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We've bought and tested close to 50 unique pairs of women's hiking boots over the last 10 years, most recently testing 15 of the best models available today. 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.
The *Salomon OUTline Mid GTX is another excellent lightweight performer featuring comfort directly out of the box with very minimal break-in time. Our testers were impressed by the streamlined design that cuts weight without sacrificing performance, available at an affordable price. The Contragrip outsoles, in addition to the 5mm lug depths in a reverse chevron pattern, provide superior traction on a variety of surfaces, from loose sand to boulder hopping. These boots gave us confidence to push the pace.
While we never experienced any durability with this hiking boot during our extensive testing period, we can't help but wonder if the synthetic texture upper and the inner Gore-tex membrane may not last as long as a traditional hiking boot with a full leather upper. And while our feet stayed dry, even when fully submerged, and we noticed no rips or tears in the synthetic upper, it is thin. Overall, the OUTline is a great option if you are looking for a breathable and lightweight option to increase your performance on the trails, available at a price that won't break the bank.
The Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP scored highly across many of our testing metrics due to their simple, supportive, and comfortable design, available at an affordable price. The fit is suitable for a wide range of foot shapes, however, it particularly favors those with a wider foot, offering a well-padded ankle and tongue which increase overall comfort. The air-cushioned heel made up for the support that the lower ankle shaft denied, and the design provides extra support for the arch of the foot.
While the Moab 2 Mid is one of the heaviest boots we tested, they still feel light underfoot. The real caveats worth mentioning are the lack of traction — even with 5mm lug depths, we weren't confident enough to trust our feet on all types of terrain. We also noticed that the lacing system is secured with mesh, which we imagine would wear out over time, though we had no issues in our testing period. At the end of the day, this is an affordable option for those new to hiking and who aren't primarily focused on high 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.
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 a trail 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.
This review is brough 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, 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.
Our hiking boot testing is divided across six rating metrics:
Comfort tests (25% of overall score weighting)
Support tests (25% weighting)
Traction tests (15% weighting)
Water Resistance tests (15% weighting)
Weight tests (10% weighting)
Durability tests (10% weighting)
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 the overall comfort and support each model provides. 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.
Analysis and Test Results
After extensive field testing and online research, we are confident in our evaluation of these hiking boot models. 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 the 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.
The Salomon OUTline Mid GTX employs a proprietary water repellant outer texture and a Gore-tex membrane to keep costs low. Both work well, resulting in a great product at a lower-than-most price. We're also pleased to see that the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor rings up much lower in price than several other models in this competition while performing at the highest level. The Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP is another tried and true boot with a reasonable price tag. 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 WP. We have rated each pair of boots based on overall comfort while noting potential 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, you can well assume that the Lone Peak is also one of the most comfortable boots in this review. In most cases, these two characteristics 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 the upper snug against the ankles. 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.
The Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX and the OUTline Mid GTX are also impressively comfortable but have a more streamlined, sleek profile conducive to hiking through talus and alpine terrain. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex has plenty of room in the forefoot for wide-footed hikers, as well.
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 toebox 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, the Altra Lone Peak Mid provides more support to the feet and ankles than almost any other model we tested. It features padded ankle support, the Altra EGO midsole, and a 5mm cushioned footbed. The lacing system is incredibly durable and runs from the forefoot to the top of the mid-rise padded ankle allowing for two durable laces that cross over each other, so the ankle is stabilized while in motion. While the 0mm drop Balanced Cushioning 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.
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 makes 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 they have a sleek but still cushioned ankle and a very supportive sole. These boots strike a happy medium between the ultra-stiff Salomon Quest and the less burly models like the Sapphire. Boots like the Merrell Moab 2 Mid have low ankle heights and offer less ankle support, though we found this particular boot decent in certain targeted areas of the foot.
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. 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 well in wet and muddy conditions, and protect the foot from debris. The Topo Athletic Trailventure, for example, performed well in this metric with their Vibram 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 and rubber featured on both the X Ultra 4 Mid and OUTline Mid GTX. These models grip hard surfaces and dig into loose sediment better than any others in our lineup. We felt like the traction of the OUTline was a cross between the sticky rubber of a climbing shoe and the traction you'd expect from a traditional hiking boot. Another worthy mention here is the Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof, which features very aggressive lugs that proved excellent on all kinds of trails as well.
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, withstood deeper creek crossings with ease. 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 BDry, are also solid choices, but the La Sportiva Nucleo impressed our testers the most. Featuring a Nano-Cells technology and an unparalleled Gore-tex surround membrane, these boots not only kept our feet dry but also allowed for moisture to escape the boot for increased comfort on the trail.
The Gore-tex waterproof membranes used in the Lowa Renegade,Salomon X Ultra 4, and Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid are comparable in breathability to the eVent liners of the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP. In other words, both the Gore-tex and eVent liners were impressively breathable. The Gore-tex Extended Comfort treatment found in the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II provided superior waterproof protection while also releasing moisture. Although some believe that waterproof membranes limit breathability, we found that all of the liners were adequate in keeping water out while keeping our feet wicked and dry. 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.
The Salomon OUTline and Altra Lone Peak Mid toe the line between a hiking boot and an athletic shoe. A pair of US Women's size 8.5 weighs 1.53 and 1.60 pounds, respectively, which means that each foot is only carrying around 12-13 ounces. This felt significant to us, and when we found that both boots held their own in other metrics as well, we were very impressed. 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 considered the weight of each pair on the trail as well; while some boots weighed less than others, the lighter models did not always feel the most nimble. The women's boots we tested weigh between 1.38 and 2.5 pounds for sizes ranging from 7.5 to 9 US. The low end of this weight spectrum continues to decrease. The Topo Athletic Trailventure WP also shows a marked trend toward lighter boots with a running shoe-inspired design. This model weighed in at 1.52 pounds for a size 7.5 US, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 GTX weighs 1.63 pounds, with the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid Gtx close behind at 1.68 pounds, while the Lowa Renegade weighs 2.33 pounds, to give some perspective. We tend to prefer the lighter boots for most situations, though there is a use for the heavier durability and support of boots like the 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 over a few years, 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 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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