Let us make an educated guess: Getting more exercise is on your new year’s resolutions list. It is for the majority of Americans and of those, a third (32%) plans to do so via hiking. Hiking is a great way to exercise! Although it’s considered a low-impact activity, it burns more calories than walking and, under the right circumstances, even beats running (since a hike often lasts a lot longer than a run)! Plus, you get to explore beautiful natural sceneries. But while hiking is usually easy on the body, it can be hard on your shoes. If you’re planning on hitting the trails this year, you may need to upgrade your footwear. Look for shoes that provide the right amount of support and comfort: Especially for women, spoiling your feet can go a long way. Conveniently, StudyFinds just set out to find the best hiking boots for women, so you can fully focus on the magnificent nature around you.
Outdoor exercise is beneficial to your physical and mental health by strengthening your heart, fighting dementia, and reducing stress. And according to new research, exercising outdoors during the winter months has yet another benefit: It boosts the appreciation of one’s body. Sadly, the average woman spends less than half an hour outside per day. And one in ten women even only manage five or fewer minutes outside daily, according to a U.K. survey. To make things worse, about 75 percent of survey participants stated that going too long without spending time in nature negatively affects their mood.
“This research suggests women aren’t getting nearly enough time outdoors – which is concerning given the number of things modern women juggle at any one time,” says James Wong, an ethnobotanist. “Along with the physical benefits of taking a walk outdoors, there are important psychological benefits from being in nature such as relieving stress and anxiety as well as boosting mood, all whilst improving overall wellbeing.”
So ladies, get out there and follow the call of the mountain (Or hill. Or slope.). To set you up for success, StudyFinds waded through multiple footgear reviews on ten expert websites and built a list of the top five best hiking boots for women.
The List: Best Women’s Hiking Boots For 2023, According To Experts
1. Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid Hiking Boots
It was a close call! But after all, this lightweight boot won the number one spot, based on its number of expert recommendations. “The Lone Peak is one of the most popular trail-running and hiking shoes out there […] This is a great option if you want a hiker that is lightweight and on the softer side, and is great for everything from thru-hikes to day hikes,” writes Runner’s World.
According to GearLab, the boot’s “TrailClaw feature allows for a sure-footed and very responsive shoe, meaning you can push hard in difficult terrain. Our testers were shocked by the waterproof technology, which kept our feet dry and warm during our submersion tests. […] Overall, we love this lightweight design for the confidence it inspires on the trail.”
Switchback Travel adds, “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.”
2. Tie: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid and Salomon Quest-4 GTX
The consulted experts had a hard time deciding which boot is better, so why not pick both for this spot on our list? “The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid tops more than one list of the best hiking boots for women. The materials tick all the boxes for durability, waterproofing, and comfort. A durable Nubuck leather upper has natural water resistance, and it breaks in faster than more expensive full-grain leather,” SI Showcase elaborates on its number one pick.
“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,” writes Switchback Travel, which shares its top hiking boot choice with SI Showcase. “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.”
The Strategist names these their best overall choice and that, “bringing together the best qualities of old-school boots and new-school trail runners, these hardy hiking shoes […] feature deep lugs that’ll grip onto any terrain, a reinforced toe, and breathable Gore-Tex to keep your feet nice and dry. Yet despite these features, they’re super-flexible on the foot.”
And per CleverHiker, “the Salomon Quest 4 GTX offer some of the most robust ankle support of any of the boots on our list, making them a great choice for those wanting maximum stability out of their footwear.”
3. La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
This boot frequently appeared among staff picks, earning it a high place on our list. For Forbes, it’s the best waterproof boot option: “A Gore-Tex Surround lining combines with a Nubuck leather upper to not only seal out water, but dry quickly when the boot happens to get wet. The gusseted tongue attaches the bottom and sides of the tongue to the shoe, preventing water, dirt and debris from interfering with your hike.”
CleverHiker recommends this boot “for hiking and backpacking trips in more technical areas where sticky traction and solid foot protection are a must. Despite being so rugged and durable, the Nucleos are light and comfy enough for all-day wear, and their stylish design transitions well to after-hike drinks.”
