12 Best Hiking Shoes for Women 2019

With a long hiking season ahead of us, it’s time to start thinking about the most important piece of kit you can have. Hiking shoes!  Sure, you can take any footwear out on the trail but if you want to cover terrain in comfort while keeping yourself safe, you need dedicated shoes.

There was a time it was hard to find anything other than clunky, heavy boots but today’s hiking shoes are far better and work well for any outdoor activity.

Best Hiking Shoes for Women

Top 12 Best Hiking Shoes for Women 2019

Preview
Product
Upper
 
Salomon Womens Speedcross 4 Review
Danner Trail
Best of the Best
Leather and Textile
Salomon Womens Speedcross 4 Review
Salomon Speedcross 4
Best Ultralight
Mesh, Water Resistant Textile
Keen Targhee II Review
Keen Targhee II
Best All-Terrain
Waterproof Nubuck Leather
Keen Voyager Review
Keen Voyager
Best for Warm Weather
Leather and Mesh
The North Face Hiking Shoe Review
The North Face
Best Casual Shoes
Leather
Saloman X-Mission 3 Review
Saloman X-Mission 3
Best for Arid Climates
Textile and Synthetic
Oboz Sawtooth II Review
Oboz Sawtooth II
Best for Woodland
Waterproof Leather, Textile
Columbia Wayfinder Outdry Review
Columbia Wayfinder Outdry
Best for Wet Weather
Synthetic and Mesh
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Review
Merrell Moab 2 Vent
Best Bang for your Buck
Suede Leather, Mesh
Vasque Mantra 2.0 Review
Vasque Mantra 2.0
Best Everyday Use
Synthetic and Mesh
Merrell Siren Edge Hiking Shoe Review
Merrell Siren Edge
Best Budget Light Hiker
100% Textile
Columbia Newton Ridge Review
Columbia Newton Ridge
Best on a Budget
Full-grain Leather, Suede

1. Danner Trail – Best of the Best Hiking Shoes

Danner Women's Trail 2650 3

Danner has long been known for their outstanding boots for work and the outdoors but their foray into the world of shoes is all new territory for this company. So far it has seen nothing but resounding success. This is what happens when you take decades of knowledge of the human foot and apply it scientifically to what makes a good shoe.

If materials make a shoe, that would explain why these are so well loved. The outer is a tough, thick leather mixed with a breathable fabric to give the best of both worlds. This combines with a mesh liner for maximum moisture evaporation to keep your feet dry. The sole is Vibram with an EVA midsole and full shank for excellent support.

The tread pattern is a good middle ground, providing good cushion and decent grip. They aren’t so aggressive as to be uncomfortable but they aren’t so smooth as to keep you from getting good footing.

All around, these are one of the best footwear available. They may not be as popular as other brands but give Danner a little time and their Trail hikers will be topping charts everywhere.

Pros

  • Durable Construction
  • Decent Tread Pattern
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Unproven Design

2. Salomon Speedcross – Best Ultralight Hiking Shoes

Salomon Womens Speedcross 4 Trail Sneaker Review

Salomon is a legendary shoe company making footwear from the general to the very specialized. They have done well in some of the most extreme terrain in the most demanding environments around the world. While the Speedcross isn’t one of the shoes that has endured those tests, it has benefited from the lessons learned and has earned its place as one of the best hiking shoes in the world.

Rather than use leather, Salomon has stuck with a lighter weight, vegan-friendly textile and rubber shoe. While this may hurt a little in durability, walking in these shoes is a lot like walking barefoot due to the low weight. Additionally, the sole is thick at the heel to provide cushion and support and very thin toward the toe to give you a more natural step.

These shoes are really designed for those hiking softer terrain. The tread is very aggressive for a very sure grip. This combined with thinner soles can make for some discomfort when on hard surfaces like rock or concrete. If you hike in sand, these are amazing. They hold well in mud and do well in softer dirt. Just not the best option for everyday wear.

Pros

  • Very Light Weight
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Snug, Sure Fit

Cons

  • Less Durable
  • Not Great on Hard Surfaces

3. Keen Targhee II – Best All-Terrain Hiking Shoes

KEEN Women's Targhee II Hiking Shoe Review

Keens make lack the legendary status but they are well loved and very popular, perhaps the most popular outdoor shoe currently made. This is a well-earned status as their shoes are a near perfect shoe for most environments with plenty of comfort, durability, and the cost is reasonable.

