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The Most Comfortable Hiking Shoes For Men In 2022

Sara Ryan

By, Sara Ryan
Updated 12 Nov 2022 21:49

Most Comfortable Hiking Shoes For Men

Most Comfortable Hiking Shoes For Men

The Rundown

At Merrell, we believe in the simple power of sharing the outdoors. No matter who you are, where you come from, who you love, or how you move – everyone deserves to be welcomed in nature, no matter where life takes us. You can count on versatile loafers and sandals with a style that complements outdoor performance with off-road comfort.

Get on your favorite trails with our waterproof Mt. Maddsen hiking boots. These leather hiking boots keep feet dry with a rugged style perfect for any terrain and look great with your performance hiking gear, jeans, and tee.

You will like the Ariat Men’s Terrain Waterproof Hiking Shoe cause it is designed to tackle rough terrain and is perfect for hikers, adventurers, and anyone who loves the great outdoors. The Ariat Boot’s lightweight cushioned EVA midsole, and Duratread outsole provides the ultimate combination of comfort and durability.

The 111 WP is the streamlined waterproof evolution of our classic Ultra line, following in the footsteps of its all-around predecessors, delivering the features you need to excel in any terrain and conditions.

The trend in hiking boots is shifting from bulky boots to lightweight shoes and even faster, more comfortable trail runners. You’ll lose some ankle support when carrying a heavy pack or traversing rocky trails, but the weight savings and lightweight feel are worth it for many.

Choosing a pair of hiking boots will be one of the most critical gear decisions, as they play an essential role in comfort. From rocky alpine crossings to wet and muddy forest trails, you need a good pair of pedals to take you through all types of terrain and weather. Finding the perfect fit can be difficult, and we want our shoes to withstand a lot of abuse on the track.

After 17 hours of product research and analysis, We can identify the Most Comfortable Hiking Shoes For Men is Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe. The performance of this product is of an excellent standard, and it offers a complete set of features that can satisfy your requirements.

Our Top Picks

Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

TOP Choice #1

Best Overall
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe

This shoe has a breathable mesh lining

It features bellows’ tongue keep out debris

Comes with a traditional lace closure

Equipped with Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability.

You can get a blister if you use it all day.

From day trips to week-long backpacking trips, we have the best hiking shoes and boots for your next outdoor trip. Plus, you can hit the trails and explore off-the-beaten tracks with training and trail running shoes that suit your needs and environment.

Moreover, this Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe protects your feet from everyday life with work boots that can withstand the toughest demands while still being comfortable enough to be worn every day.

Timberland Men's Anti-Fatigue Hiking Waterproof

TOP Choice #2

Best For Price
Timberland Men’s Anti-Fatigue Hiking Waterproof

Upper made of premium full-grain waterproof leather

Eco-conscious waterproof TimberDry membrane keeps feet dry in any weather

A fully folded tongue keeps debris out

Anti-fatigue comfort technology provides all-day comfort.

This shoe is smaller than other usual.

The upper is made with premium 100% waterproof leather from an LWG Silver-rated tannery. This product is equipped with an eco-conscious waterproof TimberDry™ membrane. It has a fully folded tongue and a removable anti-fatigue insole.

Besides, the outsole is made of 15% recycled rubber imported. It is ideal for those who spend a long day on their feet; anti-fatigue technology is integrated into the mobile and uses geometric tapered support for excellent standing comfort, all-day absorption, and energy return

Ariat Terrain Waterproof Hiking Boot

TOP Choice #3

Best Performance
Ariat Terrain Waterproof Hiking Boot

A moisture-wicking lining promotes optimal foot hygiene

An EVA midsole provides maximum shock absorption and cushioning.

They offer excellent grip without the splint clutter of other boots and are easy to wipe clean.

Whether it’s ice, mud, or puddles, you can rest assured that these men’s hiking shoes won’t fade.

The arch is not comfortable enough.

These men’s work boots are designed for off-road use without sacrificing comfort or support, even in changing weather conditions. High-performance ATS technology is integrated for stability and all-day comfort, while the waterproof PRO construction ensures your feet stay dry when wet.

In addition, these men’s all-weather shoes are made from durable, oiled, water-resistant full-grain leather that prevents water from seeping inside. The dura tread outsole is both oil and non-slip, and the 90-degree heel gives you extra grip. Designed for the hard-working crew, these work boots provide maximum support and traction on any terrain without sacrificing comfort.

THE NORTH FACE Men's Ultra 111 WP


Best Versatile
THE NORTH FACE Men’s Ultra 111 WP

This product is very comfortable and supportive.

The OrthoLite Hybrid footbed experiences eco-friendly comfort

The nylon midfoot calf provides lasting arch support.

These boots are a classic for hiking, training, or leisure.

It will be torn if you use it for a long time.

With a PU coating and bulletproof mesh upper, these highly durable outdoor boots are waterproof and warm, so you can hike, splash and explore in comfort even in the most challenging conditions.

Furthermore, thanks to the highly durable outsole, you can confidently explore all conditions. From peak to peak, you’ll love keeping your feet on the ground and maintaining traction on your adventures.

Timberland Men's White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoe


Best Flexible
Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The upper is made with 100% waterproof premium leather from an LWG Silver-rated tannery.

Stainless steel quick lace fitting with lace hook on top.

Solid rubber outsole with multidirectional lugs.

They are comfortable, durable, and look great.

The sole can be rigid in the rear half of the shoe.

Look no further for off-road-friendly performance and style. Our selection of men’s hiking boots, waterproof hiking boots, casual boots, and loafers are designed to complement your outdoor attire.

Besides, our men’s White Ledge hiking boots feature a premium full-grain waterproof leather upper, seam-sealed waterproof construction, and rust-resistant Speed ​​Lace hardware with a top hook for secure lacing. Whether you are looking for men’s boots, women’s boots, or children’s boots, TIMBERLAND has you covered. Choose Timberland for the best in hiking boots, rain boots, work boots, loafers, and more.

Columbia mens Newton Ridge Plus Ii Waterproof Boot


Best Waterproof
Columbia mens Newton Ridge Plus Ii Waterproof Boot

These boots seamlessly combine durability and comfort while remaining lightweight and versatile.

Columbia’s signature technology sets us apart and ensures quality protection and prevention.

These hiking shoes feature a waterproof mesh and leather outer to protect them from trails to mountains.

An advanced traction outsole strives to provide grip in any environment to prevent slipping.

This product is a bit stiff and rigid for you to use.

The Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II, Waterproof Hiking Shoe features our lightweight, durable midsole for long-lasting comfort, excellent cushioning, high energy return, and an advanced traction rubber sole for non-slip motion on uneven surfaces.

Additionally, it has waterproof full-grain leather. Its meshed bootie construction and durable mesh tongue for breathability keep you comfortable and worry-free on treacherous travel days. These waterproof men’s hiking shoes offer style and durability with a contrasting color combination and a soft mesh outer.

KEEN Men's Targhee 3 Low Height Comfortable Waterproof Hiking Shoe


Best Comfortable
KEEN Men’s Targhee 3 Low Height Comfortable Waterproof Hiking Shoe

External support shaft provides balance on uneven surfaces

The contoured heel provides the highest level of stability

Flat upper with padded tongue and collar for comfort and flexibility

Signature KEEN Original Fit provides ample room for toes to stretch

The shoe can be loose after a long time use,

The waterproof, breathable membrane keeps your feet dry and comfortable all day long, allowing water vapor to escape without getting in. It will be an iconic hiking shoe for men to bring to all their adventures.

Plus, the KEEN ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole provides high traction on muddy conditions and rocky surfaces; the non-marking rubber outsole leaves no marks or marks when walking indoors. It also has a removable ultra-atomic insole design that provides superior arch support and conforms to the foot’s natural contour.

KEEN mens Targhee 3 Oxford Casual Hiking Shoe


Our Pick
KEEN mens Targhee 3 Oxford Casual Hiking Shoe
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Leather is sourced Leather Working Group (LWG)-certified tanneries; Tanned in the most environmentally way possible and is treated with PFC-free chemicals
  • ANTI ODOR: All day use without the odor, Eco Anti-Odor provides a natural resistance to odor without using harmful chemicals; Mesh lining provides breathability
  • TRACTION: KEEN ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole provides high-traction grip in muddy environments and on rocky surfaces with 4mm multi-directional lugs; Non-marking rubber outsoles leaves no trace when walking indoors
  • CARE TIPS: We’ve carefully selected leather uppers designed to last; However, if you’re wearing your KEENs daily, they won’t always be scuff and dirt-free; To treat day to day wear and tear, especially on lighter color leathers, we recommend using a common leather cleaner and conditioner
  • FIT & COMFORT: Low-profile leather upper for comfort and secure fit with padded tongue and collar; The removable, metatomical dual-density EVA footbed provides excellent arch support and cradles to the natural contours of the foot

KEEN mens Voyageur Mid Height Breathable Hiking Boot


Upgrade Pick
KEEN mens Voyageur Mid Height Breathable Hiking Boot
  • UPPER: Water resistant leather keeps your feet dry and performance mesh increases air flow
  • TRACTION & PROTECTION: 4mm multi directional lugs for increased traction on and off the trails; KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN rubber outsole for higher traction grip when you need it
  • COMFORT: Removable metatomical footbed design provides excellent arch support and cradles to the natural contours of the foot
  • FIT: Mid profile upper for comfort and secure fit with padded tongue and collar
  • SUPPORT: Stability support shank provides support on uneven surfaces; Injected heel capture system provides next level stability by holding the heel in place

KEEN mens Pyrenees Mid Wp-m Hiking Boot


Top Choice
KEEN mens Pyrenees Mid Wp-m Hiking Boot
  • TRACTION: 4mm multi-direction lugs provide optimal grip for sure footing in the most rugged terrain; Non-marking rubber outsoles leaves no trace or imprints when walking indoors
  • CARE TIPS: KEEN recommends gently brushing the boot with a soft bristle brush or hand towel to remove loose dirt and then using a leather cleaner and conditioner to extend the upper’s life; Stains can be treated by lightly rubbing a gum eraser
  • WATERPROOF: KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane in KEEN women’s hiking boots keep your feet dry and comfortable in wet terrains; The Men’s Pyrenees Hiking Boot has a mesh liner that integrates with the waterproof membrane
  • FIT & INSOLE: Removable, metatdual-density EVA footbed with arch support and cradles to the natural contours of the foot; This style is running ½ size small; KEEN suggests ordering ½ larger than your usual size
  • SUPPORT & COMFORT: External stability shank offers lightweight support for improved mobility and torsion control on uneven surfaces; Cushioned collar reduces irritation and discomfort around ankle; Mesh lining helps keep feet cool in warmer environments

What to Look For in a most comfortable hiking shoes for men?

