The Best Hiking Boots for Women Review

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A comparison of the soles and tread of the hiking boots we reviewed.
Credit: McKenzie Long
We hand-picked nine top hiking boot contenders for a foot-to-foot comparison to determine the best. After rigorous wearing, long walks in the desert and mountains, scrambling over granite and sandstone rocks, and dunking in a creek, we started to see some standout differences between them. Though they all performed remarkably well, some are heavier and more supportive, others are light and especially comfortable, and others don't even feel like you are wearing boots at all. One failed our water resistance test and others showed a lack of durability, while a couple others impressed us with their all-around performance. We evaluated them on the important categories of support, traction, comfort, durability, water resistance, and even style. At the end, a clear winner was established and some other top choices emerged specific to day-hiking or backpacking.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Hiking Boots - Women's Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #4 #2 #7 #5 #3
Product Name
Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's
Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's
Read the Review
La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX - Women's
La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX - Women's
Read the Review
Scarpa Kailash GTX - Women's
Scarpa Kailash GTX - Women's
Read the Review
Asolo TPS 520 GV - Women's
Asolo TPS 520 GV - Women's
Read the Review
Asolo Bullet GTX - Women's
Asolo Bullet GTX - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
Editors' Awards  Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award      Top Pick Award 
Street Price Varies $130 - $135
Compare at 5 sellers
$175
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $146 - $209
Compare at 8 sellers
Varies $221 - $295
Compare at 4 sellers
$181
Compare at 2 sellers
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100% recommend it (2/2)
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1 rating
Pros Extremely comfortable, lightweight, great toe protection.Flexible across toe, well fitting and very comfortable, lightweight.Waterproof, beefy sole.Burly, completely waterproof, easy to tie.A very supportive lightweight backpacking option.
Cons Soles wear out quicklyMay not fit well for wide feet, not much ankle support.Not the most comfortable.Expensive, heavy.Hot and not very breathable.
Best Uses Dayhiking, light backpacking, canyoneering.Day hiking, light backpacking, gardening and landscaping projects.Moderate backpacking.Backpacking, hiking through cold and snowy conditions.Backpacking.
Date Reviewed May 11, 2012May 11, 2012May 11, 2012Jun 03, 2012May 11, 2012
Weighted Scores Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX - Women's Scarpa Kailash GTX - Women's Asolo TPS 520 GV - Women's Asolo Bullet GTX - Women's
Weight - 25%
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
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7
10
0
5
10
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6
Stability - 20%
10
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7
10
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7
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8
Traction - 20%
10
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7
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8
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9
Comfort - 25%
10
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8
Water Resistance - 10%  
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Durability - 10%
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Product Specs Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX - Women's Scarpa Kailash GTX - Women's Asolo TPS 520 GV - Women's Asolo Bullet GTX - Women's
Weight (Per Pair) 1.8 lbs 1.8 lbs 2.4 lbs ( size 38) 3.6 lbs (size 10) 2.6 lbs (size 6.5)
Sizes Available 5 11 5.5 12 5.5 12 5.5- 11.5 5.5- 11.5
Lining KEEN.DRY Waterproof membrane and breathable textile Gore-Tex®/Dri-Lex® Bristol 40% Recycled Nylon® Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort Gore-Tex performance comfort footwear Gore-Tex performance comfort footwear
Upper Leather, webbing and mesh Nubuck Leather/ 100% recycled Nylon Mesh/ Uretech Suede Water-resistant full grain leather 2,6-2,8 mm Water resistant suede mm 1,6-1,8 with greased treatment
Midsole Dual-density compression molded EVA midsole Dual-density ECO Trailon/ 2mm LaSpEVA/ TPU shank PU/EVA
Sole Non-marking rubber outsole Vibram® River with Impact Brake System Eco-Step Vibram® Hi-Trail Lite Triple Power Structure Asolo/Vibram rubber - PU (dual-density) Power Lite (rubber-eva) + Peba heel insert
Dayhiker or Backpacker? dayhiker Dayhiker Midweight backpacker (triple power structure) Midweight

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Comfort
Comfort may be the most important aspect of a hiking boot. If you plan on logging miles and hours, it is imperative that they aren't giving you blisters, making you lose your toenails, or leaving your feet sore. They should be easy to walk in and ideally you should only see the outdoor scenery and shouldn't notice your boots at all as you hike.

A few pairs were notably comfortable. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Lowa Renegade is so light and comfortable it doesn't even feel like a boot. The La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 has a unique flexible forefoot that bends where your foot bends. It feels non-restrictive and freeing as you move, and actually makes hiking easier. The Keen Targhee II Mid and the Keen Voyageur Mid are extremely lightweight and have roomy toe-boxes, which is a refreshing change from other boots that pinch toes together. One stood out as being the least comfortable, and that was the Scarpa Kailash. The construction of the upper feels bulky and bunches when tied tightly, and it leaves an uncomfortable pressure on the top of the foot as you walk. Though it performed well overall, all the other boots scored higher in comfort.

