For the best combination of protection and support on the trail, look no further than a hiking boot. Compared to other forms of hiking footwear, boots are epitomized by their mid-height build, which offers best-in-class stability on technical terrain or while hauling a heavy load. A recent push has led to lighter and more flexible designs, but a number of quality traditional leather models are still available. Below we break down all corners of the market, from mid-height trail runners and solid all-around models to rugged and protective boots built for mountain terrain. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best Overall Women's Hiking Boot: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
- Best Lightweight Hiking Boot for Women: Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX
- Best Budget Women's Hiking Boot: Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
- Best Max-Cushioned Hiking Boot for Women: Hoka One One Anacapa Mid GTX
Best Overall Women’s Hiking Boot
Weight: 2 lbs. 2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Great support, stability, and comfort for covering long distances with a full pack.
What we don’t: Overkill for easy hiking; only offered in a waterproof version.
Year after year, Lowa’s Renegade is one of the most beloved hiking boots on the trail, combining the look, feel, and performance of a traditional design with an impressively low weight. As we’d expect from a burly leather boot, it features a hardwearing design and stable construction that translate to great support and protection on technical trails. But the Lowa nails the comfort equation too: The boot comes in wide, narrow, and regular widths, and—unlike the more streamlined boots here—features a tall and stiff collar for noticeable ankle support. All told, the Renegade is a great middle ground between a bulky leather boot and lightweight synthetic design like the X Ultra 3 below, and our top pick for demanding backpacking trips that cover a variety of terrain.
But while the Renegade is a great option for hikers who prioritize support and protection, it will be overkill for some. In the age of fast-and-light travel, many modern trail-goers will be willing to trade some of the Lowa’s strong suits for a synthetic boot that feels lighter and nimbler underfoot. Further, the Renegade is only offered in a Gore-Tex version, which is great for shoulder season or mountainous hikes but will overheat in warmer conditions. Still, for tricky terrain or covering long distances with a full pack, the Lowa is a high-quality and durable all-rounder that puts it all together better than most… Read in-depth review
See the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
Best Lightweight Hiking Boot for Women
Weight: 1 lb. 13.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Performance and comfort at a low weight.
What we don’t: Not as stable or protective as a boot like the Renegade above.
There’s a time and place for traditional leather boots like the Lowa Renegade above, but in 2022, lightweight footwear has all but taken over. And for good reason: Shaving just a few ounces off your feet conserves precious energy and translates to better comfort, mile after mile. This movement is epitomized by Salomon’s X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boot, which combines a synthetic upper and low 1-pound 13.4-ounce weight with all the stability, protection, and ankle support that most hikers need. Leather reinforcements and a generous toe cap lend decent durability, and it’s hard to beat Salomon’s time-tested build quality—the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX withstands abuse better than most boots in its class. For the best combination of performance and weight-savings, it’s one of our favorite models of the year.
We’re huge fans of lightweight footwear, but it’s important to be aware of the inherent compromises. The X Ultra’s thinner sole means you’ll feel rocks and roots a lot more than you would with a burly design like the Renegade above or Quest 4 below, and the flexible build and relatively low collar translate to less support on off-camber sections of trail or while carrying a heavy pack. But for most hikers and backpackers who frequent easy trails with relatively light loads, the X Ultra 3’s benefits far outweigh the tradeoffs, and it’s one of the least compromised designs we’ve worn (you can go even lighter with a mid-height trail runner like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid below, but the drop in performance is noticeable). Of note: Salomon recently released an updated X Ultra 4 Mid GTX (which we detail below), but we much prefer the design of the X Ultra 3 here.
See the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX
Best Budget Women’s Hiking Boot
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
Waterproof: No (available)
What we like: A legendary boot that's comfortable and affordable.
What we don’t: Lacks performance for long days, rough trails, or heavy loads.
If you’re looking to hit the trail without breaking the bank, Merrell’s Moab 2 is a no-brainer purchase. More than almost any other boot, the Moab has achieved legendary status for its combination of performance and comfort at a low weight and price point. The nubuck leather upper is protective and durable, and mesh panels along the top and sides keep air moving on hot days. In terms of traction, Vibram’s TC5+ outsole offers decent grip on everything from hard packed dirt to rock, and you get a nice amount of cushioning by way of EVA foam in the midsole. For hikers and backpackers who stick mostly to maintained trails in dry conditions, we wholeheartedly recommend the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Vent.
What are our gripes with Merrell’s popular budget boot? On particularly technical trails—and especially on wet terrain like mud and snow—traction and stability fall short of grippier and closer-fitting designs like the Lowa Renegade and Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid above. Further, despite clocking in under 2 pounds, the Moab can feel clunky underfoot, especially if you’re used to a more modern trail runner or lightweight boot. But the suede build is fairly tough to kill, and the Moab is truly in a class of its own in terms of price. If you want added wet-weather protection, Merrell also makes the Moab 2 Mid Waterproof ($145), which checks in at 2 pounds.
See the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
Best Max-Cushioned Hiking Boot for Women
Category: Trail runner/all-around
Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Extremely comfortable; surprisingly stable and supportive.
What we don’t: Polarizing looks; outsole lacks durability and traction on technical terrain.
