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women's hiking boots

Some of our favorite hiking boots. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia


The Inertia

Hiking is our jam. And we’ve learned from experience that what you wear on your feet can make or break the experience. Like many hikers, we’ve worn ill-fitted hiking boots that result in blistered and achy feet. But we’ve also worn some incredible hiking boots that are equal parts comfortable, supportive, and — dare we say — stylish. Over the past year, we’ve tried many of the top-rated hiking boots from some of the best brands to save you the trouble (and blisters).

After logging dozens of miles in each, we feel confident when we say these are the best women’s hiking boots of 2024.

For more information, check out our Comparison Table and Buyer’s Guide, and for men’s styles, check out our guide to the Best Hiking Boots.

The Best Women’s Hiking Boots of 2024 

Best Overall Hiking Boots for Women: La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX
Most Affordable Hiking Boots for Women: Merrell 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

La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX ($189)La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX hiking boots

Weight: 28.6 oz
Upper Materials: Recycled air mesh
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Ecostep Evo
Pros: Comfortable, minimal break-in time
Cons: Wide fit could be bad for narrow feet

Numerous trusted sources recommended La Sportiva as making some of the comfiest boots in the game. So we knew we had to give them a try. We’re happy to say the TX Hike Mid GTX didn’t disappoint.

These boots were comfortable right out of the box and performed well from their first hike. They offered the perfect combination of comfort and support right away. Made with the environment in mind, these boots feature a 15% recycled EVA Midsole and a Vibram Ecostep Evo Outsole with 30% recycled content.

The mesh, laces, and webbing are made entirely from or utilize a percentage of recycled materials. Additionally, the Mid GTX has a Bluesign-approved waterproof/breathable GORE-TEX lining. And seamless uppers have TPU overlays for added durability.

The Mid GTX sports a wide fit but performed well for our tester despite her narrow feet. The boots had plenty of cushion underfoot and the aggressive 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.

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Most Affordable Hiking Boots for Women

Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof ($145)Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof hiking boots

Weight: 16.36 oz
Upper Materials: Pigskin suede/mesh
Lining: Recycled mesh
Outsole: Vibram TC5+
Pros: Comfortable and breathable, made from recycled materials
Cons: Runs slightly small

The Moab 3 is an upgraded version of Merrel’s classic boot. Various versions of the Moab have been popular for more than 15 years, and this version is Merrel’s most eco-friendly boot to date. It features 100% recycled laces and webbing and a 100% recycled mesh lining.

Merrel checks all the boxes with the Moab 3: 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, which 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. The Moab 3s performed wonderfully on all occasions. They are 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.

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Most Rugged Hiking Boots for Women

AKU Trekker Pro GTX ($280)
AKU Trekker Pro GTX hiking boots

Weight: 18.5 oz
Upper Materials: Suede and fabric
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Curcuma rubber
Pros: AKU Elica Natural Stride System distributes weight across your entire foot, GORE-TEX membrane
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. Per AKU, it 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.

Another standout feature of the Trekker Pro is the Vibram Curuma outsole. We found it 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 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.

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Most Comfortable Hiking Boots for Women

Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof ($145)Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof hiking boots

Weight: 11.8 oz
Upper Materials: Suede and air mesh
Lining: Polyester
Outsole: Trail Traction
Pros: Lightweight & comfortable, wide toe-box
Cons: A little big for narrow feet, not the most rugged

At first glance, Lem’s Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproofs 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 found they lived up to their first impressions.

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 paired with a wide toe-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.

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Most Stylish Hiking Boots for Women

Danner Mountain 600 ($190)Danner Mountain 600 hiking boots

Weight: 14 oz
Upper Materials: Suede leather
Lining: Synthetic
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. 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 looked and felt great. They were predictably a little stiff out on the trail, but they still felt comfortable and had plenty of give. And we’re happy to report 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 help keep your piggies dry.

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 600s are one of the more stylish pairs of boots we tested and are something we’d feel good about wearing both on the trail and around town. Read the full review here.

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Women’s Hiking Boots: Best of the Rest

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX ($175)Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX hiking boots

Weight: 10.1 oz
Upper Materials: PU-coated leather, textile
Lining: Textile
Outsole: Rubber
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. The X Ultra 4 utilizes softer materials, especially around the collars and heels, as well as a lower-density chassis. Inspired by Salomon’s trail runners, these boots are incredibly lightweight, weighing just 10.1 oz. While they are lightweight, they are also sturdy, providing plenty of ankle support. They feature a GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable membrane.

