The 8 Best Hiking Shoes and Boots for Women of 2023

The Arc'teryx Konseal FL 2 works for a variety of terrains and conditions.

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Best Hiking Shoes and Boots for Women

Travel + Leisure / Danie Drankwalter

Whether you are hiking for six-months on the Appalachian Trail or for a few hours in an underground cave, your feet will require protection against varying terrains, conditions, injuries and seasons. This is why most brands have a variety of options in each of their collections.

In general, there are four types of hiking footwear; lightweight or trailrunner, which are low-cut and best for short day hikes; midweight or day hikers that are mid-cut and best for carrying light loads; heavyweight or mountaineering, high-cut, waterproof designs best for carrying heavy loads; and canyoneering, quick-drying, well-draining, and high-traction grip styles.

Our top picks for the best hiking shoes and boots are from the Arc’teryx Konseal FL 2 collection. Not only do I get the most compliments when I wear them (from non-hikers and hikers alike) thanks to the sleek design and color options that thankfully are not in unicorn hues, this collection is also known as the master of shifting terrain. In my experience, they’ve prevented bruised toes in both short and long distances no matter the condition.

Here are the hiking shoes and boots we recommend for each terrain or condition:

Best Overall

Arc’teryx Konseal FL 2 Collection

Arc’teryx Konseal FL 2 Collection

Amazon

Why We Love It: They’re lightweight yet able to handle mixed terrain.

What to Consider: Personally, I’m willing to spend the extra money for Gore-tex, but Arc’teryx also offers shoes at a lower price without it.

After breaking them in, I can corroborate claims that these comfortable, durable shoes take you to “Konseal foot heaven.” Both Arc’teryx’s Konseal FL 2 GTX and Konseal FL 2 Leather GTX 2 deliver on this promise, along with a 3D-molded rubber toe cap and Gore-tex membrane that will keep your feet dry and ventilated. A thermoplastic polyurethane chassis (at the midfoot and forefoot in the FL 2 Leather and midsole in the FL 2 GTX) stabilizes the foot on uneven terrain.

While the shoes are stiffer in this second iteration, they do provide more stability and support to handle backpackers and the distance and weight of their packs. Plus, the update has spikier lugs, which earned runner and tennis player Javin Hung’s comment that this shoe has “Spider-Man-level grip.” If you’re like me and need a hiking shoe that doesn’t bruise toes when descending, you’ll love the Konseal Fl 2.

Price at time of publish: $175

Sizes: 5 to 10 | Material: Fabric/textile, synthetic, OrthoLite 3D-molded insert, vs split-leather TPU high abrasion protection, Vibram Megagrip rubber, Gore-tex | Weight per pair: 20 ounces

Best for Backpackers

Salomon Women's Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Boots

REI

Why We Love It: It has a wide toe-box and offers a well-supported ankle and heel, especially for long distance hikes.

What to Consider: Some reviews report that after six pairs, the fourth iteration of these boots cause blisters.

Some reviews (like one from Wirecutter) stand by the Salomon Quest line year after year. They love how breathable, waterproof, well-tractioned, supportive and comfortable these boots are. The toe box in particular is wide enough to accommodate a variety of foot shapes. The tongue keeps out debris because it is connected on both sides. Even after Salomon updated the base of the boot in 2021 for its fourth iteration and made the heel support more rigid, these reviews loved the extra support around the heel and how it reduces muscle fatigue. I fall in this camp, because I agree that after a long-distance backpacking trip, my toes didn’t feel stubbed and my arch didn’t ache as much as they did with other boots I’ve used. These boots were too heavy and clunky to pack in my suitcase though, so I don’t use them on backpacking trips that require a flight.

Size: 5 to 11 | Material: Textile, nubuck leather, Rubber, Gore-tex  |  Weight per pair: 1.18 lbs

Best in Rain

Bogs Whiteout Yulex

Bogs Whiteout Yulex

Bogs

Why We Love It: The handles make it easy to slip on and off Bogs boots.

What to Consider: If you wear them every day, the outsoles get worn down, especially at the heel.

Bog boots have lasted me several seasons in rain or snow and have even been passed down from my older to younger kids. However, they are so comfortable, warm, and dry that sometimes we start wearing them every day, in which case, the outsoles do get worn down.

The Whiteout Yulex is lined with fleece. It has rebound cushioning and technology that fights odors. Bogs partnered with Bloom to make an eco-friendly, algae-based EVA footbed that cleans polluted water habitats. Plus, these boots include rubber from Yulex, who produces the only commercially available Forest Stewardship Council-certified pure natural rubber. As a result, the Bogs Yulex boots are tough and light. Best of all, this boot has saved me from slipping with its GlacierGrip slip-resistant outsole.

