My rule of thumb with hiking boots: Once you find a pair that fit you well, wear them out.
Some hiking boot manufacturers still build their "women's-specific" shoes from a men's last. You want something that is made for your feet. Here are three options that work particularly well for women:
Lowa's Lady GTX ($280; lowaboots.com) has a Gore-Tex-lined nubuck leather upper and a PU midsole that absorbs shock and is a good insulator for cold weather activities like snowshoeing. This boot is built on a women's-specific last, which allows for better fit at the ankle, which in turn provides more lower-leg comfort. Designed to handle 50- to 60-pound packs for extended trips in the backcountry, the Lady GTX is likely more than enough boot for you.
I have a narrow foot with a high arch, which seems to fit Merrell's women's trail-running shoes and boots particularly well. Their Winterlude 6 ($120; merrell.com) waterproof boot has a few handy features like furry, antimicrobial Polartec insulation, a backstay with a snowshoe strap ridge, and a nubuck leather upper.
If you like the retro look and feel of a classic hiking boot, try Vasque's Summit GTX ($200; vasque.com). These waterproof boots are old-school bomber, with a chunky Vibram sole and a coffee-bean colored leather upper. At three pounds, four ounces, they're a little heavy and need a few good miles before they're properly worn in, but they'll be your BFF. Mine have lasted me at least a good ten years.
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.