Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Hiking Boots for Women of 2021

We put women's hiking boots to side by side testing, including brands like Salomon, Keen, Vasque, Lowa, and many more to find the best
Lead tester Jane Jackson heading out onto the trail to test some of th...
Photo: Eric Bissell
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday September 14, 2021
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Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

We've bought and tested 50+ women's hiking boots over the last 9 years, most recently testing 16 of the best models available in 2021. From lightweight hikers to burly beasts, our experts test the top boots year-round and compare them based on their trail comfort, weight, traction, support, and ability to keep your feet dry. Our team of ladies crushes out hundreds of miles for multiple months to put these products to the test and parse out each boots' strengths and weaknesses. The result is clear, detailed assessments of today's best options to help you find the right pair for your needs.

Related: Best Hiking Shoes for Women of 2021

Top 16 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 16
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Awards Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award 
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Overall Score
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Pros Comfortable, durable, very cushioned, stable, supportive, lightweightDurable, stable, lots of ankle protection and supportColor options, PU monowrap frame construction, narrow and wide fit options, seamless Gore-Tex lining, longevityVery supportive, exeptionally durable, protective soles, waterproofComfortable, waterproof, breathable, durable, relatively lightweight
Cons Expensive, take some time to break in, can be warm on hot daysHeavy, expensive, bulkyNo arch support, expensive, bulky, heavyDifficult to break in, very stiff, lacking flexibility in forefootBulky laces
Bottom Line With thick foam soles and a durable leather upper, these boots stand out as the most supportive pair we've reviewedA burly boot designed to provide stability and support on long, rugged outingsThe all-leather construction provides burly protection and support for a modern approach to the traditional leather bootAs a very stiff option, these all-leather boots take time to break in, yet offer unsurpassed sturdinessA boot that excels in all metrics, this model offers exceptional performance for a wide range of hiking utility at a reasonable price
Rating Categories Hoka One One Kaha G... Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Oboz Bridger Mid BDry Salomon X Ultra 4 M...
Comfort (25%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
Support (25%) Sort Icon
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
2.0
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5.0
8.0
Traction (15%)
6.0
8.0
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9.0
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
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9.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
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6.0
Specs Hoka One One Kaha G... Salomon Quest 4 Gor... Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Oboz Bridger Mid BDry Salomon X Ultra 4 M...
Weight Per Pair (Size 7.5, in lbs) 1.91 lbs 2.34 lbs 2.19 lbs 2.00 lbs 1.62 lbs
Upper Full-grain leather split suede, textile Nubuck leather Nubuck leather Synthetic, textile, rubber toecap
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular, Wide Regular
Water Resistant Membrane eVent Gore-Tex Gore-Tex BDry Gore-Tex
Heel height (mm) 2.1 in 1.6 in 1.3 in 1.4 in 1.6 in
Shaft height (mm) 5.5 in 6 in 5.5 in 6.3 in 5.1 in
Midsole EVA OrthoLite DuraPU with MONOWRAP Frame Dual Density EVA, nylon shank molded OrthoLite sockliner
Sole Vibram MegaGrip Contragrip rubber Vibram Evo rubber Granite Peak carbon rubber Contagrip rubber, chevron lugs


Best Overall Women's Hiking Boot


Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex - Women's


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9
  • Support 8
  • Weight 8
  • Traction 9
  • Water Resistance 9
  • Durability 6
Weight: 1.62 pounds | Upper: Synthetic with mesh and textile lining
Comfortable
Lightweight and breathable
Impressive water resistance
Great price-to-performance ratio
Bulky laces
Runs large

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex is an exciting update and the latest iteration of a boot that has impressed us for years. This version of our longstanding favorite is lighter than ever with all the same comfort, durability, and water resistance style points from years past. We loved the updated upper and the latest chassis that adds stability and support in the midfoot. This boot perfectly toes the line between running shoe and hiking boot — providing the same level of lightweight comfort as a runner, but with the added oomph in terms of durability, traction, and waterproofing to meet the needs of hiking and backpacking excursions. We wore these boots on short day hikes on mellow terrain and challenging rugged missions and were always impressed. These are still our favorite boots for their overall performance, not to mention the reasonable price tag.

