The Best Hiking Shoes for Women and Men in 2020

I get asked multiple times a day about what the best hiking shoes are, for both women and men. Having comfortable and appropriate hiking shoes literally changes whether or not you enjoy a hiking adventure, so I totally get why it’s such a popular question!

I’ve been an avid hiker for 5+ years now and would have hiked over 1000 miles (plus taken countless backpacking trips). During these adventures I have learned a thing or two about choosing the correct hiking shoes and preventing blisters, and now I’m passing that knowledge onto you!

This blog post is in partnership with Backcountry.com, my go-to online retailer when gearing up for hiking adventures. They offer free 2-day shipping on orders over $50, easy returns, 24/7 advice from their amazing Gearheads, and they support incredible causes like The Nature Conservancy. Backcountry have kindly offered my readers 15% off first-time online orders using code RENEE15! (some exclusions apply)

Best hiking shoes for women and men in 2020

Based on my own experience, reviews from other hikers, and expert opinions, I have put together this guide on how to choose a pair of hiking shoes. Recommending the best hiking shoes for women is obviously a little easier for me, but I have also drawn on my husband’s knowledge to share the top hiking shoes for men. Matthew has hiked even more trails than me and has subsequently put various shoes to the test over the years.

Types of hiking shoes

First things first, you will need to decide what type of hiking shoes best suit your needs. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Will you be doing day hikes, backpacking trips, or both?
  • What kind of terrain do you typically hike on?
  • What kind of weather do you plan to hike in?
  • How far will you be hiking?
  • Do you prefer more ankle and knee support?
  • Do your feet get super hot when hiking?
  • Are you prone to rolling your ankles?

Your answers will help decide on what type of hiking shoe you go with. The three overarching types are:

  • Hiking boots
  • Trail runners
  • Hiking sandals / water shoes

Within those categories there are more choices, like waterproof vs not waterproof, low profile boots versus high profile/more support, etc. I will help you choose what you need in the next section.


The Best Hiking Shoes for Women - Renee Roaming Hiking Boots

How to choose the best hiking shoes

Hiking shoes are definitely a personal preference. I have friends who only ever hike in lightweight trail runners and others that swear by sturdier boots. I typically tailor my hiking shoes to the type of climate/terrain and therefore own numerous different pairs, but I realize that isn’t an option for every hiker. Let’s talk about different scenarios and help you choose what best suits your needs:

Hiking shoes for hot climates

Most hikes in hotter climates will be best suited to trail runners or lightweight hiking boots. You are probably best to avoid waterproof hiking shoes as they will make your feet even hotter and will not really serve any purpose.

Hiking shoes for wet and cold climates

In contrast to above, you will definitely want a waterproof pair of hiking boots in wet climates. I would also recommend a higher profile boot so that less water can get into your shoes. In super cold or snowy conditions you may also want to consider a pair of boots that have some form of insulation.

Hiking shoes for backpacking

In general, you will want a sturdier pair of hiking boots for backpacking. Having extra pack weight will put more pressure on your feet and having increased support/stability really helps in these scenarios. Higher profile hiking boots also help with ankle and knee support when backpacking, particularly on rocky or uneven terrain.

Hiking shoes for water activities

There are certain hikes that involve a lot of water, walking up streams, pack rafting etc. If your feet are 100% going to get wet then I would recommend a lightweight and quick-drying pair of trail runners or hiking sandals (definitely not heavy or waterproof boots).

Hiking shoes for any situation

If you are an occasional hiker and would like a pair of hiking shoes for almost any type of terrain and weather, then I would suggest a lightweight waterproof hiking boot. This might mean that your feet are warm in hotter climates but I think that’s a better outcome than having freezing wet feet in rugged and rainy conditions.

I will feature examples of all these types of shoes in the next section!


Best hiking shoes for women

Ok ladies, these are the best hiking shoes for women in 2020! Below you will find my top recommendations, along with descriptions, pros vs cons, height, weight, and retail price.

Women’s high-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all mid-high profile, meaning they come up your ankles and provide extra support. These types of hiking boots are generally better for when you have a heavy backpack (e.g. backpacking), you’re hiking in cold/wet climates or on rockier trails, and if you prefer more support for your ankles and knees.

If purchasing, don’t forget you can use code RENEE15 for 15% off first-time Backcountry.com orders! (some exclusions apply)

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Columbia Newton Ridge Amped Waterproof Hiking Boots Renee Roaming
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boots are an affordable, stylish, and comfortable boot. I have covered close to 100 miles in them so far this summer during mountainous day hikes and backpacking trips in Washington.

They are surprisingly lightweight for a pair of sturdy high-profile waterproof hiking boots. I will say that they can get a little hot on 80F/27C+ degree days, but I appreciate the waterproofing for stream crossings and rainy conditions.

I have also been impressed with the tread and durability and they are not showing any wear-and-tear despite the rocky and bushy terrain I have been wearing them on. They also come in a non-waterproof version.

These shoes top my list for the best value hiking boots.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.71 lbs / 770 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $89.99

KEEN Terradora II Mid WP Hiking Boot

I have owned a variation of the KEEN Terradora II Mid WP Hiking Boots for 3+ years now and find them to be a great all-rounder boot. They provide ankle support but aren’t too high (you can still wear ankle socks), are lightweight, breathable, and have decent tread.

These boots are also surprisingly waterproof for how lightweight and breathable they are. You can safely step in puddles and hike in rainy conditions without your feet getting wet.

The only downside I would say about these boots is that I prefer the now discontinued leather version, as I found them to be more durable. These boots are made from “performance mesh”, which is great for most hiking conditions. I did, however, find that the material is a little less durable compared to leather alternatives when it comes to super rugged hikes such as those in the Alaskan backcountry.

