Discover the ultimate hiking experience with the best hiking shoes for high arches that will take your outdoor adventures to new heights. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just starting out, finding the right footwear can make all the difference in your comfort and performance on the trails. From the rugged Danner Men's Trail 2650 GTX Hiking Shoes to the sleek adidas Women's Terrex Free Hiker 2.0 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes, we've curated a list of top-notch options that will keep your feet supported, protected, and ready for any terrain. Lace up and get ready to step into hiking heaven!
Hiking Shoe Buying Advice
Hiking Footwear Categories
For most day hikers, as well as many backpackers and thru hikers, a hiking shoe that comes just below the ankle is the perfect choice. These shoes, like the highly rated Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX, are sturdier and more substantial than trail runners, making them great for light loads and varied terrain. They are not as heavy as full-on boots, and they often have a tougher construction with more leather and durable nylon materials. They provide protection from rocks and roots with rubber toe caps and midsoles that offer medium stiffness. Hiking shoes can also be worn as everyday shoes, but keep in mind that the outsoles will wear faster on pavement.
We tested the Arc'teryx Aerios FL in the Grand Canyon.Trail Running Shoes
If speed is your priority, consider trail runners. These lightweight shoes have become popular among thru hikers on trails like the PCT and AT. However, they are not suitable for off-trail or backpacking use. Trail runners are flexible and comfortable, but they lack ankle support and toe/underfoot protection for heavy loads. They are best for established trails and experienced minimalist trekkers. For a complete list of trail running shoes, see our article on the best trail running shoes.
Trail runners are lightweight, but sacrifice stability and protection.Approach Shoes
The third option is for climbers or hikers who need gripping shoes for steep rocky terrain. Many rock climbers use approach shoes for the hike in and then switch to climbing shoes for the actual climbing. Approach shoes have a large rubber toe rand and a sticky, low-profile rubber compound for maximum grip on rock. While they can be comfortable for day hikes, they are not recommended as daily shoes. They are not as secure on muddy trails and are less comfortable for long trail days. However, if your hikes involve scrambling or low-grade rock climbing, approach shoes are a great choice.
The La Sportiva TX4 has excellent traction on rock.
Arguably, the most important advancement in modern hiking shoe technology is the shift towards lightweight designs. Thin but tough fabrics and a move away from high-top boots to low-top shoes have made covering long distances much easier. Most thru-hikers now choose hiking shoes over traditional leather boots. The shoes on our list weigh 2 pounds or less per pair, while a backpacking boot can weigh nearly 4 pounds. The weight difference is significant when it comes to comfort. While lighter shoes may sacrifice some long-term durability, there are still high-quality options available for traditionalists and those who need extra support. For most hikers, a lightweight shoe is the better choice for day hikes, peak bagging, and minimalist overnight trips, especially when paired with other lightweight gear.
Lightweight shoes like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II make covering ground easier.
Stability and Support
To accommodate the push for lighter gear, hiking shoes are moving towards a more flexible and nimble construction, as opposed to the stiffer build of traditional hiking boots. However, hiking footwear still retains some stiffness thanks to built-in shanks or internal supports. For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain, we highly recommend lightweight and semi-flexible hiking shoes. Shoes like the Merrell Moab 3 and Keen Targhee Low are excellent choices. However, as trips get longer and packs get heavier, a more substantial shoe is recommended. The Salomon X Ultra 4 and Arc'teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX are great all-around options for summit peaks and multi-day backpacking.
Adidas' Terrex Swift R3 provides excellent stability in a lightweight package.
When considering hiking footwear, you may wonder if waterproofing is necessary. Waterproofing provides extra protection in mountain hiking, including creek crossings, surprise rainfall, and early season treks with snow. However, it adds weight and reduces breathability. While Gore-Tex models tend to work consistently well, the designs are not always perfect. If you are a summer-only hiker or live in a warm and dry area, we recommend non-waterproof shoes. The La Sportiva Wildcat and Merrell Moab 3 are highly ventilated options. However, if you hike in alpine regions or need added protection and insulation, waterproofing is recommended. Keep in mind that most shoes on our list are available in both waterproof and non-waterproof versions, with the waterproof version costing about $20 to $30 more.
Testing waterproofing on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
Waterproof liners, including Gore-Tex, restrict a shoe's breathability. They don't allow moisture to escape, resulting in sweaty feet. However, not all non-waterproof shoes are the same. Shoes with thinner fabrics and more mesh increase moisture transfer and airflow, keeping feet cooler and drying socks faster. Gore-Tex Surround is a concept that aims to provide 360 degrees of breathability by venting out the insole of the shoe, but the performance is still not as good as a shoe made mostly of mesh. While the decision to choose waterproof or non-waterproof shoes ultimately depends on personal preference and hiking conditions, we encourage you to consider non-waterproof footwear before making a decision.