Even more so than past versions of this boot, the X Ultra 4 Mid trends closer and closer to a running shoe. This boot is significantly lighter than the previous model. Compared to a traditional hiking boot, the X Ultra is stripped down — folks who want extra ankle stability and a seriously stiff sole may want to look elsewhere. We also found that the laces are bulky and long on these boots, which of course, can be remedied and certainly isn't a deal-breaker. From hiking your favorite local trail to longer backpacking missions, these well-balanced boots handle all kinds of trail objectives better than any other model we've tested.

Read review: Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex - Women's

Best Bang for the Buck


Keen Targhee III Mid - Women's


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Support 7
  • Weight 7
  • Traction 7
  • Water Resistance 8
  • Durability 8
Weight: 1.8 pounds | Upper: Oiled Nubuck
Comfy with a short break-in period
Robust toe protection
Affordable and built for longevity
Water-resistant leather uppers
Not the most stable
Run a bit wide

The Keen Targhee III Mid is another one of our favorite boots and comes in at a very competitive price. With uppers constructed with a combination of leather and mesh, these boots are durable while remaining breathable and light. They have a water-resistant liner, making the Targhee III an excellent boot for wet spring conditions. We have found that some of the price-point options fall short regarding support, but we were happy to find that this was not the case with the Targhee III. Their sturdy rubber toe cap and 4 mm lug depths make for a model with excellent support and traction on rocky terrain and loose trails. This is a more streamlined look and feel compared to traditional Keen boots, and our lady testers appreciate that the Targhee III feels more nimble while still providing great toe protection.

The low ankle shaft means that these boots do not provide as much ankle stability as several of the taller models in this review. This is important to keep in mind if you plan to hike with heavy loads, in rocky and rugged terrain, or have ankle instability. If this is you, then the Keen Targhee III may not be the best option. These shoes also run a bit wide—an important consideration if you have narrow feet. That said, they are durable, and we expect them to last a long time, which will likely push their longevity past boots with synthetic uppers. They are very capable and well-made footwear at a modest price for modern women's hiking boots.

Read review: Keen Targhee III Mid - Women's

Best Lightweight Performance


Vasque Breeze LT GTX - Women's


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Support 7
  • Weight 10
  • Traction 8
  • Water Resistance 5
  • Durability 5
Weight: 1.38 pounds | Upper: Microfiber mesh
Crazy low weight
Comfortable
Gore-Tex waterproofing
Supportive underfoot
Expensive
May fall short in long-term durability

Right out of the box, we were amazed by how light these boots felt. The Vasque Breeze LT GTX - Women's also stood out when placed on the scale. These boots look no different from many other models in this review — above-the-ankle cut, thick midsoles, fairly aggressive sole and tread — yet they provide exemplary performance. What sets the Breeze LT apart is that it incorporates all these things into an insanely lightweight package. With comfortable padding, supportive midsoles, and a stable design, the Breeze LTs held their own on multi-day trips and rugged, uneven terrain. We felt fast on the trail without worrying about losing footing or instability. At the end of a long day on the trail, our feet were thankful for these boots.

Vasque had to cut a few corners to make the LT's as light as possible. Weighing in under a pound and a half (1.38 pounds in US Women's size 7.5), these boots are over half a pound lighter than the burliest boots in this review. Because of the materials used in their construction, we are concerned with the long-term durability of these boots, especially in comparison to the all-leather options we've reviewed. They also leaked a bit of water through the mesh upper during testing. We found the Breeze to provide plenty of traction and grip regardless, and unless you're in a continuously wet environment, we think the advantages of nimble, shoe-like weight on our feet outweigh the small drawbacks we found.

Read review: Vasque Breeze LT GTX - Women's

Best Support


Hoka One One Kaha Gore-Tex - Women's


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9
  • Support 10
  • Weight 6
  • Traction 6
  • Water Resistance 8
  • Durability 8
Weight: 1.6 pounds | Upper: Synthetic
Extremely comfortable, once broken in
Unmatched support
Vibram MegaGrip outsoles provide impressive traction
Thick foam sole provides stability and protection underfoot
Soles can feel bulky
Pricey
Longer break-in period than other Hoka models

We weren't surprised that the latest boot we got our hands on from Hoka One One quickly rose to the top of the fleet in terms of comfort and support. Over the years, we've found that Hoka's products are often some of the most comfortable options out there. We have many hiking buddies who are complete converts, ready to preach the Hoka gospel at any moment. We mostly wore the Kaha Gore-Tex - Women's on hikes on the Sierra Nevada's east side. The thick foam soles provide an unparalleled stable base for ankle, knee, and hip joints. One tester with a lingering sprained ankle was thrilled by the stability these boots provided. In addition to providing a stable base, the Kaha remains relatively lightweight. With leather uppers and a Gore-Tex membrane, the boots are durable and burly while maintaining a surprisingly light feel. We are impressed.

