The 6 Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes For Women (Top Picks For 2017)

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes For Women - 375

The right light hiking shoes can make all the difference. Photo: Matt Champlin/flickr

Looking for new women's hiking shoes?

Let's be honest:

Sometimes your old sneakers just won’t cut it but your clunky hiking boots are just too hefty for your light footed adventure.

The solution?

Lightweight hiking shoes.

If you don't already know, a lightweight hiking shoe is the perfect in-between when you need adventure footwear less cumbersome than hiking boots, but more supportive, water resistant, and durable than your plain old tennis shoes.

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes For Women - Quick Picks

If you're in a hurry, here are our two favorite light hiking shoes in this review:

They are also comfortable and easy to move in, but still offer protection where you need it, cutting out all the unneeded fluff that is only required for more demanding terrain.

We're going to cover everything you need to know about picking out the perfect pair of shoes, then we're going to show you a handful of options that meet these criteria, and finally we'll reveal our very top pick. You can't go wrong with any of these options, even if you just pick the ones that suit your style the best - if it's on this list, you're getting a great pair either way.

Buyers Guide for 2017

Water Resistance

If you mostly hike on dry trails and avoid bad spots of weather, you won't have to worry that much about your shoe's water resistance. But if you don't even glance at the weather forecast before leaving on a hike, you're going to want shoes that offer ample protection against the elements.

Most lightweight shoes are made with mesh, nylon, or polyester, all of which can be treated with waterproofing chemicals. But the bottom line is that light materials will always tend to absorb water fairly quickly compared to heavy duty boots. Full grain leather shucks off water, but also tends to weigh significantly more than lightweight materials.

Simply think ahead about the season and conditions you will most likely be using your shoes in and buy the protection you'll need.

Breathability

Comfortable light hiking shoes are a great choice

Comfortable light hiking shoes are a great choice. Photo: Ricky Reardon/flickr

Hiking shoes are the lightest kind of hiking footwear out there (besides those weird toe shoes, but we aren't quite ready to recognize those as valid adventure footwear just yet...)

Mesh, nylon, polyester, thin insulation and moisture wicking materials in your socks are all combined to make these shoes extra breezy and to keep your feet cool, even on humid summer afternoons.

Weight

Women's light hiking shoes are pretty much the lightest, coolest kind of kicks you can wear on the trail without feeling unprepared or worse, not giving your feet the support required for climbing, jumping and trail running.

So, once you locate a shoe with the right amount of support, water resistance and breathability, you can simply opt for the lightest pair. But also take care to remember that light hiking shoes are not the best tool for longer backpacking trips, nor do they typically support your feet well enough for carrying heavy backpacks.

Fit

When you first slip into your shoes, remember to try them on wearing the hiking socks that you plan to wear. Why? Because shoes that fit you just fine with your thin cotton socks may turn out to be half a size too small once you're wearing your serious hiking socks (and you don't want to figure that out halfway up a mountain).

Also, the literal rule of thumb is that you should be able to easily slip your finger between the back of your foot and the back of the shoe, when you slide your foot toward. Additionally jump around, climb up a few stairs and make sure there isn't any lift, slip or pinch in the shoes.

Breaking In Your Shoes

It takes some time to break-in a pair of new hiking shoes, even if they are constructed with mesh and lighter materials. This is because hiking footwear is designed to offer optimal support, and that level of insole stability always means they will require some breaking in.

So after the purchase, make sure to walk in the shoes at home and take shorter "test hikes" around the neighborhood. Despite what you might think, blisters, hot spots and general discomfort on the trail is mostly avoidable with proper fit, lacing, and thorough breaking in.

First order of business is to pay attention to how comfortable the shoes is at the get go and make certain you are able to slide a finger in back of the shoe behind the heel. Then bend down, hop up onto a bench and check that there isn't more than a quarter inch of lift.

OK. I promise we are done with the dense information and now you know everything you could ever want to know about light trekking shoes, and it's time to scope out the goods!

Here are our picks for the 6 best women's light hiking shoes available!

Comparison Guide

Review of the 6 Top Light Hiking Shoes for Women

1) Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe

Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe

Oboz delivers with this simple, easy hiking shoe.

The soft rubber soles offer plenty of grip on slippery boulders, the textile Nubuck leather body is sure to stand up to the most vigorous stretching and scraping, and the BFit Deluxe insole provides stability and support.

This shoe’s heel measures about 1.5 inches, and it is three-dimensionally molded to ensure a snug fit.