When selecting a suitable most comfortable hiking shoes for men, a variety of factors have been found. Information sources are available in a wide range of forms. As a basis, we are doing it to support, inform, and solve your demands.

Please keep these things in mind before selecting the most comfortable hiking shoes for men:

Ankle Support

Boots provide ankle support and are popular among hikers. Boots that are higher than the average height will provide maximum support for your ankle. Make sure you tie the laces securely.


Your feet are 5x more likely to burn energy than your back. They can reduce muscle fatigue and stumbling and help to avoid hip and knee flexor issues. However, heavier boots don’t necessarily mean they are better. You may feel more secure in boots that are more durable and burly if you hike off-trail a lot or have a larger pack.


For hiking, moisture regulation is essential. Whether you want to keep your boots dry quickly or keep it out, wet boots can cause blisters.
While most hiking boots have water resistance and breathable properties, they are not always waterproof. Waterproof boots
You can also choose something lightweight and mesh, which will allow you to be one with the moisture. These breathable boots can withstand water, but they will also dry quickly and drain naturally.


Hiking boots, like sneakers are designed for specific kinds of hiking. Do you hike more often in the mountains than you do at home or are you a casual hiker? It is important to know the differences in order to determine which hiking boots are best for you.


What should your budget be? The features that you desire will determine how much. The price tag rises with a waterproof-breathable membrane like Gore-Tex, leather uppers and a beefy toe bumper to improve durability, an outsole designed for good traction in varied terrain or simply a sturdier design. These features are worth the investment if hiking in wet areas or along rugged trails.


We looked at shoes and boots that have deep traction to avoid slippery terrain on our hiking trips. Lacing is also important for maintaining good traction. The fit of laced shoes and boots will be more tailored.

Comfort And Fit

The best fit is individual. The most comfortable boots allow your feet to move freely, provide cushioning to support your foot’s shape and flexibility in the upper to make it more flexible.

Durability & Material

You can make a significant investment in hiking boots, and a sturdy pair of them will be the best choice. The traditional leather boots will last longer than those made of lightweight footwear. If you are concerned about keeping your weight down, make sure to choose boots made of reinforced mesh to achieve the perfect balance between weight and durability.

How Often Should I Buy New Hiking Shoes?

Your boots’ lifespan will depend on the type of trail you use them for. The waterproofing of boots doesn’t last forever. If your boots begin to leak, it’s time for you to consider buying new boots. If you feel your hiking boots are at the end of their life, look out for cracked or worn midsoles and treads. It’s time for new hiking boots if your hiking boots aren’t performing as well as they should.

How Heavy Should Hiking Boots Be?

When comparing boots, weight is an important consideration. While heavy boots can provide support and durability, they may make you feel tired sooner. While lightweight boots and shoes will not weigh you down, they provide less support. Depending on your hiking goals, you’ll need to choose which one is most important.

Do Hiking Boots Stretch?

While hiking boots can stretch with use, this is more about them fitting snugly and getting better after being ‘broken in’. It’s not an issue of boots becoming too loose or expanding. The natural leather material responds to both outside and inside conditions. Your boots made from natural materials may experience stretching or easing.

Do I Need Hiking Boots?

Yes! Yes. Hiking boots and shoes are essential if you plan to hike long distances on upland trails and avoid blisters. They also reduce the risk of falling and slipping. Hiking boots that provide ankle support are ideal for all terrains. They also protect the feet from stones and other trail debris. Mountain Rescue recommends wearing good footwear for hiking safety and comfort. Shoes that are too small can lead to injury. People who begin walking in normal footwear often regret it.

Should Hiking Boots Be A Size Bigger Than Your Usual Shoe?

A controversial question indeed! Although some manufacturers suggest going half-size up, this isn’t always a good idea. It is easy to find the right size. The answer is simple. If you are walking in a boot that is too tight, it will cause extreme pain. Your toes should feel free to move. Your foot may slip on downhill trails if the boot is too tight. This can cause pain or injury to your feet and ankles. Blisters are possible. Talk to the sales representative at your local store. As you move around, your heel must remain in the same place inside the boot.

Can I Use Hiking Boots For Running?

For trail running, it is best to avoid heavy hiking boots. In recent years, trail running has grown in popularity. If you are looking for outdoor adventure, the trail runner is your best choice. The trail runners don’t have high ankle supports, and they are usually made of lighter materials. They have a slim sole that allows you to walk closer to the ground. This reduces the chance of you slipping and falling. They aren’t as tough as trekking boots, and they won’t offer as much protection against rocks, debris and stones. Each boot and hiking shoe is optimized to be used for the activity it was intended.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

Your hiking boots must fit comfortably all around your feet, without feeling tight. Check out our guide to the best hiking boots.
Here are some tips to help you find the perfect hiking boots
You should wear the correct socks – Try boots with some padded hiking socks to get a better idea of what you can expect while on trails.
Allow them to adjust. The way they feel will change over time. You can expect your feet to expand slightly over the duration of the hike. This means that you may need more volume. Similar to the way boots take time to become more flexible and comfortable, some boots may need a little longer.
Aftermarket insoles are a good option. If you have problems with support or comfort, a custom-made insole might be a great choice. You want something designed to last for you, so it’s important that your insole is made specifically for your needs.

How To Clean Hiking Boots?

Hiking boots can last longer if they are kept clean. While laces may be washed in the washer, the boot’s rest needs to be cleaned. Water, dirt, mud and mold can all cause damage to the leather and fabric of your boot, which will reduce their life expectancy. Wash the boots to remove dirt and grit from their outsoles. You can use a boot cleaner that is approved for hiking shoes and brush it to remove any dirt. Rinse clean. To speed up drying, take off the insoles. You may also want to condition leather boots with full-grain uppers if they become cracked.

With new information arriving, our editor will usually update the most comfortable hiking shoes for men frequently. Please constantly check our site for the most up-to-date material.

We will try our best to help you with more most comfortable hiking shoes for men. You are supposed to be free to ask for assistance with your problems.

Best Hiking Shoes of 2022

For a lightweight and nimble alternative to boots, we’ve tested and picked the year’s top hiking shoes

Hiking Shoes (Merrell Moab 3 on rock)

Hiking Shoes (Merrell Moab 3 on rock)

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The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying a heavy pack or traversing rocky trails, but the weight savings and feathery feel are worth it for many. Below are our favorite hiking shoes of 2022, from ultralight options for fast and light trips to more supportive models for carrying a full pack. For more background information, see our hiking shoe comparison table and buying advice below the picks. And if you prefer an over-the-ankle style, see our article on the best hiking boots.

Our Team’s Hiking Shoe Picks

  • Best Overall Hiking Shoe:Danner Trail 2650
  • Best Budget Hiking Shoe:Merrell Moab 3
  • Best Ultralight and Cushioned Hiking Shoe:Hoka Speedgoat 5
  • Best Shoe for Backpacking and Technical Trails:La Sportiva Spire GTX
  • Best Hiking Shoe for Off-Trail Scrambling:La Sportiva TX4
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Best Overall Hiking Shoe

1. Danner Trail 2650 ($190)

Danner 2650 Trail hiking shoe

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: The full package in a lightweight hiker.
What we don’t: Not particularly stable and might overheat in warm conditions.

The Danner Trail 2650 is our top hiking shoe for 2022, combining a feathery feel with impressive on-trail performance. And with the mileage of the Pacific Crest Trail in its name, it’s also designed to tackle some serious ground. The Trail 2650 is comfortable right out of the box, grippy with a Vibram outsole, and impressively light at 1 pound 8 ounces per pair. Its leather upper is long-lasting and conforms to the contours of your foot, while a mesh liner and textile collar add a nice dose of breathability. And the Danner also manages to do what most hiking shoes don’t: look good in the process. Added up, the Trail 2650 is a versatile and high-performance option, ideal for day hikes, quick summits, and even lightweight backpacking.

