While it might seem men’s and women’s shoes are the same, there are subtle differences you need to be aware of before purchasing hiking boots.

Even if you and the opposite gender plan on taking the same route and are roughly the same size, your hiking boots will be different. What are the key differences?

How can you tell men’s and women’s hiking boots apart? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

men's vs women's hiking boots

What Are the Key Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Hiking Boots?

Have you ever looked at a pair of men’s and women’s hiking boots and noticed differences? Aside from the distinctions between the styles, there are differences you may be unaware of in the comparison.

Learning about these differences will help you realize how essential it is to choose the correct hiking boot.

  • Size differences
  • Design differences
  • Heel differences
  • Support differences
  • Posture differences

Size Differences

One of the first differences you are likely to notice between the two is the size. On average, human females have smaller feet than males.

Typically, a male’s foot is longer and often wider, though this is not always the case.

The structural supports of a woman’s feet prevent them from spreading out too far and leading to a heavy step pattern. Most women would find men’s hiking shoes too large and vice versa.

Design Differences

Another key difference, and one we briefly mentioned, is the design.

Most hiking boot manufacturers design men’s hiking boots to be bulkier and heavier.

In most cases, men’s hiking boots are more durable because they are made of rugged materials.

Women’s hiking boots are made with a sleeker design that is often focused more on fashion than durability, though there are always exceptions to the norm.

Heel Differences

The heels of hiking boots are different for women than men. On average, a woman’s heel is much narrower than a male’s. Hiking boot manufacturers pay careful attention to the heel area.

Women’s hiking boots typically have a more restricted heel box than men’s. The goal of the more restrictive box is to make a woman’s heel feel more protected and comfortable without causing any lifting while hiking.

Support Differences

Women’s feet usually have higher arches than a man’s. You will find most women’s hiking boots have a more rigid and supportive arch than a man’s hiking boot.

For this reason, men with high arches often need to add orthotic arch supports to their hiking boots.

Because a woman’s foot is more flexible, she may need a greater level of rigid support to keep her feet in proper position during a hike.

While a woman’s hiking boot is often more supportive, this does not mean a man’s boot lacks support. There is simply a difference in the levels offered.

Posture Differences

To understand the differences between men’s and women’s hiking boots, we must realize the posture contrasts between the two. Women have a walking posture that is more upright, while men walk with a slightly different posture.

For this reason, you will discover men’s hiking boots are offset in the ankle shaft by about two degrees.

What Are the Key Factors to Consider for Hiking Boots?

Whether you are a man or woman, finding the right hiking boots is essential for your comfort and safety. Knowing what to look for will help ensure you choose the best hiking boots for your needs.

Measure Your Feet

One of the first things you need to do is measure your feet. You should measure your feet at the end of the day because they are at their largest due to swelling.

Tape a piece of paper to the floor so that it will not slip around. Stand on the paper with slightly bent knees, making sure your foot is firmly planted on the paper.

Get someone to help you trace your foot on the paper. You can do it yourself, but it is a little more difficult.

You will need to mark the tip of the big toe and the bottom of the heel and then measure the space between the two. Compare the measurements of your foot against the manufacturer’s size chart to determine which size you should select.

If you are in a department store shopping for new hiking boots, you can have your foot size measured or use a Brannock device.

image credit: JimLambert @ depositphotos.com

Try On Different Pairs of Hiking Boots

You should never purchase a pair of hiking boots without first trying them on and walking around in them. Lace the hiking boots all the way up, and walk around for at least ten to fifteen minutes.

Note the following while you are trying the hiking boots.

  • Do you have ample room in the toe box? Can you wiggle your toes? Make sure your toes do not come against the end of the toe box.
  • Do your feet feel secure inside the hiking boots? Does your ankle feel protected against improper movements? Your foot must remain secure inside the hiking boot, or hiking could become dangerous.
  • Is your heel secure? If your heel slides up and down while walking, you should not purchase the hiking boots. A sliding heel will lead to blisters and great discomfort during a hike.
  • Does the hiking boot bend and flex at the ball of your feet? An inflexible hiking boot can cause major foot pain.
  • Does the shoe twist from side to side? Hiking boots need to be fairly rigid yet flexible enough to bend at the natural bends of your foot.
  • Squeeze the back of the heel. The hiking boot needs to hold your heel firmly in place without collapsing.
woman trying on hiking boots sitting on a couch

Men’s and Women’s Hiking Boots Are Different

Although you might think you can get away with wearing the wrong boot, there is a reason for the differences between men’s and women’s hiking boots. Trying to wear the wrong hiking boot could place you in serious discomfort and even danger.

Now you know the primary differences between men’s and women’s hiking boots. Allow this information to help you choose the perfect pair.

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