The added stability and support that the Kaha provides also make these boots a bit stiffer than other Hoka models we've tested in the past. This means a longer break-in period is usually required. Of course, one has to not only get used to the slightly unconventional appearance of these boots but also the perceived bulk of the extra-thick midsoles. Think of it as the Hoka learning curve. If support and comfort are what you're after, these concerns will likely soon be overlooked.

Read review: Hoka One One Kaha Gore-Tex - Women's

Best Durability


Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Support 9
  • Weight 3
  • Traction 8
  • Water Resistance 9
  • Durability 9
Weight: 2.2 pounds | Upper: Nubuck leather
Built to last
Comfortable and well-padded
Good ankle support
Very waterproof
Sizing runs big
Lacks arch support
Large, bulky tongue and lacing system

The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's boots are a fine example of craftsmanship and durability. The Renegade feels like an updated version of hiking boots past. These boots have all the makings of a classic — they're burly, leather, and incredibly waterproof. Taking elements from modern hikers, they have a GORE-TEX lining and a waterproof coating on their leather uppers to keep your feet dry even when fully submerged in spring runoff. Unlike those clunky boots of the past, though, these boots are also very comfortable and require very little time to break in. Despite their bulky appearance, the Renegades handle very well on the trail and provide a surprising amount of freedom of movement.

At 2.2 pounds, these hefty kicks weigh almost a full pound more than the lighter models we've tested. When testing side-by-side, the Renegade feels heavy compared to these lighter models. Especially on trails that don't need this much boot, the extra weight was really noticeable. But, if extra stability and support are vital to you, then this extra weight may not be a problem. For a boot that will last you through the years and provide stability and support along the way, the Lowa Renegade is a tried-and-true choice.

Read review: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's

Notable Comfort for Wider Feet


Topo Athletic Trailventure WP - Women's


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Support 7
  • Weight 9
  • Traction 7
  • Water Resistance 7
  • Durability 5
Weight: 1.52 pounds | Upper: Synthetic
Extremely well-padded ankle and tongue
Wide forefoot and slight rocker for stability and comfort underfoot
Thick foam midsole
Waterproof construction
Tongue is slightly bulky
Lower eyelets may lack durability

For the wide-footed hikers among us, we think the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP - Women's deserves special attention. We love the design and found them incredibly comfortable, especially for those with a wider foot. Without feeling bulky, these boots are well-padded, lightweight, and designed for long days. We were excited to find a boot that not only worked well for those with wide feet but also felt slim and sleek on the trail. These boots have great tread, a comfortable ankle, and a stable base. Overall, we had very few gripes with these boots and highly recommend them to any wide-footed lady.

The biggest issue we found in terms of design is the eyelets on the lower part of the lacing system. Since they are made from thread, they lack durability and could blow out eventually, though we didn't run into this issue during our three-month test period. If your feet tend to feel confined in regular hiking boots, we recommend trying this pair for its width but also its strong all-around performance.

Read review: Topo Athletic Trailventure WP - Women's

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
84
$165
Editors' Choice Award
This boot is comfortable and supportive with a reasonable price tag and a lightweight design
83
$220
Top Pick Award
Designed for long-distance hikes with heavy loads, this model is designed to maximize support and comfort
80
$240
Top Pick Award
Classic for a reason; an all-leather construction, strong support, waterproof, and sturdy design
78
$230
This boot provides tons of ankle support and stiffness underfoot
75
$150
Best Buy Award
The best iteration of this model yet, this boot combines the durability and comfort of previous versions with a more agile profile and feel
75
$180
Durability is a key characteristic of these stiff and sturdy, all leather boots, for rugged terrain and longevity
74
$230
The combination of support and comfort makes these boots a great option for long days
73
$160
With a thick foam midsole, well-padded ankle, and lightweight construction, these boots are comfortable, supportive, and stable
73
$165
A lightweight, running shoe-esque hiker that has sticky soles and a comfortable design
72
$180
Top Pick Award
This pair combines extreme lightweight comfort with top-notch performance
66
$160
For a boot that looks good while holding its own on rugged trails, the Sapphire is a good option
62
$135
For a simple, comfortable, and inexpensive boot, this pair is a great choice
62
$190
Sleek, well-designed boots that are made for light and fast alpine missions
55
$90
These boots shine on short, moderate hikes with their stylish, classic looks and simple design
54
$180
These all-leather boots provide protection from the elements and an impressive level of durability
51
$160
The Patch is a solid, fashionable boot for urban jaunts about town and short trails

