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From coast to coast, Canada is home to some of the best hiking trails in the world. From Alberta’s sky-high Rocky Mountains to Newfoundland’s lush East Coast Trail, you would be remiss not to tie up your laces and get outside at least a few times this spring and summer.
With that being said, despite its low barrier entry, hiking does require at least one investment to get started: hiking shoes.
While you may have been able to squeeze by with a pair of sneakers in the past, if protecting your feet and stabilizing your ankles are of any importance (hint: they should be), it’s time to get yourself sorted with a high-quality pair of hiking shoes, boots or sandals.
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.”
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 racked up more than 5,600 reviews from Amazon shoppers. The lightweight and durable boots feature a mesh lining for breathability and a waterproof membrane. They’re “fantastic,” writes one reviewer. I was “pretty rough” with them while hiking, but “they had my back” the whole way. “I didn’t even get any blisters!”
“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.”
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.
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.
With an average rating of 4.3 stars based on more than 2,500 ratings, Amazon shoppers say these synthetic leather hiking shoes are “very comfortable” and require “no breaking-in time.” According to one five-star reviewer, they’re “super lightweight” and have “great arch support.”
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.”