Best Hiking Boots for Survivalists 2017

The Best Hiking Boots

The Importance of Choosing the Best Hiking Boots

Living at the doorstep of the Adirondack Mountains, if I’m not answering my phone you can figure I’m out on a trail or portage, or taking a group from downstate on a day hike to one of the waterfalls.

There’s nothing that can compare to breathing in the fresh unpolluted air, or the clear water filled with bass just begging to sample your worms, or the sound of a city girl’s scream when they see a snake.

But it wasn’t always like that.

I remember my first hike up around Tupper Lake, back in the 80’s. Attempted hike, I should say. I didn’t make it more than a handful of miles from the house.

Four grueling, miserable, painful miles followed by bandaids, salves, ice packs, and a whole lot of “I told you so” from my uncle.

Why, you ask?

Because I had a brand new 4-year college degree on one hand and a pair of unworn construction boots in the other, and I didn’t listen when I was told that those weren’t the best shoes to hike in.

I got nasty ripped-open blisters, and having to take my shoes off to walk back caused more cuts and bruises than I thought possible.

And to add insult to injury, me and my cut up and raw feet walked right through a patch of poison ivy.

I’m a little older and a lot wiser, and I own the best hiking boots I could find.

And I can recognize poison ivy from a dozen yards away.

Extra traction: Whether work or play, you should always figure in a breaking in period for new footwear.

Types of Hiking Boots

Before we hit the stores – or the trails – we need to decide what we’re doing. Oftentimes the term “hiking” is thrown around to mean anything from a walk through the park to scaling Everest. It’s all about the terrain.

So let’s take just a minute and figure out what’s what before you find yourself out in the wilderness at the mercy of nature – and your buddies ribbing.

Hiking

Backpacking shoesThis is an outing of a day to a week, with heavy gear, on varying natural terrain. This includes maintained and unmaintained trails, riverbeds, and elevation changes. Comfort, waterproofing, aggressive tread, and support are non-negotiable.

Walking

This is a general term that covers man-made surfaces, usually streets or malls, but can also include well-groomed pathways in parks. Footwear can be light and comfortable, with a smoother sole for absorbing the shock from walking on pavement.

Trekking

This term includes a few days to a few weeks, generally over 100 miles, and the difficulty is multiplied exponentially. Trekking will often require cutting your own paths and involve serious elevation changes in addition to the most difficult terrain. Footwear is on par with hiking.

Backpacking

While often used synonymously with “hiking”, as a general rule backpacking is a single day at most, and in well-traveled areas. Any shoe could be used that’s comfortable. And a cute little backpack.

Extra traction: If you plan on buying shoes for more than one use, use common sense. It’s all about the terrain, and there’s a far cry from a shoe comfortable on pavement and one comfortable on a rocky incline.

What Makes Hiking Shoes Different?

So you know what you’re doing – now why do you need special shoes? Oddly enough, women are more likely to try to use their current comfortable daily shoes for hiking then men are. Not always, mind you – just more often.

On the other hand, guys tend to see shoes as an extension of their toolbox and so are more likely to want to be prepared with the right tool for the job.Hiking boot reviews

There are several differences between standard and hiking shoes (or boots) that make the difference between walking out of the woods and coning out via airlift with broken bones – or worse.

The most important difference is the tread. Yes, your work boots have a great sole on them , and they keep you on your feet for 10 hours in a warehouse – but anti-fatigue soles for standing or walking don’t make up for traction that keeps you from sliding off a trail or slipping in a riverbed.

Another difference between your work boots and hiking boots is in the stability at your ankle. Your standard shoes and boots don’t take into consideration the requirements of flex to go up and down steep inclines while keeping your ankle from rolling left or right. Hiking boots do that.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Work boots are for working, hiking boots are for hiking, and beer is for drinking.

Features of Hiking Boots: What to Look For

Now that you’ve decided if you’re planning on hiking, let’s turn our attention to some of the details. Although it’s imperative that you try on hiking shoes before you buy them, it’s equally important to know what to look for.

This is an instance where you need to look at the tag before you try the shoes on. If they don’t measure up then it doesn’t matter how they feel when you try them on – which is an average of 60 seconds – a few hours into your hike and you’ll be lucky if blisters is all you come out with.

Weight

Ask anyone – weight is a funny thing. In regards to hiking footwear, it can mean the type or shoe you’re looking for, your planned use, or even the physical weight of the shoe. For our purpose, we will be concentrating on the mid and heavy weight.

