The best women’s walking shoes for weekend walks and hiking trips

These walking shoes will help you go the distance, whatever the water or terrain

A selection of the best walking shoes for women
(Image credit: Merrell/Adidas/Hanwag)

Whether you’re a walking enthusiast or new to the activity, there’s something for everyone in our best women’s walking shoes guide—including breathable shoes and waterproof buys for all weather conditions. 

Investing in a pair of walking shoes is essential for keeping you safe while hiking and trekking in the great outdoors. They'll not only keep your feet warm and dry if you're caught off-guard with the rain but they'll keep your feet supported, comfortable and help to prevent any injuries, so you can always do the walks you love.

While the best hiking boots may be better for heavy-duty walking, the best women's walking shoes should still provide good ankle support, a tailored fit that's right for you, a specialized lacing system designed for security, and they should be comfortable (and versatile) enough for both long hikes and city treks. To help you find the best walking shoes for you, we’ve tested popular outdoors brands such as Merrell, The North Face, and Ariat to bring you this round-up of expert-approving hiking shoes for all your outdoor adventures.

How we tested the best women's walking shoes

Over several months our testers headed outside and hit the trails, walking on a mixture of terrain, including grass, tarmac, and earthy, rocky trails. Doing a range of activities, from dog walking to Nordic walking, here's what they considered and what you should keep in mind when shopping for walking shoes. 

  • Comfort—comfort really is key when it comes to walking shoes. Look for shoes with an EVA Midsole if you like lots of cushioning, and ensure the shoe has a big enough toe box to allow your toes to move and feet to swell comfortably as you sweat.  
  • Support—your walking shoes should feel secure around the ankle and have great traction. Most walking brands use their own technology to create grippy rubber soles that provide plenty of traction to keep you safe and prevent you from slipping or sliding while you walk.  
  • Fit—it’s best to try on walking shoes before buying to ensure you’re investing in the right size. Always try your shoes on with the walking socks you intend to wear. When paired with thick socks, you might need to size up. Ensure there's wiggle room for toes at the toebox. 
  • Material—shoes made from leather or tough upper materials tend to need some wearing in but will be more durable than soft fabric shoes that might initially feel comfortable but wear down quicker.  
  • Versatility—if you’re just looking for a pair of walking shoes for taking the dog to the park, a cheaper fabric option might be all you need. But, if you plan to trek in your walking shoes, opt for durable waterproof shoes with grippy soles for stability. 

The best women's walking shoes, as chosen by our experts 

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Merrell Moab Speed GTX X SB Trainers

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)
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Merrell Moab Speed GTX X SB Trainers

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

1. Merrell Moab Speed GTX X SB Trainers

Best women's walking shoes overall

Specifications

Size range: US 6.5-10.5/UK 4-8
Weight: 647g per pair
Material : GORE-TEX lining
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof : Yes
RRP: $172 / £125

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Perfect for multi-terrain walking
+
Stylish colour 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited ankle-specific support

Merrell Moab Speed GTX X SB Trainers tick all the boxes when it comes to a walking shoe. As well as being reliably waterproof⁠—as our tester discovered on a particularly rainy trail walk⁠—thanks to the GORE-TEX lining, they're lighter than previous versions of the Moab but offer an elevated level comfort. So much so that they easily could have made our list of best running shoes too. 

Support wise, it's the overall stiffness in the heel and sides of the shoe that made our tester confident with them going over rough terrain. But the soft foam insoles and arch support keep them comfortable throughout longer walks. 

With concerns over fashion's impact on the environment, it's good to know that these Merrell Moab Speed GTX X SB Trainers are made with plenty of recycled materials. The laces and the mesh lining, for example, are 100% recycled as they're made from plastic bottles. The footplate uses 50% recycled material and the rubber step is made from at least 30% recycled materials. 

And while many of the other best walking shoes will struggle when it comes to style points, the bright green and cool cream color options of these make them a winner. So whether you're walking on a city break or taking on trails, these will be the best accompaniment in our books. 

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Scarpa shoe from side

(Image credit: Scarpa )
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Scarpa shoe from side

(Image credit: Scarpa )

2. Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX Shoes

Most comfortable women's walking shoe

Specifications

Size range: US5-9.5/UK 4.5-8
Weight: 760g per pair
Material : Suede upper and Gore-Tex membrane
Sole: Vibram Salix
Waterproof : Yes
RRP: $155/£165

Reasons to buy

+
Unique lacing system 
+
Great for across terrain and activities 
+
Comfortable and secure 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than some of the other options we tested 

Scarpa's Mojito Trail GTX Shoes offer a perfect fit with the signature Mojito lacing systems that see laces extend right to the toe for a totally tailored fit. These outdoor shoes are great for wearing all year round, no matter the activity. The GORE-TEX membrane provides waterproof protection from the elements, while the Vibram rubber sole will keep you stable as you walk. 

