Do you find hiking boots to be cumbersome, especially for your shorter or less intense hikes?
People often don’t want to lug around boots for their hiking trips, especially if they are travelling or only hike on occasion. Others don’t want to add yet another pair of shoes to their closet if they don’t have to. Many people don’t like to buy a pair of shoes such as hiking boots that are not multi-functional.
The truth is, you can hike in running shoes. It is best to hike in trail running shoes, and it is even recommended by seasoned hikers.
In this article, we will look at why you don’t need to go out and buy fancy hiking boots if you enjoy this hobby and then we will look at 7 of the best women’s trail running shoes for hiking. These are…
- Best For Traction And Overall: ASICS Women’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe
- Best for Durability: SALOMON Women’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes
- Best for Stylish Appearance: Merrell Women’s Glove 4 Trail Runner
- Best for Lightweight: Saucony Women’s Nomad TR Trail Running Shoe
- Best for Affordable Option: Adidas outdoor Women’s Terrex Tracerocker W Trail Running Shoe
- Best for Comfort: Hoka One One SpeedGoat
- Best for Sturdy and Secure Hiking: ALTRA Women’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe
Why You May Not Need Hiking Boots
Your choice of footwear really comes down to personal preference. It’s best to choose the option that you are most comfortable in so you can focus more on the activity of hiking than on your shoes. So just because everyone else in your group is wearing boots, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to follow suit. And, seeing as some people choose to hike barefoot, you really can’t make a wrong choice if it feels right to you.
Hiking boots are almost always a burden–and honestly, more often than not, they’re overkill. Because of this, wearing trail running shoes to go hiking is becoming increasingly popular.
While you can hike in regular running shoes, some running shoes are better than others, so often it’s best to stick with trail shoes so you’re not taking a chance on picking shoes that end up not offering the grip and protection that you need. Regular running shoes are designed with a smoother sole that is appropriate for running on pavement, while trail running shoes will give you a firmer grip on terrain that is slippery or uneven.
Let’s look at some more features of trail running shoes that can benefit you when you’re hiking.
Toe Protection: You want to keep your feet protected on the trails because you will likely be walking through areas that have sticks poking every which way or bumps that are difficult to avoid. Trail running shoes typically offer toe protection such as a toe guard or a toe bumper that will prevent various elements from injuring you on your hike.
Mesh Fabric: When you’re hiking, you will probably be walking through puddles, mud, and other potentially hazardous conditions. Trail running shoes can handle this because they’re often made with nylon mesh uppers that not only keep debris out, but are also quic- drying and breathable, making them perfect for hiking. Trail running shoes are made with durable materials so they can tolerate damage.
Traction: Similar to hiking boots, trail running shoes have durable traction. They come in varying degrees of roughness, so if you typically hike on compact surfaces, you can get by with a trail running shoe that doesn’t have too much structure. However, having some traction will improve your grip no matter what. If you’re hiking through mud, having a rough outer sole can significantly improve your performance–and in snow and ice, you will need trail running shoes that have spikes or are compatible with spikes.
What to Consider When Shopping for Trail Running Shoes
There are a few things that you will want to keep in mind when you’re shopping for trail running shoes for hiking.
Where do you hike?
It is important to get the best shoe for your specific terrain because it will not only make your hiking experience more gratifying, but it will also impact the longevity of the shoe. Your shoes should give you a reliable underfoot cushioning during your hike that suits your preference.
Some cushioning options include:
- Maximum – These shoes have a generous amount of padding in the midsole, and are preferred by those who want to reduce joint fatigue on long hikes.
- Moderate – Traditional trail running shoes include a moderate level of midsole foam, allowing you to hike comfortably on rocky surfaces.
- Minimal – Shoes with minimal padding are ideal for people who prefer to have a higher level of ground contact than cushioning.
- Barefoot – These shoes are for those who want to feel the trail as they’re hiking. They’re very light, as they have no midsole padding.
Do you need waterproof shoes?
Waterproof trail running shoes will help protect you from wet conditions, but they are heavier than shoes that are not waterproof. Waterproof shoes also tend to be more expensive. While shoes that are not waterproof may offer you less protection, they will still support your performance on your regular trails.
How stiff should the sole of your shoes be?
You may want a stiffer sole in the shoes you hike in than you would have in a regular pair of running shoes to provide you with extra foot protection. The stiffness of your soles will also help determine how much spring is put into each step you take. You have to find a stiffness that feels right to you, but this is an important factor to keep in mind.
How much support do you need?
You want to be sure that your ankle and foot are supported enough to give you the proper stability to hike on uneven surfaces. Your shoes should also help your foot to adapt to the terrain quickly while you’re hiking.
