Best Women's Hiking Boots

Updated October 2021
Header Image
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

64 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
67 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best women’s hiking boots

Women’s hiking boots represent a revolution in footwear design. When true “hiking boots” began to be built and marketed to climbers in the Italian Alps just after World War I, women had to contend with men’s sizes and fit issues, or they had to order a custom-made pair – always a pricey option.

However, from the 1980s forward, as more and more people took to the outdoors, bootmakers began marketing directly to women. Now, hundreds of hiking boots made specifically for women are available. Their sizing, fit, and durability vary greatly, though.

Two people, one wearing jeans and the other wearing black leggings, pause for a rest while hiking.
Looking for women’s hiking boots online? Once you’ve found the right pair, wear them around the house for a few days to keep them clean in case you have to return them.

Types of hiking boots

There is a tremendous variety of women’s hiking boot models to choose from, but you’ll generally see three main types in retail stores: hiking shoes, day hikers, and backpacking boots.

All have a stiff rubber sole and plenty of lugs (those knobby rubber protrusions from the sole) to ensure a good grip on many types of terrain. Their weight can vary, but even high-cut, heavy-duty mountaineering boots can be rated as “lightweight” depending on the materials used to make them.

Here are the details on the three main types of hiking boots.

Hiking shoes

These are generally low-cut shoes with flexible midsoles. They’re much lighter than high-cut, heavy-duty boots and don’t need much walking to be broken in, yet they offer a more rugged build than your standard running shoe.

Day hikers

These are made for short backpacking trips with relatively light loads (around 20 lbs.). They have mid- to high-cut uppers to provide greater ankle support, yet the soles still flex somewhat, and they need little to no time to break in.

Backpacking boots

These are high-cut, durable, and built to provide good support when carrying heavy loads (20 to 40 lbs. or more) on longer backpacking trips.

Their midsoles are much stiffer, with a sturdy shank built into the boot that runs along the foot bed, and they usually need ample breaking in to be completely comfortable on long treks.   

Backpacking boots are an essential part of the backcountry hiking experience, so a lot of thought should go into choosing the right pair.

Content Image
Amy is an outdoor addict who began her love affair with nature as a tiny 3-year-old running the trails of Nova Scotia with boundless energy. She has continued to live in close harmony with the outside world ever since, growing up hiking and camping on the East Coast. She moved to Los Angeles after college and lost no time exploring the infinite adventure opportunities that the Southwest offers. She is now a backpacking guide with TSX Challenge on their Eastern Sierra and Grand Canyon routes. She adores nerding out about anything to do with gear, camping, or backpacking in general.
Backpacking Guide and Outdoors Enthusiast
Content Image
Did you know?
Higher-end and heavy-duty hiking boots typically have a shank – a stiff piece of composite material or even steel placed between the midsole and outsole – to provide more stability and reduce torsion.

Hiking boots materials

Different hiking boots are made of different materials. You’ll hear a lot of different advice about the best type of material for hiking boots. But in the end, it’s your decision. Typical hiking boot materials include the following.

Full-grain leather

Full-grain leather is extremely durable, resistant to abrasion from rocks, and water-resistant. It’s a preferred material for heavy-duty backpacking boots. However, full-grain leather isn’t breathable, and boots of this material take quite a bit of time to break in properly so they’re comfortable to wear. A slightly more flexible option is Nubuck, which is a full-grain leather that has been buffed to look like suede.

Split-grain leather

While not as durable or water-resistant as full-grain, this type of leather is lighter, more breathable, and costs less to produce. It’s often paired with nylon or a nylon mesh to make the boot even more breathable. You’ll see split-grain leather used often in light- to midweight hiking boots and shoes. Often, a water-resistant liner is sewn into the leather to increase its water-repelling capability.


Polyester and nylon are increasingly taking the place of real leather. They’re durable, lightweight, and often cost less – but they also wear out much quicker than leather. Other options include materials like waterproof membranes (liners made with Gore-Tex or eVent that help keep your feet dry), higher amounts of insulation for mountaineering boots used in icy conditions, and boots designed to fit crampons for extreme terrain challenges.

Content Image
Expert Tip
Needs and requirements vary greatly from person to person. Hiking shoes work best for me for everything, from day hikes to backpacking. I also know very experienced backpackers who wear only trail runners.


Women’s hiking boots can range widely in cost, but surprisingly, the prices are less about brand and more about their type (lightweight, midweight, heavyweight) and the materials used. That’s great for the consumer because it means price variations within hiking boot types tend to stay within the same range from brand to brand.

Lightweight: You can expect to pay between $60 and $120 for a pair of good-quality, lightweight, low-cut hiking shoes.

Midweight: Expect to pay between $80 and $200 for light- to midweight hiking boots.

Backpacking: Anticipate spending about $200 to $360 for backpacking boots

Heavyweight: You'll pay about $300 to $600 for heavy-duty, insulated mountaineering boots.

