Hiking is a great pastime hobby for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy being close to nature. There are numerous supplies that are needed for a great hiking experience; water bottles, watches, backpacks, sunscreen, and so forth. Possibly the most important accessory for a successful hiking trip are your hiking footwear. Choosing the best hiking boots or shoes to fit you needs, and your feet takes not only time, but knowledge.
The Best Hiking Boots Ever Made
Weight of pair (lbs)
|Asolo Power Matic 200||$250 - $305||95||Great support, comfortable, durable.||Heavy.||Backpacking (particularly with heavy loads,) canoe tripping, rescue work.||3.75||Powermatic/Vibram|
|KEEN Targhee II||$59 - $135||91||Comfortable, durable, comfortable.||Not good for hot weather.||Hiking, backpacking, canyoneering.||2.123||non-marking carbon rubber|
|Asolo Fugitive GTX||$225 - $230||88||Exceptionally waterproof.||Unecessary components and flashy design.||Winter hiking, backpacking.||3||Asolo Syncro|
|Salomon Quest 4D GTX||$210||85||Well-fitting, great support, light.||Slow to dry, weird foot angle.||Hiking, backpacking, "fastpacking."||2.81||Contragrip|
|Lowa Renegade GTX Mid||$182 - $225||84||Lightweight, cool look, good support for its weight, durable||None yet||Day hiking, backpacking with a lighter pack, BASE jumping||2.7||Vibram rubber|
|Vasque Taku||$127 - $170||82||Durable, Nimble, Comfortable||Occasionally difficult to fit||Hiking, Backpacking||2.4375||Vibram Neo Day Hiker|
|Merrell Moab Ventilator||$110||83||Light, breathable, drains well.||Not durable, not waterproof.||Canyoneering, canoe tripping, hot-weather hiking.||2.123||Vibram Multisport|
|KEEN Glarus||$90-$102||81||Big toe box, comfortable||slow to dry, heavy,||Hiking, backpacking||2.7912||Non-marking rubber outsole|
|Hi-Tec Altitude IV WP||$71 - $105||77||Great material endurance, comfortable||Stiff, wide for the size||Cool-weather hiking and backpacking||2.4||carbon rubber|
|Columbia Newton Ridge||$78 - $90||76||Very inexpensive, light,||Not durable||Mild-mannered hiking, Covert operations||2.03||omni-grip|
|Timberland White Ledge||$85 - $100||76||Plushy, comfortable||heavy||Outdoor work, hiking||2.3125||rubber|
|Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX||$110 - $170||75||Light, supportive.||Not durable, ineffective waterproofing.||Fastpacking, dayhikes, backpacking.||2.5625||Vibram Contact|
|Oboz Beartooth BDRY||$141 - $220||75||Burly.||Heavy, not breathable.||Backpacking, snowshoeing, kicking hippies.||3.8125||Rubber/Polyurethane|
|Scarpa Zen||$115 - $145||73||Excellent grip, works as approach shoe, durable.||Thick sole, no ankle support.||Approaches, easy soloing.||1.94||Vibram Spyder|
|Oboz Firebrand II BDRY||$84 - $100||72||Comfortable.||Thick sole, not sensitive.||Dayhiking.||2.3125||Rubber|
|Scarpa Kailash GTX||$178 - $209||69||Good traction.||Poor support, not durable.||Hiking.||3||Vibram Lite|
The best hiking boot will be one that will match your overall outdoor goal. You will need to decide if you are planning on an occasional day trip on a smooth and maintained trail, a weekend trip on a rugged mountain or hiking during your rafting trip. Your boot will need to match your overall needs. You will also need a boot that fits your feet like a glove. The fit of the hiking boot is possibly the most important criteria for selecting the right footwear.
So Many Options
Light hiking shoes are great for those who occasionally hike and when they do it is usually less than five miles round trip. A light hiking shoe will look very similar to a running shoe but a little beefier. Many backpackers who carry extremely small loads prefer light hiking shoes during long distance journeys.
Hiking boots that are mid or high cut are designed to be used during day hikes, or trips on the weekend that do not require a lot of additional weight in your backpack. The common theory is that for every one pound on your feet you are adding an equivalent of five pounds to your backpack. Mid and high cut hiking boots will usually flex easier and take less time to break in for wear. Standard hiking boots may not offer the wearer the type of long lasting durability and support that they need.
Backpacking boots are created for the hiker to be able to carry a heavier backpack on a terrain that is more rugged. These boots tend to be more supportive and provide more durability due to their stiff midsoles.
Mountaineering boots are less common that traditional hiking boots. These boots are much heavier and the midsoles are a lot stiffer so that they are able to handle heavier loads, as well as grip well in glacier travels. These are some of the toughest most durable boots on the current market.
