One should never underestimate the sole-saving power of a good hiking shoe. I believe there are few experiences more miserable than being caught in a downpour in the middle of a longer-than-we-realized loop trail and one of them is that exact experience but with sopping-wet, unsupportive, and painful shoes. Can you tell I've been there?
Well, dear reader, I survived it and I learned. On a pursuit wherein your feet are carrying you the entirety of the way, your shoes matter — more than your leggings, rain jacket, deodorant, and maybe even your backpack. And that's why I'm taking it upon myself to call out the very best hiking footwear you can buy. For research, I consulted other Travel + Leisure editors, hundreds of customer reviews, trusted sources like Outdoor Gear Lab and REI's blog, and my own two feet whenever possible.
Related: How to Pick the Right Hiking Socks for Your Adventure — and 12 of the Best
If you're a true newbie, I recommend two things: First, read through a comprehensive guide about what sort of hiking shoe will best suit your needs. Second, do not waste your money buying cheap hiking shoes. I can almost guarantee you will regret spending less than the $50 that the most affordable shoe on this list costs. Consider the purchase an investment towards your future self's well-being, both physical and emotional — thinking "wow, my feet hurt so much," on repeat with little to distract you but the occasional spiderweb to the face (ah, the woods!) is no good for your mental state, friends. Nature is supposed to be restorative!
With the latest technology in comfort, traction, and support, these picks are the first step to happier feet when you're out exploring the wilds. Here, the best hiking shoes for women in every category.
- Best Ventilated Hiking Shoes: Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
- Best Ventilated Hiking Boots: Keen Targhee Vent Mid Hiking Shoe
- Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes: Oboz Sawtooth II Low B-Dry Hiking Shoe
- Best Waterproof Hiking Boots: Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot
- Best for Ankle Support: Vasque Talus Trek UltraDry Hiking Boot
- Best for Wide Feet: Mountain Warehouse Adventurer Hiking Boots
- Best Traction for Wet Conditions: La Sportiva TX4 Approach Hiking Shoe
- Best Insulated Hiking Boots: Salomon Toundra Pro Snow Boots
- Best Leather Hiking Boots: Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot
- Best Hiking Sandals: Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Hiking Sandal
- Best Water Shoes for Hiking: Keen Whisper Sandal
- Best for Trail Running: Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe
- Best for Rock Scrambling: La Sportiva TX2 Approach Shoe
- Best Cute Hiking Shoes: Merrell Siren Edge 3 Hiking Shoes
Best Ventilated Hiking Shoes: Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
There's a reason Merrell's best-selling Moab has earned the nickname "mother of all boots." It's an excellent hiking shoe. My first pair of hikers were Merrell Moabs, as suggested by my Appalachian Trail alum boyfriend, and they're still holding up to this day. They're comfy from mile one and have plenty of grip thanks to a Vibram sole and a 5-millimeter lug depth. I'd especially recommend this pair for day hikes in the summer; they're delightfully breathable. They're also the best-selling women's hiking shoes on Amazon and have more than 1,000 five-star reviews.
To buy: amazon.com, from $73
Best Ventilated Hiking Boots: Keen Targhee Vent Mid Hiking Shoe
Mesh panels bring breathability to Keen's most beloved hikers, so you don't end up feeling like you slogged through a swamp on a hot summer day hike. The rubber outsole is made to take on any terrain, and the mid-height offers added ankle support. And the footbed is supportive, but also removable in case you prefer to use your own insoles. One reviewer writes, "I try other brands and I still come back to Keen's. The toe-box cannot be beat. These shoes perform on hikes like no others. Toes are protected, arch is supported, no pinching, no blisters."