Despite its lightweight build, the Danner offers a step up in protection compared to the trail runners below, with generous heel and toe protection and a fairly stiff rubber sole. On the other hand, it’s far from the most stable design here—with a low collar and less of a locked-down feel than shoes like the La Sportiva Spire or Salomon X Ultra 4, it will show its weakness on tricky terrain or while hauling a heavy load. What’s more, we’re not quite sure what to make of the rather massive piece of rubber on the heel, which seems to go above and beyond the necessary levels of protection. But these are small complaints about an otherwise comfortable, capable, and modern lightweight hiking shoe. Finally, Danner also makes the Trail 2650 in a waterproof version ($210), a more breathable mesh design ($190), and a supportive mid-height boot ($220). Read in-depth review
See the Men’s Danner Trail 2650 See the Women’s Danner Trail 2650

Best Budget Hiking Shoe

2. Merrell Moab 3 ($110)

Merrell Moab 3 (men

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: Very comfortable and a great price.
What we don’t: Not built for technical terrain.

These may not be your long-distance or fast-and-light hiking shoes, but there is a lot to like about Merrell’s flagship Moab 3. What has made this shoe so popular over the years? Most notably, it’s the lightweight but planted feel, comfortable and well-padded fit, excellent durability, and attractive price point. Merrell recently updated the Moab, including recycled materials, a new insole, and modest updates to cushioning and traction, but the formula largely remains the same. For day hikers sticking to established trails, the Moab 3 is a great value.

In terms of downsides, on rocky and muddy trails, we’ve found that the Moab’s traction and stability fall short of a performance shoe like the La Sportiva Spire below. And at 2 pounds 1 ounce for a pair, it feels a little slow and cumbersome compared with some lighter and nimbler alternatives. But these are reasonable tradeoffs for casual hikers, and it’s hard to deny the price, which checks in a full $80 less than the Danner above. Keep in mind that we included the non-waterproof version here, but Merrell also makes a waterproof model that costs $135 and weighs slightly more at 2 pounds 2 ounces per pair. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s Merrell Moab 3 See the Women’s Merrell Moab 3

Best Ultralight and Cushioned Hiking Shoe

3. Hoka Speedgoat 5 ($155)

Hoka Speedgoat 5 (men

Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Plush cushioning offers all-day comfort; grippy outsole.
What we don’t: New uppers lack structure; not as durable as a dedicated hiking shoe.

Hoka used to be a niche brand for runners, but that has changed dramatically over the past few years and the brand is now a go-to option for hikers. This trajectory makes sense: More and more people are ditching their burly boots for hiking shoes and trail runners—if you stay mostly on established trails and aren’t scrambling or carrying a heavy pack, a lightweight trail runner can offer the best combination of performance and comfort. And with thick yet supportive cushioning, an impressively grippy sole, and a long track record of success, the Hoka Speedgoat 5 is our favorite shoe in this category.

What are the shortcomings of the Hoka Speedgoat 5? We have been surprised by how quickly they wear down—the sole and midsole in particular. When standing at our local running store recently, a gentleman in front of us was buying new Hokas and said, “I absolutely love these shoes but am bummed by how quickly they pack out,” which sums up our experiences as well. In addition, the revamped upper now forgoes any overlays, which means you get less protection and stability than previous models—we found the 5 quite squirrely for trail running on technical terrain. But for those who hike or run mostly on established trails, you simply won’t find a more comfortable shoe for the job.
See the Men’s Hoka Speedgoat 5 See the Women’s Hoka Speedgoat 5

Best Shoe for Backpacking and Technical Trails

4. La Sportiva Spire GTX ($199)

La Sportiva Spire GTX (hiking shoe)

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex Surround)
What we like: A backpacking-ready shoe that is tough, comfortable, and well-made.
What we don’t: Super pricey and a bit heavy.

Many of the designs on our list are lightweight or almost trail runner-like in nature, but La Sportiva’s burly Spire is backpacking-ready—or just about as close as a hiking shoe gets. It feels sturdy and substantial with good stiffness and a thick midsole, effectively isolating you from rough and rocky trails (La Sportiva even goes so far as calling it a low-cut hiking boot). Throw in excellent protection and grip over a variety of terrain, plus a quality build that we’ve come to expect from this Italian climbing brand, and you have one of the more capable hiking shoes on the market.

Why isn’t the La Sportiva Spire ranked higher? At nearly 2 pounds, it’s heavy for a low-top hiking shoe and sits relatively high on the ankle. Second, the $199 price tag makes it the most expensive model on this list, even topping the high-end Arc’teryx Aerios FL below. Finally, we appreciate the accommodating fit that should work well for most foot types, but the shoe is a little wide at the heel and we had to cinch it down tightly to avoid slippage. These issues aside, it’s hard to knock the performance chops or build quality of the La Sportiva, and it offers a nice step up in on-trail performance and durability compared to the TX4 below. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s La Sportiva Spire See the Women’s La Sportiva Spire

Best Hiking Shoe for Off-Trail Scrambling

5. La Sportiva TX4 ($149)

La Sportiva TX4 hiking shoe

Category: Approach shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like: Approach shoe grip with hiking shoe comfort and weight.
What we don’t: Leather upper limits breathability in hot weather.

The La Sportiva TX4 certainly isn’t a traditional pick, but boy do we love this shoe. It’s built as an approach shoe, which means that it’s grippy and tough for long hikes to climbing objectives or traveling over steep, rocky terrain. The Vibram outsole, full rubber rand, and smooth area of sticky rubber under the toe make it a great option for scrambling, smearing, and edging on rock. But what we have been impressed with most is its versatility: The TX4 does equally well moving fast on the trail with its light and moderately flexible construction. We even like it for everyday use due to the high levels of comfort and attractive design.

As with most approach shoes, the La Sportiva TX4 does have limitations. The dotty tread grips exceptionally well on wet and dry rock and even impressed us with traction on snow, but it will fall short of a true hiking shoe in dirt and mud. Further, some hikers—mostly those of the fast-and-light variety—might find that the stiffer sole feels clunky and inflexible. But overall, don’t be dissuaded by the approach shoe label: The TX4 is a worthy companion for long days on the trail. And keep in mind that La Sportiva does make this shoe in a number of versions, from the uber-lightweight TX2 EVO up to the burly TXS (a full-on hiking boot). Read in-depth review
See the Men’s La Sportiva TX4 See the Women’s La Sportiva TX4

Best of the Rest

6. Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX ($150)

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoes

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 11.5 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: A great balance of weight and on-trail performance.
What we don’t: Tall ankle height can lead to rubbing.

Salomon’s X Ultra has been one of our favorite hiking shoes for years, offering an exceptional combination of comfort, on-trail performance, and durability for everything from casual day hikes to ambitious overnight missions. Last year, they released an update to the much-loved shoe in the X Ultra 4 here. Beyond its sleeker and more modern look, the X Ultra 4 features a revised lacing system and chassis, along with a roomier fit in the toe box. Importantly, the shoe retains the outgoing version’s fantastic mix of agility, durability, and protection, and there’s enough cushioning underfoot for full days with a loaded pack. Finally, at 1 pound 9 ounces for our men’s size 9, it’s competitively lightweight and nimble.

Prior generations of the X Ultra held our top spot, but we were forced to reconsider after thoroughly testing the most recent version. In short, some of our team are not huge fans of the 4’s fit, which features a narrow midfoot, spacious forefoot, and hard-to-customize quick-pull lacing system. For some, this offers a locked-down feel but perhaps too roomy of a toe box; for others, it’s ideal in the forefoot but too tight at the arch. What’s more, the raised collar around the front of the ankle can be a source of rubbing and discomfort for some users (in this case, it wasn’t a problem for our testers). These differences are enough for us to hesitate in moving the updated shoe any higher on our list, but if you can try it on before you purchase (and it fits), the latest X Ultra is undeniably a high-performance, quality option. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX See the Women’s Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX

7. Hoka Anacapa Low GTX ($170)

Hoka Anacapa Low GTX (men

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Extremely comfortable, great lacing system and fit, and smooth ride.
What we don’t: Some outsole durability issues and polarizing looks.

The Hoka Speedgoat above has achieved legendary status among hikers (specifically the thru-hiking community), but there are some notable tradeoffs with the trail running design. For those who want a bit more support and protection, Hoka also offers an impressive lineup of hiking-specific footwear, including the Anacapa Low here. The Anacapa (also available in a mid-height version) features Hoka’s well-known springy midsole, a rockered shape for a smooth ride on the trail, and a beefed-up construction that includes durable nubuck leather and a Gore-Tex waterproof liner. The result is a fast-moving shoe that nicely mixes a trail runner-like feel with the added structure of a hiker.

Our main concern with the Anacapa is durability and, more specifically, the longevity of its outsole. The majority of the tread is quality Vibram rubber, but Hoka incorporated large sections of blown rubber in the middle of the design. Blown rubber is common on road running footwear and is almost foam-like in feel. As a result, our pair has already received pretty significant damage from rocky trail use. Further, some hikers might want their feet closer to the ground, although we’ve been surprised by the Anacapa’s stable (read: not tippy) feel. And finally, we’d be remiss not to point out that the Hoka aesthetic isn’t for everyone. But if you stick mostly to established trails and prioritize cushy comfort and a nimble feel, the Anacapa is well worth a try.
See the Men’s Hoka Anacapa Low GTX See the Women’s Hoka Anacapa Low GTX

8. Altra Lone Peak 6 ($140)

Altra Lone Peak 6 hiking shoe

Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 5.2 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: It’s a thru-hiker favorite thanks to its light feel, cushioning, and wide toe box.
What we don’t: Roomy fit and flexible design aren’t ideal for difficult terrain.