Support
The heavier boots tended to be the sturdiest, and offered the most support for activities like backpacking with a heavy pack. The most supportive was the Asolo TPS 520 GV, which was the beefiest and most durable. After that came the three mid-weight boots, which are perfect for light backpacking, offering more support and stability than the light hikers but not adding too much weight to the feet. These mid-weight boots were the Scarpa Kailash, the Vasque Breeze, and the Asolo Bullet. All three have higher reaching ankle support than the lighter ones, and both the Asolo and the Scarpa have noticeably impressive soles that make them slightly stiffer. Of the light hikers, the most supportive was the Lowa Renegade. With its PU Monowrap frame that reaches up along the side, this offers the stability and support of a much heavier boot, but feels like nothing on your foot.

Traction
Most of the boots in this review have Vibram soles, which guarantee great traction on trails or cross-country terrain. The only hikers without Vibram soles were the Keens, but these had decent traction as well.

Break-in Period
Most of the light hiking boots don't require any break-in period at all, which is particularly awesome if you are in the market for a new pair and want to take them on a long trip this weekend. The Keen Targhee II Mid, the La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0, and the Lowa Renegade were each notably comfortable right out of the box. The only boot that required real break-in time was the all-leather Asolo TPS 520 GV. This is a heavier, classic hiker and would benefit from some light wear before a long, serious outing.

Water Resistance
Since all of the boots in this review have some sort of waterproof/breathable membrane such as Gore-Tex or another proprietary material, we decided to do a water resistance test, which involved putting on each pair and walking almost ankle deep in a creek.

Our initial assumption was that the Gore-Tex lined boots would win, since that is a tried and true material, whereas the other materials are less known. The first test was a simple one between three pairs, each with a different membrane: Vasque Breeze with Gore-Tex, the Keen Targhee II Mid with KEEN.DRY, and one from our hiking shoe review, the Oboz Yellowstone- Women's with Oboz BDRY. The results were surprising. The Yellowstone and the Targhee II held up extremely well. The Yellowstone even had beads of water forming on the leather and rolling off after coming out of the water. The Keens allowed the cold of the creek water to reach through to the feet, but socks remained bone dry. The Vasque Breeze boots were a little disappointing. The left boot stayed dry and comfortable, but the right one must have had a hole or defect because a leak came through near the big toe.

After this surprising result, we performed a more complete test including all of the boots in this review. The remaining ones, all with a type of Gore-Tex lining, performed predictably well.

Durability
Durability is a tricky issue because once you invest over $100 on a product, you want it to last. However, some of the lightweight boots, which are designed to be light for comfort, don't last as long and will need to be replaced more often than a heavy-duty one like the Asolo TPS 520 GV. If you want the most durable boot that will last for years, that one is it, hands-down.

Most hikers don't want such a heavy boot, so if you buy a light one are you automatically buying a less durable boot? Yes and no. None of the light hikers will last as long as the TPS, but there were still obvious differences in durability. Tthe Keens, though light and extremely comfortable, have exposed EVA foam on the sole that deteriorates after a season or two of hard use over rocky terrain. This might be excusable, because they are so light, comfortable, and easy to hike in, but they will need to be replaced more often than ones with a Vibram sole like the Asolo Bullet or the Lowa Renegade.

The Bottom Line
Editor's Choice Award
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The mono wrap sole construction on the Lowa Renegade provides stabilization for your foot on uneven surfaces.
Credit: Maarten Harris
The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's wins our Editors' Choice award for being light, comfortable, having the most versatile purchasing options, and some of the most clever features. It stands out for its PU Monowrap Frame, which adds stability without adding weight, and its unique seamless Gore-Tex lining. It makes the best overall boot since is light enough to be worn on day hikes, but is tough enough to withstand backpacking trips.

Best Buy Award
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Some river walking in Yosemite National Park while wearing the Keen Targhee II.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
The Keen Targhee II Mid - Women's wins our Best Buy award for being the most comfortable, high functioning boot for the least amount of money. The roomy toe-box feels great while wearing, and the toe bumper protects the feet from toe-stubbing.

Top Pick Award: Best Backpacking Boot
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Wearing the Asolo Bullet on a hike near Moab, Utah.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
As a slightly heavier, taller, and sturdier boot, the Asolo Bullet GTX - Women's wins for the best backpacker. It provides extra support for carrying weight and extra protection for rough terrain without becoming too heavy itself. The Vibram sole with the Pebax inserts offers excellent stability.

Top Pick Award: Best Dayhiking Boot
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The La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 - The FC stands for Flex Control. The light green material across the bridge of the foot bends exactly where your foot bends while you walk. This feature is immediately noticeable and makes the boot very comfortable.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
La Sportiva FC Eco 3.0 GTX - Women's takes the Top Pick award for Best Day Hiker because its light weight and extremely flexible forefoot make it so you hardly notice you are wearing a boot. This encourages fast walking and enjoyable adventures. It comes in a low-top version or a high-top version, but the high top is much lower than some of the other boots, allowing for more range of motion while still protecting the ankle.
Also check out our Dream Hiking Gear List.

McKenzie Long
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