  • Lightweight: This could be an afternoon wandering through the park, or walking some soft, paths. The shoes will feel very light (cough, cheap, cough) and are a barely a step above sneakers to get off pavement. There will be very little functional support. Also, they are good for the fashion conscious yuppies to look “earthy”.
  • Midweight: These are more for hiking or trekking. Usually a single day outing, maybe light backpacking through a nature center. The increased quality will be matched by the increase weight – and price.
  • Heavyweight: For the serious excursions, these are true hiking boots. If you are going to be climbing up or down grades, on rough or rocky terrain where ankle injury is possible, or out for multiple days, there’s no better chouce.

Hiking Boots vs Hiking Shoes: Which is Better?

Although women’s fashion has forever blurred the line between shoes and boots (please don’t write me angry emails!) there really is a difference between the two and we need to consider this when choosing a pair of hiking shoes or boots.

  • Hightop (above the ankle) The most practical, and most “hiking boot looking” these provide true ankle support, and are generally preferred for backcountry, making your own trails, or the most rugged terrain. These are frequently heavier, and the weight combined with the stability make them ideal for extended hikes and carrying loads. These are also recommended if you’re a newer hiker, or a hunter.
    Hiking shoes vs boots

    No ankle support but a larger range of motion and less chafing

  • Lowtop (below the ankle) As expected, these are traditional shoe style; stopping short of the ankle and allowing full flex of the joint. Often extremely light and very flexible, these are not recommended for more than a day trip, and on well-worn trails.
  • Sandal (in the garbage can)  As near as I can tell, there’s really no use – or excuse – for hiking sandals. They get even more absurd with the addition of “toe guards”, because some rocket scientist decided it’s okay to have 75% of your foot exposed, but look out for stubbing your toe on a rock or something.

Extra traction: Know your terrain and choose according to maintaining ankle health.

Stiffness/Stability

Although ankle stability is provided through the uppers, it’s vital to consider the support (often referred to as “support”, “internal support”, “stiffness”, or “stability”). This is achieved in the construction of the sole system. Boots should have plates or shanks – or both.

  • Shanks: Add stiffness to the midsole, which distributes weight more evenly when adding a hunting backpack.
  • Plates: As you might guess, these are thin plate-type additions that protect feed from rugged terrain.

Waterproofing: How Important is It?

This is a tricky one, once you get past the difference between waterresistant and waterproof. Waterproofing could be achieved Waterproof hiking bootsnaturally through materials such as leather, or through artificial means such as membranes or additives sprayed (which will have to be reapplied regularly) onto the outer.

Before immediately jumping onto the waterproof bandwagon, decide if you will be engaging in an environment where you need it. Remember, in most instances all you need is water resistance – sacrificing breathability isn’t generally worth the trade-off.

Breathability

This really is a must, no matter the climate you will be in. During the summer months, breathability keeps your feet cooler and prevents them from sweating and causing a variety of issues that could have you lame the next day.

On the other hand, breathability in the colder climate can actually aid in keeping your feet warmer by allowing any build-up of heat to dissipate, eliminating sweat and the chills that accompany it. Try avoid using foot warmers unless you absolutely need them.

Materials: Upper, Mid, Insole, Outer Sole

Like any quality product, materials are 2/3 of the whole. Poor materials in the wrong application in the hands of the best craftsmanship will still result in an inferior product.

Always, always, always pay attention to the materials – they directly impact the weight, stability, and breathability of the footwear as a whole.

Extra traction: Try on hiking boots at the end of the day when your feet are at their worst, and bring your hiking socks and any inserts or orthotics you plan on wearing.

Upper

This is the main part of the hiking boot or shoe, and where the majority of the materials used are seen. There are several options, which impact the breathability:Hiking boot materials

  • Leather: Natural leathers (full-grain or nubuck) will offer durability and natural water resistance.
  • Mixed: Split-grain will be paired with nylon mesh for a very breathable – albeit less water resistant – shoe or boot.
  • Manmade materials: These will be breathable but have virtually no water resistance. To make up for this, the manufacturer will generally incorporate a membrane for water resistance, seriously impacting the breathability.
  • Vegan: I’m not going to dignify this option with any commentary, except to say Mama said if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything… Basically these are materials that don’t come from animals and aren’t tested on any cute bunnies.