Price at time of publish: $175

Size: 6 to 12 | Materials: 7mm Neo-Tech waterproof insulation, DuraFresh natural bio-technology, Yulex natural rubber waterproof construction, Fleece lining  |  Weight per pair: 3.24 lbs

Best Value

Merrell Women's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

Merrell Women's Moab 3 Hiking Shoe

REI

Why We Love It: It’s an affordable price for a comfortable, breathable low-top boot.

What to Consider: They’re heavy and clunky.

For over 15 years, Merrell’s Moab Collection has earned a reputation for comfort, low weight, and a reasonable price point. In Spring 2022, they upgraded this collection to include more materials that are partially recycled, a new insole with better arch support, less sculpted heel, more cushioning under the ball of the foot, and more aggressive traction.

If you prefer an over-the-ankle boot, try the Moab 3 Mid. If you prefer a waterproof boot, Moab offers you their own in-house membrane at a lower price than their Gore-tex version.

Price at time of publish: $72-$110

Size: 5 to 11 | Materials: Pigskin leather, recycled mesh, Vibram TC5+ rubber  |  Weight per pair: 1.8 pounds

Best for Canyoneering

Bestard Canyon Guide Lady

Bestard Canyon Guide Lady

Adventure Plus

Why We Love It: They’re incredibly light and comfortable.

What to Consider: They’re not waterproof.

Since 2019 when I tested the Bestard’s Canyon Guide Lady in Jordan’s Wadi Mujib, no brand has challenged Bestard’s claim that they are the first and perhaps only company to design a women-specific canyoneering boot. Mats Lindholm says, “Our Canyon Guide Lady is less voluminous than the men’s boot. It comes in smaller sizes. Over time, we have continued to improve materials for durability.” This boot has never failed me in humid, wet, slippery, monsoon-season trekking conditions like canyoneering in Switzerland’s Grimselpass or caving in Brazil’s Devil’s Cave. My favorite feature is the gaiter that keeps debris from entering the boot. The grip is a non-marking Vibram Best Idrogrip outsole which has saved me from potentially bad slips. I also like how it’s tough enough to function as a hiking boot during the approach, which sometimes could be several miles of hiking on difficult terrain. Water also passes efficiently through this boot through four holes just above the sole, as well as through the blue Cordura parts, so be sure to wear a neoprene sock. There’s also a pocket at the tongue of the boot that allows you to tuck knots and lacing away.

Price at time of publish: $250

Size: 5.5 to 10 | Materials: H2O Microtech, cordura, rubber pro, hidro-mesh, vibram best Idrogrip + EVA outsole |  Weight per pair: 2.4 pounds

Best Cross Country

ECCO Women's Biom 2.1 Low Textile

ECCO Women's Biom 2.1 Low Textile Trail Running Shoe

Amazon

Why We Love It: They’re incredibly light and comfortable.

What to Consider: They’re not waterproof.

BIOM Natural Motion is an ingenious concept of replicating a near-barefoot running experience by prioritizing the natural motion of your foot. It was designed for cross-country adventures with a low profile but they are so comfortable that many of us travel writers enjoy wearing them on our trips because they don’t hurt after long days of walking or standing.

The insoles are made of OrthoLite’s Ultralite footbeds. The midsoles are made of Phorene, a polyurethane compound that delivers impact protection and longevity, perfected over time to be light, shock-absorbing, and energy-returning. Finally, the outsoles are equipped with innovative cleats to provide multi-directional traction and stability.

Instead of a tongue, this shoe utilizes a stretchy sock-construction that hugs your foot. The outermost layer is abrasion-resistant and breathable.

Price at time of publish: $250

Size: 4/4.5 to 11/11.5 | Materials: Textile upper with leather detailing, removable OrthoLite® Ultralite insole, PHORENE™ midsole with EPR+ outsole  |  Weight per pair: 1.1 pounds

Best for Winter

Tecnica Women's Forge Winter GTX Hiking Boots

Tecnica Women's Forge Winter GTX Hiking Boots

REI

Why We Love It: They’re heat-moldable to your feet.

What to Consider: It’s hard to get knots out of the shoelaces and the tongue is wrap-around.

Warning: If you don’t go to an authorized retailer and custom-heat-mold the heel, arch, and ankle of this boot to your feet, your feet will hurt. I made the mistake of trying to break in this boot not knowing how unforgiving the stiff rock plate is prior to being molded. My second mistake was tying the boots together by their shoelaces and clipping them to my backpack. The shoelaces are difficult to untie once knots are tightened. Other than that, the Forge Winter GTX is perfect for winter conditions. The sole is made of a Megagrip compound that grips wet and dry surfaces. It also has dents instead of protrusions inside the treads which maximizes the surface-contact area. The tongue of the boot is a cuff of abrasion-resistant elastic fabric to make it easier to step in and is supposed to relieve pressure points around the ankle.