Like the Speedgoat above, Altra’s Lone Peak was designed first as a running shoe and has since become a thru-hiker favorite thanks to its minimalist yet comfortable build. In place of the stiff midsole and reinforced heel common among many traditional designs, the Lone Peak uses thick cushioning to isolate your foot from uneven terrain, resulting in a shoe that’s both lightweight (just 1 lb. 5.2 oz. for a pair) and protective. It’s also extremely comfortable with Altra’s trademark zero-drop design and extra-wide toe box—in fact, this is the shoe we recommend most for hikers that regularly suffer from hot spots and blisters.

Among thru-hikers, the Lone Peak’s biggest competitor is the Speedgoat above. With the Lone Peak, you get trail-ready features like an integrated stone guard, built-in drainage ports, and gaiter trap. The Altra’s shorter stack height also puts you closer to the trail, which increases stability for many hikers (the Hoka can feel a little tippy and harder to trust on rocky terrain). But the Lone Peak’s wide fit is polarizing—hikers with narrow feet are usually much happier with the Speedgoat—and we’ve had durability issues with various iterations of the Lone Peak (the rubber toe cap has a tendency to peel away from the upper). In the end, both are great options for those traveling fast and light, and a final decision will likely come down to preferences on fit and cushioning.
See the Men’s Altra Lone Peak 6 See the Women’s Altra Lone Peak 6

9. Arc’teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX ($180)


Category: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Light, tough, and extremely well-built.
What we don’t: Pricey and a bit stiff.

Arc’teryx has been experimenting with footwear for years, from the Bora2 hiking boots to the Norvan trail runners, and the Aerios FL is their popular lightweight hiking shoe. Now in its second iteration, the Aerios FL 2 is superlight at just 1.5 pounds for the pair, waterproof with a Gore-Tex membrane, and tough with a burly toe cap and a large swath of TPU around the bottom portion of the shoe. All told, the Aerios likely is lighter than your day hiker, more protective than your trail runner, and more comfortable than your approach shoe. For these reasons, it’s our favorite pair of Arc’teryx hiking footwear to date.

We took the first-gen Aerios FL on the multi-day Escalante Route through the Grand Canyon, which included off-trail scrambling with a loaded pack. The shoe felt a bit stiff at first—particularly under the heel—but it broke in nicely and ended up being comfortable during long days on the trail. It also was light on ankle support in a couple of spots, but still did a great job covering ground over a variety of tough terrain. We expect similar performance out of the “2,” and we’ll update this write-up after we thoroughly test the revamped model. For more ankle support, Arc’teryx also makes an Aerios FL 2 Mid GTX ($190).
See the Men’s Arc’teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX See the Women’s Arc’teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX

10. Keen Targhee Low Vent ($155)

KEEN Targhee Vent Low (hiking shoe)

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 13.6 oz.
Waterproof: No (waterproof available)
What we like: Cushioned and comfortable; above-average build quality.
What we don’t: Pricier than the Merrell Moab above without enough to show for it.

Like Merrell’s Moab, the Targhee is Keen’s signature everyday hiker. Updated a few years ago, the changes weren’t groundbreaking but did a nice job at modernizing the classic design. Most importantly, the super-wide foot bed of the previous model has been trimmed down slightly to give the shoe a slightly less sloppy feel over rocky terrain (it’s still plenty roomy for most folks, though). The Targhee Low Vent still won’t be confused with an aggressive model like the Salomon X Ultra 4 above—in looks as well as performance—but its tough leather construction, reasonable weight, and well-cushioned interior make it a great casual hiking shoe.

Among day hiking options, the Keen Targhee Low and Merrell Moab 3 are two of the most popular on the market. Both are very comfortable right out of the box, offer sufficient support and traction for non-technical trails, and can even do the trick on shorter backpacking trips. The Targhee’s Nubuck leather upper is a little more durable than the Moab’s mesh-heavy build, but the Keen isn’t as good of a value at $155 (the waterproof version is $155 as well). That price difference is enough to push it slightly down our list, but the Targhee’s standout comfort make it a consistent favorite.
See the Men’s Keen Targhee Low See the Women’s Keen Targhee Low

11. Scarpa Rush Low GTX ($189)

Scarpa Rush Low GTX hiking shoe

Category: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 12.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Trail runner-like agility with a boost in protection and stability.
What we don’t: Low collar lacks ankle support; too heavy for long stretches of running.

The hiking-shoe-meets-trail-runner love story has been unfolding for a number of years, but only recently did Scarpa throw their hat in the ring with the Rush series. Released last year, the Rush Low GTX is a nimble hiking shoe that gives top-ranked models like the Danner Trail 2650 a run for their money in terms of on-trail performance. You get a durable fabric upper with welded reinforcements, burly midsole with EVA foam and TPU reinforcements for cushion and stability (we’ve found it to be more cushioned than the Salomon, especially in the forefoot), and a sticky outsole with a rockered profile that facilitates quick movements. All told, if you’re considering a trail runner but are wary of giving up the support and durability of a hiking shoe, the Rush Low GTX (also offered in non-waterproof and mid-height versions) is well worth a look.

We wore the Scarpa Rush while trekking in southern Patagonia and were impressed with its prowess on everything from hardpacked trail to talus and smooth rock. But as with all hybrid designs, it’s not perfect for either end of the spectrum. First off, the Rush offers minimal ankle support with a fairly low collar, which isn’t great news if you’re schlepping a heavy overnight pack. Second, we found it to be too heavy and stiff for sustained running, although it does feel lighter than its 1-pound-12.2-ounce weight would suggest (the plush cushioning helps). And finally, it’s pricey at $189, and stock is often hard to come by. But for speed-focused hikers and fastpackers, it’s hard to knock the purpose-built design, which offers a boost in support and durability compared to standard trail runners like the Speedgoat and Lone Peak above. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s Scarpa Rush Low GTX See the Women’s Scarpa Rush Low GTX

12. Topo Athletic Ultraventure Pro ($150)

Topo Athletic Ultraventure Pro (hiking shoe trail runner)

Category: Hiking shoe/trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
Waterproof: No
What we like:
All the benefits of a trail runner—with added durability, support, and protection.
What we don’t: Not the most breathable upper.

If you’re thinking about picking up a trail running shoe like the Speedgoat or Lone Peak above, it’s worth adding the Ultraventure Pro to your short list. Topo Athletic touts this model as the “ultimate hybrid trail shoe,” ideal for everything from fastpacking and thru-hiking to long trail runs. And it certainly ups the ante compared to a typical trail running shoe, with a sticky Vibram outsole and rockplate at the forefoot, stable TPU heel counter, and decently firm ZipFoam midsole. You also get a dual-density mesh upper, which (along with the gusseted tongue and gaiter attachment) is great for keeping out debris during long slogs. Added up, the Ultraventure Pro packs in all of the benefits of a trail runner, but with the added protection, durability, and support of a hiking shoe. For modern, fast-and-light hikers, it’s about as close as it gets to a no-compromise design.

Topo Athletic’s shoes bear a lot of resemblance to Altra’s designs when it comes to fit, but with a few noteworthy differences. While both have roomy toe boxes that accommodate wide or swollen feet, Topo shoes are slimmer at the midfoot and heel, which results in a snugger fit and better performance for most. And unlike the zero-drop Lone Peak, the Ultraventure Pro features a less polarizing 5-millimeter drop. What’s more, you’ll give and take with the Topo Athletic’s upper: The engineered mesh offers a strong dose of durability, but breathability suffers compared to more air-permeable designs like the Speedgoat above. But for a purpose-built hiking shoe that’s as lightweight as most of the trail runners here, the Ultraventure Pro has a lot going for it.
See the Men’s Topo Athletic Ultraventure Pro See the Women’s Topo Athletic Ultraventure Pro

13. Brooks Cascadia 16 ($130)

Brooks Cascadia 16 trail running shoe

Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Latest model is competitively light yet stable and well-cushioned.
What we don’t: Lightened-up build hasn’t proven itself in long-term durability.

Brooks’ Cascadia was one of the first trail runners to really break into the ultralight backpacking and thru-hiking communities. Its mix of weight and comfort were a revelation for those looking to cover serious distances, and the shoe exceeded expectations in terms of durability as well. Now in its 16th generation, the Cascadia remains a fantastic crossover trail running/hiking option: The latest model has a soft, cushioned feel, a rock plate underfoot helps take the sting out of a rough trail, and it’s very competitive in terms of weight at 1 pound 5 ounces for the men’s version (the women’s is 1 lb. 3 oz.).

How does the Cascadia compare with another darling of the thru-hiking world, Altra’s Lone Peak above? Both offer a nice array of trail-ready features like tacky and aggressive rubber outsoles, drainage ports in the upper, and attachment points for gaiters. One key difference is the Altra’s zero-drop shape compared with the Cascadia’s more traditional 8-millimeter drop (a choice here will come down to personal preference). And while the Cascadia’s toe box is pretty roomy, the Lone Peak has the wide shape that many thru-hikers desire. The flipside is that the Brooks is more stable and would be our pick for technical terrain. In truth, both are quality options, and as we put more miles on the Cascadia, it could easily work its way up our rankings.
See the Men’s Brooks Cascadia 16 See the Women’s Brooks Cascadia 16

14. Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX ($160)

Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX (men

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 11.9 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Sturdy and durable with great traction.
What we don’t: Stiff and less comfortable for moving fast.

