It has almost been a decade since I broke my foot in a motocross accident. I had what they call a lisfranc fracture, where I broke four metatarsal bones on my left foot, and in doing so, those bones were far enough removed from the tarsus, that I had to have surgery and pins. Since I got back on my feet, my relationship with footwear became a bit of an obsession.
What I have found over the years is that figuring out the shape of my foot, personal size preference and just trying on tons of boots, has helped me get more dialed. I have also found that women-specific boots tend to fit my feet better since I have a small heel. Most women typically have a smaller heel, but as with all things physical, it’s not “one size fits all”. As more women are doing mountain activities, manufacturers are offering more "women specific" fits in gear, catering to those with a smaller heel, but men can reap the benefits of this size expansion as well.
I strongly suggest trying on boots before you purchase and if you can, actually testing the boot. If these options are not available to you, I recommend visiting larger retailers like Backcountry.com, to see objective reviews from verified users. This is where you’ll find out details like if a boot typically runs small or large.
Here are some of the most rugged women's boots for various conditions.
I know more people with these boots (or the slightly burlier version called the Nepal EVO) than any other boot. The Nepal Ice Cube is a real mountaineering boot for alpine objectives and big days in the mountains. It is also a great boot for ice climbing. I have met men who have bought the women's version because they love the fit and I have met women who have a wider heel who bought the men's version. The first day I wore these boots, I hike 21-miles and climbed, then climbed and hiked 17-miles the next day. No blisters, hot-spots or any rubbing.
The Charmoz is categorized as a three season boot, but of course, one person's winter could be the same temperature as another person's summer. These boots are typically used for summer hiking/mountaineering in the alpine, mixed climbing and drytooling. They are made with DryOut and are waterproof. The Charmoz are pretty lightweight – a little over one pound per boot. They are made with synthetic materials, so they don’t have as much give as a leather boot. The Charmoz have a super stiff sole, are hybrid crampon compatible and will likely be overkill for hikes on well-used trails in the summer, but will be a bomber boot for mountaineering in the summer.
Salewa Rapace boots are a cross between a stiff mountain boot and hiking boot. The upper part of the boots is made with nubuck leather and GORE-Tex. The Rapace has a soft, slightly padded heel cuff, and through wearing, will mold a bit with your feet. The sole is harder than most standard “hiking boots” – you can put hybrid crampons on them. But since they are a softer boot than a more traditional mountain boot, they are perfectly fine for more worn-in paths.
Asolo GV EVO
This is the first boot I wore after surgery. I used them for just about everything besides technical climbing. They are a one piece leather boot with GORE-Tex – although your feet will get wet if you submerge them in a creek. I actually recommend doing so (if you have time to let the boot dry out) because they will literally mold to your feet. These boots aren’t the lightest boots, but they are lighter than most of their competitors and have been a classic since they were first introduced. They are great for long backpacking trips and other day hiking adventures.
The Mammut Chamuera Mid is the kind of boot you wear around town and then for quick impromptu local hikes. They aren’t super gnarly, but they are very comfortable. They are a great alternative to a big chunky lifestyle snow boot or wearing your technical mountain boots. They are a great causal style boot that flirts with being a shoe. They have a nice soft lining and pretty good traction on the sole. They are made by Mammut, known for being a technical brand, so although the Chamuera Mid are not super technical, they are very well made.
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