Hiking is our jam. Whether we’re close to home, on the road, or somewhere overseas, we love to explore the scenery that’s off the beaten path. And there’s no better way to explore hidden gems than on your own two feet. Hiking allows you to get out, get some exercise, and see the sights. And we’ve learned from experience that what you’re wearing on your feet can make or break the experience.
Like many hikers, we’ve worn ill-fitted boots that result in blistered and achy feet. But, we’ve also worn some incredible boots that are equal parts comfortable, supportive, and dare we say stylish? Over the past few months, we’ve tried many of the top-rated hiking boots from some of the best brands to save you the trouble (and blisters). These are the best women’s hiking boots of 2023.
What Are the Best Hiking Boots for Women?
Best Overall Hiking Boots for Women: La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX
Most Affordable Hiking Boots for Women: Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
Most Rugged Hiking Boots for Women: AKU Trekker Pro GTX
Most Comfortable Hiking Boots for Women: Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof
Most Stylish Hiking Boots for Women: Danner Mountain 600
Best Overall Hiking Boots for Women
Weight: 28.6 oz.
Upper Materials: Recycled air mesh
Outsole: Vibram Ecostep Evo
Pros: Comfortable, minimal break in time
Cons: Wide fit could be bad for narrow feet
La Sportiva was a last-minute addition to this review, and we’re glad they were put on our radar. Later in the testing process, numerous trusted sources recommended La Sportiva as some of the comfiest boots in the game, so we knew we had to give them a try. The TX Hike Mid GTX didn’t disappoint.
Out of the box these boots were comfortable and performed well from their first hike on, offering the perfect combination of comfort and support right away. Made with the environment in mind, these boots feature a 15% recycled EVA Midsole, a Vibram Ecostep Evo Outsole with 30% recycled content, and the mesh, laces, and webbing are made from or recycled materials. Additionally, the Mid GTX has bluesign approved GORE-TEX lining that is waterproof yet breathable and the seamless uppers have TPU overlays for added durability.
The Mid GTX sports a wide fit, but they performed well for our tester despite her narrow feet. The waterproof boots had plenty of cushion underfoot and the traction on the outsoles made it possible to navigate slippery and wet surfaces with ease. The break-in period was minimal and these boots provided all day comfort on the trail—we see lots of thru hikes in our future. Read the full review here.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Most Affordable Hiking Boots for Women
Weight: 16.36 oz.
Upper Materials: Pigskin leather/mesh
Lining: Recycled mesh
Outsole: Vibram TC5+
Pros: Comfortable and breathable, made from recycled materials
Cons: Runs slightly small
A popular boot among hikers for the past 15 years, the Moab 3 is an upgraded version of Merrel’s classic boot. Merrel’s most eco-friendly boot to date, the Moab 3 features 100% recycled laces and webbing and a 100% recycled mesh lining.
With the Moab 3, Merrel has included every detail you could possibly want in a hiking boot: a waterproof membrane, a pig suede leather and breathable mesh upper, a bellows tongue that keeps out debris, an abrasion resistant rubber heel and toe cap, a breathable mesh lining, and a removable contoured footbed with reinforced heel cushioning. Other thoughtful features include the Merrel Air Cushion in the heel, which works to absorb shock and add stability, the Super Rebound Compound, which also helps absorb shock, and the Vibram TC5+ outsole that provides reliable traction on all surfaces.
Our tester was ambitious and wore these for the first time on an all-day technical hike that included river crossings, climbing, and steep and muddy up and downhill sections and they performed wonderfully. The Moab 3 hiking boots are comfortable, supportive, and breathable, making them a great sidekick for any hike. Our tester typically wears a size 8 in hiking boots, but found that the 8.5 worked perfectly, so you may want to order a half size up if you prefer a little extra room.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Most Rugged Hiking Boots for Women
Weight: 18.5 oz.
