Hiking is a wholesome activity. Whether you are trying to get tanned for the next office party or get toned for a friend’s wedding, hiking can hone your looks and health. And all this is accompanied with the liberation from everyday chores and shallow conversations. Hiking also helps you relieve the aggression that folks believe women don’t have. The best hiking shoes for women are those that can balance comfort and traction. You can trust them to hold their own over dirt, gravel, snow, mud, you name it! And most importantly they keep your hiking experience clean and purely enjoyable.
There will be no regrets or swollen feet at the end of an exhilarating walk! “We have also written a complete guide about best hiking backpacks“.
What’s the difference between women’s and men’s hiking shoes?
At the first glance, they might seem similar. However, women’s feet are anatomically different from men’s feet. Generally, women’s feet are narrower from toes to heel than men’s shoes. If you were to wear men’s shoes, your feet would slide around in the shoe. They would constantly rub against the sides and get blisters.
Another thing that differentiates the women’s hiking shoes is that they have better arch support than men’s shoes. Women’s feet are more flexible and need for support from the heel of the shoe. More and more manufacturers are beginning to realize these subtle detours in feet structure of women and complying with them for proper comfort and support. “We have also written a complete guide about best sleeping bags“.
Trail-running shoes vs Hiking shoes vs Hiking Boots?
All three types of shoes differ only in their application due to their construction. Here’s what makes them special:
Trail-running shoes: These are usually the lightest of the lot. Trail-running shoes are basically running shoes on steroids. Their tread pattern gives you speed without compromising on the traction. They are more rugged in their lug-placement so that you can run up and down the mountainous trails fast. Their sole does not have as much support as the hiking shoes because trail-runners usually carry minimal load.
Hiking shoes:Hiking shoes are middle-of-the-pack in terms of weight. Their soles are thicker than both running shoes and trail-running shoes. The highly technical ones have a drastic tread pattern to work on dry, rocky or wet, smooth surfaces. They are customized to fit the feet precisely with tight lacing frameworks. Hiking shoes provide ample foot and ankle support.
Hiking Boots: Hiking boots are for the hard-core hikers. These have a taller ankle collar than the hiking shoes. This is supposed to lend you better ankle support. But many hiking enthusiasts argue that ankle support depends on the heel of the shoe rather than ankle brace. We leave the decision to you. Hiking boots are heavier but they provide lateral cushioning to the ankle area.
Which are the best hiking shoes for women?
Women’s hiking shoes have fewer options than men’s hiking shoes. But some of them stood out as clear winners to be on the best hiking shoes for women list. Here’s why we picked them:
Comfort:When you are trudging through lively trails, you must be comfortable on your feet. Only then can you enjoy the solitude and the beauty of untainted nature. Comfort depends on the padding in and around the ankle. Your toes must have enough room. The ankle shaft must hug your ankle. The best women’s hiking shoes walk a fine line between snug fit and space for the feet to breathe.
Support:This is the key features to check in any shoe. It must have a rigid sole that compensates for the added flexibility of women’s feet. The heel should carry the weight of your body and backpack.Foot and arch support determine how your feet will feel after a long hike. A slim flexible heel might give you more speed but it will make your feet sore after a long hike.
Traction:Traction is the main point of difference between running shoes and hiking shoes. The best women’s hiking shoes are capable of holding on to the ground, be it of any type: dry, wet, rocky, gravely, smooth granite etc. The tread pattern and flexibility of the forefoot determine your traction on all terrains.
Weight: Weight of the hiking shoe can have a heavy impression on your hiking experience. Lighter the hiking shoes, the easier they are on your feet. But this does not come at the cost of sole rigidity and support in the best hiking shoes for women.
Durability: You get value for the money you spend on hiking shoes only when they last long. Running shoes fade fast when used on trails. The best hiking shoes for women maintain their lug pattern and soles over continuous use.
1. Merrell Women’s Siren Sport 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Merrell makes some of the most dependable shoes in hiking and sport domains. Be it for military deputation or a leisurely walk on the treacherous Kalalau trail, Hawaii, Merrell always delivers. The top spot on the best women’s hiking shoes list is claimed by the Merrell Siren Sport 2. It is one of the lightest and most affordable shoes on this list. It gives you all the features of a hi-tech shoe at a lowly price. Except for the size mismatch issue, it is the top contender on the best hiking shoes for women list.
The Merrell Siren Sport 2 women’s hiking shoe comes in both water-resistant and waterproof models.. The upper is crafted out of leather and mesh. The tongue is also entirely mesh. So the shoe remains ventilated through rigorous hiking. It has 3 synthetic eyelets and two textile eyelets to brace the upper against your feet. The tongue is also gusseted so it keeps the dirt and grime where they belong. The mesh lining gets antimicrobial treatment to shed odor from continuous wear.
