Whether you're an avid week-long backpacker or a casual day hiker, your choice of hiking shoes can be the make or break between an epic trip or a blister-filled nightmare. A good pair of hiking shoes should offer support, protect your feet against the elements, and if treated correctly — last you for years to come.
For those eager to tie-up up their laces this summer, it's worth getting your wallet out for a quality pair of hiking boots, shoes or sandals. For expert shopping tips and 16 pairs of hiking shoes worth your dollar, scroll below.
What should you look for in a hiking boot?
According to Trevor McConnell, a former hiking and rock climbing specialist at Decathlon, before deciding on a pair of boots, you need to ask yourself where you'll be hiking and how strenuous it will be.
"If you only want to go on single-day hikes on gently winding forest trails, your needs will be very different than someone who wants to do a week-long backpacking trip in Algonquin Park or someone hiking in the Rockies."
McConnell says there are four main things to consider when purchasing hiking shoes:
1. Do you want a shoe or a boot?
"Shoes are lighter, but boots offer much-needed ankle support," McConnell says.
2. Do you need waterproof shoes?
Waterproof shoes will help keep your feet dry by keeping water out, but their design also holds in moisture and won't allow your feet to breathe as easily as non-waterproof shoes.
"If you only plan on hiking in the dead of summer, consider non-waterproof shoes to avoid sweaty feet," he says.
3. How robust do your shoes need to be?
"If you're only doing day trips, a broken shoelace or small hole in your shoe is not the end of the world." However, if you're planning on completing that week-long trip in Algonquin, "a small problem can become a big issue, so you need to be able to rely on your shoes. Robust hiking boots will be heavier but won't fail you."
4. How much traction (pull) and grip (stick) do you need?
If you're hiking on flat ground, you don't need much traction to keep you on the trail "as gravity is doing that for you," he says. It's when you gain altitude and "falling off the trail could result in serious injury" that your grip really begins to matter. Investing in a pair of boots with good traction will "help pull you up the mountain."
As for materials, McConnell says hikers only have a couple of options: synthetic or organic.
"Synthetic shoes breathe better than leather, but they're not as waterproof. Leather is waterproof and very durable but not as breathable."
To shop the best hiking shoes, boots and sandals for women in 2023, scroll below.
Editor's Pick: Best hiking shoes for women
The perfect road-to-trail running shoe, lululemon's Blissfeel Trail shoes feature moulded heel support for a hugged, comfortable fit and a firm rubber sole for rugged traction. Reviewers call the shoes "super grippy" and say they're "much lighter" than traditional hiking footwear.
These waterproof hikers offer responsive, supportive cushioning and super-grippy rubber outsoles, perfect for treks over rocks, grass, gravel and roots. "These are the most comfy and durable hiking shoes I own," writes one shopper.
These reviewer-lover hiking boots provide tough durability and comfort on hills and mid-mountain hikes in damp, muddy, or dry conditions. The boots have earned dozens of five-star reviews, with shoppers noting how "sturdy" and "well made" they are. "Keen always delivers!" writes one user. "The cushioning around the ankles is robust and supportive."
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $100
Affordable and functional, these waterproof hiking boots have earned an average rating of 4.4 stars from Amazon shoppers. The shoes are designed with a slip-resistant rubber sole and a durable suede exterior. They're the "best shoes ever," according to one reviewer. By far, the most "comfortable hiking shoes I've ever had."
These ultra-affordable women's hiking sandals come backed by an average 4.3-star rating. The summer-friendly shoes have a moulded EVA midsole for added comfort and support and a rubber outsole for improved grip and durability. This is my "second pair," writes one Canadian Tire shopper. You can "wear them anywhere!"
These low-cut hiking shoes from WindRiver are designed with mesh panels, allowing your feet to breathe and stay dry. Mark's shoppers call them "light and solid" and say they're "very comfortable" for trail hikes, neighbourhood walks and more.
These budget-friendly waterproof hiking shoes are "comfortable and stylish," writes one Mountain Warehouse reviewer. Adding, they're "sturdy and comfortable." The sturdy soles offer a deep tread for extra grip and stability.
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $200
Merrell's thick midsole provides support on uneven terrain and its lugged outsole helps keep you upright. They're "so comfortable and perfect for hiking," lauds one MEC reviewer.
Backed by an average rating of 4.8 stars, reviewers call these boots "extremely comfortable" and a "must-buy." The shoes feature a durable midsole for long-lasting comfort, superior cushioning and an adaptive outsole for slip-free steps.
Dozens of Merrell reviewers promise these hiking shoes are worth their weight in gold, with some dubbing them their "new favourite" hiking boots. They're "waterproof and incredibly comfortable," according to one shopper. "I even bought a second pair!
Shoppers say these "comfortable, supportive and waterproof" shoes have "met all [their] expectations." Wearing the shoes are "like having your feet enveloped in a warm hug inside a great stable shoe," writes one shopper.
With an average rating of 4.6 stars, Mark's shoppers call these the "best hiking shoes ever" and promise they are "well worth the money." The lightweight, low-cut performance shoes are waterproof and well-cushioned.
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $500
These award-winning hiking boots provide exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. Reviewers say the boots offer "major ankle support" and "good grip," even on steep and slippery trails.
These responsive trail shoes promote a natural gait for hiking in wet conditions and allow sweat to escape without letting rain in. MEC shoppers say the Altra Lone Peak's are "wonderful" hiking shoes and will continue to buy the weatherproof style "again and agai
The Acrux TR upper is infused with tiny guard plates, a material commonly used in bomb-disposal suits, durability and abrasion resistance. "These are literally the best high-ankle hiking boots," lauds one reviewer.
These lightproof (and stylish) hiking boots weigh in at just 405 grams. They feature a 20 per cent recycled waterproof membrane and a newly improved rubber sole, providing premium traction in dry and wet conditions.