Well, oh well, hiking boots sure are getting more fun of late. Popular running shoe brand Hoka One One, which is known for its lightweight and cushioned designs, has made a serious push in the hiking footwear market. Our favorite from their lineup is the Anacapa Mid, which features Hoka’s well-known springy midsole, rockered shape for a smooth ride on the trail, and beefed-up construction that includes durable nubuck leather and a Gore-Tex waterproof liner. In testing the Anacapa on a backpacking trip in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, we were pleased with its fast-moving personality that nicely mixes a nimble trail runner-like feel with surprisingly good stability and support, reminiscent of a hiking boot.
Our main concern with the Anacapa is its traction—the boot performs well on hardpacked trail but immediately suffers on off-camber or rocky terrain. The majority of the tread is quality Vibram rubber, but Hoka incorporated large sections of foam-like blown rubber in the middle of the outsole (a common compound on road running footwear). As a result, we found the Anacapa difficult to trust on smooth rock, and our pair received pretty significant damage from a talus-laden climb. Finally, it almost goes without saying that the boot’s appearance will be a true dealbreaker for some. But we’ve been impressed with the design, which goes a long way to mitigate foot fatigue without compromising much in the way of stability and protection. If you stick mostly to established trails and prioritize cushy comfort, the Anacapa has a lot to offer.
See the Hoka One One Anacapa Mid GTX
Best of the Rest
Weight: 2 lbs. 6.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: A supportive and protective boot that’s still impressively comfortable.
What we don’t: Overkill for many hikers and backpackers.
Salomon’s X Ultra above is a great one-quiver boot for most hikers and backpackers, but for a big step up in performance check out their Quest 4 GTX. Built to provide serious stability and protection on technical terrain, the Quest features a generous dose of leather in the upper, deep and aggressive lugs, and a solid chassis that lends support underfoot and at the heel. It’s also home to one of our all-time favorite lacing systems, with locking eyelets that secure the heel in place and allow you to tailor fit at the forefoot and ankle. To top it off, comfort is surprisingly high—we wore the Quest 4 during a week of trekking in Nepal and were in no rush to take the boots off at the end of each day.
The Quest 4 GTX toes the line between our all-around and mountain categories, and is one of the only boots here to excel in both environments. We’d have no qualms booting up steep snow or crossing loose talus in the Salomon, but it performs well on-trail too: The outsole is surprisingly flexible for being so burly, and you get a good deal of cushioning by way of EVA foam in the midsole. Compared to the Renegade above, it has a more precision fit and a thicker, more durable upper, but at the cost of a few ounces and a bit less of a planted feel. Keep in mind that both boots are overkill for those who stick primarily to well-established trails. Finally, it’s worth noting we found that the Quest 4 runs large—we’re generally between an 8.5 and a 9 in Salomon boots, and ended up in a size 8... Read in-depth review
See the Salomon Quest 4 GTX
Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (eVent)
What we like: The comfort and mobility of a trail running shoe with added ankle support.
What we don’t: Limited support, durability, and protection.
Altra’s Lone Peak trail running shoes have developed a serious following among thru-hikers, making the mid-height version an intriguing concept. Combining the ankle height of a boot with the Lone Peak’s trademark wide toe box, generous cushioning, and zero-drop design, the result is instant comfort (no break-in period was necessary) alongside extra protection and support on tricky terrain or when carrying a load. Further, at just 1 pound 8 ounces, it’s among the lightest boots here—a game-changer for high-mileage days—and includes an eVent waterproof membrane for shallow creek crossings and muddy sections of trail. We’ll admit that we were initially skeptical about the hiking-boot-meets-trail-runner design, but we found the Altra to be a surprisingly capable piece and a great lightweight option for those who stick to the trail.
But as a more serious backcountry boot, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR falls short. For us, the design showed its weakness while scrambling a 14er—even with a light pack, it felt sloppy and hard to trust, and we wished for more toe protection on the rocky terrain. In addition, the thin and airy upper is more prone to tears and premature wear than thicker synthetic options like the X Ultra 3 above. But if your hiking endeavors keep you on trail, the Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is a sizable step up from a trail runner in terms of support, and the comfort-first design is popular among those who suffer from blisters and unhappy feet. Keep in mind that the sizing is a bit different from the standard Lone Peak: We found the Mid to have a slightly narrower feel and a nice locked-down fit at the midfoot... Read in-depth review
See the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid
Weight: 1 lb. 10.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Surround)
What we like: A lightweight leather boot with excellent breathability.
What we don’t: A bit narrow (wide sizes are available) and expensive.
La Sportiva’s Nucleo High II GTX is a quintessential modern boot: light and nimble but with enough support for day hiking and most backpacking trips. The headliner here is the boot’s impressive breathability, which comes by way of a Gore-Tex Surround liner and Nano-Cell technology. In short, Gore-Tex Surround breathes not only out of the upper like most waterproof designs, but also through the sole—which means your feet can dump heat on all sides. You also get patches of Nano-Cell mesh along the sides of each foot—great for keeping air moving—covered with a web-like patch of rubber to maintain durability. Monikers and fancy tech aside, it all adds up to a really breathable design, particularly for a leather boot.
The Nucleo also differentiates itself from other leather boots with a decently low weight. At just 1 pound 10.8 ounces for the pair, it’s noticeably lighter than many of the 2-plus-pound leather models here. And compared to most of the boots in its weight class (like the Salomon X Ultra above), you get a big boost in durability and protection with large swaths of leather rather than nylon or mesh. But you do pay a premium for the breathable leather build, and like many La Sportiva offerings, the Nucleo runs narrow (wide sizes are available). All told, the Nucleo is a nice upgrade in performance and build quality from an alternative like the Merrell Moab 2 Mid above, albeit at a higher price.