Upper Materials: Suede and fabric
Outsole: Vibram Curcuma rubber
Pros: AKU Elica Natural Stride System distributes weight across your entire foot, GORE-TEX
Cons: Takes time to break in, expensive
Designed for navigating technical terrain in the mountains, the AKU Trekker Pro GTX is one of the more rugged boots on our list. A unique feature of the Trekker Pro is the AKU Elica Natural Stride System technology that works to enhance bio-dynamic performance by distributing weight across your entire foot. This makes the boots more comfortable over long periods of time, making them a great option for backpacking trips.
Other standout features of the Trekker Pro is the Vibram Curuma outsole, that is incredibly reliable in all terrains—mud, water, snow, or ice. The boots feature a higher rise and a GORE-TEX membrane that allows them to be both waterproof while still remaining breathable. These boots definitely take some time to break in to reach their maximum comfort, but they are well-made and durable.CHECK PRICE ON REI
Most Comfortable Hiking Boots for Women
Weight: 11.8 oz.
Upper Materials: Suede and air mesh
Outsole: Trail Traction
Pros: Lightweight & comfortable, wide toe box
Cons: A little big for narrow feet, not the most rugged
Lems was a brand we had never heard of prior to this review, but we sure am glad they were put on my radar. Out of the box, the Primal Pursuit had a unique aesthetic and felt like they were going to be lightweight and comfortable. After trying them on and taking them for a test hike, we couldn’t believe how comfortable they were.
The Primal Pursuit Mid is 100% waterproof and features a suede and mesh upper, a Trail Traction outsole with 3.5 mm lugs, a 4.5 mm moisture wicking PU footbed, and a 100% moisture-wicking polyester lining. A unique feature of these boots is the zero-drop heel and wide tow box that allows your toes to remain free and splayed, while in motion. The only downside of the design is that the boots felt a little on the big side for someone with narrower feet—you might want to size down if your feet are narrow. Overall, these waterproof boots are lightweight, comfortable, breathable, and require no break in time—they’re a winner.CHECK PRICE ON LEMS
Most Stylish Hiking Boots for Women
Weight: 14 oz.
Upper Materials: Suede leather
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Pros: Good for both the trail and wearing around town, Vibram midsoles
Cons: Require some break in time
Inspired by Danner’s original Mountain Lite model, the Danner Mountain 600 is a waterproof mid-height hiking boot. When it comes to leather hiking boots, we tend to be a bit skeptical as our tester was stuck in an unfortunate pair for a 12-day thru hike. Leather boots tend to be more stylish and durable, but they typically come with a hefty break in period and we were worried the Danner Mountain 600 might be the same. But, we decided to leave our preconceived notions behind and give them a try.
Out of the box, the Danner Mountain 600s look and feel good. Upon hitting the trail, these boots are a little stiff but they still are comfortable and have plenty of give – they break in and become a little more comfortable with each use. The TPU heel frames add support and stability and the Vibram SPE midsoles are responsive and provide comfortable support. The waterproof suede leather uppers coupled with Danner Dry waterproof protection ensure your feet stay dry for the entirety of you trip.
Danner recommends sizing a half size down from what you typically wear, but we found that they fit pretty true to size. The Danner Mountain 600 are on of the more stylish pair of boots we tried and are something we’d feel good about wearing both on the trail and around town. Read the full review here.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Best of the Rest
Weight: 10.1 oz.
Upper Materials: PU coated leather, textile
Pros: Super supportive, durable, GORE-TEX waterproofing
Cons: Stiff at first, require break-in period
The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX was made specifically with women in mind. Catered towards female hikers, the X Ultra 4 utilizes softer materials, especially around the collars and heels, as well as lower-density chassis. Inspired by Salomon’s trail runners, these boots are incredibly lightweight, weighing in at just 10.1 oz. While they are lightweight, they are also incredibly sturdy, providing plenty of ankle support and they feature GORE-TEX, ensuring that they are waterproof yet breathable.
The X Ultra 4 feature SensiFit, which helps cradle the foot from the midsoles to the laces, providing a secure, custom fit. The outsoles sport Terrain Contagrip, which provide reliable grip on all surfaces, wet or dry.
