One of the most crucial decisions you'll have to make when packing for a hike is which shoes to wear. You'll need sturdy footwear to get you across everything from rocky alpine traverses to wet and muddy forest paths, no matter the season or climate.
Shoe sizing can be difficult, and we demand a lot of wear and tear from our trail shoes. Who, after all, has the time to pore over prescriptions and test out dozens of pairs of shoes? We do, that's for sure. So that you can quickly and easily find the best hiking shoes for your needs, our team has spent countless hours researching, breaking in, and trail testing dozens of pairs over thousands of miles.
Time of last update: November 7, 2022
The Saucony Peregrine are a fan-favorite pair of shoes of ours due to their superior comfort, ventilation, and grip.
Although the Topo Ultraventure 2 are not waterproof, they dry extremely quickly after wading through streams and rivers.
The rooty, rocky terrain is no match for the cushioned HOKA Speedgoats.
In terms of cost, weight, convenience, and grip, the Salomon X Ultras are hard to beat.
The lightweight construction of the Altra Lone Peaks will allow you to maintain your agility and quickness while traversing rough terrain.
The Oboz Sawtooths are among the most robust of our recommended hiking footwear; this makes them ideal for rough terrain.
Shoes: Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX
THE MOST PROTECTIVE WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS
WEIGHT (1 lb. per pair, size 9) 9 9 oz
Choices include those that are not watertight.
Consistent sizing; available in narrow and wide widths
Added comfort right out of the box, low weight considering how sturdy and supportive they are, high-quality traction, a snug fit, and rock-solid stability are all points in their favor.
Quicklace may take some practice to master, and it's quite pricey.
The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoes have an almost unparalleled balance of durability and light weight. They have the structure of a regular shoe but the shape of trail runners, making them significantly more agile than others in their class. Also, they are as ready to go on a hike as they are to be worn, unlike some other hiking footwear, as there is almost no break-in time required. We found that the X Ultras' traction was significantly better than average, making them ideal for demanding backpacking trips and day hikes. For hikers looking for a shoe that performs like a trail runner but lasts as long as more traditional hiking footwear, we wholeheartedly endorse the X Ultras.
TOP RATED TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
PAIR WEIGHT (SIZE 9): 1 Lb. 2 7 oz
Availablity in Waterproof and Nonwaterproof Variants
Fits true to size.
PROS: Rock plate (added protection and durability in sole), excellent traction, breathability, light weight, low price, snug fit.
DISADvantages: Not as long-lasting as alternate options
CONCLUSION: The Saucony Peregrines are some of our favorite hiking shoes due to their superior traction, and we have worn them for thousands of miles over the years. Peregrines provide stability and confidence wherever your travels take you, from the Himalayas to the high sierras of California to the Torres del Paine of Patagonia. The latest iteration of the Peregrines features a number of upgrades over previous versions. These include a reduction in weight while maintaining the shoe's exceptional durability, enhanced traction, and a more snug, comfortable fit. In addition, the knit upper of the Peregrine 12s is extremely breathable and quick to dry, so they can handle almost any situation.
Most Comfortable Low-Weight Hiking Boots
Pair weight: 1 pound 1 oz
SIZE: Runs true to size
The shoes have a supportive, roomy toe box and a soft, cushioned sole. They also have great traction.
Not as long-lasting as others, and a little pricey
CONCLUSION: The HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 5 is the best trail shoe HOKA has ever made. The most noticeable quality of the Speedgoats is their incredibly cushioned midsole. It does a fantastic job of cushioning blows and doesn't wear down as quickly as other shoes we've tried. This is why the Speedgoats are so popular among long-distance hikers: they are both lightweight and supportive, ensuring the hiker's feet and joints remain comfortable over the course of many miles. However, because of their trail-running focus, these shoes won't last as long as some of the more traditional hiking shoes on our list. The Speedgoats may have taken a hit in durability, but when comfort is paramount on the trail, they are our go-to.