These boots top my list for the best all-rounders.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 720 g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $149.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots are popular and for good reason. These Gore-Tex lined boots are durable, breathable, and have great stability. They were my first pair of hiking boots and lasted for years, in various conditions and types of terrain.

I also love that the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots have sculpted linings and contoured heel cups, designed to ensure your foot stays in place even during downhill stretches. These are a particularly good options for those who live in very wet climates and need reliable weather protection and grip.

These boots top my list for weather proofing and durability.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 830 g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $164.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Danner Adrika Hikers - Renee Roaming
Danner Adrika Hiker Boot

I have owned the Danner Adrika Hiker Boot’s for about a year now and have worn them on various local and overseas hiking trails. These boots are very similar to the boots listed above in that they are waterproof, fairly lightweight, and have decent tread.

What makes them slightly different to the boots listed above is that the Adrika’s have the highest profile of all the boots and I own. This in turn makes them a great option for those wanting more ankle and knee support. They definitely hug your ankles and make you feel very stable on rocky trails.

Danner advertises these boots as more of a city – trail hybrid and potentially not suitable for rugged trails. This might be true but I can vouch for these boots across many rocky and muddy trails, including throughout Iceland, the Italian Dolomites, and the US Pacific Northwest. They aren’t showing any signs of wear just yet, and I have really put them to the test!

These boots top my list for ankle and knee support.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 850 g (pair)
  • Height: high ankle
  • Retail price: $169.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Danner Boots Mountain Light Hiking Boots Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain Light Boot

I get so many questions about my Danner Mountain Light Boots! I will begin by saying that I only recommend them for certain uses. The Danner Mountain Lights are my go-to hiking boots for short hikes in colder weather, as well as for trips to rugged places like Iceland, Scotland, etc.

Keep in mind that these hiking boots are heavy and although I find them to be very comfortable, I do not recommend them for hikes 5+ miles. Instead, I love traveling with these boots when I only want to pack one pair of shoes that I can wear both hiking AND during non-hiking adventures (road tripping, outdoor festivals, sight seeing, etc.) Tip – switch out the laces to brown if you want them to look slightly less outdoorsy.

These boots top my list for the most fashionable and “town-friendly”.

  • Waterproof: not completely
  • Weight: 3 lbs / 1.3 kg (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $359.95

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - KEEN Revel III Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
KEEN Revel III Hiking Boot

The KEEN Revel III Boot are my go-to hiking boots for winter conditions. They are not only waterproof to keep rain and snow out but also insulated to ensure your toes stay warm! These boots have a decent tread on them and are also suitable for pairing with micro-spikes or snowshoes.

These boots top my list for the most winter friendly.

  • Waterproof: yes (and insulated)
  • Weight: 2 lbs / 935 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $159.5

Women’s low-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all low profile, meaning they sit below your ankles and provide less support compared to higher profiles. These types of hiking boots are similar to trail runners but typically provide more durability, stability, and (often) weatherproofing.

Low-profile ankle boots are often a good choice for day hikes, flat/smooth trails, and if you prefer less bulk around your ankles (and you don’t need the extra ankle/knee support).

Best Low Profile Hiking Shoes for Women 2020 - KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe - Renee Roaming
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe feature everything you find in a traditional hiking boot but with a lower ankle profile. These boots are waterproof yet breathable, provide decent stability, and are significantly more durable than their trail running counterparts. The Targhee III’s are a great option for those wanting a more durable and weatherproof hiking boot but dislike higher ankle profiles. They also come in a mid version.

These shoes top my list for durability in a lower-profile boot.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 714 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $139.95

Best Low Profile Hiking Shoes for Women 2020 - Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe - Renee Roaming
Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe

The Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe are a mix between a trail runner and a hiking boot. They are lower profile than a traditional hiking boot and offer a running-ready sole, yet they have similar waterproofing (Gore-Tex) and a more durable tread. The Salomon Outline’s also come in a non GTX version.

These shoes top my list for a hiking boot X trail runner hybrid.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 595 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $129.95

Women’s trail runners

Many hikers enjoy wearing trail runners instead of a traditional style hiking boot. Trail runners are generally much more lightweight and quick drying compared to hiking boots, though they provide less support and are often less durable.

Trail runners are often a good choice for thru-hikers, hot weather hikes, people who want something very lightweight, and for those who enjoy a mix of hiking and trail running.

Best Hiking Trail Runners for Women 2020 - La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe - Renee Roaming
La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe

The La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe are my go-to for hot weather hiking and when I want something versatile for traveling. For such a lightweight shoe they have an impressive tread and have saved my butt on slippery trails in places like Hawaii. I will say that the Bushido’s are more of a narrow fit, so maybe not the best choice if you have a wider foot.

These shoes top my list for lightweight trail runners.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs / 498 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $130

Best Hiking Trail Runners for Women 2020 - Salomon Speedcross - Renee Roaming
Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe

The Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe are very popular in the trail running and lightweight hiking world. These shoes are said to perform well on soft and loose trails, and their Quicklace system is liked by many. The Speedcross 5’s are not waterproof and are known to be breathable, though they do also come in a GTX (waterproof) version.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs / 560 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $129.95

Women’s hiking sandals and water shoes

I wanted to also include some hiking sandals and water shoes because I do find that they come in handy during certain situations. I personally opt for outdoor sandals when I am somewhere hot and I know my feet will get wet, though I wouldn’t typically hike long distances in them. In saying that, I have friends that hike 5+ miles in sandals, so each to their own!

