How And Where We Tested
In 2018, we tested 26 pairs of boots. In 2020, we tested 10 more, and in 2021, we tested seven additional pairs plus an update of our runner-up pick. To get multiple opinions, we handed them out to 26 testers, both male and female, plus the guide authors. We asked each of our testers to hike at least 30 miles totaland they went for it, hiking in 13 states and three provinces. They tackled loose gravel, groomed trails, and brush. They schlepped through mud, splashed in water, scampered up steep inclines, slid on snow, and even wore the boots into town and around the block. They hiked during the spring, summer, fall, and winter months.
Our testers hiked for over 1,200 miles, taking more than 2 million steps across 13 states, three provinces, and four countries.
And while they hiked, they tracked their steps and distance using fitness trackers. They also recorded information about the hike and the weight of their packs. And they took notes about the terrain and climate, in addition to recording their thoughts on the boots and the break-in time required for each pair. Some hiked with kids, while pregnant, and with dogs and friends. In the end, during 2018, 2020, and 2021, our testers hiked for over 1,200 miles, taking more than 2 million steps.
Are Barefoot Shoes Good For Hiking
Barefoot shoes are designed to allow your foot to flex naturally with every step. Thanks to their thin and flexible materials, barefoot shoes let you feel the texture of the trail in the soles of your feet.
With each step, the tissues of your feet directly respond to the trail, conforming and contracting as needed. As the name suggests, the experience is similar to walking barefoot.
While barefoot shoes are known for helping hikers and runners develop strong feet, they do take some getting used to. If you have been hiking in boots or hiking shoes, the transition to barefoot shoes will need to be gradual. If you do too much barefoot shoe hiking too soon, you may experience discomfort or quickly develop an injury.
Barefoot shoes lack insulation. They also will not protect your feet from sharp objects underfoot and may be quick to wear out. While some experienced hikers have made the transition to barefoot shoes, we generally do not recommend them to beginners.
The Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2021
With a focus on comfort, durability, and performance, weve found the best hiking pants for men. Get ready to hit the trail. Read more
The Best Hiking Pants for Women in 2021
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Types Of Hiking Footwear
First, let’s take a look at the types of footwear available for hiking. Each is an appropriate choice for hiking and light backpacking, depending on your experience and objectives. After detailing the advantages of each, we’ll discuss two basic categories of hiking shoes and their attributes. And finally, we’ll guide you through the fitting and sizing for your unique foot.
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Timberland White Ledge Mens Boot
Another brand with a strong reputation for quality goods at sensible prices is Timberland, and this is a hiking boot for men that has many fine attributes. Its an attractive design made from leather and with a rugged rubber sole, is a full ankle boot design for added comfort, and is fully waterproof with an oiled finish. A padded collar and rear pull loop add to the comfort and fit, and it is available in a full range of sizes and a variety of colors. There is also a womens version. Not the cheapest, but a quality item.
Key Features Timberland, rubber sole, leather oiled upper, padded collar
Thats our list of the best lightweight hiking shoes, so what else do you need to take into consideration? Lets have a look.
How To Choose Hiking Boots
Its time to pick your most important hiking partner: your boots. Because when you swap out sore arches, blistered heels and swollen toes for, well, happy feet, any trekwhether its a quick jaunt on your backyard trail or a multi-day epic in a remote corner of the backcountrybecomes a wholly more blissful experience.
The eight boots on this list meld high-tech materials with time-tested designs to give you the best support, protection and comfort money can buy at REI. They excel when youre hauling a big load, when youre moving fast, when youre scaling mountains, when youre day hiking, when youre crushing miles, when you want a greener option and more. There is a pair of boots for everyone on this listso what are you waiting for? Its time to treat your feet.
- Weight : 2 lbs. 2 oz. , 2 lbs. 7 oz.
- Price: $240
Test Results: Working for the weekend? Consider this your one-stop boot. Everything about the venerable Lowa Renegade GTX Mid was designed with backpacking in mind. It all starts with the out-of-the-box comfort, so youll feel good wearing these puppies for the long haul. Buried inside the Renegade, Lowa hides a surprisingly cushy polyurethane midsole. It feels light and springy like a running shoe, but its far more durable. Called DuraPU, Lowas proprietary midsole returns to its original shape when you pressure it, offering welcome cushion and a little bounce to your step, one editor says.
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Merrell Lightweight Trail Chaser
If youre into hiking with the family, this is one for the kids. Its a Merrell shoe, so comes with the quality you expect from a top brand, and has a rubber sole and a suede and mesh upper construction. It has a hook and lock closure system for added comfort and fit, and a removable inner footbed. Its available in an attractive range of colors and suitable for boys and girls, and can be had in a full range of little kid and big kid sizes, at sensible prices.
Key Features kids shoe, all the sizes, rubber sole, suede and mesh, great colors
Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 Gtx
There are a lot of good things about Salomon as a brand, but the naming convention they use for their footwear isnt one.