Mid

The midsole is basically the cushioning your feet rest on. Including materials such as EVA and Polyurethane, the primary purpose of the midsole is to protect your feet from the terrain, and determine the overall “stiffness”.

Insole

Most – but not all – hiking boots will have a removable insole. Don’t judge a boot by it’s sole; these are designed to be changed out for personalized comfort, especially if you have custom orthotics that need to be inserted.

Outer Sole

Rubber is the dominate material for the outsole, Although it may be mixed with various other materials for hardness or grip, it’s all rubber. The main differences is found in the tread pattern, which gives traction and grip.

Although some will feature a nice pattern at the toe to help you climb up that hill or mountain, look for a “heel brake” – the heel should look and feel different and is designed to grip different to assist in getting down off that peak while remaining on your feet.

Unless there’s snow and you have an inner tube, sliding isn’t generally considered the best way down. Just sayin’.

Lacing System

Kingdoms have risen and fallen on shoelaces. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest shoes engineered by top scientists and mountain men across the world – if the lacing is subpar, you’re in for one miserable time. Basically, there’s two ways to lace and they are interchangeable. We are not going to delve into how to tie your shoes – that’s what mom is for.

  • Basic: Go for round laces. That’s the way the military does shoelaces, and it’s worked out pretty well for them all these years. The round design slides through the eyelets and hooks easier, and they can “move” just enough to redistribute pressure points.
  • Quick pull: Also known as lock laces, there are hikers on both sides of this debate. This one really comes down to personal preference. They can be bought with the laces, or as add-ons to your favorites. Also, in case of emergency the quick loosening is a bonus.

Extra traction: Either way you go with the laces – make sure they’re long enough and have at least one extra pair on hand at all times.

Best Hiking Boots For Men

Now that we have a basic foundation of what you’re doing and what you need, let’s delve into some footwear.  Please keep in mind that we are reviewing how they compare in specs and practicality.

There are hundreds of details that could be covered, but this review is just to get you started in the right direction – or steer you away from the wrong one.

As far as comfort goes, remember the break in period often correlates to the materials; natural leather has a longer break-in period but results in a more comfortable wear over the long run.

On the other hand, the more synthetic the materials, the faster box-to-path.

Please keep in mind that the lists below are sorted little more than the order they showed up in.

ProductWeightUpper MaterialStyleRatingPrice Range
Salomon Men's Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot reviewSalomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot2.4 lbsLeather / nylonOver the ankle4.7$$-$$$

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Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot reviewTimberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot2 lbsFull grain leatherAnkle support4.5$-$$

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KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot reviewKEEN Men's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot2.5 lbsNubuck / meshAnkle support4.5$$

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Danner Men’s Mountain Light II Hiking Boot reviewDanner Men’s Mountain Light II Hiking BootInconclusive, but heavier than mostFull grain leatherOver the ankle4.2$$$-$$$$

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Merrell Men's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking BootMerrell Men's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot2 lbsLeather / MeshAnkle support4.4$-$$

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Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus reviewColumbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus2 lbsLeather, suede, meshOver the ankle4.4$

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Vasque Men's Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot reviewVasque Men's Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot2.5 lbsNubuck leather and meshOver the ankle4.3$-$$

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Salomon Men’s Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot

Specs:Salomon Men's Quest 4D 2 GTX Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Style: Over the ankle
  • Upper: Leather/nylon
  • Support: Thermoplastic Urethane plates
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes – Gore-Tex®

Overview: A good hiking boot, we were impressed by the general fit and stability. Although not all the stitching is double, it feels adequate.

Available in over a dozen colors, you will find a pair to match just about anything in your wardrobe.

Pros: We liked the 4-later design of the fairly grippy sole which does well in all weather and terrain. Comfortable up over the ankle with good, all-around cushioning. Easy to run in, which you might need.

Cons: We would have liked to see more double stitching.

Summary: If you’re looking for style, you’ve hit the jackpot because we all know how bears like to tweet about the fabulous shoes on the hiker they just ate ….

Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot

Specs:Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Full grain leather
  • Support: Proprietary “B.S.F.P.” System
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: No

Overview: As expected, this boot is an all-around performer from a reputable name. The tongue is generous, as is the lace height.

