flexible Nubuck leather for a better range of motion. We felt supported but still agile on the trail. On the other end of the spectrum, the Salomon Quest 4 almost feels like a mountaineering boot in terms of stiffness, which may be too much support for some situations and preferences. A slightly less stiff, lighter-duty model is the Oboz Sapphire Mid.
The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex scores well for support because it has a sleek but still cushioned ankle and a very supportive sole. These boots strike a happy medium between the ultra-stiff Salomon Quest and less burly models like the Sapphire. Boots like the Merrell Moab 3 Mid, Teva Grandview GTX Mid, and Scarpa Rush Mid GTX have lower ankle heights and offer less ankle support than those with a taller ankle shaft.
Midsoles are the layer between the outer sole and the insole. Boots often have shanks and plates either above or beneath the midsole layers, adding support and stability. The shanks serve as a protective barrier from impact on rugged surfaces. These inner shanks create additional stiffness that the rubber soles cannot achieve on their own. Hiking shoes do not always need this rigidity but instead offer flexibility that is suitable for day hiking, so many do not have shanks. The overall construction of boots is generally more stiff and stable than hiking shoes.
Arch support varies by foot. Some women may find enough support in the original insoles. Other women may need to customize by replacing the original insoles with aftermarket insoles or orthotics. Depending on how flat or pronounced the arches of your feet are, differing levels of support apply. To avoid foot cramps and discomfort, accurately support the arches of your feet.
Like the Salewa Alpenrose 2 Mid GTX (as one example), many boots come with an Ortholite footbed, which will provide enough cushion and support underfoot for some but feel a bit too flimsy for others. Our lead tester, for example, typically puts a footbed from Superfeet in all her hiking boots.
Tread on the soles of footwear acts similarly to tread on a bike or car tire. The pattern, spacing, density, and depth affect purchase, stability, and handling. The majority of the brands you'll see in this review use some form of Vibram or ContraGrip rubber for their outsoles, hence the excellent performance by so many options. Vibram MegaGrip is becoming a favorite among many top brands, and in our testing, these outsoles received some of the highest scores in our metric comparisons.
Tread patterns that have spaced lugs in variable patterns manage dirt, sand, mud, and snow by pushing them out from the bottom of the shoe. When these accumulate on the bottom of shoes and boots, it is a result of poor tread design and depth. Semi-aggressive to aggressive tread patterns are found on most hiking boots. Well-placed lugs can also provide additional stability and support on uneven terrain, making for a more stable walking experience. Though this plays more into the support metric, it is worth noting that lugs and tread patterns have a large impact on the overall performance of a boot.
Boots that received the highest scores in traction were able to stick to rocks and talus, handle themselves in wet and muddy conditions, and protect the foot from debris. The Topo Athletic Trailventure and the Hoka Kaha 2, for example, performed well in this metric due to their Vibram Megagrip rubber soles. The Salewa Alpenrose 2 Mid has an intricate and aggressive tread pattern that provides traction in wet, muddy conditions as well as rock slabs. Salewa uses a Pomoca rubber compound for its outsole, and they work very well.
High performers like the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX also feature innovative technology combinations such as the Fixion XF 2.0 rubber outsoles, a Trail Bite Heel, and an Impact Brake System Axis. That's a mouthful, but the technology worked to give us the confidence to move over any terrain.
It is also good to think about the types of surfaces you travel over when looking at different boots' tread patterns. Overall, deeper lug depths, like those on the Lowa Renegade GTX and the Keen Targhee III Mid, provide more traction than boots with a less aggressive tread.
Salomon also really nails it in terms of tread pattern on the X Ultra 4 Mid. This boot grips hard surfaces and digs into loose sediment better than any others in our lineup. Another worthy mention here is the Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof, which also features very aggressive lugs that proved excellent on all kinds of trails.
To measure water resistance, we walked each pair after walking through creeks up to five inches in depth. We first tested them while walking from one side to the other without stopping, and all of the models in our review succeeded. Then, we examined the water resistance when submerged in water while standing in place. Within a couple of minutes in inches of standing water, all of the boots began to absorb water, and some leaked through the upper.
Boots with tall shaft heights, like the La Sportiva Nucleo High and the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex, easily withstood deeper creek crossings. The taller the ankle shaft height, the better chance you can keep your feet dry in seriously wet conditions — no real surprise there. The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II and the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 are both great, lightweight waterproof options. And all-leather boots, like the Lowa Renegade GTX and the Oboz Bridger, are also solid choices, but the La Sportiva Nucleo impressed our testers the most. Featuring Nano-Cells technology and an unparalleled Gore-Tex surround membrane, these boots kept our feet dry and allowed moisture to escape the boot for increased comfort on the trail.
