With such a wide selection of ultralight and lightweight hiking shoes and boots on the market today it can be overwhelming to choose a pair, so we’re here to help.
Below you’ll find our curated list of the best lightweight hiking shoes, and mid-cut hiking boots on the market today. Included in each section is a detailed description of their construction materials, design, and why we know they’re among the best shoes you can bring along on a wilderness adventure.
What are the Best Women’s Ultralight and Lightweight Hiking Shoes, and Boots?
- Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiker
- Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
- KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe
- Altra Women’s Lone Peak 4 Trail Running Shoe
- Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
If you haven’t found your way over to our informative article about the different aspects of hiking shoe anatomy, in addition to how to choose a pair of hiking boots or shoes, then go ahead and click this link below.
There’s loads of great information that will help you on your journey, including some hiking shoe vocabulary which will be used in the sections below.
We’ve also written an article that details the possible injuries you can sustain to your feet and that can be found below. As far as we’re concerned, this is essential information for any backpacker.
Also, if you haven’t had the luxury of experiencing wrightsocks made of merino wool, you absolutely need to try them! When they’re combined with high quality trail runners, foot injuries such as blisters are a thing of the past.
We really can’t stress how amazing these socks are, so we’ll provide the link here above if you’re interested in enjoying a pair, and trust us, you will enjoy them. We honestly refuse to purchase any other socks now after trying these.
Anyways though, we hope that you’ll check out those awesome articles above, and pick up a pair of wrightsocks to try, but without further ado, here’s our selection of the best ultralight and lightweight hiking shoes and trail runners on the market today.
Best Women’s Ultralight and Lightweight Hiking Shoes and Boots
The immensely popular Siren Edge Hiker by Merell is a top of the line ultralight hiking shoe with every feature that you could need, and maximum comfort.
Very small lugs line this shoe’s Vibram rubber outsole, and due to the small size of the lugs, this shoe is most well-suited for ultralight backpacking with low base weights on well-maintained trails.
The Siren Edge is constructed with a synthetic mesh upper, which is the outside top part of the shoe, and this mesh material allows for super fast drying. The shoes also sport a mesh interior lining for maximum moisture wicking and a bellows tongue to keep water and debris out of the toe box and heel.
The structure of the shoe comes from the shank which is a strip of material that gives the shoe its rigidity. In this shoe, it’s made of a molded nylon shaped into an arch to provide support to your foot’s arches.
For your heels, the shoe has a built-in air cushion to provide heel support and a thick and comfortable heel cap pad to protect your Achilles’ heel from grinding on the shoe during a full range of motion.
What we love about these shoes is that they’re super lightweight and only weigh around 12 ounces (~0.35kg), plus the shoe comes in an incredible array of beautiful colors, and they’re very comfortable with every feature that you’d ever need in an ultralight hiking shoe.
We’re personally fond of the “Astral Aura” color in the image above, but it’s really difficult to get them in that color, so if they’re in stock you’ll have to jump on the opportunity.
Crafted from suede leather with interwoven mesh the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe has a Vibram rubber outsole with larger lugs than the Siren Edge which provides better traction with heavier weighted backpacks.
With leather and larger lugs, these shoes are more sturdy and provide better traction off-trail, but this is at the cost of weight. The Moab 2 Vent weighs in at 27 ounces (~0.77kg) which is over double the weight of the Siren Edge, and almost four times heavier than the Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners listed below.
However, this weight disadvantage is also an advantage in a couple of ways because these shoes are constructed with more dense materials which also makes them much more durable increasing their lifespan.
In addition, with the leather, more heavy duty materials, and thicker lugs, the shoes weigh a bit more, but this added weight helps your foot press into the ground more deeply and improves stability and traction with each stride.
Also, the synthetic mesh interwoven and spaced out into the upper of the shoe provides much-needed ventilation which allows your feet to breathe and improves the drying rate of your shoes while you’re walking, or when you’re airing out your shoes in the vestibule while you’re sleeping.
As with the Siren Edge, the Moab 2 Vent has a Nylon Arch Shank to provide extra support, stability, and protection for your feet should you step on a rock or tree root in a bad way. These shoes are wonderful for three season hiking off-trail with a heavier pack, and they’re even large enough to fit crampons should you need them.
If you’re fine with the extra weight and you’re looking for a sturdy hiking shoe with larger lugs to provide higher traction on more rugged terrain, then the Moab 2 Vent is a great choice to go with.
With a significantly larger arch and more pronounced lugs, these shoes would seem like they’re heavy and best for traditional backpacking with a heavy pack, but they only weigh 13.3 ounces (0.38kg).
Since these shoes are so light they’re great for ultralight backpacking, but with their larger lugs, they’re also versatile enough for traveling off-trail on rugged terrain.
The upper of the KEEN Voyageur hiking shoes is constructed from water-resistant leather and mesh which makes them durable, and breathable, but still exceptionally lightweight despite their more heavyweight materials.
The reason that these shoes are able to be made of leather, but still be so lightweight, is by having an EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) midsole which is a highly lightweight synthetic material that provides rigidity and ability to the shoe.
In addition, one notable feature of the shoe’s outsole is a section of the heel which extends downward and is essentially an extra large lug. This lug’s designed for walking down hills and prevents you from slipping and sliding down the slope while carrying your pack.