Mesh upper materials greatly improve comfort in hot conditions.
Laces and their accompanying systems play a crucial role in fit and comfort. A poor lacing system that loosens easily can lead to constant readjustment on the trail. If the system doesn't secure your heel well, it can cause hot spots and blisters. If the problem lies with the laces themselves, they can be easily replaced. However, if the system design doesn't hold your foot well, we recommend looking for a different shoe.
Laces on approach shoes extend to the toes for easy customization.
Hiking Shoe "Upper" Materials
The choice of upper material in hiking shoes determines durability, water-resistance, and breathability. Most hiking shoes use a combination of nylon, mesh, and leather to balance cost and longevity. Synthetic nylon and mesh materials aid breathability and weight reduction, but they are not as durable. Nubuck leather, a brushed finish that feels like suede, is lighter and more flexible than full-leather options and offers good durability. However, it is less breathable. Most hiking shoes use a mix of leather and nylon mesh for a balance of abrasion resistance and breathability.
The open, breathable mesh upper on the La Sportiva Wildcat.
Midsoles and Cushioning
The midsole of a hiking shoe provides cushioning, shock absorption, and protection from sharp rocks. Midsoles range from thin (minimalist trail runners) to stiff and substantial (burly hiking shoes). Most midsoles are made of foam EVA, which is soft and lightweight. However, overly soft midsoles can break down over time. TPU, a durable plastic, is used in performance-oriented light hikers for long-lasting support. Many shoes combine both EVA and TPU for comfort and durability.
The La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II has a thick EVA midsole for all-day comfort.
Outsoles and Traction
One of the main advantages of hiking shoes over casual footwear is their superior traction. Vibram is a well-known brand that dominates the market for outsoles. Vibram offers different designs for specific terrains and preferences. The size and pattern of the lugs vary for different types of grip. Salomon uses their in-house Contagrip compound, which offers excellent grip across their hiking and trail running models. The choice of outsole depends on the specific needs of the hike or trail.
The Danner Trail 2650 has impressive traction with its Vibram outsole.
Toe protection is important for hiking shoes, as trails often have rocks, roots, and other hazards. Most hiking shoes have a full rubber toe cap, while trail runners may have a trimmed down version or none at all. Approach shoes excel in toe protection, thanks to their wraparound rubber rand at the front of the shoe.
The Merrell Moab 3 provides toe protection.
HOKA Women's Kaha Low GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes
Not suitable for those with high arches...These shoes are great if you don't have a high arch...They lack adequate support for the arch and foot during hiking. The sole is good. This is the first time I have been disappointed in Hoka's design.
Merrell Women's Bravada 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes
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Waterproof shoes that are excellent for hiking!...Waterproof feature is great for hiking!...Comfortable even for my wide foot, although I ordered a size larger than my usual wide size. I also have a high arch and the shoe provided good support. The design is fashionable and complements almost any outfit.
Danner Men's Trail 2650 GTX Hiking Shoes
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I have a high arch...I have a high arch and the shank provides extra support for standing and walking....Nice quality shoe, these will be my everyday shoes for sure.
adidas Women's Terrex Free Hiker 2.0 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes
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These shoes are almost perfect, from the color to the footbed comfort. However, as someone with a high arch, I wish the top of the shoe had a bit more room as it squeezes down on my foot. ...Great hiking shoes to buy... My wife tried them this past weekend and they were great.
adidas Men's Terrex Voyager 21 Canvas Hiking Shoes
Nice all day shoe and multi-purpose shoe...Good support for my arches. Shoes take a little time to break in. I used them on the treadmill and noticed them getting softer after the first run....Definitely not easy to slip on, but they do mold to your feet comfortably. I have high arches and these fit without slippage as I walk, which is a plus.
The North Face Women's VECTIV Taraval Hiking Shoes
I love this shoe for hiking...Great trail shoe! The fit is perfect and true to size, can hike and run...The best shoes...These are the best shoes I've ever had for my hiking trips. They are so comfortable that I don't feel any pain after 12 hours of hiking and they also provide a super good grip on the rocks.
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes
These shoes are great. I have high arches and a narrow foot, so typically with new shoes, I experience an uncomfortable break-in period....The best hiking shoes...I purchased these prior to heading out to Arches in Moab, UT. They were comfortable on my feet!
When it comes to hiking with high arches, having the right shoes can make all the difference. After careful research and consideration, we've compiled a list of the best hiking shoes for high arches. From the HOKA Women's Kaha Low GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes to the Merrell Men's Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes, these shoes offer the perfect combination of support, comfort, and durability. Whether you're tackling rugged terrain or embarking on a leisurely hike, these shoes will keep your feet happy and protected. So, lace up your shoes, hit the trails, and enjoy your next hiking adventure with confidence!