Out of the gates, these boots weren’t super comfortable – they feel stiff around the ankles. But with time they break in and loosen up, and no joke, we’ve been stopped on the trail by people telling me how much they love these boots. So like a lot of things in life, the X Ultra 4 boots get better with time.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 14.1 oz.
Upper Materials: Suede-effect and leather free microfiber
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Pros: Made specifically for women, Vibram Junko outsole
Cons: Insole feels a little weird at first
Made in Italy, the Zamberlan Circe GTX boots are lightweight yet supportive. Designed specifically for women, the Circe GTX has a modern, leather-free, breathable upper and an elasticized tongue for enhanced comfort. The boots features a Vibram Junko outsole that has a wider heel and forefront for added stability coupled with Megagrip sticky rubber for secure traction.
Thoughtful features include PU rands to protect the toe box and uppers from debris, Zamberlan X-Active Fit for maximum comfort, EVA midsole, PE insole, and a GORE-TEX Extended Comfort membrane that ensures the boots are both waterproof and breathable. The uppers and gussets are leather-free and instead sport a suede-effect microfiber that is a more sustainable alternative.
Out of the gates, these boots are comfortable and felt good trekking on the local trails. The bottom insoles felt a little funky, but we’re sure they’ll get better with time, otherwise we’ll add inserts for personalized comfort. Overall, these boots are comfy and well-made and come in fun color options to boot (pun intended).CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 41.6 oz.
Upper Materials: Leather/fabric
Pros: Comfortable, stylish
Timberland has a reputation as more of a fashion boot brand, so we were skeptical about how well their hiking boots would perform. Much to our surprise, the Timberland Chocorua boots performed great and were one of our favorites of all the boots I tested. two of the hikes our tester took these boots out on were extremely muddy and wet (she was hiking during a hurricane warning in Hawaii) and they kept her feet cozy and dry throughout the entire hike thanks to the GORE-TEX construction.
The uppers are made from a responsibly sourced letter that make for a great aesthetic. The laces have options to tie around the lower or upper ankles and we found they fit better and provided better support when we tied them all the way to the top. The rubber outsoles with multidirectional lugs provided reliable traction on the slippery terrain. Although these boots were the heaviest of all the boots we tested, it wasn’t apparent while wearing them and they were comfortable form the get-go.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Upper Materials: eVent fabric
Outsole: DuraTread rubber
Pros: Super lightweight, zero-drop heel, wide toe box
Cons: Runs small, not as supportive and durable as other options
When we found out Altra made hiking boots we were really excited. As someone who would prefer to hike in running shoes over hiking boots, the Altra Lone Peak seemed like the perfect match for our tester. Originally a trail running shoe brand, the Altra Lone Peak is like a trail running shoe with added support for hiking.
The Lone Peaks feature Altra’s original FootShape Fit, Altra EGO midsole, mid-ankle support, and MaxTrac outsole. The bottom of the boots are nice and grippy and when you cinch the laces tight your ankles feel nice and supported. As far as hiking boots go, the Lone Peaks have a low heel and less support than other options. We personally like the more minimalistic design but if you prefer more support you may want to look elsewhere.
The zero-drop heel and wide toe box help prevent injuries, but can take some time getting used to. The eVent weatherproof bootie construction seals out the elements, ensuring your feet stay dry during rainstorms and stream crossings. These boots fit a little on the small side, so pay close attention when ordering. Comfortable and one of the lightest of all the boots we tested, we were a big fan of the Altra Lone Peak.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 33.5 oz.
Upper Materials: Nubuck leather, polyester, and rubber
Lining: Recycled polyester mesh
Outsole: Vasque Trail Strider
Pros: Supportive and durable
Cons: Take a long time to break in, heavy
The Breeze is a modern take on one of Vasque’s most popular boots with sustainable upgrades. The Breeze is the first boot from Vasque to include VasqueDry, which is reliable waterproofing that is derived from 25% recycled materials. Other features include recycled polyester mesh, a dual density EVA footbed, an Enduralast Bio EVA midsole, the Vasque Trail Strider outsole, and waterproof nubuck leather.
