Are you looking for the best lightweight hiking shoes for women? Hiking shoes have evolved dramatically since their inception. Gone are the days of heavy leathers; in their place has risen waterproof, lightweight, synthetic hiking shoes made for every terrain. You may ask yourself why you need hiking shoes.
Can’t you pop on your favorite pair of sneakers and hit the trail? That all depends on your intended use, but few things can take your outdoor adventure from exciting to miserable, quite like the wrong hiking shoes. If they pinch, rub, slip, or lack support, you will be left cursing every step.
That is why it is paramount to identify the best hiking shoes from their knockoff counterparts. Here, we will look at what goes into making the best hiking shoes, what to consider before you buy, and the brands currently leading the market!
Lightweight Hiking Shoes For Women
Salomon X Ultra 4 LOW GTX
MSRP: $150 | Weight: 1lb 9.9 oz
Gore-Tex Boot Liner, Sculpted Anatomically To Hold Foot, Advanced Chasis, Shock Liners And EVA Heels Cups Provide Support, Mud Guards, Integrated Toe Caps, Dual Rubber Sole For Aggressive Grip
- Great Traction Salomon Lug Pattern
- Stiff Underfoot
- Runs Narrow
- Warm With Gore-Tex
We love these shoes as they are a nice blend between aggressive trail performance and hiking. Salomon X Ultra 4s have a lot of similarities with running shoes as they’re light and nimble but stiff and wide enough to make for a stable shoe. Often voted one of the top hiking shoes on the market, they are perfect for a rocky trail.
From their waterproof but breathable design down to their grippy and rugged bottom soles, these shoes will support you through every trail hike on your trip. The reason the Ultra 4 stands out in the lineup is their Advanced Chassis surrounded by foam that will have your feet forgetting you’re walking in the wilderness at all! This technology also allows for a more stable heel membrane to keep you upright.
I have a few complaints as they’re a little more aggressive than most hikers need and the price. Salomon footbeds tend to run narrow; we do not recommend these hiking shoes if you have wide feet.
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Women’s Merrell Moab 2 WP Low
MSRP: $135 | Weight: 1lb 15 oz
Suede Leather, Mesh Upper, Rubber Toe Caps, Closed Tongues, EVA Footbeds, Air Cushion Heels, Nylon Arch, Vibram Outsole, Deep Lugs
- Decent Traction
- Wide Fit
- High Heel To Toe Drop
- Not Great For Difficult Terrain
The Merrell Moab 2 has been a faithful hiking shoe for a decade. Merrell has taken the approach of “don’t fix what isn’t broke.” It’s a semi-affordable shoe that delivers a blend of performance, comfort, and durability. Most notable is the stability and comfort they offer!
They’re more skewed to casual use and well-worn trails as they lack key performance. It is due to the bulky design, soft toe cap, and muted outsole, which isn’t great for experienced hikers who tackle big mile days. However, the wide fit, high heel-to-toe drop, and cushion make them very comfortable.
There is a lot to love about these traditional women’s hiking shoes. You can opt for the non-waterproof shoe to save some money as they retail for $110. Any woman after a conventional hiking shoe will love these reliable shoes.
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Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
MSRP: $145 | Weight: 1lb 2.4 oz
Mesh Uppers, Lightweight Cushioned Mid-Soles, Roomy Toe Box, Gusseted Tongues For Breathability, Winged Lacing, Vibram Megagrip Outsole
- Very Comfortable
- Cusy Soles
- Roomy Toe Box
- Height Can Make Unstable
- Not Waterproof
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 is one of our favorite trail running shoes. They are heavily cushioned lightweight trail running shoes with reliable traction. The shoes focus on running, offering minimal upper protection to save weight.
Hoka One One specializes in neutral running shoes. It means they offer strong arch support and a stable platform to assist people who pronate or have flat feet. The large platform is supported by a thick midsole, making for a comfy ride. The rockered outsole offers excellent traction and feels very nimble underfoot.
We like Speedgoat as they’re the most versatile active shoe for everyday life. They are appropriate in the gym, running on the road, or the trail. If you’d like a lot of bang for your buck, this is a great option. These shoes feel great for the athletic crowd or fast hikers who want to stick to the trail.
Check Prices On Speedgoat 4
La Sportiva Spire
MSRP: $190 | Weight: 1lb 10.2 oz
Low Profile, Mesh Construction, Vibram Soles Grip Rock, Compression Molded Midsoles, GORE-TEX Membrane, TPU Toe, and Heel Cap, Lace Closure System
- Traction On Rock
- Rubber Toe Cap
- Overkill For Most Hikers
If you’re after a shoe that’s up for the trail, then the La Sportiva Spire GTX is a great option. It’s a tremendously versatile shoe as it’s stiff, durable, and offers decent protection. We like this shoe as it’s suitable for scrambles off-trail and long days with a backpack. The ankle collar falls between the shoe and mid-boot, offering more ankle stability than the standard hiking shoe.