See the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 8.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: More stability and traction than a mid-height trail runner.
What we don’t: Compromised durability and protection.
Falling on the spectrum between Salomon’s X Ultra 3 Mid and a mid-height trail runner like the Altra Lone Peak above is the Salomon OUTline Mid, an uber-lightweight hiking boot. At 1 pound 8.6 ounces for the pair, it’s only slightly heavier than the Lone Peak, but offers noticeably more stability underfoot with a firm TPU midfoot shank and less cushion overall. On the other hand, it’s about 5 ounces lighter than the X Ultra 3 Mid for the pair, which can be a big boon for long days on the trail. All told, Salomon’s OUTline Mid GTX is another high-quality lightweight option that bridges the gap between two categories.
Similar to a mid-height trail runner, the OUTline Mid will start to show its limits while carrying a heavy load over technical terrain. With the streamlined midsole compromising both stability and cushion, feet might grow tired on off-camber ground (ours certainly did while testing the OUTline Low). Further, compared to a more robust boot, you get less durability and protection with the OUTline’s mesh-heavy upper. But on the right terrain, the Salomon offers confidence-inspiring traction and a decently firm platform, which is a nice change of pace from super-cushioned offerings like the Lone Peak or Topo Trailventure (below). It all adds up to a much-loved and significantly streamlined alternative to the popular X Ultra 3, great for day hikes or casual overnight trips on well-established trails.
See the Salomon OUTline Mid GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 12.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (KEEN.Dry)
What we like: A durable trail workhorse.
What we don’t: Pricier than the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof without enough to show for it.
KEEN's Targhee III is a classic hiking boot that goes head-to-head with designs like the waterproof version of Merrell's Moab 2 Mid (above). The leather upper and sturdy outsole aren’t particularly lightweight (especially compared to modern trail runner-inspired boots), but the benefits are excellent stability over rough terrain, great long-term durability, and impressive all-around protection for your foot. The Targhee also boasts a noticeably wide toe box, which is great for accommodating swollen feet and a nice alternative to some of the narrower designs here (those with lower-profile feet might be better off with KEEN’s women’s-specific Terradora II). If you’re in the market for a leather hiking boot, KEEN's Targhee III Mid is certainly worth adding to your list.
Among traditional day hiking options, the KEEN Targhee III Mid and Merrell Moab 2 Mid are two of the most popular shoes on the market. Both are very comfortable right out of the box, offer plenty of support and traction for non-technical trails, and can even get the job done on shorter backpacking trips. But while the Targhee’s nubuck leather upper is a little more durable than the Moab’s partial mesh design, we’re not sure it’s worth the $30 bump between waterproof models. Further, within this price class, the KEEN contends with more modern designs like the Salomon X Ultra 3 above, which offers a closer fit and better performance overall. Still, for traditionalists looking for a true leather hiker, it doesn’t get much better than the Targhee, which also comes in a non-waterproof version (the Targhee Vent Mid) for $165.
See the KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid
Weight: 2 lbs.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Reasonably light but stiff enough for backpacking over rough terrain.
What we don’t: Overkill for maintained or moderate trails; less cushioned than the Quest 4 GTX.
When the going gets technical, Scarpa’s Zodiac Plus GTX is the boot we want on our feet. We first purchased the Zodiac for a ten-day trek in Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash, where the harsh mountain terrain provided no shortage of on- and off-trail challenges. And the Scarpa delivered, balancing approach shoe-like traction and stability with the comfort and nimbleness of a lightweight hiking boot—a winning combination that few boots master. Since our trek, it’s become our go-to boot for any trip that involves technical terrain or carrying an overnight load, and the leather build has held up well to hundreds of miles of abuse.
When choosing our favorite boot for rugged terrain, it was a toss-up between the Zodiac Plus and the Salomon Quest 4 above. These are two very different styles that fill the same niche: the Quest is a burlier design (it weighs about 6.4 oz. more for the pair) with greater amounts of padding for both comfort and protection. On the other hand, the Zodiac is slightly stiffer and offers a closer connection to the ground with less cushioning underfoot. To more clearly understand the distinctions, it might help to think of the Quest as a souped-up hiking boot, while the Zodiac is more of a mid-height approach shoe. In the end, both are top-notch mountain-ready designs that excel on off-camber or steep terrain, and your decision will come down to a matter of fit and personal preference... Read in-depth review
See the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX
Category: Trail runner/mountain
Weight: 1 lb. 11.9 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Great technical performance in a lightweight boot.
What we don’t: Feels overbuilt on well-established trails.
La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor trail runner has earned legendary status amongst the mountain running community, beloved for its high levels of protection and stability alongside a lightweight, trail-runner-esque build. The Mid GTX here takes the low-top shoe to the next level, adding a respectably tall collar and waterproof membrane. The result is a piece of footwear that lands somewhere in between mid-height trail runner and hiking boot, taking with it the best features from both worlds. For fast-and-light mountain-goers, the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a nimble and quick alternative to boots like the Quest 4 and Zodiac Plus above.