These aren't the most stylish women's walking shoes out there, but our tester loved how comfortable and secure they felt as we walked, thanks to the traction and rubber toe caps. They are a little heavier than some of the other options we tested, but for a pair of walking shoes you can use on countryside walks and urban adventures, you can't go wrong. 

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Ariat shoes from side

(Image credit: Ariat )
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Ariat shoes from side

(Image credit: Ariat )

3. Ariat Skyline Low H20 Walking Shoe

Most durable women's walking shoes

Specifications

Size range: US 5.5-11/ UK 3-8.5
Weight: N/A
Material : Leather with mesh lining
Sole: Dual-density Duratread sole
Waterproof: Yes
RRP: $122.95/£110

Reasons to buy

+
Extra protection at toe and heel 
+
Made from durable leather 
+
Easy to move around in

Reasons to avoid

-
Leather takes time to wear in 

Ariat is known for its excellent countryside attire and the Skyline Low H20 Walking Shoes don't disappoint. The sporty shoe is made from durable leather that will see you through many hikes to come. What's more, it's totally waterproof so you need not worry about feet getting wet in muddy conditions. 

The shoe's dual-density Duratread sole offers multi-directional traction to keep you stable as you move. Our tester loved the extra protection at the toe and heel of the shoe when walking rough, rocky routes. They found the shoes lightweight and easy to move around in—although, they do advise wearing them around the house to break in the leather before you head outside. 

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Danner shoe from front

(Image credit: Danner)
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Danner shoe from front

(Image credit: Danner)

4. Danner Jag Low Walking Shoe

Best women's walking shoes for beginners

Specifications

Size range: US 5.5-10/UK 3.5-8
Weight: 623.7g per pair
Material: Suede and Mesh
Sole: Danner Waffle
Waterproof : No
RRP: $140/£120

Reasons to buy

+
Super lightweight 
+
Best suited to flat terrain 
+
Comfortable Ortholite Footbed 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof

Danner's Jag Low Walking Shoe is a great introduction to walking attire for newbies. And, if you discover trails just aren't for you, you can still wear these sneakers day-to-day for park walks and urban explorations. Danner first launched the Jag in the 1980s as a heavy-duty hiking boot. Thirty years later we see a lightweight alternative to the much-loved boot, perfect for everyday wear. The new waffle outsole provides enough traction for flat walks and light trails but isn't suitable for steep or rocky terrain. 

Our tester found the Jag Low Walking Shoes comfortable to wear (thanks to the Ortholite Footbed and EVA Midsole that provides ample cushioning) and easy to move around in. The mesh lining is lightweight and breathable, but it's worth noting these walking shoes are not waterproof.

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Hanwag walking shoe side

(Image credit: Hanwag)
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Hanwag walking shoe side

(Image credit: Hanwag)

5. Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec GTX

Best women’s walking shoes for all activities

Specifications

Size range: US 6-11.5/UK 3.5-9
Weight: 710g per pair
Material: Fabric
Sole: Hanwag TubeTec
Waterproof: Yes
RRP: $240/£165

Reasons to buy

+
Sporty style 
+
Great for a range of activities 

Reasons to avoid

-
Large sizing

Hanwag prioritizes a good fit when it comes to its walking shoes and boots and the Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec GTX shoes 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.

Made by Bavarian bootmakers, 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. These shoes are so versatile, they would also work well at normal altitudes for long walks in the countryside or strolls through the city. Our tester found the shoes came up slightly big, so it's best to size down with this pick. 

See our full Hanwag Belorado II Tubetec Lady GTX review

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Adidas shoes from front

(Image credit: Adidas)
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Adidas shoes from front

(Image credit: Adidas)

6. Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes

Best women's walking shoes for winter

Specifications

Size range: US 5-11/UK 3.5-9
Weight: N/A
Material: GORE-TEX lining
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
RRP: $/150£130

Reasons to buy

+
Well-cushioned 
+
Lightweight 
+
Excellent grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for summer months 

Let us introduce you to the trail running shoe—hiking boot hybrid from Adidas. Created to be well-cushioned, lightweight, and easy to move in like a trail running shoe, but with the stability of a hiking boot. Enter—the Terrex Swift R3 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes.

