The impact between your heel and the earth matters; the traction and stability that you sustain on the hiking trail matters; in short, your hiking shoes matter a great deal more than most people think. For some of us, hiking boots are uncomfortable and come with their own series of issues, but that’s where hiking shoes come into play.
Your equipment is an extension of you and your abilities, and high quality gear can help account for minor discrepancies in those abilities. Your feet are designed to balance pressure, impact and stabilize your body, but when you’re out on the hiking trail, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going to happen. The best hiking shoes act as an extension of your prowess, and maintain your grip, balance and stability while in uncharted territory. The terrain is wild, but with our top picks in this guide, you’ll be able to tame it one step at a time.
The Best Hiking Shoe
Columbia is one of those few brands that reign supreme in all areas of outdoor wear, but when it comes to boots, they’re undeniably superior to the competition. The Newton Ridge hiking boot comes with a completely waterproof full-grain leather construction, as well as a touch of suede thrown in there. For keeping the rain at bay and maintaining your traction on slippery hiking trails, nothing compares. If you’ve got wide feet though, you’re going to run into a bit of an issue. These are fairly narrow boots, so if you usually wear a size wide, this could be a bit uncomfortable to slip into. The pull-on loop near the heel isn’t designed to last too long, but the durable rubber insoles are built to withstand just about anything that you put them through. For more reliable footwear check out our guide to the best trail running shoes for men.
Comfortable rubber insole
Full-grain leather and suede construction
Tactile grip helps maintain traction in adverse weather
- Weight4 pounds
Fully waterproof for added protection
Rust resistant lace loops
Pull-on loop frays after three months of use
No option for wide feet
Adidas has the market cornered when it comes to style, but we were a bit surprised to find that they ranked so highly when it came to outdoor function as well. The Adidas Ax2 hiking shoe is built to encase your foot in stabilizing support, from the contoured heel cap right on down to the EVA midsole to balance impact resistance. That’s all excellent support for where it counts, but you will find that the toe box is a bit thin. Adidas only really fell flat on the sock liner: it’s generic, and will need to be replaced after a short amount of time. That being said, you still benefit from the high traction outsole that makes this shoe excellent in wet conditions, as well as the quick lace-up system. Make sure you also check our guide to the best high tops.
Feels like a low-top shoe
Complete textile construction
Supportive heel cap w/ pull-on loop
- Brandadidas outdoor
- Weight4 pounds
EVA midsole balances fatigue and impact resistance
High traction outsole performs exceptionally in inclement weather
Molded sock liner is extremely basic and will need to be replaced in 3-6 months
Toe box is rather thin
Merrell made a few appearances on this list, and nothing beats their Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes in terms of durability. Made of suede and mesh, they designed these to be ultra-breathable while still providing ample protection. Closed cell technology in the tongue helps keep debris and dirt on the outside of your shoes where it belongs, but you’ll find that waterproofing has taken a backseat during the design process. These are best suited for casual hikers who don’t see themselves in inclement weather situations. The only other downside is that suede can be a bit of a pain to clean. You get added stability in the form of a rubber toe cap, as well as a padded heel box to support proper ankle stability while you’re out on the trail. If you like stability in footwear, check out our guide to the best stability running shoes.
Ten different colors and styles to choose from
Complete suede leather and mesh build
Synthetic sole w/ cushioning
- ModelMOAB 2 VENT-M
- Weight12 ounces
Rubber toe cap helps provide stability and added protection
Closed cell tongue helps keep dirt and debris out of your shoes
Difficult to clean
We fully understand that you’re looking to keep it budget-friendly while getting to enjoy one of your favorite outdoor activities, which is what brought us to Vasque Men’s Juxt Multi-Sport Shoe. They fell in between mixed opinions, because we’re huge fans of the padded tongue, collar, and the overall comfort of this hiking shoe. Vasque would have ranked higher if a few aspects were improved, such as the lacing system. It’s quick to tighten your shoes, but without metal eyelets to keep things nice and tight, you’ll experience loosening after a few hours of use. While suede leather is comfortable and rather breathable, it’s difficult to clean. Vasque’s primary attribute is the TPU plate and EVA midsole, which offers unbelievable stability even in adverse terrain. If you go off the beaten path, Vasque and their OTG outsole system will keep you at peak performance. For more sports footwear, check out our guide to the best basketball sneakers.