The midsole offers a lot of cushion in a stiff package, providing reliable protection and comfort, which is helpful on long trail days or rough terrain off-trail. An outsole that offers reliable grip on various surfaces and a large rubber toe cap are helpful in steep terrain.
The negative is these capable shoes come with a high price tag, $190, for a heavy shoe. They certainly aren’t the most versatile and don’t work for most hikers. However, if you love bagging peaks or multi-day hikes, these shoes are exceptional.
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Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry
MSRP: $140 | Weight: 1lb 8.8 oz
Waterproof Nubuck Leather, Moisture-Wicking Nylon Mesh Liner, B-DRY Waterproof Membrane, O FIT Insoles, Dual Density EVA Midsoles, Nylon Shanks, Protective Toe Overlay, Asymmetric Collars For Better Ankle Support, Toothy Side Lugs
- Excellent Traction
- Robust Design
- Solid Feature Set
Oboz has made waves in the outdoor footwear sector by making “footwear for every adventure,” as their motto states, and the social and environmental activism that permeates the company. As a hiker, you’ll love their incredibly tacky tread, excellent toe protection, lightweight nature, maximum waterproofing, and intense breathability.
As a nature enthusiast, you’ll also feel genuine in your purchase, knowing that every pair sold plants a tree. And this isn’t just for PR! The humanitarian efforts run deep with Oboz! Every shoe not sold is donated to Project Sole; their headquarters are entirely wind-powered, and they only contract their materials from suppliers that meet their environmental and social standards.
If you want great hiking shoes and feel sustainability is a core value for you, definitely go with the Oboz Sawtooth low hiking shoes.
Check Prices On Oboz Sawtooth II
Altra Lone Peak 6
MSRP: $140 | Weight: 1lb 1.4 oz
Mesh Upper, Integrated Tongue, MaxTrac™ Rubber Outsoles, Energy-Return Compound System, ZeroDrop Platform For Low Impact Landings, Wide Footbed, Rock Plate
- Super Comfortable
- Super Lightweight
- Excellent Traction
- Rock Plate
- Wide Toe Box
- Less Durable
- Less Technical
The Altra Lone Peak 6 is a phenomenal trail running shoe. Its highly versatile, super lightweight, and offers excellent shock absorption. That weight does come at some sacrifice to the durability and technical prowess. However, the Lone Peaks are so comfortable and lightweight they’ve become a favorite among minimalists and ultralight thru-hikers.
A wide toe box reduces the chance of blisters for long-distance hikers. That does sacrifice its performance in rougher terrain, but most trail running shoes suffer in this terrain. When everything has a purpose and must serve that purpose well, the Altra Lone Peaks are an excellent match. Lone Peaks are similar to the Speedgoat 4, except less cushioned and bringing your foot closer to the ground for more stability.
Check Prices On Altra Lone Peak 6
Saucony Peregrine 12
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1 lb. 2.4 oz.
Reinforced Outsole, Foam Midsoles, Everun Topsoles, Deep Lugs, PWRTRAC Rubber Outsole
- Protection Underfoot
- Comfortable Ride
- Excellent Traction
- Reliable Fit
- More Running Shoe
Saucony Peregrine sneakers have long reigned supreme as one of the best trail running shoes money can buy. Now, they have leaped over the line with the Peregrine 12. These rough and tumble hiking shoes will have you bounding over boulders, scrambling over rocks, and trudging through streams with the same ease as if you were on a paved track.
What makes these hiking shoes so superior? The answer is in their ISOFIT technology and moldable comfort. This revamped upper ensures these hiking shoes adapt to every flex and bend your foot goes through. The ISOFIT also gives these shoes unbelievable breathability, making stinky soggy feet a thing of the past!
The updated lacing system keeps your foot in place even in the harshest terrain without ever restricting your range of motion, and the improved ankle collar eliminates chafing and potential blisters. Not to mention, they are very stylish!
Check Prices On Saucony Peregrine 12
Arc’teryx Aerios FL GTX
MSRP: $170 | Weight: 1 lb. 8.4 oz.
GORE-TEX® Membrane, TPU Exterior Resist Abrasions, Toe Cap Guards, 4mm Ortholite Inserts, Vibram Megagrip Outsoles,
- Good Performance In Rough Terrain
- Lighweight For Support Level
- High Quality
- Stiff For Everyday Use
You may recognize Arc’teryx from their long line of high-quality outdoor wear. Arc’teryx may not be a household name in footwear, but don’t stamp their name on any product. The famed outdoor gear band manages to craft a build shoe with the Aerios that delivers a lot of performance.