Boots galore! We were excited to hit the trails in these colorful...
Boots galore! We were excited to hit the trails in these colorful models.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Why You Should Trust Us


Our lead tester, Jane Jackson, has traveled hundreds of miles on foot across the world. From trekking in Nepal to trips into the Wind River Range, the Tetons, and the Sierra Nevada to working as a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, Jane has put her time in on the trails. All this hiking has given her plenty of time to experience blisters, bunions, and hot spots. Jane is no stranger to the range of suffering that can occur with ill-fitting footwear. She has spent countless hours over the last four years researching hiking boots and putting them to the test around the globe.

For this review, Jane set off on foot. She spent 250+ hours on the trail, evaluating these boots' performance in the most demanding conditions. Breaking in dozens of pairs of hiking boots over the past three years has given Jane plenty of experience to evaluate the overall comfort and support each model provides. She took these boots on overnight searches looking for lost hikers in remote corners of Yosemite National Park, assessing traction and stability. Stream crossings and slushy, early-winter snowstorms were great grounds for testing these boots' ability to keep feet dry and gain purchase on varying surfaces. Trips to Argentine Patagonia provided Jane with the opportunity to log 60+ trail miles per week just to gain access to the granite peaks, truly putting the footwear to the test. Jane even wore the less comfortable boots for miles and reported her findings, so you don't have to discover a boot's discomfort the hard way.

Related: How We Tested Hiking Boots for Women

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Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Analysis and Test Results


After extensive field testing and online research, we are confident in our evaluation of these hiking boot models. We've summarized all of our findings below to help you gauge which one is the right hiking boot for you. Our scoring method involves comparing each product relative to the others in this review.

Related: Buying Advice for Hiking Boots for Women


Value


In addition to all of the testing criteria, most of us factor a product's cost into our purchase decisions. We often wonder if something is "worth" what we are paying and if a larger price tag equals better quality. Frequently, a higher price does correlate to better quality materials, craftsmanship, and design, but sometimes solid performance can be acquired for less. Often it is the addition of brand-name materials such as Gore-Tex waterproof liners and Vibram rubber outsoles that will tack on extra cost for the manufacturer, and subsequently, you. To cut down on these costs, some manufacturers have started using a proprietary rubber or waterproofing material. Though the third-party liners and soles have name-brand recognition and have proven to be very effective in our tests, we've also been thoroughly impressed with most brands' proprietary waterproof liners and outsoles.

The Targhee III features a more streamlined design than Keen boots...
The Targhee III features a more streamlined design than Keen boots we've tested in the past. We welcome this change, as well as the outstanding value these boots bring to the trail.
Photo: Eric Bissell

The Keen Targhee III employs a proprietary waterproof liner and outsole to keep costs low, and both work well, resulting in a great product at a lower-than-most price. We're also pleased to see the Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 ringing up much lower in price than several other models in this competition while performing at the highest level. The Merrell Moab II Mid is another tried and true boot with a reasonable price tag. If there's one thing we've learned over the years testing boots and outdoor gear in general, it's that price alone does not guarantee performance. Allow price along with our detailed assessments to help you find the right boot for you and your wallet.

Comfort


Comfort is typically the most important consideration for boots. If you sense discomfort in the fit, sizing, or performance of a pair of boots when you first put them on, it might be worth trying some different options. A boot that is comfortable for one person can be a living nightmare for another. Someone with a narrow foot might never get a good fit (and therefore feel discomfort) in a wider cut pair, like the Keen Targhee III Mid or the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP. We have rated each pair of boots based on overall comfort while noting obvious uncomfortable design features. We keep our focus on padding, comfort in support, materials, lacing system, and how our feet felt after many miles on the trail.