Price at time of publish: $280

Size: 5.5 - 10.5 | Materials: Nubuck leather, Vibram Forge with Arctic Grip compound, Gore-tex   |  Weight per pair: 2.3 pounds

Best for Traction

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots

La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX

REI

Why We Love It: You’ll get a waterproof and breathable boot with deep long lugs that allow traction at steep angles.

What to Consider: The new version of this boot may have issues with waterproofness, durability, and fit.

I have crossed rivers in Alaska and negotiated the Chilkoot Trail (the steep gully known as the “Golden Stairs” that go up to 3,000 feet) with my La Sportiva Nucleo boots. Even though I’ve tested plenty of hiking boots, I still rely upon my Nucleo High II GTX to keep my feet dry and comfortable. The only reason I did not list this boot as “best overall” is because the new iteration has received some negative reviews about waterproofing, durability, and fit. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the time to use the new iteration. The impact-braking system designed into the outsole allows hikers to use their heel like a brake. La Sportiva also offers this boot in wide sizes.

Price at time of publish: $229

Size: 6 to 11  | Material: Nubuck leather, synthetic, Vibram Nano XS-Trek rubber, GORE-TEX |  Weight per pair: 1.3 pounds

Tips for Buying Hiking Shoes and Boots

Prioritize comfort

Comfort is the number one priority for me. A pair of boots should not give you blisters, soreness, or bruised toenails. You should always try them on before you start your hike. Here are some tips I’ve discovered over the years:

  • Try on hiking shoes and boots with socks and liners at the end of the day because that’s when your feet swell. 
  • Loosen up the laces and slip your foot into the boots then stand up straight. Inch your foot as far as you can into the toe-box. Then, see if one finger fits behind your heel. 
  • Lace your shoes and boots according to the criss-cross method or window lacing technique and make sure your standard knot lies flat.
  • Check the width by lacing up the boots and seeing whether your feet can’t slide.
  • Make sure your heel does not move up and down more than a quarter of an inch.
  • Hike up and down an inclined surface to check if your toes get jammed at the front and if your heel rubs against the back.
  • If you’ll be backpacking, try on hiking boots with roughly the same weight you plan to carry.
  • Size up only if your toes feel squeezed or you plan to hike several days in the same pair of boots.
  • Check where the boot hits your ankle bone to assess volume fit (whether the depth of your foot and boot matches).
  • Break in a stiff boot by wearing it around the house and going up and down stairs. Be aware that sitting on your couch and watching TV does not count.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How should hiking shoes fit?

    A well-fitted boot or shoe should allow your toes to wiggle and spread but feel snug everywhere else. Your toes will not bend in the toe box. With the socks that you plan to wear with the hiking shoe or boot, insert your longer foot, lace it up, then stand up. You should be able to insert a thumb width behind your heel. The hiking boot or shoe should be well-padded and provide you with enough arch, ankle, or heel support. If a boot is not deep enough, then your feet will fall asleep. If it’s too deep, then you’ll get a blister from your feet sliding underneath the shoelaces. Finally, ensure that your heel doesn’t move up and down.

  • Can I use my running shoes for hiking?

    Yes, but keep in mind what features you might need on your hike — is the terrain uneven and rugged, so your foot will benefit from more protection and support? Then a hiking shoe or boot is best for you. There are also hiker sneakers like our pick for best overall, the Arc’teryx Konseal FL2, that offer lightweight, speed, durability, and protection.

  • Should I choose hiking shoes or hiking boots?

    A hiking sneaker is more flexible, lighter, and faster. When you put them on, they do feel like sneakers. It would be a good first-timer choice as the hiking boot usually needs to be broken in. The materials used in a hiking boot like leather need to be massaged to the shape of your feet. Boots are designed for hikers with a heavy backpack, sneakers are not.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Leslie Hsu Oh has decades of experience testing and reviewing outdoor, accessories, apparel, culture, smart phones, water and snowsports, technology, and travel gear. Her reviews have been published in Backpacker Magazine, Outside Magazine, Popular Mechanics, REI, Runner’s World, Sierra Magazine, and Travel+Leisure. She believes that having a great experience outdoors depends on the quality of your gear. Known for the extremes with which she adventure travels, she’s tested an iphone and Sea-to-Summit waterproof case deep inside of the Devil’s Cave in Brazil, fly fishing gear beneath a waterfall in Iceland, canyoneering kits in Jordan’s Wadi Mujib and Old Town and Ocean Kayak pedal kayaks in Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent waters.

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