Their flagship Aerios FL hiking shoe comes with all of the quality we have come to expect from the brand, with a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, a strong toe protection cap, correctly threaded outsoles, and stylish exterior – all at just 1.5lbs. If you have the money, these shoes are definitely worth the investment.
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Adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R3 GTX
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Ripstop Mesh Upper, TPU Toe Cap, EVA Midsole, Traxion Rubber Sole
- Tough Upper
- Not Breathable
- Durability Concern With Outsole
It was only a matter of time before Adidas decided to break into the fast-growing hiking shoe market. They didn’t hold anything back when constructing their Terrex Swift R2.
These phenomenal hiking shoes are stable, supportive, durable, and stylish. Their synthetic upper gives them immense breathability, and their Continental Rubber outsole cannot be questioned (even though it isn’t Vibram).
Check Prices On Terrex Swift R3 Hiking Shoes
Salomon OUTline GTX
MSRP: $130 | Weight: 1lb 5 oz
Suede Leather, Mesh Upper, Rubber Toe Caps, GORE-TEX Liners, Midfoot Shanks, Protective Toe Caps, Gusseted Tongues, Ortholite Footbeds, Deep Lugs
- Super Comfortable
- Great Blend Of Shoe And Hiking Components
- Not Great For Difficult Terrain
- Low Top Ankle Support
- Lacks Support
Like many hiking shoes on this list, the Salomon OUTline women’s hiking shoes give you the lightweight, breathable uppers of a trail runner and the rugged outsole of traditional hiking boots.
It is probably the only hiking shoe in the Salomon lineup that has more of a running shoe feel without sacrificing its well-known heavy-duty hiking durability. The ankle cut is low, the Quicklace system is less bulky, the flexibility is excellent, and their Contagrip outsole will keep you upright and sturdy in mud, over rocks, and in streams.
They do require a bit of a break-in period to form to your foot, but once they have, your feet will be more than pleased.
Shop For Salomon OUTline GTX
Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX Hiking Shoes
MSRP: $150 | Weight: 1lb 2 oz
Vibram Megagrip, GORE-TEX Construction, Anatomic, High-Rebound Footbeds, EnduraLast EVA Midsoles
- Super Lightweight
- Narrow Footbed
- Stiff Underfoot
The Vasque Breeze LT Low hiking shoes have unmatched durability that puts them at the top of the hiking shoe game. Their ruggedness makes them a favorite of serious hikers, and their overall comfort and waterproofing only solidify their place at the top. Considering their heavy-duty capabilities, what sets the Breeze LT version apart is how lightweight they are.
These shoes weigh in at only 1lb 6oz, making them one of the lightest in the Breeze lineup. When you combine all these characteristics, you get an unparalleled hiking shoe that can take you across the country and back again and still have miles of life left in them.
Check Prices On Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX Hiking Shoes
What To Consider in Women’s Hiking Shoes
To find the best hiking shoe for your lifestyle, it’s vital to assess what you want them to accomplish. For example, if you are a day hiker who prefers trails, a heavy-duty shoe with excessive arch support may be overkill. However, if you are a backpacker, thru-hiker, or regularly scaling rugged terrain, these factors, as well as excellent waterproofing and durability, become almost mandatory.
A very tacky grip is an essential factor if you spend a lot of time hiking on loose shale, climbing boulders, or facing a lot of ascents and descents. If you are a “fast-packer,” finding something lightweight will likely be your top priority. If you encounter an environment with excessive rain, you will be looking for shoes made from quick-drying materials. Once you have thoroughly evaluated your hiking goals, you will know what features are most important to you!
Nothing is worse than finding the perfect pair of hiking shoes to find the fit is too small, too narrow, too constricting, or just not suitable for the shape of your foot. Can you splay and wiggle your toes without hitting the sides when you try on your hiking shoes? Is your arch firmly supported without slipping within the shoe on up or downhill climbs? Is your heel kept securely in place? If the answer to these questions is yes, you likely have found a good fit! However, it’s essential to read over the manufacturer’s specs to understand if their styles run small, large, narrow, and wide.
Few other things can ruin a fun day outdoors than soggy feet. Even if you primarily hike in the desert, you can still run into monsoon-like rains and flash flooding. That’s why hiking shoes with durable waterproofing are crucial for every adventure.
Gore-Tex or GTX is something you can expect to see a lot while you shop. This breathable, waterproof material is regularly used in outdoor footwear and apparel to keep moisture from getting in while venting the internal sweat out. You may also run into shoes labeled with a polyurethane or PU coating. It is an external waterproofing treatment that’s not as good as Gore-Tex at wicking away moisture, but if you find a shoe with both, you can trust that you have maximized your moisture prevention.