This hiking shoe has the trustworthy Vibram soles with rubber outsole. Smooth or rocky, dry or wet, Siren Sport 2 passes all the traction tests with flying colors. It uses proprietary EVA midsole which conform to the inward rolling of feet. It is good for citywalk and cement pavements as well. So you can use it universally. It has an air-cushion footbed to relieve the shock from scaling rocky areas.
Comfort and Fit
Although not as heavily endowed as the costlier Merrell Moab Ventilator, the Siren Sport 2 women’s hiking shoes have the required padding for support. The removable Ortholite insoles and nylon arch shanks keep the ankle stable and the forefoot supple. Arch support works for low to moderate arches. For high arches, look for a custom insole. As far as fitment goes, it fits narrow feet better and you may have to order a size larger than what you usually wear. At 1.5 pounds, it’s one of the lightweight hiking shoes.
- Vibram soles with excellent traction
- Good ankle support and lightweight
- Breathable and waterproof
- Gusseted tongue
- Sizes run small
- Tough heels need to be broken in
2. Salomon Women’s Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoe
Salomon always gets their technicalities right. With Ellipse GTX women’s hiking shoe, they also engineered a lightweight shoe. It manages to look stylishly aggressive. The Siren Sport 2 is not as good-looking as the Ellipse. Salomon clinches the top spot in support and comfort. It does it at double the price of the Merrell Siren Sport 2, hence its second spot on the best hiking shoes for women list. We also missed the Vibram sole in Ellipse that Siren sported.
Salomon Ellipse GTX women’s hiking shoe combines leather, synthetic material and textile for uppers. It mostly has leather and mesh on the upper region. The air circulation inside the shoe is commendable and second only to the Merrell Moab Ventilator. It is waterproofed by a Gore-Tex membrane. So the ventilation does not come at the price of water-penetration as in Moab. Durability is not a concern with the sturdy Salomon construction. The Polyester Nylon mesh areas are resistant to abrasions in thick thorny foliage.
The Contagrip rubber outsoles of these hiking shoes have an aggressive tread that’s characteristic of Salomon. You get a lot of speed with the lug pattern on these. Loose gravel and dirt cannot deter the Ellipse.There is an extra leather toecap. They are customized for tough terrain. We would not wear them around the town as it would be like sewing with a sword.
Comfort and fit
Comfort and support are two areas that Salomon Ellipse GTX women’s hiking shoes are unrivalled in. The traditional EVA soles are cut to provide deep padding to your feet. Ellipse beats Siren 2 in this regard squarely. Even laterally, you find plush padding surrounding your feet and ankles.
The EVA midsoles and Contagrip form a solid support structure your arches and feet as a whole. At 1.4 pounds, Ellipse is one of the lightest hiking shoes. So the amount of foot bracing you get for this weight exceeds expectations. Given the heel thickness though, we recommend using them for fastpacking or hiking with low to moderate weight in all seasons.
- Extremely comfortable and supportive
- Subpar traction on all terrains
- Gore-Tex waterproofing
- Heel support isn’t enough for long hikes
- Usual sizes may not fit you well
3. Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe
Merrell never disappoints, especially not at good prices. The Moab Ventilator women’ hiking shoe is a luxurious version of the Siren Sport 2. If you have the dough to shell, you can revel in Moab’sopen ventilation and soft padding. They are unparalleled in their foot support and the air circulation inside. While these are only water-resistant, they have a Moab waterproof model too. They simply feel so good on our feet, we traipsed them right into our best hiking shoes for women list.
The Merrell Moab Ventilator women’s hiking shoes are all done in Leather and mesh. Most part of the shoes have mesh patches which streamline the air through the sides of your feet. Even after a 10-mile hike through the Grand Canyon, your feet will remain a cool customer. In spite of the heavy mesh interspersing, these shoes are quite durable. The mesh does not tear off easily. The Siren Sport 2 has the additional quality of being waterproof. Both share the same anti-microbial interiors that prevent odor and diseases.
Moab hiking shoes also have a Vibram sole with TC1 rubber outsole. The soles account for most of the weight of the shoe. They carry an aggressive tread pattern which delivers the best traction we have seen in women’s hiking shoes.Like Siren, the rubber sole covers the front part of toes against shocks. We recommend these shoes for dry dusty trails in summers. As it is, its best not to submerge them in water. But they can grip on wet and slippery surfaces.
