The Best Hiking & Backpacking Boots
Hiking and backpacking are extreme physical sports but at the same time offer beautiful scenery while pushing your limits to accomplish a climb. If you were to talk to any avid backpackers or hikers they would all tell you the most important accessory in accomplishing a climb and enjoying the hike is your boots.
Hiking boots offer the support and grip it takes to accomplish any climb safely and comfortably. If you have been on a hike or backpacking trip and have not brought the proper boots, then you know how important these accessories are to ensure you have an enjoyable time and can focus on the task at hand, which is having fun and completing your climb. Below we have listed the top hiking boots of 2019, and why these boots are the best over the rest.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
Tough and strong, yet reasonably light at 2 lbs. 13 oz.
Awesome grip and stability from Salomon’s Contagrip outsole (rivals Vibram)
Top Ten Hiking & Backpacking Boots
1. Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Tough and strong, yet reasonably light at 2 lbs. 13 oz.
Awesome grip and stability from Salomon’s Contagrip outsole (rivals Vibram)
Not the best fit for wide feet
For all-around performance, serious short hikes and lightweight backpacking, the Salomon Quest 4D is the best hiking boot available. It isn’t cheap, but it’s not obscene either, and although it’s an all-rounder, everything about it seems less like a compromise and more like an ideal balance.Read more
The Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX is not too heavy but not too flimsy; well-built, but very comfortable. If you’re planning to visit the Arctic with a heavy pack, or you’d prefer an ultra-light boot that imitates a trail runner, then there are better options that meet each of those conditions head-on. That being said, the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX should suit the majority of conditions very nicely. The previous model (the Quest 4D) was a favorite of hiking gear specialists for many years, and the 2 has improved a couple of small things, most notably the appearance.
These boots from Salomon are quality boots made to last. They have a gore-tex material which makes them waterproof which means that no matter the terrain you find yourself, your feet will stay dry and you can continue to carry on.
These boots have a fit rating of 88%, which means that they fit well and are accurate to the sizing chart. It is best to check your size using the seller's sizing chart.
This pair of boots is made from a gore-tex material which makes them not only durable but also waterproof. This means that these boots can be worn in the toughest conditions and will continue to trek through.
2. VASQUE Men's Breeze III GTX
Toe and heel ventilation
Sizes run small
The Vasque Men's Breeze 3 GTX boots are built for hikers and backpackers. They are light, comfortable, and best of all, offer great support. You really won't go wrong, but you will go far with these on your feet.Read more
Altogether, if you are looking for a lightweight boot to prevent your precious feet from becoming fatigued during a long hike, these Vasque Men's Breeze 3 GTXs are just what you are searching for.
These boots from Vasque abrasion-proof and waterproof, which means that if any rocks or sharp objects scrap the boots they will not be cut. They are also waterproof to keep you trekking even through wet environments.
It's been said by avid hikers who used these boots on a large expedition that they are some of the best trekkers on the market today. Why is that? Well according to the testers who tried them, they are stable and allow you to feel steady on any terrain.
Along with the steady support that these boots offer, is the fact that they are breathable. This means no sweaty, uncomfortable feat as you hike up the grand Pacific Crest Trail.
3. Timberland WHITE LEDGE
Boot collar is padded
Built from durable quality leather
Could offer better traction
We were happy to find these quality hiking boots are 100% waterproof and that's because top quality waterproof leather is used in the construction for the boot, even the tongue is fully waterproof.Read more
These boots are clearly built to give a top performance for all types of hiking and they give good comfort even if the boots are worn all day.
The level of waterproofing is outstanding and means that you can hike confidently in wet or snowy environments and you will not be distracted by the discomfort of wet feet.
These boots have a fit rating of 87% which means they are true to their fit if you stick to following the size chart provided by the seller.
For grip, the sole sports lugs which grip and hold the ground but less likely to pick up and carry wet mud, we particularly liked the perforation system which gives good air ventilation and still ensures the boots stay waterproof.
4. Merrell Moab 2
Offer great protection
Very narrow fit
These hiking boots brought to you by Merrell are not only heavy-duty boots that will keep you protected and secure while on your hiking trip but they are also quite stylish. These boots are also brought to you by a well-known brand and when looking to get gear from a well-known brand you can expect that you are getting quality.Read more
These hiking boots offer great protection as they are quite high on the ankle which will not only keep your ankles protected against critters and insects but also provide your ankle with stability in case you slip. The last thing you want while out in the middle of the wilderness is to slip and roll your ankle. That is why a high ankle hiking boot is important as it will give you extra support and ensure that you will complete your hike without issue.