While we recognize the Hoka Kaha for its phenomenal support, you can well assume that the Kaha is also one of the most comfortable boots in this review. In most cases, these two characteristics go hand-in-hand, especially when Hoka is involved. The thick, cushioned sole that provides a stable base also provides unparalleled comfort. We also like the way the lacing system and the upper design work together to pull the upper snug against our ankles. The only thing missing from the lacing system is a way to lock the laces in place after tightening the lower half of the laces (a feature we really like in the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid and Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex).

The impressively, almost embarrassingly, thick soles on the Kaha are...
The impressively, almost embarrassingly, thick soles on the Kaha are comfortable, supportive, and stable, even on rocky terrain.
Photo: Eric Bissell

Following close behind the Kaha regarding comfort is the On Running Cloudrock. Both of these models have thick, cushioned soles and lots of padding on the tongue. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is also impressively comfortable but has a more streamlined, sleek profile that is conducive to hiking through talus and alpine terrain. The X Ultra 4 has plenty of room in the forefoot for wide-footed hikers, as well.

The X Ultra 4 is comfortable yet supportive. We don&#039;t hesitate to...
The X Ultra 4 is comfortable yet supportive. We don't hesitate to lace up this model for pretty much any trail objective.
Photo: Alexa Flower

A lot of our assessment of comfort comes down to personal preference, but construction, materials, and design all play a strong role here, too. Some people find that stiffer soles provide more comfort, while others prefer a more flexible ride. For the most part, this comes down to the type of terrain you plan on traveling most in your boots (i.e., talus, smooth trails, mud, steep and rocky, etc.). On a smooth dirt path, a boot with a thin sole will likely be sufficient. However, in the rocky terrain, a thin sole and flexible forefoot may cause pain and sensitivity over time. Difficult terrain generally calls for stiff soles, while smoother terrain is best matched with a softer, flexible sole.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid are stable and supportive enough for...
The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid are stable and supportive enough for rugged desert terrain like this.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Adjustability in the lacing system factors into our comfort evaluation as well. Being able to lock your foot into place within the boot can increase comfort in difficult terrain, and some lacing systems are better at this than others. The Lowa Renegade has an adjustable lacing system that can be tweaked to provide more support in the ankle than the foot by the locking mechanism at the flexing part of the foot, leading to more comfort. The Salomon Quest 4 also features this lace lock and some seriously substantial laces. On a wide foot, the Oboz Sapphire Mid felt less comfortable because the laces are not adjustable toward the shoe's toebox and the widest part of the foot. Again, having this adjustability in the midfoot is key for wide-footed hikers, so make sure to check the range of the boots you're considering if your foot shape requires it.

The tongue and ankle design, plus the lacing system all add up to...
The tongue and ankle design, plus the lacing system all add up to make (or break) a boots' stability. The Lowa Renegade has a locking mechanism that allows you to lock in the lower portion of the laces before separately tightening the upper portion.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Support


Boot support is determined by sole stiffness, midsole construction, arch support, and forefoot flexibility. The height of the boot also lends support to the ankles and feet—the higher the ankle shaft, the more stable and supported the ankles will feel. This ankle height is the main difference between a hiking boot and a hiking shoe regarding support. For rugged trails where the ankle is prone to roll, boots with relatively high ankle heights are optimal, along with effective lacing systems. Stability is another important aspect of this metric. All of the boots in this review have a stiff sole that limits flexion under the ball of the foot and lateral flexibility through the midsole.


Overall, the Hoka Kaha provides more support to the feet and ankles than any other model we tested. The thick midsole might feel strange at first, as most boots feel more like a running shoe and less like a platform heel, but most wearers get over this adjustment quickly. These luxuriously thick soles achieve a supportive feeling underfoot without sacrificing comfort, which is normally a tradeoff. They are sufficiently stiff, too, helping to avoid foot fatigue. The thickness of the foam also makes a shank insert unnecessary, which saves weight.

As you can see from this photo, the Kaha has by far the thickest...
As you can see from this photo, the Kaha has by far the thickest soles of any boot in this review.
Photo: Eric Bissell

The wide base of the boot, especially in the forefoot, provides stability for every step. The tall ankle shaft on the Kaha wraps high around the ankle, and the lacing system tightens adequately against the ankle. These boots tick all of the "support" boxes. They also stand out in comparison to the other top-ranking boots in this metric because they feel light and lack bulk. The runners-up for support are also some of the bulkiest boots in this review, which, for us, is a major downside.