The X Ultra 4s cradle the foot from the midsoles to the laces, providing a secure, custom fit. The outsoles provided a reliable grip on all surfaces, wet or dry.

They felt stiff around the ankles at first. 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.

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Zamberlan Circe GTX ($260)Zamberlan Circe GTX hiking boots

Weight: 14.1 oz
Upper Materials: Suede-effect and leather-free microfiber
Lining: Polyester
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, they boast an elasticized tongue for enhanced comfort. They also include a Vibram outsole with a wider heel and forefront for added stability, coupled with sticky rubber for secure traction.

Thoughtful features include PU rands to protect the toe box and uppers from debris, EVA midsole, PE insole, and a GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable membrane. The uppers and gussets are leather-free and instead sport a suede-effect microfiber.

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).

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Timberland Chocorua Mid Waterproof Boots ($150)Timberland Chocorua Mid Waterproof hiking boots

Weight: 41.6 oz
Upper Materials: Leather/fabric
Lining: Fabric
Outsole: Rubber
Pros: Comfortable, stylish
Cons: Heavy

Timberland has a reputation as more of a fashion boot brand, so we were skeptical about how well its hiking boots would perform. Much to our surprise, the Timberland Chocorua boots ended up being some of our favorites. Two of our testing hikes were extremely muddy and wet, and the boots kept her feet cozy and dry throughout. For that, we can thank a GORE-TEX membrane.

The uppers are made from responsibly sourced leather, which makes for a great aesthetic. The laces have options to tie around the lower or upper ankles, and we found the boots fit better and provided superior 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 from the get-go.

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Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid ($180)Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid hiking boots

Weight: 10.6 oz
Upper Materials: eVent fabric
Lining: Nylon
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 All-WTHR Mids seemed like the perfect match for our tester. Originally a trail running shoe brand, the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid is like a trail running shoe with a little added support for hiking.

The ALL-WTHR Mids feature Altra’s commitment to creating shoes shaped like feet (read: wide toe-box).  The bottom of the boots are nice and grippy, and when you cinch the laces tight, your ankles feel somewhat supported. But if you prefer more support, you may want to look elsewhere.

Minimalist shoe enthusiasts claim zero-drop heels and wide toe-boxes help prevent injuries, but if you’ve been wearing standard shoes your whole life, you’ll need some time to adjust before putting in big miles. The eVent waterproof membrane helps seal out the elements while letting water vapor escape. 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 ALL-WTHR Mids.

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Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots ($165)

Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots

Weight: 28.4 oz
Upper Materials: Nubuck leather
Lining: Mesh
Outsole: Rubber
Pros: Waterproof
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 those conditions.

The fit wasn’t terrible, but it was strange. The footbox was fine, but the area around the ankles was sloppy, even with frequent lace adjustments. Our tester has a narrow foot, so that could be the reason, but the fit was definitely funky and resulted in a less comfortable hike. That being said, the Targhee IIIs are breathable and well-made.

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Scarpa Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots ($219)

Scarpa Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots

Weight: 20.2 oz
Upper Materials: Recycled mesh/recycled microfiber
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: PRESA SuperGum rubber
Pros: Made from recycled materials, lightweight
Cons: Laces are too long, tongue rubs weird

Scarpa is traditionally known for its 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 but set out to test them with an open mind.

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 (you might want to swap them for a shorter pair if you encounter the same problem). Another weird thing was the way the tongue rubbed against our tester’s foot. The sensation was not unlike a twig or something in her boot — it wasn’t painful, but it was a bit annoying.

The Rush 2s are super breathable, which is huge for hiking in hot, humid climates. The boots felt supportive, and the waterproofing proved effective as we hiked through the rain and mud puddles. The uppers are made from a blend of recycled mesh and recycled microfiber, and the outsoles helped absorb shock and provided traction on slippery surfaces.

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Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots ($150)

Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots

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 sport a wide toe box and a zero-drop (or, in their case, “xero drop”) design that allows toes to spread out naturally. While the wide toe-box is great for allowing the toes to relax, the Xcursion Fusion boots felt wide on our lead tester’s narrow feet, just like every other wide toe-box boot in this guide. Your mileage may vary.