100% suede leather construction
Durable EVA midsole increases comfort
Padded tongue and collar
- Weight2.88 pounds
TPU plate midsole offers stability on any and all terrain
OTG outsole perfectly contours to applied pressure points
Difficult to clean (should not be machine washed)
Lacing system loosens after a few hours of use
The North Face is another brand that’s style-centric, but they’ve come out of the woodwork to give their competitors a run for their money. Their focus on this hiking shoe was based on improving traction, so you can hike and go on a run without worry. There’s two separate styles of traction pads on the outsole that provide enhanced grip even on dry, loose dirt. With running in mind, The North Face made The North Face Ultra 109 GTX Trail Running Shoes unbelievably breathable, though at a cost of absolutely no waterproofing. Even light rainfall will begin to seep into your shoe, so plan these for dry days only. If you’re going hiking during the colder months, these will keep you warm down to about 25 F (based on user information), increasing their versatility. Don’t use them on asphalt, and they’ll last you for years to come. For more waterproof optionc, check out our water shoes for men review.
Warm design makes this optimal for year-round hiking
True to size ordering
Dual eyelets near collar for various lacing techniques and tightness
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight12 ounces
Dual traction pad design makes it nearly impossible to skid, even on loose dirt
Lightweight construction keeps these breathable at all times
Prolonged walking on asphalt severely damages traction capabilities
Zero resistance against water, including light rainfall
Adidas created something that truly doesn’t look like what you’ll find on the shelves of any department store. There’s no tongue to this innovative hiking shoe, which looks a bit bizarre at first glance, but benefits you in more ways than you know. You’ll be wrapped in insane comfort thanks to the high collar sock liner that wicks away sweat from your feet, though you’ll find that the lacing system only provides minor tightening adjustments, so it’s very important to lock in your exact size during purchase. The only other downside is that you’ll see a major fluctuation in pricing depending on your size and current customer demand. Adidas built Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker Boots with their Continental rubber outsole, granting superior traction to anything you’ve used before. Fantastic comfort and traction in wet weather, but a delicate purchase process. Be sure to also check out our list of the best soccer cleats for more great items like this.
Fully manmade fabric construction
Lightweight rubber toe box covering
High back pull loop on sock liner
- Brandadidas outdoor
- Weight3.55 pounds
Sock liner provides full ankle support and comfort
Continental rubber outsole is built to withstand slippery conditions
Extremely unstable price range (depends on demand)
Lacing system only provides minor support
Salomon wanted to discern themselves from the common hiking shoe, which led to over ten different eye-catching styles to separate you from your mates on a hiking trip. Beneath the surface, they’ve included a handful of excellent features to deliver on top-line function. With Salomon Men’s X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Boot you get a set of strategically placed foam block padding to help stabilize your heel during hiking, aided by the rubber toe box covering to keep your feet where they’re supposed to be. With all that stability, they unfortunately missed the mark on wide sized shoes. Even if you order in a wide size, they still feel too narrow, which is why we recommend going half-a-size up. The lacing system is quick and effective, but doesn’t leave much room for customization, so you’ll have a small range of how tight or loose you can make these shoes. Salomon is able to keep the price low regardless of your shoe size thanks to the lightweight synthetic and textile construction, which feels nice and light on your feet. Our handy guide to the best white sneakers features more great products like this.
Includes a two-year manufacturer warranty from purchase date
Synthetic material and textile construction
Durable non-removable rubber insole
- Weight2.42 pounds
Dual grade outsole rubber maintains traction in extreme situations
Enhanced heel stabilization due to strategically placed foam padding
Quick lacing system has a narrow tightening range
Even wide sized shoes feel a bit narrow
Camel Crown hiking shoes are built for both men and women, and did something that their competitors dared not to: kept the exact same affordable price regardless of size. There’s no price penalty just because you have bigger feet, but do remember that you get what you pay for. We enjoy Camel Crown’s shoes, though it’s important to keep in mind that these are built to last for about one to two years. If you get any more out of that, you’ll be lucky. For the duration, they provide excellent traction thanks to the multiple rubber types on the outsole, all while keeping your feet wrapped in glorious comfort, partially responsible by the dual density foam midsole. These lack a bit on heel support, but still help you maintain stability with deep treads that grip the earth. Be sure to combine this with cool insoles from our list.
