The Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot is refreshingly lightweight and comfortable. These walking boots are best suited to wide feet and testy hiking conditions, providing excellent support in tricky weather conditions without weighing their wearer down.
Unsuitable for everyday use
Collect mud underfoot
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The Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot is a superb balance of hard-wearing materials with a lightweight design. They're waterproof, yet breathable, and equally suited to leisurely walks and gritty hikes. We rate them as some of the best shoes for walking .
We took the dark grey and coral boots out for several lengthy test runs (well, walks) to make sure they felt comfortable. They seriously impressed us, thanks to a good level of support, seriously grippy outsole and a lightweight feel.
You can find the best walking shoes on sale for more deals on walking shoes, or read on for our full review of these shoes below.
Design and technology
Columbia is renowned for creating resilient premium outerwear for keen climbers and weathered walkers. They’ve taken a subtle approach to design with the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot, which we love, and the model comes in standard and wide – something that will please wide-footed walkers.
The polyester mesh upper locks water out using a breathable membrane system called OutDry. The 3D print creates lightweight stability, and the Navic Fit system provides a more ‘natural midfoot lockdown,’ according to Columbia.
Our feet remained bone dry even when wading through long dewy grass, and the upper felt pliable enough to bend in step with our feet during uphill jaunts but also rigid – much needed on uneven ground. You’re far less likely to roll your ankle in these than with a low-cut shoe.
The durable rope-like laces hook tightly across the top of your feet and secure through the plump protective tongue, providing unshakeable support without suffocating. The laces aren’t waterproof, but they didn’t need retying when wet and stayed secure throughout our tests.
We tested these walking shoes in fall and didn’t find our feet overheating despite the snug fit, but we can’t speak for hotter summer months as they’re not exceptionally roomy.
Columbia uses Techlite + technology in the midsole to provide lightweight cushioning. We thought these walking boots might have us clumping across fields, but the single-density foam provided a gentle bounce – particularly under our heels – and felt just as comfortable after two hours as they did putting on.
The 100% rubber outsole uses yet another technology called Adapt Trax, which (as the name suggests) provides grippy traction regardless of the ground, but more on this below.
Fit, feel, and comfort
We generally wear between a UK 3-4 and opted for 3.5 with these walking shoes (a US 5). Initially, they felt snug, and we anticipated rubbing on the heel or jammed toes against the toe box. However, even with thick socks, the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boots felt incredibly padded and comfortable.
They’re true to fit, but we recommend going half a size up to accommodate walking socks. It’s also worth considering if you’ll be climbing hills, as your feet will press forward during the descent and require some leeway to do so without being forced against the toe box.
These walking shoes strike the necessary balance between stability and comfort. They look hefty, but are surprisingly lightweight and don’t weigh you down over time. The sponge-like midsole provided a subtle cushioned bounce as we walked, and our arches were held adequately during each foot strike. However, if you have high arches we recommend you try them before you buy or seek a specialist design.
The Peakfreak II is marketed as a hiking and backpacking shoe and cuts just above the ankles. The laces tie to the top and allow you to tighten the shoe around your ankle, which should provide ample stability if you’re braving the peaks.
As is common with hiking boots, the midsole is thicker at the heel than the forefoot, but we were surprised that the heels of the midsole on these boots were thinner than the Adidas Terrex AX4s (a cross between a hiking and trail running shoe). It perhaps partly explains why they retain their lightweight feel, and the heel still feels springy regardless.
Support and grip
The good news is that the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot requires zero breaking in.
Yes, you read that correctly. A hiking boot that doesn’t cause pain during the first few wears. We wore Adidas mid-rise sports socks with these hiking boots, and not only were our feet still dry (no leaks, no sweat) after a few hours in the countryside, but we also weren’t hobbling. Win.
As we mentioned above, you get a great blend of thick cushioning and pliability from the upper, and the shoe moves with your foot strike to improve your range of motion.
The ridged tire-tread outsoles use Adapt Trax traction tech – a system Columba says will enhance trail performance for superior grip in wet and dry conditions. We weren’t scaling mountains or climbing rocks when testing these shoes, but they felt secure underfoot, and we’d bet a top dollar they’re more than up to the job.
The only downside to the outsole is that the shoes pick up a lot of mud underfoot, which could be problematic if you’re stomping through fields. Nothing that a quick smack against a floor can’t fix.
Overall, the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II will be a staple in your backpack from the get-go and offer superior comfort and durability in one shoe box.
We couldn’t find many reviews for the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot. But the feedback we could find was positive. One user stated the hiking boots are ‘very resistant and comfortable,’ even comparing them to slippers.
Feedback also confirmed these shoes serve well on abrasive terrain and can handle ‘all kinds of hikes.’
If you prefer adventures involving treks and mountains, we highly recommend the Columbia Women’s Peakfreak II Mid Outdry walking boot. These boots are certainly made for walking, but perhaps not around a city. They offer solid protection from the outdoors with pliable support through the midsole and upper, plenty of springy cushioning, water-resistant technology, and grippy outsoles. What’s more, they won’t weigh you down.
Adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX hiking shoe
We previously labeled the Adidas Terrex AX4 GORE-TEX hiking shoe ‘the love child of trail-running sneakers and hiking boots.’ These hiking shoes resemble stylish chunky trainers but can still perform in the great outdoors. A thick heel, sturdy midsole, and high-grip outsole lend these shoes to a trail setting, but they’re also well suited to casual wear. However, they’re better worn in colder climates but aren’t fully waterproof.
Merrell Moab 3
The Merrell Moab 3 walking shoes are a clever amalgamation of hiking and sneaker qualities. We recommend them for the mountains because they provide stability, but you can happily wander in them too, and they’re low-cut for versatility.
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and resident fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Fit&Well. Having trained to work with both the mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and aims to bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of fitness. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and how we can build more sustainable training methods. You’ll find her writing about the importance of habit-building, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and workouts.
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