These hiking boots from Merrell offer great weather resistance as any hiking boot should, they will not only protect you against the weather elements but also from dirt and other things you would expect while out in the wilderness.
Fit is one of the most, if not the most important factor to consider when looking for a pair of hiking boots and that is due to the fact that you most likely will be wearing these boots for quite a bit of the day while hiking and you want to ensure you stay comfortable. To properly ensure the boots will fit, you will want to check the customer reviews to ensure that other customers that decided to go with these boots had a proper fit and the sizes were true to what they said. These boots are quite true to their fit and as long as you know your boot size or follow their size chart you should have no issue finding your perfect sized boot.
This pair of boots are made from 100% leather and mesh which means they are made to last and are not made from cheap material that you can not rely on. The soles are also made from Vibram rubber which means it is tough and can take a beating. If you are looking for a tough new pair of hiking boots, these just might be the ones for you.
5. Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus
Durable sole and overall construction
Not the best fit for wide feet
Constructed from durable and robust leather which is ideal for the many different weather conditions and environments which this high performing hiking boot will encounter.Read more
Two weeks of testing showed these boots to be well up to standard, looked for negatives in the boot but can't find anything of significance. Walking in these boots on different surfaces, the performance remains very good.
The warmth factor is impressive, trudging through snow and yet still nice warm feet, importantly, no entry by water. Compared to previously tested boots, these feel light and the soles shed any attempts from mud to cling on.
The big test came while hiking and stepping into an ankle-deep puddle of very cold water, the boot kept the water out.
For breaking in the boots they do need a few days but no over the top discomfort or blisters while going through the breaking in process.
The sole is soft and durable, on really rough surfaces the feeling has been nice and smooth, used on snow the boot gives a good level of stability.
6. Keen Targhee II Mid
Waterproof and fairly breathable (uses Keen.Dry material)
A tough upper with good roll protection
Reasonably light (1.14 – 2.3 lb.)
Could offer better traction
These Keen boots are the ideal choice if you are looking for a tough boot that is waterproof and at the same time extremely breathable. They come at an affordable price and they are reasonably light which makes them suitable for backpacking trips. However, for more demanding rough terrains, you might want to check our other suggestions.Read more
These boots from Keen offer great ankle protection in case of a slip or trip and also provides great traction to make sure you stay level footed while on your next hike.
These boots from Keen waterproof which means if you hit a body of water during your hike you will be able to keep on trekking without discomfort.
The Keen Targhee 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe has been routinely voted the best-value hiking shoe in 2016. The Targhee 2 Mid Hiking Boot is still fairly lightweight but provides better support than the Targhee 2 Hiking Shoe. Both the shoe and the boot are an excellent choice for you if you need extra room across the width and toe box of your boots.
Keen recommends ordering half a size bigger than your usual boot size (read more about this below in the ‘How to ensure you hiking boots fit’ section).
These boots are made from %100 leather which means that not only are they waterproof but also will hold up against abrasions or anything else mother nature can throw at them.
7. Timberland Euro Hiker
Offers great protection from the elements
Many different sizes to choose from
When it comes to the classic hiking boot, the Timberland name has long been associated with rugged durability, comfort, and protection from the elements. The Euro Hiker Boot serves this reputation well and will serve any hiker no matter what kind of environment they may encounter.Read more
If sized correctly, this boot is superb at offering support for your feet, arches, ankles and honestly the rest of the body as well. They are flexible enough to move with you and strong enough to give you the firm support you need, especially in the weaker ankle area.
With proper care and maintenance, these hiking boots provide great protection against water, slush, and snow. The thick rubber sole protects your feet from sharp objects on the ground, and the reinforced toe guard makes is hard to do any significant damage to the toe area.
These hiking boots come in a wide range of sizes, and most people found that they fit pretty much how the expected them to fit. However, about 20% of the time, customers found the footwear to be a little on the larger size.
These boots are made with a high-quality leather upper, and a natural rubber sole. The ankle area sports a padded collar, and the laces are kept firmly in place with D-ring lacing hardware.
While not the cheapest pair of hiking boots on this list, the overall price is more than reasonable considering that these boots have been known to power through just about any situation. Most customers found that these hiking boots last for quite a few years with proper care and maintenance.