Easy-to-clean synthetic and textile build
Deep outsole ridges help to maintain stability at all times
Lightweight shoes at under 1.4 lbs (on average)
- BrandCAMEL CROWN
- Weight1.32 pounds
Wildly inexpensive regardless of size (no price penalty for bigger shoes)
Dual density rubber midsole keeps your feet comfortable even after a 10-mile hike
Rear heel is comfortable, but not very supportive
Average life expectancy of 1-2 years
RAX fell into a funny spot on our list. On the one, RAX Lightweight Trekking Shoes for men are extremely affordable and designed to last for at least three to five years. On the other hand, you’ll run into a few issues, such as a lower than average platform. That doesn’t help with traction, but if you take a look at the reviews, you’ll see a lot of users that designate these shoes for nature trails and mostly flat ground expeditions. For that, these work a treat. RAX includes an EVA midsole to help maintain stability, as well as a high padded collar to prevent dirt and debris from slipping inside. Choose from three different styles to fit your current hiking gear, and slip into some stellar heel support that makes a ten-mile hike feel like two. Love this product? Check out our review of the best crossfit shoes for our top picks.
EVA midsole provides excellent stability
Suede leather upper
Front and back pull-on loops
- Weight 1.87 pounds
Average lifespan of three to five years
Anti-collision toe cap prevents slipping
High tongue can irritate your ankle from extended use
Low platform height limits traction
Under Armour is a ride-or-die type of brand: people either have a full wardrobe of Under Armour gear, or none at all. If you want to mix it up a bit, their inexpensive Mirage 3.0 hiking shoe is just the ticket. There’s a heavy focus on stability and protection, made apparent by the TPU heel and toe box coverings. From there down to the comfortable and supportive midsole, you’ll be equipped for extra long hikes. They fall flat on waterproofing for the simple reason that their manufacturing process is a bit of a gamble, because you’ll either get a fabric exterior or textile depending on availability, each of which aren’t designed to tread water. With excellent traction and an even better price tag, UA put the pedal to the metal with this pair. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best cross training shoes.
High traction rubber outsole
Lightweight mesh upper doesn’t drag you down
Leather insole for increased comfort
- BrandUnder Armour
Quality EVA midsole helps with impact resistance
TPU heel and toe cap keep things extra secure
You’ll either receive fabric or textile through no choice of your own
If you start treading water in your hiking shoes, you’re going to have a rough rest of the trip. Merrell and their Alverstone hiking shoes offer excellent protection against the elements for all-weather hikers, as well as an air cushioning system embedded in the heel to keep the stress off your joints. Made of leather and textile, these shoes are fairly durable, until you get to the pull-on loop on the heel. It frays after light use, as does the surrounding material. We haven’t found this to impact water resistance, but it’s still not something you want to see in a median-priced hiking shoe. If you notice a lot of impact resistance in your heel, you’ll be happy to know that the Alverstone hiking shoe comes with a fully removable footbed. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best shoes for spartan races.
Primary leather and textile build
Removable contoured footbed
Comfortable quick lacking system
- Weight3.5 pounds
Highly waterproof, ideal for all-weather hiking
Air cushion located in the heel helps absorb shock and reduce fatigue
Most users agree that you need to purchase half-a-size up
Pull-on loop and heel material fray fairly easily
Last but not least, you can’t ignore Keen’s take on the budget-friendly hiking shoe. Keen put heavy focus on making these hiking sneakers as breathable as you can get by targeting key ventilation areas that other brands ignore entirely. That’s the main sell of Keen Targhee Vent hiking shoe, but as we’ve found, breathability and waterproofness are usually mutually exclusive. There’s a light grade water resistance rating on part of the exterior, but it really doesn’t do much. You’ll have plenty of cushioning from the padded collar and tongue, and stability in your ankle thanks to the leather and textile construction. If you opt for this hiking shoe, we do recommend getting a separate insole to add in.