Pros: The rustproof eyelets are a nice touch, are smooth. The solid rubber sole is meaty enough to handle rugged terrain. Double stitching on the upper adds to the durability.

Cons:  Outside of cutting the boot apart, their proprietary support system does not appear to incorporate plates or shanks.

Summary: We hoped for – and got – a good performer from a good name.

KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot

Specs:KEEN Men's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Nubuck / mesh
  • Support: Torsion stability ESS shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes – hydrophobic mesh lining

Overview:  A good looking, comfortable hiking boot with good overall support and traction. The stitching is plentiful, but only single row.

We would prefer to see two hooks for lacing ankle support.

Pros: The footbed design is quite comfortable.

Cons: The rubber soles are coming apart too fast, too often.

Summary: Lack of quality control in the attaching of the sole keep us from being to giving this otherwise decent boot a good review.

Danner Men’s Mountain Light II Hiking Boot

Specs:Danner Men’s Mountain Light II Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: Inconclusive, but heavier than most.
  • Style: Over the ankle
  • Upper: Full grain leather
  • Support: polyurethane, fiberglass shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes – Gore-Tex ®

Overview: At first glance, we thought that someone made a mistake. These smooth, classic leather boots look more like a church boot or biker boot than a hiking boot.

The fit and quality quickly corrected than misconception. Made in the USA since 1932, continuing a simple and classic style.

The tread is thick and ample, although the patters is simple. The eyelets feel like they will last forever.

Pros: Well made in the USA, a simple and comfortable style that ages like a favorite leather jacket.

Cons: Heavy. Break in period could be longer than the modern hiking boots, and the stepped-on lining definitely needs to be changed out.

Summary:  While they look like something your grandfather would wear, they require a break-in period, but would likely result in more comfortable footwear.

Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Specs:Merrell Men's Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / Mesh
  • Support: Molded nylon arch shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes

Overview: A comfortable, well-padded hiking boot that feels more like a sneaker. The aggressive tread can handle the rockiest terrain and the full length midsole provides extended support.

Nice looking, comfortable shoe.

Pros: Rugged enough for hiking, comfortable enough for working, decent looking for casual wear.

Cons: Although considered by the manufacturer “waterproof” the breathable mesh lets all the moisture above the sole in. We would have liked to seen this lace higher up the ankle.

Summary:  A waterproof hiking boot that’s not waterproof – or even water resistant.

Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus

Editor’s Pick: Best Waterproof Hiking Boot

Specs:Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Over the ankle
  • Upper: Leather, suede, mesh
  • Support: Molded nylon shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: No

Overview: A comfortable shoe to keep you on – or off – the trail all day. The no-nonsense design and non-marking rubber sole are a plus. Single stitch, tight and well executed.

Pros: Comfortable from the first day you have them. Easy break-in, fully waterproof.

Cons: The sole could do with deeper and more aggressive tread.

Summary: A very nice hiking boot, as expected from the manufacturer.

Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot

Editor’s Pick: Best Hiking Boots for Men

Specs:Vasque Men's Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Style: Over the ankle
  • Upper: Nubuck, leather, and mesh
  • Support: Thermoplastic urethane plate
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes – Gore-Tex ®

Overview: An impressively stable boot. A break-in time shorter than most, the stock insole would be a keeper.

The durable boots will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go, on pretty much any terrain. Aside from rainwater running down your leg into your boot, these are remarkably waterproof.

Pros: Impressive stability and comfort.

Cons: The laces are too high up on the ankle, and the wide width might not be ample enough.

Summary:  A perfect combination of breathable and waterproof.

Best Hiking Shoes for Men

Since some guys – for whatever reason – prefer a lower cut hiker, we’ve added a few of the Hiking Shoes, just for fun. But it’s important that with a low style hiker, you lose some of the important qualities required for medium or hard core hiking.

But if you’re looking to spend part of the day on some well-worn paths without hazards like rocks, sticks, snakes, and mountain lions – then these might be right up your alley.

ProductWeightUpper MaterialStyleRatingPrice Range
Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe reviewMerrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe2 lbsLeather / meshNo ankle support4.5$-$$

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KEEN Men's Voyageur Hiking Shoe reviewKEEN Men's Voyageur Hiking Shoe2 lbsLeather / meshNo ankle support4.1$$

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Merrell Men's Chameleon Prime Stretch Hiking Shoe reviewMerrell Men's Chameleon Prime Stretch Hiking Shoe2 lbsLeather / meshNo ankle support4.2$$

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Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe

Specs:Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Leather & mesh
  • Support: Unspecified
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: A well made shoe that could hold it’s own in a category other than as a hiker. The lack of basic specifications required to meet “hiking boot” (or even “hiking shoe”) is disappointing. Single stitching appears adequate.