This shoe’s EVA midsoles are composed of two separate densities, giving you both rigidity and cushion where you need them.

At size seven these shoes weigh 13.8 oz, and you can find them with either pink or green accents.

Pros

  • These simple shoes will get you where you need to go, comfortably
  • The shoe’s upper section is both water resistant and breathable, keeping you dry and cool
  • The sole strikes a perfect balance between rigidity and cushion, giving you all the stiffness where you need it, and none where you don’t
  • These shoes are low cut, which means you’ll have plenty of flexibility and an overall unrestricted feeling, and at only 13.8 oz, you’ll be light on your toes in these Oboz

Cons

  • Though the low cut of these shoes provide flexibility, freedom, and reduced weight, it also means that they offer less ankle support than higher-cut shoes

2) Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe

Merrell Women’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe

Merrell shoes have always had a hip, stylish vibe, and the Women’s Moab Ventilator proves no exception to the rule.

But, of course, there’s more to these shoes than looks. As their name suggests, they are extremely breathable, keeping your hard-working feet cool even in the middle of the scorching Utah desert.

These shoes are also up to most any climb with their deep lugs, which are placed everywhere but under the arch of your foot. This allows your foot to flex and work more naturally in climbing.

The ortholite Vibram sole provides comfort and ergonomics, while keeping the shoe lightweight.

The Ventilator’s fabric even houses antimicrobial agents, minimizing odor even after your longest, most strenuous hikes.

Pros

  • They feature proven, cutting-edge technology from both Vibram and Merrell that will keep you well ahead of the pack, like the Vibram Lugs and the M Select Fresh antimicrobial agents
  • The Ventilator’s many breathable panels will keep your feet dry, healthy, and comfortable
  • Plush cushioning at the tongue and heel of the Ventilator helps minimize blisters where these shoes rub up against your ankle

Cons

  • Just like the Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe, the Merrell Moab Ventilator has a low-cut heel, this means you will be comfortable, flexible, and unrestricted, but your ankles will also be slightly more prone
  • If you are worried about your ankles, or if you are going on a multi-day trek, you may want to consider a shoe with more support

3) Keen Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

Keen Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

The Keen Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe is constructed with a mesh body and upper which makes it an ideal boot for adventuring in sweltering weather or wandering through dry deserts.

Keen hiking shoes have a secure-fit lace capture system that is outfitted with sturdy leather eyelets and a heel wrap that helps lock your feet into the footbeds for support that doesn’t budge.

What's more, these shoes' pull loops at heel and tongue allow for easy entry and exit. And the padded, gusseted tongues keep out debris and moisture while relieving lace pressure, so these laces won’t suffocate your feet!

These boots are extremely light and have a particularly comfortable and tough protective toe-guard to minimize hike ending bumps and bruises.

Lastly, the metatomical EVA footbeds are custom shaped to provide ample cushioning and arch support, and the footbeds can be removed to accommodate orthotics or other sorts of speciality insoles.

Pros

  • Compression-molded, padded EVA midsoles absorb shock for all-day comfort so you can boulder hop to your heart's desire
  • The supportive ESS plastic shanks provide torsional stability and protection from uneven and rocky terrain so you can jump, climb and wade with ease of mind
  • Nonmarking carbon rubber outsoles with aggressive 4mm multidirectional lugs for long-wearing durability and superb traction, meaning that the exterior of these boots are tough

Cons

  • These shoes' primary downside is that the exposed EVA foam on the sole quickly becomes threadbare and simply does not last over multiple hiking seasons if you're out on the trails a lot. Granted, nothing lasts forever, right?

4) Salomon Women's X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Shoe

Salomon Women's X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Shoe

The Salomon Women's X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Shoe is a Gore-tex trekking shoe that brings sneaker level comfort to your feet while you conquer mountains.

It is constructed with waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex uppers and is deftly contoured to fit a woman's foot shape.

The shoe's ultra soft polyester lining wicks moisture away from feet and provides enhanced, less sweaty comfort. Waterproof leather uppers feature breathable mesh panels to keep feet comfortable and aired out.

Then, the mid-cut profile adds ample ankle support, and the gussets create a continuous connection between the tongues and uppers, fending off debris.

Additionally, the mud guards and integrated rubber toe caps provide durable protection from roots and rocks and other typical trail obstacles.