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Women 2020 - KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal - Renee Roaming
KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal

The KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal are perfect for those who want a water shoe and hiking sandal in one. These sandals are comfy for short trails and will allow your feet to breathe in hot conditions. I would also recommend the Terradora’s for trips where you plan to walk a lot but don’t want the blisters that come with regular sandals.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1 lb / 465 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $89.95

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Women 2020 - Teva Verra Sandal - Renee Roaming
Teva Verra Sandal

The Teva Verra Sandal are my go-to for water activities and long walking days, but I haven’t tried them for proper hiking. They are supportive, grippy, and water-friendly and would be suitable for activities like pack rafting, fishing, tubing, and beach days.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs / 411 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $69.95

Best hiking shoes for men

For all my male readers (or those buying for their significant others), these are the best hiking shoes for men in 2020! Like above, you will find my top picks, along with descriptions, pros vs cons, height, weight, and retail price.

Men’s high-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all mid-high profile, meaning they come up your ankles and provide extra support. These types of hiking boots are generally better for when you have a heavy backpack (e.g. backpacking), you’re hiking in cold/wet climates or on rockier trails, and if you prefer more support for your ankles and knees.

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot are probably what most people think of when they picture hiking boots. They are quite large, very sturdy, and great for rugged backpacking trips when you’re carrying a decent amount of pack weight.

My husband finds these very comfortable and he reports that they breathe quite well despite featuring Gore-Tex (waterproofing). He would tend to lean towards these on longer backpacking trips, or hikes where we may be doing a lot of hiking on rugged terrain (such as in Alaska).

These boots top my list for weather proofing and durability.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs / 965g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $165

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Boot - Renee Roaming
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boot

The Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boot are what my husband has been using the most over the last two years for summer hiking adventures. He says they are lightweight, very breathable, and incredibly comfortable.

With that being said, his pair are experiencing some wear and tear (grip wearing down), but we do a lot more hiking than the average person, and he has taken them to places they probably weren’t really designed for (sharp talus fields etc). They also make a similar waterproof pair if you want that extra feature.

These shoes top my list for the most lightweight hiking boot.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs / 795g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $199.95

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Danner Mountain 600 Boot - Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain 600 Full-Grain Hiking Boot

The Danner Mountain 600 Full-Grain is a nice hybrid hiking boot. They are comfortable, relatively lightweight, and on top of that they actually look really nice. My husband owned a pair of these for about 3 years and wore them until they eventually became too beaten up and needed retiring.

His one gripe with these was that he found they got quite smelly compared to other boots. Not the biggest deal, but something to be aware of!

These shoes top my list for fashionable hiking boots that are still lightweight.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs / 1050g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $199.95

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Danner Mountain Light Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain Light Hiking Boot

The Danner Mountain Light’s are definitely a more specialized boot. They look fantastic, are comfortable for short-mid length hikes, but they are quite heavy and too hot for most summer hiking. My husband uses them in the shoulder seasons on shorter hikes (under 4-5 miles), especially when there is a chance of our feet getting wet.

These boots top my list for the most fashionable and “town-friendly”.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs / 1760 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $379.95

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot - Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot

The Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot are my husband’s go-to winter hiking boot. They are the perfect men’s hiking boot for cold and wet weather and he loves wearing them on snowy hikes.

The insulation keeps in warmth while the waterproof lining keeps out any snow and rain. These even worked in Finland where temperatures dropped down to -30, when paired with a set of toe warmers. I definitely recommend these if you live in a colder climate and need a pair of durable hiking boots that will last you a long time.

These boots top my list for the most winter friendly.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs / 1080 g (pair)
  • Height: high over ankle
  • Retail price: $179.95

Men’s low-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all low profile, meaning they sit below your ankles and provide less support compared to higher profiles. These types of hiking boots are similar to trail runners but typically provide more durability, stability, and (often) weatherproofing.

Low-profile ankle boots are often a good choice for day hikes, flat/smooth trails, and if you prefer less bulk around your ankles (and you don’t need the extra ankle/knee support).

Best Low Ankle Hiking Shoes for Men 2020 - Salomon GTX - Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoe

The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX’s are the low profile hiking shoe version of Ultra 3 GTX boot mentioned earlier in the blog post. These are great for day hikes when you expect the trail may be a little wet and there is the potential of shallow puddles. They are comfortable and the grip is excellent.

Keep in mind that the Ultra 3 GTX’s will be less breathable than those without Gore-Tex, so these will definitely be best saved for wet conditions and not hot, dry trails. If you want these boots without the Gore-Tex then they do come in a non-GTX version.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 740 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $149.95

Best Low Ankle Hiking Shoes for Men 2020 - Adidas Terrex - Renee Roaming
Adidas Outdoor Terrex AX3 Blue Hiking Shoe

The Adidas Outdoor Terrex AX3 Blue Hiking Shoe are for those who want something a little more stylish (but still functional) out on the trail. These look more like a traditional shoe than a hiking boot, while still being durable, relatively lightweight, and comfortable.

My husband has had far less time to test these than his other hiking shoes/boots, but so far he is enjoying them. He does worry they may experience early wearing out of the tread like the Adidas Free Hiker mentioned above, but overall they seem like a great hybrid shoe.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs / 695 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $99.95

Men’s trail runners

Many hikers enjoy wearing trail runners instead of a traditional style hiking boot. Trail runners are generally much more lightweight and quick drying compared to hiking boots, though they provide less support and are often less durable.

Trail runners are often a good choice for thru-hikers, hot weather hikes, people who want something very lightweight, and for those who enjoy a mix of hiking and trail running.

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe - Renee Roaming
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe

The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe are amazing for summer day hikes. Compared to hiking boots they are lighter, more breathable, and are generally more comfortable. If you have to cross a stream where your whole shoe will be submerged, these would be preferable over heavier hiking boots as they will dry much quicker. I highly recommend these for summer day hikes, but maybe opt for a more supportive hiking boot when backpacking with heavier loads.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $119.95

Men’s hiking sandals and water shoes

As I mentioned in the women’s section, hiking sandals and water shoes come in handy during certain situations. They are particularly useful for hot days when you know your feet will get wet, and some people even choose to hike considerable distances in them.

