Today's hiking boots aren't just bits of leather wrapped around your foot, they're laboratory-researched, finely tuned tools, built with advanced materials that make them lighter, more comfortable and more ready to tackle any terrain. There's an immense amount of choice, with numerous brands all promising to have the best hiking shoes for your feet, whether you're heading out into the mountains or just hopping between museums on your next city break.
We've researched some of the most notable brands to determine our picks for the best hiking boots and shoes for women. Some of these boots are essentially unisex, with men's and women's sizes available. In those instances, I've tested the men's versions and can attest to their performance and quality. However there are others in this list that are built specifically for women's feet, which have also been tested by CNET, so rest assured that everything here has our stamp of approval. See what I did there?
Most walking shoes and boots tend not to differ much between mens and womens options beyond the sizes and maybe the colors. Yet women's feet typically have different proportions to mens and some women may struggle with boots that have been designed primarily for men's feet.
Salomon's Vaya Mid boots are specifically designed for women's feet, with a wider toe box and re-engineered arch support. They proved comfortable and supportive in our testing time, while the aggressive sole design and Gore-Tex waterproof lining means they're just as at home in the hills as they are on sedate lake-side footpaths.
Dr. Martens is not a brand you'd typically associate with adventure footwear, but the Alyson boots come with a faux-fur lining and a sole that's been engineered for better traction on icy surfaces. That makes them great for cold-weather city exploration where regular shoes might leave you slipping around, fearing for the safety of your ankles.
The Alyson's sturdy leather upper provides plenty of ankle support, providing confidence on slippery streets, while the classic leather Chelsea boot design means they won't look out of place in the office, in a restaurant or when trekking around town trying to find the best street food.
True to the company name, these boots innovate through their use of graphene -- the atom-thick "miracle material" that's stronger than steel and lighter than carbon fibre. Here, it's been infused in the sole which Inov-8 reckons makes it more durable and grippier. In my testing I certainly found the boots to be extremely capable on mixed walks, handling muddy trails, loose rock or wet asphalt with ease.
They're exceptionally lightweight too, making them as comfortable to wear as sneakers, right out of the box with no break-in period required. You can walk all day without feeling weighed down, so this is a boot to consider if you plan on tackling long trails. While they have a waterproof Gore-Tex lining, they don't have the same ruggedness required for more mountainous terrain so if that's on the agenda then consider their more burly siblings below. (Note: Men's version tested.)
Like the Roclite 345s above, these boots are infused with graphene for added durability, are lined with Gore-Tex for waterproofing and are comfortable right out of the box. However the Pro G 400s have a thicker, stiffer sole, more support around the ankle and a ceramic coating on the upper material that makes them much more suited to tougher terrain.
They're still surprisingly lightweight though, and I had no problem in wearing them on all-day hikes on forest trails and muddy hill tracks. The deep lugs on the sole help them dig into loose terrain to keep you stable and I certainly felt confident that my feet weren't going to slip out from under me. (Note: Men's version tested.)
The Allbirds Mizzle shoes are among the softest things I've had the pleasure of putting on my feet. It's thanks to their merino wool construction which has the added benefit of making them an eco-friendly choice. The soft, spongy sole means these aren't shoes for tackling mountains, or even woodland trails, but they're delightful for urban exploration, hopping between cafes and museums.
They're water-resistant, so an impromptu rain shower won't slow you down, while the incredible light weight of the shoes mean you'll be forgiven for thinking you've accidentally gone out in your slippers. (Note: Men's version tested.)
With a traditional all-leather design and burly rubber sole, Danner's Mountain Pass boots are built for serious hiking -- and built to last. These boots will require some "walking in" before you can take them on long hikes, but once they've settled to your feet you'll find them comfortable, secure and stable on difficult terrain.
The Arctic Night versions also feature a thermal lining for added warmth in cold conditions, as well as a Vibram Arctic Grip sole for added traction on icy ground. They're Gore-Tex lined for waterproofing, too and are hand-built in Portland, Oregon. (Note: Men's version tested.)
On shoes are a relative newcomer to the footwear scene and the company is more known for its running shoes. The Cloudrock boots are its first foray into hiking boots, but it's a stellar first effort. The unique design of the soles, with their slight front-to-back curve and deep lugs make them extremely grippy on loose ground and gives the feeling that they're propelling you forward as you walk, making them great for fast-paced hikes.
Their mid-height gives plenty of ankle support too and their light weight and out-of-the-box comfort means they're superb for all-day wearing. They're also waterproof enough for me to stand still, ankle-deep in a flowing stream for half a minute while taking a photo without any water penetrating to my feet. (Note: Men's version tested.)
Like the Cloudrock boots, the Cloudventure shoes feature the unique curving sole with deep lugs making the shoes as supportive, stable and comfortable as their boot siblings. They have a more modern, style-led design than many other walking shoes on the market which makes them ideal for those of you who want an all-day trail shoe that you won't feel the need to change out of when you get to the pub at the end of your hike -- as long as they're not too caked in mud.
They're fully waterproof and their low weight means they're just as well-suited for trail running as they are to fast-paced hikes. (Note: Men's version tested.)
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.