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Best Hiking Boots and Shoes for Women | A Reader’s Request

Hello Kirsten,

Is there any chance you might review the best hiking boots for women at some point in the near future?  I am going on a 3-day walk and need new boots to get me through it.  I have fibromas, hallux limitus, and plantar fasciitis, with a wide front and narrow back of my feet!!  It’s not easy to get something comfy.

Dear reader,

As you know, nothing can ruin a long hike more than blisters, aggravated foot conditions, pinched toes and aching heels! I’m not a serious hiker, but I love a long walk off the beaten path. I understand that regular fitness shoes just don’t cut it when you need better ankle support and traction. Let me see if I can point you in the right direction down the trail to finding the best hiking boots or shoes for you.

best hiking boots for women

Merrell Zion Mid Waterproof X Unlikely Hikers

Merrell Zion Mid WP x Unlikely Hikers

We have a feeling these will fly off the shelves quickly as they’re an exclusive style by Merrell. The popular Zion Mid hiking boot was re-imagined by Merrell and Unlikely Hikers, an inclusive Instagram community of outdoors enthusiasts. Available in medium and wide widths, this cute hiker features a removable insole with arch support, a full-length lightweight stability plate, excellent traction and waterproof membrane. A happy Zappos customer says this about her new Merrell hiking boots:

“These are the most comfortable boots I have ever owned. I need a wide fit because of bunions and also needed the removable insole because I wear orthotics. The uppers are supportive and have the flexibility of an athletic shoe — a great combination. I’ve worn these several times on snowy paths and they really are waterproof.”

Find the Merrell Zion WP X Unlikely Hikers collab boot in sizes 5-13, medium and wide widths for $160 from Merrell.com, Zappos, Amazon and Shoemall. Do you need a little more room due to wide foot? Try the men’s version at Merrell or Zappos.

best hiking boots for women

Oboz Sawtooth Low B-Dry

Have you heard of Oboz? If you’ve tried Keen and Merrell but just can’t get a good fit or need more arch support, give these hikers a whirl. The Sawtooth Low BDry features unbeatable traction, arch support and a deep heel cup to stabilize the foot. Customers comment that the fit is good–roomy across the forefoot, narrower at the heel for a snug fit. The Sawtooth II Low BDry gets high marks for waterproof protection. Available in sizes 6-11, medium and wide widths for $139.95 from Zappos, ObozFootwear.com, and Amazon. Also available in ankle height boot.

best hiking boots - keen ridge flex

Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof Boot

If you’re a fan of the sturdy Keen Targhee hiking boot but crave a bit more flexibility, consider the Keen Ridge Flex. The KEEN.BELLOWS FLEX technology requires 60% less energy to bend, making each step feel easier. Keen customer Lindsey says this about her new Ridge Flex boots:

I have been wearing this boot through snow, slush and mud and they have kept my feet warm and dry! They are incredibly comfortable for long walks/hikes, the wide toe box and fitted heel keeps my foot in place without being constricting.

Find the Keen Ridge Flex Waterproof hiking boot in sizes 5-12 for $170 from KeenFootwear.com, Zappos and Amazon.

best hiking shoes - salomon outline gtx

Salomon Outline GTX

Best hiking shoes for women with narrow feet: Salomon Outline GTX. If you have narrow feet, no doubt you’re frustrated in your search for a good-fitting hiking shoe or boot since most brands don’t make a narrow width. After reading reviews of the Salomon Outline GTX, I feel comfortable recommending them for narrow feet. The profile is slim, the heel fits snugly and the toe box isn’t overly roomy. Zappos customer Amy says, “I have very narrow feet and no one makes narrow GORE-TEX®  shoes but Solomon’s have a narrow last.” Another reviewer states, “They fit slim and comfortable for my narrow foot. Yay!”

If you love the look of the Salomon Outline GTX but have a slightly wide to wide foot, consider the wide width option or the same shoe in the men’s version. Available in sizes 5.5-12, medium and wide widths for $129.95 from Salomon.com and Zappos, Also available in an ankle-height boot.