Content Image
Expert Tip
If your hiking boots are really wet, stuff some newspaper or clean rags into the toe box as they dry. This can help absorb moisture inside the boots and prevent mildew. Change the paper every day until the boots are completely dry.

How to choose the right fit

Picking the right women’s hiking boot starts with a bit of introspection. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will I wear these boots on day hikes, multi-day hiking trips, or just around town?

  • What’s my hiking style? Do I prefer walking, climbing, or leisurely ambling?

  • How heavy is the backpack I’ll be carrying with these boots?

  • What are the trail conditions in the areas I’ll be hiking?

  • Will I be spending time in a wet environment (from rain or frequent water crossings)?

  • What time of year will I be hiking?

While cost is an important consideration, hobbling around camp after a day in poorly fitting, unsupportive boots will make you question why you didn’t just shell out the extra $20 to $50 for a better pair.

Now that you’ve got a few pairs in mind, what constitutes the best fit? Hikers should experiment with a few different models to get an idea of how each brand sizes its footwear.

  • Check each manufacturer’s sizing chart online. Measure your feet and match your measurements to their guidelines for proper sizing.

  • If you’re using specialized insoles, insert those in a new boot before trying it on.

  • To start, leave the boot unlaced. Slip your foot in and slide it as far forward as the boot will allow. Run your hand down to your heel. You should have only about a finger’s width of space between your heel and the back of the boot – any more and the boot will probably be too large.

  • Make sure your toes have enough wiggle room in the front of the boot, a.k.a. the toe box.

  • The boot should be snug when laced up, but it shouldn’t feel too tight.

  • Make sure your heel doesn’t slide up and down inside the boot when you walk around in it.

  • Watch out for your feet shifting around too much from side to side or from front to back.

Content Image
Expert Tip
Try on hiking boots at the end of the day, when your feet have swollen a bit, and wear a pair of mid-weight hiking socks (or your favorite hiking socks). You’ll find the most comfortable fit this way.

Caring for women’s hiking boots

Break them in

To break in a new pair of hiking boots, especially full-leather and Nubuck boots, take several short hikes first. This is especially important if you plan to take them on a tougher multi-day hike in the near future.

These walks will also help you fine-tune your hiking boots as you adjust the laces, figure out which socks to wear with them, and make sure the overall fit and feel are exactly right.

To get the longest life out of your hiking boots, break them in gently and give them a little bit of TLC after each use.

Cleaning your boots

After each hike, knock the mud out of your boot soles, brush off any dirt and debris, and let the boots air-dry overnight in a well-ventilated spot.

You may want to take out the laces and pull out the insoles and air them out as well, especially if you waded through any streams during the hike.

Most women’s hiking boot manufacturers will have specific instructions about cleaning and maintaining their boots, and they may recommend that you use (or avoid) certain cleaning and waterproofing products depending on the type of boot you have. Check the manufacturer’s website for additional care instructions as soon as you get your boots.

Content Image
Most of the world’s hiking boots originated and are still designed in one region: the Italian Alps. While manufacturing has spread to other countries, shoe companies in this area set the standard for design, materials, and average cost of women’s hiking boots.


Q. Should I wear lightweight socks in hot weather with hiking boots?

A. That’s for you to decide. Socks play a big role in fitting your hiking boots properly. If the socks are too thin or made of the wrong material, your feet will slide around inside the boots as you walk. You’ll tire more quickly on the trail, get footsore easily, and could develop blisters and other foot injuries. Try different thicknesses and weaves to find the most comfortable, best-fitting sock for your hiking boots.

That said, you should avoid all-cotton socks at all times of year. Cotton doesn’t do a good job of wicking away moisture, leaving your feet sweaty and more prone to chafing, blisters, and other injuries.

Q. My feet still slide around just a bit in my low-cut hiking shoes, especially at the heel. Do I need to get a new pair?

A. First, try adjusting your shoelaces. Most hiking and running shoes have two eyelets, side by side, at the top of each shoe. To keep your heel from sliding up, down, or forward, you can use the extra top eyelets to create a “marathon loop” that can be drawn tight to hold your shoe in place around your ankle. Lace your shoes all the way up, and then loosely thread each lace through the second top eyelet, creating a loop on each side. Thread the end of each lace through the opposite loop. Pull the laces snugly, tightening the loops. Then, tie the laces as usual. This will draw the top of the shoe in a bit tighter, locking your heel into place.

Q. I’ve always had trouble with hiking boots irritating the top of my foot. How can I solve this?

A. If you have a high instep and boot laces irritate the top of your foot, simply avoid crossing the laces over your instep using a technique called window lacing. Tie a locking knot – a half-knot sometimes called a surgeon’s knot or overhand knot – just under the section you want to skip. Then run the laces along the side of the boot to the next eyelet. Tie another locking knot over the skipped section, then continue lacing upward as usual. The open section relieves pressure on the top of your foot.

A dizzying array of women’s hiking boots are available today. But by narrowing down your search to the type of boot you need based on your planned activity, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect style and fit to rock the trail. Happy hiking!

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
See more

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey

Our Top Picks