Approach shoes are something that are becoming increasingly popular at a very quick rate. These shoes have become a hybrid between hiking shoes and climbing shoes. These are great for the person who does more than just hike. Approach shoes have been traditionally used by people who are climbing up mountains. The shoe includes climbing style laces which are laces that extend downwards toward the toe and creates better control for the climber. These shoes are also equipped with rands and a rubber that is stronger and stickier than most boots. The rubber is usually soft and much less durable so they are not recommended for long hiking trips. These shoes are idea for the person who wants to do a side hike during a water rafting excursion. They are also lightweight that they can easily be place in your backpack without adding too much to your load.
Low cut shoes are ideal for travel that is considered lightweight, on trails that are smooth and well maintained. They provide the hiker with less ankle protection and is not well protected from dirt, mud, and other debris that can get into the hiking shoe. More hikers are beginning to shift to this shoe style as they are more convenient, lighter and offer a stability that can be comparable to a mid-cut boot.
Mid-cut boots are more preferable with experienced hikers. They provide the wearer with much more ankle support to help keep the ankle from rolling and causing a sprain. These boots are designed to wrap around your ankle. They also help to keep trail dirt out of your boot as they come up past your ankle. These boots are perfect for hikers who are on rugged trails and carry medium sized backpack loads.
High cut boots are gaining in popularity with the hiking community. This style provides the most ankle support of any cut and are created to be used on extremely rugged trails, as well as carry loads that are 50 pounds or over. High cut boots will tend to have more of a break in period than other boots.
The Hiking Boot’s Design
The materials that hiking boots are made out of not only affect the appearance of the boot, but the durability, resistance and cost. It is very important to select a quality made hiking boot. There are various options for a consumer to choose from.
The upper of the boot is the part of the boot that will cover your ankle. It is the upper most part of the boot. They are available in numerous materials.
Full grain leather provides the hiker with the best durability a hiking boot can offer, as well as resistance from abrasions and are great for long hiking trips. While many hikers prefer full grain leather it is usually not as lightweight as other materials, or as breathable. Married fabrics such as nylon and split grain leather offer much more breathability. Boots that are constructed from full grain leather may require more time to break them in.
Split grain leather us generally used in combination with a nylon mesh. This can provide the wearer with a boot that is comfortable, breathable and lightweight. In order to produce a split grain leather the manufacturer must pull the rough interior of the leather away from the smooth exterior. Boots that are designed with split grain leather tends to be less expensive than full grain leather but does not offer as much protection from water and dirt.
Nubuck leather is one of the most common and popular materials used in hiking footwear. The Nubuck leather is created by buffing full grain leather until it is similar to suede. It is much softer and durable than traditional leather and resists water very well. Nubuck leather is quite flexible but will also require some break in time.
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, faux leather and nylon are being used in a lot of newer hiking boots. These boots provide the hiker with something that is much more lightweight than standard leather. It also causes the boot to be broken in more quickly and are able to air dry faster. These fabrics tend to make the boot less expensive than leather but it will wear out faster. You should avoid suede whenever possible. Suede is a fabric that will attract dirt and it very difficult to clean. It is also not as strong as leather.
It is very important to find a boot that provides protection from water but is still breathable. You want a boot that will allow your feet to remain dry in wet weather conditions and wet hikes. Feet that remain in a shoe too long after getting wet can become susceptible to funguses such as athlete’s feet. The boot should also wick away moisture from your foot sweating.
Linings are the barriers that are built into the interior of the hiking boot. This will prevent moisture from being able to get inside of the shoe to your foot. Waterproof linings are excellent for keeping your feet dry but they sometimes require more maintenance from the wearer. Linings that are made with GoreTEX can wear more quickly than other liners. Waterproof linings can help keep water from touching your feet but it may not keep water completely out of your boot. Wet boots become extremely heavy and can make the hike more difficult.
Waterproof Leather is the leather of the boot that has been treated topically. However, the boots will still leak if they are poorly manufactured. You want to always check your hiking boots for areas where the seam may have threads that are loose or missing stitches. This is the perfect way for water to get into the shoe.
The leather on boots should still be treated for waterproofing with a product such as Nikwax. This will help the leather from becoming damaged from rocks and other debris and risking the waterproof capabilities of the leather.
Midsoles are the part of the hiking boot that is located between the upper part of the boot and the traction supplying outsole. The midsole is what creates the cushion for the hiker and it helps determine the firmness of the boot. The most common materials that make up the midsole are polyurethane and EPA which is short for ethylene vinyl acetate.
In general EPA provides more cushion, is more lightweight and less expensive than other materials. Midsoles vary by manufacturer regarding which material they use. The densities will also vary. EPA is preferred by many hikers as it is more firm and provides more support in the boot’s forefront. Polyurethane is firm and more durable than EPA which is why they are often found in boots designed for long hiking trips and mountaineering style boots.
