As we close off another year and head into 2021, we completely updated our guide to the best hiking shoes for women. It is mind-blowing how much better, more durable, and lighter women’s hiking shoes are getting each season. We have gathered a great selection of top performers.
In this new guide, we cover everything you need to know to choose a great hiking shoe. Plus, you will find our top picks of all the newest hiking shoes available right now. We are expecting additional styles in the coming months, and you will find our reviews of them right here as soon as they are launched.
Okay, read on for our top picks. They are organized from the most durable, protective, and supportive (thus heavier) for power hikers to the lightest weight hiking shoes which are best suited for nimble and fast-moving hikers.
The Vasque Breeze AT Low GTX is a super durable and versatile hiking shoe that you can use on a wide variety of terrain. It is very supportive, protective, and has excellent grip.
- GORE-TEX with Extended Comfort Technology is waterproof
- Nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant mesh upper
- Midsole with EVA Cushioning Pods supports and cushions your feet
- TPU shank for stability and underfoot protection
- Protective rubber toe cap
- Vibram Contact Grip with Megagrip rubber compound outsole
- 914 grams
The Vasque Talus Extended Terrain (XT) Low hiking shoes are stable, supportive, and protective. These shoes are suitable for long day hikes or weekend backpacking trips. This hiking shoe performs nicely on challenging and diverse terrain and will keep your feet protected and comfortable on any trails.
- Leather upper is durable
- Dual-density EVA midsole for cushion
- TPU shank provides support and stability
- Vibram Mega Nuasi outsole with Mega Grip rubber compound
- Aggressive multi-directional lug pattern
- 878 grams
This hiking shoe is not available in a waterproof version. The closest alternative would be the Talus AT Low Ultradry.
The Oboz Bridger is an all-terrain hiking shoe that is designed with comfort, support, and foot protection in mind.
- B-DRY waterproof and breathable membrane keeps your feet dry
- Upper is nubuck leather and abrasion-resistant mesh
- Single density EVA midsole
- TPU chassis adds stability
- Rugged rubber outsole with multi-directional tread
- Rubber heel counter keeps heel and foot securely in place
- Rubber toe cap protection
- 850 grams
A lighter weight versatile hiking shoe by Oboz. Also available in a non-waterproof version.
- B-DRY waterproof and breathable membrane
- Wide forefoot and toe box
- Nubuck leather upper with breathable mesh vents
- Dual-density EVA midsole for cushion and support
- Nylon shank adds stability
- Rubber heel counter
- A rugged outsole with multi-directional tread
- 805 grams
The Moab 2 hiking shoe is one of the most popular hiking shoes sold by Merrell. Unless you live in a hot and dry climate, this shoe is going to be a good pick for most hikers. The Merrell Moab 2 is a versatile shoe that delivers a perfect balance of comfort, protection, and durability. This shoe is designed for out of the box comfort right away.
- Waterproof with GORE-TEX membrane
- Durable leather and synthetic upper
- Bellows tongue keeps debris out of the shoe
- EVA midsole
- Protective toe cap
- Nylon arch shank for stability
- Merrell air cushion heel support
- Vibram TC5+ outsole with 5mm lugs
- 800 grams
If you live in a hot and dry climate the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator is a non-waterproof shoe that would be more suitable. Same shoe, but less leather and more mesh in the upper for improved breathability.
A brand new hiking shoe for 2021, and the newest shoe of these top picks. This is a very durable and protective lighter weight shoe that is designed for aggressive fast-moving power hikers.
- Waterproof with GORE-TEX lining
- Synthetic upper with water repellent treatment
- ADV-C Chassis improves stability
- Sensifit system holds your foot snugly in place
- Contagrip MA outsole grips wet, dry, hard, and loose terrain
- Lug tread pattern delivers multi-directional grip
- Quicklace system keeps feet snug
- Protective mudguard and toe cap
- Women-specific last, materials, and design
- 780 grams
The most popular hiking shoe by Keen Footwear. The Targhee III hiking shoe is comfortable, durable, and protective. You can take these shoes on a wide variety of terrain.
- KEEN.Dry waterproof membrane keeps feet dry
- Full leather and mesh upper is durable and breathable
- Dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole provides support and cushion
- ESS shank supports your feet and adds stability
- Internal shank increases stability and protection
- TPU heel capture system keeps the foot snug
- Rubber toe cap
- 4mm multi-directional lugs for great traction
- Leather mud shield adds durability and protection
- 714 grams
The Aerios FL Low GTX is a minimalist, lightweight, fast-moving, high-performance hiking shoe. Another great shoe that draws inspiration from trail running shoes but provides much more durability and grip for a variety of terrains.
- Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX lining
- Cordura mesh upper
- Compressed EVA midsole for cushion
- TPU shank for extra support
- Vibram Megagrip outsole
- 600 grams
The Danner Trail 2650 is a stylish American made hiking shoe.This hiking shoe was inspired from the 2650 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail. It is designed for moving quickly over a wide variety of terrain. This hiking shoe is also available in a non-GORE-TEX style.
