The best women's walking shoes and hiking boots for euphoric hikes – whether your feet need lightweight, wide or breathable styles

These best women's walking shoes and hiking boots will allow you to go the distance

best women's walking shoes: Hiking boot on a pale green background
(Image credit: Getty)

Apparently walking is Britain’s most popular outdoor hobby. According to Ramblers UK, 9.1million adults in England walk recreationally for at least 30 minutes every four weeks.

It’s the main activity on 36% of countryside visits and it’s the most popular activity for visitors to Scotland and Wales. So no wonder the best women's walking shoes are in such demand. They’re a must-have to protect your feet (and ankles!) on a long hike. And they’re not just loved by the raring-to-go ramblers. Apparently walking boots are the must-have fashion item, too – spotted on everyone from Holly Willoughby to the Duchess of Cambridge.

If you're one of those rambling adults you'll need some good hiking boots. The good news is we've carefully selected and tested the best women's walking shoes so you don't have to waste hours online trying to decide which pair to buy.

How we selected and tested the best hiking boots

This guide contains the best walking boots for women, and includes the best waterproof hiking boots and best cheapest walking boots. We explain the difference between each of the boots, highlighting the pros and cons, to help you decide which are the best hiking boots for you.

Each hiking boot was tested over several months and on a mixture of terrains, including grass, tarmac, and earthy, rocky trails. Features paid particular attention to included support, grip, comfort and fit.

Overall best hiking boots in 2020: w&h's verdict

Apart from protecting our feet from rocks and debris on the trail, hiking footwear should also have a good grip, keep your feet dry, be light enough to move easily in them and above all be comfortable.

This award is for the overall best product and is awarded to the Berghaus Women's Explorer FTActive Goretex Shoes

 

Berghaus WOMEN'S EXPLORER FT ACTIVE GORETEX SHOES

(Image credit: Berghaus)

The best women’s walking shoes you can buy right now

Berghaus WOMEN'S EXPLORER FT ACTIVE GORETEX SHOES (1)

Berghaus Women’s Explorer FT Active Goretex Shoes (Image credit: Berghaus)

1. Berghaus Women’s Explorer FT Active Goretex Shoes

Best women’s walking shoes for most people

Specifications
Size range: UK 4-8
Weight: 630g
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable+Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Not a traditional boot-Slightly large fit

Easy to slip on, lightweight to wear, plus very breathable – these boots tick all the right boxes. Plus, whether you like city hikes or off-road adventures, these are so versatile that they work for both. They even look sleek enough for your daily commute. In fact, they do everything a boot does – just without all the extra bulk! That means, from walking the dog in wet grass to hiking up the side of a mountain, these are a great alternative for anyone who hates the restrictive feel of a traditional walking boot. 

Plus, they are smaller and lighter than a lot of picks on the market, which is great news if you have a lack of space in your suitcase. What’s more, out of all the walking boots tried and tested, these were definitely one of the most comfortable, which is thanks to the Ortho-Lite Multisport footbed.

Find out more about the Berghaus Women’s Explorer FT Active Goretex Shoes in our in-depth review.

Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws

Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws (Image credit: Aku)

2. Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws

Best premium women’s walking shoes

Specifications
Size range: UK 3-9
Weight: 525g
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Secure grip+Good sizing
Reasons to avoid
-Restrictive-Quite heavy

Want to go out in all weathers? Then you need a pair of walking boots that won’t let the elements in. Step forward, the Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws. Sleek and stylish in design, these definitely have wow factor – but it’s not just about looks with this premium pick. Not only can they be fully submerged in water and feet will stay dry and safe, but they’re incredibly sturdy even on steep slopes. This is partly thanks to the toe caps, which allow you to really dig into terrain without harming your feet in any way.

Plus, the grip is good when wet, thanks to the well-spaced, multi-directional deep lugs, making these ideal in snowy conditions. And, even with all the extra padding, these are very true to size, so you won’t have to bulk them out with ultra-thick socks. We love.

Find out more about the Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws in our in-depth review.

Helly Hansen W Monashee Ullr Low HT

Helly Hansen W Monashee Ullr Low HT (Image credit: Helly Hansen)

3. Helly Hansen W Monashee Ullr Low HT

Best budget women’s walking shoes

Specifications
Size range: UK 3.5-8
Weight: 500g
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good stability+Really versatile
Reasons to avoid
-Chunky-No wow factor

While the full price of these walking boots may not be exceptionally cheap, they have bagged the spot for our best budget buy due to the vast amount of deals we’ve spotted for them online. And, seeing as these are great for daily use, you’ll definitely get your investment back.

Not only are they comfortable and flexible enough to be worn all day, but they have a generous amount of cushioning in the sole, which really helps protect joints against impact. Plus, being low rise, they won’t restrict your feet in the way some boots can.

But the best thing about this pick is the fact that they are 100% waterproof and, once wet, they still won’t cause slipping and skidding, thanks to the HellyGrip rubber sole. Practical and almost unisex, these will really appeal to a lot of people who need protective footwear on a day-to-day basis.

Find out more about the Helly Hansen W Monashee Ullr Low HT in our in-depth review.

Salomon Outline Mid GTX Boots

Salomon Outline Mid GTX Boots (Image credit: Salomon)

4. Salomon Outline Mid GTX Boots

Best waterproof women's walking shoes

Specifications
Size range: UK 3.5-10.5
Sole: Rubber
Upper: Textile / synthetic
Weight: 380g
Reasons to buy
+Easy to get on+Great fit
Reasons to avoid
-Lacking a little cushioning-Slightly stiff at first

Want to make a style statement on the trail? Available in three different colourways, these just might be the pair for you. They may be lacking a bit on the cushioning front found in some of the other hiking boots, but they certainly make up for it when it comes to fit. The laces really do their job, by drawing the boot in snugly to your foot, and the long ankle cuff ensures ankles and feet are protected as you hike. Despite their high ankle cuff, they’re easy to get on and they’re lightweight, too.