STURDY, YET ULTRA-LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING BOOTS
The weight of a pair of size 9 shoes is 1 pound. 4 5 oz
Sizes run true, and wide options are provided.
Added protection and longevity in the sole rock plates, a roomy toe box, a lightweight design, a comfortable insole, and a built-in gaiter attachment are all highlights.
Disadvantages: Not as long-lasting as competing products
The Altra Lone Peaks have been the go-to shoe for ultralight backpackers for years thanks to their minimal weight, durable sole, and generous toe box. The Lone Peaks recently underwent a redesign in which the signature wide toe box was reduced in size. This allows the shoe to accommodate a wider range of foot sizes without sacrificing the signature Altra toe box that gives your toes room to spread. You'll need to weigh how important durability is to you in comparison to the benefits of a lighter shoe and a more anatomically correct fit if you opt for these sneakers instead of more traditional hiking boots. The newest Lone Peaks are fantastic, and we highly recommend them to anyone who is interested in zero-drop footwear but wants an ultralight hiking shoe that doesn't sacrifice comfort.
THE OPTIMUM COMBINATION OF WEIGHT, SUPPORT, AND AIRABILITY
WEIGHT (IN LBS.) per Pair (Size 9): 1 2 6 oz
SIZE: Runs true to size
Added benefits include a roomy toe box, breathability, pliability, excellent traction, and a lightweight design.
Not as long-lasting as other options
IN CONCLUSION, the Topo Ultraventure 2 are our go-to hiking and backpacking shoes because of their light weight, superior breathability, and speedy drying time following wet excursions. They have a similar roomy toe box to the Altra Lone Peaks, so your toes can spread out comfortably. Although both pairs of shoes are great for long days on the trail, the Ultraventures offer a bit more cushioning and flexibility. Although their lightweight mesh uppers won't hold up as long as leather, nothing else comes close to keeping your feet as cool and free on long hikes as the Ultraventures. Weighing the merits of Lone Peaks and Ultraventures, two similarly challenging adventures, but with very different focuses, you may be wondering how The Altra Lone Peaks are a good option if you're looking for a minimal, zero-drop shoe. Consider the Topo Ultraventures if you're in need of something with a little more padding and stability.
The STRONGEST, LONGEST-LASTING Hiking Shoes
GENERAL WEIGHT (SIZE 9): 2 oz. 1 1 oz
WIDE SIZES AVAILABLE; TOE BOX IS WIDE (but not as wide as some other Oboz we've tried)
PROS: Great grip, long-lasting construction, secure footing, ample toe room, immediate ease of use
Weightier than some prefer and the wide fit may not work for everyone.
IN CONCLUSION, if you're looking for a pair of shoes that will give you the stability and support you need to conquer rough terrain, look no further than the Oboz Sawtooth X The Sawtooths' distinctive feature is the traction that wraps around the shoe and out to the edges. This gives you tenacious grip on uneven ground strewn with rocks and roots. The Sawtooths are the heaviest pair of shoes we recommend due to the combination of the extra rubber sole and the leather upper. If you're a day hiker who frequently encounters difficult trails, or a backpacker lugging around more than 35 pounds, these protective shoes are a must-have. and up
TOP-RATED HIKING BOOTS UNDER $100
ONE POUND FOR THE PAIR (SIZE 9) 13 7 oz
Available in non-waterproof
TRUE TO SIZE; accomodates the wide range of sizes
PROS: inexpensive, comfortable right out of the box, long-lasting, airy, breathable, grippy
Weight, high heel-to-toe drop, and a wide width may be off-putting to some.
The Merrell Moab 3 WP Lows are a classic among hikers' go-to footwear thanks to their superior comfort, long life, and reasonable price. The fact that you won't have to replace them as often as you would with many other hiking shoes is one of the many reasons why these are some of the best hiking shoes we've found. Although the Moabs' bulk and weight make them less than ideal for long distance treks, their superior cushioning and support make them a top pick for day hikes and weekend excursions.
