Best Sandal: Bedrock Cairn 3d Adventure Sandals
Also available at Bedrock
Why We Love it: They’re made with 100 percent vegan materials.
What to Consider: The thong strap design leaves the foot more exposed than other hiking sandals.
The Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure Sandals deliver the best bits of a hiking boot, in a sandal. They’re lightweight, have a molded footbed for cushioning, and feature key arch and toe support. Three points of adjustment on the straps allows for tailoring the fit to your specific feet, ideal for wet conditions. We’ve all worn those sandals that as soon as they get wet it’s a slip and slide situation in the footbed. This isn’t the case with these the geo-pattern design prevents most slippage to keep you rockin’ and rollin’ on the trail. Oh, and they’re made with 100 percent vegan materials.
Sizes: 5-14 | Materials: Rubber Vibram XS Trek Regolith outsole, polyester, nylon | Weight per pair: 1 pound, 1 ounce
Hiking Shoes Vs Hiking Boots
Perhaps the biggest point of differentiation between hiking shoes and boots is height: Shoes have a low-top fit, while boots generally sit above the ankle. Hiking shoes excel on smooth trails where rolled ankles are less of a possibility, if you keep your pack weight down, and for those who want to move fast with less on their feet. Tradition tells us that hiking boots are the better choice for heavy packs and rough trails, and in most cases that holds true today. The tall height, along with laces that hold the shoe snugly around your ankle, offer a more secure fit, greater stability, and more protection. Given the choice, we most often select a hiking shoe for their light feel, but both are viable options for day hiking, backpacking, and non-alpine peak bagging.
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Travel + Leisure writers are product and shopping experts who draw on research and first-hand experience to curate the best, up-to-date collections of items for readers. A hiking enthusiast and travel writer, Lauren Breedlove used some of her personal experience both with finding the right hiking boot, as well as using it on a variety of trails all over the world. She also scoured the internet, researching and selecting the best women’s and men’s hiking shoes and boots. She interviewed REI Co-op’s Senior Product Manager of Innovation & Footwear to gather expert insights. With all these factors, she curated this list of hiking shoes and boots for men and women.
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This review was tag-teamed by Ross Robinson, Ryan Huetter, and Ben Applebaum-Bauch. As a seasoned world traveler and backpacker, Ross often gets around on foot. It’s a big part of his lifestyle, whether in the granite peaks of his home in California’s Sierra Nevada or during his many forays abroad. He has lived and worked in places like Thailand, Peru, and Germany and has made tracks for at least 500 miles each. Ross is joined by Ryan, a full-time mountain guide who spends more than 200 days a year hiking, climbing, and recreating on and off-trail. As an IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide through the American Mountain Guides Association, Ryan is an outdoor professional, and hiking on a trail is his daily commute. Ben started his outdoor career as a guide on multi-week backpacking and cycling trips. He is an avid distance hiker, completing thru-hikes of iconic American trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast, Pinhoti, and Superior Hiking Trail, among others.
7 performance metrics:
- Versatility tests
- Water Resistance tests
- Durability tests
Build Quality And Durability
A hallmark of the Moab collection has been its impressive build quality for the price, and the latest third-generation model carries the torch. Considering this is a $110 hiking shoe, the pig suede leather and mesh upper have an impressively premium look and feel, and the soft cushioning throughout feels reminiscent of a pricier design. For reference, many of the Moabs direct competitors are more expensive, including the KEEN Targhee Vent and Oboz Sawtooth X .
In terms of durability, its still a little too early to make a definitive call, but all signs have been positive thus far. The upper is holding up well, and Merrell did a nice job strategically placing the sections of open-weave mesh to minimize issues with tearing or trail damage. The same goes for the lining along the interior and Vibram rubber outsole, both of which are in good shape with no issues to date. Ill report back here if anything changes as I continue to use the low-top shoe and boot variations of the Merrell Moab 3, but I expect they will all have a healthy lifespan.
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Midsoles: Eva Foam And Tpu
The midsole of your hiking shoe functions to cushion your stride, working as a shock absorber from impacts and providing a stable base so your feet dont have to work so hard on off-camber terrain. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very thin to stiff and substantial . Most include EVA, TPU, or a combination of both.EVAEVA foam midsoles are a common sight on running and hiking footwear. The cushy, soft material takes some of the sting out of both your heel impact and forefoot spring and is also extremely lightweight. While nearly all shoes on this list use some sort of EVA, designs can vary from super soft to mildly stiff. For logging serious miles on tougher terrain, we prefer a firm and supportive midsole as opposed to too much cushioning. If were planning on moving quickly on easy trail, softer cushioning is a better bet and commonly found in trail running designs like the Hoka Speedgoat. However, soft midsoles have a tendency to break down over time, so expect these shoes to pack out more quickly than dedicated hiking shoes.