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Men 2020 - Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe - Renee Roaming
Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe

The Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe are an open toed shoe for water activities and short, flat walks during the warm summer months. They are also great for hikes that involve lots of water crossings, but you wouldn’t want to wear them for too many miles. These honestly don’t get a lot of use for us, but they are nice when the time calls for it.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $89.95

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Men 2020 - Chaco Banded Z Cloud Sandal - Renee Roaming
Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal

The Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal’s are definitely a specialty shoe, but they can come in handy for certain scenarios! An example of this are for hikes like The Narrows in Zion, where constant wading through rocky rivers is required. They are also nice for car camping where you want something very breathable for relaxing around camp in summer when it’s warm.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 816 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $110

How to prevent blisters when hiking

Blisters are the worst! I remember getting them fairly often as a beginner hiker but these days I very rarely have foot problems. Some of that comes with time and building up foot resilience (literally getting tougher skinned). Then some of it comes with being smart about prevention. Below are my top tips for blister prevention when hiking!

Choose the right hiking shoes

Choosing the right hiking shoes for your needs and the conditions is SO important! Back at the beginning of this blog post I talk about the types of hiking shoes and what kind of conditions they are best for.

Keep in mind that heavier hiking boots will be more likely to cause blisters in comparison to lightweight trail runners. So if you don’t need the extra durability, weatherproofing and support, opt for something more breathable and lighter.

Another vital factor is ensuring your hiking shoes are the right size for your feet, including the length AND width. One of the key things to notice is whether your toes are hitting the end of the shoes when you walk downhill – this is a no no! The image below shows some key things to consider when sizing hiking shoes, courtesy of the New York Times.

How to choose the right size hiking shoes
Credit: New York Times

Have realistic expectations

If you’ve never hiked before or you are wearing a brand new pair of hiking boots, be prepared for potential blisters. It may take your feet a little while to get used to long periods of walking. I know I have literally built up thicker skin in certain spots on my heels and toes from frequent hiking over the years.

It’s always a good idea to practice wearing your hiking shoes off-trail before you take them into the wilderness. Walk around your neighborhood in them or try out a urban walk where you can be close to your car if blisters start forming.


Products to prevent and treat blisters

There are various products you can use to prevent blisters or treat them in the early stages of forming. These are some of the most common:

  • HikeGoo – forms a frictionless layer between your skin and socks, protecting from abrasion and preventing blisters. Foot Glide is another popular choice.
  • Moleskin – reduces friction against your skin and stops blisters and hot spots forming (when applied before hiking).
  • Tape – similar to above, taping areas you know get extra sensitive can prevent blisters forming.
  • Blister gel pads – these types of plasters can be used for prevention as well as treatment of blisters.

Already have a blister? This is a great article on how to treat blisters.

How to prevent blisters when hiking - Moleskin
How to prevent blisters when hiking - HikeGoo
How to prevent blisters when hiking - blister gel pads

Opt for merino wool socks

I swear by wearing merino wool socks when hiking! They are breathable, moisture wicking, quick drying, and comfortable. I tend to opt for a pair that have a small amount of cushioning as I find it helps prevent pressure blisters, but do whatever feels right for your feet and shoes.

My favorite sock brands are Icebreaker, Smartwool and Darn Tough. If I am wearing a lower profile shoe I will typically opt for ankle socks, but otherwise mid/crew length are my preference.

Best womens hiking socks darn tough
Best womens hiking socks smartwool mid
Best womens hiking socks icebreaker

The graphic below provides some helpful tips on choosing the right pair of hiking socks.

How to choose the right hiking socks
Credit: New York Times

Keep your feet clean and dry

Keeping you feet clean and dry is another key step to preventing blisters. Wearing merino wool socks will help absorb sweat and prevent moisture build up, but some people like to take rest breaks and also let their feet/socks air out. This is particularly true of thru-hikers and those taking multi-day hikes.

Taking off your hiking boots and dipping your feet in a cool stream can feel amazing after some hard hiking. This will also let you feet cool down and remove any debris/sweat. I personally like to pack a pair of lightweight camp shoes when I go backpacking. That way I can take my boots off at camp and let my feet breathe.

Trim your toe nails

Lastly, don’t forget to trim your toe nails before going hiking! Having long toe nails may lead to cuts and abrasions on other toes, as well as potential pain when hiking down hill.


Hiking tips and resources

Looking for more hiking tips and resources? I’ve got you covered! Here are some more helpful guides to check out:



PIN to read later!

The Best Hiking Shoes for Women and Men 2020 - Renee Roaming
BEST Hiking Shoes for Women - Renee Roaming

Disclaimer: Thank you to Backcountry for collaborating on this blog post. The offer of 15% off does not apply on top of any other offer or discount, and it’s one use per customer. As always, all opinions are my own. This post does contain some affiliate links,  which means if you buy something my blog will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Best Hiking Shoes for Women and Men in 2020

I get asked multiple times a day about what the best hiking shoes are, for both women and men. Having comfortable and appropriate hiking shoes literally changes whether or not you enjoy a hiking adventure, so I totally get why it’s such a popular question!

I’ve been an avid hiker for 5+ years now and would have hiked over 1000 miles (plus taken countless backpacking trips). During these adventures I have learned a thing or two about choosing the correct hiking shoes and preventing blisters, and now I’m passing that knowledge onto you!