On the flipside, it helps to compare this boot to a design like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid above. Checking in just a few ounces heavier, the Ultra Raptor offers noticeably more protection around the foot with a generous toe cap and TPU heel, and the rigid shank goes a long way to improve stability. What’s more, the Frixion XF 2.0 sole is stiff and designed to grip well to rock. It’s true that the Altra will offer a more cushioned and sprightly feel on well-established trails, but if you’re looking for a similarly lightweight boot for tackling more technical terrain, the Ultra Raptor Mid GTX is a proven choice.
See the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX
Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
Waterproof: No (available)
What we like: Lightweight and nimble with a comfort-first fit.
What we don’t: Low collar lacks support.
Founded by the former CEO of Vibram, Topo Athletic knows a thing or two about sticking to the trail—literally. Most of their lineup is dedicated to running shoes, with the key exception being the Trailventure here. Part trail runner, part hiking boot, the Trailventure is a nice solution for hikers who want an ultralight and well-cushioned ride along with a bit of ankle support. And importantly, Topo’s shoes are known for their comfort-first fit: This design in particular features a roomy toe box (great for foot swelling), locked-in midfoot and heel, moderate heel-to-toe drop (5mm), and unique lace lock system that allows you to customize snugness in the forefoot, midfoot, and ankle.
How does the Trailventure compete with a design like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid above? With a lower collar and no waterproof membrane, you give up a significant amount of protection and support (it’s most similar to the Lone Peak Hiker in this respect), and it lacks the gaiter attachment standard in Altra’s design. Overall the feel is very much one of a trail runner (we’d even go so far as to say that Topo’s Mtn Racer running shoe offers more structure), but you do get some nice padding at the collar and tongue. In the end, the Trailventure is a solid minimalist choice for day hiking in warm and dry conditions, but we’d stick to the Altra for overnight trips in mountain environments. Finally, keep in mind that the Trailventure also comes in a waterproof version, which features a stiffer design by way of a full-length rockplate and Vibram’s Megagrip rubber.
See the Topo Athletic Trailventure
Weight: 2 lbs. 1.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Tough and capable yet lightweight.
What we don’t: We’d prefer more cushioning.
Arc’teryx can be a wildcard with their footwear, and previous designs have teetered on the edge of being too unique for our liking. In contrast, the Acrux follows a more traditional route with a clean one-piece upper, EVA midsole, and Vibram traction. But there are some fun surprises. In particular, we’ve found the synthetic SuperFabric upper to be especially durable and tough considering its thin build. That in many ways sums up our overall impression of the Acrux: Despite weighing just over 2 pounds for the pair, the boot provides excellent support and protection while hauling 50+ pounds over challenging terrain.
One disappointment with the Acrux is its general lack of cushioning. The thin upper is partly to blame, but underfoot, the stock OrthoLite insole is simply too thin and flat to be comfortable for full days of hiking. Replacing the insole is a good start (it’s removable), but the minimal cushioning strikes us as a weak point in the design and falls short of boots like the Scarpa Zodiac Plus and Salomon Quest 4 in terms of comfort. In general, most hikers will appreciate the added padding of a boot like the Quest, which also features a taller collar to keep out trail debris. These complaints push the Acrux down our rankings, but it’s nevertheless a high-performance boot for multi-day hikes in technical terrain.
See the Arc'teryx Acrux TR GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 7.3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: A comfortable and lightweight boot made just for women.
What we don’t: Falls short of the X Ultra for anything more than casual use.
The Vaya collection is Salomon’s women’s-specific hiking offering, ranging from a non-waterproof shoe to an insulated winter boot. The Mid GTX here is the lineup’s dedicated hiking boot, combining a low weight with quality materials at a reasonable price point. One of the headlining features is the SensiFlex synthetic upper, which offers a well-padded and foot-hugging feel and stretches to accommodate natural foot swelling. The roomy toe box and snug heel are built specifically for a woman’s foot, and we’ve appreciated the soft collar around the ankle for added support and comfort. The Vaya shouldn’t be confused for a rugged design like the Salomon Quest or Lowa Renegade above, but it’ll provide decent performance for moderate day trips and mellow overnights alike.
We understand the appeal of a women's-specific boot, but keep in mind that the women's versions of all of the boots listed here are tailored towards lower profile feet and ankles. In other words, there's no clear benefit to going with a true women's-specific model like the Vaya, other than the aesthetic, if you like it. In the end, a design like the X Ultra 3 GTX above outperforms the Vaya in most categories: It’s more stable underfoot, sports deeper lugs that grip better across a variety of terrain, is more durable with a partially leather upper, and provides a boost in ankle and toe protection. It’s true that the X Ultra is about 2 ounces heavier per boot, but you still get a light, nimble, and sprightly feel, and the fit is more performance-oriented overall. All gripes aside, the Vaya still has its place for casual hikers looking for a comfortable, waterproof hiking boot, and its good looks make it perfectly viable for around-town use too... Read in-depth review
See the Salomon Vaya Mid GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 14 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Danner Dry)
What we like: Classic Danner looks in a lightweight package.
What we don’t: Not as durable or long-lasting as the price would suggest.
Danner is best known for their throwback, full-leather boots, but their modernized Mountain 600 has struck a chord with the day hiking crowd. The over-the-ankle design is lightweight at 1 pound 14 ounces for the pair, surprisingly flexible underfoot with a cushioned, trail-runner-inspired sole, and has sharp looks with a full suede upper and quality lacing hardware. An in-house waterproof liner combined with the water-resistant suede helps keep your feet protected from mud and wet grass, while also providing a light boost in warmth for wearing around town in the cold (to the detriment of breathability).