Pros: Well stitched and comfortable shoes. Great for walking, and jogging on maintained trails.

Cons:  Dizzying assortment of colors. No stability for incline or decline, would not feel at ease wearing these for a day on uneven or rocky trails.

Summary:  While these are a comfortable shoe – once you change out the insole – the lack of ankle support and waterproofing, shallow groove tread, and unspecified overall stability make it a poor choice for a serious hiker.

KEEN Men’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

Specs:KEEN Men's Voyageur Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / mesh
  • Support: ESS shank
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: The little brother to the Voyageur Hiking Mid Hiking Boot, these water resistant hiking shoes are comfortable and breathable.

They provide good breathability and ample padding, but nothing to write home about. The sizing is sound and the toe box ample.

Pros: Good tread. Sorry, that’s all we got.

Cons: Unfortunate quality control resulting in consistent sole failure. While breathable, we are dumbfounded by how they somehow seem to retain moisture once wet.

Summary:  A seriously disappointing shoe.

Merrell Men’s Chameleon Prime Stretch Hiking Shoe

Editor’s Pick:  Best Hiking Shoes for Men

Specs:Merrell Men's Chameleon Prime Stretch Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / mesh
  • Support: Nylon arch shank
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview:  These are weird. Don’t get me wrong – once they were on they were comfortable. But due to the stretchy “tongueless” design and too-thin pull string laces, getting them on was the trick.

Highly breathable, and strangely light feeling, these were our favorite of the “hiking shoe”. The low-cut tread has a lot more traction than an initial glance lets on. Stitch quality looks higher than some more expensive hiking boots and shoes.

Pros: Good overall fit and knobby traction make this a good multi-terrain shoe, hiking up a few miles of a wet riverbed followed by walking across some light terrain.

Cons: No ankle support, and the tongue/lace system isn’t for everyone.

Summary: An interesting design, these can take you up the streams and across the hiking paths in Mt Zion National Forrest without changing shoes. This brand comes as waterproof or non-waterproof, so be sure to check what you’re getting.

Best Hiking Boots For Women

As much as I rib Mike, the guys won’t let me live it down if I talk about women’s hiking boots without talking about Jaclyn.

cute hiking boots

“Cute” boots

Jaclyn was perfect; tall, athletic, blonde hair, blue eyes, and liked football. How could a guy not go stupid over a woman like that? So, anyway – I invited her out for our Owl Hike (on the day of a full moon, we hike up in the moonlight to this choice spot. No, I won’t tell you where it is.).

Well, we all met up at the trailhead and she comes over wearing – I kid you not – heeled shoes. Who knew they made construction boots with high heels? I stared with my mouth open, and she said, “I know – aren’t they so cute?”. I said the only thing any guy in my position could – “I think we should break up.”.

For over a year, that’s all I heard from the guys – everything was, “I know – aren’t they so cute?”.

The point is – just because you’re a filly doesn’t mean you don’t need – and deserve – real hiking boots. We’re just here to help.

ProductWeightUpper MaterialStyleRatingPrice Range
KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot reviewKEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot2 lbsNubuck / meshAnkle support4.7$-$$

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Ahnu Women's Sugarpine Hiking Boot reviewAhnu Women's Sugarpine Hiking Boot1.5 lbsLeather / syntheticOver the ankle4.5$-$$

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Northside Women's Pioneer II Hiking Boot reviewNorthside Women's Pioneer II Hiking Boot2 lbsSyntheticAnkle support3.9$

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Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot reviewColumbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot2.5 lbsLeather / meshOver the ankle4.6$

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Timberland Women's White Ledge Hiking Boot reviewTimberland Women's White Ledge Hiking Boot2 lbsLeatherOver the ankle4.5$-$$

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KEEN Women’s Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot

Specs:KEEN Women's Targhee II Mid WP Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Nubuck / mesh
  • Support: ESS nylon shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes

Overview: A nice looking women’s boot; modern looking with a touch of color (which vary from the pictures). We felt the tread could be improved upon, but the support was more than adequate.