If you enjoy the classic hiking boot design and demand quality at a very reasonable price, these boots from Timberland may be your best bet. Designed with the backpacker and avid hiker in mind, their durability and comfort are hard to match at this price.
8. Nevados Men's Talus
Comfortable to wear
Good selection of sizes
Not very waterproof
When it comes to a lightweight and affordable hiking boot, there is little bad to say about the Nevados Talus Hiking boot. The light canvas material and rubber sole offer great, breathable protection during a hike that will have you wondering why your bare feet couldn’t feel as comfortable.Read more
These hiking boots are of a mid-rise design, so while the offer moderate support for the ankle area, they aren’t the perfect choice, especially for those with weaker joints in that area. They do feature a removable contoured insole that helps to keep the foot in proper position and allows for a more snug and supportive fit.
These hiking boots won’t offer too much protection from the water or snow, as the canvas material can only offer limited protection by its very nature. The reinforced toe guard and heel area allow for great protection from sharper objects, and the rubber sole tread provides a great deal of overall traction and control. In addition, the tongue of the boots is padded, which adds to the overall comfort and protection in the upper portions.
These boots come in a fair range of sizes, and most people that fall into the average size range will have absolutely no problem finding a pair that fits them. The majority of the time they were shown to be true to their intended size, with the boots running slightly large on a rare occasion.
These boots consist of a lightweight canvas material upper portion that allows for superior breathability. The sole is comprised of rubber material, and the laces are held in place through reinforced grommets and hook and eye closures.
9. Chaco lodge
Offers excellent support
Protection from small animal and insect bites
Sizes run small
Sometimes you simply need a boot with more support to make it through those more difficult treks. Luckily, the Chaco Woman’s Lodge Waterproof Hiking Boot offers great protection and fantastic overall support to help you conquer the most challenging treks you encounter.Read more
These calf-high boots offer a fantastic amount of support for most people, provided that they are laced up correctly to get a snug yet flexible fit. One potential problem area is the back heel and ankle area, which on rare occasions has been known to allow a little more play than necessary, especially if too large a boot is purchased.
These are perhaps one of the most expensive cheap hiking boots we’ve seen, but we decided to include them on this list simply because of the overall value and staying power that they have shown.
If you have a tendency to turn your ankle while hiking and worry about getting the support you need, these hiking boots by Chaco should definitely be on your list of potential boot saviors. While they may be a tad on the expensive side of affordable, given what they offer, they may well be worth the price.
As long as you have the patience to lace up these calf-high boots, you won’t have much to worry about in the way of protection from the elements. Designed specifically to be waterproof, these boots also offer a moderate amount of protection against animals, insect bites and sharp rocks or debris. While we wouldn’t suggest going toe to toe with a snake or a beat in these boots, you’d have a better chance than most.
These boots were shown to be true to size a little more than half the time, and ran a bit on the small size, so customers would be well advised to consider going one size larger than what they normally need. However, the extensive lacing system allows for a finite adjustment that helps to provide for a snug and supportive fit overall.
These boots are created using genuine leather materials with suede accents and high strength waxed cotton laces that are held firmly in place with a reinforced D-ring lacing system. The sole of the boot consists of a synthetic rubber material that is designed for superior traction and no-skid mark outsole.
10. Khombu leather ravine
Superior protection from the elements
When the supplier to the US Ski Team starts to make hiking boots, people tend to notice – and with good reason. While these boots from Khombu might not win any prizes for style, they will certainly win points for their dependability and comfort.Read more
These boots offer a decent amount of support for a mid-rise boot, hugging the foot at the ankle and instep area. The soles are contoured in such a way to offer great arch support as well.
These are perhaps one of the most affordable choices on this list, especially if you take into account the superior protection from the elements.
If you need a pair of hiking boots that don't have a whole lot of frills, but still can go the distance, a great choice to consider is these boots from Khombu. While we would have liked to see stronger soles and more size options, overall this is a very affordable and quality choice.
When it comes to protection from the elements, these boots from Khombu are hard to beat. The leather uppers and soles are sealed together to be truly waterproof, and there is little chance of water, snow or sleet making their way inside. While we would have liked to see a little stronger outsole, overall this boot isn’t that bad when it comes to protection from rocks and small debris.
These boots are offered in a limited number of sizes, but most customers find them to be well-fitting. They do, however, have a tendency to run a little small on rare occasions.