Thanks to the EVA midsole and molded sock liner, the Adidas shoes are ultra-comfortable. They have great traction with a Continental Rubber outsole that provides stability across rocky and muddy terrain, and a deep heel cup keeps feet securely in place. While these shoes can be used in both wet and dry conditions, (because of the excellent grip) we think they are great winter walking shoes. 

Adidas offers a waterproof and non-waterproof version of these shoes. Why? Because waterproof membranes can sometimes reduce the breathability of shoes. Before investing it's worth keeping in mind, the waterproof shoe will keep feet warm and dry in winter, but might not be suitable for the summer months. 

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The North Face boots

(Image credit: The North Face)
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The North Face boots

(Image credit: The North Face)

7.The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Boots

Best women's walking boots

Specifications

Size range: US 5-11/UK 3-9
Weight: 714g for pair
Material: Fabric
Sole: VECTIV technology
Waterproof : Yes
RRP: $169/£155

Reasons to buy

+
Super lightweight 
+
Comfortable 
+
Provide lots of support around the ankle
+
Great traction 

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to clean lighter colors 

Not sure if a walking shoe is for you? You might be interested in our top pick of the best hiking boots for women. When it comes to lightweight walking boots, look no further than the North Face VECTIV Exploris Futurelight Boots. 

Not only are these walking boots comfortable and easy to move around in, but the lightweight Futurelight material provides excellent breathability and waterproof protection to keep you cool and dry in all weather conditions. As our tester hiked steep terrain they felt safe and supported throughout—thanks to the 4mm lugs, VECTIV midsole and toe caps that provide ultimate protection on tough rocky terrain. Our tester also rated the shock absorption technology, and it felt these boots reduced the impact on their joints during steep climbs.

Available in a standard shoe or mid-top boot for more support around the ankle, this model comes in four colors and is pretty stylish if you ask us. Our tester loved the look, but they found the light color did get dirty quickly. A point worth noting if you're debating what color to buy and are planning to hit muddy trails. 

For even more support, pick up a pair of the best walking socks, which will help keep your feet free of blisters if you're walking over long distances.

Walking shoes vs hiking boots⁠—what's the difference?

The benefit of walking shoes vs hiking boots is that walking shoes are usually much more lightweight, breathable and flexible than your average walking boot. This helps to keep you moving easily on long days while hiking steep terrain, particularly in warm weather. 

With a low-cut ankle, walking shoes are best for long-distance hikes, providing a better range of movement to navigate tricky terrain. Many of the options on the market right now offer great traction, with grippy soles that keep you stable and secure as you move. What’s more, walking shoes are often more affordable than hiking boots and can be used in all conditions, across a range of terrain from rough and rocky mountains to open and flat grasslands. If you’re planning to wear your shoes in rainy conditions, lookout for waterproof options with GORE-TEX lining.

Leather vs fabric walking shoes

Leather shoes

Reasons to buy

+
They provide great weather resistance, especially with a GORE-TEX lining
+
Leather will last longer if looked after correctly
+
They generally have less stitching so have fewer areas of weakness for wear and tear, meaning they're likely to last longer
+
They're more supportive
+
Better suited for mountain or winter climbing

Reasons to avoid

-
They need to be well looked after in terms of keeping them clean and getting them reproofed
-
Leather styles tend to be a bit heavier
-
They take longer to wear in

Fabric shoes

Reasons to buy

+
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 and available in a range of colors and styles
+
Generally cheaper than leather shoes and boots

Reasons to avoid

-
May not last as long as leather boots
-
Not as protective
-
Not as naturally supportive as leather

How do I clean my walking shoes?

"It’s important to care for your footwear to both maximize the performance of the boots and make them last as long as possible," says Chris Nichols, from Cotswold Outdoors and Snow & Rock.

1. Always clean them after each use. "You can clean them with a damp cloth or water if they are 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."

Ciara was the former digital health editor at womanandhome.com, covering all things health & wellbeing from fitness to sleep to relationships. She's always on the lookout for new health trends, innovative fitness gadgets and must-read wellness books. 


Originally from Ireland, Ciara moved to London to study journalism. After graduation, Ciara started her career at Goodhousekeeping.com. Ciara qualified as a meditation teacher with the British School of Meditation in 2020, and outside of her day-to-day now runs her own meditation school called Finding Quiet. She is all about bettering that mind-body connection but believes wellness looks different to everyone.

With contributions from