Comfortable out of the box with a short breaking in period.

Pros: A comfortable, all around shoe for walking and light to moderate hiking. Nice colors without embarrassing anyone.

Cons: The tread needs to be more on par with an equivalent men’s style. Heat buildup proved them not as breathable as we’d like to see.

Summary: I’d consider this an excellent boot for walking and light hiking. It will be adequate for medium terrain, but nothing tough or too steep.

Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine Hiking Boot

Editor’s Pick: Most Comfortable Women’s Hiking Boot

Specs:Ahnu Women's Sugarpine Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / synthetic
  • Support: TPU arch shank
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: No

Overview: First, I’m going to figure out which one of you ordered them in PURPLE. Now that we’ve got that out of the way – these things were impressively comfortable out of the box.

They don’t breathe as well as we would like, and the heat seems to build up fast. For a trail boot, we would have liked to see a more aggressive tread but it’s better than most.

Pros: Very comfortable. Will keep your feet cozy in colder climates.

Cons: Not breathable, Seriously, it’s like an easy bake oven in these things. They retain moisture and could easily lead to blisters fast. They also aren’t as waterproof as the claim – more like moderate at keeping water out, but waterproof to keep it in.

Summary: Once we got over the shock of the color pallet, it’s an amazingly comfortable boot. We aren’t sold on it being a serious hiking boot, especially in hot weather, but comfortable for trails all day long.

Northside Women’s Pioneer II Hiking Boot

Specs:Northside Women's Pioneer II Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Support: Unspecified
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: First impression is that this was a sneaker that got a makeover. And not a very expensive one, either.

The nylon loops looked weak, and we found the double stitching having too many starts and stops, and uneven in some spots. The tread was mediocre but the heel was above average..

Pros: It’s not ugly. They’re comfortable to wear around the neighborhood.

Cons: How much time do you have? Questionable materials, questionable craftsmanship, questionable country of origin,

Summary: While they may be comfortable, the overall quality knocks them right out of the Hiking Boot category. I think in the end the old adage is true: you get what you pay for.

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot

Specs:Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / mesh
  • Support: Shaft
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Unspecified

Overview: With a name like Columbia, we set our expectations high. Maybe a little too high.

While these were comfortable from the first wear, and they were pretty nice looking, they just didn’t have the sensation of wearing hiking boots.

The upper is leather with mesh accents for breathability and ventilation, and the double stitching is the best we’ve seen.

Pros: Comfortable boot from a reputable name. Easy to walk in, great for worn trails. Orthotics slide in without removing the liner.

Cons: Definitely not to be worn where grip is going to be a factor. The recommendation of spraying with waterproofing every 3rd wear was disappointing.

Summary: Comfortable enough to walk in all day, they lack the tread and grip for comfort off the beaten path.

Timberland Women’s White Ledge Hiking Boot

Editor’s Pick: Best Hiking Boot for Women

Specs:Timberland Women's White Ledge Hiking Boot review

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Style: Ankle support
  • Upper: Leather
  • Support: Tuned support plate
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: No

Overview: As expected, we liked this boot. Good looks, high on the comfort scale, and the quality of the materials and techniques was impressive. Waterproof, and breathable.

Pros: Extremely comfortable. The materials and stitching are of visual quality, and we expect these boots to withstand some serious use.

Cons: The lugs and overall tread pattern needs to be more aggressive

Summary: From a good manufacturer, this is an all-around good hiking boot. Very little break-in time required, and built for comfort.

Best Hiking Shoes for Women

Okay, I’m not going to make a joke about women and their obsession with their shoes (oops) but since we included hiking shoes for men, it’s only fair to add a few of these for women as well.

Extra traction: If you can’t find anything good enough in the women’s line, try the men’s.

ProductWeightUpper MaterialSupportRatingPrice Range
KEEN Women's Voyageur Hiking Shoe reviewKEEN Women's Voyageur Hiking Shoe1.5 lbsLeather / meshESS shank4.6$-$$

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Salomon Women's Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoe reviewSalomon Women's Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoe1.5 lbsNylon meshMolded arch shank4.4$-$$

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Merrell Women's Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe reviewMerrell Women's Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe1.5 lbsSynthetic / meshMolded nylon arch shank4.2$-$$

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Merrell Women's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe reviewMerrell Women's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe1.5 lbsLeather / meshNylon arch shank4.6$-$$

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Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes reviewAdidas Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes.81 lbs (13 oz)SyntheticPolyamide plates4.5$-$$

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KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

Editor’s Pick: Best Hiking Shoe for Women

Specs:KEEN Women's Voyageur Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / mesh
  • Support: ESS shank
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: For a hiking shoe, the lugs and tread were surprising – because there was actual traction with them. The colors were not obnoxious, but you could choose from most colors of the rainbow.