As expected considering its casual slant, the Mountain 600 is not intended for high-mileage users. The materials aren’t known for holding up over the long haul, particularly if you subject them to rugged trails. Further, the boot is pretty expensive at $190 when stacked up to more capable, lighter-weight designs like the $165 Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid above. But if you prioritize out-of-the-box comfort, styling, and everyday versatility, the Mountain 600 is worth a look. Finally, it’s also worth checking out Danner’s 2650 Trail GTX Mid, which features a sleek and athletic design more reminiscent of a trail runner.
See the Danner Mountain 600
Weight: 1 lb. 10.1 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Out of the box comfort; protective yet lightweight.
What we don’t: Disappointing ankle support and finishes.
Salomon’s X Ultra 3 GTX above is our favorite lightweight hiking boot, and we’d be remiss not to mention their updated X Ultra 4 here. Revamped last year, the new X Ultra 4 features a modernized upper, redesigned cuff, and brand-new midsole that prioritizes stability at a low weight. But after wearing the boot during a four-day trek in Southern Patagonia, we hesitate to suggest it as an improvement over the outgoing model. While comfort and protection were highlights, the 4 lacked the high-quality finishes we’ve come to expect from Salomon and fell short in terms of ankle support.
Salomon’s update to the X Ultra lineup is an interesting one: Both the shoe and the boot feature an expanded toe box, which was overly roomy even for our wide-footed tester (we recommend sizing down at least a half size), resulting in a clunky and imprecise hiking experience. And while the X Ultra 4 shoe has a premium-looking upper with welded overlays, Salomon opted for a stitched upper on the boot, along with bulky laces and a difficult-to-cinch ankle collar. The result is overall a rather awkward design, and the oversized fit certainly doesn’t help. To be sure, it’s not all bad—we found the X Ultra 4 to be impressively protective and comfortable right out of the box—but the 3 above is the more superior boot in seemingly every category... Read in-depth review
See the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 12.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (B-Dry)
What we like: Comfortable and great crossover appeal.
What we don’t: Stiff and some might find the heel too narrow.
If you’re wary of outdoor brands’ “shrink it and pink it” tendencies, the women’s-only Oboz Sapphire is a nice solution. Combining feminine contours and tailoring with a waterproof, breathable design, the Sapphire holds its own both on and off the mountain. You get a tailored fit that reduces bulk and looks great for casual use, moderate stability with a nice combination of TPU and EVA foam in the midsole, and a long-lasting and protective nubuck leather upper. It all adds up to a high-quality, versatile boot (and the competitive $160 MSRP doesn't hurt).
Women with hard-to-please feet will likely appreciate the accommodating fit of the Sapphire, but the narrow heel won’t work for everyone. The boot also feels stiffer and clunkier than more modern designs like Salomon's X Ultra or La Sportiva's Nucleo, and the Swiftcurrent outsole isn’t as grippy as blends from Vibram or Contagrip (on the other hand, it lends more durability for use on pavement). Compared to the standard version of Oboz’s Bridger, the Sapphire has more crossover appeal but less protection and support overall. Finally, it does not come in a non-waterproof model—and the substantial leather upper isn't doing it any breathability favors—limiting its appeal during the summer months.
See the Oboz Sapphire Mid Waterproof
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Beautifully made and a stalwart on rough terrain.
What we don’t: Dated design that’s very heavy.
The hiking boot market has been trending away from traditional heavyweight leather designs for years, but there’s still a time and place for these classics. In this category, the Zamberlan Vioz GTX is among the all-time greats. The Italian-made leather construction is gorgeous and built to last, the interior is soft and isolates you amazingly well from a rough trail, and the stiff structure provides reliable support. For long slogs with a serious load or even light mountaineering, the Vioz GTX is a proven choice.
Unfortunately for the Vioz, there is good reason why you see fewer of them on the trail these days. A heavy boot makes it that much harder to cover ground, and at 3 pounds 1 ounce, the Vioz weighs more than anything else on this list (and certainly feels like it as the miles add up). In the end, we think even serious backpackers will be better off with boots like the Salomon Quest 4 or Scarpa Zodiac Plus above in most cases. But the Vioz remains a favorite among traditionalists who want a burly boot, and rest assured that it will be your hiking partner for years to come (you can even resole its Vibram rubber).
See the Zamberlan Vioz GTX
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (TimberDry)
What we like: An affordable leather hiking boot with waterproof protection.
What we don’t: Not great performance and even wide sizes run narrow.
Last but not least is the Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid. Priced at just $110, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more affordable hiking boot with waterproof protection. Unsurprisingly, it's also about as basic as it gets for a leather hiker. The lightweight build won’t hold you down too much, but the boot still offers decent amounts of durability and isolation from rocks and roots. On top of that, its more casual styling makes it one of the better boots here to pull double-duty for daily wear (along with the Danner above).
What are the recommended uses for the Mt. Maddsen Mid? It's not a boot we’d take on a 10-day backcountry trip, but performance should be completely adequate if you stick to moderate trails or head out on the odd overnighter. Do keep in mind that the Timberland tends to run narrow (reviewers even report issues with the wide sizes falling short), and the proprietary TimberDry waterproofing won’t repel sustained moisture as well as higher-end designs. But for the low price of $110, these are compromises many causal hikers are willing to make.