Even with a sprained ankle, the Kaha&#039;s made it possible to hike on...
Even with a sprained ankle, the Kaha's made it possible to hike on rugged terrain to picturesque sunrise locations.
Photo: Eric Bissell

Boots like the Merrell Moab 2 Mid have low ankle heights and offer less ankle support. The Lowa Renegade and the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex provide lots of stiffness and stability in the ankle. The Keen Targhee III Mid is more comparable to the Moab 2 with its low shaft height.

The Oboz Sapphires are stiff underfoot and supportive in the ankle...
The Oboz Sapphires are stiff underfoot and supportive in the ankle, making them a great option for rugged, rocky terrain.
Photo: Eric Bissell

Midsoles are the layer between the outer sole and the insole. Boots often have shanks and plates either above or beneath the midsole layers, adding support and stability. The shanks serve as a protective barrier from the impact on rugged surfaces. These inner shanks create additional stiffness that the rubber soles cannot achieve on their own. Hiking shoes do not always need this rigidity, but instead, offer flexibility that is suitable for day hiking, so many do not have shanks. The overall construction of boots is generally more stiff and stable than hiking shoes.

Arch support varies by foot. Some women may find enough support in the original insoles. Other women may need to customize by replacing the original insoles with aftermarket insoles or orthotics. Depending on how flat or pronounced the arches of your feet are, differing levels of support apply. To avoid foot cramps and discomfort, accurately support the arches of your feet.

Footbeds
Like the Salewa Alpenrose Ultra (as one example), many boots come with an Othrolite footbed, which will provide enough cushion and support underfoot for some but feel a bit too flimsy for others. Our lead tester, for example, typically puts a footbed from Superfeet in all her hiking boots.

A footbed can add a little extra support and stability - especially...
A footbed can add a little extra support and stability - especially for long days negotiating talus.
Photo: Alexa Flower

The Salomon Quest 4 almost feels like a mountaineering boot in terms of stiffness, which may be too much support for some situations and preferences. A slightly less stiff, lighter-duty model is the Oboz Sapphire Mid. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 Gore-Tex scores well for support because they have a sleek but still cushioned ankle and a very supportive sole, making them a happy medium between the ultra-stiff Salomon Quest and the less burly models like the Sapphire.

Weight


Weight is an important thing to consider when purchasing any piece of outdoor gear, but particularly your footwear. The old saying that weight on the feet translates five-fold on the back is pretty spot on, and who wants to feel dragged down by their feet when hiking? While hiking boots are typically heavier than hiking shoes, the difference between the two categories is becoming less and less significant. This is great for those of us who prefer to hike in a full boot but are not into the heaviness of the models of years past. Backpackers delight.


The Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX toes the line between a hiking boot and an athletic shoe. A pair of US Women's size 7.5's weighs 1.38 pounds, which means that each foot is only carrying around 11 ounces. This felt significant to us, and when we found that the boots held their own in other metrics as well, we were very impressed. Many of our testers and friends are stoked that boot design is trending toward lighter and lighter models because a light boot feels nimble and makes boulder hopping and off-trail travel feel all the better.

The light construction and running shoe style design of the Topo...
The light construction and running shoe style design of the Topo Athletic Trailventures make them feel super light on the foot.
Photo: Alexa Flower

We considered the weight of each pair on the trail as well; while some boots weighed less than others, the lighter models did not always feel the most nimble. The women's boots we tested weigh between 1.38 and 2.5 pounds. The low end of this weight spectrum continues to decrease, as the Breeze LT shows. The Topo Athletic Trailventure WP also shows a marked trend toward lighter boots with a running shoe-inspired design. This model weighed in at 1.52 pounds on our scale, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 GTX weighs 1.62 pounds, while the Lowa Renegade weighs 2.19 pounds, to give some perspective. We tend to prefer the lighter boots for most situations, though there is a use for the heavier Renegade's added durability and support.

