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Best Women's Hiking Boots

By: Lisa Maloney on April 11, 2018

Narrow heels, wide forefeet and long arches rule the day

While nearly every boot in this report is available in women's sizing, only a few are designed specifically to fit a woman's foot. The female foot tends to be wider in the forefoot, narrower in the heel and longer in the arch than a man's, so a smaller version of a man's boot doesn't always provide the best fit.

The boot that stands out as the overwhelming favorite of female hikers is the Keen Targhee II Mid (Est. $135), an enduring design that's also extremely popular with men. This model has drawn years of praise for its stable, sturdy and supportive soles, roomy toebox that won't pinch your toes on descents, and straight out-of-the-box comfort.

The Keen Targhee II Mid isn't the most technical boot in our report, but users say it's great for all-around use, and a typical women's pair weighs only 1 pound, 14 ounces. The sole offers great protection on rocky terrain, the traction is excellent, and a rubber toe cap helps protect against stubbed toes. The weakest point for this boot is its durability, with OutdoorGearLab pointing out that there are quite a few seams and mesh panels that end up being weak points in the construction. That said, women seem more likely to praise the Targhee II's durability than men, and the boot costs so much less than the competition that users usually don't mind much when it comes time for a replacement.

Last year we noted some reports of quality control issues with the Targhee II's Keen.Dry waterproof membrane. This trend continues, so it's a good idea to check your boots before you use them. If the waterproof membrane survives the initial immersion, it should last as long as the rest of the boot. Also, be aware that the mid-height ankle cuff isn't as supportive as taller models, and these boots routinely run at least a half-size small -- so be sure to order up.

Also of note, this year Keen introduced a redesigned version of the Targhee, the Keen Targhee III Mid (Est. $145). Although the Targhee III looks much the same and shares the same internal fit as the Targhee II, almost every single element has been slightly tweaked to make this a very different boot, with an improved heel cup for stability and a redesigned outsole for more flexibility and ground feel.

As already mentioned in best hiking boots section of this report, the two boots are so different that Keen is going to keep them both in production at the same time; so until we get more conclusive feedback about the Keen Targhee III, we're sticking with the well-loved Targhee II which has proven itself many times over. That said, early indications are that the Targhee III will also be a favorite with women; it's already scored a Best Buy pick from female testers with Outdoor Gear Lab.

Another boot, the Asolo Stynger GTX (Est. $235), is a perennial favorite of female hikers. Users say it provides a comfortable, secure fit right out of the box and can handle just about anything you throw at it, including 40-plus-pound backpacking loads. Interestingly, reviewers with both wide and narrow feet tend to rave about this boot's fit, probably because of the roomy toe box and smaller ankle/heel design that's made specifically to fit a woman's foot shape. Many women's boots are simply smaller versions of that line's men's boot, so any time we find a boot like this that is built on a women-specific last and performs well, it's practically guaranteed to be a hit.

Reviewers say the Asolo Stynger GTX boot is supportive, surprisingly breathable, and grips just about any surface well. It has a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex liner that does a good job of waterproofing up to about ankle level, and a solid, protective sole that's fairly rigid. A rubber toe and reinforced heel protect you from trail obstacles like rocks and tree roots, and the upper wears very well. The sole wears moderately well, with recent reviews indicating that you can reasonably expect at least five years of regular use from the Asolo Stynger GTX.

Users are so emphatic in their love for this boot that we're surprised it doesn't get more expert attention, perhaps because it's been such a proven mainstay for so long. If it weren't for the clear trend toward lighter weight and more flexible footwear, this would be a serious contender for our top spot in this category.

A very common complaint from female hikers is that their heels slide around in boots that otherwise fit well. If this sounds like you, try the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Est. $240), which also happens to be our top-reviewed hiking boot overall. This lightweight, agile boot feels almost like a running shoe, reviewers say, and a special locking eyelet does a great job of locking your heel in without squeezing the rest of your foot. This updated version of the Quest has extra ankle padding and a more aggressive outsole that makes an already great boot even better; the average women's pair weighs just 2 pounds, 5 ounces.

Another piece of Salomon footwear that caught our eyes is the Salomon Ellipse GTX (Est. $120). Technically this is a trail running shoe, but it's also available as the relatively obscure Salomon Ellipse 2 Mid GTX (Est. $150) boot. In both cases users say the shoe/boot feels light and agile underfoot, with a solid toe cap that gives it great durability and soles that are sticky enough for any terrain but actually hold up well to prolonged use -- a rare combination.

But the most important point is that the Ellipse is built for a women-specific fit. Although testers with OutdoorGearLab noted a bit of heel slippage, users tend to enjoy this boot's wide toebox and excellent arch support, and they say the Ellipse runs up to a full size large; so sizing down can help reduce slippage, giving you a nimble fit that's ideal for day hikes with a light pack. This shoe/boot won't serve most people for carrying a heavy pack, though, because it has relatively little padding underfoot.

New in this year's report, we have our eye on another boot: The Oboz Sapphire Mid (Est. $160), which is built to suit a woman's foot with a smaller forefoot, higher-volume arch and asymmetrical ankle collar for better support. At just 1 pound, 13 ounces for a typical women's pair, these boots are very light for the sturdy underfoot feel and ankle support that they provide. Users say the Sapphire is comfortable right out of the box, with plenty of room around the toes and great traction on all surfaces. That said, we do see a few complaints about lacing eyelets popping off, which can also compromise the boots' waterproofing -- so keep an eye on this apparent weak point if you try these boots on.

Our Best Reviewed waterproof boot, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid (Est. $230), also remains very popular with female hikers. The average women's pair weighs just 2 pounds, 2 ounces and is available in three widths: narrow, normal and wide. The Renegade GTX Mid has a seamless Gore-Tex liner and Nubuck leather uppers that require almost no break-in period, and the laces do a good job of locking in a narrow heel. The Renegade GTX Mid also draws top expert scores for support, comfort and traction, even on mud and snow. Its durability does suffer somewhat because of the light construction, but many hikers love this boot so much that they're happy to buy a new pair every year.

If having a light boot that fits a woman's foot is your priority, keep an eye on the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi (Est $230), which is also our best reviewed lightweight boot overall. It tops the charts in every expert review for overall comfort; high points include a plush midsole that offers plenty of protection underfoot and a rockered outsole that offer excellent traction while helping keep each stride feeling natural. Users generally love the ankle support and padding of the upper, which requires no break-in period, and the deep, stable heel pocket is a great feature for most women's feet.

Durability of the outsole and the waterproof eVent liner can be an issue, but even so the Tor Ultra Hi ranks near the top of its class for durability, and most customers say that Hoke One One does a good job of standing behind their one-year warranty. If your first priority is weight, it's hard to beat the Tor Ultra Hi's 1 pound, 13 ounce weight for a typical women's pair.

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  • Feel light on your feet.
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