The Vasque Breeze boots are incredibly supportive and durable and we really wanted to like them but unfortunately, we didn’t love them. They’re difficult to get into and once they’re on they feel stiff. We figured they needed to be broken in and while they did get better, they’re still one of the stiffer boots we tried even after numerous wears. What they lack in comfort they make up for in support and durability—they’re incredibly waterproof, have good traction, and keep your ankles secure.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 28.4 oz.
Upper Materials: Nubuck leather
Cons: Wide around the heels
The Keen Traghee II Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots are advertised as having “out-the-box comfort.” While they’re not uncomfortable out of the box and were fine on a short hike, they’re definitely a boot that continues to get more comfortable with time. We wore these boots on a couple of hikes on Oahu, where the conditions are often wet and muddy, with steep and slippery sections. The 4 mm multidirectional lugged soles provided reliable traction and the waterproofing was capable of withstanding the conditions. The fit of these boots wasn’t terrible but it was strange. The toe area seemed to fit fine but they fit wide around the ankles, even with adjusting of the laces. Our tester has a really narrow foot so that could be the reason, but the fit was definitely funky and resulted in a less comfortable hike. The Targhee III are breathable and well made, and seem like a durable boot that will withstand the test of time.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 20.2 oz.
Upper Materials: Recycled mesh/recycled microfiber
Outsole: PRESA SuperGum rubber
Pros: Made from recycled materials, lightweight
Cons: Laces are too long, tongue rubs weird
Scarpa is traditionally known for their ski boots and gear, so we were curious when we found out they make hiking boots. Our first impression when trying on the Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots was that they felt like snowboarding boots. Not in a bad way, but in a cozy, comfy sort of way. We had our doubts about how they would perform on the trails but we set off on a seven mile hike on Kauai in hopes of glimpsing the Na Pali coast to test them out.
Out of the gates, these boots felt lightweight and comfortable but we quickly found that the shoelaces were too long and they kept dragging in the mud (might want to swap them for a shorter pair if you encounter the same problem). Another weird thing was they way the tongue rubbed against our tester’s foot made it feel like there was a twig or something in her boot – it wasn’t painful but it was a bit annoying.
The Rush 2 are super breathable, which is huge for hiking in hot, humid climates. The boots felt supportive and the waterproofing proved it was worth it’s salt as we hiked through the rain and through mud puddles. The uppers are made from a blend of recycled mesh/recycled microfiber and the PRESA outsoles with Interactive Kinetik System helped absorb shock and provide traction on slippery surfaces.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 20.4 oz.
Upper Materials: Synthetic mesh/synthetic textile
Lining: Synthetic textile
Outsole: FeelTrue rubber
Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, built-in gaiter hooks
Cons: Not a lot of support
After a few hikes in the Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots we still have mixed feelings about them. The boots are super lightweight and comfortable and almost feel like the Moon Boots you wear post-skiing. The Xcursion Fusion boots sports a wide toe box and a zero-drop (or in their case “xero drop”) design that allow the feet to spread out and relax. While the wide toe box is great for allowing the toes to relax, the Xcursion Fusion boots felt really wide on narrow feet and are probably best suited for someone with a wider foot.
We appreciated that these boots were made from vegan-friendly materials, had reinforced toe caps to protect from bumps against rocks, were waterproof and included built-in gaiter hooks (gaiters not included), and provided reliable traction underfoot. Designed to offer a “barefoot feel,” these boots didn’t offer as much support as the other options on our list, but if you’re a fan of a minimalistic feel the Xcursion Fusion boots could be right up your alley.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Weight: 24.1 oz.