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Boot

Merrell Moab Mid Waterproof Boots

I’ve owned two pair of Merrell trail/hiking boots over the years and they’re my personal favorite when it comes to fit and support. A wide and high toe box accommodates bunions, the removable insole offers excellent arch support, the Vibram sole grips well over rocky or wet terrain. The Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof hiking boot is a crowd favorite for those very reasons. Two Zappos customers attest:

Oh Merrell, these hikers feel as though I’ve slid into my favorite slippers. Bunion – no problem, plenty of room in the toe box in my normal size but in wide. High arch? The cushiony insides of these boots perfectly wrap & support the shape of my foot.

After an exhaustive search in which I ordered and returned three other pairs, I finally went back to the Merrell brand boots. For my foot, especially my inconvenient bunions, this is the only brand I can comfortably wear right out of the box, no “break in”. I did buy these 1/2 size larger to accommodate thick socks.

Find the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof in sizes 5-12, medium and wide widths for $135 from Merrell.com, Zappos and Amazon. Also available in a hiking shoe version.

Hoka One One KAHA Gtx

If you’ve fallen head over heels in love with your Hoka running/walking shoes for their plush cushioning and thick shock-absorbing outsole, you’ll love the Kaha GTX hiking boot. Hallux rigidus sufferers, heed my advice and give these a try–your big toes will stay protected from over-flexing. Surprisingly lightweight, the Hoka Kaha GTX will keep your feet warm and dry while providing superior traction on icy, wet and rocky trails. Find the Kaha GTX in sizes 5-11 for $220 from HokaOneOne.com, and Zappos. Also available in a shoe version.

Still unsure on which hiking boot or shoe will work best for your feet? Pop on over to our Facebook discussion about best hiking boots for women.

best hiking boots for women- skechers trego

Skechers Trego

Don’t discount Skechers, especially if you’re in the market for an affordable, sturdy, waterproof boot. While it’s not made for technical hiking, the Skechers Trego line gets excellent reviews for cushioning, good fit and moderate arch support. Available in sizes 5-11 for $79.99 from Zappos.


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21 Responses to Best Hiking Boots and Shoes for Women | A Reader’s Request

  1. Chris Borrink says:

    Thank you, Beth! I’m considering a pair. My Merrells need to be replaced. I trust your recommendation.

  2. Claire says:

    Over the years I’ve tried and tried to find a hiking boot that felt comfortable. But if the foot part felt good, the ankle part did not, or vice versa. I wound up with a pair of Ahnu Montara and loved them. I recently bought a pair of Sugarpine too. Comfortable from day one. Very well made shoes.

  3. Susan says:

    I have the Ahnu Sugarpine. I originally bought them to give good support and traction on a variety of surfaces after a knee replacement 4 years ago. They have met all of my expectations. Highly recommend.

  4. Beth says:

    I’m so happy you included the Keen Targhee on your list – I highly recommend them! I wear the hiking shoe daily in my work as a nature guide and their fit and function is perfect for my foot that’s wider across the ball, narrower in the heel.. One added benefit is they’re waterproof. I went on a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike a couple years ago, and knew I’d need more ankle support so ordered the hiking boot without even considering another brand. Wore them on rigorous hikes right out of the box with absolutely no break-in issues. I ordered a full size up to accommodate thicker wool socks. Definitely go at least 1/2 size up even for thinner socks; they run small.

  5. cedar says:

    I bought the Sugarpine for a trip to New Zealand, but found them too stiff in the sole (for my preference) so I returned them.
    I had a pair of Merrell Siren Sport for years I liked them so much I gave them to a lady in Africa who had no shoes. (I was heading home anyway)
    I always seem to get plantar fasciitis when I wear Keen, but maybe I should keep trying….

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  7. Deb says:

    I bought the Keen Targhee II and it DID feel wonderful on my bunions–at first. After a day, though, I had to run to the drugstore for bunion pads. Not nearly as wide in the toe as Keen sandals. So: still hunting for the perfect waterproof walking shoe that will accommodate my bunions.

  8. Amy says:

    Thank you for this! Love the suggestions.