See the Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||$245||All-around||2 lb. 2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather|
|Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX||$165||All-around||1 lb. 13.4 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator||$120||All-around||1 lb. 14 oz.||No (available)||Leather/mesh|
|Hoka One One Anacapa Mid GTX||$180||Trail runner/all-around||1 lb. 12 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather|
|Salomon Quest 4 GTX||$230||Mountain/all-around||2 lb. 6.4 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic/ leather|
|Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid||$170||Trail runner||1 lb. 8 oz.||Yes (eVent)||Synthetic|
|La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX||$209||All-around||1 lb. 10.8 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather/mesh|
|Salomon OUTline Mid GTX||$150||All-around||1 lb. 8.6 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|KEEN Targhee III WP Mid||$175||All-around||1 lb. 12 oz.||Yes (KEEN.Dry)||Leather|
|Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX||$299||Mountain||2 lbs.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather|
|La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Mid GTX||$175||Trail runner/mountain||1 lb. 11.9 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Topo Athletic Trailventure||$140||Trail runner||1 lb. 4.8 oz.||No (available)||Synthetic|
|Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX||$250||Mountain/all-around||2 lb. 1.2 oz||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Salomon Vaya Mid GTX||$160||All-around||1 lb. 7.3 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Danner Mountain 600||$190||All-around||1 lb. 14 oz.||Yes (Danner Dry)||Leather|
|Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX||$165||All-around||1 lb. 10.1 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Synthetic|
|Oboz Sapphire Mid Waterproof||$160||All-around||1 lb. 12.6 oz.||Yes (B-Dry)||Leather|
|Zamberlan Vioz GTX||$310||Mountain/all-around||3 lb. 1 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather|
|Timberland Mt. Maddsen Mid||$110||All-around||2 lb. 7 oz.||Yes (TimberDry)||Leather|
- Women’s-Specific Hiking Boots
- Women’s Hiking Boot Types
- Stability and Support
- Lacing Systems
- Upper Materials
- Midsoles: EVA Foam and TPU
- Outsoles and Traction
- Toe Protection
- Hiking Boots vs. Hiking Shoes
In 2022, the vast majority of hiking boots come in both men’s and women’s versions. In general, women’s boots are designed to fit narrower heels and ankles and higher arches, and come in women’s sizing and a different set of colorways. There are also a few hiking boots that were designed specifically with women in mind, including the Salomon Vaya, Oboz Sapphire, and KEEN Terradora. While the majority of our female friends wear women’s boots, it’s important to note that some women might be better off opting for a men’s model (this is particularly important for those with high-volume feet and ankles). As with all clothing and footwear, your best bet is to try on before buying.
Mid-Height Trail Runner
Perhaps no single piece of gear epitomizes the lightweight revolution more clearly than the mid-height trail runner. Manufacturers start with a popular trail running shoe like the Altra Lone Peak and tack on a collar that extends above the ankle. The result is a boot that’s flexible, lightweight, and cushioned (we see a lot of EVA foam here)—great for comfort and speed on high-mileage days—but with an extra dose of support compared to a typical trail running shoe. However, compared to standard hiking boots, mid-height trail runners are much less stiff, supportive, and protective overall, and their durability falls particularly short. But for fast-and-light enthusiasts and well-conditioned hikers who want a boost in performance from a traditional trail running shoe, the tradeoffs are well worth it.
Our all-around category represents the core of the market, running the gamut from lightweight synthetic designs to more traditional leather models. All of these boots extend above the ankle and offer great support and protection by way of sturdy outsoles, relatively stiff midsoles (look for additions like a TPU shank), generous rands and toe bumpers, and robust upper materials. Boots on the lighter end of the spectrum (like Salomon’s 1 lb. 10.1 oz. X Ultra 4 Mid GTX) will feel more sprightly underfoot at the cost of a bit of durability and support, while beefy designs like the 2-pound-6.4-ounce Quest 4 GTX are better for those looking for that traditional hiking boot feel. Most hikers and backpackers will settle for a boot in our all-around category, while those with particular needs can bump up or down to a trail runner or mountain boot.
Most of the designs on our list offer ample support for rooty and rocky trails, but when the going gets tougher (think off-trail terrain or sustained snow), you might want a bit more boot. Somewhere on the spectrum between hiking boot and mountaineering boot, designs in our mountain category are the most robust here and go one step further than a traditional hiker in terms of support (slightly taller collars and stiffer midsoles), durability and protection (most feature leather uppers), and traction. Given their rigidity, these boots also pair with aluminum crampons better than more flexible options. Mountain boots will generally be overkill on established trails (the Zamberlan Vioz GTX clocks in at a whopping 3 lbs. 1 oz.), but those venturing into the alpine or carrying a particularly heavy load will appreciate the added performance.
Looking at our list above, women’s hiking boots run the gamut from ultralight trail-running-inspired designs like the Topo Athletic Trailventure (1 lb. 4.8 oz.) to sturdy mountain-ready models that clock in well over 3 pounds for the pair. In general, the weight spec can tell us a lot about a boot: A lighter design will be less protective, supportive, and durable overall, but the benefits include less strain on the body (as the saying goes, a pound on the foot equals five on the back) and more flex and cushion, which often translate to increased comfort. Hikers and backpackers will want to aim for that sweet spot between performance and weight. f you’re sticking to the trail with a light load you can get away with a mid-height trail runner or lightweight hiking boot, while those hauling extra gear or traveling cross-country will appreciate the added support of a heavier boot.