This blog post is in partnership with Backcountry.com, my go-to online retailer when gearing up for hiking adventures. They offer free 2-day shipping on orders over $50, easy returns, 24/7 advice from their amazing Gearheads, and they support incredible causes like The Nature Conservancy. Backcountry have kindly offered my readers 15% off first-time online orders using code RENEE15! (some exclusions apply)

Best hiking shoes for women and men in 2020

Based on my own experience, reviews from other hikers, and expert opinions, I have put together this guide on how to choose a pair of hiking shoes. Recommending the best hiking shoes for women is obviously a little easier for me, but I have also drawn on my husband’s knowledge to share the top hiking shoes for men. Matthew has hiked even more trails than me and has subsequently put various shoes to the test over the years.

Types of hiking shoes

First things first, you will need to decide what type of hiking shoes best suit your needs. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Will you be doing day hikes, backpacking trips, or both?
  • What kind of terrain do you typically hike on?
  • What kind of weather do you plan to hike in?
  • How far will you be hiking?
  • Do you prefer more ankle and knee support?
  • Do your feet get super hot when hiking?
  • Are you prone to rolling your ankles?

Your answers will help decide on what type of hiking shoe you go with. The three overarching types are:

  • Hiking boots
  • Trail runners
  • Hiking sandals / water shoes

Within those categories there are more choices, like waterproof vs not waterproof, low profile boots versus high profile/more support, etc. I will help you choose what you need in the next section.


The Best Hiking Shoes for Women - Renee Roaming Hiking Boots

How to choose the best hiking shoes

Hiking shoes are definitely a personal preference. I have friends who only ever hike in lightweight trail runners and others that swear by sturdier boots. I typically tailor my hiking shoes to the type of climate/terrain and therefore own numerous different pairs, but I realize that isn’t an option for every hiker. Let’s talk about different scenarios and help you choose what best suits your needs:

Hiking shoes for hot climates

Most hikes in hotter climates will be best suited to trail runners or lightweight hiking boots. You are probably best to avoid waterproof hiking shoes as they will make your feet even hotter and will not really serve any purpose.

Hiking shoes for wet and cold climates

In contrast to above, you will definitely want a waterproof pair of hiking boots in wet climates. I would also recommend a higher profile boot so that less water can get into your shoes. In super cold or snowy conditions you may also want to consider a pair of boots that have some form of insulation.

Hiking shoes for backpacking

In general, you will want a sturdier pair of hiking boots for backpacking. Having extra pack weight will put more pressure on your feet and having increased support/stability really helps in these scenarios. Higher profile hiking boots also help with ankle and knee support when backpacking, particularly on rocky or uneven terrain.

Hiking shoes for water activities

There are certain hikes that involve a lot of water, walking up streams, pack rafting etc. If your feet are 100% going to get wet then I would recommend a lightweight and quick-drying pair of trail runners or hiking sandals (definitely not heavy or waterproof boots).

Hiking shoes for any situation

If you are an occasional hiker and would like a pair of hiking shoes for almost any type of terrain and weather, then I would suggest a lightweight waterproof hiking boot. This might mean that your feet are warm in hotter climates but I think that’s a better outcome than having freezing wet feet in rugged and rainy conditions.

I will feature examples of all these types of shoes in the next section!


Best hiking shoes for women

Ok ladies, these are the best hiking shoes for women in 2020! Below you will find my top recommendations, along with descriptions, pros vs cons, height, weight, and retail price.

Women’s high-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all mid-high profile, meaning they come up your ankles and provide extra support. These types of hiking boots are generally better for when you have a heavy backpack (e.g. backpacking), you’re hiking in cold/wet climates or on rockier trails, and if you prefer more support for your ankles and knees.

If purchasing, don’t forget you can use code RENEE15 for 15% off first-time Backcountry.com orders! (some exclusions apply)

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Columbia Newton Ridge Amped Waterproof Hiking Boots Renee Roaming
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot

The Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boots are an affordable, stylish, and comfortable boot. I have covered close to 100 miles in them so far this summer during mountainous day hikes and backpacking trips in Washington.

They are surprisingly lightweight for a pair of sturdy high-profile waterproof hiking boots. I will say that they can get a little hot on 80F/27C+ degree days, but I appreciate the waterproofing for stream crossings and rainy conditions.

I have also been impressed with the tread and durability and they are not showing any wear-and-tear despite the rocky and bushy terrain I have been wearing them on. They also come in a non-waterproof version.

These shoes top my list for the best value hiking boots.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.71 lbs / 770 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $89.99

KEEN Terradora II Mid WP Hiking Boot

I have owned a variation of the KEEN Terradora II Mid WP Hiking Boots for 3+ years now and find them to be a great all-rounder boot. They provide ankle support but aren’t too high (you can still wear ankle socks), are lightweight, breathable, and have decent tread.

These boots are also surprisingly waterproof for how lightweight and breathable they are. You can safely step in puddles and hike in rainy conditions without your feet getting wet.

The only downside I would say about these boots is that I prefer the now discontinued leather version, as I found them to be more durable. These boots are made from “performance mesh”, which is great for most hiking conditions. I did, however, find that the material is a little less durable compared to leather alternatives when it comes to super rugged hikes such as those in the Alaskan backcountry.

These boots top my list for the best all-rounders.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 720 g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $149.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots are popular and for good reason. These Gore-Tex lined boots are durable, breathable, and have great stability. They were my first pair of hiking boots and lasted for years, in various conditions and types of terrain.

I also love that the Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots have sculpted linings and contoured heel cups, designed to ensure your foot stays in place even during downhill stretches. These are a particularly good options for those who live in very wet climates and need reliable weather protection and grip.

These boots top my list for weather proofing and durability.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 830 g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $164.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Danner Adrika Hikers - Renee Roaming
Danner Adrika Hiker Boot

I have owned the Danner Adrika Hiker Boot’s for about a year now and have worn them on various local and overseas hiking trails. These boots are very similar to the boots listed above in that they are waterproof, fairly lightweight, and have decent tread.