How tightly should trail running shoes for hiking fit?
Your hiking shoes should be secure and fit tightly in the heel, but offer some room in the toe area. This way, you will be stable on different terrains, but your feet will not be squished.
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for women’s trail running shoes for hiking, let’s look at seven of the best options that are on the market today.
The Asics GEL-Venture 5s are designed for long hours of wear on lengthy trails filled with rough terrain. They are the best option if you want a shoe with a lot of traction because they offer an incredible grip while still allowing users to experience smooth transitions between various terrains. Also, the outsoles of these shoes have reversed lugs, which provide great traction for hiking both uphill and downhill.
These trail running shoes are an excellent choice for people who have a neutral pronation, as they offer superior support for people who enjoy hiking. Users enjoy their natural fit, comfort, and ability to support the foot during a hike.
The hard rubber soles of these shoes are 1.25 inches thick and are designed to take a beating during your rugged hikes. The soles resist tearing, showing signs of wear, and cracking for longer than other trail running shoes are able to.
For comfort, this option offers Asics’ unique gel cushioning system, in addition to an AHAR abrasion compound that is used to ensure optimal comfort and reduce shock with each step you take. To add to their comfort factor, the synthetic overlaid mesh fabric that these shoes are made out of breathes well, yet is also water-resistant, making them an ideal choice for any weather.
The closed mesh upper keeps dirt and water out, but if you find that you need to wash your Asics, these feature a removable sock liner, making them easy to throw in your washing machine as needed. The soles are also removable, so if you have orthotics, you can slide them right in.
These shoes have laces to help you fit them to your foot naturally and comfortably. For convenience, there is a pocket near the tip of the tongue to tuck in your shoelace ends. These shoes also offer reinforced toes with a protective bumper at the front and a supported back to protect you from the elements on the trail (such as sticks and stones) and keep you safe.
Users find these shoes have great traction due to their deep grooves, especially if you’re taking a sharp turn. Because these are also lightweight, they are perfect if you’re setting out on a longer hike.
- Works well on a variety of surfaces
- Offers room to add medical orthotics
- Offers protection from outside elements that may not be seen
- May slip on rocks that are flat and wet
- Not very flexible
If you’re looking for durability in a trail running shoe, the Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running shoes are a great option. They will last you through snow, mud, rain, and tough trails for the greatest amount of time.
The outsole features 6mm of arrow-shaped lugs that are made out of Contragrip rubber to ensure you’re sturdy on rough terrain. The arrow-like design of the soles ensure that they will grip to any terrain, even as they begin to wear down.
Your feet will remain protected while hiking on trails while wearing these shoes, as they feature a 10mm midsole drop and offer a molded EVA foam cushioning to shield your feet from rocky surfaces. Additionally, they are made using water-resistant materials and mesh that keeps debris out, so you can be sure neither rain nor debris from the running trail will be a hindrance to your hike.
These shoes run true to size, and the Sensifit design will encompass your feet, which will prevent your feet from sliding around as you’re hiking on uneven surfaces. Many users also appreciate the Endofit inner sleeve in these shoes, as it also works to maintain your comfort during your long hikes. As with other Salomon products, these trail running shoes feature a no-tie lacing system, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with having to re-tie your shoes as you’re hiking.
- Treads on the soles are very durable and have terrific longevity
- Uppers offer great protection
- Has a Quicklace system that makes it very convenient to slip these shoes on
- Toe box is slightly narrow
- Require some wear before being fully broken in (about 30-50 miles of running)
- They are a bit heavy compared to other options
Aside from the construction, durability, and flexibility of these shoes, many dedicated users choose this option due to the aesthetics of the shoe. Merrell took a minimalist approach when designing this shoe, so it is simple and sleek. While some were initially concerned about the support these could provide, seeing as they have a Vibram sole, users have been pleasantly surprised with their performance during long hikes.
These shoes offer a snug fit with a wraparound tongue, however, they do not restrict movement in any way. Additionally, the toe box offers ample space while still supporting your entire foot. The trail protect pads help ensure that your feet are protected from the rugged terrain on your hikes, and using a Vibram TC5+ outsole, you can be confident that the soles will offer both traction and durability.
As for the midsole, the Merrell Glove 4 Trail Runners offer a molded EVA foam feature, which offers a great response to the shock of your foot hitting the ground. The mesh upper has a high level of breathability, so you can be sure that your feet won’t get sweaty during your hike.
The soles of these shoes are much more flexible than other options due to their dimensions, which are 11.5 for the stack height, 0mm for the footbed, 3mm for the insole, 4mm for the midsole, 1.5 web for the sole, and 3mm lugs.
