Deciding on what hiking shoes to buy is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. You can have gear that isn’t perfect but still good enough for most trips, but shoes that don’t fit or feel right is something you’ll regret every single time you hike.
That’s why this guide will walk you through everything you need to know before you pick a pair. This guide will also show you the best hiking shoes for women that are new for this current season.
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
Although you might live in a warmer or dry climate, having shoes that have waterproofing can save you from a lot of uncomfortable moments. Plenty of trails have mud, streams, or surprise rainstorms that can catch you off guard so you want to make sure the shoes you pick have a waterproofing layer.
Depending on the shoes you might buy, you’ll also need to re-apply waterproofing after some time.
Shoes that have GORE-TEX built-in are always waterproof, which is why you want to keep an eye out for that label when it comes to choosing your next hiking shoe.
Weight is something you’ll want to heavily consider when it comes to picking out hiking shoes. Unlike hiking boots, where you might need to consider factors like snow and cold weather, hiking shoes are generally worn on warmer hikes or as a casual shoe. That means you’ll need to find ones that are light and won’t weigh you down while you walk.
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 (Vibram soles)
Most quality hiking shoes will have Vibram soles which are some of the most durable soles on the market. No matter what shoes you pick, you’ll want to keep an eye out for a solid sole that will give your foot the support you need while you hike.
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 to make sure you don’t slip, even when it rains. Analyze the whole bottom of the shoe and make sure there’s grip around your heels, because that’s what will help you from sliding down a mountain when you’re descending on a trail.
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 Of Hiking Shoes
All hiking shoes are made of uppers, midsoles, internal support, and outsoles.
Uppers go across the top of your shoe.
Midsoles are the part your heel rests on and that have a huge impact on the stiffness of the boot.
Internal support gives your foot and ankle the cushioning and design it needs to feel comfortable.
Outsoles are the part of the shoe that touches the ground.
There are a wide variety of materials that hiking shoes can have. This article has more details on the specific types of material but we’ll make a simple breakdown.
Synthetics- the most common hiking shoe material. It allows air to flow through and also keeps the shoe light.
Leather – You’ll see more leather options in hiking boots due to them needing to keep warm, but every now and then some hiking shoes will have leather as well. There are various forms of leather but generally they’ll need to be worn in before you can take them on longer hikes, so keep that in mind if you see some leather ones.
The Best Hiking Shoes For Women (By Brand)
We’ve looked through a lot of the hiking shoes on the market and hunted down the best ones. We picked shoes that are both lightweight and waterproof. We’ll also break down everything you need to know about each shoe so you can find the right one for you.
Keen Hiking Shoes
The Targhee III from Keen is one of their most famous lines of shoes, but this is the newly-updated version. It provides excellent arch support without sacrificing comfort. It has a leather mud shield to keep them durable for years to come.
The foot width is normal and they don’t offer wider ones for this specific model.
- Breathable membrane
- Excellent arch support
- Cradles natural contours of the foot
Why pick this shoe? The Targhee has excellent traction and is a sturdy boot that will help protect your feet, even on the rockiest terrain.
This hiking shoe has more breathable material than the Targhee III, giving you a lighter and more flexible feel while also staying supportive to your feet. It weighs 11.3 oz. These shoes do not have a wide size.
- Breathable membrane
- 4mm multi-directional lugs
- ESS stability shank for support
Why pick this shoe? This shoe is perfect for almost any type of trail or city adventure you could do. It can handle any terrain while staying comfortable the whole time.
Merrell Hiking Shoes
The Alverstone from Merrell is an incredibly sturdy shoe that gives your feet extra protection on long hikes. It’s made out of suede material that gives your foot the extra stability for even aggressive trails. Weight: 1 lb 7 oz. The width on this boot is medium.
- Suede leather
- Mesh upper
- Protective rubber toe cap
Why pick this shoe? If you’re looking for a sturdy hiking shoe that will last a long time through a ton of trails, this is a great option.
The Siren 3 is close to what a traditional athletic shoe looks like but with some hiking features built-in. It has a hyperlock molded TPU heel counter for security along with webbing loops for a secure fit. Weight: 1lb 5 oz. The width is medium.
- Mesh and TPU upper
- Vibram Megagrip
Why pick this shoe? If you’re looking for a light hiking shoe that feels flexible and closer to an athletic shoe, the Siren 3 might be a perfect fit.
Salomon Hiking Shoes
The X ULTRA 3 GTX W has a strong foothold and traction so you don’t need to worry about slipping, which makes it an ideal shoe for tough descents. This shoe offers a wide width.
- Descent control for extra grip
- GTX membrane
Why pick this shoe? This shoe offers a solid grip without the extra weight. It can even handle descents in rain much better than some hiking shoes.
The Outline GTX W has athletic-style comfort while still having hiking shoe features. The top of it is designed like an athletic shoe while the treading has solid grips that can handle long hikes. Wide width is available for this shoe.
- Slim, athletic style
- Sneaker-like comfort
- Outdoor readiness
- Gore-tex waterproof
Why pick this shoe? If you’re in the market for a light hiking shoe that feels more like something you’d wear to the gym than on the trail, then the OUTLINE GTX W might be exactly what you need.
North Face Hiking Shoes
The Fastpack shoe from North Face is one of their most popular hiking shoes due to how breathable and comfortable they are on trails. Wide width is not available for this shoe.
