Best Women’s Hiking Boots for the Appalachian Trail
Should ever wonder which is the longest hiking-only trail on this planet, keep in mind that it’s the Appalachian Trail. The track is more than 2000 miles, and only a quarter of the hikers manage to complete it. It can take you up to six months to finish the trail, which is why dedicated hikers include it on their “wish list.”
More than 3 million tourists check the A.T every year, but only 3,000 of them will try the “thru-hike” the whole track in just one year. The trail was made in the late 30s, and it’s part of the National Park System. The starting point is the Springer Mountain in Georgia, and the trail follows the Appalachian mountain through 14 states, all the way up to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Hiking gear is fundamental for successfully taking the AT, and how you wish to do it affects deeply the type of footwear you’ll need. Experienced and determined hikers will run, in which case trail runners make the best choice. Many hikers go with boots, with the lightweight and durable build as fundamental features for the hiking boots.
Top Women’s Hiking Boots for the Appalachian Trail
1. Vasque Talus XT GTX Women’s Boot
Don’t let the looks of the Vasque Talus XT GTX Women’s Boot mislead you; even if the boots look tough and heavyweight, they’re just rugged but lightweight.
Durability and resistance to intense wear will not be a problem with these boots as they’re made with 2.0mm waterproof leather. It’s superior nubuck leather, soft and comfortable out of the box, but taking the rocks and debris on the AT. The boots come with the Gore-Tex membrane so that they will be reliable on wet trails. No water will get inside the shoes, but moisture won’t get trapped due to Gore-Tex’s efficient ventilation.
The lace-up design comes with metal hardware for a longer life span. The padded tongue and collar protect the ankle, whereas the mesh inserts on the sides provide ventilation in the ankle area. The heel cup is very well contoured, securing the heel in place while hiking. The toe room is spacious and reinforced so that toes don’t get bruised by the rocks or impact.
Traction and grip recommend the boots for the Appalachian Trail. It’s a Vibram Megagrip outsole with deep and patterned lugs for an aggressive grip. The shoes may not be the best choice for flat feet, but they stand out with the performance, features, and, honestly, looks as they are beautiful.
2. Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe
You only need to take a look at the Oboz Women’s Sawtooth Low Bdry Hiking Shoe to see that these shoes are tough and ready to take a beat on the Appalachian Trail.
The shoes are made with durable nubuck leather and textile resistant to abrasion. It means that the shoes will take the intense wear on the AT pretty well. You cannot skip comfort, and these boots feature an asymmetrical collar for better secure and articulate support of the ankle. The rubber heel counter is molded, keeping the heel in place throughout your hike.
As you’re going to hike for hours, you need footwear that eases out your efforts as much as possible. The shoes come with OFit insole, which is molded for best fit and comfort. Moreover, the Sawtooth midsole is made with dual-density EVA for padded support and increased stability, whereas a nylon shank will give you the support you need right underfoot. Traction isn’t possible if the sole isn’t grippy and efficient on various surfaces that the AT throws at hikers. Oboz Sawtooth Low shoes come with classic Oboz outsole for a flexible and supportive wear. The patterned lugs give a good grip, whereas the molded map on the outsole’s bottom is both functional and aesthetical.
The shoes run a bit small, but that doesn’t make us change our mind when buying. These are waterproof and breathable shoes, ready to take the muddy and wet trails, and all the other tracks that the AT will give.
3. HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Speedgoat 3 Running Shoe
The more adventurous and courageous hikers who are determined to run on the Appalachian Trail should take the leap of faith with the HOKA ONE ONE Women’s Speedgoat 3 Running Shoe.
At a glance, the shoes look lightweight and great for providing you speed. That’s precisely what they are as the boots are made for attacking technical trails like the AT. The upper body is made with engineered mesh for flexible and breathable wear while ensuring structure and stability on difficult surfaces.
The midfoot overlays are TPU reinforced for a better fit, whereas the midfoot cage design will keep the shoe snug to the foot at all times. The toe room is spacious, and the toe cap is reinforced for toe protection against debris. It’s also resistant to abrasion.
The midsole is made with injected EVA, a long-lasting compound running the shoe’s whole length for soft and good support. Running mechanisms were improved through a balanced stage Meta-Rocker geometry, whereas the Vibram Megagrip Hi-Traction with aggressive lugs will enhance stability and traction. The lugs are 5mm deep, and the outsole flex grooves provide both strength and free movement.
The debate about the looks is still on, as some think the looks are pretty, and others think the exact opposite. But looks aren’t necessary on the AT; it’s more important that your shoes are waterproof, breathable, and dependable, which they are 100%.
What aspects are essential on your boots/shoes for the Appalachian Trail?
Should you plan to give it a try at the Appalachian Trail, you need to decide which type of hiking/running you will perform. How you like the move, what you’re capable of, or what foot-related problems you have will affect the final choice. Here are some aspects to consider:
When you’re on the AT, the chances are that you will hike for quite some time. Lightweight hiking boots are ideal, but you may lose on the durability, which is just as important.
Most reputed manufacturers provide reliable and tough boots without adding too much weight, so it’s worth to look for the best weight for the AT.
Type of footwear
There are several categories of footwear for hiking, and hikers should choose according to their skills and type of trail they’re going too. For the Appalachian Trail, both trail runners and hiking boots make safe choices.
The features, material, and build are more important than the type of boots/shoes you choose. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal choice.
The essential features
Waterproofness for your boots is essential, but it’s not only the waterproof membrane that makes the shoes resistant to water. The build’s quality, the number of stitches, and the technology used will make the shoes more or less resistant to moisture.
Full-grain leather is naturally waterproof, but you may still have to apply for water protection any now and then. Keep in mind to look for breathable boots, so that moisture doesn’t build up inside. Sweaty feet will cause blistering, affecting your hiking for the day.
When you’re on a challenging trail like the Appalachian Trail, support is also essential. You will hike for many hours, backpacking, so you need boots with efficient support for the ankle and heel and a rubber toe cap protecting the toes. Also, the sole has to be stiff and durable since your hikes will be long and difficult.
Stiff or soft boots?
Regardless of what newbies may think, soft boots cannot provide the support you need for hiking, especially when you’re aiming for the Appalachian Trail. You may find leather boots that are stiff and comfortable, but you may have to break them in first.
No matter your final choice, always break in the boots before hiking on the Appalachian Trail or any other trail.
Q: Do hikers choose hiking boots or trail runners?
A: According to the statistics, most hikers will choose trail runners for most of the trail and not the hiking boots. However, it all depends on how you like to hike, your skills, and the time of the year you take the Appalachian Trail.
Q: Can you use trail runners the whole Appalachian Trail?
A: The Appalachian Trail has several snowy areas where hiking boots would make a better choice. It doesn’t mean that you should go for mountain and warmest hiking boots. You may still walk comfortably and efficiently with waterproof, lightweight, and rugged boots with some insulation.
Q: Do you need more than one pair of boots for the Appalachian Trail?
A: Thru-hikers will pack 3-4 pairs of shoes and boots. The AT is a challenging trail, with areas with various conditions and difficulty levels. Hiking boots are great for the snowy and wet trails, whereas trail runners will be a better option for the dry and flat sections.