The boots were about to analyze here shouldnt be confused with Salomon X Ultra 3, their low-top, more lightweight offering. We will, however, compare these two options throughout the rest of the text, as one of them may be more suitable for your needs than the other.
In the battle called Merrell vs Salomon, Salomon definitely takes the cake when it comes to durability. Both Salomon X Ultra 3 and Mid 3 GTX are outstandingly durable, with the latter one being particularly resistant to abrasion. After all, Mid GTX is the companys high-top offering made to endure all kinds of trail conditions.
Furthermore, Mid GTX weighs more than Salomon X Ultra 3 . As such, it provides more support and stability to its wearer. It also offers better traction, due to the already-mentioned Contagrip soles the company uses on most of its footwear. The lug pattern found on Mid 3 GTX is a true lifesaver when it comes to muddy and wet terrain.
However, this doesnt mean that the companys lighter offering, Salomon X Ultra 3, cant be used for the more demanding outdoor adventures. Just like its taller and heavier cousin, this shoe performs well on all kinds of terrain. The fact that its also more nimble than Mid 3 GTX turns it into a better option for ultralight backpackers.
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Best Hiking Shoe Brands
As you might imagine trying to figure out what the best brands of hiking shoes are is pretty subjective. However, there are a few brands that everyone knows and people who do a lot of hiking can agree on:
- Merrell Merrell is one of my all time favorite brands for shoes. All they make are shoes and they have been doing it for over 20 years.
- Columbia Columbia in my opinion is the best value proposition there is. Their gear is always of good quality at a reasonable price.
- The North Face The North Face, certainly one of the best known outdoor gear brands, they make great stuff but is not the same value as Columbia.
- adidas Adidas is well known for the sneakers and running shoes, with the introduction of the AX2 they now have a competitive hiking shoe.
- Vasque Probably not as well known as the brands here but Vasque has a quality lineup of hiking shoes.
- La Sportiva Well known for making shoes and have a huge lineup of shoes for almost any purpose you can imagine.
- Salomon Salomon has been making quality outdoor equipment since 1947 and now have some of the finest hiking shoes and backpacking boots on the market.
Best Hiking Footwear For Men And Women According To Experts
Select is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.
The first Saturday in June marks National Trails Day , launched by the American Hiking Society and the trails community over two decades ago to recognize national, state and local trails across the country. It encourages NTD-themed muscle-powered events, such as hikes, bike rides and paddle trips, according to Wesley Trimble, the communications and creative director of the AHS. Whether youre planning to participate or simply want to get hiking-ready for the warmer summer months, youll likely need the right gear to get started among your options is appropriate hiking footwear to keep your feet safe and comfortable, which is essential to a pleasant hiking experience, Trimble told us.
Hiking footwear is literally the foundation of the hiking experience, and no piece of gear is as important as great-fitting, supportive, footwear with adequate traction, he added.
An important first step to picking out hiking footwear is figuring out what youre shopping for: what features are best for certain types of trips, the difference between hiking boots and shoes and what to consider before committing to a pair.
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Best Ventilated Hiking Shoes: Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
There’s a reason Merrell’s best-selling Moab has earned the nickname “mother of all boots.” It’s an excellent hiking shoe. My first pair of hikers were Merrell Moabs, as suggested by my Appalachian Trail alum boyfriend, and they’re still holding up to this day. They’re comfy from mile one and have plenty of grip thanks to a Vibram sole and a 5-millimeter lug depth. I’d especially recommend this pair for day hikes in the summer they’re delightfully breathable. They’re also the best-selling women’s hiking shoes on Amazon and have more than 1,000 five-star reviews.
To buy: , from $68
Whats A Good Price To Pay For Hiking Shoes
All the shoes on our list range from about $100 to $200 in this price range, you can get a sturdy, dependable pair of shoes that should last you a handful of years . An all-leather shoe will typically outlast a leather-synthetic hybrid, but itll cost a little more. If youre planning on hiking only a few times a season, $100-ish will do it for a good pair, especially if you find the best prices on models .
If youre going to be putting in the miles year after year, its worth spending the extra money for a more durable pair to ensure your shoes wont need replacing after one season.
Close-up of the toe cap part of the shoe on our top 4 winners. This is a part of the hiking shoe that provides protection for your feet. The best toe cap for you depends on how you hike, where you hike, and how the shoe fits on your foot.
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Hiking Shoe Vs Lightweight Hiking Boot Vs Trail Runner Vs Mountaineering Boot
Hiking shoes are your go-to footwear for day hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. They combine many of the benefits of a trail runner with those of a hiking boot. They are more nimble than a lightweight hiking boot but also lack some protection and warmth.