With a light but sturdy and supportive build, Adidas’ Terrex Swift R has consistently been a trail favorite. The third generation brought a more traditional lacing system—which we consider a positive as the quick-lace design on the R2 was finicky—but otherwise, they stuck to the winning formula. Its outsole grips well on everything from mud to rock, and the moderately stiff construction makes it a nice pairing for more technical terrain and when carrying an overnight or multi-day load. Finally, we appreciate the tough and long-lasting materials used throughout: There’s no open mesh in the upper like you’ll find on less durable trail runners, and protection is great around the toes and sides of the feet. For hikers wanting a boot-like feel in a low-top shoe, the Swift R3 is a worthy option.

Read Post  Ways to Prevent, Treat, and Cure Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Some of the Swift’s closest competitors include the La Sportiva Spire and Salomon X Ultra above. All the designs balance weight, cushioning, and trail performance well, although the Salomon is the lightest and nimblest of the bunch. For those that like a little more structure and stiffness, the Adidas and La Sportiva have their appeals, but the tradeoff is a longer break-in period and a somewhat clunky feel when you’re trying to move quickly. We also found the R3 runs a little big, which led to a fair amount of heel slippage on extended climbs (some may need to size down). These complaints push the Swift R3 down our rankings, but if it fits you well, the shoe offers a nice combination of durability, support, and price. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX See the Women’s Terrex Swift R3 GTX

15. The North Face Vectiv Exploris Futurelight ($159)

The North Face Vectiv Exploris (men

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 10.3 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (Futurelight)
What we like: Thoroughly modern and packed with trail running-inspired tech.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the rockered shape; unproven over the long term.

A number of The North Face’s hiking models have throwback styling and fairly heavy constructions, but the Vectiv Exploris is a thoroughly modern and lightweight shoe. Taking inspiration from their Vectiv trail running collection, this hiking-specific variation features a rockered profile for moving fast on the trail, full-length TPU plate in the midsole for stability, and a lightweight yet durable Cordura ripstop upper. In addition, they utilized their in-house Futurelight waterproofing, and the 3-layer construction helps minimize overheating when working hard in mild temperatures. The styling may be a little polarizing—it’s not as around town-friendly as alternatives like the Danner Trail 2650 above—but it’s clear a lot of thought and effort went into the design.

We took the Vectiv Exploris backpacking in Washington’s Olympic National Park and returned with mostly positive impressions. The shoe gripped well on everything from slippery downed trees to mud, and there was little to no break-in period. Further, the waterproof membrane held up extremely well despite the sloppy conditions and numerous creek crossings. The rockered shape did feel a little awkward at first—especially when standing still or walking slowly—but it really came to life and gave the shoe a natural and balanced feel when hiking quickly. All told, the newer design has a way to go to prove itself in terms of durability—plus we’d like to see how it performs on more technical terrain—but the Vectiv’s early report is a good one. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s TNF Vectiv Exploris See the Women’s TNF Vectiv Exploris

16. Oboz Sawtooth X Low ($125)

Oboz Sawtooth X Low (hiking shoe)

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 15.6 oz.
Waterproof: No (BDry available)
What we like: A modern update to a much-loved classic.
What we don’t: Pricier and less breathable than the Moab 3 above.

Based in Bozeman, Montana, Oboz has a reputation for making tough, comfort-first footwear for less than much of the competition. The Sawtooth has long been one of their most popular models for both day hiking and overnights, and this year it received a full overhaul with the latest “X.” Responding to the resounding movement toward lighter and nimbler footwear, the Sawtooth X features a modernized aesthetic and refined fit, along with added Cordura for abrasion resistance. But the original formula remains largely the same, including a roomy toe box and plush interior, Oboz’s supportive O Fit insole, and a tough, durable construction that can handle mile after mile of trail abuse.

What’s not to like about the Sawtooth X? Despite Oboz’s efforts toward streamlining the design, it’s still a fairly heavy shoe and less agile than most. And with a leather upper and plush cushioning, its breathability suffers compared to the lighter, mesh-heavy hikers above. In looking at the Sawtooth X and Moab 3 side-by-side, the Merrell is $15 less and better ventilated, while the Oboz is a bit lighter (by about a half-ounce per shoe) and offers more durability by way of Cordura in the upper. It’s also hard to find fault with the Sawtooth X’s fit, which is built to accommodate medium-to-high-volume feet and has a very minimal break-in period. We have yet to test the newest version of the Oboz, but are intrigued by the design and will update this review as soon as we do. And lastly, the Sawtooth X also comes in a low-top waterproof model ($150) and waterproof and non-waterproof versions of a mid-height boot.
See the Men’s Oboz Sawtooth X Low See the Women’s Oboz Sawtooth X Low

17. Salomon OUTpulse Low GTX ($140)

Salomon OUTpulse Low GTX (men

Category: Hiking shoe
Weight: 1 lb. 8.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes (non-GTX available)
What we like: Lightweight, agile, and grippy, with great crossover appeal.
What we don’t: Doesn’t stand out in support or durability.

Salomon recently added the lightweight OUTpulse GTX boot and shoe to their ever-expanding hiking footwear line. With a hiking-shoe-meets-trail-runner build, the OUTpulse Low has appeal for everything from long day hikes to shorter trail runs. It’s slightly lighter than the X Ultra 4 GTX above at 1 pound 8.8 ounces, and forgoes some of the X Ultra’s stability and cushion with a softer and more streamlined midsole. On the other hand, it’s a step up in support and traction from trail runners like the Hoka Speedgoat or Altra Lone Peak above. All told, the OUTpulse will be the best of both worlds for many hikers, and especially those sticking primarily to established trails.

But while the OUTpulse Low GTX will get the job done for carrying a light pack on well-trodden trails, we don’t recommend it for particularly technical terrain or overnight loads. Comfort will start to suffer if the shoe is pushed too far, resulting in tired feet and sore ankles. What’s more, the thin, knit-like upper won’t hold up to heavy use, and we question the efficacy of pairing a waterproof membrane with such a low-profile design (water can easily get in at the ankle). But we’re big fans of the OUTpulse for moving quickly on smooth terrain, and with a low weight and modern looks, it has great crossover appeal as well.
See the Men’s Salomon OUTpulse Low See the Women’s Salomon OUTpulse Low

18. La Sportiva Wildcat ($135)

La Sportiva Wildcat hiking shoe

Category: Trail runner
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.
Waterproof: No (GTX available)
What we like: Lightweight but stable; long-distance comfort.
What we don’t: A step down in durability and toe protection from a true hiking shoe.

Years ago, we took a chance on the La Sportiva Wildcats as our daily trail runners. Quickly, we transitioned them to their better usage—fast-moving summer day hikes—thanks to the excellent shock absorption and breathability. We’re not alone, as the Wildcat has garnered a lot of praise over the past few years, helping propel trail running shoes fully into the hiking footwear market. The outsole design, optimized for running over varied and rough terrain, is equally at home on the rocky and rooty hiking trails in the Cascades. Notably, we’ve also seen the shoes on a number of PCT thru-hikers.

One warning in turning to a true trail runner style for hiking: The minimalist toe cap does not offer nearly as much protection as a traditional hiking shoe. Further, the La Sportiva’s thin mesh upper is more prone to tearing than an option like the Altra Lone Peak above. But despite a few sore toes and a couple pairs that didn’t last as long as we hoped, the Wildcat remains a favorite for trail runs and day hikes throughout the summer months. Sportiva also makes the Wildcat in a waterproof version ($165), and for a bump in traction, stability, and underfoot protection, it’s also worth considering their recently updated Ultra Raptor II ($155), which features a full-length rock guard, stickier rubber, and more TPU overlays on the upper. Read in-depth review
See the Men’s La Sportiva Wildcat See the Women’s La Sportiva Wildcat

Hiking Shoe Comparison Table

Hiking Shoe Buying Advice

Hiking Footwear Categories​

Hiking Shoes
For the vast majority of day hikers, and even a good number of backpackers and thru hikers, a hiking shoe that falls just below the ankle is the perfect match. Shoes like our top-rated Danner Trail 2650 are stiffer and more substantial than a trail runner for carrying a light load over mixed terrain, but not feel draggingly heavy like a full-on boot. Furthermore, hiking shoes often have a tougher construction than trail runners, with increased use of leather and durable nylons as opposed to mesh. Protection from obstacles like rocks and roots come courtesy of rubber toe caps and medium-stiff midsoles. Hiking shoes also are great options for folks needing a substantial shoe for daily wear, just be aware that the outsoles will wear faster on pavement.

Hiking shoes (Arc

Testing Arc’teryx’s Aerios FL in the Grand Canyon

Trail Running Shoes
If moving fast trumps all else, you should consider a trail runner. These shoes have gained significant popularity over the past few years for being the ultimate lightweight option and are a common sight on thru hikes like the PCT and AT. That said, keep in mind that these types of shoes are not traditional off-trail or backpacking footwear. Trail runners are flexible and super comfortable, but they don’t provide much in the way of ankle support when you’re carrying a heavy load and generally have minimal toe and underfoot protection. For hikes on established trails or for experienced minimalist trekkers, however, a trail runner remains an excellent option. We’ve included a couple great hybrid trail running and hiking options in this article, but for a complete breakdown, see our article on the best trail running shoes.

Hiking shoes (lacing up Hoka One One Speedgoat trail runners)

Trail runners are the lightest option but compromise in stability and protection

Approach Shoes
The third option has a relatively narrow focus: climbers or hikers that need a grippy shoe to tackle steep rocky terrain. Many rock climbers will use an approach shoe on the hike in (hence, the “approach” name), and swap out to a true climbing shoe when the going gets vertical. Approach shoes are easy to spot: They have a large rubber toe rand and a sticky, low-profile rubber compound underfoot for maximum grip on rock. The shoes can be plenty comfortable on day hikes, especially a crossover style like the La Sportiva TX4, but aren’t what we typically recommend as a daily driver. The treads aren’t as secure on muddy hiking trails and they’re not as comfortable underfoot for long trail days. If, however, your day hikes include a lot of scrambling or low grade rock climbing, an approach shoe is an excellent choice.