The Targhee is Keen’s number one seller with its waterproof nubuck leather upper and a moisture wicking liner. They dry reasonably quick, keep your feet in good shape and have a ton of durability. The sole is made of Vibram that is softened somewhat for extra shock absorption but not so much as to make them weak. The EVA midsole adds to the comfort as does an integral insole.

The tread on the Targhee is the perfect middle ground between traction and comfort. You could take these shoes on rough terrain or use them for everyday wear. They work well for both. They have an ESS shank and heel lock for a more custom fit.

All in all, these are a hit and well worth looking into. Just be aware that these shoes do tend to run a little small so you may want to go a half size larger than you usually wear.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Good All-Around Tread

Cons

  • Run Small
  • Can Have Fit Issues

4. Keen Voyager – Best Warm Weather Hiking Shoes

KEEN Women's Voyageur Hiking Shoe Review

Sticking with Keen for a different model, we have the Voyager. While the Targhee may be the current best seller, the classic Voyager has been Keen’s longest running shoe. The reasons for this should become apparent. While I do give the edge to the Targhee, the Voyager has its place and is a very good shoe in its own right.

The leather and mesh combo of the Voyager makes it a very breathable shoe that will absolutely keep your feet dry in the warmest weather. The protected toe adds a ton of durability while a dual-density EVA foam midsole gives you all the comfort you could want mile after mile. The outsole is Vibram and is a little more durable and a little harder than that of the Targhee. This provides more stability with a very slight drop in cushion.

The tread on the Voyager is the perfect middle ground between an aggressive shoe and a soft shoe. It works fine on hard surfaces and even better on soft surfaces. To add some stability, Keen uses a self-molding footbed that provides excellent arch support and keeps your feet planted. For the money, this is a great option.

Pros

  • Light and Breathable
  • Great Comfort Features

Cons

  • Tread has Limitations
  • No Waterproofing at all

5. The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack – Best Casual Hiking Shoes

The North Face Women's Hedgehog Fastpack Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe Review

The North Face is sometimes regarded as a novelty company rather than producing serious outdoor equipment. While it is true that many of their items favor form over function, that is not the case with their Fastpack shoe. This is a good, solid shoe that is capable of running around town or taking to the trail with equal ease. It may not be the most serious outdoor shoe but it has its place!

The outer of the shoe is a combination of Gore-Tex and waterproofed leather for the majority of the shoe but a small amount of breathable over the tongue and around the cuff help to rid the shoe of moisture. The sole is a classic Vibram and a midsole of EVA foam add a cushion-like feel that is quite comfortable. The Fastpack is finished off with a protective toe-cap.

The tread on this shoe is lighter than most serious trail shoes. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a good hiker but it does work better on firmer surfaces rather than mud or anything slippery. It does have a TPU shank to help with stability. For everyday wear, these are amazingly comfortable. For casual trails, they do quite well. For the serious hiker, you may want something that wears a little better.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Breathes Well

Cons

  • Tread is Light
  • Less Durable

6. Saloman X-Mission 3 – Best Hiking Shoes for Arid Climates

Salomon Women's X-Mission 3 W Trail Running Shoe Review

As one of Saloman’s more affordable shoes, the X-Mission is insanely popular and with good reason. This is a soft, comfortable hiker that has serious features to help you on the trail but all the classic looks of a normal athletic shoe that makes it fit in almost anywhere. This is a great way to always be ready for an impromptu hiking trip after work.

Again this is a vegan-friendly offering by Saloman with a 100% fabric upper molded to a rubber sole and half toe-cap. The sole on this shoe is not Vibram as is usual but Salomon’s Contragrip. While many prefer Vibram, there is little difference between the two in cost or quality. Contragrip does tend to be a little better on solid surfaces where it grabs better.

The tread pattern is fairly light and small making it better for hard surfaces. This shoe was really made for the western trails that have more rock than dirt. The real surprise of these shoes is durability. While you wouldn’t expect it from an all fabric option, these shoes are so durable that Salmon even guarantees them for two years and that can be a lot of miles.