    I run a website devoted to finding comfortable yet stylish shoes for bunions (http://www.mybunionshoes.com), and several of the shoes you have listed are great options.
    The Keen Targhee II has a wider toe box and narrower heel, though not quite as much as other shoes by Keen. Anything by Merrell is my personal favorite. Anything I’ve tried that is Merrell has the perfect shape to accommodate bunions!

  9. SaL says:

    I had the lo-hiker version of the Sugarpine and also found the sole too stiff. It exacerbated my plantar fasciitis, rather than helped.

  10. Sally says:

    Is it ever ok to replace the factory insoles with a different insole – like Superfeet – to get more arch support? I recently did that in a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of hiking boots and ended up with terrible blisters. These shoes had been previously broken in with no prior blister till I changed the insole.

  11. Amanda says:

    I ordered the Keens a half size up. In my apartment walking around they felt fine. But once I actually got on a hiking trail they really pinched my morton’s neuroma. Got such a bad flare up. Read your most recent article about low to high volume feet and I wonder if maybe that’s a reason I’m not getting as good of a fit as others who have similar issues with forefoot pain.

    I could tell that they were excellently crafted boots. Even with the low rise ankle option I got a really good grip on some precarious footing. But the toe boxes just weren’t big enough or too tapered or something.

    Anyway, back to drawing board with hiking boots.

  12. Rose says:

    I read that there were boots parents could wear to walk in snow and ice with spikes to grip to prevent falling in one of the reviews you posted recently. Could you please show and name that brand along with any customer reviews? Thank you for the great service you provide; adore you.

  13. Kirsten Borrink says:
  14. Nicole says:

    I have wide, chubby feet with mild hammertoe…think Flintstone feet 🙁 Keen used to be my favorites but it seems like they’ve changed in the last couple of years and no matter what size or style I try they either pinch at the ball or my feet slide forward and my toes get scrunched. Merrell’s were a tad too tight. But I’ve just discovered Altra shoes and OMG my feet are happy! They have a wide natural shaped toe box and zero drop from the heel to the toe. Pretty lightweight and flexible sole but not flimsy.

  15. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Altra are amazing. Which style do you have? I have an older pair that I love (Intuition 2.5).

  16. Laura Hinkelman says:

    Any chance of getting a link to the article about low and high volume feet? I have low volume — but not narrow — feet and need a wide toe box because the length of my toes drops off slowly. I’m having an awful time finding hiking boots.

  17. Vicki Sullivan says:

    I didn’t see many reviews for hammertoe? Can anyone give me a great option or several I should try? I am going to Smokey’s in Oct for a week and have JUST been diagnosed with hammertoe on left foot. That was one of the most intense pain i have ever felt!!

  18. Kirsten Borrink says:

    Can you explain pain from hammertoe, Vicki? Is it because it rubs against the top of the shoe? Or is the pain from the actual hammertoe itself? I have hammertoes and I don’t have much pain except sometimes underneath the toe on the ball of foot.

  19. Pam Giordano says:

    I have been wearing La Sportiva boots for years. They run a little large but that means more room for my swollen, arthritic toes. They are stiff enough to be comfortable with my hallus limitus. My current pair, the Nucleo High GTX model, is Gore-Tex and really lightweight. They have an aggressive sole which is great for hiking here in Colorado. They are waterproof and I’m told you can wear them snowshoeing, although I haven’t tried it.

  20. Chris says:

    We highly recommend Lowa Lady Light GTX for hiking. They’ve taken us to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro. They have a wide toebox for bunions and require no breaking in.

  21. Jill says:

    About 4-5 years ago, splurged on Lowa Renegade GTX mid hiking boots, size 8N. The Best! I replaced the insole with my orthotic. Fits my heel, plenty of toe room. I rarely wear my snow boots now, the Renegades keep my feet warm and dry in Nebraska winters. Turns out they weren’t a splurge since they wear so long!

    I have AA to AAAA heels, wider toes, and a bone spur on the mid-top of my foot. Used to have chronic corns between toes from wearing shoes that were too narrow in the toes, trying to get shoes to stay on my heels! Also have orthotics for pronation.

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