The Gore-Tex waterproof membranes used on the Lowa Renegade,Salomon X Ultra 4, and Altra Lone Peak are comparable in breathability to the eVent liners of the Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 WP. In other words, both the Gore-Tex and eVent liners are impressively waterproof but can be hot during the summer months. The Gore-Tex Extended Comfort treatment found on the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II provided superior waterproof protection while also releasing moisture. While these waterproof membranes can limit breathability, we found that all of the liners were adequate in keeping water out while keeping our feet mostly wicked and dry, depending on the time of year. Additionally, breathable mesh panels on the sides of boots and tongues allow for airflow and help maintain dry, comfortable conditions inside.
Leather models provide a heavier feel than mesh and synthetic uppers commonly found on hiking shoes, thus offering less breathability. The Keen Targhee III Mid delivers the protection of a leather boot while having enough mesh to remain breathable, which sets it apart from other leather models in this review. Breathability is an essential consideration for mid-summer hiking in hot climates. If you intend to hike mostly in dry climates and regions, a pair of boots that do not have a waterproof lining and have mesh on the uppers may be the best option. Most of the models reviewed are available in waterproof and non-waterproof models. It's important to realize that waterproof liners make boots take much longer to dry out if they do end up wet on the inside of the boots.
Once feet become wet, they are prone to blisters and hot spots. If you intend to hike in a region that could get your feet wet, bring an extra pair of socks. Keeping your feet dry is aided by choosing the best boots for your intended uses, as well as noticing when your feet become wet and attending to them.
Weight is an important thing to consider when purchasing any piece of outdoor gear, but particularly your footwear. The old saying that weight on the feet translates five-fold on the back is pretty spot on, and who wants to feel dragged down by their feet when hiking? While hiking boots are typically heavier than hiking shoes, the difference between the two categories is becoming less and less significant. This is great for those of us who prefer to hike in a full boot but are not into the heaviness of the models of years past. Backpackers delight.
Boots like the Altra Lone Peak Mid and the Salomon Outpulse Mid Gore-Tex toe the line between a hiking boot and an athletic trail running shoe. Both of these impressively light boots weigh just 1.60 pounds, which means that each foot is only carrying 12.8 ounces. This felt significant to us, especially when we found that both boots held their own in other metrics as well. Many of our testers and friends are stoked that boot design is trending toward lighter models because a light boot feels nimble and makes boulder hopping and off-trail travel feel all the better.
We also considered each pair's weight on the trail; while some boots weighed less than others, the lighter models did not always feel the most nimble. The low end of this weight spectrum continues to decrease. Boots like the Topo Athletic Trailventure 2 WP also show a marked trend toward lighter with a running shoe-inspired design. We tend to prefer lighter boots for most situations, though there is a use for the heavier durability and support of boots like the Lowa Renegade.
While companies can cut down on weight by choosing lightweight materials, this sometimes results in a sacrifice to long-term durability. A full leather boot will typically last longer than a shoe made from synthetic leather and mesh. Lightweight boots generally require a shorter break-in period and are more comfortable when trekking long distances (when compared to a clunky heavyweight boot). Most of these boots have a longer lifespan than, say, a standard running shoe, though the lightweight mesh options won't last as long as a full-blown leather boot.
It is challenging to fully assess the durability of a boot after three months of use. If a model doesn't last through our official testing period, the manufacturer likely needs to do some serious re-evaluation. Nearly all of the boots in this review come from reputable brands that generally make solid, durable goods. For our favorite models, we continue wearing them for years to report back on their long-term durability.
Overall, we are pleased with the durability of all of the models reviewed and believe they can last for a couple of seasons or more when seeing regular use. We continue to put miles on our favorite models after formal testing ends to see how they hold up long-term, too. For example, a previous pair of the Salomon X Ultra 3 lasted over 300 miles, only replaced because Salomon came out with their 4th iteration of this boot, not due to wear. While we don't expect synthetic uppers to last as long as leather ones in general, we've seen these boots time and time again last several hundreds of miles.
Our testing period provides a standard period when we can assess each boot's overall performance. Minor signs of wear-and-tear include wear marks on the widest part of the toe box, failures or weaknesses in the lacing system, and subtle delamination issues on the upper or sole. The models with all-leather uppers tend to be more durable because they have fewer seams (commonly, the first place to show weakness). All leather boots, such as the Lowa Renegade GTX, the Hoka Kaha 2, and the La Sportiva Nucleo stand up to wear quite well.
We hope this information helps guide you toward the perfect boots for your next outdoor endeavor. There are hundreds of options out there, and we've whittled our list down to these top-performing contenders. Investing in a solid pair of boots can improve your hiking experience immensely, so take your time and make sure you settle on the right pair that suits your needs. Happy hiking!
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