The upper portions of these hiking boots are made of genuine leather with 3M Thinsulate insulation. The soles are made of synthetic rubber.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In a very real sense, the best hiking boots, no matter the price should be designed to do one thing: protect your feet and ankles from undue stress. These stresses can include everything from rain and snow to colder temperatures and slippery rocks. Common things encountered on a hike, such as animals, roots and fallen leaves can also provide sources of stress to your feet.
The other factor you have to consider is your ankles and that you want a pair of hiking boots that will protect your ankles in case you slip. You do not want to roll your ankle as most likely you will be in the middle of nowhere and will have a hard time getting back to civilization. So make sure you get proper ankle protection and support.
The ideal choice should offer at least a very similar level of protection for your feet as some of the most expensive brands on the market today. Thankfully, the hiking boots presented here do just that in a number of ways. The outer shells of these boots often provide protection from the weather or at least allow you to resist its effects quite well.
The soles of the boots protect you from sharp objects on the ground such as rocks and sticks, and the heavy-duty upper portions can often protect you from minor animal bites.
As we’ve shown elsewhere, finding great waterproof performance no longer means you’re stuck with stiff heavy leather boots. Whereas earlier waterproof fabrics had a tendency to lock moisture inside as well –increasing the tendency for your feet being uncomfortable and for your socks to rot- waterproof materials are getting much more breathable and mold-resistant. Well-respected brands and materials (such as Gore-Tex) have earned their popularity because they really are worth twice as much as their imitators.
High-tech materials aren’t necessarily synthetic though: some brands are experimenting with new ways to weave cotton and bamboo to provide impressive results, and in this case, it’s the weave and the production that are high tech, while the fabric retains all its wonderful natural qualities.
We wanted to ensure that our selections for the best hiking boots were capable of keeping your feet comfortable and dry while sloshing through icy puddles or trekking through the rain for days at a time. For frequent or long-distance hikers, breathability is really important to keep your feet healthy and your spirits high in all conditions.
With any luck, your feet will be what’s in contact with the ground the most during your hike. Keeping your balance and stride can mean the difference between injury and having a great time in the great outdoors. In order to make sure that everything runs smoothly, a hiker needs to have well-fitting hiking boots. If a pair of hiking boots don’t fit well, it can lead to painful blisters, unstable footing, and significant wear and tear on the feet and body as a whole.
In order for a pair of hiking boots to fit well, there are a few criteria that need to be met. First, there shouldn’t be too much wiggle room around the heel or instep area. If the heels can move back and forth within the boot then that means that it isn’t providing the support that you need, especially in the ankle area. Second, the boot shouldn’t feel heavy when you’re taking a step. Footwear that has too much weight can lead to a significant amount of fatigue, which can also lead to mistakes that can cause injury. And last, but certainly not least, you should be able to adjust your boot easily to accommodate minor changes in the size of the foot while still maintaining a snug fit.
The hiking boots presented on this list are perhaps some of the best options available on the market today in part because so much attention is given to the overall fit and feel of the boots. While you won’t find a perfect fit for every hiker or for every hiking situation, these do come as close as you can get at a very affordable price.
Another aspect of hiking footwear that got serious consideration from us, was what materials went into the making of the boots. Often the materials used will dictate a number of characteristics that every hiker should consider when buying a pair of hiking boots. The materials used can dictate how much protection your feet will have. They can also indicate how heavy the hiking boot will be. And, of course, the materials used are essential to proper fit, comfort, and overall durability.
The boots presented here in this list have a fairly wide range of materials used, both synthetic and natural in composition. Some materials, such as leather provide breathable protection from the elements, while others, like a nylon mesh, allow for great ventilation in and around the feet area.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
A good characteristic that should be considered is the amount of support that the boot provides. While it is related to the overall fit and protection offered, it is somewhat different. The quality of the support provided is dependent not only on the materials used to create the boot but also on the quality of the workmanship as well. A supportive boot will not necessarily have ridged sides or a hard sole. Rather the boot will be able to easily move with the foot and ankle, essentially acting as an extension of your body. The materials will have the ability to bend and shift as needed to offer support where it is needed the most.
When looking for a pair of hiking boots make sure that the boots fit properly. Without proper fitting boots, they will be pretty much useless. So check the customer reviews or if you can go into a store and try on the boots to ensure they will fit properly.
Other Factors to Consider
The job of the midsole is to provide cushioning and prevent impacts from sending their shock through to your feet. For hiking boots, as well as cycling footwear, stiff midsoles are actually a good thing. If you’re treading over a lot of rough ground or any type of uneven surfaces, a stiff boot is actually so much more comfortable.
