The Best Hiking & Backpacking Boots Reviewed

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. The hiking boots offer the support and grip it takes to accomplish any climb safely and comfortably. 

Now 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. Now when looking for a perfect pair of hiking boots, it can be a little overwhelming as there are so many options on the market.

But luckily for you, we want you to get outdoors and enjoy your next hike as quickly as possible, so we have done the research and listed the top ten hiking boots on the market. A pair of good hiking boots should last for years, so choose the right pair for your needs. You will want to look at your ambitions, timeline, trekking conditions (lava in the Hawaiian summer, or winter in Norway), and especially, take the time to get to know what feels comfortable on your feet. 

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By Mackenzie Jervis:

This list of hiking boots has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed hiking boots to give you the protection and support you need to battle the most toughest hike. A pair of hiking boots to keep your eye on is the Vasque Breeze III GTX. We love this addition, because it is highly rated, lightweight, durable, has great ventilation, and comfortable.

Vasque Breeze III GTX
  • Vasque Breeze III GTX
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Well ventilated
  • Price: See Here
Salomon Quest 4D
  • Salomon Quest 4D
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • GORE-TEX waterproof
  • Price: See Here
Columbia Men's Newton
  • Columbia Men's Newton
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Full grain leather upper
  • Price: See Here

 

Instead of slogging through hundreds of products online, take a look at our expert researched, comprehensive Top 10 list including the best hiking boots out there today. Following our reviews, you’ll find a full glossary of all the features and components reviewed, and a guide to getting the best fit for your feet as well as how to choose the right hiking boots for your plans.

10 Best Hiking & Backpacking Boots

 

VASQUE Men's Breeze III GTX

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.
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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.

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.
Pros
  • Lightweight 
  • Gore-Tex boots
  • Toe and heel ventilation
Cons
  • Some find that they run small

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX

For all-round 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.
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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.
Pros
  • Gore-Tex waterproofing
  • Tough and strong, yet reasonably light at 2 lbs. 13 oz.
  • Awesome grip and stability from Salomon’s Contagrip outsole (rivals Vibram)
  • Upgraded lacing system is an improvement on the original 4D
Cons
  • A snug, supportive fit that might not suit hikers with wide feet
  • Not ideal for heavily loaded backpacking – the midsole is light and flexible and ideally suited to light and midweight hiking, but not anything over 35 lbs

Columbia Men's Newton Ridge Plus Ii Waterproof Hiking Boot

Constructed from a durable and robust leather which is ideal for the many different weather conditions and environments which this high performing hiking boot will encounter.
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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 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.

The warmth factor is impressive, trudging through snow and yet still nice warm feet, importantly, no entry by water. Compared to previous tested boots, these feel light and the soles shed any attempts from mud to cling on.

The sole is very soft, it is smooth when you walk on rough surface and very stable on snow. I wore them at below zero and was still warm.

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.

Features

Durable Leather
Durable Rubber sole
Out-sole-Great grip
Mid-sole-high energy return, really good comfort, lightweight. (TechLite)
Sealed Seams for water proofing.
Other boot construction materials proving water proofing, Mesh tongue, Lace system-D Ring.
Shaft system measuring 5" from the arch area

Cost
A sensible investment for hikers looking for a boot which will provide performance.


Pros

Waterproof
Comfortable
Good protection
Durable sole and overall construction
Great grip

Cons

Some hikers would like to see a wider version of the boot.

Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots

Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots
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.
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The Keen Targhee 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe was 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.

Note: 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).
Pros
  • Waterproof and fairly breathable (uses Keen.Dry material)
  • A tough upper with good roll protection
  • Reasonably light (1.14 – 2.3 lb.)
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not the most secure grip for rougher trails – the Targhee Mid is definitely a rung below the Salomon Quest in terms of stability

Garmont Tower Trek

Garmont Tower Trek
The Tower trek’s dual-density, rock-solid EVA rubber outsole makes it a great pick for through-hikers. Testers found that the midsole provides ample support even when hiking with heavy packs above 50 pounds, and the cushioning insole over that base makes these a pleasure to wear all day long.
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The Tower Treks succeed at offering unprecedented comfort for a boot this sturdy. They use a stretchy Schoeller material for the insole, collar, and tongue, creating a blister-proof snug fit. The ankle is flexible enough to make this a good choice for up and downhill hikes, and it’s light enough that they won’t feel like a burden after two weeks of all-day hikes.
Pros
  • Vibram Winkler outsole with block lugs on toe and heel, deep chevron grooves in midfoot to slough off dirt and mud
  • Shape cuts through snow nicely
  • Gore-Tex upper keeps out the rain
  • Excellent protection against abrasive wear and tear
  • Crazy light for the amount of support and protection you get: 1.6 lb.
Cons
  • All these features come at a price – these are the most expensive boots on the list

Timberland euro hiker

Timberland euro hiker
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.
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Overall Fit

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.