Hiking Shoe Upper Materials
Hiking shoe upper material is not the most exciting topic, but checking the construction can give helpful insights into its performance. The type of material used will correlate directly with a shoe’s durability, water-resistance, and ability to breathe. Most often, hiking and trail shoes are made with a mix of nylon, mesh, and leather to balance cost and longevity. Below, we spell out the pros and cons for the most common materials used for hiking footwear.Synthetic Nylon and MeshWoven synthetic as well as open synthetic mesh panels are commonly used to aid breathability. These materials are not as well known for their durability, but they do a great job of cutting weight. Exceptions include shoes like The North Face’s Vectiv Exploris, which is made of tightly woven synthetic upper that has comparable levels of durability to some Nubuck leathers.
Nubuck LeatherMade of full grain leather, but given a brushed finish that has a suede-like feel, Nubuck leather is a common sight on heavier duty hiking shoes. The softer touch leather is lighter and more flexible than traditional, glossy full-leather options, and is more durable than most nylons. It does fall short in breathability, however. As a result, its common to find a mix of leather and nylon mesh for abrasion resistance and breathability, including the Merrell Moab and Keen Targhee Vent.
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Scarpa Rush Polar Gtx
Size: Unisex 36-46 , 47 and 48 whole sizesWeight: Unisex 1.5 lbs
These are the boots we’d wear to stalk an animal. Translation for all non-hunters: they excel at handling the kind of miserable terrain and conditions that hunters often face while bushwhacking through the forest in pursuit of an animal. They come with a torsional stability plate underfoot: a full-length EVA midsole with a stout, stiff TPU frame that’s narrower up front and wider in the heel, to prevent unwanted twisting of the sole.
Stout and stiff TPU material covered with EVA goes from the midsole to the heel of the boot. The TPU frame gets wider in the heel to control and prevent too much twisting of the sole. This resulted in the stiffest, most reliably supportive, and most durable sole we tested all winter. That, plus an above-the-ankle build, made them great for carrying a heavy pack full of meat and for scrambling over sharp rocks and rough trails all over New Mexico. Matched with a wool sock, the Primaloft Gold Eco insulation performed well down to about 20 degrees, and a Gore-Tex membrane kept our feet dry even after slogging through deep mud that did its best to wet them out. At nearly 24 ounces per-boot, these boots are not the lightest, but you get a lot of much-appreciated support and protection for that extra weight.
The bottom line: Best for hunters and anyone looking to tackle rough winter terrain.
How Should I Break In New Hiking Boots
More and more hiking shoes and boots are designed to tackle the trails straight out of the box. However, some boots require a “break-in” period that can range anywhere from a day of wearing them around the house to sporting them on a handful of shorter hikes before they reach their optimal flexibility and comfort level. Typically, backpacking or mountaineering boots have a stiffer design initially. The best way to break in any hiking shoe or boot is to build up your time wearing them. Start by wearing them in the house or on a short walk around the park. Then, take them on a slightly longer nature trail before working your way up to a first day hike in them. Breaking them in before your first real adventure can make a big difference, as you don’t want to get stuck in the midst of a hike with painful blisters or foot pain.
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Try Them On For Comfort
This may seem like the most obvious tip, but it’s also the most important. “What’s the point of buying a shoe if it doesn’t feel just right on your foot?” REI’s Grimes says. “A good rule of thumb when trying on shoes and boots for the first time is to find a pair that you can almost forget is on your foot. All hiking footwear is made differently, so it’s smart to try multiple to see which experience feels best to you.”
When you slip into your hiking shoe and boot contenders, make sure you’re wearing hiking specific socks, as that can affect the fit. Although sizing can be tricky, most hiking boots should fit a touch big to accommodate thicker socks. That being said, it does not ring true for every boot, so start with your usual street shoe size and work from there. Trying them on at the end of the day is also key, since most people’s feet swell a touch throughout. Make sure you have space approximately the width of your thumb between your big toe and the tip of the boot your toes shouldn’t jam into the front when walking downhill.
A Boot For Every Adventure
From stiff and stable all-leather mountain hunting boots to safety toe Lineman boots , we’ve identified and produced boots to keep you upright and comfortable in every aspect of daily life. Whether you’re headed to the Yukon on a 10-day backpack Dall Sheep hunt, or lacing up your duty boots to help protect and keep us safe, there is a Kenetrek boot designed for you and your adventure.