Hiking shoes (La Sportiva TX4 traction)

The La Sportiva TX4 has excellent traction on rock


Arguably, the most important change in modern hiking shoe technology is the movement to lightweight designs. Tough but thin fabrics and a shift from over-the-ankle boots to low-top shoes have made putting on major miles a lot easier. It’s no surprise most thru-hikers now choose a hiking shoe over a traditional leather boot. Most of the shoes on our list weigh 2 pounds or less for a pair—by comparison, a backpacking boot like the Asolo TPS 520 tips the scales at nearly 4 pounds. And on your feet, the weight is even more apparent. True, the drop in ounces sometimes impacts long-term durability, but there are still a number of compelling hiking boots for traditionalists and those needing the extra support. For most, a lightweight shoe is a much better partner for day hikes, peak bagging and minimalist overnighters. And as long as the rest of your gear is equally light, there are very few sacrifices.

Hiking away from Cerro Torre (Scarpa Rush hiking shoe)

Lightweight shoes like the Scarpa Rush can make it easier to cover ground quickly

Stability and Support

As a reflection of the push for lighter gear in all facets, hiking shoes are moving away from the traditional stiff construction of a hiking boot in favor of flexibility and a nimble feel. All hiking footwear (excluding some minimalist trail runners) does retain a degree of stiffness thanks to built-in shanks or internal supports. These features are part of what separate a hiking shoe (and approach shoe) from a super flexy cross trainer or road-running shoe.

For day hikes on flatter or less technical terrain, we can’t recommend a lightweight and semi-flexible hiking shoe enough. Shoes like the Merrell Moab 3 and Keen Targhee Low are standouts for these uses. As your trips get longer and your pack gets heavier, a more substantial shoe still wins out for us. Look to the Salomon X Ultra 4 and Arc’teryx Aerios FL 2 GTX for great all-around options that are equally adept at conquering summit peaks and multi-day backpacking.

Hiking shoe (Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX hiking over rocks)

Adidas’ Terrex Swift R3 provides excellent stability in a lightweight package


Once you narrow your hiking footwear search, you may be considering the GTX question: Do you need waterproofing or not? In theory, waterproofing is a nice security blanket if you’ll be hiking in the mountains. The extra protection that comes with a waterproof and breathable membrane inserted into the shoe is great for creek crossings, surprise rainfall or if you hit snow on an early season trek. But the extra layer adds weight, impacts breathability pretty significantly (discussed below), and the designs aren’t always perfect. We’ve found Gore-Tex models to work consistently well, and many in-house designs perform similarly keeping water out (breathability is a different story), including the Oboz Sawtooth’s BDry technology.

Hiking shoes (hiking on beach with La Sportiva Spire)

Putting waterproofing to the test on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

Whether or not you need waterproofing often comes down to a personal choice. Are you a summer-only hiker or live in a warm and dry area? We’d recommend a non-waterproof shoe in most cases, and some of the best ventilating shoes are the La Sportiva Wildcat and Merrell Moab 3. But if you get into the alpine regions or would benefit from the added protection and modest insulation waterproofing provides, we’d lean the other way. The great news is that most shoes on our list are offered in both varieties. Expect to pay about $20 to $30 more for the addition of waterproofing.

Hiking shoe (The North Face Vectiv Exploris stepping on log)

The North Face’s Vectiv Exploris uses their in-house Futurelight membrane


The truth about waterproof liners, even expensive Gore-Tex booties, is that they don’t breathe well—just as a waterproof jacket won’t be as breathable as a comparable non-waterproof version. Simply put, waterproof and breathable membranes restrict a shoe’s ability to pull moisture away from your sweaty feet as efficiently as a non-waterproof upper. Not all non-waterproof shoes should be treated equally, however. Footwear that features thinner fabrics and a lot of mesh will increase moisture transfer and airflow, which will keep feet less sweaty in hot weather as well as dry out soggy socks far more quickly.

Hiking shoes (Salomon OUTline upper material)

Mesh upper materials greatly improve comfort in hot conditions

Gore-Tex Surround, which is designed to bring 360 degrees of breathability by venting out the insole of the shoe, is an intriguing, if expensive, concept. It’s been well received in a few models, including the La Sportiva Spire, but performance will always fall short of a shoe made mostly of mesh (for more, see our in-depth Spire review). No matter your final decision, we encourage you to at least give non-waterproof footwear a thought before selecting your next pair of hiking shoes.

Lacing Systems

Easily overlooked, laces, as well as the lacing system of hooks and eyelets, play an essential role in fit and comfort. If a shoe has a poor lacing system that is prone to loosening, you’ll find yourself having to readjust constantly on the trail. If the system itself doesn’t secure your heel very well, the up and down walking motion will create hot spots and blisters. If the culprit is just the laces themselves, it’s an easy fix: There are a number of good quality replacement laces available. But if the system design doesn’t hold your foot very well, we recommend looking elsewhere.

Hiking shoes (laces comparison)

Laces on approach shoes extend to the toes for easy fit customization

Some models, including the Salomon X Ultra 4, have a single-pull lacing system. The design is totally convenient and we’ve had no more issues with durability than a traditional lace. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you aren’t able to adjust the fit between eyelets, so the fit will be equally tight across the entire foot. Those with finicky feet that need to fine tune their laces to be comfortable may be best served avoiding quick lace designs.

Hiking shoes (Salomon QuickLace)

Salomon’s speed laces aren’t for everyone, but they’re fast and cinch evenly

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 Mesh
Woven synthetic (often nylon) 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.

Hiking shoes (La Sportiva Wildcat upper)

The open, breathable mesh upper on the La Sportiva Wildcat

Nubuck Leather
Made 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, it’s common to find a mix of leather and nylon mesh for abrasion resistance and breathability, including the Merrell Moab and Keen Targhee Vent.

Hiking shoes (resting at lake with Danner Trail 2650 shoes)

Resting at an alpine lake with the leather Danner Trail 2650

Midsoles and Cushioning

Digging a little deeper into the shoe’s construction, we’ll look at midsole construction next. Its importance lies in cushioning your feet, working as a shock absorber from impacts, and providing an additional layer of protection from sharp rocks. Depending on the design, midsoles vary from very thin (minimalist trail runner) to stiff and substantial (burly hiking shoe). Most include EVA, TPU, or a combination of both in their construction.

Foam EVA midsoles are a common site on running and hiking footwear. The cushy soft material takes some of the sting out of your heel or midfoot impacts and is also extremely lightweight. While nearly all shoes on this list use some sort of EVA, the proprietary versions 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. Those overly soft midsoles also have a tendency to break down overtime, much like a road-running shoe. In general, you pay more for an improved midsole design and a higher-quality EVA compound.

Scarpa Rush hiking shoe (Laguna Torre)

Scarpa’s Rush has a fairly thick EVA midsole, making it comfortable for all-day hikes

Thermoplastic polyurethane, (mercifully) shortened to TPU, is a durable plastic commonly found in performance-oriented light hikers. Shoes that use TPU underfoot are often less cushy than those with only EVA but will last longer and better handle a heavier load. In addition, they’ll keep their shape longer and won’t be prone to compressing like EVA. Because both midsole types have valid applications and TPU is more expensive, it’s common for a manufacturer to use a TPU frame or shank for stability and toughness and add in EVA underfoot to increase comfort.

Hiking shoes (Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX)

A quality midsole improves comfort when wearing a heavy pack

Outsoles and Traction

One of the main reasons to upgrade from a flimsy cross trainer to a true hiking shoe is for improved traction. In a way that more casual footwear can never match, hiking and trail running footwear is leaps and bounds better when the going gets rocky, slippery, and steep. And much in the same way that Gore-Tex dominates the market for mid to high-end waterproofing, Vibram inhabits a similar space for outsoles. Their name is synonymous with solid grip and traction in a variety of terrain. Not all Vibram models should be treated as equals, however, as the rubber manufacturer tailors their designs for the specific footwear and brand. Some have much larger lugs underfoot for serious grip in mud, and others prioritize sticky rubber for scrambling over rocks. There are also more entry-level options that just do well on easier trails, like the lugs you’ll find on the bottom of the Merrell Moab 3 boots and shoes.

Hiking shoes (Danner Trail 2650 Vibram outsole)

We were impressed with the traction from the Danner Trail 2650’s Vibram outsole

Salomon is one brand that doesn’t outsource their traction needs. Instead, they use their in-house Contagrip compound for all of their hiking and trail running models. We’ve found the level of quality and performance is in-line with the Vibram offerings across the board, from anything from their fast-and-light X Ultra 4 hiking shoes to the burly Salomon Quest 4 backpacking boots.

Hiking shoes (Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX on steep and wet rocks)

The X Ultra 4 uses Salomon’s well-rounded Contagrip rubber

Toe Protection

Hiking trails, even well maintained ones, are full of rocks, roots and other potential hazards, so we almost always recommend a hiking shoe with some type of toe cap. Lacking any protection on the front of your shoes can lead to a trip ruining impact when you inevitably look up from the trail to enjoy the scenery. Hiking shoes typically have a full rubber toe cap, but trail runners sometimes have a trimmed down version or none at all—one of the compromises in opting for a minimalist shoe. Approach shoes, on the other hand, have exceptional toe protection with their wraparound rubber rand at the front of the shoe.

Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoe (toe protection)

Toe protection on the Merrell Moab 3


Just like with running shoes, the stock insoles that come with nearly every hiking shoe generally are cheap. For some, this might not make a difference, but for others it’s what separates comfort from misery. Thankfully, removing your insoles is super easy, and replacing them with an aftermarket model that’s specific to your foot size and shape can remedy most shoe maladies. New insoles can provide more or less volume to fill out the shoe, improve the fit under the arch, and increase or decrease the cushion and impact shock. We recommend checking out Superfeet insoles for their wide selection of options and trusted reputation in daily shoes, ski boots, and hiking footwear.

Read Post  What to Wear When you Visit the Grand Canyon

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.

Hiking boot (shuttling heavy pack with Lowa Renegade GTX Mid)

We prefer a hiking boot when carrying a heavy pack and traveling over difficult terrain

In 2022 and beyond, we see the lines between hiking shoe and boot categories continuing to blur. They still will be separated by height—although some modern boots only cover part of the ankle—but fewer and fewer boots resemble the heavyweight leather clunkers of old. One example is the over-the-ankle version of our top-rated Salomon X Ultra 4. It’s the exact same shoe with the same defining characteristics—feathery feel, aggressive stance, and supportive fit—but the “Mid” sits slightly higher on the ankle, weighs a couple more ounces, provides a little more protection, and perhaps a modest increase in rollover prevention. Since most folks stick to defined trails, the push for this type of light and fast footwear will continue to take over the market.
Back to Our Top Hiking Shoe Picks Back to Our Hiking Shoe Comparison Table

10 Best Hiking Shoes for Men of 2022

Choosing a pair of hiking shoes will be one of the most important gear decisions you’ll make since they play such a key role in comfort. From rocky alpine traverses to wet and muddy forest paths, you’ll need a good set of kicks to carry you through all sorts of terrain and weather.

Finding the perfect fit can be tricky, and we expect our footwear to withstand a lot of rough use on trail. But who has time to pour over specs and try out multiple shoes? Well, we do! Our team has researched, broken in, and trail tested dozens of hiking shoes over thousands of miles to make it easy for you to find the very best hiking shoes for your needs.

Last updated: November 7, 2022

A shin down view of a hiker

We have been using the Saucony Peregrines for several years & we love their exceptional traction

Staff Picks

Check out this quick list of our favorite hiking shoes, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best waterproof hiking shoes: Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX

Best non-waterproof hiking shoes: Saucony Peregrine 12

Best lightweight hiking shoes with ample cushioning: HOKA Speedgoat 5

Lightweight hiking shoes with a natural shape: Altra Lone Peak 6

Best balance of weight, support & breathability: Topo Ultraventure 2

Best budget hiking shoes: Merrell Moab 3 WP Low

Lightweight & breathable waterproof hiking shoes: Vasque Breeze LT NTX Low

Rugged & durable waterproof hiking shoes: La Sportiva Spire GTX

Excellent value hiking shoes for day hikers: Keen Targhee III Low WP

Grippy hiking shoes that work well in wet climates: Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX

Highly durable & supportive hiking shoes: Oboz Firebrand II BDry

The lightweight Altra Lone Peaks dry quickly, so fording in them is not a problem

What’s Most Important to You in a Hiking Shoe?

COMFORT & FIT – Fit is very personal, so what works for some people may not be the best option for others. Generally, the most comfortable shoes should give your toes some room to spread, have cushioning that supports your foot shape, and have some flex in the upper so it moves with your foot.

The lightweight Altra Lone Peaks are designed with a comfortable foot-shaped toe box

PRICE – We’re usually willing to spend a bit more for quality footwear because we truly believe the success of our adventures depends on having happy, healthy feet. Comfort and fit usually trump cost in our books, but we recommend quality options at a variety of price points in our top picks below.

A chart showing the best mens hiking shoes sorted by price

The Keen Targhee III Low WP are supportive, have great traction, and feature a generously wide toe box

The Keen Targhee III Low WP are supportive, have great traction & feature a generously wide toe box

WEIGHT Weight on your feet zaps about 5 times more energy than weight carried on your back. Lighter shoes mean less muscle fatigue, less stumbling, and they can help avoid knee and hip flexor problems. That’s not to say that heavier shoes are bad though. If you do a lot of hiking off-trail or you tend to carry a heavier pack, you may be more confident in a more burly and durable shoe.

Chart showing men

Rocking the lightweight & grippy Saucony Peregrines on the Everest 3 passes loop in Nepal

DURABILITY & MATERIALS Hiking shoes can be a big investment, so finding a durable pair will help you get the most bang for your buck. Traditional leather shoes are almost always going to be more durable than lightweight trail runners. But if keeping weight low is important to you, look for a pair of trail runners with nylon reinforcements to get the best balance of weight and durability.

The Oboz Firebrand II BDry are supportive & durable making them a great choice for rugged trails

WATERPROOF VS NON-WATERPROOF – Waterproof shoes can be a real lifesaver if you often hike in wet, muddy areas. We like using them for soggy day hikes in spring and fall. On the other hand, waterproof shoes aren’t very breathable on hot days, and they can be heavy and slow to dry when they get wet. Non-waterproof shoes are lighter and more breathable, and though they’re susceptible to getting wet, they dry fairly quickly.

The Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX are highly breathable for waterproof shoes

The Vasque Breeze LT are highly breathable for waterproof shoes

Best Men’s Hiking Shoes of 2022

Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX


MSRP: $150

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 13): 2 lb. 0.9 oz.

SIZING: True to size; wide sizes available

PROS: Out-of-the-box comfort, lightweight for how durable & supportive they are, excellent traction, secure fit, stable

CONS: Quicklace takes some getting used to

BOTTOM LINE: The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoes have a nearly unrivaled balance of durability and low weight. They’re built like a traditional shoe, but they fit more like trail runners, so they feel much more nimble than other shoes in their category. And much like a trail runner, they require practically no break-in period and are comfortable to hike in straight out of the box. We’ve found that the traction is well above average on the X Ultras, so they’re great for backpacking or day hikes on challenging terrain. Needless to say, we’re big fans of the X Ultras, and we highly recommend them for hikers wanting a shoe that feels like a trail runner but lasts as long as more traditional hiking footwear.

Saucony Peregrine 12


MSRP: $130

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12): 1 lb. 8.1 oz.

OPTIONS: Waterproof

SIZING: True to size

PROS: Excellent traction, breathable, lightweight, affordable, secure fit, rock plate (increased protection & durability in sole)

CONS: Not as durable as some

BOTTOM LINE: We’ve hiked thousands of miles in Saucony Peregrines over the years, and they’re some of our favorites due to their exceptional traction. Whether it’s a trek through Nepal, the high sierras of California, or the Torres del Paine in Patagonia, the Peregrines bite into the terrain to provide stability and confidence. The newest iteration brought a lot of changes to the Peregrines including making this lightweight shoe even lighter, improvements to the already industry-leading traction, and a refined fit that feels comfortable and secure. Plus the Peregrine 12s are made with a highly breathable knit upper that dries quickly, so they’re ready for just about anything you throw at them.

HOKA Speedgoat 5

HOKA Speedgoat 5


MSRP: $155

WEIGHT/PAIR: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.

SIZING: True to size

PROS: Comfortable, very cushy soles, excellent traction, supportive, roomy toe box

CONS: Not as durable as some, a bit expensive

BOTTOM LINE: HOKAs are known for their exceptional comfort and support, and the Speedgoat 5 is the best example of this in their trail shoe lineup. The biggest standout feature of the Speedgoats is their ultra-cushy midsole. It’s excellent at absorbing impact, and it doesn’t flatten out as quickly as some other shoes we’ve used. For this reason, the Speedgoats are a favorite amongst thru-hikers who need a shoe that’s lightweight and can keep their feet and joints comfortable while logging lots of miles. That said, because these shoes are built more for trail running, they won’t hold up quite as long as some of the traditional hiking shoes on our list in the long run. Despite the slight hit to durability, the Speedgoats are our go-to for long days on the trail when comfort is most important.

Altra Lone Peak 6


MSRP: $140

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12.5): 1 lb. 9.7 oz.

OPTIONS: Waterproof

SIZING: True to size, wide sizes available

PROS: Roomy toe box, excellent traction, lightweight, comfortable, built-in gaiter attachment, breathable, rock plate (increased protection & durability in sole)

CONS: Not as durable as others

BOTTOM LINE: Altra Lone Peaks have long been the flagship shoe of lightweight hikers due to their low weight, grippy outsole, and roomy fit. Recently, the Lone Peaks got a makeover that saw the famously wide toe box become more narrow. This makes the shoe comfortable for a larger array of foot sizes and shapes, while maintaining the signature Altra toe box that allows your toes to spread naturally. These shoes are infamously not the most durable hiking footwear around, so you’ll have to decide if minimal weight and a natural shape beat out longevity on your list of needs. Personally, we’re loving the newest iteration of the Lone Peaks, and recommend them for zero-drop enthusiasts looking for a comfortable ultralight hiking shoe.

Topo Ultraventure 2

Topo Ultraventure 2


MSRP: $135

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 9): 1 lb. 2.6 oz.