To buy: zappos.com, $140
Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes: Oboz Sawtooth II Low B-Dry Hiking Shoe
Crowned a Top Pick hiking shoe for women by the intrepid testers behind Outdoor Gear Lab, the Sawtooth II is an excellent pick for both beginners and experts. The B-Dry waterproof membrane allows moisture to vent out of the shoe while keeping the water from puddles or streams from making its way in. Your steps will be amply cushioned by sculpted arch support that make for happy feet, even after you've logged some serious mileage. It also delivers on traction with its sticky rubber soles, though these do weigh the shoe down a bit. In their reviews, shoppers praised the shoe's shock-absorbing heel, arch-contouring fit, and spacious, blister-resistant toe box.
To buy: zappos.com, $140
Best Waterproof Hiking Boots: Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot
Anytime we're heading somewhere where it's recently rained or if there's a chance the weather may take a turn for the worse, these are the hiking boots I grab. The waterproof suede uppers are sturdy, the rubber soles have a ton of grip, and they're great quality boots for how affordable they are. A bonus: They wipe clean easily once you're back at home. And the red-laced style also makes me feel like Cheryl Strayed, but with far fewer blisters. These boots have an impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon and more than 2,000 perfect reviews, with shoppers highlighting everything from their ankle-supporting construction and snug fit to their excellent water resistance and tractioned soles.
To buy: amazon.com or columbia.com, from $77
Best for Ankle Support: Vasque Talus Trek UltraDry Hiking Boot
Our digital executive editor, Deanne Kaczerski, has been taking to the trails in Vasque's Talus Trek for the last few years, and we think the updated version of this style is another awesome contender for those with touchy ankles. The easy speed-lacing construction allows you to customize how tight you'd like them to hug your ankles. Kaczerski vouches that they can get a bit hot in the summer, but they overall keep her feet dry and steady, especially on super rocky terrain.
To buy: backcountry.com, $150
Best for Wide Feet: Mountain Warehouse Adventurer Hiking Boots
These waterproof hiking boots from Mountain Warehouse Adventurer achieve sturdiness and breathability with their supportive mid-length height and lightweight mesh lining. Hundreds of reviewers vouch for their comfort, traction, and roomy toe box, which accommodates hiking enthusiasts with wide-width feet. Plus, they have cushioned footbeds made from moldable foam that supports your arches and toes. One shopper writes, "These boots are great. They are nice and wide for my wide feet. Inner material doesn't bunch up or cause blisters. They are super warm and my feet have never gotten cold (I walk dogs six to seven miles a day)."
To buy: amazon.com, $50
Best Traction for Wet Conditions:La Sportiva TX4 Approach Hiking Shoe
I hate the slightly queasy feeling of trying to keep solid footing on a slick slab of rock. If you do, too, the La Sportiva TX4 Approach Hiking Shoes are just what you need to handle slippery terrain. With their ground-gripping Vibram rubber soles, they'll help to keep your footing secure when the incline gets weird. These hiking shoes also have advanced traction and an impact breaking system for added support on the steep and slick parts of your journey. According to one reviewer, "they're grippy, sturdy, and inspire confidence on gnarly approaches."
To buy: backcountry.com, $140
Best Insulated Hiking Boots: Salomon Toundra Pro Snow Boots
Your feet have two big asks for boots during cold-weather hikes: "Please keep me dry and warm." With the Salomon Toundra Pro Snow Boots, your toes won't need to worry about either. The uppers are made to shield you from snow and slush with durable waterproof leather. For warmth, they're lined with water-resistant insulation that holds up in temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Another well-designed feature is their Contagrip tractioned soles, which offer stability in ice and snow. From the sound of it, their 4.5-star rating is well-deserved. "I have put in 20+ miles on these across rocks, mud, snow, scree slopes, and overall trails and have not found them lacking at any point," one reviewer wrote. "For the hiker and snowshoer, these have the right rigidness in the ankle, solidness in the overall boot, and surprisingly good movement and flex in the toe box to arch."