Hiking boots are designed to be stable underfoot, which typically involves a firm outsole and a piece of hard plastic inserted between the midsole and outsole, known as a shank. The length of the plastic can vary from just under the arch to the full length of the boot, depending on intended use. The benefit of a stiff boot is that with a solid platform, the feet will not have to work as hard during ascents and descents, and on off-camber terrain. For this reason, boots in our mountain category are among the stiffest here, and a great choice for off-trail travel with a heavy load. On the other end of the spectrum, mid-height trail runners generally forgo the additional structure of a shank, which translates to greater flexibility but less stability overall.
For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain or if you're aiming to move fast and light, we can’t recommend a lightweight and flexible hiking boot enough. Boots like the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid or Topo Athletic Trailventure are standouts for these uses, provided that you’re fairly well-conditioned and have no pre-existing ankle issues. As your trips get longer and your pack gets heavier, a more substantial boot that increases ankle support is a better decision, including the all-rounder Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX or Lowa Renegade GTX Mid. On the extreme end, mountain boots like the Salomon Quest 4 or Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX are excellent for hiking in areas that require maximum support: off-trail bushwhacking, traversing an exposed area, or trekking over rough ground.
The vast majority of hiking boots are waterproof, keeping your feet dry while crossing streams, dodging puddles, or hiking during a light rainstorm. Most designs achieve this by way of a waterproof and breathable membrane inserted just inside the outer fabric. Gore-Tex liners are the most popular and reliable (as seen in designs like the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX), but even in-house technologies like KEEN's KEEN.Dry are similar in terms of waterproofing performance (however, breathability can suffer with some of these designs). And in addition to the membrane, most boots also feature a water-repellent coating on the outside that helps to bead up and shed water droplets.
But before springing for a waterproof boot, it is worth asking if you need the added protection. There are a number of downsides to this technology: The extra layer adds weight, impacts breathability fairly significantly (discussed below), and will run you around $20 to $30 more. Further, if you do happen to get water inside your boot (this can easily happen in deep snow or water), it doesn’t drain as well and won’t dry out nearly as quickly as a non-waterproof option. In the end, we like the added assurance of a waterproof boot for shoulder season hiking or backpacking in the mountains, but recommend a non-waterproof design for summer hikes or uniquely hot and dry environments like the Utah desert. For more on the waterproofing debate, see our article Do You Need Waterproof Hiking Shoes?
No matter what marketers say, making a boot waterproof inherently impacts breathability. By keeping water from entering from the outside, less moisture (your sweat) can quickly and easily escape from the inside, which means all forms of waterproof footwear can run warm in the summer months. There are, however, big differences between boot models in their ability to ventilate.
We’ve found that heavyweight leather boots with a Gore-Tex lining are often the worst performers, while the Gore-Tex Surround in the mesh-heavy La Sportiva Nucleo High II is a step above. In between, the Lowa Renegade and Salomon Quest 4 both perform decently with their nylon and leather construction and Gore-Tex liners, and are completely suitable for summer backpacking trips. Of note, the cheaper membrane in the Oboz Sapphire boot fell short of the pricier options in our testing. And if you are willing to ditch the waterproof lining altogether, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator and Topo Athletic Trailventure mentioned above are great options for hikers and backpackers.
Laces are an overlooked feature on hiking boots but play an important role in fit and comfort. Most laces extend to the ankle with standard eyelets and continue up the collar using hooks that come completely undone so you can get in and out of your boot with ease. Some of the more advanced designs feature locking hooks at the crook of the ankle, which both locks your foot in place and allows you to tailor your fit throughout (loose in the forefoot to accommodate for swelling and tight around the ankle for stability, for example). Every so often we see a single-pull speed lace design used in a hiking boot (such as Salomon’s Quicklace in their Cross Hike Mid). While we’re fans of the convenience of the Quicklace system in a hiking shoe, it’s a tricker sell for us on a mid-height boot as you only get one one option for tightening or loosening your boots, compared to the versatility of a standard design.
A hiking boot’s upper refers to the material above the outsole and the midsole—essentially, all of the fabric that surrounds your foot. Most often, a boot’s upper will be made with a mix of synthetic (typically nylon), mesh, and leather. The type of material correlates directly with the boot’s durability, water resistance and breathability, and weight. Below we spell out the pros and cons for the most common materials used for hiking footwear.
Synthetic Nylon and Mesh
Woven nylon as well as open mesh nylon panels are common on mid-height trail runners and boots in our all-around category. These synthetic materials usually excel in terms of breathability and weight savings, and they can dry out more quickly when wet. However, they are not known for their durability, and don’t offer as much protection as a thicker leather boot. Synthetic materials also don’t conform to your foot over time as well as leather, but in most cases, the overall fit is still comfortable and snug. Many designs here feature fully synthetic uppers, while others (like the Salomon Quest 4 GTX) have a mix of synthetic and leather for the best of both worlds.
Made of full-grain leather but given a brushed finish that has a suede-like feel, nubuck leather is a common sight on hiking boots in our all-around and mountain categories. The softer touch leather is lighter and more flexible than traditional, glossy full-leather options, but the thinner construction does sacrifice a bit of durability. Additionally, nubuck leather tends to breathe better than full-grain leather and isn’t as prone to showing scuff marks, thanks to its brushed finish. Expect nubuck boots to weigh more than synthetic designs, but the benefit is increased durability and protection, along with a snugger fit over time (leather can stretch and shrink with use).