Multiple contact traction pads
Leather and synthetic construction
Padded collar tongue provides comfort
- ModelTarghee Vent M
- Weight2.68 pounds
Extreme breathability cuts down on moisture buildup
Fabric lining has an odor-controlling layer
Very light grade water resistance rating
Insole is thin; you could benefit from a separate insole purchase
Hiking Shoe Buying Guide & FAQ
We know it’s difficult to get matched with your ideal pair of shoes, but never fear—this guide is designed to give you all the information you need to get the perfect pair that fits your style and needs. Hiking shoes are one of your most essential pieces of gear, offering protection, comfort and stability for every stretch of rugged terrain you encounter. Let’s find your perfect match.
How We Chose Our Selection Of Hiking Shoes
Brand – For every reputable shoe and boot brand, there’s a dozen copycats in their wake trying to trick consumers. Brands matter heavily when it comes to footwear, especially when you consider warranties, customer support, replacements on sock liners and insoles, and durability.
Reviews – User reviews help us to whittle out hundreds of different hiking shoes that we look at, and assist in painting a picture of how different brands respond to issues. Intelligible reviews are used to create our shortlist, so that we can purchase and test them to bring you the best of the best.
Price – Hiking shoes can get pricey, which is why we’ve done what we can to locate excellent deals and inexpensive models from top-tier brands. We believe in the saying “You get what you pay for,” so while some of these hiking shoes are inexpensive and effective, you’re going to see the best versions of many features in the more expensive shoes.
Features To Look For In Hiking Shoes
Material – Rubber, full-grain leather, suede and more: materials matter, because they’re going to dictate features like stability, support and comfort throughout use. You’ll also want to pay attention to materials so you know how to maintain, clean and generally care for your shoes.
Waterproofness – You can’t always know what’s ahead on the trail, or if that rainstorm is going to come in an hour or two ahead of schedule. Waterproofness usually trumps breathability, because a fully waterproof exterior means there’s no moisture getting in or out. Thankfully, you can still have a bit of breathability with a quality sock liner. We rank waterproofness among the top of the list on primary features you should look for.
Support – With all the miles you’ll walk in these shoes, support is near the peak of the priority list. You’ll be supported by midsoles, arches, ankle enclosures, lace materials, toe box strength and the way the back of the shoe cups your heel. If you misstep out on the hiking trail, you want shoes that have enough support to keep you upright and get you back on track.
Grip – Traction is one of the primary reasons to buy hiking shoes in the first place. If they don’t grip the ground beneath your feet, then they’re not worth your time. We all walk a bit differently—some have a harder step, some of us walk on our heels, but the fact of the matter is, a good pair of hiking shoes will account for any shortcomings in how you walk.
Durability – How often you hike and the caliber of the boot/shoe matters. For instance, Columbia boots are designed to last for five or more years, and they’re built for serious campers. Some other brands are inexpensive, short-term solutions that will tatter with light use. Durability can be measured in the material of the main enclosure, treads, lace type, and ankle supports.
Breathability – A lot of this is going to depend on your sock liner and insoles, but a fair bit will also depend on ventilation that “breathes” by pulling air in and pushing it out with each step to cool your feet down. The main thing with hiking shoes and boots is choosing between breathability and waterproofness, so decide what’s more important from the get-go. As discussed before, waterproof boots still have a way to be a bit more breathable.
Lacing System – Most hiking shoes and boots have a series of metal eyelets that provide a simple way to run your laces through, and allow for a series of different lacing patterns and knot styles. It’s less about the hardware and more about what you do with it, but you should still be on the lookout for rust resistance eyelets that won’t tarnish with age and use.
Protection – You could be taking these hiking shoes anywhere in the world, so having proper protection from whatever’s out there is imperative. Protection refers to puncture resistance, ankle support, and basically just being thick enough to withstand scrapes and tumbles.