Components that Provide Support
Numerous components have been created for around the midsole to help the hiker’s feet endure less of a shock and more support. The shanks are inserts that are placed between the midsole of the boot and the outsole. They are usually 3-5mm thick and are used to help with the additional weight of the hiker’s backpack. Most shanks are manufactured out of nylon so they remain lightweight, however, TPU or thermoplastic polyurethane are becoming increasingly popular. Shanks will vary in size. There are a few manufacturers that design the shank to be the entire length of the midsole.
The plates of a boot are flexible and small inserts that can be located between the midsole and the outsole, below the boot’s shank, if it has one. The plates are used to protect the hiker’s feet from becoming damaged by rocks and other uneven terrain.
The outsoles are made with rubber. The best known brand for outsole rubber is Vibram. The rubber is generally manufactured with an additive like carbon to help heavy duty hiking boots and mountaineering boots with additional hardness. The harder the outsole is the more durability the boot will have, however, this can something cause the boot to feel unsecure if you choose to roam off of a trail.
Other Components to Consider
The laces of a hiking boot do the same as the laces on a tennis shoe. They are designed to hold the tongue in place while making the shoe fit your foot more tightly. There are various options available for shoelaces as well as the lacing systems. Hikers can choose from D-rings, webbings, hooks, eyelets, or a combination system. The lacing system does not affect the feel or fit of the shoe and is more for appearance purposes.
The Lug Patter
Lugs are the common name for the traction of the hiking footwear. These are bumps on the bottom of the shoe that help the boot retain its traction. Lugs that are thicker and deeper into the outsole can usually be seen in most backpacking hiking boots and mountaineering boots. This is to help the boot grip rugged and dangerous terrain better. Lugs that are spaced more widely apart will provide decent traction for the wearer and will keep mud and other wet debris from sticking to the outsole.
The heel of the boot is very important. This section is what will keep the hiker from sliding when they are traveling on a downward motion or traveling down a hill.
The hiking boot’s outsole and the midsole are usually connected with a special adhesive. Manufacturing a boot that is connected with adhesive is more cost effective for the company and the consumer, which creating a durable bond. Adhesives are increasingly becoming a replacement to the traditional stitching. Users must be careful when caring for an adhesive bonded boot. Extreme warm environments such as the trunk of a vehicle or a hot attic can cause the adhesive properties to break down. You are also unable to leave the boots drying next to anything that produces a lot of heat such as a heater, wood burning stove or fireplace.
Rands are often found in hiking boots that have been treated as waterproof and are still breathable. The rand is a rubber piece that is incredibly wide and will cover the upper and the midsole. It is also commonly found just around the toe area. This piece is designed to protect the wearer’s toe, as well as keep water and debris from touching the boot.
The Perfect Fit
Now that you have discovered all of the pieces that make up the perfect hiking boot and learned all of your options, it’s time to learn how a boot should properly fit. The best hiking boot for your feet will be one that addresses the three important characteristics of your foot; the length, the width and the volume.
When you try on a hiking boot you should be able to move your toes around easily. If you have a condition that makes your toes more sensitive such as neuroma, or you have hammertoes this will be especially important for you. You do not want to feel too much pressure on your toes.
While you have the hiking boot on you should make sure that your feet are securely in place. They should not be able to slide around on the inside. When trying on the boot you should do a finger test. With the boot completely unlaced you want to move your foot to the front of the boot as far as possible. Once this is done you should be able to slide your index finger down into the boot behind your ankle. No more, no less.
Finally, you want to pay attention to the volume of your foot. This is very important. The reason the volume of your foot is so important is because if the hiking boot does not securely hold the bulk of your foot it will slip and move around and create blisters. Your toes will also hit the forefront of the boot when travelling downhill. The boot should feel as though someone has their hand against the top of your foot over the instep when it fits properly.
There are various ways that you are able to modify a hiking boot to help it fit the best that it can. One of the easiest modifications that you can do are the laces. If you are able to place your finder underneath the first lacings then the boot will not be secure enough for you. Laces that are snug will help keep your foot from shifting within the shoe and sliding forward. There are many alternative ways that you are able to lace up your shoes. A professional hiking salesperson will be able to show you different techniques.
Socks are a quick and easy way to change how your boot fits. Socks that are too thick may sometimes cause your foot to shift and slip in the inside of the boot leading to blisters and hot spots. If this is happening, you need to consider a sock that is snugger and more form fitting. This will help protect your feet from becoming damaged.
Insoles that are created to be added to the hiking boot after they are purchased may be life saving for many hikers. Insoles such as SOLE and Superfeet are an affordable solution to help a hiking boot fit more securely. Some insoles provide the hiker with a stabilization cup that offers additional support and firmness and enhances the heel’s natural padding. Proper insoles will help your body to remain perfectly aligned which can help prevent pronation; your foot rolling from the heel’s outer edge to the forefront’s inner edge, as well as supination which is where your foot tilts inside to the outside. An experienced hiker will tell you that the last thing they want is to begin to feel tired early on their hiking journey. There are also various insoles that have been created to help those that have either flat feet, or those that have extremely high arches.