We appreciated that these boots were made from vegan-friendly materials, had reinforced toe caps to protect from bumps against rocks, were waterproof, included built-in gaiter hooks, and provided reliable traction underfoot. Designed to offer a “barefoot feel,” these boots didn’t offer as much protection as other boots we reviewed. But if you’re a fan of ground feedback, the Xcursion Fusion boots could be right up your alley.

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HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots ($185)

HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots

Weight: 24.1 oz
Upper Materials: rPET ripstop textile
Lining: GORE-TEX
Outsole: Vibram Megagrip

Pros: Made from recycled materials, comfortable
Cons: Not the most durable, look kind of funny

Running shoes have been our go-to hiking footwear for years. But sometimes boots are necessary. The HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots are an excellent compromise between the two. The Trail Codes are made from recycled textiles combined with a GORE-TEX waterproof/breathable membrane.  The Vibram 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. As you’d expect from that description, the Trail Codes have little-to-no break-in time and were comfortable out of the box.

Some online reviewers claim these boots aren’t the most durable. We’ve had no issues so far, but will update this review should we encounter an issue down the line.

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Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots ($175)

Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Weight: 32.6 oz
Upper Materials: Nubuck leather, CORDURA fabric mesh
Lining: B-DRY waterproof membrane
Outsole: True Tread rubber
Pros: Super durable, good for narrow feet
Cons: Need to be broken in, wide feet need not apply

Leather is the OG material for hiking boots. 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 require some time to break in, but after that, they’re comfortable enough. These boots fit true to size and were a great match for someone with narrow feet—hikers with wide feet may want to size up or consider a different model.

The Sawtooth X Mids 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-box, 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.

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Vans Ultrarange EXO MTE-3 Shoe ($210)

Vans Ultrarange EXO MTE-3 Shoe hiking boots

Weight: 23 oz
Upper Materials: Synthetic
Lining: GORE-TEX bootie membrane
Outsole: UltraRange EXO, All-Trac rubber
Pros: Cool aesthetic, incredible traction
Cons: Run small, require a break-in period

Vans has been our go-to street and skate shoe for years, but the brand has recently joined the hiking scene with its Ultrarange. Let us just start by saying that the Vans Ultrarange EXO MTE-3 Shoes are a cool pair of hiking boots. They look just as rizzy on the trails as they do around town.

The MTE-3s are hefty boots designed for cold weather. They feature a GORE-TEX bootie membrane throughout, meaning they are reliably waterproof and breathed well, even in warmer-than-they-were-made-for conditions. The grip on the bottom of these boots is insane. We tested them on terrain that included a mix of creek crossings, mud, loose dirt, boulder scrambles, and they performed well on all fronts.

MTE-3 boots are pretty stiff to begin with. They loosen with time, but you’ll definitely want to wear them on shorter walks and hikes to break them in. These boots also felt like they ran a little small. Our tester ordered her typical size but found that they felt tight around the front of the foot/toes area — you may want to order a half size to a size up, especially if you have wide feet. These boots also come in lighter designs, like the MTE-1.

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Helly Hansen Cascade Mid HT ($160)

Helly Hansen Cascade Mid HT hiking boots

Weight: 24.7 oz
Upper Materials: Polyester
Lining: Recycled polyester
Outsole: Rubber
Pros: Minimal break-in required
Cons: Rub a little on longer hikes

It wasn’t until recently that we learned Helly Hansen makes hiking boots, and we’re glad we did. The Helly Hansen Cascade Mid HT are excellent everyday hiking and backpacking boots.

After a few miles of hiking, our tester noticed a bit of rubbing, but overall they were comfortable and just got better with each wear. We tested these in a humid climate and they were plenty breathable despite the weather and waterproofing. The Cascades include toe and heel caps — we really appreciated the added protection in especially sensitive areas. We tested these boots on a wet and rainy hike as well as a few dry hikes, and the underfoot traction proved to be reliable on all surfaces. We were impressed with how lightweight these boots felt, and we wish they came in more color options!