We weighed each boot on a hanging scale to double-check the...
We weighed each boot on a hanging scale to double-check the manufacturer's listed weight. The Cloudrocks, shown above had an incredibly light feel on the foot.
Photo: Jane Jackson

On one end of the weight spectrum lies the Vasque Breeze LT and the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP. Both of these boots are fierce competitors for being our favorite lightweight model. The Trailventure provides a fit and feel much like some of our favorite running shoes, while the Vasque Breeze is more like a traditional hiking boot but super slimmed down.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Lowa Renegade and the Danner Mountain 600, both weighing over 2 pounds. The Salomon Quest 4 GTX weighs 2.34 pounds, which started to feel quite heavy after several miles. Otherwise, the Quest is a fantastic boot, but several of our testers found it simply too heavy for all but the burliest of applications.

The Keen Targhee III Mid have a heavier leather upper and a big...
The Keen Targhee III Mid have a heavier leather upper and a big rubber toe cap, yet still keep the weight well below two pounds.
Photo: Eric Bissell

Traction


Tread on the soles of footwear acts similarly to tread on a bike or car tire. The pattern, spacing, density, and depth affect purchase, stability, and handling. The majority of the brands you'll see in this review use some form of Vibram or ContraGrip rubber for their outsoles. Vibram MegaGrip is becoming a favorite among many top brands, and in our testing, these outsoles received some of the highest scores in our metric comparisons. On Running, on the other hand, uses their own rubber compound called MissionGrip on their boots. The Cloudrock fell short in terms of traction when we put this rubber to the test.


Tread patterns that have spaced lugs in variable patterns manage dirt, sand, mud, and snow by pushing them out from the bottom of the shoe. When these accumulate on the bottom of shoes and boots, it is a result of poor tread design and depth. Semi-aggressive to aggressive tread patterns are found on most hiking boots. Well-placed lugs can also provide additional stability and support on uneven terrain, making for a more stable walking experience. Though this plays more into the support metric, it is worth noting that lugs and tread patterns have a large impact on the overall performance of a boot.

A variety of tread patterns is shown here. Some brands use...
A variety of tread patterns is shown here. Some brands use proprietary rubber compounds, while others use products like Contragrip and Vibram.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Boots that received the highest scores in traction were able to stick to rocks and talus, handle well in wet and muddy conditions, and protect the foot from debris. Many boots have Vibram soles that help them stick to slabs and boulders. The Topo Athletic Trailventure, for example, performed well in this metric with their Vibram rubber soles. The Salewa Alpenrose 2 Mid has an intricate and aggressive tread pattern that provides traction in wet, muddy conditions as well as rock slabs. Salewa uses a Pomoca rubber compound for its outsole, and they work very well.

It is good to think about the types of surfaces you travel over when looking at different boots' tread patterns. Overall, the deeper lug depths, like those on the Lowa Renegade GTX and the Keen Targhee III Mid, provide more traction than boots with a less aggressive tread. The tread pattern and rubber on the Salomon X Ultra 4 is similar to their previous iterations, which we are happy about. These boots continually impress us for their overall traction that seems to grip hard surfaces and dig into loose sediment better than other models. Another worthy mention here is the Oboz Bridger Mid BDry, which features very aggressive lugs that proved excellent on all kinds of trails, too.

The Bridger Mid is a great example of an aggressive tread pattern.
The Bridger Mid is a great example of an aggressive tread pattern.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Water Resistance and Breathability


Water resistance is measured by how dry our feet remained while exposing the boots to typical trail wetness. We walked each pair through creeks up to five inches in depth. We first tested them while walking from one side to the other without stopping. All of the models in our review succeeded. Then, we examined the water resistance when submerged in water while standing in place. Within a couple of minutes in inches of standing water, all of the boots began to absorb water, and some leaked through the upper.


Boots that have tall shaft heights, like the Salomon Quest 4 GTX, withstood deeper creek crossings with ease. The taller the ankle shaft height, the better chance you have at keeping your feet dry in seriously wet conditions. Once water gets inside the boot, a waterproof liner or upper isn't going to be helpful. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 4 GTX is a great, lightweight waterproof option. All-leather boots, like the Lowa Renegade GTX and the Oboz Bridger BDry, are also great waterproof options. Additionally, the Hoka Kaha GTX impressed in this metric, with a high ankle shaft, a waterproof leather upper, and a Gore-Tex liner. This combination of features makes the Kaha a top contender in this metric.