Pros

  • Vegan Friendly
  • Solid Fit
  • Surprisingly Durable

Cons

  • Less Tread
  • Better on Firm Surfaces

7. Oboz Sawtooth II – Best Woodland Hiking Shoes

Oboz Sawtooth II Low Hiking Shoe Review

While Oboz may not have the same popularity as many of the other companies making hikers, they have their own hardcore followers. All in all, these are good shoes that are well made and well designed. One day they may rise to challenge the big dogs but for now, they seem content to produce great shoes that cater to their own fans.

The upper of the shoe is a combination of leather and textile that has been waterproofed throughout. They also use a waterproof membrane that is quite breathable. These shoes are not the driest on the trail but they are decent. It’s probably best to use these shoes in cooler weather around mid-spring and mid-fall or in the more northern climates. If it gets too hot, these can cause a few problems.

One thing that is to love about these shoes is the shape of the outsole. The gentle curves and swooping heel allow you to have a very natural, fluid gait to your step. This is very helpful with such a thick and rugged sole. And one thing you will likely never need to worry about is failure. These are some of the toughest shoes around.

Pros

  • Rugged and Durable
  • Great Shape
  • Very Dry

Cons

  • Not as Breathable
  • Heavier than Most
  • Longer Break-In Time

8. Columbia Wayfinder Outdry – Best Wet Weather Hiking Shoes

Columbia Women's Wayfinder Outdry Hiking Shoe Review

Columbia used to be the go-to company for stylish outdoor gear but they have recently fallen by the wayside. Some of products have seen quality issues. This is unfortunate for Columbia but when it comes to their Wayfinder shoe, none of this has been the case. This is exactly the quality you should expect from an outdoor legend.

If you like the look of a leather and textile shoe but want to forego the leather, this is how to do it. The upper is synthetic leather and textile mix that is quite durable if not as durable as real leather. These shoes are also not waterproof if that is something you need. Instead, these breathe very well and in a dry area or on a hot day, that can be a lifesaver!

The lower is a dual Eva midsole with a rugged multi-directional outsole. Honestly, these work best on firm surfaces and are even a great everyday shoe. They don’t do as well on slippery soft surfaces like mud. In sand, they seem to do reasonably well. They are, in truth, quite versatile and easy to wear. Comfort is probably their strongest point.

Pros

  • Vegan Friendly
  • Breath Very Well
  • Very Versatile

Cons

  • Not Great on Slick Surfaces
  • Not as Durable

9. Merrell Moab 2 Vent – Best Bang for your Buck Hiking Shoes

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe Review

Merrell’s are classic and the Moab is among the most popular shoes on the market. In fact, this is my personal go-to shoe when it comes to value and overall features. They are comfortable, durable, and are good in a variety of terrains. There may be better shoes but if you are on a budget, these are some of the best around.

The upper of the Moab is a combo of mesh and suede leather. This is a purposeful decision that means the Moab stands up to abrasion from sand, dust, and small stones better than leather. The mesh is very breathable which is a good thing because this version of the Moab isn’t waterproof. While some may see this as a negative, if you are a summer hiker there is no better shoe to keep your feet dry.

When it comes to traction, the tread on the Moab is a little on the heavy side of medium. There are more aggressive shoes but if you want something that deals well with a large variety of terrains, these are amazing. They are a little uncomfortable on concrete as you add miles but if you are on dirt, mud, sand, or rock they seem to do a little better. All around a solid option.

Pros

  • Great Construction
  • Tried and True Design
  • Great Tread
  • Breath Well

Cons

  • Slightly Heavy
  • No Waterproofing

10. Vasque Mantra 2.0 – Best Everyday Hiking Shoes

Vasque Women's Mantra 2.0 Hiking Shoe Review

Vasque may not be quite as popular as the big names but they are amazing when it comes to durability and clean, classic looks. One of the biggest strengths of them as a company is their tendency to make men’s and women’s shoes differently. If you get a pair of Vasque women’s shoes, they will fit like almost no other shoe you have ever worn.

Though they may look like leather, the Vasque Mantra is a full synthetic shoe. The leather is faux leather and is combined with a mesh for added air flow. They are cool in hot weather and a little more waterproof than some shoes that use a little more mesh. Water still gets in but it’s guaranteed to get out again.