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Editors Choice: The North Face Vectiv Fastpack Insulated Futurelight
Size: Men’s 7-14 / Women’s 5-11Weight: Men’s 16.7 oz / Women’s 13.9 oz
Ive always been a big fan of the Steve Jobs approach: find one piece of apparel that you can wear every day, no matter the situation. For winter hiking, that’s the Vectiv Fastpack Insulated Futurelight. A rockered, high-rebound EVA midsole that doesn’t stiffen in the cold yields a propulsive, poppy ride that had us feeling fast on the trail and fresh at the end of a long hike. This boot came with a rockered sole that tested well on dirt trails here in New Mexico, a high-rebound EVA midsole that added forward momentum on gravel or snow, and a TPU plate under the forefoot that kept the boots stable over any terrain.
Packed with 200 grams of eco-friendly insulation across the entire upper of the boot, and lined with a waterproof, breathable membrane, the boots stood up to old man winter without blinking. Tester Zoe Gates wore them in deep, wet snow in Greenland and said her feet were totally dry, even after hours of postholing. . Meanwhile, in mild Santa Fe, I found that the waterproof membrane breathed well enough to keep my feet from getting sweaty . Thoughtful features were icing on the cake, like a knob on the heel that helped keep a rear snowshoe strap in place for long walks. Overall, our testers were impressed with how much effort TNF put into building a boot that’s not just designed for warmth, or deep snow, or wet trails, but for anything you’ll face from October all the way to March.
Oboz Bangtail Mid Insulated B
Size: Men’s 8-12, 13, 14 / Women’s 5-11, 12Weight: Men’s 1.3 lbs / Women’s 1.1 lbs
When you’re walking through powder, you want a tall boot. That’s why the waterproof Bangtail, with its above-the-ankle cuff, was our choice for deep snow. It’s more tailored, and thus far less bulky than a typical snow boot. But it’s almost as warm thanks to 200 grams of Primaloft Bio insulation. Translation: the Bangtails were great for longer miles in the snow, either with or without a snowshoe . Our tester Rob Douangpanya took them on a slogfest up to a 11,000-foot lake outside Taos, New Mexico and said they were easy to hike in and still kept his feet warm, even when he spent hours with his shoes completely submerged in the snow. When he had to break trail in deep drifts, he said the high cuff kept all the snow out. Just as important: Vibram Arctic Grip sole, which uses a special rubber compound for wet ice, plus siped lugs that latch on to the snow for more bite.
The bottom line: Made for deep snow.
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Best Waterproof: La Sportiva Nucleo High Ii Gtx Hiking Boots
Why We Love It: The standout traction provides an extra feeling of security on slippery slopes.
What to Consider: They aren’t especially versatile for wear off the trails.
Get caught in the rain or cross a stream with no problem in the La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots. “Keeping your feet dry will be one of the most important features when choosing a boot.” REI’s Grimes says. And the Nucleo High boots have answered that call with Nano-Cell technology and Gore-Tex Surround waterproof membranes that not only keep feet dry, but are somehow breathable, too. Water stays out and sweat escapes. They come in both regular and wide sizes, making them a great choice for most types of feet. This durable duo is lightweight and packs a cushioned sole, ankle support, and excellent traction into each boot. In addition to waterproofing, the soles are so grippy you’ll feel secure in even the wettest conditions.
Sizes: 37-43 EU | Materials: Nubuck leather, Vibram Nano XS-Trek Rubber, Gore-tex | Weight per pair: 1 pound, 6 ounces
Choosing The Right Hiking Shoes
Once youve determined that hiking shoes are right for your outdoor needs, youll no doubt want to know what to look for when shopping for that ideal pair of shoes. Several attributes are essential to figuring out the footwear that will take you along the trails in comfort and support.
Fit is the factor to prioritize as you browse the assortment of hiking shoes. Look for a pair of hiking shoes that fits snug all over your feet, but be sure they arent too tight either. And dont forget to allow your toes freedom to move.
When trying on new shoes for consideration, do so at the end of the day when your feet are a bit swollen from the day. Also be sure to wear the same socks youd wear on the trail as you try any potential boots on. This will give you the best idea of how the shoes will feel as you explore the outdoors.
Also take into consideration the materials that make up the shoes. Some materials are more lightweight than others, but offer less in the way of support. Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon offer lightweight construction and more ventilation. They also cost a bit less as well, but do have the potential to break down and wear out quicker as mentioned before.
Shop Kohls for all your outdoor essentials, including hiking shoes for the whole family, and gear up for fun in the outdoors! With lots of active apparel options, camping gear, hiking accessories, and more, were your one-stop shop for all things related to the trail!
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How To Choose The Right Hiking Boots
For the best in comfort, make sure you check our sizing chart to figure out your foot size and shop from there. For wide feet, shop wide-width shoes. Once you know what size you need, look for the features and look you want. Use our store locator to shop in-person to test fit. You should have about one finger-width of wiggle room for the best comfort.