They combine a sleek look with a technical shoe – Salomon certainly knows a thing or two about grippy soles – plus, their Gore-Tex membrane makes them ready for those wet-weather excursions. They might be one of the more expensive boots on the market, but they’re a sound investment.

Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec Lady GTX (women's)

Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec GTX (women's) (Image credit: Hanwag)

5. Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec GTX

Best women’s walking shoes for high impact

Specifications
Size range: UK 3.5-9
Weight: 730g
Sole: Hanwag TubeTec
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Good lacing system+Very comfortable
Reasons to avoid
- Large sizing-On the heavy side

Low-rise with a sporty style, these walking boots are ultra comfortable – and there's a good reason for that. Hanwag prioritises a good fit when it comes to their walking boots and these ones have laces that start much further down the toe box – so simple, but it can make a great deal of difference, especially if you have any type of injury and need to take special care of your feet. Plus, the low-rise shape is ideal for anyone who finds a full boot too restrictive. Being made by Bavarian bootmakers means they’ve been designed for the mountains, so really keep out the elements (including wind and rain) when needed. This is thanks to the Gore-Tex lining, which definitely keeps feet dry. Yet, these are so versatile that they would also work well at normal altitude for dog walking, mucking out horses and long walks in the countryside. They’re so comfy that they’ll help you go those extra few miles.

Find out more about the Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec Lady GTX in our in-depth review

 

Ariat Women’s Skyline Mid GTX

Ariat Women’s Skyline Mid GTX (Image credit: Ariat)

6. Ariat Skyline Mid GTX

Best women’s walking shoes for winter

Specifications
Size range: UK 3-8.5
Weight: 539g
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Fashion-forward+Great heel support
Reasons to avoid
-Not breathable-Not vegan-friendly

Planning a holiday in the Norwegian fjords or working outside in chilly conditions? These super-stylish boots give a modern twist to the classic walking-boot design and will be the right pick for you. With multi-directional deep lugs, they grip well on slippery surfaces, while offering great stability, arch support and comfort.

But that’s not all. Both the tongue and ankle area is very cushioned, which keeps your heels in place, and the midsole is comfortable, with just the right amount of bounce to help take pressure off your joints.

Plus, you won’t need to worry about them rubbing or having to break them in, as they are soft straight away. These are incredibly versatile boots, especially during winter, when they will keep feet feeling warm, even in harsh conditions. They definitely helped us keep going for longer.

Find out more about the Ariat Women’s Skyline Mid GTX in our in-depth review. 

What should I consider before buying a pair of hiking boots?

While picking out walking shoes can be a personal decision, there are a number of things you should always look out for. Not sure what to pick? Expert Chris Nichols, from Cotswold Outdoors and Snow & Rock, shares his top tips to find the right ones for you.

1 Buy the best boots you can afford. "Poor footwear is the surest way to ruin your walk, expedition or trip of a lifetime."

2 Choose the right product for the trip/conditions. "For example, you’ll need a waterproof boot for most UK conditions, but not for a trip to the Sahara."

3 Get the right socks for the boot/foot combination. "Good socks should stabilise the foot and provide all-day comfort, reducing the risk of blisters."

4 Maintain your boots. "Ensure you have the right products to look after your boots and maximise performance and life of the product. If you look after your boots, they should last many years."

How do I clean my walking boots?

"It’s important to care for your footwear to both maximise the performance of the boots and make them last as long as possible," says Chris.

1 Always clean them after each use. "You can clean them with a damp cloth or water if really muddy. After a major clean they will need to be reproofed (made waterproof again using a specialist product)."

2 Use a suitable fabric proofer. "A fabric/leather boot can be re-sprayed with fabric or leather proofer."

3 Apply wax to leather boots. "A leather boot will benefit from a wax application, such as Nikwax or Grangers G Wax. Shoe polish will also help keep the leather from drying out."

4 Air dry leather boots. "Try to let leather boots dry naturally, rather than placing them in an airing cupboard or on a radiator, as this can crack the leather. Place newspaper inside the boot to dry out the inner more quickly."

Should I buy leather or fabric walking boots?

Chris lists the pros and cons of both types of walking boots.

Leather hiking boots

PROS

– They provide great weather resistance, especially with a Gore Tex lining.

– Leather will last longer if they’re looked after correctly

– These generally have less stitching so have fewer areas of weakness for wear and tear

– They are more supportive

– Better suited for mountain or winter climbing

CONS

– They need to be well looked after in terms of keeping clean and being reproofed

– Leather styles tend to be a bit heavier

– They take longer to wear in

Fabric hiking boots

PROS

– Generally best for ‘out the box’ comfort

– Most likely to have a ‘trainer’ style fit if that's your preference

– Easy to look after

– Generally lighter than a full leather boot

– More options available on colour and style

– Generally cheaper than leather boots

CONS

– May not last as long as leather boots

– Not as protective

– Not as naturally supportive as leather

What is the difference between hiking and walking boots?

There’s no real difference between the two, but there is between a hiking boot and a walking shoe. The biggest disparity is that you’ll notice the traditional ankle support found on a boot is missing on a shoe – which can mean less support and potentially more bashed ankles. They’ll also have thinner soles than a boot, so it’s no surprise that a shoe is also much lighter.

Shoes are usually more comfortable, but can be less durable and are therefore more suited over flat or shorter distances.