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Best Hiking Boots for Women Comparison Table

Hiking Boot Price Weight Waterproofing Upper Outsoles
La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX $189 28.6 oz. GORE-TEX Recycled air mesh Vibram Ecostep Evo
Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof $150 16.36 oz. Waterproof membrane Pigskin leather/mesh Vibram TC5+
AKU Trekker Pro GTX $280 18.5 oz. GORE-TEX Suede and fabric Vibram Curcuma rubber
Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof $145 11.8 oz. 100% waterproof membrane Suede and air mesh Trail Traction
Danner Mountain 600 $190 14 oz. Danner Dry Suede leather Vibram Megagrip
Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GORE-TEX $175 10.1 oz. GORE-TEX PU-coated leather, textile Rubber
Zamberlan Circe GTX $260 14.1 oz. GORE-TEX Suede-effect and leather-free microfiber Vibram Megagrip
Timberland Chocorua Mid Waterproof Boots $150 41.6 oz. GORE-TEX Leather/fabric Rubber
Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid $180 10.6 oz. eVent waterproof bootie eVent fabric DuraTread rubber
Keen Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots $165 28.4 oz. Keen Dry waterproof membrane Nubuck leather Rubber
Scarpa Rush 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boots $219 20.2 oz. GORE-TEX Recycled mesh/recycled microfiber PRESA SuperGum rubber
Xero Shoes Xcursion Fusion Hiking Boots $150 20.4 oz. Waterproof membrane Synthetic mesh/synthetic textile FeelTrue rubber
HOKA Trail Code GTX Hiking Boots $185 24.1 oz. GORE-TEX rPET ripstop textile Vibram Megagrip
Oboz Sawtooth X Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots $180 32.6 oz. B-Dry waterproof membrane Nubuck leather, CORDURA fabric mesh True Tread rubber
Vans Ultrarange EXO MTE-3 $210 23 oz. GORE-TEX bootie membrane Synthetic UltraRange EXO, All-Trac rubber
Helly Hansen Cascade Mid HT $160 24.7 oz. HELLY TECH waterproof/breathable membrane Polyester Rubber

a woman hiking in a pair of hiking boots in a grassy area

Hiking in the Danner Mountain 600. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia


How We Tested The Best Hiking Boots for Women

To test these boots, we went hiking, naturally! We tackled 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. 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 in Oahu, Hawaii, and is on a mission to do a new hike each month, as the island has hundreds of incredible trails to offer. For reference, Rebecca wears a women’s size 8, and her feet are on the narrow side.


Women’s Hiking Boots Buyer’s Guide

What Are the Different Types of Hiking Boots?

Low-Cut

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.

a close up of a woman wearing Danner hiking boots

Danner makes solid mid-rise hiking boot options. We loved the Danner Mountain 600. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

High-Ankle

High-ankle hiking boots offer the most ankle support but can also be the most bulky and cumbersome. As you’d expect, they typically hit a few inches above the ankle, with lacing running all the way up for a snug fit. High-ankle boots can also help keep water out during stream crossings or muddy conditions (so long as they are waterproof).

Mid-Rise

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.

a bunch women's hiking boots lined up with the ocean in the background

Oahu’s rugged verticality makes for ideal boot-testing terrain. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

What Makes a Good Hiking Boot?

Comfort

When it comes to hiking boots, comfort is paramount. You’ll spend almost all your time in your hiking boots on your feet and moving. So you want a boot that is comfortable and won’t give you any issues after wearing it day in and day out, mile after mile.

a close up of Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof hiking boots with the ocean in the background

The Lems Primal Pursuit Mid Waterproof is the most comfortable boot on our list. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

Fit

Fit is essential for a positive hiking boot experience. An ill-fitted boot — whether too tight or too loose — could result in discomfort, blisters, or other injuries.

Although each person’s foot is shaped differently, here are some general guidelines to follow when shopping for hiking boots. You’ll want boots that fit fairly snugly around the top and sides of your foot, but that still have some room between your toes and the end of the toe-box. On extended hiking and backpacking trips, feet tend to swell. If you have consecutive big mileage days in your future, go up half a size. If not, most of the boots in this guide fit true to size, except where noted.

If you’re unsure of your sizing, head into a store and get your foot sized by a pro.

Durability

A boot’s durability depends primarily on three factors: material choice, design, and construction quality. Look for brands with a history of quality construction, boots made of durable materials like leather or Cordura nylon, and design elements like extra stitching and other reinforcements. Some boots can be resoled or repaired by the manufacturer after they wear out.

Best Overall Hiking Boot
Best Overall Hiking Boot

The La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTXs have everything you could want in a hiking boot. Made from recycled materials, they are lined with GORE-TEX, have plenty of cushion underfoot, boast generous traction on the outsoles, and require little to no break-in time.