- GORE-TEX waterproof and breathable lining
- Suede and lightweight textile upper
- Ultra-light EVA midsole cushions
- 3-layer Ortholite footbed adds extra support for your feet
- Vibram 460 Outsole with Megagrip performs well in wet and dry conditions
- Danner Trailguard TPU shank adds stability and underfoot protection
- 365-day warranty
- 595 grams
A new fast-moving hiker by Merrell is light and comfortable like trail running shoes but provides more support, durability, and foot protection.
- GORE-TEX membrane is waterproof and breathable
- Tear-resistant mesh upper
- Tongue-integrated lacing system gives a snug and secure fit
- Bellows tongue keeps debris out of the shoe
- Merrell Air Cushion heel supports and cushions feet
- Rock plate for underfoot protection
- TPU toe cap delivers extra foot protection
- Merrell Quantum Grip rubber outsole
- 5mm lug treads
- 566 grams
The Salomon Outline is a lightweight hiking shoe that gives you running shoe comfort combined with a more durable and grippy tread. The Outline is also available in a non-waterproof style that is a better option for hot dry climates. This hiking shoe is perfect for hikers that like to be light and nimble on their feet.
- Waterproof GORE-TEX lining
- Breathable synthetic mesh upper
- Water-resistant treatment increases weather protection
- Protective mudguard protects feet and increases durability
- Contragrip MD rubber outsole is long-lasting and durable
- Protective rubber toe cap
- Gusseted tongue
- 5mm lug treads
- 580 grams
Inspired by trail running shoes, the Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX is a lightweight hiking shoe with a rugged Vibram sole. The Breeze LT is waterproof and breathable so suitable for a range of conditions. High-rebound footbeds offer support and shock absorption for long hikes at any speed.
- Waterproof and breathable with GORE-TEX + Extended Comfort Technology
- Durable abrasion-resistant synthetic mesh upper
- Dual-density Enduralast EVA midsole
- Vibram LiteBase with Megagrip Compound outsole for the best traction with 25% less weight
- 520 grams
How To Choose Hiking Shoes: The Key Features
There are some main things you’ll want to keep an eye out for when it comes to hiking shoes. All of these include:
Waterproof / GORE-TEX
Unless you live in a very hot and dry climate, it is a good idea to go for waterproof hiking shoes. Most hiking shoes have a GORE-TEX membrane that is both waterproof and breathable. Some brands use their own proprietary waterproof fabric that accomplishes the same thing.
Weight is something you’ll want to heavily consider when it comes to picking out hiking shoes.
This really comes down to what type of hiker you are. If you are an aggressive, long-distance, power hiker you will want a hiking shoe that is more durable and offers greater support. If you are an easygoing hiker you can get away with something that is much lighter in weight. Some hiking shoes are in between that cater to those that want to move fast or even run on their hikes but provide a more durable package compared to trail running shoes.
Hiking Shoe Fit
Fit is the next important factor you’ll want to consider when it comes to buying hiking shoes. Most hiking shoes either come in narrow or wide options. There are also varying forms of arch support, but those are often purchased as add-ons to fit in afterwards if needed. You can figure out if a hiking shoe is wide based on the “W” that’s in the size description. For example, a company could offer a size 9 and a size 9 W shoe.
If you have never picked a hiking shoe before, you should know that the fit should be snug but not tight so you can avoid your feet slipping or blisters. You’ll want to bring along the hiking socks you plan to wear with your shoes, too, so you can get the most accurate feel for how they’ll fit on your hike.
Ventilation / Breathability
Some hiking shoes offer more ventilation than others. Usually, they’ll also offer a lot more than hiking boots due to being used often in warmer weather.
Durable rubber soles
Many high performance hiking shoes will have Vibram outsoles which are considered to be super durable and reliable.
Other brands create their own outsoles that are made of super durable rubber compounds.
Comfort / Cushioning
The comfort of your hiking shoes is a top priority because you’ll be spending a lot of time in them. You’ll want to make sure they’re comfortable especially because you might get stuck on a long hike and won’t be able to switch out your shoes.
Traction / Grip / Stability
Traction is important because you don’t want to worry about slipping when you’re hiking. A good hiking shoe will have quality traction that works in wet and dry conditions as well as on a variety of terrain.
Analyze the bottom of the shoe and make sure there’s a deep and multi-directional lug tread pattern.
Vegan (or not)
Some people prefer vegan shoes and most shoes that are will come with a note of that in the description. These shoes won’t have any leather and instead will be made completely out of synthetics.
Components and materials of hiking shoes
All hiking shoes are made of uppers, midsoles, internal support, and outsoles.
Upper – is the part that wraps over the top of your foot. The upper is made of leather, synthetic materials, or a combination of both.
Midsole – the part your heel and forefoot rests on that provides cushioning and support.
Internal shanks provide extra support for your feet and underfoot protection.
Outsole – the part of the shoe that touches the ground otherwise know as your treads and lugs.
Hiking shoes are made of a blend of leather, synthetic materials, and rubber. Learn more about materials in our complete guide to the best hiking footwear.