Don't quote us on this, but there are probably as many types of waterproof trail shoes as there are rocks on a trail.
Understandably, it can get overwhelming when you're looking to purchase new trail shoes.
But you're in luck because this post discusses everything you need to know to make your shoe-shopping journey less daunting.
So keep on reading to find the best waterproof shoes for women who love to trail-run.
Buying Guide: What to Look For In a Trail Walking Shoe
Before we show you our picks of the best waterproof trail shoes for women, let’s talk about some of the most important features of trail walking shoes. This will set a benchmark for our selection, as well as for when you’re doing your own research.
There are four things that you should consider when you’re looking for a trail-appropriate shoe:
In footwear jargon, tread refers to the part of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground. In most contexts, the tread is also called the “grip” of a shoe.
Most modern footwear, especially athletic shoes, has a rubber tread. But the difference is in the tread style; it can either have a macro-grip or a micro-grip profile.
What’s the difference?
Simply put, macro-grip treads have larger grooves called lugs that are responsible for gripping or biting into the terrain. Generally, muddy and snowy terrains require these deep indentations, so you don’t miss your footing.
Contrastingly, micro-grip shoes have smaller grooves that work better in hard-packed terrains.
As you can imagine, macro-grip shoes can be heavier as compared to micro-grip waterproof trail shoes. So, when you’re looking for trail shoes, remember to opt for smaller lugs. These usually measure around 2mm-4mm.
Yet another defining feature of waterproof trail shoes, cushioning refers to its capacity to absorb the force of an impact. Although cushioning refers to a system of mechanisms, most shoes use paddings in the midsoles as the significant source of cushioning.
If you ask us, there is no compromise on cushioning. On the contrary, hard-packed trails require a generous amount of cushioning to protect your feet and joints.
This is a feature that is specific to trail-running shoes, although not all trail-running shoes have it.
Basically, rock plates are plastic inserts sandwiched between the midsole and outsole. The purpose of rock platers is to stop sharp objects from penetrating the shoe and impaling your foot. This is especially useful on rocky, technical terrains.
The only downside about rock plates is that the built-in protection weighs down the entire shoe. So, if you know you’ll mostly be running on smooth trails, it’s better to let go of the dead weight.
If you live in a cold and wet environment, you should always opt for waterproof trail shoes. Generally, these shoes use a Gore-Tex technology that keeps things dry and breathable.
Keep in mind that the trade-off for most waterproof shoes for women is the breathability factor. However, finding the right balance of both is just a matter of thorough research.
Luckily for you, you’re now up to date with everything you need to know.
Don’t get us wrong; things like durability, stability, comfort, and material also matter. But the four aforementioned features are the defining features of a good waterproof trail shoe.
With that being said, let’s dive into our top picks of the best waterproof shoes for women who like to walk the trail.
Top 5 Waterproof Trail Shoes For Women
Here are our top picks for waterproof trail shoes to ground your trailing goals. From lightweight and flexible to heavy-duty technical shoes, we’ve included it all.
Senja hits that sweet spot between heavy-duty hiking boots and lightweight running sneakers with these minimalist hiking shoes.
Senja boasts the most state-of-the-art water-resistant features to keep you confident in all weather conditions. The combination of a waterproof and a FlexForm fabric ensures that no water infiltrates the shoes.
But don’t be fooled; these shoes may be form-fitting, but they still leave a lot of room for air to pass through.
Additionally, the combination of a merino wool interior and Solecast cushioning keeps you both protected and comfortable for those long-distance treks.
When it comes to the heel-toe drop, you might be surprised to learn that Senja went with a minimalist ground-feel design. But take our word for it; whether you’re a heel striker or a midfoot striker, these trail shoes will keep you light on your feet.
Lastly, the non-marking rubber soles provide the tread of a hiking boot minus the clunkiness.
In other words, you get all the functionality of a hiking boot in the comfort of a lightweight running shoe.
No list of the best waterproof trail shoes is complete without at least one mention of Merrell. The thing is, Merrell has the best collection of the most high-performance outdoor shoes in the market. And the MTL Long Sky proves why that is.