Once you know what you are looking for in a boot, you need to purchase the product. There are some steps that you can take to ensure you purchase the best hiking boot for your needs.
If you are going shopping for a hiking boot, it is important that you allow yourself enough time to properly search for a great hiking boot, try on options and speak with a professional or a specialist. You should not make shopping for a hiking boot something that is rushed or hurried. Some people find it easier to shop during quieter house at the store. This tends to be in the mornings and early afternoons and in the evenings during the week. It is recommended that you shop later in the day because your feet slightly swell during the day and it will provide you with a better fit. If you would like to shop in the morning make sure you walk for at least 15 minutes prior to trying on any boots. This will help your foot to expand. Make sure you bring your favorite pair of socks with you to make sure they are a good fit for the boot.
It is recommended that you spend some time with a specialist. It is true that they are there to make a commission but they are also there to help you and spend as much time with you as possible. Most hiking boot professionals have tried on most of the brands in the store and are able to give you an experienced opinion on which boot will work best. They will also ask you a series of questions to get a feel for your needs to help match you to the best style boot possible.
Your bare foot
Everyone knows when purchasing footwear the length and width of their foot is important. What they may not realize is that there are other aspects of their bare foot that are important to the salesperson. For instance, if you are able to easily see the veins and bones in your foot, you will have a foot that is labeled as low volume, whereas you may have a high volume foot if it is rounded and soft. If you are able to place your finger underneath the arch of your foot they will consider you to have an arch that is medium or high. If you are unable, you may be suffering from a flat foot and the insoles are more important. If you suffer from corns or bunions, you should purchase a hiking boot that is wider.
It is very important that you try on several different brands, sizes and types to find the right fit. If you have a wider foot KEEN may be a better company for you. If your foot is thin you may do well with LOWA or Asolo. It is important that you do not focus too much on the numerical size of the hiking boot. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. A boot will usually be a different size than your sneaker or dress show. The size may also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
After you try on the boot you need to take some time with it. Walk around the store and see how they feel. Many specialty stores will have faux terrains, steps, rocks, inclines and so on to allow you to feel the hiking footwear on different terrains. If the store does not have this, you should at the very least walk around as much as possible and up and down stairs.
You should also examine the outsole of the boot. You will need to turn the hiking boot over and examine the tread of the product. If you are interested in hiking in terrain that is rough or steep you will need to look for lug patters that are aggressive and deep, as well as a heel brake that is well defined and strong. The heel brake should be able to dig into any hiking surface to keep you from falling. If you are interested in using gaiter steps you will also need a heel brake that will allow room for this.
If you are interested in purchasing a hiking boot online you should consider purchasing a manufacturer and brand that you have used in the past. If you are not familiar with brands or this is your first purchase you should make sure to read as many independent reviews as you can. Try to stay away from the company pages and their reviews as they may not post any cons about their product.
With so many various options on the market it may be difficult to know where to begin looking. Consumer reports and outdoor websites are always doing their research to make yours easier. They have decided that the best manufacturers for hiking boots are
As well as deciding on the top overall companies, they have narrowed down their choices on the top hiking boot models. They are:
Wilderness Original by Merrell
Purchasing a quality hiking boot to meet your needs doesn’t mean that you need to spend a fortune. You are able to find quality hiking boots at relatively inexpensive prices. Hiking boots range in price from $40.00 to $350.00 depending on the retailer, brand and any sales or rebates they may offer.
Breaking Hiking Boots in
Most hiking boots that are currently being manufactured have the ability to be taken right from the box to the hiking trail without causing too much damage to your feet. However, there are still some heavy duty boots, especially those created with high cut uppers and full grain leather that will require some break in periods before using them on a long hike. The best way to break in your hiking boot is to wear it around your home with a lightweight backpack on. This will help you become more familiar with the shoe and help make the boot more comfortable.
If you do not take the time to break in your boot you may be at risk for blisters and hot spots. Older hikers will advise you that you should soak the boot in water before wearing them to break them in easier. However, this is not advised as you can create serious damage to the hiking book and possibly void its warranty.
You should also take the manufacturer’s warranty into consideration when purchasing a boot. You should look for a company that will cover their craftsmanship and quality, as well as the material for at least a period of twelve months.
Hiking boot should come with a proper care guide to help your boots remain new and in good quality. All boots should receive some type of waterproofing treatment, even if they are available with waterproof linings. This will help keep the boots looking and feeling like new, as well as keep them dry and clean. If you are planning on adding additional waterproofing finishes to you hiking boot you will want to make sure that the manufacturer does not have a clause in its warranty that will void if you do this.