To buy: amazon.com, from $200
Best Leather Hiking Boots: Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot
A hiking boot I see women wearing rather often on the trail, the Targhee II Mid delivers in so many ways. Starting from the bottom, the multi-directional lug soles give these boots the traction of what Keen calls "four-wheel drive for your feet." They have a flexible, but durable EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate, a porous material similar to rubber) midsole and footbed. The uppers are made of waterproof, wear-resistant nubuck leather. And the mid cut gives your ankles a secure step even on difficult terrain. Do note that they're known to run small; Zappos recommends ordering up a half-size. According to one reviewer, they don't even require breaking in: "Right out of the box, we went on a hike in Maine on a solid rock mountain that was pretty much a 45-degree climb. My legs had to rest here and there but my feet never complained, not one second, even descending. Next day, we went to Acadia and hiked some trails and over boulders, jumping, and climbing and still not a single complaint from my feet."
To buy: zappos.com, $140
Best Hiking Sandals: Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Hiking Sandal
As their name suggests, Chaco's Cloud sandals are engineered for all-day comfort. Whether you're wearing them around town on a "zero day" or hiking in them all weekend long, the adjustable straps allow for a perfect fit to your foot and the sole is packed with cushion and support. The ChacoGrip rubber outsole will give you plenty of grip, too. They're also 100 percent vegan-friendly and have a 4.6-star rating. One Amazon shares, "These are so comfortable. Great arch support, really grippy non slip sole and no break-in time needed."
To buy: amazon.com or zappos.com, from $55
Best Water Shoes for Hiking: Keen Whisper Sandal
Dozens of reviewers back up this uber-popular women's-specific Keen sandal, which has a 4.5-star rating. It's got Keen's signature toe bumper to protect you from stubs, an anatomical footbed that will mold to your feet with wear, and a quick-draw lacing system that makes for easy on and off. Plus, we have to give an extra shoutout to the built-in antimicrobial and anti-odor treatment, because water shoes can get funky. One shopper writes, "They fit perfectly, true to size, they'll be great for hiking since they have a good grip, are waterproof and they protect your toes if you're a klutz and bump your toes on everything."
To buy: backcountry.com, from $72
Best for Trail Running: Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe
You can expect a truly delightful trail run with the Speedcross 5. Thanks to their new and improved rubber outsole, which now features deeper and wider lugs, the sneakers offer superior traction and stability in muddy and looser trail conditions. They're incredibly breathable and have a supportive fit that provides ample cushioning as you run over rocks and branches. Combined with their signature flexible forefoot, the shoes allow you to confidently approach uphills and switchbacks without fear of slipping. According to reviewers, they work on any terrain — dirt, mud, slush, snow, you name it.
To buy: backcountry.com, $140
Best for Rock Scrambling: La Sportiva TX2 Approach Shoe
Approach shoes serve as a hybrid between shoes designed for hiking and those intended for rock climbing, so on difficult trails with a good amount of boulders — looking at you, Precipice Trail at Acadia National Park — they'll offer extra grip where you need it. The TX2 is great for hikes with technical terrain. It's got a sticky outsole and a lacing harness that extends all the way to the toe to help you get a snug fit. Rubber rands on the toes and heels add grip and protection, and a stiff midsole supports your feet when footholds are less than ideal. In their review, one shopper says, "I chose these over the TX4s due to their lighter weight and overall they had a pretty good rating for their climbing ability. I barely noticed them on the back of my harness while I was climbing. I felt good climbing easy friction slabs in them and scrambling down gullies this past weekend. Probably one of my best purchases this year."
To buy: backcountry.com, $130
Best Cute Hiking Shoes: Merrell Siren Edge 3 Hiking Shoes
Merrell's feminine Siren line is contoured to fit a woman's foot with gender-specific support, alignment, and stability. The Edge's mesh upper makes it super lightweight, and an air-cushioned heel absorbs the shock of each strike. The real standout feature on this pair, however, is the insole, which supports not only your main arch but all three arches of the foot to keep you comfortable for miles. "This shoe provides stability, support and all day comfort without looking like a clodhopper," according to one Zappos shopper. Another adds that the Edge 3 offers the perfect grip for hiking on rocky trails and that it is "so comfortable out of the box."
To buy: zappos.com, $95
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