GRIPPY HIKING SHOES THAT WORK WELL IN WET CLIMATES
BAR WEIGHT (Size 8) 5): 1 lb 7 9 oz
Waterproof and non-waterproof options available.
SIZING: Go down a half size as this item runs large.
PROS: Stable; supports your arches; has great traction; lasts a long time; has a rock plate (for extra sole protection and wear)
Quicklace is not user-friendly and can be pricey.
SUMMARY The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX are fantastic hiking boots for challenging terrain because of their stable, supportive construction and outstanding traction. The XA Pros are a great compromise between durability and all-day comfort; they're lighter than many traditional shoes while being burlier than the trail runners on our list. The XA Pros are some of the best shoes on our list for backpacking in particularly wet, rugged climates, and they're also great for day hikers looking for a good value option that will last for multiple seasons.
SUPERB DAY HIKING BOOTS AT A GREAT PRICE
SINGLE PAIR WEIGHT (SIZE 9): 1 pound 11 8 oz
Alternatives: those that are not watertight
CONSISTENCY OF SIZING: Wider than expected
Added benefits include a secure lacing system, a wide toe box, and a solid foundation.
Cons: They're cumbersome and stiff at first, they take forever to break in, and you can feel substantial rocks through the sole.
CONCLUSION The Keen Targhee III Low WP shoes are a favorite because they are reasonably priced considering their high quality, they are supportive, and they have excellent traction. The leather hiking boots on our list will need more time to break in than some of the lighter options, but they will last for years on the trail. We love the Targhees' elastic band that anchors the shoelaces to the heel cup. This facilitates a sense of safety and snugness and facilitates fine-tuning the fit. The Targhees are best for weekend warriors and day hikers who don't mind the extra bulk for a reasonable price.
MQM Flex 2 GORE-TEX Low Shoes by Merrell
DAY-HIKING BOOTS THAT ARE BOTH LIGHTWEIGHT AND PROTECTIVE
Wt. per Pair (Size 9): 1 oz. 4 5 oz
In accordance with size specifications.
Pluses include a low price, a comfortable insole, a roomy toe box, and a lightweight construction.
Cons: not as stable a grip as others, tread wears out quicker than others, and support is lower.
The Merrell MQM Flex 2 GORE-TEX Low is a pair of trail running shoes that combines the protection of boots with the convenience and light weight of regular running shoes. They provide a snug, yet unrestricted fit thanks to their narrow heel and midfoot that widens out to a roomy toe box. Even though the Flex's outsoles aren't as sticky as those of other shoes, they are more than adequate for walks on moderate trails. Backpacking trips on flat ground are ideal for the MQM Flex's cushioned soles and lightweight construction.
Boots that can be worn both in town and out on the trail
PRODUCT DATA: 1 lb. per pair (size 9). 5 4 oz
Optional: Not Waterproof
CONSISTENCY: Runs true to size; narrow fit; best for flat feet.
Instant wearability, excellent support, low weight, and airflow are just a few of the many perks of these shoes.
CONS: Not for those who prefer a roomier shoe, and not as supportive as some alternatives.
The Salomon OUTline Low GTX are great for day hikes, travel, and even daily commuting thanks to their casual style, lightweight construction, and high levels of comfort. The uppers of the OUTlines are made with a highly breathable membrane and are waterproof because they are built on a running last. They won't make your feet feel as hot as some of the more conventional waterproof hiking shoes on our list, which is why they're ideal for warmer climates. However, they are not as supportive as some of the other hiking shoes on our list, making them less than ideal for backpacking. We recommend the OUTlines to anyone looking for a shoe that performs well on the road and can also handle light hiking.
Altra's Lone Peak has superior grip thanks to the Trail Claw design on its outsole.
The following pairs of footwear were not chosen as our top picks, but they are still very well-liked and have much going for them. Perhaps one of these pairs of shoes will be the one that finally works for your feet:
The Saucony Peregrines provided sufficient traction for the treacherous EVEREST 3 PASSES LOOP in Nepal.