Boot Materials

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.

Protection

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.

Support

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.

Price

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.

Summary

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.
Pros

Extremely comfortable

Offers great protection from the elements

Many different sizes to choose from

Cons

A little on the expensive side

Timberland WHITE LEDGE Water Proof Hiking boot.

Timberland WHITE LEDGE Water Proof Hiking boot.
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.

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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.

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.


The boots are made in a good range of solid colors to suit all tastes.
Features.

Strong robust durable sole.
Good performance lugs for grip
Oiled finish to the leather
Ankle collar padded
Dual density footbed can be taken out or replaced


Cost
A smart investment for a high performing hiking boot.
Pros

Boot collar is padded
Very good grip
100% waterproof
Built from durable quality leather
Can be used for any terrain
Protective for the foot
Built in ventilation tech
Breath-ability
Durable and robust

Cons

No notable cons so far

Chaco lodge

Chaco lodge
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.
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Overall Fit

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 finite adjustment that helps to provide for a snug and supportive fit overall.

Boot Materials

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.

Protection

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.

Support

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 occasion has been known to allow a little more play than necessary, especially if too large a boot is purchased.

Price

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.

Summary

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.
Pros

Offers excellent support

Waterproof protection

Protection from small animal and insect bites

Cons

On the expensive side of affordable

May run a bit small

Nevados men's talus

Nevados men's talus
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.
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Overall Fit

These boots come in a fair range of sizes, and most people that fall into the average size ranges 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.

Boot Materials

These boots consist of a lightweight canvas material upper portion that allows for superior breathability. The sole is comprised of a rubber material, and the laces are held in place through reinforced grommets and hook and eye closures.

Protection

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.

Support

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.

Price

One of the areas where these boots from Nevados excels is the price. It is extremely affordable, and can easily become your go-to hiking shoe for years to come, especially in drier, hotter climbs.

Summary

If you’re looking for a lightweight, dependable, and fairly comfortable hiking boot to use during those hot and dry hikes these canvas hiking boots from Nevados are a great choice.
Pros

Comfortable to wear

Good selection of sizes

Contoured support

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer water resistance or water proofing

Khombu leather ravine

Khombu leather ravine
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.
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Overall Fit

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 occasion.

Boot Materials

The upper portions of these hiking boots are made of genuine leather with 3M Thinsulate insulation. The soles are made of synthetic rubber.

Protection

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.

Support

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.

Price

These are perhaps one of the most affordable choices on this list, especially if you take into account the superior protection from the elements.

Summary

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.
Pros

Superior protection from the elements

Very affordable

Cons

Limited sizing

Outsole not as strong as we would like


 The Criteria We Used When Choosing The Best Overall Hiking Boots

Overall Fit

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 boots doesn’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 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.

Construction Materials

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.

Protection

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 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 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.

Support

Another 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.

In the past, the “support” in hiking boots meant heavy ridged soles and stiff sides.  Thankfully with the advent of new materials and techniques, this is simply no longer the case.  Lighter materials, designed to be both strong and flexible allowing for ample support without weighing down the boots and causing more fatigue for the hiker.

Price

And finally, no review of affordable hikers would be complete, without looking at the overall price of the boots themselves.  While these boots are all priced under $100, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean they are of a lower quality.  Indeed, some of these boots are close to being on par, or in some cases better than more expensive brands.  The trick, of course, is to focus on the overall quality of the materials, and workmanship, rather than the price tag.

Upper Construction

This is the main part of your boot: the outer fabric from your sole to the top of the boot. In a traditional hiking boot this was leather all the way, but now most hiking boots have a composite of materials that strike an optimum balance of the boots durability, water resistance, breathability, style, and weight.

Here are the benefits of each of the main materials youll find in hiking boot uppers:

Leather

What type of leather are you looking at? Full-grain, split-grain or nubuck?