Merrell definitely checks all our boxes when it comes to reliable waterproof trail shoes. With a high resistance to the elements, the MTL Long Sky blows its competition out of the water. If you know that you’ll be encountering a lot of wet, cold, and sludgy conditions, these lightweight, tear-resistant shoes have got you covered.
But the real star of the show here is the Vibram Megagrip rubber sole.
The tread pattern on these shoes is macro-grip, providing you high-grade traction for tough trails. However, it doesn’t feel heavy or clumpy in the slightest.
Rest assured, the grip on these shoes will keep you trail athletes well-grounded on long runs in rugged mountain terrains.
Still, the shoes are highly sensitive, giving you that ground-feel without compromising on protection. That’s a tough combination to pull off.
Staying true to the brand name, the Inov-8 Roclite G 275 comes in with a novel solution to an age-old problem for trail shoes.
Whereas most trail shoes have to pick between ground sensitivity and underfoot protection, the Inov-8 women’s Roclite shoes give us the best of both worlds.
A lot of thought went into the protective features of these shoes, making sure each feature reinforces the other.
Firstly, the graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles give these shoes an excellent traction score.
In terms of protection, a high-quality protective rock plate protects your feet from sharp, rugged objects. The inclusion of the rock plate allows the outsole to be a little less thick. This inherently leads to an increased sensitivity, which in turn enhances stability on unpredictable terrains.
We wouldn’t exactly call these shoes waterproof, per se. However, they still fare well in wet weather conditions. The Kevlar-infused upper carries most of the load in terms of water resistance.
If your shoes still get wet, just take a short water break and watch them dry out in record time.
Hoka One One is famous for producing unapologetically maximalist and extra-cushioned shoes.
Fondly named after athlete Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer, the Speedgoat 4 leaves little to be desired in terms of functionality, comfort, and style.
These waterproof trail shoes definitely live up to their name and offer unparalleled uphill and downhill agility.
This is mainly thanks to the 5mm beveled lugs that provide equal levels of grip and traction on every trail.
Combined with the lightweight and responsive mid-foam, the Speedgoat 4 will make you feel like you’re gliding through the terrains.
Bear in mind, though, that if you don't enjoy excessively springy cushioning, these shoes might not be for you. Hoka prides itself on providing the most extensively-designed cushioning systems in all their shoes, so that's one thing to keep in mind.
Since the underfoot cushioning itself is so thorough, the Speedgoat 4 doesn’t use a rock plate. Instead, the outsole foam actually wraps itself around the hazard, kind of like memory foam.
This way, it absorbs most of the potential damage before you can even feel it.
Soft terrains, mud, and snow will leave even the most experienced trail runners walking on eggshells. Luckily, the Feline SL by Dynafit will inspire extreme confidence in novice trail runners as well.
The thing is, it’s extremely tricky to get good traction on soft grounds since the lugs have nothing to hold on to.
But the Feline SL strategically circumvents this problem by using an Alpine Mapping Compound outsole by Vibram.
Firstly, the shoes feature a unique lug pattern. If you look at the spikes on the outsole, they almost look like claws ready to clutch the soft earth underneath. Maybe that’s where it gets that feline name from.
Regardless, this clever design definitely incorporates a lot of zonal traction and stability.
Basically, the Feline SL uses zonal traction to provide the perfect blend of stability and traction. You get enhanced friction on the toe and heel so that you don’t lose your footing when you land. The best part is that this tactical traction accommodates both heel strikers and toe strikers.
Additionally, you get ample lateral stability for the forefoot as well as midfoot, allowing you to feel grounded even in marshy terrains.
Finding the right waterproof trail shoes can seem almost impossible if you don’t know where to start.
Hopefully, you feel less daunted after reading this post.
Just remember to keep the following features in mind: tread, cushioning, rock plate, and water resistance.
Even if you can’t find all these features in one shoe, just try to check as many boxes as you can. It might seem cumbersome at first, but trust us; it’ll be worth it.