In conclusion, these shoes are very high quality and exceptionally lightweight, and their leather and mesh construction increases their durability while still allowing them to vent moisture with no trouble at all.
What we love about these shoes is their extreme light weight while retaining all the functionality of heavier boots including larger lugs. These shoes are unique in this way and one of a kind.
So, if you’re looking for a very lightweight pair of hiking shoes that can go off-trail on rugged terrain and can help you accomplish almost any task in three season backpacking, then these are the shoes for you.
One of the most feature rich and highly engineered shoes to ever grace the backpacking market are the Lone Peak series of trail running shoes by Altra. The Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners are among the absolute top of the line shoes you can own right now, and if you’re in the market for your first pair of hiking shoes, you’re in for a real treat. These are our top pick for ultralight hiking shoes, and you’ll see why.
Weighing in at just 9.1 ounces, or 258 grams, the Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners are among the lightest shoes on the market, with more features than a Swiss Army Knife, and it’s difficult to cover all of them in a concise way.
To start, we’ll first mention the lugs on the MaxTrac rubber outsole by saying that they’re well-diversified and have a range of short-sized inner lugs and medium-sized outer lugs, which are great for well-maintained trails, or even rugged off-trail adventures.
A lot of trail runners tend to be shoe-horned (pun intended), into only really being great for well-maintained trails due to the shortness of their lugs, but the lugs on these shoes will give you excellent traction regardless of the terrain you find yourself on.
Next, we have a wonderful feature that wasn’t present on the previous generation of Lone Peak shoes, but was added for the fourth generation, and that’s the Gaiter Trap.
With four points of contact, the Gaiter Trap will allow you to secure and attach gaiters to your shoes to protect your legs, ankles and feet from dirt, sand, mud, rocks, and snow.
Gaiters are primarily best if you plan on hiking in a desert, or rocky terrain because they’ll keep small pebbles from entering your shoes, but they’re also great for snow hiking.
If you’d like to see an example of gaiters that work well with Altra shoes, we’ve provided an excellent choice below created by Altra themselves. These Altra Gaiters come in twelve different colors, so by no means are you limited to just the grey one we provided as an example.
Next, the fourth edition of the Lone Peak trail runners have been given an expanded toe box to improve toe positioning for better traction, decreased toe friction, and a more comfortable stride. The shoes have also been ergonomically designed for the natural shape of a woman’s foot for improved stability and foot support.
In addition, these trail runners have a shank called StoneGuard which will protect your feet from sprains or injury by distributing out pressure into the mid-sole and outer more efficiently if you step on a rock or tree root.
For those wondering, this is our definite winner as the best hiking trail runners on the market right now. The next pair of boots are the best option only if you’re planning on snow hiking, but for absolutely every other journey, you’d be best wearing a pair of these trail runners.
In conclusion, the Lone Peak 4 Trail runners produced by Altra are incredible, and while they do have the standard price tag for a pair of hiking shoes, a little over a hundred dollars, you can get a 8-10% discount from time to time using the Honey plugin for Chrome or Firefox. Finally, if you’ve never experienced a pair of real hiking shoe before, these are definitely going to change the way you feel about shoes forever.
Last on the list, and one of the best choices on the market for winter hiking, not necessarily for three season hiking like the other shoes on this list, are the Moab 2 Waterproof Mid-Cut Hiking Boots.
This selection being last on the list may seem strange since we’ve listed the Moab 2 earlier, but those were the low-cut vented hiking trail runner version of these boots, and instead these boots contain a waterproof membrane layer which is great for snow hiking.
While these boots cannot be called ultralight, or even really lightweight when compared to trail runners, for a mid-cut hiking boot made of leather, the fact that these only weigh just shy of 1 kg, or about 32 oz, is really quite nice.
In addition, these boots are large and heavy duty enough to allow for ice cleat crampons to be attached for more icy terrain, but they’re not so heavy that they’ll tire out your feet with every step you take, like some of the heavier hiking boots on the market.
We strongly suggest that if you’re going to choose this shoe that you read our article on how to properly wear a mid-cut or high-cut hiking boots linked at the top of the page to avoid the growing pains of learning how to wear and use a shoe of this size.
In conclusion though, the mid-cut Moab 2 by Merrell is a versatile shoe that can handle winter backpacking and is waterproof and durable enough to withstand very harsh treatment on the trail. While we do suggest a lighter shoe for most people, if you’re planning to do some winter hiking, these are a great shoe for you to choose.
For the times when you’re looking to ultralight hike on a well-maintained trail, we suggest using more lightweight shoes with smaller lugs such as a pair of KEEN Voyageur, Merrell Siren Edge, or the amazing Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners because you’ll have much higher traction with more lightweight packs, and decrease the overall burden on your body since your feet aren’t carrying unnecessary weight.
If you want to carry more weight, then heavier shoes are better for heavier backpacks and often times will have larger lugs to increase their traction and digging power into the trail. In cases such as this where you’re carrying a heavier load, you’d be better off using the Moab 2, or the mid-cut waterproof Moab 2 for maximum trail stability.
Regardless though, we hope that you’ve enjoyed our list and reviews on some of the most popular and absolute best ultralight hiking shoes on the market.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions we would love to hear them in the comments below.
As always though, thank you so much for being here, have an absolutely wonderful day, and of course, Happy Paragon Trails!