The best women’s walking shoes and boots—whether you need lightweight, breathable or waterproof styles

These best women’s walking shoes and hiking boots to help you to go the distance

three of the best womens walking shoes on peach background
(Image credit: Future)

Whether you're a walking enthusiast or new to the activity, investing in the best women's walking shoes or boots is essential to protect your feet and ankles.

When it comes to a new hobby, it's easy to start splashing out on new gadgets straight away, whether that's buying one of the best fitness trackers or upgrading your camera to capture special moments on your walks. But, it's important to always invest in the basics first. And, a good pair of supportive and comfortable walking shoes or boots are a must-have to see you safely on your hikes.

However, finding the best women's walking shoes is no easy task. With a market full of options, we know it can be pretty overwhelming when it comes to walking shoe shopping! 

To help you with your search, we've tested a range of walking shoes and boots, from popular brands like The North Face and Salomon to bring you a round-up of the best. 

While we highly rated all the walking shoes and boots featured in this round-up, the North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Boots were a clear standout. We loved them for their comfort, support and versatility. But, if they're a little out of your budget don't worry, as we have lots of other cheap walking boot options in our top picks.  

Armed with the best walking shoes or boots, and the best walking poles, there's no stopping you! 

How we tested and selected the best women's walking shoes and boots 

Over several months our testers headed outside and hit the trails to try out all the shoes and boots that made it into our best women's walking shoes guide. 

Walking on a mixture of terrains, including grass, tarmac, and earthy, rocky trails, and doing a range of activities, from walking the dog to Nordic walking, we put each shoe through its paces. 

We assessed each shoe or boot on:

  • Support
  • Comfort
  • Traction 
  • Fit 
  • Style 
  • Material
  • Versatility 

Walking shoes vs Walking boots—what you need to consider 

Before investing in the best women's walking shoes or boots, you need to consider whether a shoe or boot style will suit you best. 

Walking shoes cut below the ankle and are best for long-distance walks over reasonable stable terrain or walking workouts. They tend to be more lightweight and flexible compared to walking boots and are often more affordable, too. 

Walking boots on the other hand are heavier but provide lots of stability and with high ankle cuffs offer extra protection.  They are best suited for those venturing across uneven terrain or battling the elements. 

The best waterproof hiking boots will keep you dry in stormy weather conditions, but for day-to-day walks, a pair of weather-resistant walking shoes should do the trick. 

Whether you choose walking shoes or walking boots, you should feel supported and comfortable on your hikes.

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

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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)

1. The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight Boots

Best women's walking boots overall

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 

When it comes to lightweight women's 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—a must-have feature if you enjoy long treks. 

The VECTIV Exploris Futurelight Boots are comfy too, with OrthoLite footbeds that feature built-in moisture management to keep feet dry as you get a sweat on. 

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. You can stay safe as you hike and make a style statement, too! 

We tested the white mid-top boots, and although our tester loved the look, 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. 

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Salomon walking shoes side

(Image credit: Salomon)
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Salomon walking shoes side

(Image credit: Salomon)

2. Salomon Outline Mid GTX Boots

Best women's waterproof walking boots

Specifications
Size range: US 5-12 / UK 3.5-10.5
Weight: 760g per pair
Material: Fabric
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
RRP: $150 / £120
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Easy to put on +Great fit and true to size+Snug lacing system 
Reasons to avoid
-Lacking a little cushioning

Available in three colorways, the stylish Salomon Outline Mid GTX Boots are some of the best waterproof hiking boots on the market. The laces work hard to draw the boot 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. at just 760g per pair. 

The boots 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 more expensive than others, but we think they’re a sound investment. However, it's worth noting they lack a little on the cushioning front compared to other walking shoes and boots. You'll definitely want to wear a pair of the best walking socks with these boots for added cushioning and comfort. 

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AKU walking shoes side

(Image credit: AKU)
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AKU walking shoes side

(Image credit: AKU)

3. Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws

Best luxury women’s walking boots

Specifications
Size range: US 5-11 / UK 3-9
Weight: 1.05kg per pair
Material : Fabric
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
RRP: $250 / £200
Reasons to buy
+Secure grip +Good sizing +Stylish+Ideal for snowy conditions 
Reasons to avoid
-Quite heavy 

Want to go out in all weather? 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, these definitely have the WOW factor—but it’s not just about looks with this pick. 

They can be fully submerged in water and feet will stay dry and safe, and they are 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.

The grip is good when wet, thanks to the well-spaced, multi-directional deep lugs, making these ideal boots for walking in snowy conditions. They are heavier than some of the other options, but even with all the extra padding these walking boots are true to size, so you won’t have to bulk them out with ultra-thick socks. 

They are definitely a premium option, with a more expensive price tag than others, but you definitely get what you pay for with this pair. We love! 

See our full Aku Trekker Pro GTX Ws review

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Gelert Ottawa Mid Ladies Walking Boots

(Image credit: Gelert)
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Gelert Ottawa Mid Ladies Walking Boots

(Image credit: Gelert)

4. Gelert Ottawa Mid Ladies Walking Boots

Best cheap walking boots

Specifications
Size range: US 5.5-10.5 / UK 3-8
Weight: 850g per pair
Material: Fabric
Sole: Synthetic
Waterproof : No
RRP: $83 / £56
Reasons to buy
+Good lacing+Great for all terrains +Supportive +Affordable 
Reasons to avoid
-High at the front -Tricky to put on

Gelert is a great brand to look out for when you're on a budget, and we were particularly impressed with its Ottawa Mid Ladies Walking Boots. Available in two colorways, we really rate the charcoal and purple pick, which at first glance, definitely looks just as pricey as some of the more expensive options on the market. 

Not only are these walking boots cheap, but they're also lightweight and supportive with a great fit. The boots feature seven eyelets to help control the fit and make it easy to tighten and loosen laces as you wish. The cushioned insole adds extra comfort and ensures these boots stay snug as you move. 

They're a great pick for those who prefer a shoe-book combo, as the low-rise boot comes up higher at the front and lower at the back. However, because of this, our tester did find them tricky to put on and take off. But, it was a minor inconvenience for an affordable and supportive pair of boots. 

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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 high impact

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
+Good lacing system+Very comfortable+Sport style +Great for a range of activities 
Reasons to avoid
-On the heavy side for a shoe-Large sizing 

Low-rise with a sporty style, these get a spot in our best women's walking shoes round-up for being ultra-comfortable and fitting perfectly. 

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 or are doing some serious walking for weight loss

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 dog walking, mucking out horses and long walks in the countryside. 

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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Ariat walking shoes side

(Image credit: Ariat)
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Ariat walking shoes side

(Image credit: Ariat)

6. Ariat Skyline Mid GTX

Best women’s walking boots for winter

Specifications
Size range: US 5.5-11 / UK 3-8.5
Weight: 1.78kg per pair
Fabric: Material
Sole: Rubber
Waterproof: Yes
RRP : $160 / £170
Reasons to buy
+Fashion-forward+Great heel support+Ideal for winter 
Reasons to avoid
-Not breathable-Heavy 

Planning a holiday in the Norwegian fjords or working outside in chilly conditions? The super-stylish Ariat Skyline Mid GTX boots are a modern twist on the classic walking boot and definitely the best women's walking shoes for winter. With multi-directional deep lugs, they grip well on slippery surfaces, while offering great stability, arch support and comfort.

Both the tongue and ankle area are 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 as you move. 

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 on our winter walks. But, they might not be best suited to long treks as they are heavier than the other options in our round-up.

See our full Ariat Women’s Skyline Mid GTX review

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 clean and being 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."