Upper Materials: rPET ripstop textile
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip
Pros: Made from recycled materials, comfortable
Cons: Not the most durable, look kind of funny
Running shoes have our go-to footwear for hikes for year. But sometimes, boots are necessary. The HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots are an excellent compromise between the two. The Trail Code are made from recycled textiles with GORE-TEX to ensure your feet stay cozy and dry in all conditions. The Vibram Megagrip rubber outsoles provide the same reliable traction that we know and love in Hoka’s trail runners, but the higher cut boot design provides added support.
The boots look a little funny – they basically look like a running shoe that ends just above the ankle – but they’re comfortable and supportive. The Trial Code have little to no break in time and were comfortable out of the box. Some complain that these boots are the most durable. We’ve had no issues so far, but will update this review should we encounter an issue down the line.CHECK PRICE ON REI
Weight: 32.6 oz.
Upper Materials: Nubuck leather, CORDURA fabric mesh
Lining: B-DRY waterproof membrane
Outsole: True Tread rubber
Pros: Super durable
Cons: Need to be broken in, may not be great for someone with a wide foot
Leather is the OG material of hiking boots and while it’s the most durable option, it usually comes at a cost to comfort. Like most leather boots, the Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots do require some time to break in, but after that, they’re comfortable to hike in. These boots fit true to size and were a great match for someone with a narrow foot – hikers with wide feet may want to size up or consider a different model.
The Sawtooth boots were reliably waterproof, provided solid ankle support, and plenty of traction underfoot. Although they got more comfortable with time, they sometimes felt tight or uncomfortable in the toe area, especially on downhill sections. Some complained that these boots weren’t breathable, but we didn’t encounter any issues with that, even when hiking in a humid, warm weather climate.CHECK PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
|La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX ($189)||28.6 oz.||GORE-TEX||Recycled air mesh||Vibram Ecostep Evo|
|AKU Trekker Pro GTX||18.5 oz.||GORE-TEX||Suede and fabric||Vibram Curcuma rubber|
|Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof||11.8 oz.||100% waterproof membrane||Suede and air mesh||Trail Traction|
|Danner Mountain 600||14 oz.||Danner Dry||Suede leather||Vibram Megagrip|
|Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof||16.36 oz.||Waterproof membrane||Pigskin leather/mesh||Vibram TC5+|
|Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX||10.1 oz.||GORE-TEX||PU coated leather, textile||Rubber|
|Zamberlan Circe GTX||14.1 oz.||GORE-TEX||Suede-effect and leather free microfiber||Vibram Megagrip|
|Timberland Chocorua Mid Waterproof Boots||41.6 oz.||GORE-TEX||Leather/fabric||Rubber|
|Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid||10.6 oz.||eVent waterproof bootie||eVent fabric||DuraTread rubber|
|Vasque Breeze||33.5 oz.||VasqueDry membrane||Nubuck leather, polyester, and rubber||Vasque Trail Strider|
|Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots||28.4 oz.||Keen Dry waterproof membrane||Nubuck leather||Rubber|
|Scarpa Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots||20.2 oz.||GORE-TEX||Recycled mesh/recycled microfiber||PRESA SuperGum rubber|
|Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots||20.4 oz.||Waterproof membrane||Synthetic mesh/synthetic textile||FeelTrue rubber|
|HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots||24.1 oz.||GORE-TEX||rPET ripstop textile||Vibram Megagrip|
|Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots||32.6 oz.||B-Dry waterproof membrane||Nubuck leather, CORDURA fabric mesh||True Tread rubber|
How We Tested
To test these boots, we went hiking, naturally! We tried to test the boots in a variety of different terrains: wet, dry, flat, hilly, you name it. That said, the best hiking boots are ones that will last you for hundreds and hundreds of miles, so we’ll be keeping this review updated down the trail as these boots undergo continued testing.