The tread is somewhat smooth but made in a way to give you good forward traction. Because of this they work quite well in most terrains and are still comfortable as a casual shoe around town. They are a little inflexible and require a little more break-in time but if you give them a little workout before serious use, they will treat you quite well.

Pros

  • Great Casual Hiker
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Good Overall Tread

Cons

  • Longer Break-In Time
  • Somewhat Heavy

11. Merrell Siren Edge – Best Budget Light Hiker

Merrell Women's Siren Edge Q2 Hiking Shoes Review

While the Moab is the most popular Merrell made, it’s far from the only model and sometimes there are models that may serve some people better. One of these is the Siren Edge that was designed specifically for the needs and physiology of a woman.

Materials on the Siren Edge are all synthetic and made to save weight while providing support. This is a non-waterproof, highly breathable shoe that is best fitted to those who like to make big miles while carrying low weight. They are not the best-supported shoe and can cause some issues if you carry big packs or are covering heavy terrain.

The Siren Edge has a light to medium tread that is best suited to casual use rather than extremes. It has good grip on medium surfaces and is very comfortable on any hard surface but lacks the grip needed for getting around the really challenging terrain. The biggest downfall of this shoe is its complete lack of waterproofing while its biggest strength is a very low weight.

Pros

  • Low Weight
  • Great Fit
  • Versatile for Everyday Wear

Cons

  • Less Ankle Support
  • No Waterproofing

12. Columbia Newton Ridge – Best on a Budget Hiking Shoe

Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Boot Review

There has to be room on this list for a classic high-top hiker. Though their popularity has declined, there are those that love the nostalgic look and traditional styling of these leather boots. They are not always the best option but with such a history it should not surprise you to know that they tend to do quite well in most any situation.

With full grain leather with a touch of mesh, these shoes are tough. They may not breathe as well as modern vented shoes but they breath better than the same boots made 30 years ago. The sole has also seen some upgrades Columbia’s Omni-Grip rubber and tread pattern. This is a much softer and more cushioned rubber than these boots had back in the day.

For tread, these are a little lighter than most boots of this style. It makes them much easier to wear around casually and does fine on most surfaces. The Omni-Grip helps but you still won’t do well on mud or other slick surfaces. But you really own these boots for the function meets style. There will be a few sacrifices but not as many as you would think.

Pros

  • Classic Design
  • Good Waterproofing
  • Good Tread

Cons

  • Don’t Breath Well
  • Quite Heavy
  • Not a Good Mud Shoe

Picking the Best Hiking Shoes for Women

Buying shoes can be an overwhelming prospect for some people. It’s one thing if you can try them on but if you don’t have a good outdoor store with a great selection, getting the right shoe can be tough. This is a problem I have and it took me a long time to overcome the stress of buying a shoe I had never worn. Over time, this has gotten better. Here are some basic rules to help you out.

Picking the Best Hiking Shoes for Women

1. Material

This is the most complicated part of shoe buying. There are so many different materials in every shoe that you can’t pick based on just one. You have to consider the outer shoe, liner, insole, midsole, and outer sole. The outer is among the most important with the insole being next. For the rest, consider them but don’t let them overwhelm you. There isn’t that many difference between them.

By far the most common material for the outer part of a shoe is leather though often shoes will have a mix of leather and fabric or rubber. If you choose not to use leather for moral reasons, there are options available but they are far rarer. You will have to keep an eye out!

If you are ok with leather, always look for a full grain leather when you can. Split leather is thinner and lighter but it’s far less durable and offers less protection. If you do get a split leather shoe, do so for weight and realize that it is weaker. Split leather is quite common in hiking shoes.

Insoles are often specific to brands. The better the brand, the better the insole. You can also be conscious of specific insoles made by external companies. Dr. Sholes insoles are common in some footwear and are fairly decent. You just want to make sure you get an insole designed to take the abuse of constant walking without collapsing and flatting out. You will likely need to replace insoles every so often anyway.

Commonly midsoles are made of EVA which is a great material. It holds up well and offers some support but is quite cushioning to your feet. The insole makes a difference but the midsole is where the shock absorption happens. If you opt to get speed shoes or trail running shoes, they will often have thinner midsoles to lower weight and decrease overall thickness of the sole.