Compared to nubuck, full-grain leather is thicker, stiffer, and tougher overall. You’ll find one-piece leather uppers on high-end boots like the Zamberlan Vioz GTX. These designs are neither lightweight nor particularly breathable, but they’re incredibly tough and water resistant. Leather does require some maintenance to keep in good shape (you’ll want to treat it with a conditioner like Nikwax), but the payoff is a solid construction that’s built to outlast everything else on the market. As an added bonus, some designs can be resoled, so you don’t need to replace the whole boot once you wear down the lugs.
Hiking on off-camber terrain or while carrying a heavy load can put a decent amount of stress on your feet, so you’ll want to make sure your hiking boot offers a sturdy platform. Combined with the rubber outsole, the midsole plays an essential role in stability, shock absorption, and protection from sharp rocks underfoot. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very thin and flexible (as with mid-height trail runners) to stiff and substantial (like we see in leather mountain boots). Most include EVA foam, TPU, or a combination of both in their construction.
The majority of mid-height trail runners and lightweight hiking boots use EVA foam in the midsole. The cushy, soft material takes some of the sting out of your heel or midfoot impacts and is also extremely lightweight. Not all EVA should be treated equally, and the proprietary versions can vary from super soft to mildly stiff. For logging serious miles on tougher terrain, we prefer a firm and supportive midsole as opposed to too much cushioning. If we’re planning on moving quickly on easy trail, softer cushioning is a better bet and commonly found in trail running designs like the Topo Athletic Trailventure. However, soft midsoles have a tendency to break down over time, so expect these boots to pack out more quickly than dedicated hiking boots.
For tougher applications or when you want to isolate your feet from rough impacts, manufacturers will use a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) midsole. This durable material is far less cushy than EVA but provides better protection and stability underfoot—for this reason, it’s common in boots in our all-around and mountain categories but not used in the trail-runner-inspired designs above. Boots with TPU in their midsole will also keep their shape longer and won’t be prone to compressing like EVA. Because both midsole types have valid applications, it’s common for a manufacturer to use a TPU frame or heel for stability and toughness and add in EVA underfoot to increase comfort.
One of the hallmarks of a hiking boot is good traction on a variety of terrain. In a way that more casual footwear can never match, hiking and trail running footwear are leaps and bounds better when the going gets rocky, slippery, and steep. Vibram is the gold standard when it comes to outsole rubber, but not all Vibram compounds should be treated equally: The rubber manufacturer tailors their blends and designs for the specific footwear and brands. Some boots have much larger and sharper lugs underfoot for serious grip in mud, while others prioritize sticky rubber for scrambling over rocks. There are also more entry-level options that just do well on easier trails, like the lugs you’ll find on the bottom of the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator.
Salomon is one brand that doesn’t outsource their traction needs. Instead, they use their in-house Contagrip for all of their hiking and trail running models. We’ve found the level of quality and performance is on par with Vibram’s offerings, from anything from their fast-and-light X Ultra 3 to the burly Quest 4. Keep in mind that, like Vibram, Contagrip compounds can vary from boot to boot (there are a number of different compounds, including Contagrip MA, MD, and TA). For example, we found the Vaya to offer fairly unimpressive traction on wet terrain, whereas the X Ultra 3 Mid GTX excels in this environment.
Toe caps or rubber rands cover the front of many hiking boots, and we consider them an essential element of backpacking boot design. These thick pieces of rubber are there to keep your toes in one piece should you accidentally—and in our case, eventually—kick a rock on the trail. Some standouts from our list above include the Scarpa Zodiac Plus and La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid, which have protection that wraps completely around the front of the foot. To cut weight, some manufacturers will occasionally take away or diminish this feature, including the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid boots. After stubbing our toe multiple times while scrambling a 14er wearing the Altra, we definitely prefer that it included more substantial toe protection, but it’s just a compromise in opting for a minimalist boot.
Getting a proper fit can be a real pain, and in many cases the blame is a generic, flat insole. Thankfully, removing your stock insoles is super easy, and replacing them with an aftermarket model that’s specific to your foot size and shape can remedy most boot maladies. New insoles can provide more or less volume to fill out the boot, improve the fit under the arch, and increase or decrease the cushion and impact shock. We recommend checking out Superfeet insoles for their wide selection of options and trusted reputation in running shoes, ski boots, and hiking footwear.
One of the key decisions in choosing hiking footwear is selecting either an over-the-ankle boot or low-top shoe. Each style has its respective strengths, and we use them interchangeably for hiking and backpacking trips. The key differentiators are protection, stability, and weight. For rocky terrain, water crossings, snow, and carrying a heavy backpacking pack—or if you have weak or injured ankles—a boot is our preferred option.
On the other hand, a low-top style trims away material and weight, making it the clear choice for those focused on moving fast and light without a large pack (especially in milder weather conditions or on easy trail). Mid-height trail runners can be a nice middle ground, with some of the added protection of a boot alongside the nimble feel of a shoe. There isn’t a definite right answer in this debate, but the weight of your gear and style of hiking can make the decision a lot simpler. For more on the topic, see our article on the best women's hiking shoes.
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