What makes them slightly different to the boots listed above is that the Adrika’s have the highest profile of all the boots and I own. This in turn makes them a great option for those wanting more ankle and knee support. They definitely hug your ankles and make you feel very stable on rocky trails.

Danner advertises these boots as more of a city – trail hybrid and potentially not suitable for rugged trails. This might be true but I can vouch for these boots across many rocky and muddy trails, including throughout Iceland, the Italian Dolomites, and the US Pacific Northwest. They aren’t showing any signs of wear just yet, and I have really put them to the test!

These boots top my list for ankle and knee support.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 850 g (pair)
  • Height: high ankle
  • Retail price: $169.95

Best Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - Danner Boots Mountain Light Hiking Boots Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain Light Boot

I get so many questions about my Danner Mountain Light Boots! I will begin by saying that I only recommend them for certain uses. The Danner Mountain Lights are my go-to hiking boots for short hikes in colder weather, as well as for trips to rugged places like Iceland, Scotland, etc.

Keep in mind that these hiking boots are heavy and although I find them to be very comfortable, I do not recommend them for hikes 5+ miles. Instead, I love traveling with these boots when I only want to pack one pair of shoes that I can wear both hiking AND during non-hiking adventures (road tripping, outdoor festivals, sight seeing, etc.) Tip – switch out the laces to brown if you want them to look slightly less outdoorsy.

These boots top my list for the most fashionable and “town-friendly”.

  • Waterproof: not completely
  • Weight: 3 lbs / 1.3 kg (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $359.95

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Women 2020 - KEEN Revel III Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
KEEN Revel III Hiking Boot

The KEEN Revel III Boot are my go-to hiking boots for winter conditions. They are not only waterproof to keep rain and snow out but also insulated to ensure your toes stay warm! These boots have a decent tread on them and are also suitable for pairing with micro-spikes or snowshoes.

These boots top my list for the most winter friendly.

  • Waterproof: yes (and insulated)
  • Weight: 2 lbs / 935 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $159.5

Women’s low-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all low profile, meaning they sit below your ankles and provide less support compared to higher profiles. These types of hiking boots are similar to trail runners but typically provide more durability, stability, and (often) weatherproofing.

Low-profile ankle boots are often a good choice for day hikes, flat/smooth trails, and if you prefer less bulk around your ankles (and you don’t need the extra ankle/knee support).

Best Low Profile Hiking Shoes for Women 2020 - KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe - Renee Roaming
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoe feature everything you find in a traditional hiking boot but with a lower ankle profile. These boots are waterproof yet breathable, provide decent stability, and are significantly more durable than their trail running counterparts. The Targhee III’s are a great option for those wanting a more durable and weatherproof hiking boot but dislike higher ankle profiles. They also come in a mid version.

These shoes top my list for durability in a lower-profile boot.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 714 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $139.95

Best Low Profile Hiking Shoes for Women 2020 - Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe - Renee Roaming
Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe

The Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoe are a mix between a trail runner and a hiking boot. They are lower profile than a traditional hiking boot and offer a running-ready sole, yet they have similar waterproofing (Gore-Tex) and a more durable tread. The Salomon Outline’s also come in a non GTX version.

These shoes top my list for a hiking boot X trail runner hybrid.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 595 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $129.95

Women’s trail runners

Many hikers enjoy wearing trail runners instead of a traditional style hiking boot. Trail runners are generally much more lightweight and quick drying compared to hiking boots, though they provide less support and are often less durable.

Trail runners are often a good choice for thru-hikers, hot weather hikes, people who want something very lightweight, and for those who enjoy a mix of hiking and trail running.

Best Hiking Trail Runners for Women 2020 - La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe - Renee Roaming
La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe

The La Sportiva Bushido II Trail Running Shoe are my go-to for hot weather hiking and when I want something versatile for traveling. For such a lightweight shoe they have an impressive tread and have saved my butt on slippery trails in places like Hawaii. I will say that the Bushido’s are more of a narrow fit, so maybe not the best choice if you have a wider foot.

These shoes top my list for lightweight trail runners.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs / 498 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $130

Best Hiking Trail Runners for Women 2020 - Salomon Speedcross - Renee Roaming
Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe

The Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoe are very popular in the trail running and lightweight hiking world. These shoes are said to perform well on soft and loose trails, and their Quicklace system is liked by many. The Speedcross 5’s are not waterproof and are known to be breathable, though they do also come in a GTX (waterproof) version.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs / 560 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $129.95

Women’s hiking sandals and water shoes

I wanted to also include some hiking sandals and water shoes because I do find that they come in handy during certain situations. I personally opt for outdoor sandals when I am somewhere hot and I know my feet will get wet, though I wouldn’t typically hike long distances in them. In saying that, I have friends that hike 5+ miles in sandals, so each to their own!

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Women 2020 - KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal - Renee Roaming
KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal

The KEEN Terradora II Open Toe Sandal are perfect for those who want a water shoe and hiking sandal in one. These sandals are comfy for short trails and will allow your feet to breathe in hot conditions. I would also recommend the Terradora’s for trips where you plan to walk a lot but don’t want the blisters that come with regular sandals.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1 lb / 465 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $89.95

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Women 2020 - Teva Verra Sandal - Renee Roaming
Teva Verra Sandal

The Teva Verra Sandal are my go-to for water activities and long walking days, but I haven’t tried them for proper hiking. They are supportive, grippy, and water-friendly and would be suitable for activities like pack rafting, fishing, tubing, and beach days.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs / 411 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $69.95

Best hiking shoes for men

For all my male readers (or those buying for their significant others), these are the best hiking shoes for men in 2020! Like above, you will find my top picks, along with descriptions, pros vs cons, height, weight, and retail price.

