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Fall doesn’t mean the end of hiking season, but it does mean some gear is swapped out for added versatility and protection from the elements. Waterproof hiking boots are the happy medium of footwear for shoulder seasons: you get the flexibility and low weight of a standard hiking boot, plus the added protection of a waterproof membrane. Waterproof hiking boots also have sturdier outsoles, taking into account weather and changing conditions that require a waterproof shoe.
Waterproof membranes prevent mud, water and snow from entering your shoe through the upper, keeping your feet drier for longer. (They won’t keep snow or water off the top of your shoe, so keep that in mind when choosing a low or high style.) Waterproofing technology is advanced enough at this point where most membranes are impermeable. and breathable – but this also has its limits, as a waterproof shoe is inherently less breathable than a non-waterproof model. Note that these are all women’s specific waterproof hiking boots. A women’s shoe is built on a different last than a men’s shoe, with a deeper/narrower heel cup, lower heel counter and narrower footbed. Women also strike differently than men – we tend to pronate differently because the width of our hips impacts the angle at which our foot hits the ground. Women’s hiking shoes often accommodate this with varying levels of support throughout the midsole.
I wear waterproof hiking boots starting in mid-autumn when the snow hits the higher elevations and the lower trails are wet from early season storms and the ensuing snowmelt. These shoes carry me into late fall, where I may not be knee-deep through snow, but I’m still susceptible to wet feet on muddy trails. Still, every hiker will have a personal preference for their waterproof hiking boots. Some people appreciate a sturdier shoe with superior protection like the Merrell Moab, and others will want the ankle protection of a shoe like Garmont’s Dragontail Tech GTX. I opt for a lighter and more flexible shoe like the Altra Lone Peak or the La Sportiva Bushido. I often combine hiking with running, so it’s important to wear a lighter shoe that doesn’t compromise tread.
These are some of the best waterproof hiking shoes on the market today, for a variety of hiking styles, terrains, and weather conditions.
1. Fan-favorite waterproof hiking boot
Take a look around a popular hiking area and I guarantee you’ll spot at least half a dozen pairs of Merrell Moab going up the trail. There is a reason for this ! Merrell has designed a classically comfortable and durable hiking shoe that outlasts just about every other shoe I’ve ever tested, both in terms of mileage and category dominance. The Moab 2 Waterproof is almost an exact replica of the original Moab, just equipped with a waterproof and breathable membrane. The Moab is constructed with a sturdy suede upper that won’t be as breathable as a mesh-based upper, but does a fantastic job of protecting your foot from rocks, roots and, of course, snow and water. . The Vibram outsole has excellent wet and dry traction, and despite the more rugged look of these shoes, they’re comfortable enough right out of the box if you don’t have time to break them in before your next trip. I listed the high low model here, but the Moab comes in several different heights for different terrain expectations and weather conditions. I also love that the women’s version mostly resembles the men’s, with some subtle grayish lavender highlights around the upper details.
2. Ideal for long day hikes
of Solomon A combined experience in ski boots and running shoes inspired the design of the OUTpulse GTX, a highly responsive hiking boot. This shoe has one of the best energy returns of any true hiking shoe I’ve tested (read: not a hiking shoe/trail runner combination), which comes from their “Fuze Surge” foam compound. and their reverse camber midsole. Not quite sure what that means? Just know that the shoe has been designed to give you the best energy return per stride, which also means a good balance between weight saving and support. It’s not the lightest low shoe on the market, but Salomon has designed it with plenty of midsole support, a secure outsole with deep patterned lugs and a generous rubber toe cap that won’t peel off. after a season of wear — and protects against annoying bumped toes.
3. The best waterproof hiking shoe for off-roading
The Garmont Dragon Tail does a solid job combining a hiking shoe with the toe box and outsole of a traditional approach shoe. This style combination helps me feel safe on loose, steep terrain, especially trail sections with steep or slippery rocks. The Tech GTX is Garmont’s toughest and most waterproof model in the lineup, a design that includes extra support through the ankle and around the top of the foot. This helps prevent the foot from slipping and the ankle from rolling on unpredictable feet. Like the low top, this Dragontail Tech GTX has a narrower wrap through the upper and an asymmetrical cuff, which helps keep your ankle stable without chafing on the ankle bone. These are stiffer than running-style hiking shoes, so I only wear them when I know I’m going to do the whole trail and not run any sections.
4. The most comfortable waterproof hiking shoe
Altra is a fan favorite for long-distance hikers, and the solitary peaks are the only shoes I wear for long backpacking trips. The wide toe box and zero-drop design make it exceptionally comfortable over the long haul, and they help encourage a natural foot strike. The Lone Peaks are right in the middle of Altra’s offerings, with moderate cushion and support – including a rock plate and 25mm stack – that holds up on the trails but doesn’t absorb too much energy. Altra’s waterproof shoes have a waterproof/breathable eVent membrane that flexes with your foot and doesn’t feel stiff, and it does a great job of keeping snow and slush out of the upper. These are some of the lightest and most flexible of my picks here, so you’re going to get some compromise with durability. This comes into play in the mileage life of the Lone Peaks. I will usually only get about 300 miles per pair before the outsole wears out and the upper starts to come apart. For comparison, a sturdier pair of hiking boots will last you around 500 miles.
5. The best lightweight hiking shoe
For hikes with questionable tread where you don’t need a full winter boot or extra traction (which I recommend for winter hikes or very icy terrain), the Bushido is an infallible bet. Even in such a light shoe (just over 8 ounces per shoe), La Sportiva offers excellent security thanks to the upper, allowing for a flexible and comfortable fit without compromising stability. The waterproof/breathable membrane is built into the lightweight mesh upper, which means I can wear them in hot, rainy or muddy weather without overheating, but the dual compound rubber outsoles are safe on slick trails, whatever the weather. it is packed snow or melting ice. . Because they’re so light, it’s possible to punch holes in the upper for sturdier hiking boots to survive, but if you’re looking for a combination of weight saving and waterproofing, they’re hard to beat.