This attractive option is able to incorporate aesthetics with a functional shoe to allow you to go hiking in style.
- More stylish than other options
- Tongue and laces are secure and comfortable
- Offers high flexibility
- Some users found the mesh to be too thin
- Not a great option for hiking on slimy rocks
- Require a break-in period
The Saucony Nomad TR Trail Running shoes are a neutral shoe that offer a firm cushioning and strong grip. They are especially great for those who are looking for a lightweight option. Hikers like these shoes because they are comfortable, light, and durable.
The one-piece upper design offers hikers a supportive, enveloping feel, which adds extra stability to the firm cushioning of these shoes. Additionally, they have an oblique toe shape to provide you with an exceptional fit. The soles of these shoes are made from PWRTRAC, which is an extremely tacky rubber that offers three times better traction than normal rubber.
Not only are these shoes flexible, but they also offer an inner material that is both sleek and comfortable. The thin, synthetic upper helps increase the flexibility of these shoes, and the lightweight PowerGrid midsole offers exceptional support. Finally, these shoes have removable foam insole, so hikers can insert their own orthotics if needed.
- Very lightweight
- The sole grips the ground well
- Offers responsive cushioning
- Some users found this shoe to not be extremely breathable
- Not a great option for people with narrow feet, as these run wide
- Has limited toe protection
These trail shoes are a great affordable option for people looking for women’s trail running shoes for hiking. The Adidas Terrex Tracerockers use an aggressive design to help users have a sense of confidence when going on hiking adventures.
The upper unit is protective, as it features a ripstop mesh as well as stitched-on overlays to increase its durability. Additionally, these shoes have a lightweight foam that cushions your foot, reduces the impact of every step, and protects your feet from sharp sticks or other objects you come across on the trails.
Users are also protected from falls with the strong grip that the outsole of these shoes offer, which is considered to be top of the line. The shoes also offer extra abrasion protection with the inclusion of a TRAXION® external pad, so you can be confident when hiking on unpredictable terrain.
Fans of these shoes also point toward their breathability. When you wear these shoes on long hikes, you can be sure that your feet won’t become hot or stuffy during the day.
- Best affordable option
- Offers exceptional grip
- Visually appealing shoes
- Not great for those with wide feet, as these run narrow
- Some find the upper material to be too stiff
- These can sometimes be squeaky when you walk
If you’re in the market for cloud-like comfort, the Hoka SpeedGoats might be right for you. These shoes are cozy and help prevent knee pain after long days of hiking. This brand is well-known for its plush undersoles and it lives up to that name as it also helps reduce fatigue.
The traction on these shoes is also superior, and some users have reported climbing on extremely rocky terrain in these shoes. Because of their shallow lugs, these shoes are great for both rocky and muddy areas as well as flatter, more compact places.
Although these shoes are not waterproof, they dry rather quickly due to their lightweight nature. They’re also attractive and many hikers are initially interested in them due to their appearance. Because they’re versatile, it helps that they’re also good looking.
- Best option for comfort
- Help prevent knee pain and overall fatigue
- Visually appealing shoes
- Treads are less durable than other options
- Toe box is a bit too big
- More expensive than other options
The Altra Lone Peak Trail Running shoes offer a sturdy shoe for women who want to feel secure during their hike. Their durable construction and strong traction paired with their lightweight design puts you in control when you’re hiking in these shoes. Also, because the forefoot has a broader design, your feet are able to relax in these shoes and stay in a natural position.
The material of these shoes works well in wet conditions, although it is not waterproof, making them comfortable in a variety of conditions. They offer a soft midsole that is responsive to users’ steps to help ensure comfort during your long hikes. Finally, because these shoes are flexible, you won’t find yourself trying to cater the distribution of your body weight to the soles of these shoes. Overall, the midsole is ideal for hiking.
These shoes offer a mixed lug pattern on the outsole, which holds up well on a variety of different terrains. The lugs are actually designed into a pattern in the shape of a foot so they won’t start to aggravate your feet once you hit a tame terrain. Overall, these are great shoes to wear on uneven ground while you’re hiking.
- Best option for sturdy and secure hiking
- Offers great traction
- Not extremely breathable
- Not great for people who have narrow feet
- Some users wish for more eyelets for the laces
If you want to know if a certain shoe is going to be comfortable for hiking, test it first on some smaller hiking trails or at a local park. If they aren’t comfortable on a short hike, they definitely won’t be good for a longer hike.
However, all of the trail running shoes mentioned in this article are the best in their category, so you’re likely to find something here that will work great for you. If you’re not sure where to start, try out ASICS Women’s GEL-Venture 5 Running Shoe, as these offer great traction and are the best choice overall.