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While our climate could be kinder and our dollar stronger, there is one thing about Canada that's not up for debate: Its natural beauty.
As Canadians, we are privileged to live in one of the world's most scenic countries. Whether surf or ski, prairies or mountains, there is something for everyone up here in the Great White North. In fact, Canada is home to more than 21,000 trails, making it a global hot spot for hiking.
For those eager to tie-up up their laces this summer and experience the call of the wild, all you need to get started is a good pair of hiking shoes.
What should you look for in a hiking boot?
According to Trevor McConnell, a 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 2022, including McConnell's top picks, scroll below.
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $100
"For those who are simply looking to get out of the house and find some easy trails to escape the city, I recommend the NH (nature hiking) 100," says McConnell. "Simple, light and affordable."
These affordable hiking shoes from Columbia have earned an average rating of 4.6 stars from DSW shoppers. The lightweight hikers feature a comfortable EVA midsole and rubber outsole with multidirectional lugs for excellent traction. "They last far longer than typical runners," according to one reviewer. They have a "fantastic grip and are super water-resistant (yay, no wet feet!)."
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 4.6-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 affordable Merrell hiking shoes come with an average rating of 4.5 stars from The Shoe Company shoppers. Featuring a protective cap, bungee lacing and a contoured insole, reviewers say the hiking shoes "feel like slippers" and require "no breaking in" time.
Who says you need to pay an arm and a leg for a decent pair of hiking boots? These waterproof hiking shoes have a padded collar, air-cooled memory foam footbed and cleated outsole for reliable traction.
Backed by more than 7,000 ratings, these leather hiking boots have earned an average rating of 4.6 stars from Amazon shoppers. The shoes feature a durable midsole for long-lasting comfort, superior cushioning and a traction rubber sole for slip-free steps.
"For several day backpacking trips or those looking for a more durable boot. I recommend the Trek100," McConnell says. "Waterproof, robust, won't fail."
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $200
"At Decathlon, I recommend the MH (Mountain Hiking) 500 as it's the best all around boot," says McConnell. "Waterproof, ankle support, light."
Designed for all-terrain adventures, these cult-favourite hiking boots feature KEEN's famous waterproof and breathable membranes for sweat-evaporating comfort. They're "boots you can wear for all-day comfort," raves one Altitude Sports shopper. "Great looking, excellent quality! This is my fifth pair of Keen hikers; [they're] just too good to bother with anything else."
With the grip of a hiking shoe and the look of a sneaker, these unisex Salomon hiking shoes are a great alternative to traditional boots. The shoes are available in four stylish colour combinations, including black and purple.
These user-lover TRIBUTE II LTR 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 "comfortable" and "well made" they are. According to one reviewer, the AKU boots "didn't need to be broken in at all." They were "very comfortable and soft," and after a 20km hike in wet conditions, the boots "didn't leak."
With dozens of five-star reviews singing their praises, shoppers say these Salomon hiking shoes are "extremely comfortable and lightweight with great traction." From snow to sand, it's a "good hiking shoe for [every type of] weather," according to one reviewer.
Best hiking boots and shoes for women under $500
With hundreds of five-star reviews singing their praises, Altitude Sports shoppers say these Lowa hiking boots are the "best hiking boots ever." They're "super comfortable" and waterproof, according to one reviewer. "I've taken them on a couple of long hikes across different terrains in the Rockies, and they held up really well. I also used them [...] in the winter and they are very warm."
Earning a perfect five-star rating from Sport Chek shoppers, these Salomon women's hiking shoes are uniquely designed to adapt your stride to the terrain. They're available in two colour combinations and can handle a wide variety of surfaces, including wet, dry and loose conditions.
These top-rated Salomon boots are waterproof, breathable and feature a removable insole. With a near-perfect rating of 4.8 stars, Sport Chek shoppers say the shoes are "absolutely amazing." I wore them on a "13-day hike through the Tobeatic in Nova Scotia in early March," writes one reviewer. "The boots were extremely comfortable and required little time to break them in. My feet were never sore through the whole hike!"
With nearly 200 five-star reviews singing their praises, Sport Chek shoppers say these Adidas hiking shoes are "versatile," "stylish," and the "most comfortable shoes I have ever worn." The lightweight shoes offer flexible, all-terrain stability and feature a GORE-TEX membrane to repel water while simultaneously letting your feet breathe.
Hike easier and for longer in these top-rated Keen boots. Traditional all-leather construction is combined with breathable technology to keep feet dry and comfortable, no matter where your adventure takes you. Sport Chek shoppers say the boots are "sturdy and comfortable" and are made from "tough" leather that will last for "years to come."