Our lead tester, Rebecca Parsons, is no stranger to the trails. In college she was a member of her university’s backpacking club and regularly went on weekend trips with friends and classmates. She’s done thru hikes and day hikes in New Zealand, Iceland, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, Colorado, and California, and is always searching for her next adventure. Currently, she lives on Oahu, Hawaii and is on a mission to do a new hike each month as the island has hundreds of incredible hikes on offer. For reference, Rebecca wears a women’s size 8 and her feet are on the narrow side.
|La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX||9||9||9||9||9|
|AKU Trekker Pro GTX||7||9||10||10||9|
|Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof||10||8||8||8||8.5|
|Danner Mountain 600||8||8||9||9||8.5|
|Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof||9||9||7||9||8.5|
|Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX||7||7||10||10||8.5|
|Zamberlan Circe GTX||8||9||9||8||8.5|
|Timberland Chocorua Mid Waterproof Boots||9||8||9||8||8.5|
|Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid||10||8||8||7||8.25|
|Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots||8||7||8||8||7.75|
|Scarpa Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots||8||9||8||8||8.25|
|Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots||9||7||8||7||7.75|
|HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots||9||9||8||8||8.5|
|Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots||7||9||10||9||8.75|
What Are the Different Types of Hiking Boots?
Generally, low cut hiking boots are more of a hiking shoe and less of a boot. They usually hit below the ankle, leaving your ankle exposed and unsupported. On the flipside, they offer plenty of freedom and flex and are generally the most comfortable option.
In our opinion, mid-rise hiking boots are the best of both worlds option. They typically hit just above the ankle, providing ample ankle support and protection from mud and water. They tend to be more comfortable and flexible than their higher cut counterparts.
High ankle hiking boots are the sturdiest option and offer the most ankle support but can also be the most bulky and cumbersome. They typically hit a few inches above the ankle – the laces will help tighten up the boot, so it fits snugly. High ankle boots also can help keep water out during stream crossings or muddy conditions (so long as they are waterproof).
What Makes a Good Hiking Boot?
When it comes to hiking boots, comfort is paramount. You’ll be spending almost all your time in your hiking boots on your feet and moving. You want a boot that is comfortable and won’t give you any issues after wearing them day in and day out.
Fit is essential for a positive experience in your hiking boots. An ill-fitted boot could result in discomfort and blisters from your foot sliding around or from things being too tight. Although fit varies from person to person, we based this on general sizing guides.
When shopping for new boots, you’ll want boots that fit fairly snug, but that still have some room between your toes at the end of your boot. Generally, you’ll want approximately a finger’s width between your toes and the tip of your boot. A lot of people order a half a size up to accommodate for that extra room but in this guide, our tester found that the majority of the boots fit true to her usual size. If you’re unsure of your sizing, head into a store and get your foot sized by a pro.
If Cheryl Strayed can wear the same pair of hiking boots for the entire PCT, then you too should be able to wear your hiking boots for day hikes, thru hikes, and everything in between. How durable a pair of boots in depends on the materials they are made from and their construction. The most durable boots feature high quality materials, minimal seams, and extra reinforcements around the toes and heels.
The La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX has everything you could want in a hiking boot. Made from recycled materials, they are lined with GORE-TEX, have plenty of cushion underfoot, have generous traction on the outsoles, and require little to no break in time.
The entire point of hiking boots is the support they provide. They’re not nearly as comfortable as their shoe counterparts, but a good pair of hiking boots will provide generous ankle support and keep your feet protected to help you stay injury free. As mentioned earlier, low cut boots offer the least amount of ankle support, while high cut boots offer the most, with mid-rise boots falling smack dab in the middle.
In addition to ankle support, you’ll want to look for arch support. As you hike, your feet, and your arch, tend to fatigue. This, in turn, can lead to overuse injuries, so it’s important to look for a boot that has plenty of arch support, especially if your arches fatigue easily. Another option is to add inserts into your boots for additional support. Superfeet are one of our favorite inserts.
What Else Should I Look For In A Hiking Boot?
When buying a pair of hiking boots, we take into consideration whether they are waterproof. Although everyone isn’t after a waterproof pair of boots, it’s something that is important to us because we want our boots to stand up to inclement weather and thru hikes, where we want to make sure our feet and socks stay as dry as possible. However, waterproofing tends to make boots less breathable and therefore hotter, so if you live in a warm, dry region you’re probably best to do without.