Comfort and Fit
The Moab Ventilator women’s hiking shoe shines in the one area that Siren lacks in. Moab fits most ladies at their usual sizes. It also is the most comfortable shoe on this list. Ankle support is comparable with the Siren. The padding on the tongue and the ankle make them feel as comfy as a pillow. Custom orthotics can be installed to meet your arch but the stock insoles provide better arch support than the Siren Sport 2. At 1.4 pounds average, they are lighter than the Siren Sport 2. But the bulky heel makes them feel heavier.
- Highly comfortable and fit well
- Outstanding feet ventilation
- Excellent traction on all terrains
- Good ankle and arch support
- Good fitment
- Now waterproof
4. KEEN Women’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Keen Targhee II always makes it to the top 10 list of every hiking discussion. So it was no surprise for us that the Targhee 2 women’s hiking shoe surpassed many of its contemporaries on the best hiking shoes for women list to. They have superlative fitment for narrow and wide feet and everything in between.Their waterproof performance on all terrains is effective. Most of the key Keen qualities make an entry here as well.
The upper of the Keen Targhee II women’s hiking shoe is mostly leather. Mesh covers some area near the laces, most of the tongue and a strip around the top of ankle collar. Your feet remain well-ventilated but it’s nothing like the Salomon Ellipse. Keen.Dry membrane makes it waterproof to submergence up to a few minutes. It is just as efficient as Gore-Tex membrane in keeping moisture out. The tongue is bellowed too, so the filth stays out of the shoe.
The patented rubber toe present on Keen Targhee boots/shoes protects your little darlings in the Targhee 2 hiking shoes as well. The tread pattern is similar to that of the men’s shoes. It is effective on all terrains except wet granite. 4mm multi-directional lugs hold your stance through Appalachian trails. Targhee balances support and flexibility of the forefoot very well.A pull-tab at the back of the shoe makes it easy to wear.
Comfort and fit
Keen Targhee 2 women’s hiking shoe is famous for its excellent fitment.The toebox is roomy enough for your toes to have a kitty party. The final eyelet for laces goes around the ankle of the shoe, so this portion can be tightened to suit your feet type. This way Keen covers both narrow- and wide-foot bellas. The dual-density EVA midsole creates excellent arch support. You may be able to kiss your custom orthotics goodbye, based on your arch height. Foot support is augmented by the tough sole and padding around the ankle collar. These hiking shoes do not require any break-in period.
- Waterproof and ventilated
- Good traction and support
- Outstanding arch support
- Wide toebox
- No break-in required
- Runs half a size small for many women
5. Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Air Mesh Hiking Shoe
Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh women’s hiking shoe is the lightest shoe on this list.It is the ideal fit for day-hiking over short distances. At its price, you can keep it for family hikes on bounteous natural trails. Itcombines the durability of Vibram soles with low weight for hiking. The ventilation inside the shoes is top-notch too. We saw how well the water-resistance works on this model and chose it over the waterproof version of this shoe. It literally pranced into the best hiking shoes for women list.
The Ahnu Sugarpine women’s hiking shoe looks quite like a running shoe. But inside it holds all the technical quirks of a hiking shoe. The uppers are fashioned out of leather and mesh. The unique structure is breathable all over. We walked through some puddles and the water did not soak in as much as we had expected. But if you are serious about rainforest hikes and wading through creeks, then go for the waterproof model of Sugarpine.
This hiking shoe has Vibram soles with an organized lug pattern. It handles moderate obstacles on its way well. We would avoid slippery slopes with these shoes. Also, these trade off rigidity of the sole for weight. So these are not for uneven trails with rocks jutting out or for trail-running. A normal day-hike through beaten path is much more down its alley. The toe area has an extra layer of padding but it’s nothing hardy like the Keen Targhee 2 toe protector.
Comfort and Fit
The fitment of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking shoes meets the general size requirements well. As for comfort, the low weight itself is a big help. But in shedding the weight they have compromised the rigidity of the sole. The sole is a smidgen too flexible so you will feel the rocks and gravel underneath on a rough terrain. Your feet may feel sore afterwards. On easy or moderate paths, the foot-support is more than sufficient. Arch support is good and there’s no break-in period.
- Very lightweight
- Well-ventilated and water-resistant
- Chic looks
- Vibram soles
- Sole is too flexible for aggressive trails
6. Vasque Women’s Grand Traverse Hiking Shoe
Vasque shows intermittent sparks of brilliance and create sat least one product for every top 10 hiking gear list. Their top products are wildly technical and show outstanding traction, support and comfort. The Grand Traverse women’s hiking shoes is one of their top shoes. They have excellent fitment options. The traction and support are heavy duty and meant for the most demanding hikes like the Drakensberg Traverse, SA . The only downside is that they are too qualified for easy and quick hikes. If you are an adrenaline junkie, Grand Traverse would top your best hiking shoes for women list.
