In our article Best Hiking Shoes For Men we discussed the characteristics of hiking shoes and highlighted some of the best models available for men. We noted how many hikers prefer hiking in shoes over boots and trail runners. Hiking shoes can be broken in easily and are lightweight and flexible, but still provide ample traction and support for the foot. They come in waterproof options and many have stylistic designs that make them suitable for wearing on and off the trail. Hiking shoes are the most versatile trail footwear and can be worn more comfortably in wider range of conditions and terrains. Here we will look at some of the best hiking shoes available for women and what sets them apart from their competitors.
Deciding on a Hiking Shoe
There are several factors to consider when purchasing a pair of hiking shoes, aside from the way it looks and feels. Weight is an important factor and a reason why many avid hikers prefer shoes to boots, which take considerably more effort to move–especially when carrying a pack. Lighter gear allows you to move about more quickly and freely, allowing you to cover more ground and experience less fatigue. And though you don’t need much gear for hiking beyond quality footwear, choosing a lighter pair of shoes will help you get considerably more enjoyment out of long days on the trail. Waterproof protection is another thing to consider. Some brands make their own waterproof membranes to keep moisture at bay, while others use a GORE-TEX lining. For many hikers, waterproof shoes aren’t necessary as they often add extra weight and take longer to dry when they inevitably do get wet. However, some waterproof hiking shoes can stand up to submersion during stream crossings and keep the foot dry in snowy conditions, so its something to consider.
Having a properly fitted shoe is also incredibly important for hikers, as blisters and exposure to things like frostbite can become a major concern on the trail in overly snug or roomy shoes. Ultimately it is up your preference when it comes to comfort, but take the time to several pairs before making your decision. Also consider trying on shoes with the socks and footbed you will be using on the trail, as these can affect the shoe’s fit and your comfort.
Best Women’s Models
As we noted in the men’s category, there is no single best women’s hiking shoe that is perfect for hikers of all strides. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the way the shoe looks on the outside and feels on the inside, as well as how it holds up to the different conditions and terrains you throw its way. Below we will feature a few of the top hiking shoes for women currently available.
Merrell Siren Sport 2
Where to buy:Amazon $79.53
The Siren Sport 2 by Merrell blends together support and style in one lightweight shoe. What the Siren lacks in relative comfort it makes up for in its ability to secure the foot in place, thanks to its stiff upper design. Merrell women’s shoes also use Q-Form technology with a midsole designed specifically for women’s feet. The shoe features a sole made by Vibram with a low-profile lug pattern, which provides solid traction on most terrain.
The uppers are stitched with breathable mesh and both nubuck and pig suede leather for a durable finish. Merrell gives you the option to choose whether to include a waterproof GORE-TEX membrane, which may give extra protection to the elements but add weight and warmth to the shoe. The Siren Sport 2 hiking shoes are great for women that want the support of hefty shoe in a lightweight package that will keep them on the move. They are appropriate for most trail conditions and come in a variety of colors stylish enough to be worn off the trail.
Where to buy:Amazon $110
The Keen Voyageur is breathable yet rugged hiking shoe perfect for hot and dry conditions. Featuring Keen’s ever-present and roomy toe-box and a beefy outsole, the Voyageur keeps the foot secure without feeling weighed down. A mesh and leather webbing upper makes the Voyageur one of the more breathable and quick drying of women’s hiking shoes.
Chunky, multidirectional lugs dig in and provide traction on a variety of terrain and the added toe protection protects from accidental stubbing. Instead of featuring a waterproof lining, the Keen Voyageur uses a moisture-wicking interior lining that really adds to the shoes ability to hold up to being submerged or trekking through dewy grass. Function is favored over flair in the Voyageur, but the shoe is an affordable and practical pick for day hikes and backpacking alike.
Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid 2 GTX
Where to buy:Amazon $136.28
Though technically pegged as a trail running shoe, the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GXT 2 is an exceptionally versatile and comfortable shoe for hitting the hardest trails. The XA Pro shoes are just a hair heavier than the Merrell Siren Sport, but they are still considered a lightweight option and provide a good amount of stability. The rubber toecap extends the length of the shoe more than comparable models, which serves to give the foot more room going forward when trekking downhill and allow more overall breathing room.
After some breaking in, the heel cup is just the right amount of stiff for ankle support, while the hardness of the sole and height of the collar have been designed to women’s specifications. The lugs are short but evenly distributed, giving you the ability to move faster on a wider range of surfaces. The synthetic uppers are durable and resistant to abrasion, serving to protect both the foot and the integrity of the shoe. A GORE-TEX membrane helps protect the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX 2 from the elements, but like many other waterproof models it can be slow to dry out. For ladies that like to blend day hiking, backpacking, running, and climbing, these are the shoes that can do it all.
Teva Sky Lake
Where to buy:Amazon $79.99
Many women’s hiking shoes are merely sized down versions of the men’s models with feminine names and colors thrown in for good measure. But everything about the Teva Sky Lake was designed with a woman’s taste and comfort in mind, forming the ultimate blend of performance, comfort, and style. The Sky Lake is on the shorter side when it comes to ankle support, but a shock pad in the heel helps the foot reduce shock absorption, while an EVA midsole and Teva’s Mush-Infused insole provide a tremendous amount of comfort. A nubuck leather and mesh construction allows the foot to breath and the shoe to stand up to a beating.
The Sky Lake women’s hiking shoe features Teva’s Spider365 outsole with cleat-like center nubs for grip and moderately shallow outer treads to funnel water and debris. Not designed with waterproofing capability, the Sky Lake is a great shoe for trekking in desert and canyon terrains with warm and dry conditions. While many know the Teva brand for their different lines of multisport sandals, the company is rapidly making a name for itself in the hiking community–especially with shoes like the Sky Lake.
Keen Targhee II (Women’s)
Where to buy:Amazon $119.95
Like the men’s model by the same name, the Keen Targhee II for women is a near-perfect blend of a trail running shoe and sturdy hiking boot, if on the burly side. A waterproof nubuck upper and Keen.Dry inner liner serve to keep water out and wick away moisture from inside the shoe. The Targhee II uses Keen’s S3 (shock, suspension, stability) heel-support system, which provides shock-absorption and protection from ankle rolling. The shoe also uses a torsional-stability ESS shank in the midsole to provide the arch of the foot with support and minimize fatigue on long days on the trail.
The designers at Keen are themselves keen on keeping the toes protected on their hiking shoes, opting for their Keen.Protect wrap-around coverage to keep you from tripping on debris and stubbing your toes. Chunky, 4mm multidirectional lugs in the sole provide great traction in all terrains and conditions. Like the male version, the women’s Targhee II isn’t the most stylish shoe and looks like its made for the outdoors. However, the design of the Keen Targhee II begets undeniable functionality and performance for a very reasonable price for a shoe of this caliber.
If one of these shoes is your go-to footwear for hitting the trails, please feel free to comment on why you agree they are the best. Or let us know why you prefer another brand or model of hiking shoes. Women naturally have a different foot pattern than men, which is why its important to try on several pairs and find one that compliments your individual comfort and style. Please subscribe for more gear reviews and outdoor updates.
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