Insoles – Don’t you want them to be comfortable? The insoles determine how much you’re actually going to enjoy wearing these hiking shoes, as well as your ability to prevent blisters. Insoles and sock liners are often one in the same, which help to wick away sweat and keep things nice and cool.
Fit – If it doesn’t fit, you’re going to end up with blisters and a bunch of terrible memories from a painful hike. Because your feet are covering so much terrain, the fit determines how your feet deal with impact resistance. Before buying a pair of hiking shoes, understand what type of fit you are (wide, narrow, flat, etc.).
Hiking Shoe FAQ
Q: How do I clean hiking shoes?
Trekking shoes get fairly dirty in a short amount of time. The main problem that men’s hiking boots have is that the treads along the bottom get gunked up, which reduce the benefits of having hiking shoes in the first place. Traction is one of the main reasons that you get a pair of hiking boots in the first place, so the first step is to clean the bottom.
Use a soft plastic bristle brush to remove stuck-on dirt and debris from the treading. You don’t want to apply too much pressure and cause additional divots in the treads, so take your time to remove anything that’s caked onto your boots. Use a cloth to cover the surface of the boots, lightly removing mud and grime that might be stuck onto the toe box. The outside is done, so it’s time to focus on the interior.
If you have a built-in sock liner, you can’t slip them out and wash them separately. That would be the best-case scenario, because you can throw them in a delicate wash, and that’ll do the trick. If not, you’ll have to put them through a light wash in the washing machine.
Stick to cold and delicate, because sock liners have natural cushioning that could get tattered or tarnished on a hotter setting. Use a minimal amount of detergent if you have an HE washer. When it comes time to throw these in the dryer, there’s two things to keep in mind. If you don’t want the ankle support to warp, put a tennis ball in each shoe before putting them in the dryer. Afterwards, stuff 3-5 paper towels in your shoe (all the way down to the tip of the toe box) and leave them overnight, just to absorb any moisture that may have been trapped.
Q: Do hiking shoes improve hiking?
A: We would like to say that 100% of your ability to hike is in your own physical prowess, but your gear does matter. Trekking boots help maintain your balance, traction and provide stability while you’re hiking. Think of a quality pair of waterproof hiking boots as a way to minimize variables. You’re dealing with constantly changing terrain that challenges your abilities, but your hiking shoes can equalize the playing field and reduce your chance of sustaining an injury. In short, yes, good hiking shoes and boots will improve your hiking.
Q: What is the best way to tie hiking shoes?
A: In a moment, we’re going to talk about preventing blisters while hiking, and one of the ways you can do that is by properly lacing up before you hit the trail. There is a superior way to tie your lightweight hiking shoes, and it all depends on what type of arch you have.
For a low arch or a totally flat arch (typically found on hiking shoes for women), you want a tighter lace at the bottom of your shoes. If you have a high arch, or you simply find more tension on the bottom of the laces uncomfortable and constricting, you want to keep those a bit looser and tighten the laces around the top half of the hiking shoe.
The best way to achieve either result is with a double overhand knot going all the way up your shoes or boots. They’re the easiest to learn, and offer a tighter fit so you won’t find yourself adjusting your shoes 2-3 times on a single hike.
Q: What is the best way to avoid blisters when hiking?
A: Leather hiking boots are designed to protect our feet, but if you’re not careful, they can actually do a bit of minor damage. Blisters are one of the most uncomfortable things that can happen to you on a hike: you’re literally doing nothing other than walking, and you’ll feel it in every step. Just because you found a good pair of trail hiking shoes doesn’t mean they’re perfect for you.
The three main things that cause blisters are high pressure, an uncomfortable heat level, and growing moisture in your shoes. This is why runners and people who work on their feet all day often encounter them. This is the primary reason that you’ll see sock liners in a lot of shoes, especially in Gore-Tex hiking boots. When you have a strong exterior layer that’s preventing moisture from coming in, the boots are usually less breathable. Sock liners wick away sweat and keep things comfortable as they can be.
The number one way to prevent blisters is by getting a good-fitting pair of boots, and get a pair of actual hiking socks. These help alleviate pressure and don’t scratch or rub against your skin, so you won’t have constant irritation adding to the creation of blisters.