Outsoles need to be durable but if they are too firm, they can cause pain and even have issues with traction. They won’t flex with your foot for a natural stride. Firm footwear can cause plantar fasciitis which is temporary but horribly uncomfortable. For that reason, softer materials are king. Vibram is the most popular right now and is a wonderful material. It breaks in well, offers cushioning, and still has plenty of support for rough trails.

2. Tread

Every place is different and every shoe really isn’t the best option for every terrain. Softer surfaces benefit from features that would compromise your comfort and footing on rigid terrain. For most instances, you can get buy with a very common moderate tread. If you hike in more difficult conditions, you need to match your tread pattern to where you hike.

As a general rule, more aggressive tread is more appropriate for softer terrain. This could be forest floors, mud, snow, and anything of a similar consistency. If you use really aggressive tread on hard terrain it will put a lot of pressure on smaller areas of your foot. While aggressive tread may not cause you to lose footing, it will hurt your comfort and can cause injuries in extreme cases.

Smooth soles are best for hard terrain like packed earth, concrete, stone, and areas with similar surfaces. I also find these shoes to be better on sand. Wearing these on other terrain types can cause you to lose footing and have to work harder to make progress. This can be dangerous in the worst case and just a pain in the read at best.

Moderate shoes will have reasonable footing in most terrain types and be comfortable on most any terrain. Stick with these unless you know you need something specific.

3. Weather Proofing

We don’t always get to hike in the weather we prefer so we need to plan ahead. There are the common issues like rain that most people think of but few plan for creek crossings, mud, dust, or anything else. Our footwear is the most important barrier on our body. Cold feet warm slowly. Wet feet get soft and blister easily. Dust can cause numerous problems with irritation. Even having shoes that don’t wick sweat away can be very problematic.

This is the number one reason to buy a good shoe from a knowledgeable, reputable manufacturer. Pay attention to the specs and materials of shoes to see how they will perform. You have to base this around where and when you will commonly use a shoe.

There are no hard and fast rules but here are some general guidelines.

All leather footwear often holds more moisture in but has better waterproofing and is usually warmer. These are better for situations where you will be in wet environments when the weather isn’t overly hot. Cloth footwear is usually the opposite. It dries quickly and wicks moisture quickly but will often allow more moisture in. This is a nightmare in cold, wet weather.

The new trend is for Gore-Tex footwear. This is advertised as a miracle material and in some ways is a great option. It is as waterproof as leather and wicks moisture away faster than leather ever could. However, it isn’t as quick at getting your feet dry as other fabric options. There are other materials similar to Gore-Tex that perform much the same way.

4. Sizing

There is a common trend when buying shoes online to get a size a half size larger to make sure they fit. Though I have fallen into this trap, it’s a mistake. You need to get shoes that fit as well as possible to prevent a ton of issues with your feet that come from poor fit.

We all know small is a bad idea. It can cause many tension related issues including plantar fasciitis and even broken bones over time. But large is nearly as bad. The movement of your foot in the shoe can cause many issues related to friction. It can also cause broken toes from sliding repetitively inside a shoe. This is common in hard-toed boots but even a stiff shoe can cause issues over the long term.

There are many websites that offer advice on how to measure your feet to get your exact size as well as whether you need a regular or wide shoe. While these work you are better off to head to your local shoe store and get your foot measured. Most stores do this for free, especially if they offer high-end athletic or work footwear. This is invaluable to know before you make a purchase.

Before you buy, check out the fit guide of the shoe you have. Amazon also has a guide that shows how a shoe fits compared to what most people expect. This is invaluable information to have before you order.

5. Socks

This is an aside but one worth noting. Always get good socks if you are hiking and always get socks that are suited to the weather and climate you will be hiking in. Avoid cotton socks that will cause many issues related to having wet feet. Cotton does not dry quickly and will hold sweat or other moisture against your feet for a long period of time. Wool and wool blends are a much better option.

You can also look for socks that have padding on the ball and heel of the foot. Though sometimes the padding can hold moisture for longer, the shock absorption from the padding may be worth it. This is very true if you hike on hard packed dirt, rock, or concrete. These materials are very hard on the knees and back over time.

Conclusion

It has been proven that hiking is one of the best forms of exercise you can get. Not only the walking but just being outdoors around trees and natural surroundings does wonders for the body and soul. But don’t break down your body while doing so. Get a pair of footwear that compliments your needs and activity level. Your body will thank you!

 

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