Men’s high-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all mid-high profile, meaning they come up your ankles and provide extra support. These types of hiking boots are generally better for when you have a heavy backpack (e.g. backpacking), you’re hiking in cold/wet climates or on rockier trails, and if you prefer more support for your ankles and knees.

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot are probably what most people think of when they picture hiking boots. They are quite large, very sturdy, and great for rugged backpacking trips when you’re carrying a decent amount of pack weight.

My husband finds these very comfortable and he reports that they breathe quite well despite featuring Gore-Tex (waterproofing). He would tend to lean towards these on longer backpacking trips, or hikes where we may be doing a lot of hiking on rugged terrain (such as in Alaska).

These boots top my list for weather proofing and durability.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs / 965g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $165

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Boot - Renee Roaming
Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boot

The Adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boot are what my husband has been using the most over the last two years for summer hiking adventures. He says they are lightweight, very breathable, and incredibly comfortable.

With that being said, his pair are experiencing some wear and tear (grip wearing down), but we do a lot more hiking than the average person, and he has taken them to places they probably weren’t really designed for (sharp talus fields etc). They also make a similar waterproof pair if you want that extra feature.

These shoes top my list for the most lightweight hiking boot.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs / 795g (pair)
  • Height: mid ankle
  • Retail price: $199.95

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Danner Mountain 600 Boot - Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain 600 Full-Grain Hiking Boot

The Danner Mountain 600 Full-Grain is a nice hybrid hiking boot. They are comfortable, relatively lightweight, and on top of that they actually look really nice. My husband owned a pair of these for about 3 years and wore them until they eventually became too beaten up and needed retiring.

His one gripe with these was that he found they got quite smelly compared to other boots. Not the biggest deal, but something to be aware of!

These shoes top my list for fashionable hiking boots that are still lightweight.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs / 1050g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $199.95

Best Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Danner Mountain Light Hiking Boot Renee Roaming
Danner Mountain Light Hiking Boot

The Danner Mountain Light’s are definitely a more specialized boot. They look fantastic, are comfortable for short-mid length hikes, but they are quite heavy and too hot for most summer hiking. My husband uses them in the shoulder seasons on shorter hikes (under 4-5 miles), especially when there is a chance of our feet getting wet.

These boots top my list for the most fashionable and “town-friendly”.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs / 1760 g (pair)
  • Height: over ankle
  • Retail price: $379.95

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot - Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot

The Salomon X Ultra Winter CS WP Boot are my husband’s go-to winter hiking boot. They are the perfect men’s hiking boot for cold and wet weather and he loves wearing them on snowy hikes.

The insulation keeps in warmth while the waterproof lining keeps out any snow and rain. These even worked in Finland where temperatures dropped down to -30, when paired with a set of toe warmers. I definitely recommend these if you live in a colder climate and need a pair of durable hiking boots that will last you a long time.

These boots top my list for the most winter friendly.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs / 1080 g (pair)
  • Height: high over ankle
  • Retail price: $179.95

Men’s low-profile hiking boots

The following boots are all low profile, meaning they sit below your ankles and provide less support compared to higher profiles. These types of hiking boots are similar to trail runners but typically provide more durability, stability, and (often) weatherproofing.

Low-profile ankle boots are often a good choice for day hikes, flat/smooth trails, and if you prefer less bulk around your ankles (and you don’t need the extra ankle/knee support).

Best Low Ankle Hiking Shoes for Men 2020 - Salomon GTX - Renee Roaming
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoe

The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX’s are the low profile hiking shoe version of Ultra 3 GTX boot mentioned earlier in the blog post. These are great for day hikes when you expect the trail may be a little wet and there is the potential of shallow puddles. They are comfortable and the grip is excellent.

Keep in mind that the Ultra 3 GTX’s will be less breathable than those without Gore-Tex, so these will definitely be best saved for wet conditions and not hot, dry trails. If you want these boots without the Gore-Tex then they do come in a non-GTX version.

  • Waterproof: yes
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs / 740 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $149.95

Best Low Ankle Hiking Shoes for Men 2020 - Adidas Terrex - Renee Roaming
Adidas Outdoor Terrex AX3 Blue Hiking Shoe

The Adidas Outdoor Terrex AX3 Blue Hiking Shoe are for those who want something a little more stylish (but still functional) out on the trail. These look more like a traditional shoe than a hiking boot, while still being durable, relatively lightweight, and comfortable.

My husband has had far less time to test these than his other hiking shoes/boots, but so far he is enjoying them. He does worry they may experience early wearing out of the tread like the Adidas Free Hiker mentioned above, but overall they seem like a great hybrid shoe.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs / 695 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $99.95

Men’s trail runners

Many hikers enjoy wearing trail runners instead of a traditional style hiking boot. Trail runners are generally much more lightweight and quick drying compared to hiking boots, though they provide less support and are often less durable.

Trail runners are often a good choice for thru-hikers, hot weather hikes, people who want something very lightweight, and for those who enjoy a mix of hiking and trail running.

Best Winter Hiking Boots for Men 2020 - Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe - Renee Roaming
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe

The Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Trail Running Shoe are amazing for summer day hikes. Compared to hiking boots they are lighter, more breathable, and are generally more comfortable. If you have to cross a stream where your whole shoe will be submerged, these would be preferable over heavier hiking boots as they will dry much quicker. I highly recommend these for summer day hikes, but maybe opt for a more supportive hiking boot when backpacking with heavier loads.

  • Waterproof: no
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580 g (pair)
  • Height: under ankle
  • Retail price: $119.95

Men’s hiking sandals and water shoes

As I mentioned in the women’s section, hiking sandals and water shoes come in handy during certain situations. They are particularly useful for hot days when you know your feet will get wet, and some people even choose to hike considerable distances in them.