The Renegade has a high ankle shaft height and a Gore-Tex upper...
The Renegade has a high ankle shaft height and a Gore-Tex upper, making ace in this metric as well.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Like we saw with the Kaha, the Gore-Tex waterproof membranes used in the Lowa Renegade and the Salomon X Ultra are comparable in breathability to the eVent liners of the Topo Athletic Trailventure WP. In other words, both the Gore-Tex liners and the eVent liners were impressively breathable. Although some believe that waterproof membranes limit breathability, we found that all of the liners were adequate in keeping water out while keeping our feet wicked and dry. Additionally, breathable mesh panels on the sides of boots and tongues allow for airflow and help maintain dry, comfortable conditions inside.

Quick-drying boots, like the Salomon X Ultra 4 (shown here), also...
Quick-drying boots, like the Salomon X Ultra 4 (shown here), also get a shout-out in this metric.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Leather models provide a heavier feel than mesh and synthetic uppers commonly found on hiking shoes and thus offer less breathability. The Keen Targhee III Mid provides the protection of a leather boot while having enough mesh to remain breathable, which sets them apart from other leather models in this review. Breathability is an essential consideration for mid-summer hiking in hot climates. If you intend to hike mostly in dry climates and regions, a pair of boots that do not have a waterproof lining and have mesh on the uppers may be the best option. Most of the models reviewed are available in waterproof and non-waterproof models. It's important to realize that waterproof liners make boots take much longer to dry out if they do end up wet on the inside of the boots.

Once feet become wet, they are prone to blisters and hot spots. If you intend to hike in a region that could get your feet wet, bring an extra pair of socks. Keeping your feet dry is aided by choosing the best boots for your intended uses, as well as noticing when your feet become wet and attending to them.

Durability


While companies can cut down on weight by choosing lightweight materials, this sometimes results in a sacrifice of long-term durability. A full leather boot will typically last longer than a shoe made from synthetic leather and mesh. Lightweight boots generally require a shorter break-in period and are more comfortable when trekking long distances (when compared to a clunky heavyweight boot). Most all of these boots have a longer lifespan than, say, a standard running shoe, though the lightweight mesh options won't last as long as a full-blown leather boot.


It is challenging to fully assess the durability of a boot after three months of use. If a model doesn't last through our official testing period, the manufacturer likely needs to do some serious re-evaluation. Nearly all of the boots in this review come from reputable brands that, in general, make solid, durable goods. For our favorite models, we continue wearing them for years to report back on their long-term durability.

We hike dozens of miles in each boot. While long-term durability is...
We hike dozens of miles in each boot. While long-term durability is tough to assess through experience over a few months, our experts have collectively worn through scores of boots, and are aware of the signs to look for regarding footwear longevity.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Overall, we are pleased with the durability of all of the models reviewed and believe they can last for a couple of seasons or more when seeing regular use. We continue to put miles on our favorite models after formal testing ends to see how they hold up long-term, too. For example, a previous pair of the Salomon X Ultra 3 lasted over 300 miles over a few years, only replaced because Salomon came out with their 4th iteration of this boot, not due to wear. While we don't expect synthetic uppers to last as long as leather ones in general, we've seen these boots time and time again last several hundreds of miles.

The Salewa Alpenrose 2 is super lightweight in comparison to the...
The Salewa Alpenrose 2 is super lightweight in comparison to the boots with leather uppers. We don't expect the synthetic uppers on this boot to last as long in comparison.
Photo: Jane E Jackson

Our testing period provides a standard period when we can assess each boots' overall performance. Minor signs of wear-and-tear include wear marks on the widest part of the toe box, failures or weaknesses in the lacing system, and subtle delamination issues on the upper or sole. Our testing period gives us a general idea of which boots last longest without showing significant wear. The models with all-leather uppers tend to be more durable because they have fewer seams (commonly, the first place to show weakness). All leather boots, such as the Lowa Renegade GTX, stand up to wear quite well.

The Renegade is one of the more substantial and long-lasting boots...
The Renegade is one of the more substantial and long-lasting boots we've tested.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Conclusion


We hope this information helps guide you toward the perfect boots for your next outdoor endeavor. There are hundreds of options out there, and we've whittled our list down to these top-performing boots. Investing in a solid pair of boots has the potential to improve your hiking experience immensely, so take your time and make sure you settle on the right pair that suits your needs.

Jane Jackson