Pros

  • This lace-up hiking shoe has a textile lining and GORE-TEX Performance Comfort membrane for outstanding waterproof protection despite its lightness
  • The tough gusseted tongue keeps trail debris at bay
  • OrthoLite sock liners combined with tailored OrthoLite foam and contoured EVA heel cups immensely enhance heel support and cushioning so your feet feel better for longer, even if you are trekking ten miles in one fell swoop
  • Contagrip rubber outsoles provide sticky traction to minimize slips and tumbles

Cons

  • There are reports that the toe box is a little narrow and could rub your poor little pinky toe the wrong way, so make sure to really pay attention to the fit during the try on phase
  • Unlike other hiking shoes, this one runs a little large, so you might end up sizing down

5) Salewa Women's WS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe

Salewa Women's WS Wildfire Vent Approach Shoe

The Wildfire Vent is a bare bones approach shoe with a highly breathable ballistic mesh upper and no lining.

It is specifically engineered for approaches, technical trekking and bumpy mountain paths.

The Wildfire Vent offers superb climbing performance thanks to its Vibram Tech Approach EVO outsole with Megagrip compound – a sticky but hardwearing rubber compound also used in rock shoes that gives a whopping 25% more traction.

Patented SALEWA technologies ensure an accurate fit: the Exa Shell grid structure works together with the Climbing Lacing, which extends right to the toe for a more concise fit, so you can be absolutely sure your foot won't slip or shift when you are scrambling up slick boulders.

Finally, the 3F System provides firm ankle and heel support so rolled ankles aren't on the agenda.

Pros

  • The shoes' 3F EVO incorporated in the heel lends hikers ample comfort and even more precise heel cradling and hold thanks to the rear band, meaning all that comfort doesn't detract from a smart fit
  • Like other climbing kicks, the advanced climbing lacing reaches right down to the toe to guarantee precision when you need total control and traction. Perfect for climbing walls and running up rooty, slick trails
  • A modular footbed allows the wearer to customize the insole to their foot, to accommodate weak arches and sensitive ankles and toes

Cons

  • Even though these are breezy, light shoes they require some more breaking in than you would typically expect
  • The mesh crease in the toe box has been know to rub toes the wrong way for a small portion of hikers. Make sure you get the right size, and you'll be all set

6) Adidas Outdoor Womens Terrex Swift R GTX

Adidas Outdoor Womens Terrex Swift R GTX

The adidas outdoor Terrex Swift R Gore-tex lightweight trail shoes are combined with stability features and waterproof protection for adventures in rain or shine.

The adiPRENE insert absorbs shock and provides rebound for shooting hoops or bounding down steep stair like trails, while the TRAIXION lugged outsole delivers superb grip so your feet stay glued to the ground.

The stiff sole delivers excellent torsional support for being such a lightweight trekking shoe. Additionally, the molded sockliner and lightweight EVA midsole provide some long lasting comfort and cushioning so sore feet aren't even an option.

Pros

  • Gore-Tex Extended Comfort waterproof breathable membrane offers optimized breathability for higher-intensity use in sunny or even slightly damp weather
  • The skinny-cord lacing system, which runs through fabric loops, tightens quickly with a pull of a plastic sliding lock and means that the shoes come on and off in a literal second
  • The shock-absorbing adiPRENE in heel provides rebound and bounce for when you jump, hop and climb up demanding trails
  • Removable cushioned insole allows the wearer to customize the fit and feel of the insole for superior comfort

Cons

  • This boot runs a little narrow, so those who have wide feet will be a tad cramped, so make sure you look for a wide size

WINNER of the Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes For Women Review 

Adidas Outdoor Womens Terrex Swift R GTX

Adidas Outdoor Womens Terrex Swift R GTX

The Adidas Outdoor Womens Terrex Swift R GTX is the very best lightweight hiking shoe for women.

This lineup of hiking shoes put up a good fight, but Adidas' sturdy, well rounded lightweight hiking shoe came out on top. Why? We'll tell you why!

The first reason is that the bungee cord lacing system makes these shoes as easy as putting on velcro shoes.

The waterproof membrane offers moisture protection that is truly rare in the lightweight hiking shoe world. The removable cushioned insole, molded sockliner, and shock absorbing Adiprene midsole will keep your feet from getting battered.

A tough midfoot shank and the Traxion rubber are some super grippy lugs that seriously cut down on those dreaded slips and trail tumbles. Still, at the end of the day, you can't go wrong because all of these stellar lightweight hiking shoes will get the job done with ease.

So ladies, commence the shopping, strap on some new lightweight boots for the hiking train and go on a riotous adventure!