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Off-road or in town, the top footwear for trekking travelers

Hiking shoes, like people, have different personalities. Just like bringing your party-hardy pal to a candlelit piano recital, wearing non-waterproof shoes on a soggy trail might be considered a bad mistake easily avoided. As someone who explores the outdoors for a living, I have a tried-and-true selection in my gear closet of the best shoes I’ve taken on my adventures over the past year, that way I don’t have to turn down any trail that’s calling to me. With our guide to the best women’s hiking shoes, you can match the right shoe to the right adventure and ensure you're ready for whatever arises.


The Urban Explorer

When mixing an urban trail into a city day, it helps to have a shoe that can handle the rougher side of nature while still looking sleek enough for city streets. The Forsake Range Low shoes are constructed of nubuck leather and breathable micro mesh, have a Vibram Megagrip outsole to resist slippage on pavement or rocks, and feature a seam-sealed internal membrane to keep feet dry. After the adventure, roll on into the restaurant or museum, and nobody will know where you’ve been unless you tell them. $140; forsake.com

The Forsake Range Low

The Town and Country

Designed to withstand the climate and terrain of the Pacific Northwest, the Danner Mountain 600 Low shoes combine years of classic styling with lightweight innovation, and the low profile makes them perfect to take from trail to tavern. Rich, durable suede with a Danner Dry lining provides a waterproof barrier between feet and the elements, and the Vibram SPE midsole and Fuga outsole combine comfortable cushioning with hardcore grip on wet and dry surfaces—bar floor or mountain ridge. $160; danner.com

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The Danner Mountain 600 Low

The Trail Runner

Runners who prefer trails over the road need specialized shoes that both cushion feet from roots and rocks and have a serious sole that holds up to all kinds of rugged terrain. The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 has a Vibram MegaGrip high-traction outsole with five-millimeter lugs that provide supreme grip on varied terrain, an oversized EVA midsole that supplies midweight cushioning and stability, and open-engineered mesh construction to maximize breathability. Whether the trail holds hard rocks or slippery mud, running will almost feel like dancing. $140; hokaoneone.com

The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2

The Rock Hopper

Shoes that fit well and stay stable while you’re hiking on rocky trails, or even making your way through a boulder field, are a hiker’s best friend. La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX shoes are mid-cut to give your ankle a little more stability, and the Vibram Nano outsole delivers excellent traction in a variety of terrain by virtue of its Impact Brake System that varies the size and placement of the lugs for optimal rock-hopping. These shoes stick well to granite slabs, packed dirt, loose scree, and mud. $185; scarpa.com

The La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX

The Soggy-Trail Hiker

Wet feet can turn a great hiking day into a miserable one, so reliable waterproof shoes and boots are always treasured by hikers. The Vasque Mesa Trek UltraDry boots incorporate a proprietary UltraDry membrane that gives peace of mind in soggy trail conditions. They also have deep, multi-directional lugs that are molded in Vasque’s AxisGrip rubber compound for longevity and high-performance traction, particularly in loose or muddy trail conditions. And when your feet are dry and comfortable, all the sights along the trail look a lot better. $140; vasque.com

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The Vasque Mesa Trek UltraDry

The Off-Road Sandal

When the weather is warm and the trails meander alongside creeks with sparkling, cool water, shoes seem almost excessive. Wiggle your toes in Chaco Z/Cloud X2 sandals, which are no old-school Chacos. The sandals have a top layer of ultra-soft PU to cushion feet, double-strapped polyester jacquard webbing that wraps around the foot and midsole (including a toe loop for secure movement) for a fit customized to your foot, and a ChacoGrip rubber compound in the sole for traction in wet conditions. $110; chacos.com 

The Chaco Z/Cloud X2

The Pack Hiker Boot

Backpackers prefer to travel light, but when they have to haul a lot of items in their pack, they need boots that will provide solid support. The Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX boots support the ankle and offer great protection for hikers without adding a lot of weight to the equation. Vibram soles keep traction on a variety of trail surfaces, and Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Footwear lining combines durable waterproofness and optimized breathability. The great support may tempt you to overpack, but give yourself a break and enjoy the hike. $235; scarpa.com

The Scarpa Kailash Trek GTX

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