- PU-coated leather
- Vibram rubber outsole
- Rustproof hardware
Why pick this shoe? Anyone looking for a smooth hike where you barely notice you have shoes on should consider the Fastpack.
Columbia Hiking Shoes
The Wayfinder OutDry shoe from Columbia looks like a gym shoe but has better tread and lacing options which makes it an ideal hiking shoe. Although it’s a light shoe, it’s still waterproof which keeps your feet dry on even the longest trails. This shoe does not have a wide width available.
- Mesh upper with synthetic overlays
- OutDry waterproof
- Techlite lightweight midsole
Why pick this shoe? Anyone looking to hike with a light shoe that has all the flexibility you’d need for fast trails should consider the Wayfinder OutDry.
Ahnu (by Teva) Hiking Shoes
The Montara III Event from Teva is a strong shoe that can handle the toughest of conditions. Whether you’re hiking in colder or super wet weather, this shoe will make sure your feet stay dry the whole time. The width on this shoe is normal.
- Waterproof-breathable eVent membrane
- Waterproof Nubuck leather
- Super-gripping Vibram outsole
Why pick this shoe? The Montara III Event is a tougher, sturdier shoe which gives hikers the support they need on any trail.
The Sugarpine II has a nice mix of waterproof leather and sleek mesh which is a nice blend of both worlds. This is one of their best sellers due to its look, comfort, and performance. This hiking shoe doesn’t offer wide width.
- Breathable mesh uppers
- Leather overlays
Why pick this shoe? If you plan to do hikes in cooler weather or on wet trails, this shoe has everything you need to handle it all.
Oboz Hiking Shoes
The Sawtooth II from Oboz has superior comfort and versatility that can handle almost any terrain. It also offers protection from mountain-stream crossings due to having a waterproof upper. This shoe offers a wide width on all their sizes.
- Waterproof uppers
- Ankle-friendly asymmetrical collar
- Large mesh vents
Why pick this shoe? The Sawtooth II has excellent heel support and will keep your ankles safe, even over rocky terrain.
The Cirque Low shoe has design features that can hold up over even the longest of hikes. Like all Oboz shoes, it has the proprietary O FIT insole that has superior comfort and performance, even after hours. This shoe has only a normal width option.
- Form-hugging heel cup
- Wider forefoot and toe box
Why pick this shoe? The Cirque Low offers better stability than a lot of hiking shoes due to its rounded lugs.
Vasque Hiking Shoes
The Breeze Lite Low GTX from Vasque is one of the best shoes for fast and light trail adventures. This shoe only offers normal width.
- Vibram Lightbase
- Comfort of a trailrunner
Why pick this shoe? If you’re looking for a shoe that has the support of a hiking shoe with the performance of an athletic shoe, this is the exact shoe you need.
The Mesa Trek Low Ultradry is a lightweight women’s shoe that’s perfect for trail running. It has the performance of a quality hiking shoe with the flexibility and performance of an athletic shoe. This shoe only offers normal width.
- Durable, breathable upper
- Moisture-wicking textile lining
Why pick this shoe? The Mesa Trek Low Ultradry is perfect for day hiking or lightweight adventures. If you’re planning a trip that consists of a lot of walking, this could also be the perfect shoe for that as well.
La Sportiva Hiking Shoes
The Spire GTX women’s shoe from La Sportiva is a low cut mid-duty hiking and backpacking shoe. It has the performance of a boot while still being a shoe. This shoe does not offer a wide width option.
- Abrasion-resistant mesh upper
- Nano Cell 2.0 structure provides maximum breathability
Why pick this shoe? The Spire GTX has some of the best breathability out there that you’ll find in a hiking shoe. The Vibram® XS Trek with Impact Brake System™ also has a strong sole to give your heels the support they need at all times.
Adidas Hiking Shoes
The Terrex Swift R2 GTX from Adidas is incredibly lightweight and lets you go fast on trails without sacrificing a waterproof feature. It has a low-cut durable upper with speed lacing support that lets you stay on the go. This shoe only offers normal width.
- Gore-Tex membrane
- Continental Rubber outsole
Why pick this shoe? Adidas has been known for a long time to make a quality athletic shoe, which is what this shoe is just with added hiking features that make it an ideal trailrunner or a shoe for day hiking.
The Terrex AX3 GTX W from Adidas is incredibly lightweight. They have mesh and synthetic uppers for good ventilation and breathability. The lace-up closure will make sure you stay laced all the time. The protective toe rand and heel pull tab are small features that make this a great choice for a hiking shoe. The weight is 14 oz. This shoe doesn’t come with wide width sizes.
- Solid grip
- Still comfortable after many hours
Why pick this shoe? This shoe is lightweight and has superior support which can handle almost any trail you throw at them.
New Balance Hiking Shoes
The 1350 shoe from New Balance has a city-ready modern style. It has a waterproof synthetic/mesh upper that helps ventilation. These are also extra comfortable due to the Fresh Foam midsole. They weigh 339 g (12 oz). For width, there is standard, wide, and even x-wide.
- Waterproof materials and membrane
- Synthetic/mesh upper
- Fresh Foam innovative midsole
Why pick this shoe? This shoe has superior cushioning and comfort so you won’t be uncomfortable on your hikes. It also has shock absorption so your ankles won’t hurt, even on steep hikes.
This concludes our guide on the best hiking shoes for women.
Check out our hiking footwear super guide for more information.