According to GearLab, “the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX offers all the features and support of a traditional hiker, but with a modern twist. Thanks to Gore-Tex Surround membranes, these hiking boots truly stand apart from the rest due to their unbeatable waterproofing. The Nubuck leather upper and 3D Flex Ankle Hinge also provide excellent comfort as the leather is stiff enough to provide support and flexible enough to mold to the shape of your foot for a more customized fit. […] These boots are excellent for the local trails or extended backpacking trips in wet conditions.”
4. Tie: Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX and KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots
Another tie, this time between another expert favorite and an excellent option for wide feet: “Comfort is the name of the game with the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX boots. They’re flexible, they feel great right out of the box, and they’re exceptionally lightweight for boots, so they’re an excellent choice for backpacking. The X Ultras aren’t as supportive as burlier models, but they’ll feel like a dream for those transitioning to the boot world from lightweight shoes,” writes CleverHiker.
AdventureInYou points out some benefits specific to women with this boot: “The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is one of the top choices if you’re looking for a waterproof and lightweight pair of shoes that offers customized comfort for women. […] It also boasts a women-specific design, having softer materials around the heels and collars, along with a lower-density chassis. […] Another notable feature is the shoes’ grip, which has Contagrip MA outsoles to grab wet, slippery, or dry terrain. It prevents slipping even under wet conditions.”
As for the Keen boots, they “are a popular choice for women who need a wider toe box. Their low-cut Targhee III hiking boot has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It has a loyal following that is due to its durability, comfort, and ability to tackle all types of terrain. […] These women’s hiking boots have great arch support but may feel a little stiff right out of the box. After a few break-in hikes, they should be comfortable,” says Bearfoot Theory.
“KEEN’s Targhee III is a classic hiking boot […]. 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. If you’re in the market for a leather hiking boot, KEEN’s Targhee III Mid is certainly worth adding to your list,” claims Switchback Travel.
5. Merrel Moab 2 or 3
Is this a tie in disguise? The Moab 2 and 3 are different models, but to be fair, they’re both from the same brand, as well as a popular beginner/budget pick among experts. “Waterproof, sturdy, and relatively affordable,” according to The Strategist. “The Merrell Moab (a.k.a. ‘Mother of all Boots’) is a classic of the hiking footwear genre for a reason” and “a lot of people’s first hiking shoe.”
For People, the Merrel Moab 2 is the runner up as best overall for women’s hiking boots: “These sturdy hiking boots are comfortable enough to wear on long treks but tough enough to tackle rocky terrain. The mid-ankle uppers are soft yet supportive enough to protect against ankle-rolling, and the cushiony heels absorb shock and add stability.”
“The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots are a great budget-friendly option and are a very popular choice among women hikers,” writes Bearfoot Theory. However, “the toe box on the normal width is a bit narrow, so consider sizing up a half size. Some reviewers complain that these boots leak when wet even though they are advertised as waterproof.”
Per GearLab, the Moab 3 offers the best bang for your buck with “high marks across many of [GearLab’s] testing metrics due to their simple, supportive, and comfortable design and affordable price. The fit is suitable for a wide range of foot shapes (though it particularly favors those with a broader foot) and offers a well-padded ankle and tongue to increase comfort overall.”
“The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots may be slightly more affordable than other boots on our list, but hikers aren’t giving up quality or technology when they buy them. The Moab 3s are an update of the popular Merrell Moab 2. Improvements include partially recycled materials, improved support in the insoles, better cushioning in the midsole and improved (grippier) Vibram outsoles. They also contain reinforced heel cushioning for improved shock absorption,” writes SI Showcase.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Men’s Hiking Boots
- Best Hiking Trails in the U.S.
- Best Places for Rock Climbing
- Best Women’s Rain Boots
- Best Women’s Snow Boots
- Best Women’s Rain Jackets
- The Strategist
- Switchback Travel
- Bearfoot Theory
- SI Showcase
- Runner’s World
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.