Full-grain uppers have excellent overall durability and resistance to scuffs and scratches. They are quite water resistant, but not as light or breathable as other materials, including other leather types. Full-grain leather is often used in hiking boots designed for long treks, heavy backpacks, and variable terrain. If the boots you choose are full-grain leather, make sure to break them in on several short hikes before setting out on a long journey.

Split-grain is often cheaper and is often combined with nylon mesh to make lightweight, breathable hiking boots. Its naturally less waterproof than full-grain, though many boots that use split-grain have waterproof liners as well.

Nubuck is essentially full-grain leather buffed until it looks and behaves like suede. It has most of the durability and water resistance of full-grain but more flexibility.

Synthetic uppers

Synthetic uppers, made from polyester, nylon, and PVC synthetic leather or pleatherare found in most modern hiking boots. These materials are lighter, dry quickly, wear in faster, and are less expensive than leather. Synthetic uppers are usually vegan (though some uppers can be composed of a mix of synthetic and leather sections). Synthetic uppers also tend to show wear a little sooner, even if their overall lifespan is the same.

 Waterproof properties

Boots that claim to be waterproof have uppers that include waterproof membranes (like Gore-Tex® and eVent®). Even the best waterproofing materials are not as breathable as the mesh found on regular outdoor sports footwear, so youre looking at some extra sweating in your boots on hot summer hikes.

Insulation

Some hiking boots in the northern US and UK, but especially in Canada and Northern Europe, feature woolen, sheepskin or synthetic insulation to keep your feet toasty warm while trekking through tundra and snow-covered forest trails.

Vegan

Some hiking boots are constructed without any materials that come from animals or their products (Eg. Leather and wool). For some brands, this is deliberate and a point of pride: you can easily spot the vegan label. Many more boots are more vegan than those that claim it; you just have to do a bit more digging to see whether they qualify. If after reading the materials/construction list youre still unsure, do a quick online search with vegan and the brand name.

Midsole

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 youre 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 hadnt needed any break in, I really regretted them during that leg of the hike. The Five-Fingers have enough tread that I didnt 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.

Outsole

All hiking footwear have rubber outsoles. All outsoles have grooves in their tread to increase traction and slip-resistance, and to make the soles bouncier, transferring less of the general impact of walking up to your feet. Backpacking and mountain hiking boots also have lugs-bumps that extend outwards increasing your grip on the trail even further. Widely spaced lugs shed caked-in mud easier.

 

 

 

Other Factors Worth Considering When Deciding On The Best Pair For You

To help you choose which hiking boot is best for you from this list, weve put together a few key considerations. These factors shine a light on how to choose boots that are built for ice and snow, or adapt your favorite hikers to be ice-proof; how to get to know your feet and why sizing matters; what happens when youre feet arent stock-standard average, or if youve had injuries; and how often you should replace your hiking boots.

What Type Of Terrain Will You Encounter?

It is important to consider what type of outdoor terrain you will be coming across on your hike. If you mostly stick to well-worn trails through the woods and dont usually travel cross-country through the undergrowth, on snow or on the ice, then trail running offer a great compromise on sturdiness and comfort.

If youre choosing hiking boots for a winter trip to Norway, on the other hand, make sure you read reviews from hikers who are used to that terrain and climate. One slick Norwegian start-up has developed not only a range of foot-gear designed to keep you on your feet in the slipperiest of conditions but also a range of pull-on spikes that can be easily pulled over your favorite hiking boots.

Are they waterproof?

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 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.

Get To Know Your Feet

If you have an average, neutral foot type, youre lucky! Most hiking boots base their models on your needs. If you have wide feet, narrow feet, soft/low arches or very high arches, previous foot, ankle or knee injuries, hip problems, thrombosis, a tendency to swell, bunions, or a latex allergy, then youre going to need to select your hiking boots more carefully. Read the reviews to get an idea of what youre after –which brands and styles appeal as well as what conditions youre planning for- and then visit an outdoor footwear specialist in person. They fit boots all day long, and theyll have a good idea of which brands and models are the best choices for your unique needs.

Of all the various types of hiking equipment, your boots should be your number one investment. High-quality hiking boots shouldnt be viewed as a luxury: they are an investment in your health. When youre choosing a lantern or a t-shirt youre choosing something based on style, comfort, and durability, but honestly, any t-shirt will cover your back and any lantern will light your way. Hiking boots are different.