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Men 2020 - Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe - Renee Roaming
Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe

The Teva Omnium 2 Water Shoe are an open toed shoe for water activities and short, flat walks during the warm summer months. They are also great for hikes that involve lots of water crossings, but you wouldn’t want to wear them for too many miles. These honestly don’t get a lot of use for us, but they are nice when the time calls for it.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $89.95

Best Hiking Sandals and Water Shoes for Men 2020 - Chaco Banded Z Cloud Sandal - Renee Roaming
Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal

The Chaco Banded Z/Cloud Sandal’s are definitely a specialty shoe, but they can come in handy for certain scenarios! An example of this are for hikes like The Narrows in Zion, where constant wading through rocky rivers is required. They are also nice for car camping where you want something very breathable for relaxing around camp in summer when it’s warm.

  • Waterproof: N/A
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs / 816 g (pair)
  • Height: sandal
  • Retail price: $110

How to prevent blisters when hiking

Blisters are the worst! I remember getting them fairly often as a beginner hiker but these days I very rarely have foot problems. Some of that comes with time and building up foot resilience (literally getting tougher skinned). Then some of it comes with being smart about prevention. Below are my top tips for blister prevention when hiking!

Choose the right hiking shoes

Choosing the right hiking shoes for your needs and the conditions is SO important! Back at the beginning of this blog post I talk about the types of hiking shoes and what kind of conditions they are best for.

Keep in mind that heavier hiking boots will be more likely to cause blisters in comparison to lightweight trail runners. So if you don’t need the extra durability, weatherproofing and support, opt for something more breathable and lighter.

Another vital factor is ensuring your hiking shoes are the right size for your feet, including the length AND width. One of the key things to notice is whether your toes are hitting the end of the shoes when you walk downhill – this is a no no! The image below shows some key things to consider when sizing hiking shoes, courtesy of the New York Times.

How to choose the right size hiking shoes
Credit: New York Times

Have realistic expectations

If you’ve never hiked before or you are wearing a brand new pair of hiking boots, be prepared for potential blisters. It may take your feet a little while to get used to long periods of walking. I know I have literally built up thicker skin in certain spots on my heels and toes from frequent hiking over the years.

It’s always a good idea to practice wearing your hiking shoes off-trail before you take them into the wilderness. Walk around your neighborhood in them or try out a urban walk where you can be close to your car if blisters start forming.


Products to prevent and treat blisters

There are various products you can use to prevent blisters or treat them in the early stages of forming. These are some of the most common:

  • HikeGoo – forms a frictionless layer between your skin and socks, protecting from abrasion and preventing blisters. Foot Glide is another popular choice.
  • Moleskin – reduces friction against your skin and stops blisters and hot spots forming (when applied before hiking).
  • Tape – similar to above, taping areas you know get extra sensitive can prevent blisters forming.
  • Blister gel pads – these types of plasters can be used for prevention as well as treatment of blisters.

Already have a blister? This is a great article on how to treat blisters.

How to prevent blisters when hiking - Moleskin
How to prevent blisters when hiking - HikeGoo
How to prevent blisters when hiking - blister gel pads

Opt for merino wool socks

I swear by wearing merino wool socks when hiking! They are breathable, moisture wicking, quick drying, and comfortable. I tend to opt for a pair that have a small amount of cushioning as I find it helps prevent pressure blisters, but do whatever feels right for your feet and shoes.

My favorite sock brands are Icebreaker, Smartwool and Darn Tough. If I am wearing a lower profile shoe I will typically opt for ankle socks, but otherwise mid/crew length are my preference.

Best womens hiking socks darn tough
Best womens hiking socks smartwool mid
Best womens hiking socks icebreaker

The graphic below provides some helpful tips on choosing the right pair of hiking socks.

How to choose the right hiking socks
Credit: New York Times

Keep your feet clean and dry

Keeping you feet clean and dry is another key step to preventing blisters. Wearing merino wool socks will help absorb sweat and prevent moisture build up, but some people like to take rest breaks and also let their feet/socks air out. This is particularly true of thru-hikers and those taking multi-day hikes.

Taking off your hiking boots and dipping your feet in a cool stream can feel amazing after some hard hiking. This will also let you feet cool down and remove any debris/sweat. I personally like to pack a pair of lightweight camp shoes when I go backpacking. That way I can take my boots off at camp and let my feet breathe.

Trim your toe nails

Lastly, don’t forget to trim your toe nails before going hiking! Having long toe nails may lead to cuts and abrasions on other toes, as well as potential pain when hiking down hill.


Hiking tips and resources

Looking for more hiking tips and resources? I’ve got you covered! Here are some more helpful guides to check out:



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The Best Hiking Shoes for Women and Men 2020 - Renee Roaming
BEST Hiking Shoes for Women - Renee Roaming

Disclaimer: Thank you to Backcountry for collaborating on this blog post. The offer of 15% off does not apply on top of any other offer or discount, and it’s one use per customer. As always, all opinions are my own. This post does contain some affiliate links,  which means if you buy something my blog will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Best Hiking Shoes for Women and Men in 2020

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Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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3 Comments

  1. JACKIE on August 23, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Brilliant. I’ll be using all these hiking boots tips when I buy my next shoes. Thanks Renee.

  2. Carina on August 25, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    I just took my Columbia Newton Ridge hiking boots on their first hike and I’m so happy with them so far!

    • Renee Hahnel on August 25, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Yay! I LOVE hearing that! ☺️

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Renee Hahnel

Hi! My name is Renee and I'm an Australian photographer, blogger & travel addict. I now call the U.S.A home but you can usually find me wandering the globe with a camera in hand ✈ Let's get lost!

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The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Kenai Fjords National Park

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