I once hiked a mile along a dry riverbed full of smooth football-sized stones in my Vibram Five-Fingers, and although they were amazingly comfortable and hadn’t needed any break-in, I really regretted them during that leg of the hike. The Five-Fingers have enough tread that I didn’t feel all the sharp gravel or bracken in other parts of the trip, but they were so flexible that my feet wrapped around every stone on this riverbed, and over time that hurts your arches.
Most hiking boot midsoles are made from polyurethane or EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). Polyurethane tends to be stiffer and harder wearing, while EVA is lighter, softer and cheaper. Manufacturers can create a varied density of EVA throughout the sole, providing more stiffness in some areas and more flexibility in others.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: When is it time to replace my old pair of hiking boots?
Standard boots with flat or basic soles should be repaired sooner rather than later: a worn sole can be replaced, but after a while, a worn sole leads to cracks around the sides of the leather upper, and once that happens it’s too late, and the sole can’t be replaced. All of the hiking boots in this review, however, have high-tech soles, and you’re going to be putting them through so much strain and flex and dusty/muddy conditions. Even an expert repair job is never going to bring a pair of hiking boots back to its original level of safety and resilience. So how often do you need to replace your hiking boots?
About every 500 – 600 miles, as a rule. Proper care can stretch that out a little, and alternating between two pairs of hiking boots can stretch it out further. If you can comfortably carry the weight of two pairs, then switching between them from one day to the next can extend the life of your boots. This allows the inners (which usually absorb a fair bit of moisture throughout a days’ hike) to dry out fully. The midsole also gets a break from impact and flex, and you’ll be more likely to pick stones, etc. out of your tread. This prevents those stones from acting like chisels or nails next time you stand on something pointy and driving up into the material of the sole.
Remember that support is just as important than comfort, and if you wear your hiking boots all the time, you may not notice them getting less stable and less firm. If in doubt, get a new pair: you can always alternate them with your old favorite pair of comfortable hiking footwear.
q: Should I Consider an Insole?
What do you do when the model of your dreams has every feature you could possibly want, and a great style to match, but no arch support? Luckily insoles exist. Check out these reviews, written by physiotherapists, on the best insoles for hiking boots.
Knowing your feet will help you make an educated decision, but the best way to be sure is to go through a local outdoor footwear specialist. They have years of experience and specialized equipment to work out exactly what size you need. There’s no substitute for this advice from someone who knows which hiking footwear caters to wider feet, which are the best to support people with high arches, and so on.
q: What Style of Hiking Boots Do I Really Need?
There are about as many different styles of models as there are hikers who enjoy them. Determining the type of boot you need often depends not only on your personal preferences as far as color and comfort is concerned, but also on the style of hiking you enjoy most. Are you more of a weekend warrior, someone who sticks to the paved trail in your local forest preserve? Then something like a low-rise hiking boots with a responsive rubber sole may be more than enough.
Or perhaps you’d rather explore a little more off the beaten path, following deer trails. In that case, a mid-rise hiking boot that offers a little more horizontal ankle support may be more in order. And finally, if you see yourself trekking over rocks, into rivers, or even scaling through dense and rugged forested terrain, your boots should be able to match your enthusiasm with rugged dependability and superior protection from the elements.
q: Are Waterproof Boots Recommended?
When looking at hiking or backpacking boots it is highly recommended that they are waterproof as when you find yourself outdoors, you never know what you are going to be trekking through. Most of the time, even the littlest stream can cause the rest of your hike to be uncomfortable if you accidentally step through it, as it will penetrate your hiking boots. If you purchase a pair of waterproof boots, then you will not have to worry about inevitable streams or rivers you will have to trek through to get to your final destination. So when it comes to waterproof boots, if you can find a pair in your price range, do not hesitate to get this extra feature as you will be glad you did.
q: Are Boots with Ankle Support better than Boots with No Ankle Support?
Both types of boots have there disadvantages and advantages depending on the terrain you will find yourself in on your next hike. Ankle support hiking boots are great if you are going to find yourself in a terrain that is off a path and you will find yourself walking through thick bush. The ankle support will help when stepping on uneven ground and also protect the ankles from sharp thorns or plants that can cause cuts or scrapes.
If you will be finding yourself on a hike that is on a path or flat ground, you will most likely want a pair of boots without ankle support as they will help you to be more mobile and you will not need the extra protection from backcountry bush. Either way, both types of boots are great and will give you the protection you will need to complete your next hike.