BOOTS VS SHOES VS TRAIL RUNNER - The best shoe for hiking is a matter of opinion, with many different types of footwear being recommended. Find out which fashion option is best for you by reading this article.
The length of the hike can cause your feet to swell, so it's recommended that you purchase hiking boots that are a half size larger than your regular shoes. Loosen the laces, place your foot in the shoe so that your toes touch the front of the toe box, and check that your index finger fits comfortably between your heel and the back of the shoe. Your toes will be protected from the toe box sliding forward on downhills if you do this. When deciding on a size, take into account the thickness of your socks and any custom insoles you plan to use. It's preferable to have shoes that are slightly too big rather than too small.
We're trying on some Merrell Moabs to make sure they fit.
BREAK-IN PERIOD - Backpacking and hiking trips involve thousands of steps, so you need to be confident that your footwear will fit comfortably and not cause blisters. Invest in your hiking boots at least two weeks before your trip, and break them in as much as possible. This will give the shoes time to break in, and you can make sure they are comfortable for your feet. The time to fix problems is before you head into the backcountry.
One of the most critical features of hiking and backpacking shoes is traction. The terrain you'll be traversing in these shoes includes narrow, rocky ridgelines, slick river crossings, and scree fields. Having confidence in the traction of your footwear is essential, especially on washed-out or bare sections of trail. In deciding what kinds of shoes to suggest, we gave special consideration to their traction.
HOW TO DEAL WITH MOISTURE AND BLISTERS - Whether you're taking a long trip in the rain or just got caught in a downpour on a day hike, your feet are going to get wet. Hot spots and blisters are caused by moisture on the feet, but a good foot care routine can help. Be sure to read our post on How to Prevent and Treat Blisters for more information on moisture and blister management, regardless of whether you hike in waterproof shoes or non-waterproof trail runners.
The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 have an optimal distribution of mass and structural integrity.
WATERPROOFING TREATMENTS - Waterproof footwear is great for rainy day hikes, but keep in mind that this does not guarantee complete protection from water. Even light rain can soak your socks and shoes in a prolonged downpour. Over time, even the best shoes will get a few leaks that let water in. There is no such thing as a permanent waterproof treatment, so your shoes will need to be reapplied every so often to maintain their seal.
If your toes could use a little more breathing room, the Merrell Moabs are available in wide widths.
Quality socks have made a huge difference in the length of time our feet have stayed comfortable and healthy while hiking. Hiking socks should be well-fitting, long-lasting, and constructed from moisture-wicking materials. If you're looking for the best hiking socks, be sure to check out our recommendations.
INSOLES - Third-party insoles can ease a wide range of trail-related shoe pains. Swapping insoles may be the answer for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis or who simply desire more cushioning and support from their otherwise stiff shoes. If you find that you need a half size or more in your footwear, insoles can help you achieve a more comfortable and personalized fit.
We love using Superfeet Insoles when we need to add a little more support to our hiking shoes
All of the hiking footwear we suggest is one we own and regularly use.
One of the main motivations for creating CleverHiker was the difficulty in locating reliable recommendations for hiking equipment. We're serious about outdoor exploration, so we use these guides with care. Some of the many reasons why you can put your faith in us are as follows.
Our decisions are made separately from one another and are grounded in our individual experiences.
We test outdoor equipment for a living and have logged over 10,000 miles on the trail.
Unlike most other review sites, we use every product we recommend in the wild before recommending it to you.
As a company, we attend trade shows so that we can stay abreast of the latest developments in our field.
When new products are released, we immediately update our guides.
Our suggestions are made with the same care as if they were for someone in our immediate circle of friends or family.
We view criticism as an opportunity to improve, and we welcome it at any time. We'd love to hear from you if you think there's a product we've overlooked or an error we've made.
We created this guide in the hopes that it will aid you in locating the most suitable equipment for your specific needs. We hope to hear from you, so please get in touch if you have any further inquiries or suggestions. Join the conversation in our online communities by subscribing to our newsletter, then dropping by our Facebook and Instagram pages.
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We hope you enjoyed this read, and wish you safe travels!