These are completely breathable – not waterproof at all – and pretty comfortable. There is a combination of single and double stitching, and both look very well done.

Pros: Good traction for a hiking shoe, little break-in period.

Cons: The areas of single-stitching could break down with consistent use.

Summary: A good hiking shoe is better than a mediocre hiking boot.

Salomon Women’s Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoe

Specs:Salomon Women's Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Nylon mesh
  • Support: Molded arch shank
  • Waterproof: Semi
  • Membrane: Yes – GoreTex ®

Overview: These are noted as waterproof “as long as the water doesn’t rise higher than the shoe”, but there doesn’t seem to be any problem in wet grass.

The fit is sound, and they breathe well. As a shoe style, these would not be recommended for colder weather. The tread is unimpressive. Simple colors.

Pros: Comfortable, no break-in, sizes seem to run true to sneakers.

Cons:  Lacking quality in construction, low tread.

Summary:  A very good shoe for sand or worn trails, but the tread does not give confidence for rugged terrain.

Merrell Women’s Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe

Specs:Merrell Women's Siren Sport 2 Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Synthetic / mesh
  • Support: Molded nylon arch shank
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: An amazingly breathable shoe that almost feels like you’re wearing only socks. We were blown away with the lugs and tread for being a shoe, and the rubber was exceptionally grippy.

The lacing system was odd, and the single stitching was a disappointment.

Pros: Outstanding tread and grip.

Cons: Poor craftsmanship

Summary:  An amazing sole on a poorly made shoe.

Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe

Specs:Merrell Women's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe review

  • Weight: 1.5 lb
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Leather / mesh
  • Support: Nylon arch shank
  • Waterproof: No
  • Membrane: No

Overview: Well cushioned shoe, with a good tread. These shoes need little – if any – break in time, and are satisfactorily comfortable out of the box.

Lightweight and breathable they would be fitting for the hottest climates. Unfortunately, the quality of the materials is brought down by the single stitching adhesion.

Pros: Great tread. Good colors.

Cons: Single stitching, and the “pillowiness” will not work well with hiking socks.

Summary: For a trail shoe, the quality doesn’t seem to hold up.

Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes

Editor’s Pick: Best Waterproof Hiking Shoe for Women

Specs:Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes review

  • Weight: .81 lbs
  • Style: No ankle support
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Support: Polyamide plates
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Membrane: Yes – GoreTex ®

Overview: After regaining my sight from being blinded by the shocking red to neon yellow color, the next thing we noticed was the overall craftsmanship; clean adhesion and all the parts really fit together well.

The quick pull laces are nice, but very thin. The lugs and tread are impressive, and the design of the heel sole gave added confidence on rugged downhill terrain. Easy to run in.

Pros: With the colors available and overall comfort, these could cover anything from a day out hiking to a double shift in a hospital. From walking to running, these were comfortable on trails.

Cons: Would have liked to seen all the stitching double. Laces are too thin. When it comes to colors, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Summary: With colors combinations ranging from neutral to schizophrenic, this shoe will take you from work to play in comfort.

Extra traction: Be considerate of your hiking companions before buying a pair of obnoxious boots or shoes.

Where The Rubber Meets The Trail

For Men, we liked the Vasque Men’s Breeze 2.0 Gore-Tex Waterproof Hiking Boot.

I’m embarrassed by the women’s selection, with the concentration on fashion more than function. That being said, our choice for an actual hiking boot would be Timberland Women’s White Ledge Hiking Boot, but we were equally impressed by the fit and tread of the Adidas Terrex Swift R GTX Hiking Shoes.

We’ve looked at a lot of shoes, and there are a few things to keep in mind for selecting the perfect pair;

  • This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for. Don’t be a cheapskate.
  • Decide on style according to your activity.
  • You might get a better deal on the internet, but there’s no substitute for trying before buying. Unless you like exchanging.
  • Pay attention to the stitching. These things should be getting a lot of work, and you don’t want them failing on the trail.
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