Running shoes are great — just not for hiking. The trail calls for hardened footwear to combat loose gravel, jagged rocks and shallow streams. Low-cut hiking shoes are lightweight, flexible and provide the added ankle freedom necessary to conquer day hikes comfortably. When backpacking, or taking on more black diamond terrain, hiking boots are there to lend more ankle support and reinforced protection. To help you get out on the trail quicker, we’ve picked out 20 of the best hiking shoes and hiking boots for you to choose from. It’s obvious, but remember: make sure the shoe fits. A calloused foot is no fun when you’re miles from home. So choose the type of shoe that fits your hiking needs and plan your next hiking trip now. The trail awaits.
Additional contribution by AJ Powell.
The best options for conquering your next day hike.
Adidas Terrex Solo
The Terrex Solo is an approach shoe by design, but it fights well above its weight class as a day hiker too. The super sticky Stealth rubber outsole provides ample traction on all types of terrain, but excels on dry trails like those found in the Southwest.
Designed to be fast and light, the Merrell Capra is tough to beat as a light hiker in regards to price point. It offers more support than your typical running shoe, but retains running-shoe-esque comfort and maneuverability.
Keen Targhee II
Keen’s Targhee II is a classic light hiking shoe. The Targhee is robust, featuring Keen’s waterproof, breathable membrane dubbed Keen.Dry. If you tend to need more room in the toe box of your shoes, the Targhee II is an excellent choice.
The Scarpa Proton was designed to handle all of your trail-going needs. While it is first and foremost a hiking shoe, with plush cushioning and a 10mm drop, the Proton doubles as a trail runner — giving you the option to go on a leisurely day hike, or a summit-crushing trail run.
Under Armour Verge Low GTX
How do you get unmatched off-road traction out of your trail shoe? Slap some Michelin rubber and tread on the sole. The UA Verge features Michelin’s Wild Gripper rubber compound, used most often in the brand’s mountain-bike tires.
For a shoe that looks as good off the mountain as it does out on the trail, look no further than the Coburn. Don’t be fooled by its classy style, though. The Coburn is a serious trail shoe that can handle light-to-medium trail duties in stride.
Five Ten Camp 4
For grip, the Camp 4 relies on Stealth S1 rubber. Popularized on Five Ten’s mountain bike shoes, S1 is a proprietary compound that performs well in all conditions. An external heel counter keeps your heel locked in place, even on steep ascents.
La Sportiva Primer Low GTX
This La Sportiva hiking shoe is loaded with technical features. Its upper utilizes Nano-Cell technology, which offers strong support and breathability, and its Gore-Tex Surround technology adds 360 degrees of ventilation; your feet won’t overheat, and you’ve got the green light to walk through puddles.
Synthetic Hiking Boots
Fast and light with ample support.
The North Face Ultra Fastpack II Mid GTX
The North Face Ultra Fastpack II Mid GTX (say that five times fast) occupies the space between a light hiker and a more dedicated trekking and backpacking boot. Its lightness and flexibility make it comfortable all day, while still providing enough support to protect your ankles while out on the trail.
Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX
Compared to its previous iteration, the Quest 4D 2 GTX has the same grip and stability provided by Salomon’s Contagrip outsole and 4D Advanced Chassis. But the boot is also updated with a new gusseted tongue, a fresh aesthetic and better laces.
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
The Salewa Mountain Trainer is the editor’s choice on this list. For comfort and performance in a trekking boot, the Mountain Trainer is tough to beat. A waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex liner keeps your feat dry and comfortable, and if your feet run on the narrow side, you’ll find solace in Salewa’s lacing system, which runs all the way down to the toes and adapts to take up any extra space.
Asolo Fugitive GTX
We’ve tested the Fugitive GTX on extended backpacking trips, including 30 days in the Norwegian backcountry, and have absolutely nothing bad to say about it. The boot is effectively perfect, balancing robust support and durability with a lightweight and comfortable design.
Arc’teryx Bora Mid GTX
These Arc’teryx hiking boots come with two different liners. The micromesh air permeable liner has superb ventilation abilities and is great for dry summer heat. If you know it’s going to get damp, switch to the stretchable Gore-Tex liner. Arc’teryx also sells another insulated liner separately.
Leather Hiking Boots
The classic hiking material infused with new tech.
Headquartered outside of Bozeman, Montana, Oboz is dedicated to making boots that perform well not only in their backyard trails, but on backpacking routes around the globe. The Beartooth is no exception, featuring Oboz’s proprietary B.Dry waterproof membrane and a hefty and durable leather construction.
Vasque St. Elias GTX
Available in two colors (slate brown or light brown and gray), the St. Elias GTX has Vibram rubber outsoles and Gore-Tex liners, and at just over three pounds, it’s the lightest backpacking boot that Vasque makes.
Danner Mountain Light
For the hiker that likes to stay true to the classics, the Danner Mountain Light will not disappoint. Though it more recently made its way into streetwear culture and onto the feet of hipster urbanites, the Mountain Light is first and foremost a dedicated backpacking boot that has stood the test of time.
Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX
Designed and made in Italy with careful attention to detail, the Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX is a burly backpacking boot that with proper care, could last you the rest of your life. The full-grain leather upper paired with the waterproof Gore-Tex membrane are equally suited to taking on the loamy trails of the Pacific Northwest and the rocky, rooty trails of the Northeast.
Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots
With lugged Vibram outsoles and Gore-Tex inserts these Asolo backpacking boots are strong enough for long treks — yet, weighing in at less than two pounds, they won’t weigh you down.
Lowa Tibet GTX
The Tibet GTX features a wrap-around rubber rand construction that minimizes exposed stitching and helps it stand up to the beatings that backpacking delivers. The Tibet also provides ample support, allowing you to carry heavy loads in larger packs around 80 liters in size.
Hanwag Tatra GTX
Produced in Europe, Hanwag boots are known for their integrity and high wear tolerance. The Tatra GTX features the typical Gore-Tex liner and Vibram outsole, but also includes a ball bearing lacing system that allows you to more easily set the desired tension in both the upper and lower of the boot.