SIZING: True to size

PROS: Lightweight, breathable, flexible, versatile, excellent traction, comfy, roomy toe box

CONS: Not as durable as some

BOTTOM LINE: We love hiking and backpacking in the Topo Ultraventure 2s because they’re lightweight, highly breathable, and they dry quickly after water crossings. They’re similar to the Altra Lone Peaks, with a wide toe box that allows your feet to spread naturally. Both shoes are really comfy for long days on the trail, but the Ultraventures are a tad more cushioned and flexible. The uppers are light and airy, so they may not last quite as long as a pair of leather hiking shoes, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that’ll keep your feet feeling as cool and free as the Ultraventures on big-mile trips. Wondering how to decide between the similar Lone Peaks and Ultraventures? If you like a more minimal shoe and prefer zero-drop, go with the Altra Lone Peaks. If you’re after something a bit more cushioned and supportive, choose the Topo Ultraventures.

Merrell Moab 3 Low WP

Merrell Moab 3 Low WP


MSRP: $135

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12): 2 lb. 1 oz.

SIZING: True to size; fits wide, wide sizes available

PROS: Affordable, out-of-the-box comfort, durable, breathable, good traction

CONS: Heavy, high heel-to-toe drop, wide fit isn’t for everyone

BOTTOM LINE: The Merrell Moab 3 WP Lows have long been a favorite with hikers due to their comfort, durability, and price. These are some of the more durable hiking shoes on our list which makes their already friendly pricepoint all the more appealing since you’ll replace them less often than many other hiking shoes. The Moabs may not be the best choice for big-mile days since they’re on the heavy and bulky side, but the cushioning and support they provide is excellent for day hikes and weekend trips.

Vasque Breeze LT NTX Low

Vasque Breeze LT NTX Low


MSRP: $160

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 13): 1 lb. 13 oz.

OPTIONS: AT Low (more supportive)

SIZING: True to size; fits slightly narrow

PROS: Lightweight, out-of-the-box comfort, excellent traction, breathable, secure lacing, cushy soles, supportive

CONS: Not as durable as some, arch support is a bit aggressive

BOTTOM LINE: The low weight, cushy soles, and excellent breathability of the Vasque Breeze LT NTX Low make them comfy for long day hikes and supportive enough for lightweight backpacking. Unlike Vasque’s powerhouse lineup of more traditional offerings, the Breeze LTs are pretty flexible and more forgiving on uneven terrain than a typical leather hiking shoe. The trade-off in choosing a lighter shoe over something more traditional is that you compromise a bit of durability to shave off a few ounces. Still, if lightweight comfort and breathability in a waterproof shoe is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Breeze LTs.

La Sportiva Spire GTX


MSRP: $190

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12): 2 lb. 2.3 oz.

SIZING: True to size

PROS: Secure fit, breathable, out-of-the-box comfort, excellent traction, durable

CONS: Expensive, stiff soles

BOTTOM LINE: The La Sportiva Spire GTX are an ideal middle ground between hiking boots and shoes as they’ve got the best balance of support, durability, and breathability. The stiff outers and aggressive Vibram outsoles are protective and grippy for the most rugged of terrain, and the quality build ensures these bad boys will last for many adventures. While the Spires are on the heavier side, we find these shoes – described by La Sportiva as a low cut boot – to be surprisingly light for how much confidence they provide on the trail.

Keen Targhee III Low WP


MSRP: $165

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 13): 2 lb. 5.7 oz.

SIZING: True to size; fits wide

PROS: Good value, excellent traction, roomy toe box, secure lacing system, stable

CONS: Heavy, stiff, requires longer break-in period, can feel large rocks through the sole

BOTTOM LINE: The Keen Targhee III Low WP shoes are a crowd favorite because they’re very well-priced for the quality, supportive, and they have great traction. These leather shoes will require a longer break-in time than many of the lightweight models on our list, but the material will hold up for multiple years of hiking. One of our favorite features of the Targhees is the elastic band that connects the laces to the heel cup. This helps provide a secure, locked-in feeling and makes it easier to dial in the perfect fit. Because they’re on the bulkier side, the Targhees are best suited to day hikers and weekend warriors looking for something long lasting at a reasonable price.

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8

Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX Hiking Shoes.jpg


MSRP: $150

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12.5): 1 lb. 15.6 oz.

SIZING: Runs large, we recommend sizing down ½ size

PROS: Supportive, excellent traction, durable, rock plate (increased protection & durability in sole), stable

CONS: Quicklace takes some getting used to, expensive

BOTTOM LINE: The Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 GTX are great for hiking over tricky terrain thanks to their stable, supportive build and excellent traction. Because they’re lighter than many traditional shoes but burlier than the trail runners on our list, we consider the XA Pros to be a really good compromise between durability and all-day comfort. They excel for day hikers wanting a good value option that will last for multiple seasons, and their aggressive Contagrip traction and GoreTex membrane make the XA Pros some of the best shoes on our list for backpacking in particularly wet, rugged climates.

Oboz Firebrand II BDry


MSRP: $140

WEIGHT/PAIR (SIZE 12): 2 lb. 8.8 oz.

SIZING: True to size

PROS: Supportive, durable, secure lacing, excellent traction

CONS: Heavy, stiff soles, will require longer break-in, arch support is a bit aggressive

BOTTOM LINE: Thanks to Oboz’s signature premium insoles, the Firebrand II BDry are some of the most supportive shoes we’ve hiked in. The molded arch and heel cup, secure lacing system, and exceptional traction make this shoe a great choice for challenging terrain – especially for backpackers who tend to carry a heavier pack around 35 lbs. or more. The traditional-style Firebrands start out a little more stiff than some others, so we recommend breaking them in before taking them on any big trips. But after you get past this initial period, you’ll have a comfy shoe that can withstand multiple years of hiking.

Top-down view of the Saucony Peregrine shoe next to a giant pinecone

Size 12.5 Saucony Peregrines next to a huge pinecone in Yosemite Valley

Honorable Mentions

Merrell MQM Flex 2 GORE-TEX Low – affordable, lightweight hiking shoes for dayhikes and quick backpacking trips

Vasque Breeze AT Low GTX – sturdy hiking shoes that are lighter and more breathable than many other traditional shoes

La Sportiva TX4 – approach shoes for hikes with a lot of boulder scrambling

Arc’terx Aerios FL Low GTX – high-quality shoes that transition well from town to trail

Critical Footwear Considerations

BOOTS VS. SHOES VS. TRAIL RUNNERS Hiking footwear is a really personal choice, and people often have differing opinions on what type of shoe works best for hiking. Here’s an article that will help you decide which style works best for you.

SIZING – Feet can swell during long days on the trail, so it’s good to buy hiking footwear at least a half size larger than your normal shoes. A good way to test sizing on your shoes is to loosen all the laces, situate your foot so that your toes touch the front of the toe box, and then make sure you can put your index finger between your heel and the back of the shoe. This will ensure that your toes don’t slide forward and hit the toe box on downhill sections of trail. You should also consider which socks you’ll be wearing and if you’ll be adding aftermarket insoles when choosing a size. It’s much better for footwear to be a little big than too small.

Checking Sizing on the Altra Lone Peaks

BREAK-IN PERIOD – You’re going to take thousands of steps on any backpacking or hiking trip, so you need to know that your footwear will fit comfortably and won’t cause blisters. We recommend buying your footwear at least a few weeks before any long hiking trips and spending as much time in them as you can. This will allow your new shoes to soften up, and you can make sure they work well for your feet. If you notice any issues, it’s much easier to address them before you head into the backcountry.

The Saucony Peregrine hiking shoes don’t require any break in

TRACTION Traction is one of the most important aspects of backpacking and hiking footwear. Your shoes will take you over narrow and rocky ridgelines, through slippery water crossings, and across loose scree fields. Knowing that your footwear will keep you from slipping is crucial, especially over washed out or exposed sections of trail. We heavily factored quality traction into all of our footwear recommendations.

MANAGING MOISTURE & BLISTERS – If you’re on an extended trip in wet conditions or you find yourself caught in a downpour during a day hike, your feet will likely get wet no matter what type of footwear you’re wearing. Wet feet can lead to hot spots and blisters, but this can be prevented if you have a healthy foot care routine. Whether you hike in waterproof shoes or non-waterproof trail runners, be sure to check out our post on How to Prevent and Treat Blisters for more info on moisture and blister management.

WATERPROOFING TREATMENTS – Waterproof footwear is ideal for soggy day hikes, but it’s important to remember that “waterproof” doesn’t mean that water can never get in. Water always finds a way in during a prolonged downpour, and light rain can drip down your legs and into your shoes. Keep in mind that waterproof treatments are not permanent, you’ll eventually need to reapply a treatment to keep your shoes sealed.

SOCKS – We’ve found that wearing quality socks makes a big difference in how long we can keep our feet happy and in good shape on trail. Hiking socks should be comfortable, durable, and made with materials that wick moisture away from your skin. Check out our Best Hiking Socks list to see our top picks.

A hiker

INSOLES – Aftermarket insoles can help alleviate a variety of shoe discomforts on the trail. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or you just need more cushioning and support in an otherwise rigid shoe, swapping insoles may be your solution. Insoles can also help take up a little extra space in footwear for a customized fit if you’re between sizes.


Need More Gear Advice?

If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:

We own and use all of the hiking shoes we recommend

We own & use all of the hiking shoes we recommend

Why Trust Us?

We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:

Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.

We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.

We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.

We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.

We constantly update our guides when new products launch.

We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.

We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.

A hiker lounging against his backpack with his feet up, there

More Information

We hope this guide helps you find the perfect gear for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.

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