Hiking boots provide weight-supporting, rock-scrambling traction. The lugs on a hiking boot’s rubber outsole keep you trekking through the muck and climbing uphill. Lugs also help you brake while going downhill. Good lugs will help you brake over scree, sand, roots, or rocky and rugged terrain. Hiking boots keep your feet protected, warm, and hopefully dry. They also offer benefits that other footwear can’t, like greater ankle support. Simply put, they’re the 4WD for your feet.
However, while the best hiking boots offer some ventilation, as a category of gear, they are warmer than other hiking footwear such as a trail running shoe, approach shoe, hiking shoe, or hiking sandal. That warmth is comforting on long days hiking in the backcountry, trudging through snow, muck, and mud in colder parts of the year.
For this guide, we want to clarify that hiking boots are not mountaineering boots. Mountaineering boots are generally designed with more insulation, stiffer soles that can handle crampons, and a more robust overall build with a higher sticker price.
Moisture and rough terrain may lead to blisters. But with some easy self-care, you can avoid them.
Best Overall Trail Running Shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 4.5 oz.Cushioning: ModerateWhat we like: A winning combination of comfort, versatility, and price.What we dont: Not a top performer in any one category.
For a trail runner that can do it all, we love the Salomon Sense Ride 4. This shoe is equally at home on quick door-to-trail runs as it is during ultra-distance pursuits, and can even handle technical cross-country terrain with ease. The all-around performance isnt surprising given the Salomons versatile design, which features a moderate amount of cushioning , generously sized toe box that accommodates our wide feet, fairly standard 8-millimeter drop, and full Contragrip rubber outsole. Weve put over 700 miles on various iterations of the Sense Ride, and the 4 has proven to be a consistently comfortable and high performance shoe for a wide variety of terrain.
Weight: 1 lb. 5.6 oz.Cushioning: MaximumWhat we like: Standout comfort and traction in a lightweight package.What we dont: Thick midsole minimizes trail feel in technical sections.
Weight: 1 lb. 6.6 oz.Cushioning: Moderate/maximumWhat we like: Truly excellent traction in soft ground.What we dont: Not versatile for easy trails or most mountain running.
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.Cushioning: LightWhat we like: A superb technical shoe with awesome traction.What we dont: Too much grip and not enough cushion for trail miles.
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The Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes
With that in mind, here are our picks for the top 16 hiking shoes:
Handmade from natural materials, theNaglev Unico Hikeris our eco-friendly choice. Its made from a combination of durable natural materials, including coconut, vegetable-dyed leather, natural gum, Kevlar, TPU, and wool. The result is a very sturdy hiking shoe. Its low profile design and a moisture-wicking sock liner also makes the Unico Hiker a comfortable choice for trail runners.
The natural rubber outer sole features moferately deep and well spaced lugs. This delivers the grip you need for tricky terrain while a supportive EVA midsole and soft footbed provide extra comfort. The Unico Hiker is also fitted with a Kevlar upper and TPU toe cap for armour-like protection that is water resistant.
Weight: 700g / 1.5 lbsUppers: Suede and synthetic
Another lightweight hiking shoe that is on the more eco-conscious side of things is the Timberland Garrison Trail Sneaker. Combining recycled plastic with sustainably and responsibly constructed suede, these stylish and contemporary sneaker-style hiking shoes are an appealing option for the modern hiker.
Weight: 815gUppers: Suede
Eco-conscious: PFC-free water repellency and eco anti-odourWeight: 856gUppers: Synthetic + Keen.Dry
Weight: 1.75 lbs / 793gUppers: Synthetic + FutureLight membrane
Weight: 1.5 lbs / 680gUppers: Synthetic + Gore-Tex
Weight: 1.25 lbs / 567gUppers: Synthetic
Keen Targhee Iii Low: The Best Hiking Shoes For Wide Feet
Weight : 1 lb. 14.8 oz
Weight : 1 lb. 9.2 oz
Upper Material: Oiled nubuck leather
Waterproofing: KEEN.Dry waterproof breathable membrane
Midsole Material: Dual-density EVA
The waterproof mens and womens Keen Targhee III Low are reliable, stylish trekking shoes for casual hiking. Keens are noted for having a wide toe box and protective toe cap sized to accommodate wide feet. Like the Merrell Moab, the classic Keen Targhee continues to get updated with features honed in with each new iteration. We think the Keens have a more modernized design than the Merrell Moabs, making them a little more stylish for day-to-day wear, but both the Targhee and Moabs are reliable choices for most hiking trails.
The mens Keen Targhee is durable and sturdy enough for a light backpacking trip.
However, the Targhee III Low is a little less form-fitting than the other winners on the list – which works out great for folks with wide feet who can never seem to find something that doesn’t pinch.
Based on our testing, they lack the kind of stability youll find in the Oboz Sawtooth, and they dont breathe as well as the ventilator version of the Moabs. But for day hikes and carrying a light pack, the Keen Targhee are capable shoes that will get the job done.
An earlier version of the Adidas Terrex, a capable hiking shoe that can take you from urban hiking to long days on trail.
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