The Vasque Grand Traverse women’s hiking shoe uses leather and polyurethane-coated mesh on the uppers. The mesh sieve looks rather big and provides good breathability. But the trade-off is water-resistance. Grand Traverse is not water-resistant at all. The toe side has moderate protection but not like Keen Targhee 2.
This hiking shoe uses dual-compound Vibram Ibex soles. Not only are they tough and rigid, they are capable of scaling appreciable heights. The tread pattern is not as aggressive as a Salomon or Keen. But it gives you good grip on granite and mountain hikes. On wet granite, it performs better than any of the other shoes.
Comfort and Fit
Vasque Grand Traverse women’s hiking shoes have an out-of-the-box lacing pattern. It starts neat the bottom of the toes and extends all the way to the ankle. The first three crosses are through holes in the tongue. Then there are five sets of eyelets. This gives you more control over the tightening of shoes. They also fit true to the size. Arch support is superlative. While descending the trail, we required more ankle support. This was probably because it was looser at the heel than the feet overall. But this is not the case for every woman.
The sole is hardy at the cost of some flexibility. So these hiking shoes need more time to break in. At 1.4 pounds they are not heavy but they are bulkier than Merrell Siren 2.
- Excellent traction on slopes and wet granite
- Great arch support
- Sophisticated lacing system
- Good ventilation
- No water-resistance
- Low ankle support
7. KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe
Keen Voyageur women’s hiking shoe has a decent performance with the key Keen quirks. You get all the qualities of Keen hiking shoes. Targhee 2 has the better support and traction over sullen terrain. The Voyageur performs well in all areas but nothing is outstanding as in Merrell Sport 2 or Targhee 2.The Voyageur is slightly cheaper as well. So if you always go through easy or moderate dry hikes, pick these over Targhee 2. They took a voyage straight into the best hiking shoes for women list.
The Voyageur women’s hiking shoe from Keen uses leather and mesh to design its uppers. There are organized patches of mesh near the eyelets and parts of the tongue. We didn’t find it to be as airy as the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh. The interiors are done in moisture-wicking material. Together, the predominantly leather construction and these interiors keep these shoes water-resistant. If you have waterproof shoes for the Hidden Creek trail, keep the Voyageur for dry, rocky hikes.
This hiking shoe has a rubber outsole with a similar lug pattern as the Targhee 2. But it is not as rigid as the rubber sole of the latter. So you get good traction on most of the normal hiking terrains. However, anything too drastic would be difficult to negotiate for the Voyageur. As usual with Keen, the sole extends over the toebox to prevent painful toe stubs. The lacing system is also the customary Keen style. The last eyelet is connected to a strap around the ankle. So you can use this to customize ankle rotation and fit.
Comfort and fit
Keen Voyageur women’s hiking shoes fit most ladies well because of their wider design and cinching lace. The toebox and heel are wider than the Merrells. But the lacing allows you to tighten the fit of the shoes. This way, they fit most of the buyers at their normal sizes.
Using ESS shanks and EVA footbed/midsole, these hiking shoes provide good support for the foot and arches. They are not as extraordinary as the Moabs or Salomon Ellipse. But they do well enough to qualify for the best women’s hiking shoes list.
- Good traction and support
- Good-looking shoes
- Quality build
- Sturdy toe protection
- Only water-resistant
- Traction is not enough for difficult terrain
8. Salomon Women’s X Ultra 2 GTX W Hiking Shoe
Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX W women’s hiking shoes remind us how far we have come with technology. This shoe packs a lot of effort on the inside for its effortless performance outside. It offers excellent support for your feet. It is rigid enough to make up for the flexibility of women’s feet. The outer appearance is much more futuristic because of the thinner Quick laces. From the Hot Pink color to Detroit black/grey model, we were impressed by the swag of X Ultra. So much so, we raced them straight to the best hiking shoes for women list.
The X Ultra 2 GTX women’s hiking shoes from Salomon is as close as a hiking shoe gets to hiking boots. The uppers are primarily mesh on the shoe. The leather patch holds the metal eyelets. An elastic lace snakes through the eyelets and tightens with a stopper. The extra lace can be stowed in a lace pocket. Although it is easier to lace than the traditional lacing system, it’s not as reliable. The elastic laces inevitably loosen over time and are hard to be replaced.