How To Waterproof Your Boots
These days, most boots are already waterproof when you purchase them. But if they’re not, you can easily do it yourself. First, you’ll want to pick the appropriate type of waterproofing. Most waterproofing treatments are designed for full-grain or rough leather – just be sure and read the bottle and pick one that matches your boot. After you’ve picked the appropriate waterproofing, clean you boots and apply the waterproofing treatment. Finally, dry your boots and store them in a clean, dry space.
If you are someone who lives in a warmer, dryer area and prioritize breathability over waterproofing, opt for a non-waterproof boot. For those occasions when you do need some waterproofing, you can throw on a pair of gaiters over your boots. Gaiters also are helpful for keeping snow and trail debris from entering the top of your boot.
Hiking boots tend to be heavier than shoes, but weight varies from brand to brand. A heavier, chunkier boot will likely offer more support, whereas a lighter boot may feel more comfortable and springier. There is no wrong choice, but it’s something to factor into your decision. Across the board, the boots we tested varied quite a bit in weight–take a look at our Comparison Table to see how they stacked up against one another.
When you hike, your feet are bound to warm up, even if you’re hiking in a cooler climate. A good pair of boots is both waterproof and breathable. Naturally, waterproof boots aren’t going to be as breathable as non-waterproof ones, but waterproofing technology has come an impressively long way. The reason waterproof boots are less breathable is because they are designed to keep water out, so when you sweat, less moisture is able to escape.
For folks who hike in warmer, drier areas, a non-waterproof boot is definitely going to be more breathable and will probably be your best bet. You’ll want to make sure that the boots offer ventilation so your feet don’t overheat during your trek. We were super impressed with the Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof and the Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof for being both waterproof and breathable.
As folks who tend to be barefoot or in sandals, our hiking boots are the highest pair of heels in our shoe collection. Heel height varies between brands and models. We prefer a lower heel, but others may like a higher heel for the added support. Heel height should be noted on the box or the website, so take a look if it’s something that is important to you.
Laces may be something that you wouldn’t think to factor in when looking for a new pair of boots, but they can make a big difference when it comes to fit and comfort. If your boots come with a cheap pair of laces, an easy fix is to swap them out for a pair of more heavy duty ones. If the issue lies in the lacing system itself and you aren’t able to cinch the laces to get the boot snug around your feet, then you might want to consider a different pair of boots.
Materials are something to consider before you purchase a pair of boots as they affect comfort, durability, and waterproofing. For example, leather tends to be the most durable option, but can also be less breathable and less comfortable. On the flip side, synthetic materials can be more comfortable, breathable, and lighter, but they typically don’t withstand the test of time as well as leather.
Like the name suggests, the “upper” is the top part of the shoe – the fabric that connects to the rubber outsole. There are a few different materials that are traditionally used for the upper: synthetic nylon, mesh, Nubuck leather, suede leather, and full-grain leather.
Synthetic nylon and mesh are both known for their breathability and light weight, but not their durability – this material is typically found in more entry level boots. Nubuck is made of full grain leather but has a suede like feel. It’s lighter, softer, and more breathable than most leather, but it’s not quite as durable – this is found in most mid-range boots. Full-grain leather is used on tough-heavy duty boots. Full-grain leather isn’t as light or breathable, but it is incredibly durable and waterproof.
The midsole is one of the most important part of a boot’s construction because it absorbs shock and impact while simultaneously adding another layer of protection from the ground. Most midsoles are made from EVA foam, PU, or a combination of the two. EVA is soft and cushy and can be found in most light and mid-weight boots. PU is a more durable foam, lasts, longer, and can handle heavier loads, but it’s not quite as cushy as EVA.
In our opinion, the outsole is one of the most important parts of the boot, especially when navigating challenging terrain. Vibram is one of the top options, but it still varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. When buying new boots, take a look lugs underfoot: Some offer more grip for muddy conditions, while others have more sticky rubber for scrambling.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.