Check Price on REI

Support

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 is one of our favorite inserts.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that there’s an entire philosophy that stands in direct opposition to everything we just said. Advocates of minimalist footwear recommend flexibility and ankle strength over artificial ankle support and flat footbeds over exaggerated arch support. Boots in these categories (like examples from Lems and Xero Shoes) tend to be considerably lighter — and less weight swinging on the end of the pendulums that comprise your legs equals less fatigue on big-mile days. This argument’s been going on for a while and shows no signs of stopping, so your best bet is to try boots on either side of the aisle and make your decision based on experience.  a woman hiking in a green area wearing a pair of hiking boots

The La Sportiva TX Hike Mid GTX was our top pick hiking boot due to its blend of comfort, support, and durability. Photo: Shae Foudy/The Inertia

What Else Should I Look For In Hiking Boots

Waterproof

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 feet and socks to 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.

Waterproof membranes also take forever to dry out once they do soak through — and thru-hikers on wet trails like the Appalachian Trail will tell you that even the most waterproof of boots fail given enough days in the rain. Some hikers prefer non-waterproof boots because they dry more quickly. Once again, your mileage may vary.

a close up of a woman wearing a pair of Vans hiking boots

The Vans Ultrarange EXO MTE-3s feature a GORE-TEX bootie membrane, making them incredibly waterproof. Photo: Julia Borland/The Inertia

How To Waterproof Your Boots

These days, most waterproof boots arrive at your door ready to roll, thanks to a combination of waterproof/breathable membranes and material treatments applied at the factory. But if you happen to have a pair of non-waterproof full-grain or split leather boots and want to waterproof them, you can. Just head to your local outdoor store and buy a bottle of leather treatment, or see what your boot’s maker recommends. 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.

a woman tying her hiking boots in front of a waterfall

The Merrel Moab 3 Mid Waterproof is a comfortable and affordable hiking boot option. Photo: Josh Ginting/The Inertia

Weight

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 (see our discussion on support and minimalism, above). 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.

Breathability

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.

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.

Drop

Drop refers to the difference between the height of your heel and the height of your forefoot while wearing shoes. Drop varies between brands and models. We prefer a lower heel for stability, but others may like a higher heel for the added cushion it provides.

“Zero-drop” boots are exactly what they sound like — boots with no difference between heel and forefoot. Advocates of this type of shoe claim it leads to maximum stability and the most natural stride. Drop height should be noted on the box or the website, so take a look if it’s important to you.

Laces

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.

Additional Features

Some boots include a few extra features, such as a toe or heel cap for added protection. Other boots come with attachment points for gaiters, which can be helpful in wet and snowy regions. A number of the boots on our list were made from recycled materials, which is a huge plus for the eco-conscious among us.

Maintenance

Like most gear, the life of your boots depends on how well you maintain them. After each use, be sure to rinse your boots in freshwater. Use a brush (an old toothbrush works great) to scrub the outsoles and all the nooks and crannies. Let your boots air dry out of direct sunlight. If the boots have an insole, remove it and let it dry separately. Finally, if your boots are leather, it can be helpful to periodically apply a conditioner or leather treatment.

a muddy pair of hiking boots

Be sure and rinse off the mud after each hike to extend the life of your boots. Photo: Kip Touseull/The Inertia

Materials

Materials are something to consider before you purchase a pair of hiking 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.

Upper Materials

As the name suggests, the “upper” is the top part of the shoe — the fabric that connects to the rubber outsole. Traditionally, several different materials are 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 – but those materials don’t last as long as leather. 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. Full-grain leather is used on tough, heavy-duty boots. Full-grain leather isn’t as light or breathable, but it is durable and waterproof.

a woman hiking in a grassy area wearing hiking boots

The Danner Mountain 600s feature Vibram TPA midsoles. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

Midsole Materials 

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.

the bottom of a pair of women's hiking boots

The outsole is one of the most important features of a pair of hiking boots. Photo: Kip Touseull/The Inertia

Outsole Materials

The outsole is one of the most important parts of the boot, especially when navigating challenging terrain. Vibram is one of the top outsole manufacturers and makes a quality product. When buying new boots, take a look at the lugs underfoot: Some offer aggressive tread for muddy conditions, others offer sturdy rubber for hardpack conditions, while still others have more sticky rubber for scrambling or slippery boulders.

 Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: Pair your new hiking boots with some snowshoes. Then, to keep your energy levels up, check out our guides for Best Backpacking Stoves and Best Backpacking Meals. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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