The structure of hiking shoes includes a midsole, insole, and outsole. The insole is generally a removable layer that will provide you with additional cushion and impact resistance. They range significantly in thickness and are made from various materials, so choosing the correct insole is one of personal preference and necessity.
The outsole is the material on the bottom of the shoe that gives you traction. You want to make sure the lug pattern on the outsole is well-spaced, and the materials used are of high quality, such as Vibram.
The midsole is the main structural component of the shoe that separates the insole and the outsole. It is where you’re going to maximize or reduce the cushion, bounce, and softness. These are from either EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU. EVA midsoles are softer but tend to pack down a shorter lifespan. On the other hand, PU midsoles will be much stiffer but will be in it for the long haul. Ideally, finding blended midsoles is key to gaining the positive attributes of both.
Hiking Shoe vs. Hiking Boot
The debate still rages on whether to choose hiking boots or hiking shoes. However, the science is stacking up on the side of shoes, and hiking boots can’t keep up. The first reason for this is weight. More and more, we are hearing that “1lb on your feet equals five on your back,” and those that have tested this theory agree.
With less weight on your feet, you are less prone to exhaustion, your speed increases, and your ankles stay strong throughout your trip. Due to basic construction, hiking boots cannot reduce their weight enough to be equal to the bulkiest of hiking shoes.
The other fiery question lies in ankle support. Because hiking boots go over the ankle, they are assumed to have superior ankle support than hiking shoes and are therefore better at preventing twists and breaks. We won’t say that this is entirely false, but here is a scenario for you.
Think of the flexibility in a shoe as you stand on a rock. The slight flexibility of the sole allows your foot to move with the obstacle, keeping your ankle stable and on track with your feet. Now think of a hiking boot on that same obstacle. The rigidity keeps your foot in place, and if your body goes one way and the boot goes the other, well, bad things happen.
While some people need the extra padding and weight distribution to prevent their ankles from weakening, most of the time, a hiking shoe does just as good a job – and sometimes more efficient – of keeping your ankles protected.
Types of Hiking Shoes
You’re going to see all kinds of labels when you search for the best hiking shoes. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep all the variety straight. So, here are some of the common types of hiking shoes you’re likely to come across and what they mean for you and your feet.
You will often see shoes labeled with a “mid” after the brand name. It simply refers to the height of the ankle support. A mid hiking shoe will come to the middle of your ankle.
Like mid, low hiking shoes refer to those that sit low on your ankle. These have a similar cut to your average hiking shoe and are generally the most popular because they’re the lightest in weight.
These are becoming huge for fast-paced hikers and minimalists. Trail runners cut down the weight even further without giving up the supportive midsole and outsole traction of a hiking shoe or boot. However, these are much more flexible, making them less suitable for highly rocky terrain.
Approach shoes are a hybrid between a hiking boot and a climbing shoe. Their incredibly tacky outsole gives them phenomenal traction on loose gravel or any type of rocky surface. However, most approach shoes lack the same insole as a standard hiking shoe, which means they are less suited for long-distance backpacking.
Features To Seek In Hiking Shoes
What is a hiking shoe if not its stand-out features? Some are a matter of preference, while others should be considered a deal-breaker. Here are some of the best features to look for when choosing your next hiking shoe.
For a good reason, all the highest quality hiking shoes feature Vibram rubber outsoles. This material is known worldwide for its exceptional grip and durability on every terrain.
The lugs on the bottom of your shoe are similar to the tread on your tire. They are what provide you with traction, propel you forward, and wick away water and mud. You should not overlook adequately spaced, and deep-cut lugs are an essential feature for a reliable grip.
While some flexibility in a hiking shoe is excellent, too much will put your ankles at risk. You want to look for a hiking shoe that has somewhere between a medium and a demanding level of flexibility.
Gore-Tex, sometimes labeled as GTX at the end of a brand name, is a waterproofing technology that changed the game for hiking shoes back in the 1970s. With all that history, it’s still the number one waterproofing feature you can find on a pair of hiking boots. Unless you’re hiking in arid climates, Gore-Tex is a must-have feature.
All insoles are somewhat padded, but you’ll need to consider the amount of cushion you need overall. Always make sure to try on your shoes before you purchase, and ensure that the padding offered is suitable for your needs. However, additional insoles can be added later if things change.
There are a lot of obstacles that will be thrown your way while out on the trail. Branches, roots, twigs, and rocks are all lying in wait to stub your toe and trip up your stride. That’s why the best hiking boots come with some form of toe protection that gives the front of the shoe a barrier from these would-be hazards.