A good pair will last you for years (depending on how often you hike) and can make a huge difference to your health and happiness while youre hiking, but also over the long term, even when youre off the trail. To take care of your feet and posture, its worth investing in a pair with quality materials; a sturdy, reliable design; and a form that really fits your unique foot size, shape, and any special needs.

How to make sure your hiking boots fit

Novices frequently overlook the variability in shapes and fit between brands. Spend some time figuring out what size you need whenever you try on a brand you havent worn before – the exact fit of each size does change from brand to brand. Keep in mind that you want a little more extra room than what you might choose for the footwear you wear to walk around the city.

Wear your hiking socks

Your everyday dress/work socks are probably a bit thinner than the socks you’ll wear to go hiking unless you’re an arborist or a snake catcher or in some similarly adventurous profession! Most outdoor gear stores have a few pairs of clean thick socks on hand to lend out if you forget to bring some with you.

 

What is Your Physical Condition?

When it comes to improving your physical health, there are few activities that can measure up to hiking.  Not only are you breathing fresh air, and enjoying the outdoors, but you’re also likely traveling over a few different types of terrain, adding to a great aerobic workout.  However, like any other type of exercise, you need to have the proper equipment to make sure that your body performs at its optimal level.  The model you choose is no exception.

If your overall physical condition is relatively weak, or you don’t have a great deal of leg strength, the last thing you want to do is choose a boot that is heavier than you can handle.  While having extra support and protection that a heavier boot can provide can be beneficial, it’s only as effective as your ability to wear them without being fatigued.  A good rule of thumb is to try the boots on and try to do six high knees with them.  If you’re experience labored breathing after the sixth one, the boots are probably too heavy for you.

Where will You Be Hiking?

It’s also a good idea to consider where your hiking adventures will take you when choosing your next pair of hiking boots.  Depending on the overall terrain, you might want a boot that is truly waterproof, one that features a mid-rise height, or even something more like an athletic alternative to a boot in the look and FIT.  If you’re not sure about what to buy in regards to hiking boots, consider this – the more rugged the terrain, the more overall support and protection you’re going to need. That being said, it’s important to remember that you’ll need protection and support on the easier trails as well – just not quite as much.

Crampon Compatibility

If you hope to do any serious mountain hiking, or maybe some adventurous backpacking through Northern Europe in winter, adding crampons to your boots may become necessary. When shopping in-store, check whether the boots you’re looking at are crampon compatible. When shopping online, you may be able to filter your search results by crampon compatibility.

 

Top Tip:  Try on boots at the end of the day

Many experienced hikers and backpackers have noticed that feet swell after a few hours on the trail or carrying a pack around city pavement. This swelling typically adds half to a full size (American sizes) to what makes a comfortable pair. Your feet tend to swell a little toward the end of the day, and trying on boots then will help you avoid buying a pair that is too small.

 


FAQ

Q:  When is it time to replace my old pair of boots?

A: 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?

A: 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 this reviews, written by physiotherapists, on the best insoles for 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 cater to wider feet, which are the best to support people with high arches, and so on.

Q: What Style of Boot Do I Really Need?

A: 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 boot 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 boot should be able to match your enthusiasm with rugged dependability and superior protection from the elements.

Q: Are Waterproof Boots Recommended?

A: 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 boot. 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?

A: Both types of boots have there disadvantages and advantages depending on the terrain you will find yourself in on your next hike. Ankle support 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.

 

Final thoughts

Whether you’re searching for a hiking boot to help you conquer the Appalachian trail or simply to work around in your backyard, finding one that is affordable can be a challenge.  While not every product on this list can be afforded by every person, you’ll sure to find a great pair that will fit your needs on this list.


 

Here are some sources that we used while conducting our research:

 

  1. Backpacker, The 16 Best Hiking Boots of 2016, April 2016
  2. Outdoor Gear Lab, The Best Hiking footwear for Men Review, May 2015
  3. Outside, The Best Hiking footwear of 2016, May 2016
  4. Gear Patrol, The 20 Best Hiking footwear of 2016, June 2016
  5. Rei Co-op, Hiking Boots: How to Choose, May 2016
  6. Switchback Travel, Best Hiking Boots of 2017, December 2016
  7. Switchback Travel, Best Lightweight Hiking footwear of 2016, August 2016
  8. Gear Institute, Light Hiking footwear (Low Cut), March 2015

 

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