This hiking shoe is Gore-Tex lined for waterproofing. The mesh uppers give you good ventilation in spite of the lining. The tread pattern on the Contagrip sole is moderately aggressive. You can cover demanding peaks and trails with it. The sole is thick and needs to be broken-in in the forefoot region. Once that happens, this shoe gives you unmatched traction on the field.
Comfort and Fit
Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX women’s hiking shoes run larger than the true sizes. So women with overlarge feet can finally quit complaining. Ultra 2 is wide in the toebox and makes space for super-cushy socks. Support-wise, we have no complains. Ultra 2 GTX aces both foot and arch support. If you have weird arches, go for aftermarket orthotics, but most likely you wouldn’t need to.
- Stylish shoes
- Quick –lacing system
- Excellent support to feet and arches
- Laces are hard to replace
9. KEEN Women’s Marshall Hiking Shoe
Keen Targhee 2 keeps cropping up on many lists. But this time their Marshall women’s hiking shoes made the cut too. These are non-waterproof footwear for hiking though mountainous terrains. As a compensation for the lack of Keen.Dry waterproofing membrane, they have a much more ventilated interior.These are for low-weight backpacking through wet trails. They also come in more lively colors than the business-like Targhee 2. We marshalled them straight into the best hiking shoes for women list.
The Keen Marshall women’s hiking shoe seems to be made entirely of breathable mesh. The toe area is protected by a rubber box. Other than tha,t the uppers are largely covered in mesh. Although not protected by Keen.Dry waterproofing, these are surprisingly water-resistant.In summer hikes to dry peaks, these shoes will keep your feet cool and agile. A waterproof version of these shoes is available though.
These hiking shoes show very unconventional tread pattern. As a result they cling on well to wet and slippery surfaces. We would suggest that you use them for treks like those to Greenhorn Mountain in Colarado.On the contrary, Keen Targhee 2 is an all-terrain shoe for hiking. We were simply enchanted by the looks of the Marshall. That’s something that Targhee 2 cannot rival.
Comfort and Fit
Keen hiking shoes have never been found lacking in fitment. Marshall upholds the trend. It has a wide toebox to fit wide feet. The laces attach to a strap that weaves behind the ankle and ties tightly. The trickier thing to explain here is support. Marshal is not versatile with thedomains its works on. For regular backpacking, the soles are relatively thin and pliable. You will feel each and every rock under your feet. Which is why it is best for wet and smooth surfaces. On these terrains, the support is good, both lateral and arch.
- Pretty shoes
- Good traction on smooth surfaces
- Wide toebox
- Not enough support for loose gravel or uneven trails
10. KEEN Women’s Alamosa Hiking Shoe
Keen is a shark in the hiking shoe pool. Their Alamosa women’s hiking shoe is an encore to the Targhee 2, Voyageur and Marshall. Alamosa is most like the Targhee 2. It leans more towards average performance than the Targhee 2.It fits like a glove for all the foot types we could gather. From around-the-town walking and light backpacking to heavier backpacking through the day, these shoes are crafted for support, comfort and traction. We didn’t think twice before putting them on the best hiking shoes for women list, the men counterpart is also one of the best hiking shoes for men.
The Alamosa women’s hiking shoes have a leather and mesh upper. The mesh regions are sparse. So the air circulation inside the shoe is less than that of Keen Targhee 2 and Marshall. But it is protected against water by the Keen.Dry membrane.The lacing pattern is similar to Targhee 2. There are 5 textile eyelets. The last one straps behind the back of the shoe and allows you to customize the fitment.
The tread pattern is semi-aggressive. There are multidirectional 4mm lugs that protrude out of the rubber outsole make a solid grip on loose gravel, dirt, rocks and wet surfaces. We would take them for easy to moderate hikes. For the more difficult hikes, turn to Vasque Grand Traverse shoes.The toe protector box is an extension of the rubber outsole as usual. These are premium shoes and behave the part.
Comfort and fit
The fitment of the Keen shoes is never questioned. But the Alamosa women’s hiking shoes shine brighter than the other Keen shoes. Keen always makes wide shoes. But Alamosa looks more streamlined without sacrificing the wide toebox. It has the highest fitment approval of any shoe on this list.
The support for the feet overall and arch support is quite effective. The shoe weighs 1.625 pounds on an average. The heaviness is a con, but it provides more support with backpack on than the Keen Marshall women’s hiking shoes.
- Superlative fitment
- Good traction on all terrains
- Good support for backpacking
- Low ventilation
- Slightly heavy
Last update on 2020-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API